Winter Sports around the World | Part 2

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A winter sport is a sport, which is played in winter. Most such sports are variations of skiing, ice skating and sledding. Traditionally, such sports were only played in cold areas during winter, but artificial snow and ice allow more flexibility.

Champs21.com brings to you this 2 part series on some famous winter sports around the world.

SNOWBOARDING

Snowboarding is a game played on snow that involves one gliding down a sloping path while standing on a sleigh-like board (which is attached to the boots). It is usually played on hilly places covered with thick snow.

The snowboarder wears a unique pair of boots, which are then firmly attached to the board. This prevents the board to be separated from the rider during the movements. Unlike skiing, where a pair of poles are used to steer the board’s movements, in Snowboarding, the rider shifts weight in different directions during flights or turns to change the course of movement. 

History

The game came into existence during the middle of the 20th century, being influenced by the then popular recreational activities like bob sleighing, skiing, skateboarding, surfing, etc. Although the game came into material existence in the sixties, the history of its origins can be dated back to the early 20th century. In 1910, during winter, people in cold countries, used to tie plywood or wooden planks from logs to their feet using fishing string and horse reins in order to steer themselves down hills.

But the actual history of snowboarding began in the 1960 within the United States. In the fifties, skateboarding was born, which, in the sixties, became very popular amongst children and teenagers. Tom Sims of New Jersey in the United States, was one of those many countless young boys with a passion for skating. He was unhappy about not being able to skate on snow (because it is impossible to travel on a snowy landscape on wheels), so an idea struck into his mind to build a board that can be used to skate on ice. He was an eighth grader back then in 1963, when he built a “ski board”, as he called it, and presented it to his school shop class. He glued a piece of carpet to the top of a piece of wood and attached aluminium sheeting to its’ bottom. Thus he invented the ‘’ski board’’ which could be used to skate on snow.

 In 1965, Sherman Poppen, an engineer in  Michigan of the United States invented a toy for his daughters by fastening two skis together and called it a ‘’snurfer’’(short for snow surfer). The toy became very popular amongst his daughters’ friends, so Poppen decided to commercialise it. He licensed the idea to a manufacturer, Brunswick Corporation,that sold about a million snurfers over the next decade. In 1966 alone, over half a million snurfers were sold. In 1970, Poppen organised a snurfing competition at a Michigan ski resort that attracted snurfing enthusiasts from all over the U.S.

In the seventies, the game had reached mass popularity and it was no longer a children’s game as it had been until then. In the year 1970, an East coast surfer by the name of Dimitrije Milovich came up with the idea of making snowboards, which felt like surfing but withheld the mechanics of skiing. Five years later, his snowboard “winterstick” featured on the cover of the NEWSWEEK magazine. Since then, increasing demand for snowboards due to the rising popularity of the game resulted in large-scale manufacture of snowboards by different producers. Due to the pioneering works by the likes of Tom Sims, Jake Burton Carpenter, Chuck Barfoot and Mike Olsen, newer models with improved designs and mechanisms came into the market, which slowly developed into the snowboards that we see today.

Having achieved worldwide fame, international snowboarding competitions started to be held during the mid-80s. In 1983, the first World Championship Half-pipe competition was held at Soda Springs, California, and in 1985, the first World Cup was held in Zürs, Austria.

Since the beginning of the history of snowboarding, skiing gradually lost its’ popularity. The number of skiers are dropping by 25% as more and more people take up snowboarding. At present, 20% of people who visit ski resorts engage in snowboarding. It is estimated that by the end of 2015, more people will go to ski resorts to enjoy snowboarding than skiing.

ICE HOCKEY

Ice hockey is no different from field hockey, except that it is played on an indoor court on a floor of ice.

Just like the field hockey, ice hockey is a team game. Two teams of six players, including one goaltender, play against each other on a floor of ice. The players wear ice skates with which they can glide up and down the ice floor at high speed. A round disk of rubber known as a puck is moved around the ice floor with hockey sticks. With the hockey sticks, the players pass the puck around to teammates and hit it towards the opponent’s goal post to score a goal and the opponent’s goaltender tries to prevent a goal by deflecting the puck away from the post.

Usual matches can take up to two and half hours to three hours. With 60 minutes game time broken into 3 parts with two break periods in between.

4 referees – 2 head referees and 2 linesmen, supervise the actions of the players. If a player makes a foul, the head referees make the call and the player is penalised. He is sent off the ring and his teammates have to play without him for the next 5 minutes. Only the head referees can give penalties and the linesmen are there to notice anything that the head referee might have missed.

History:

It was believed until the late eighties that ice hockey came from field hockey and the Indian game ‘’lacrosse’’. But research has found that it was derived from a hockey-like game played by the Mi’kmaq (Micmac) Indians, which appeared to have been heavily influenced by the Irish game of hurling; it included the use of a “hurley” (stick) and a square wooden block instead of a ball. The term hockey then came from the French term ‘’hoquet’’, which means shepherd’s stick.

Ice hockey is known as ice hockey in countries where hockey normally refers to field hockey. In countries where ice hockey is more popular, it is known simply as ‘’hockey’’.

National Hockey League (NHL):

A fast-paced physical sport (leading to the nickname "The Fastest Game on Earth"), hockey is most popular in areas of North America (particularly Canada and northern parts of the United States) and Europe. (Countries such as, Russia, Sweden, Finland, the Czech Republic, Latvia and Slovakia)

Most of these players play in the NHL, which is a league formed of 30 teams across the United States and Canada. At the end of the season, these teams attempt to win the famous Stanley Cup. Another popular hockey league is the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL), which has teams in Russia, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Belarus, Slovakia, Czech Republic and Croatia. In Canada, female hockey players play in the Canadian Women's Hockey League. In the winter Olympics, there are contests for both male and female hockey players.