Snowboard Equipment - First Time Buyers

Snowboard Equipment - First Time Buyers

Post by David Schu » Fri, 26 Aug 1994 00:24:42


Please don't flame me for posting a snowboard article on
rec.skiing.alpine

I have had several requests from Alpine skiers for the
following information and a suggestion that I post same here.

Below is an article which I wrote for the Ski Patrol's
magazine.  It is intended for beginner snowboarders or parents
of same.  Thus, it places an emphasis on those that are
crossing-over from Alpine skiing.

Given that Summer is ending here in the Northern Hemisphere, I
thought it might be helpful.

I wish I had the ability to include the illustrations that were
part of the article.

Dave Schutz
"Board'n Patroller"
(25+ year Alpine skier)

**************************************************************

_Snowboard Equipment - Thoughts for the First-time Buyer_  
(by;  David Schutz;  NSP Eastern Snowboard Advisor)

The choices available in the selection of a snowboard and  
boots are nearly as vast as those in Alpine ski equipment.  
There are about 50 different brands on the market with many
offering at least a half-dozen models.

Snowboards actually share more common elements with Alpine  
skis than most people realize.  Modern snowboards have  
continuous steel edges, polyethylene bases and laminated  wood
cores, as do most skis.  Consideration of flex  patterns,
side-cut depth, and camber are all relevant  concepts for
snowboards.  With all these similarities it  should come as no
surprise that modern snowboards can  "carve" a turn as well as
an Alpine ski.

Snowboards fall into three distinct categories.  All three  
types are commonly used for patrol work.

_Freestyle_ (60% of market) These have a fairly even flex  
pattern and only a small amount of side-cut.  In general  they
are easy to identify as their tails have a turned-up  shovel
that resembles that at the front.  These double-ended  boards
are specifically designed to ride backwards ("fakie")  as
easily as forward.  They are truly "bi-directional."  This
board is suitable for all types of tricks ("ollies",  "360's",
etc.)  Some models may also be quite wide, as they  need to
eliminate foot drag for larger riders who may assume  a stance
angle nearly perpendicular across the board.

_Alpine_  (10% of market) At the other end of continuum are  
the racing boards.  These are designed for speed.  They are  
easy to spot, as most have a flat tail, like a ski, and a  
lower shovel than the Freestyle models.  These boards tend  to
be stiff with very pronounced side-cuts and a more narrow  
waist.  When placed on edge they can "carve" phenomenal  
tracks.  (Those extremely thin ruts you see are usually left  
by Alpine snowboards).

Some Alpine boards feature "asymmetrical" designs.  In this  
case the board no longer has a symmetrical side-cut.  The  
design is actually a parallelogram, with one side offset  about
5 cm. from the other.  Asymmetrical boards must be  selected
with consideration of whether the user ("rider") is  left foot
forward ("regular") or right foot forward  ("goofie") riding
stance.  If you have never snowboarded and  are about to buy an
asymmetrical board you need to know  which foot you want
forward _before_ you purchase it.

_Free Riding_ (30% of market)  This is an attempt to marry  
many of the characteristics of Freestyle and Alpine boards  
into a single hybrid product.  They generally will have  
somewhat of a turned-up tail so they can been ridden "fakie"  
(backward), quite easily.  They can be used for many tricks,  
yet still have respectable carving abilities.  They could  
probably best be termed an "all around" snowboard for many  
different types of riding styles and snow conditions.

_Boots_

Snowboard boots fall into two broad categories;  soft and  
hard.

_Soft Boots_  About 90% of recreational snowboarders use  soft
boots.  While these may initially look like a pair of  ordinary
laced leather boots, they are actually a very  carefully
designed product made specifically for  snowboarding.  They
contain very extensive foot and angle  supports.  Use of boots
not specifically designed for  snowboarding should be actively
discouraged, as serious  injury could result.

In the past many patrollers have stayed away from soft boots  
due to the extra time required to get into and out of their  
associated binding systems.  This coming season there will  be
at least two companies offering products that provide  
"step-in" operation with soft boots!

_Hard Boots_  Hard snowboarding boots externally look quite  
similar to Alpine ski boots.  They have a plastic outer  shell
and most have an overlapping center tongue.  However  at that
point the similarity ends.

Most hard snowboarding boots have very extensive calf  
supports.  This is because in this sport 50% of all the  turns
that you will make will require that you lean  backward.  In
skiing we try not to lean backward, hence ski  boots provide
minimal calf support.

Ski boots have a relatively thin sole, the dimensions of  which
follow the DIN standard.  Hard snowboard boots have a  
turned-up nose and tail to minimize drag and don't have a  flat
sole.  Their binding attachment points are much higher  than
ski boots.  While it is frequently possible to mate ski  boots
to some hard-boot snowboard bindings, this can produce  an
unstable boot/binding interface which the manufacturers  
actively discourage.

