Across the horizon: the rising sun and endless possibilities
 
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Reports & Essays: Social Issues - Sports

"AND""OR"

Snowboarding
It is difficult to determine who invented the first snow-sliding device, however, there is evidence that sliding devices were used in the Neolithic period before the invention of the wheel. In ancient Egypt, blocks of stone were hauled on sleds or sledges. The simplest form of the sledge is a board turned up in front, as in the toboggan. The Eskimo used dogsledges in pre-Columbian America. The Snowboard originated when M. J. Burchett cut out a plank of plywood and secured his feet with a clothesline and horse reigns. In 1969, Sherman Poppen, improved this device by tying two skis together and putting a rope at the nose so that the rider could hold it and keep it more stable. He called it a "Snurfer." The next stage occurred in 1977, when Jake Burton began building different version of the Snurfer. His first sow-board was made of laminated hardwood and had bindings. The present day version can be attributed to Tom Sims who is mass producing the item. Skiers and snowboarders don't get along on the mountain. They are generally separated by age, fashion, etiquette, lingo and per capital income. Norm Sayler of Donner Ski Ranch in Donner Summit, Calf says he can tell the difference between a snowboarder and a skier on the phone. "Are you open?" The caller asks. "If it is a skier, the next question will be, 'How cold is it?'" Sayler Says. "Then, 'Are the trails groomed?.... What's the color of the snow?... What are the road conditions like?... You can be on the phone for 2 1/2 hours with these people." Some of his other calls go like this: "Hey, dude, you open?" "Yes." Click. "Now that, Sayler says, "Is a snowboarder." Snowboarder culture is similar to that of surfers and skateboarders. Snowboarding is popular with the X generation and they usually have body piercing (tongues, nipples), baggy clothes, different talk and attitude. Skiers are deathly afraid of snowboarders. As Greg Ralph stated "Just their clothes scare us to death." They have an endless supply of stores about the lunatic boarders who have cut them off. They claim snowboarders have no respect for skiers. Snowboarders don't bite, although some skiers are to afraid to get close enough to find out. Give snowboarders some room. "They are no more crude, crass or threatening than any group any group in which three quarters of the members are males under the age of 25."(Sinanoglu) There may be a huge clash between snowboarders and skiers, but the sports are not all that different. To some people skiing and snowboarding are the same sports, each with a range of technique and goals. "The two sports are more similar to each other, than they are to their own sport. What are commonly thought to be inherent differences between the sports are actually just different aspects of the same sport."( www.heckler.com/snowback.html) " Carve board with hardboots, forward stance: The mechanics of using a carve board are very much like those of using 'carving skis' (i.e. parabolic or super sidecut). For similar big sweeping turns, these skis are turned by transitioning to an edge, NOT by a pole plant. From the waist up, the skier/boarder's body positions were nearly indistinguishable. But relatively few boarders ride carve boards, whereas most skiers aspire to carve. (http://www.heckler.com/snowback.html) Shorty skis, with double ends. This isn't seen much any more, though some of it survives in 'ski ballet'. But a few years back there was a mini fad with these; the object was to do spins, go backwards, other acrobatic tricks. (There were no terrain parks in those days.) (www.heckler.com/snowback.html) Free riding: It is perfectly easy to make such turns on skis without pole plants. It's a common training exercise for a skier to hold the poles horizontally across his/her chest/waist and make various turns without planting (mostly to practice proper upper body position). The mechanics of the board are not that different, when compared to a skier making 'big turns'. Of course some skiers make a lot of very short, quick turns. They do use their poles to help initiate (the old technique of plant and turn around the pole is generally obsolete). If a boarder wanted to make that kind of turn maybe poles would help. http://www.heckler.com/snowback.html) Skiing moguls: The pole plant is often used and needed to start abrupt, sharp turns in soft snow which handicaps rotation. Few boarders ride that type of terrain. It's hard to get those kinds of turns off on edge transitions and body english alone. ( http://www.heckler.com/snowback.html) The sports overlap greatly. When people remark 'that's just skiing on a board" keep in mind that the opposite is, "it's just boarding on skis". What is "skiing" vs. "boarding" anyway? Getting down the terrain making a certain type of turn is both. It is what type of terrain and what type of turn it is, and what controls the mechanics, and not just "Is that ski or board technique?" Snowboarding is easier to learn then skiing, but harder to master. Skiing is harder to learn but easier to master. There are three styles of boarding, Alpine, Freeride, and Freestyle. "Alpine snowboarding value the carved turn, racing, competition, and some tricks. Freestyle includes halfpipe (a trench used for tricks) riding, and trick maneuvers favored by those young and radical. Freeriding barrows from both Alpine and Freestyle."