Host City: Nagano, Japan
Date Started: February 8, 1998
Date Finished: February 8, 1998
Participants: 125 (69 men and 56 women) from 22 countries
Youngest Participant: Christel Thoresen (17 years, 181 days)
Oldest Participant: Renata Keller (36 years, 108 days)
Most Medals (Athlete): 12 athletes with 1 medal
Most Medals (Country): 4 countries with 2 medals
Snowboarding is a sport combining elements of surfing, skateboarding, and skiing. The snowboarders slide down a snow-covered surface on a single board strapped to their feet. It developed in the 1960s with the first mass-produced snowboard being sold in 1966, termed the “Snurfer.” In the late 1970s, snowboarding became more popular and snowboarders began to “invade” traditional snow resorts, often met by opposition from skiers who tried to exclude the snowboarders from “their” mountains. By the 1990s, almost all ski resorts allowed snowboarding, and the resorts found the snowboarders to be an excellent source of new revenue. Competition in snowboarding developed in the late 1970s and early 1980s. World Championships in the sport were first held in 1993 for both men and women. At the early World Championships, there were six events contested: slalom, giant slalom, parallel slalom, halfpipe, boardercross, and a combined competition. Snowboarding was admitted to the Olympic program for the 1998 Olympic Winter Games in Nagano. For the 1998 Winter Olympics, men and women each competed in two events, giant slalom and halfpipe. The giant slalom events were held at Shiga Kogen on Mt. Yakebitai, a ski resort that did not allow snowboarders before or, for a time, after the 1998 Winter Olympics.
The sport was not added to the Olympic Program without controversy. In 1990, snowboarders formed their own international federation, the International Snowboarding Federation (ISF). But the Fédération Internationale de Ski (FIS) was not in favor in adding snowboarding to the Winter Olympics. The IOC and the FIS compromised and agreed to add the sport, but as a discipline of skiing, governed by the FIS. The snowboarders were very unhappy, preferring to be governed by the ISF. The ISF applied to the IOC to be recognized as an International Sports Federation, but were rebuffed and told that snowboarding was already under the auspices of the FIS. Several top snowboarders considered not competing in Nagano, protesting the IOC decision, notably the world’s top halfpiper, Norway’s Terje Håkonsen, but he was eventually the only one who joined the protest.