“Suddenly my apprenticeship has taken a new direction… just when I thought I was an alpine snowboarder.”
You may recognize that quote from a previous “Are You An Alpine Snowboarder?” article. I was making reference to my excitement after running the gates on a GS course. I found the time to enter two GS races this season, and discovered a new side of alpine snowboarding that I’d been avoiding.
I met Bruce Varsava a few winters ago, during my gear-freak seasons. Many of you know him as the owner, designer and builder of COILER snowboards. Others know him as the competition on race day! Our customer/vendor relationship progressed into a friendship over time, and somehow he talked me into going to the races with him. I guess that wasn’t enough, because he also talked me into giving it a try. I don’t want to say I didn’t respect what the racecourse represented, but I really didn’t think I needed to follow that discipline of snowboarding during my apprenticeship. I have never been so wrong… especially since I had recently started a small company to sell alpine snowboard gear.
Carving and racing are NOT the same thing. As a carve-apprentice, I have tried many equipment combinations in the search for that perfect turn. Not all of them worked. But for carving, the general rule of thumb seems to be “stiffer is better,” except when it comes to riding on ice. For the most part, an accomplished carver puts his board at a much higher edge angle than a racer. A stiffer board is required for this. A carver doesn’t need to make exacting turns around a gate, so if bindings or boots that are too stiff translate a mistake to the board, it doesn’t matter. That’s not the case for a racer. This may be particularly evident with younger, lighter racers trying to use adult designed equipment.
So what can we do? Where do you get equipment that is more forgiving for the younger, upcoming racers in your club? I wish I could answer these questions. Over the next few months I hope to source and acquire bindings, boots and boards that are suitable for the riders that are the backbone of alpine snowboarding, and particularly the AOS Developmental Snowboard League. We are going to need your help though. Please give some serious thought to what equipment needs to be made available for next season, and send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can begin sourcing as soon as possible.
– Dave Morgan