(Bennett 8) It is the most popular style today. Usually people that are learning start off with the Freeriding style, then as their boarding experience grows, their boarding style changes to what they are most interested in. Before they start learning how to board, they need to find the correct equipment. "The length of a board is directly proportional to a person's weight, height, and the snow conditions of the mountain. As a rule, the heavier and taller the person, the longer the board. Someone that is 6 feet 4 inches tall and weighs 185 pounds will have a very hard time riding a 149 cm. board in any snow condition. A rider who is 5 feet tall and weighs 100 pounds can have a great time on a 149 cm. board in all conditions." (http://www.solsnowboarding.com) Snow conditions play an important role in choosing the length of a board. . Riders who live in Southern California, the Midwest and the East Coast should choose a smaller board to compensate for the lack of deeper snow. Riders in other areas of the country who are blessed with deep snow and large mountains need different equipment. These riders should ride a longer board with a wide tip and tail so that the board can float on top of deeper snow. Determining the right width for the board is easy-it's in the feet. Riders with large feet require a wider board than riders with small feet. It is important to find a board that will allow to have feet centered on the board, side by side, with the toes over the toe side edge and the heels over the heel side edge. This will give the right amount of leverage that is needed to set the board on edge when turning. "A board that is too wide won't allow for sharp, powerful turns. A board that is too narrow will cause the boots to drag in the snow when making sharp turns." (http://www.solsnowboarding.com) The flexibility of a new snowboard is very hard to determine in a store. To test the board, strap into the board on carpet. Once on the board, rock up and down on the tip and tail of the board to see how stiff or flexible it is. The flex should be consistent throughout the board. You don't want a board with any noticeable inconsistencies in the flex. Some boards are designed with stiffer sections in the tip and tail to allow for better snap when jumping; this is a good feature but it is not for everyone. All boards will perform differently on snow than they do in the store, but this tests will give you a pretty good idea of a board's flex. As a rule, a "stiffer" board will ride better on harder snow, while a "softer" board will rider better on softer snow. Larger people need stiffer longer boards. Shorter boards are more maneuverable. The price of a new board can range anywhere from $250-500. Find a few boards from different companies that have the right length, width, and flex and compare the prices. The boards that suit styles will come in a wide price range. The reason for the wide range is "each company uses different materials in producing their boards and these materials will determine the price. Board weight is a significant factor in determining price. Companies make costly modifications to the core of the board in order to make it lighter. Most companies use lighter wood or fiberglass combined with exotic materials (Kevlar, rubber, carbon) to make the board lighter. These materials are very expensive and will drive up the cost of a board. A lighter board is desirable because it will be easier to maneuver and has a livelier feel." (altavista.digital.com) "Many of next years boards will Look much different. Not only are graphics brighter and more innovative, but the top-sheets of many boards will no longer be smooth and flat. Expanding upon the trend started by K2 with the visible "torsion forks" in this year's "Zeppelin," the tops of many different brands of boards will have a "relief" appearance. These undulations cover "forks, rods, and aluminum honeycomb" which are suppose to suggest the presence of some type of special (magical?) internal structure that will enhance a board's performance. This is a marketing and construction trend that the Alpine ski industry has used for over two years."(altavista.digital.com) "Some of next year's FreeRide and FreeStyle boards will be shipped with "4000 Grade Graphite" bases. These are jet black (sorry no graphic opportunities) and have previously only been used on high-end race boards and Alpine skis. They are noticeably faster and more "slippery" than traditional 2000 grade sintered bases."( http://www.heckler.com/snowback.html) "Another change for next year is the complete standardization of the "4x4" metric insert pattern by all companies, except Burton. The last hold-outs, Ride's "Preston" pattern, and Libtech & Gnu's "4/20" threads will be history."( http://www.heckler.com/snowback.html) "Another change will be the relatively common use of "Cap" construction. This eliminates the separate "side wall" found in traditional "sandwich" designs. Contrary to what you may have heard, Cap construction actually reduces the cost of building a board! The use of light weight cores is continuing. Burton showed it's "FL Project" FreeStyle board (approx. 150 cm) which weighs an incredible 3.5 lb. yet has a full-length wood core! (a standard board of this size is about 6.5 lb..) Sims is using Hexcel aluminum honeycomb (borrowed from the ski industry) in the tip/tail of its "Project Hex" boards." (www.heckler.com/snowback.html) Finding the right pair of boots is one of the hardest things to do because everyone's foot is different. What may feel good to a friend, may be excruciatingly painful to someone else. Some people have strange misconceptions about fit. One of the biggest is that people have to wear more than one pair of socks. That is absolutely wrong. Boots should fit snugly. It is all right if toes are grazing the ends, but make sure they aren't jammed. Most boots have very technical materials in them designed to keep feet warm. "Many companies use Thinsulate in the boots or neoprene liners for added warmth."