Why Olympic Snowboarders Wear Mittens
Here's why Olympic snowboarders wear mittens instead of gloves during competition
Calyn Irwin of Canada competes in the snowboard ladies' halfpipe qualification at PyeongChang 2018. (Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
November 2, 2022
The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics have come to a close, and of course, we've bookmarked the Olympic snowboarding schedule. Home to superstar athletes like Chloe Kim and Jamie Anderson, the snowboard event will include a total of 11 events, including the first-ever mixed team snowboard crossover event. Best time to become familiar with the sport's scoring system and terminology - what exactly is a pretzel trick? - and equipment.
As we've learned from other winter sports, equipment can determine an athlete's chances of standing on the Olympic podium. In snowboarding, every piece of gear counts, including the athlete's choice of hand protection, which is why you'll see so many people wearing mittens instead of finger gloves during competitions. For snowboarders, this decision is more about comfort than mobility.
Snowboarding is one of the few sports where a large range of motion of the hands and fingers is not the key to an athlete's success. Compared to alpine skiing, snowboarders rarely use their hands, so gloves that can be used flexibly are not strictly necessary. Yes, Olympians need to be able to grab their head or tail in different flips, twists and tricks, but this is not the same as slalom where skiers need to hold the pole firmly throughout the race or risk losing control .
For this reason, many Olympic snowboarders choose to wear mittens because it allows their fingers to generate more heat than when they are apart. Also, putting on and taking off gloves is much quicker than taking them off, which makes it easier to attach and undo boot bindings and adjust other equipment like helmets.