Snowboard cross, also known as boardercross, is a snowboard competition in which four to six competitors race down a course. Snowboard cross courses are typically quite narrow and include cambered turns, various types of jumps, berms, rollers, drops, steep and flat sections designed to challenge the riders' ability to stay in control while maintaining maximum speed. It is not uncommon for racers to collide with each other mid-race.
Snowboard cross courses share common traits with motorcycle motocross courses, hence the similarity between the names of each sport.
When Steven Rechtschaffner and partner Greg Stump had run out of ideas for segments for a TV show they were producing for Fox TV called Greg Stump's World of Extremes, they recalled this concept that had been in Rechtschaffner's head for years. Given the need to come up with a final segment, Rechtschaffner, a passionate snowboarder, pitched the idea to Stump, who loved it, and Blackcomb Mountain, who put up prize money and snowcat time in order to build the first-ever course in 1991. John Graham, who was Stump's business manager at the time, was credited with coming up with the name boardercross. After being seen on the Fox TV show and re-aired on MTV Sports, other people started putting on boardercross events in Canada, the U.S. and Australia. Rechtschaffner travelled to many of these events in order to help others learn how to build the boardercross courses.
Rechtschaffner had trademarked the name Boardercross primarily as a way to ensure that people putting on events did so in a positive way that was safe, exciting and respectful to the world of snowboarding. For these same reasons he denied the ski sanctioning body F.I.S. the rights to use the Boardercross moniker, as he shared the majority of snowboarders' belief that a ski sanctioning body should not be in charge of snowboarding events. That’s why Boardercross is referred to by the F.I.S. as “Snowboard Cross” in Olympic events, even though the overwhelming majority of boardercross racers still refer to their sport by the original snowboarding term.
In 2000, Rechtschaffner channeled the spirit of boardercross in a series of hit video games he produced for Electronic Arts called SSX, which sold over 8 million copies over the following years.
In 2006, boardercross (referred to as snowboard cross) became an official Olympic event at the Turin Olympic Games. It was also included in subsequent Winter Olympics.
All participants need a snowboard to compete. The snowboard should be fairly heavy and stiff (but not a hard board). A mouth guard, though not always required, is recommended. Since participants are competing side-by-side tight clothing is essential to ensure competitors are not getting caught on each other's gear. As competition increases in intensity some riders choose to wear body armour (like back and spine protectors) to ensure more safety when competing at high speeds as crashes can be very dangerous. Helmets are required equipment for racing in FIS sanctioned events.
Major multi-sport competitions
Boardercross had been an event in every X Games since their start in 1997. However, it was dropped after the 2012 X Games only to be reintroduced in 2014. It made its Winter Olympics debut in 2006.
Early releases in the EA Sports SSX (Snowboard Supercross) series of video games were loosely based on boardercross. Sonic Riders, a Sonic the Hedgehog racing game in which SEGA characters race on hoverboards, is partly inspired by boardercross.
- FIS Snowboard World Cup
- Men's and Women's events at the 2018 Winter Olympics
- Men's and Women's events at the 2014 Winter Olympics
- Men's and Women's events at the 2010 Winter Olympics
- Men's and Women's events at the 2006 Winter Olympics