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>From:         Chris Henry <[log in to unmask]>
 Subject:      intelligent snowboarding conversation: an example

 Very specific snowboarding question here, so don't say I didn't warn you.
 (Also, sorry it's so long. Basically I just want some advise on plate
bindings.)

 I think it was Mr. Bogan <
                ^^
Please.  Don't make me feel old.  Denis will do.  Now that we have that
out of the way, there are many interesting questions here.

I don't know exactly how long ago it was but at one time carving on
hardboots was the rage.  It was called Eurocarving and it was astonishing
to watch.  We were all on long skinny straight skis on which only World
Cuppers could make pure carves and even then they needed the full width of
a wide slope to do it.  Meanwhile hardboot snowboarders were laying their
shoulders on the snow and moving at absolutely warp speed without any
skidding.  They made characteristic C-shaped trenches in the snow.  Even
to look at the tracks from the lift was a thrill.  You knew it was a
snowboarder because the trenches jumped downhill at the transition between
turns, and skiers could never cut them so deep and on such short radii.

I started riding perhaps 7 or 8 years ago when a friend sold me his old
board cheap.  It was a Simms Blade ATV Narrow set up with straps.  I
bought a pair of soft boots at a used equip. sale and began screwing
around, with an occasional lesson.  The boots were cheapos and the straps
cut badly at the tendon on the top my ankles.  It was also hell to take a
long traverse where I had to stand on the toe side seemingly forever
praying that the board would continue to move where it was pointed and not
slide off the trail into the woods.  I thought there had to be a better
way.  One day I saw a guy my age at Snowshoe making beautiful carves on
plate bindings.  He was a ski patroller from Blue Knob using Randonee (AT)
boots with his plates.  He said it was the perfect setup, convenience and
firm connection of a plate and soft enough that he had excellent feel and
ability to finesse the board.  So I got plates, threw away those hateful
soft boots and started using my old Garmont alpine boots.  I "dialed in"
my angles at 45 front and 35 rear.  This didn't work too well either.  I
stuck with it for a couple of seasons but the boots were really too stiff
for riding.  I came close to buying some AT boots but finally decided to
try my T3 tele boots.  I had cut down the duckbill toes so they would fit
in step in crampons (for Mt. Wash. in the spring) and discovered that they
now fit in the plate bindings.  This set up has all the right qualities
for all mountain riding and I like it very much.

I teach part time with Teen Winter Sports of Fairfax, VA.  We are a PSIA
ski school and all of the staff are supposed to be certified or working
toward it.  (I am one of 3 staff trainers and I lead alpine instructor
training clinics one night a week.)  Most of our staff are past 50 and
only 4 of us snowboard, out of >50 staff.  About 1/3 of our kids snowboard
and I always bring both board and teles on trips.  (I teach alpine lessons
on teles.)  I always ask the director does he want me on skis or board and
the answer is always board.  The kids really relate to staffers who will
ride a board.  A few of them are hot, most are newbies or close to it.  It
doesn't matter, all of them, even the hottest, respect it when a gray
haired adult will ride with them.

Last season I started (at last) to feel that it was equipment, not
technique that was holding me back.  I got an O-Sin Team FR 155 on proform
and put my old plates on it.  Big improvement.  I love this board.  I got
an introduction to powder riding last season and I am going to be taking
it west along with my CMH Pfats.  It's a big convenience to be able to use
one pair of boots for both.

Soft boots have advanced a lot.  Probably now if I started on a good pair
of soft boots I'd see no reason to change.  I see people on soft boots
carve trenches all the time now.  However snowboard racers and the people
who can pull the most Gs and layout horizontally are still on hard boots.
One day at Beaver Creek last winter I saw hardboot super carvers all over
the mountain and wondered what was going on.  It turns out they were
having a snowboard limbo contest.  Jim B and I watched as the winner
carved cleanly under a bar set at 12 inches! off the snow and popped up on
the other side.

You can do what you want on a board, and I hope this free spirit
continues.  I think I see a split board for backcountry in my future.

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