_Bindings_

Unlike skis the cost of a snowboard normally includes a set  of
bindings supplied by the snowboard manufacturer.  Remember,
snowboard bindings _don't provide a safety  release_ function.  
This is because when your two feet are  connected to a single
ski (snowboard), you are in a moderate  width stance, and have
a fairly short distance between your  foot and the end of the
snowboard, the chances for injury of  your lower body are far
less than in skiing.

Within the past two years the snowboard industry has moved  
toward the use of a pre-drilled "turntable" binding  
configuration.  This design, which most companies (except
Burton) call a "4 x 4" mounting pattern, permits rapid changes
in binding placement and stance angles.

There are two basic types of bindings which are dependent  upon
the use of either soft or hard boots.

_Soft Bindings_  The majority of soft bindings are a  two-strap
"freestyle" designs.  The straps are around the  toe with the
second over the instep.  There is a rear ankle  support, but it
becomes useful only when leaning backward.

A few companies also offer a high-back "three-strap" design.  
The third strap is positioned near the boot top over the  lower
leg.  This design provides much greater support and  more
decisive edge control.  These factors may speed the  learning
process for people transitioning from Alpine  skiing.

_Hard Bindings_  The bindings used for hard boots are  commonly
referred to as "plate" units.  Most are simple in  design,
since as you will recall;  snowboard bindings don't  contain a
safety release function.  This season at least one  
manufacturer will be offering a step-in model which will  
further speed the entry and exit process.

_Thoughts About Pricing_:

Most retailers are able to rapidly sell all of their  snowboard
inventory.  It's not unusual to find shops  virtually sold-out
of snowboards by late January.  As such,  mark-downs are not as
prevalent as for Alpine equipment.  Don't be surprised if your
local shop doesn't offer  snowboard discounts comparable to its
ski equipment.  Ever  notice how few snowboards you see at the
pre-season  "Warehouse" sales?

In time supply will likely reach or exceed demand.  But with  
the continuing rapid growth of the sport that probably won't  
happen this year.  For the widest possible selection, shop  
early.

Questions & Comments:

David Schutz
NSP Eastern - Snowboard Advisor

 
 
 

Snowboard Equipment - First Time Buyers

Post by Bill Ro » Fri, 26 Aug 1994 06:02:31

No flames from this *old man*, very nice helpful article.In article

Quote:
> Please don't flame me for posting a snowboard article on
> rec.skiing.alpine

> I have had several requests from Alpine skiers for the
> following information and a suggestion that I post same here.

> Below is an article which I wrote for the Ski Patrol's
> magazine.  It is intended for beginner snowboarders or parents
> of same.  Thus, it places an emphasis on those that are
> crossing-over from Alpine skiing.

> Given that Summer is ending here in the Northern Hemisphere, I
> thought it might be helpful.

> I wish I had the ability to include the illustrations that were
> part of the article.

> Dave Schutz
> "Board'n Patroller"
> (25+ year Alpine skier)

> **************************************************************

> _Snowboard Equipment - Thoughts for the First-time Buyer_  
> (by;  David Schutz;  NSP Eastern Snowboard Advisor)

> The choices available in the selection of a snowboard and  
> boots are nearly as vast as those in Alpine ski equipment.  
> There are about 50 different brands on the market with many
> offering at least a half-dozen models.

> Snowboards actually share more common elements with Alpine  
> skis than most people realize.  Modern snowboards have  
> continuous steel edges, polyethylene bases and laminated  wood
> cores, as do most skis.  Consideration of flex  patterns,
> side-cut depth, and camber are all relevant  concepts for
> snowboards.  With all these similarities it  should come as no
> surprise that modern snowboards can  "carve" a turn as well as
> an Alpine ski.

> Snowboards fall into three distinct categories.  All three  
> types are commonly used for patrol work.

> _Freestyle_ (60% of market) These have a fairly even flex  
> pattern and only a small amount of side-cut.  In general  they
> are easy to identify as their tails have a turned-up  shovel
> that resembles that at the front.  These double-ended  boards
> are specifically designed to ride backwards ("fakie")  as
> easily as forward.  They are truly "bi-directional."  This
> board is suitable for all types of tricks ("ollies",  "360's",
> etc.)  Some models may also be quite wide, as they  need to
> eliminate foot drag for larger riders who may assume  a stance
> angle nearly perpendicular across the board.

> _Alpine_  (10% of market) At the other end of continuum are  
> the racing boards.  These are designed for speed.  They are  
> easy to spot, as most have a flat tail, like a ski, and a  
> lower shovel than the Freestyle models.  These boards tend  to
> be stiff with very pronounced side-cuts and a more narrow  
> waist.  When placed on edge they can "carve" phenomenal  
> tracks.  (Those extremely thin ruts you see are usually left  
> by Alpine snowboards).

