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The Independent Travel
Ultimate Snowboarding, by Barry Miller (Carlton, pounds 12.99)

The words "Ultimate" and "Snowboarding" cause those that care about such matters to instantly adopt distant, ecstatic expressions and start talking "Fakies", "Backside 360s", and other such impenetrable jargon. Despite my own distrust for sliding down mountains on anything less than two fixtures, I do concede that there are a significant number of readers who would gladly wear all of granny's Christmas jumpers in return for this book in their stocking on the 25th.

Since its birth in 1965, snowboarding, formerly known as "snurfing", has come a long way. Today, it is safe to say that snowboarding is far from the "fad" it was originally dubbed by sceptics, and that snowboarders stand defiantly apart from skiers in a substantial market niche of their own. According to this book, the snowboarding industry estimates that the sales of snowboards and related equipment could reach more than $150m by the end of this year. Judging from the book's concise equipment guide, even to kit yourself out with the essentials involves parting with a minimum of pounds 700. Bearing this in mind, it is easy to see how the figures start to add up.

With a slim, A4 format, it is more like a glossy brochure than a book, providing the optimum forum for endless action shots: close-up of celebrity boarder in mid-air, boarder spraying snow at camera, distant boarder traversing snow-clad peak. These images of modern-day Milk Tray men will no doubt be torn from the book and displayed on bedroom/office walls. Since snowboarding is not a cheap sport, most people have to make do with one or two trips per year. The celebrity interviews, fantastic pictures and general on and off the slope information in Ultimate Snowboarding will feed hungry boarders in the lean months between trips. For first-timers, there are all the basic tips about equipment, lessons, pre-slope preparation and even a frame by frame "tricks of the trade" section including new moves for intermediate boarders.

At pounds 12.99, the price is in keeping with the high cost of this sport, but with its glamorous, well-qualified contributors (former pro snowboarders, Olympic medallists and an MTV sports presenter) this book should satisfy across the board.