The two are easily confused for a whole bunch of reasons (their similar names being the first reason, haha), but they are very unique and require some seriously different gear, however, they also both have many things in common. To put it in another way when I think freestyle longboarding I think Adam and Adam skating together however when I think freeride longboarding I think more along the lines of James Kelly and the Skatehouse Media crew. But not everyone who reads this article may know who these industry personalities are, so I'm going to go into more detail.
Freeride longboarding is what I call "falling with style" (for those of you love Toy Story, haha). Ok, no, you're not actually falling, unless you consider your drop in elevation from start to finish. Freeride, in my opinion, is attacking a downhill run. You're not tucked and wearing a full leather downhill suit trying to go as fast as possible... that's called downhilling. Instead you slap on your helmet and your slides gloves and tear the hill to pieces. You may be asking yourself... "Wayne, how do you tear a hill to pieces on a skateboard?"
This is how:
What is Freestyle?
Freestyle longboarding, in my opinion, is the flow of creative energy simply for the sake of being expressive. When you go out to freestyle you don't necessarily have a goal a mind; you just know that you want to be on a board moving and flowing. The desire to groove on your board is what has given rise to the sub-category of freestyle longboarding known as board dancing, which is exactly what it sounds like, dancing around on your skateboard. In addition to dancing, freestyle riders are all about some manuals and flip tricks when flowing through town. Freestyle longboarding is a close cousin of the more common street skating you see in like a Tony Hawk game, but with its own twist.
Here is a video with some serious freestyle and board dancing:
However, I know what you may be asking yourself...
Do the Two Overlap?
Heck yes they do!
Freestyle and Freeride have a TON of overlapping areas! More and more you are seeing the lines between the two disciplines (if there ever were any distinct lines) being blurred and erased. Many of the best riders for the big companies in the longboarding industry can do it all. Their videos and styles take elements from both types of riding and combine them into one mega-fantastical thing of beauty. Watching someone combine these two art forms is awe inspiring.
Speaking of which, check this video:
Freeride and Freestyle are unique styles of riding (and the lovely crowd on silverfish will be quick to remind you of that, haha). Freeride is focused on going fast and doing slides. Freestyle is focused on flip tricks, manuals, and board dancing. However, they are both a type of skateboarding. I am not saying that these two disciplines will ever be blurred together so much that you can't tell them apart, but I am saying that the divisions between riding styles isn't as important as many people think. Whether you want to go sideways down a hill with nasty powerslides or just manual all through the town, at the end of the day you're still on a skateboard... and that's pretty awesome.