> Some Alpine boards feature "asymmetrical" designs.  In this  
> case the board no longer has a symmetrical side-cut.  The  
> design is actually a parallelogram, with one side offset  about
> 5 cm. from the other.  Asymmetrical boards must be  selected
> with consideration of whether the user ("rider") is  left foot
> forward ("regular") or right foot forward  ("goofie") riding
> stance.  If you have never snowboarded and  are about to buy an
> asymmetrical board you need to know  which foot you want
> forward _before_ you purchase it.

> _Free Riding_ (30% of market)  This is an attempt to marry  
> many of the characteristics of Freestyle and Alpine boards  
> into a single hybrid product.  They generally will have  
> somewhat of a turned-up tail so they can been ridden "fakie"  
> (backward), quite easily.  They can be used for many tricks,  
> yet still have respectable carving abilities.  They could  
> probably best be termed an "all around" snowboard for many  
> different types of riding styles and snow conditions.

> _Boots_

> Snowboard boots fall into two broad categories;  soft and  
> hard.

> _Soft Boots_  About 90% of recreational snowboarders use  soft
> boots.  While these may initially look like a pair of  ordinary
> laced leather boots, they are actually a very  carefully
> designed product made specifically for  snowboarding.  They
> contain very extensive foot and angle  supports.  Use of boots
> not specifically designed for  snowboarding should be actively
> discouraged, as serious  injury could result.

> In the past many patrollers have stayed away from soft boots  
> due to the extra time required to get into and out of their  
> associated binding systems.  This coming season there will  be
> at least two companies offering products that provide  
> "step-in" operation with soft boots!

> _Hard Boots_  Hard snowboarding boots externally look quite  
> similar to Alpine ski boots.  They have a plastic outer  shell
> and most have an overlapping center tongue.  However  at that
> point the similarity ends.

> Most hard snowboarding boots have very extensive calf  
> supports.  This is because in this sport 50% of all the  turns
> that you will make will require that you lean  backward.  In
> skiing we try not to lean backward, hence ski  boots provide
> minimal calf support.

> Ski boots have a relatively thin sole, the dimensions of  which
> follow the DIN standard.  Hard snowboard boots have a  
> turned-up nose and tail to minimize drag and don't have a  flat
> sole.  Their binding attachment points are much higher  than
> ski boots.  While it is frequently possible to mate ski  boots
> to some hard-boot snowboard bindings, this can produce  an
> unstable boot/binding interface which the manufacturers  
> actively discourage.

> _Bindings_

> Unlike skis the cost of a snowboard normally includes a set  of
> bindings supplied by the snowboard manufacturer.  Remember,
> snowboard bindings _don't provide a safety  release_ function.  
> This is because when your two feet are  connected to a single
> ski (snowboard), you are in a moderate  width stance, and have
> a fairly short distance between your  foot and the end of the
> snowboard, the chances for injury of  your lower body are far
> less than in skiing.

> Within the past two years the snowboard industry has moved  
> toward the use of a pre-drilled "turntable" binding  
> configuration.  This design, which most companies (except
> Burton) call a "4 x 4" mounting pattern, permits rapid changes
> in binding placement and stance angles.

> There are two basic types of bindings which are dependent  upon
> the use of either soft or hard boots.

> _Soft Bindings_  The majority of soft bindings are a  two-strap
> "freestyle" designs.  The straps are around the  toe with the
> second over the instep.  There is a rear ankle  support, but it
> becomes useful only when leaning backward.

> A few companies also offer a high-back "three-strap" design.  
> The third strap is positioned near the boot top over the  lower
> leg.  This design provides much greater support and  more
> decisive edge control.  These factors may speed the  learning
> process for people transitioning from Alpine  skiing.

> _Hard Bindings_  The bindings used for hard boots are  commonly
> referred to as "plate" units.  Most are simple in  design,
> since as you will recall;  snowboard bindings don't  contain a
> safety release function.  This season at least one  
> manufacturer will be offering a step-in model which will  
> further speed the entry and exit process.

> _Thoughts About Pricing_:

> Most retailers are able to rapidly sell all of their  snowboard
> inventory.  It's not unusual to find shops  virtually sold-out
> of snowboards by late January.  As such,  mark-downs are not as
> prevalent as for Alpine equipment.  Don't be surprised if your
> local shop doesn't offer  snowboard discounts comparable to its
> ski equipment.  Ever  notice how few snowboards you see at the
> pre-season  "Warehouse" sales?

> In time supply will likely reach or exceed demand.  But with  
> the continuing rapid growth of the sport that probably won't  
> happen this year.  For the widest possible selection, shop  
> early.

> Questions & Comments:

> David Schutz
> NSP Eastern - Snowboard Advisor