Following snowboarding's competitive circuit has rarely been easy, mainly thanks to the presence of two rival tours - neither of which has the best of track records.
On the one hand you have the Fédération Internationale du Ski (FIS), which went from barely acknowledging snowboarding's existence to presiding over its Olympic qualification process in a disturbingly short period of time. These days they run several successful snowboarding events, including their World Cup series, but the tour still struggles to shake off the baggage of history.
Then there's the World Snowboard Tour (WST). While on paper it's always been 'for snowboarders, by snowboarders', that's never quite been enough to consistently attract the best riders - especially whenever FIS is running Olympic qualifiers. Fortunately, things are looking up - unlike last year, both the X Games and Air & Style series have signed up to the WST's schedule, making that tour's event list far more weighty than the one they had in 2014/15.
"Keeping track of it all can be an absolute bastard, so we've trawled the various calendars to compile a definitive list of the year's most important events"
On top of those, there's the odd event that's independent of either tour. These don't tent to be "elite" contests, yet for various reasons they've become staples of the contest calendar.
Keeping track of it all can be an absolute bastard, so we've trawled the various calendars to compile a definitive list of the year's most important events. Included is key information about each event, covering the folowing categories:
- Venue - where it's all going down, obviously.
- Disciplines - Slopestyle, Halfpipe and Big Air are the popular ones here; for the sake of simplicity we've omitted snowboardcross and any other forms of racing (with one notable exception). Occasionally a quarterpipe comp or rail jam may sneak in too, though.
If you're more interested in freeriding, you can find all the dates and information for the Freeride World Tour here.
- Tour affiliation - Whether the event is part of the FIS tour, the WST, or neither.
- M/F - Whether the event caters for men, women, or both.
Events are listed in chronological order - click a link to skip:
NOVEMBER 2015: Pleasure Jam
FEBRUARY 2016: Air & Style Innsbruck | FIS World Cup Boston | Snowboard Jamboree | FIS World Cup Sapporo | Legendary Baker Banked Slalom | FIS World Cup Bokwang | Air & Style Los Angeles | Vans Hi Standard Series | X Games Oslo | Burton US Open
MARCH 2016: World Championships Of Snowboarding
MAY 2016: King Of The Hill
PLEASURE JAM, 28th-29th NOVEMBER 2015
The Pleasure Jam was originally scheduled for earlier in November, but relentless sun on the Dachstein glacier meant that more time would be needed to get the park in suitable shape.
Things are looking good for the weekend though, and the Q Parks crew are ready to roll. Eric Beauchemin and Anna Gasser will be back to retain their crowns, facing competition from the likes of Roope Tonteri, Mathias Weissenbacher and Elena Koenz. Our own Rowan Coultas and Katie Ormerod will be there too.
As well as prize money for the slopestyle winners, there's a pretty sweet perk for the winner of Best Trick; a three-week surf camp in Portugal. Nice.
AIR + STYLE BEIJING, 4th-5th DECEMBER 2015
Big Air doesn't get much bigger than the Air & Style series, which now encompasses three stops. The first is in China, featuring a massive booter under the roof of the iconic Bird's Nest Stadium.
Ever since its debut in 2011 as the 'Air & Style Presented By Shaun White', the Beijing leg has been one hell of a show - not least in 2012 when an unknown Yuki Kadono blew the doors off on his way to victory.
DEW TOUR, 10th-13th DECEMBER 2015
For halfpipe and slopestyle riders, this is the first big comp of the winter. The cream of the crop (or at least those who have been invited) descend on Breck to throw down.
Mark McMorris, Jamie Anderson, Max Parrot, Jamie Nicholls and Silje Norendal are among those confirmed for the slopestyle, with Chloe Kim, Kelly Clark, Arthur Longo and Danny Davis lined up for the pipe.
If you're in the States, you can watch the pipe finals on NBC, and everyone else can live-stream the action at dewtour.com
RUSSIAN GRAND PRIX, 7th-10th JANUARY 2016
Whatever you think of the Olympics, it has to be said that the Russians managed to arrange the construction of some pretty terrific jumps for the slopestyle. In January, they'll be sticking one in a Moscow velodrome for a Big Air.
This one's just for men, and a field of 32 riders will be in attendance. No word yet on who'll be there, but it's likely that the usual heavy-hitters will make the trip to Russia.
RED BULL NANSHAN OPEN, 12th-18th JANUARY 2016
The Nanshan Open was actually the first freestyle snowboarding contest to take place on Chinese soil (or snow, rather).
The fourteenth edition will see another large field of visiting international pros - albeit just males - facing off against local heroes who make it through the qualifier event.
The resort's proximity to Beijing could make for a record turnout, given that the Chinese capital was recently awarded the 2022 Winter Olympics.
Rowan Coultas made the podium at the last one - can he do even better in 2016?
