When snowboarding made its debut at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Japan, it immediately became one of the fastest growing sports in the United States and now holds the interest of over seven million participants in the United States alone.
Snowboarding is now as accepted as "legitimate" skiing at most ski facilities worldwide. Its popularity and fan base is growing at such a pace that the number of skiers in the United States has declined by 25% while the number of snowboarders has increased by 77%, making Snowboarding the fastest growing winter sport in the United States. Many resorts maintain freestyle parks with rails and halfpipes, as well as freeride slopes for beginning to advanced snowboarders.
Today, more than 3.4 million people snowboard. This number comprises about 20% of the visitors to US ski resorts annually. Also, the number of people who snowboard is predicted to overtake Skiing by 2015.