Sunday, April 3, 2005

snow: Demo Snowboard Heck

For decades I've snowboarded about 6 days a year. 40% of the time I really enjoy it and am not thinking "I could be having a lot more fun skiing". I ought to buy a board, but despite renting the performance package from many shops, I've never liked any board. Unlike skiing I'm not good enough to know whether what I'm feeling is what's good for me. I'm not even sure what angle to set the bindings -- angled forward, but how much forward.

Earlier this season I finally had a great experience, on a Burton Bullet with their Mission bindings. It just felt fabulous: creamy ride, smooth transitions. But Mountain Mike wouldn't sell me the demo board, he needed it for rental. So I pored over the Burton catalog, and found out the Bullet is for big-footed riders! I shouldn't be enjoying it? The catalog made the Malolo sound like perfection for a non-park, non-switch rider, but snowboard shops talked me out of it. Instead I tried the Burton Custom, their legendary all-round mountain great. And... right back to having an average experience. My calves hurt, I couldn't link turns, the same Mission toe "Capstrap" kept lifting off. I really needed to demo that board back-to-back with the Bullet and the Triumph to make sense of what I'm feeling.

Even when you know what you're doing it's hard to get the right equipment; when you're merely an advanced rider it seems impossible. When in doubt, buy the cheaper stuff!

Update 2005-05-31
I tried a Volkl Pulse 162, not bad: some chatter, OK feel. With the bindings set at 18 and 13 degrees forward, my heel-side turns were easy and my toe-side turns were difficult. I'm sure it's a combination of board width and geometry.

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