LAAX OPEN, 18th-24th JANUARY 2016
It was seemingly quite a blow when Burton announced that they wouldn't be running their European Open, but the Laax Open looks like it'll be just as big an event.
Switzerland's finest park will get a due rinsing from the best riders in the world, competing for a cool half million in prize money.
We're really looking forward to this one. With any luck, Markus Keller will do something weird again.
MAMMOTH GRAND PRIX, 21st-24th JANUARY 2016
The 2015/16 season sees the first time that the long-running US Grand Prix series also has FIS World Cup status. The first of three tour stops will take place at Mammoth.
This marks the first big clash - some riders including Kelly Clark have already committed to the Grand Prix, meaning they'll definitely miss the Laax Open.
Whatever happens, neither event will be badly stocked, so expect to see hammers aplenty in both pipe and slopestyle.
X GAMES ASPEN, 28th-31st JANUARY 2016
Aside from perhaps the 'lympics, nothing tops X Games for sheer spectacle. Despite its invite-only format and the lack of Big Air for women, it's considered the closet thing snowboarding has to a proper World Championships.
It's far from perfect in other ways too - not least because sharing the stage with skiing and snowmobiling means that the TV coverage often cuts away during crucial moments in qualification - but at the moment it's the biggest annual event we've got.
Most of the riders have already been confirmed, and Mark McMorris will be looking for another Big Air/Slopestyle double. Meanwhile Danny Davis is on a hat-trick - although we wouldn't be surprised if his buddy Ben Ferguson had something to say about that. Also looking to three-peat is reigning slopestyle queen Silje Norendal, while padawan Chloe Kim and master Kelly Clark will once again go head-to-head in the pipe.
You can watch it on ESPN in the States, and can stream it for a fee elsewhere. If you can stomach the relentless commercial breaks - Yvan Eht Nioj! - it's well worth it.
AIR + STYLE INNSBRUCK, 5th-6th FEBRUARY 2016
The second leg of the Air & Style takes place in Innsbruck, the location of the very first A&S back in 1994.
Expect the biggest names in Big Air to be there, including Stale Sandbech who bagged his first series win at the 2015 event - check out last year's highlights to see how he did it.
As with all Air & Style events, there's plenty of music lined up too - we'll let these guys awkwardly explain it to you...
FIS WORLD CUP BOSTON, 11th FEBRUARY 2016
There's never been a snowboard Big Air event at the famous home of the Boston Red Sox baseball team - hence why we've opted for this Dropkick Murphys video instead.
As part of the FIS World Cup, riders will thrown down in the shadow of the Green Monster, on a jump built by the old hands at Snow Park Technologies.
Unlike some of the WST stops on this list, this one - and all FIS Big Air comps, from what we can see - is for both men and women. Even FIS-haters have to tip their cap to them for that.
SNOWBOARD JAMBOREE, 13th-14th FEBRUARY 2016
With barely enough time for the dust from Boston to settle, another FIS Big Air is going down in Quebec City - but this one's actually part of the WST as well. Nope, us neither.
The Snowboard Jamboree has been a staple of the Canadian events calendar since 2009, excluding 2013 when Stoneham hosted the FIS World Championships.
FIS WORLD CUP SAPPORO, 12th-14th FEBRUARY 2016
If that isn't enough for one weekend, there's also a FIS World Cup going down in Sapporo.
It's a halfpipe comp, so we doubt there'll be much of a clash with the Big Air events. Still, it's pretty crazy to see three FIS-affiliated events taking place in the same handful of days.
Sapporo hasn't played host to one of their comps for a few years, but it's well known as a good pipe. Who will join illustrious names like Antti Autti, Hannah Teter and Heikki Sorsa on the list of winners?
LEGENDARY BAKER BANKED SLALOM, 18th-21st FEBRUARY 2016
Despite being a race with only a duct-taped trophy up for grabs, the Legendary Banked Slalom never fails to attract the finest riders around. Legends of the 80s and 90s line up against some of the biggest names in modern competition, as well as more than a few local heroes.
Due to lousy conditions, last year' plans for a 30th anniversary race had to be put on rapidly-melting ice. The event will be back with a vengeance this year, marking the milestone with plenty of good times.
FIS WORLD CUP BOKWANG, 19th-21st FEBRUARY 2016
There's nothing we can say about this one that could be better than FIS' own press release - here it is in full:
Welcome to the Bokwang Phoenix Park, home of the 2018 Olympic Winter Games snowboard medal events (except of big air).
Using the slogan 'Where dreams come true' to advertise its total of 22 skiing slopes, the ski resort less than a 2-hour drive from Seoul away will definitely be the venue many athletes will remember as the place where their dreams once came true.
And Phoenix Park has made some dreams come true already!
Not for the main actors of a snowboard event yet, but for some actors of the famous South Korean romantic television drama 'Autumn in my heart' which aired back in 2000.
More than 15 years later, it's time for the first act of a new plot which could be called 'Winter in my heart' when the World Cup tour stops by in Korea’s most famous resort, which has been created with the minimum possible disruption to surrounding nature complexes, for the first time ever.
It's the first stop of a long road to the PyeongChang Winter Games as the first mandatory Olympic test events are on the menu before athletes will compete for gold, silver and bronze and the Olympic glory in 2018.
The freestyle snowboarders will have the first GO from February 19th till 21st, 2016, in a slopestyle competition on a course designed by Schneestern of Durach, Germany before the snowboard cross specialists take over the scene from February 25th till 27th.
The sbx course will be built by White Industries of Whistler, Canada led by Jeff Ihaksi (CAN) who was responsible for the 2006 and 2010 Olympic course already.
AIR + STYLE LOS ANGELES, 20th-21st FEBRUARY 2016
From one of the oldest comps around to one of the newest. The LA stop of the Air & Style only made its debut earlier this year but, with the backing of majority shareholder Shaun White, it went off with a bang.
Expect the scaffolding to stretch to the moon, and the best riders to once again throw down in Cali.
VANS HI STANDARD, 20th FEBRUARY 2016
Vans' style-centric Hi Standard Series is back for another year, and while it isn't stopping at Cairngorm anymore, you can catch it all over the world - from Canada (where the first event has already taken place at Mount St. Louis) to China and South Korea.
The sole Euro stop will be at the French resort of Chamrousse, but the rules are the same as always - style comes first. No spins over 720 degrees are allowed, so individual flair is required to set yourself apart from the pack.
Anyone with serious competitive leanings would do well to leave that stuff at the door, as this jam puts fun and creativity first. There are still some top prizes to be won, though, so expect the Standard to be, ahem, Hi.
X GAMES OSLO, 24th-28th FEBRUARY 2016
The Tignes-based X Games Europe was one of the highlights of the contest circuit until it was abruptly cancelled in 2014. Now the X is back on the continent, taking over Oslo in late February.
There's no slopestyle in this one, although there is a women's Big Air event. There's also a skateboard street comp, marking the first time an X Games event has featured it alongside snowboarding.
You can watch it on ESPN in the States, or on TV2 in Norway.
BURTON US OPEN, 29th FEBRUARY-5th MARCH 2016
One of the oldest events in snowboarding returns for 2016. With the demise of the BEO - and before that, the NZ, Australian and Japan Opens - the Burton US Open is now the last event of its kind.
Not that it's any less of a big deal - both the Slopestyle and Big Air events are always right up there with the biggest comps of the year, every single season.
WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS OF SNOWBOARDING, 9th-16th MARCH 2016
The World Championships of Snowboarding (confuse with the Snowboard World Championships at your peril) are the WST's answer to the Olympics.
The first event was held in Oslo in 2012 where Chas Guldemond, Iouri Podlatchikov, Spencer O'Brien and Kelly Clark took the golds in slopestyle and halfpipe respectively. In 2016 they're adding Big Air to the mix too.
As many as 400 competitors will descend on to the Yabuli Ski Resort for the championships. As with most WST events, qualification is based on tour ranking. However, each member nation of the WST also has a national quota, which they can use to enter one man and one woman per discipline under certain conditions. There are also some wildcard places up for grabs.
It's a slightly odd one, this - most sports are content to let the Olympics be their every-four-years event, without needing another. However, for as long as FIS runs the five rings, the WST will be pushing this to be snowboarding's true showcase event. Let's see if they can pull it off.
THE ARCTIC CHALLENGE, APRIL 2016 (dates TBC)
Not much detail on this yet - the website offers no clues other than the message 'The Arctic Challenge Is Finally Back', a few brief stats, and advice to 'Stay Tuned For The Next Level'.
As one of snowboarding's most legendary events, things just aren't the same without a TAC to look forward to. 2014's attempt to reinvigorate halfpipe riding didn't really take, but hopefully things will be brighter in 2016.
THE BRITS, 3rd-10th APRIL 2016
As the season winds to a close, it's always a good idea to head out to the Brits.
Back in Laax after a few years in Tignes, the Brits features lots of top competition and plenty of opportunities to see out the winter in style.
As well as halfpipe and slopestyle, there's the Bangers & Cash rail jam that sees riders awarded on the spot with real dough.
The likes of Jamie Nicholls, Jamie Trinder, Katie Ormerod, Billy Morgan and Dom Harington have all graced the Brits in the past - head along in 2016 to watch the latest crop of UK talent killing it in Laax.
KING OF THE KILL, 15th-17th MAY 2016
20 years since Ingemar Backman blew minds with that backside air, the resort at which he went stratospheric is hosting an anniversary event.
Plus it's all happening in one of the world's most scenic spots, and when the sun never sets then the shred never stops. Sign us up!