( www.heckler.com/snowback.html) If you are trying on boots and need to wear two pairs of socks, try a size smaller. After the boots break in a little they will feel a lot better. Another thing to watch out for is heel lift. The heel should lift as little as possible inside the liner. If you have a little lift in the store, you are going to have a lot more on the snow. Too much heel lift will make your foot rise up in the boot and make toe side turns sloppy. "Make sure that the heel cup of the boot fits snugly and secure around ankles and heels. Some boots have external or internal heel support straps. These straps can make all the difference in the world when it comes to eliminating heel lift. If you buy a pair of boots and they feel good in the store, strap into a board and rock back and forth. If it is getting a little lift try an after-market heel retention strap. These straps should eliminate 50 percent of any lift that you have." (www.heckler.com/snowback.html) For people, toe drag is a major factor to consider. Look for boots that have upturned toes and heels. These boots look like the front and back parts of the soles have been shaved away for minimal drag. You want to stay away from squared off, hiking boot-style soles. The old square style boot will give you way too much toe and heel drag. Some other things to look for in a good boot are waterproof uppers and lowers. "If the boots aren't waterproofed at the factory buy some waterproofing wax and do it yourself . Be sure to look at where the leather or synthetic upper meets the rubber lower of the boot. Bend it a little bit and look for any gaps in this area. Some poorly constructed boots will have small gaps in that area." Stay away from those boots, they leak. Finding the right bindings is just as hard as finding the right boots. Right now, "there are three main choices when it comes to FreeStyle bindings: strap, baseless and step-in."(www.heckler.com/snowback.html) "Strap bindings have come a long way over the years. What was once a form of medieval foot torture is now as comfortable as skateshoes. Look for bindings that have a lot of padding on the straps. This will save some pain after a hard day of riding. If you are into a lot of park/pipe riding look for bindings that have a lower highback. This will give you more lateral flex and allow you to tweak harder. If all mountain riding is your forte, then go with a higher highback. This will give more heelside support and those powder turns. Highbacks that have forward lean adjusters are a bonus."( www.heckler.com/snowback.html) "Three years ago several companies introduced "baseless" binding systems. These designs place the sole of the rider's boot in direct contact with the snowboard deck by eliminating the binding's base plate. It also lowers the sole height by up to 1/8". Most baseless bindings are far more difficult to adjust (stance angle/width) than traditional "4x4" designs. They aggravate "toe drag" problems for people with large feet."(www.heckler.com/snowback.html) Baseless bindings came about for riders who wanted to be as close to the deck of the board as possible. Being closer to the deck allows you to "feel" the flex of the board a little better. Park and pipe guys really jumped on this trend because they can have a quicker edge to edge response. "Lately, baseless bindings have sort of faded into the shadow of the latest in binding technology: the step-in."( www.heckler.com/snowback.html) "Step-in bindings have been around for a few years, in one form or another, but they exploded onto the scene last winter. The concept is simple. The boots fit directly onto the binding without using any straps. Step-in bindings allow riders to get onto their board with relative ease. There are over twenty companies producing step-in systems this year. Each company has their own style as to how you get in, but the concept is basically the same. If you are interested in riding step-in bindings make damn sure that the boots fit you really well. If the boots don't fit, it's not like you can just tighten your straps because there aren't any. Systems like the Clicker, by K2, and Switch use boots with plastic "highback" inside the boots. At first the boots feel really strange but stick with them because they get more comfortable as you ride. Other companies, like the Device, use almost unmodified soft boots in their systems. These boots feel like regular 'ol soft boots and don't feel as weird as some of the other step-in systems."( www.heckler.com/snowback.html) It is always best to try out the equipment before it is bought. Most stores let people try it out first. Try out as many boots and bindings as possible to assure the best system possible. This season we are seeing the continuing development of a totally new type of boot/board (binding) interface. "These new systems utilize specialized boots with integral binding plates in their soles which attach directly to a companion bracket on a regular snowboard using either a "4x4" or "3-D" inset system. They permit the rider to "Step-Into" (fasten to) the board directly without the use of the straps which have been used before." (http://www.solsnowboarding.com) "None of the boots and bindings in the following systems are interchangeable. You buy the boot and the binding as a set for about $300+. Some of the special boots, most notably "Switch", may not fit in traditional strap-in bindings as their mounting brackets protrude outward from the sides of the boot. This could make borrowing or "demoing" boards equipped with traditional "strap" bindings difficult. Also, with the exception of the "Device" system, the high-back is built into the boot. This means that most step-in boots are much stiffer than regular "soft boots." 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 (Burton) will be offering a step-in model which will further speed the entry and exit process."(www.heckler.com/snowback.html) Learning to snowboard is the most dangerous part to snowboarding. Beginners are more likely to fracture a bone, just the opposite of skiers. "The most vulnerable point is the wrist. Boarders are 7 times more likely to break it then skiers because they use their hands to break their falls."(Sinanoglu) Snowboarding may be the hottest sport this winter, but increasing injury rates could make it one of the most dangerous. "The injuries sustained by snowboarders are primarily to the wrist, forearm, and ankle. Snowboarders unusual stance - both feet facing sideways in non-releasable bindings - is one of the factors contributing to the injuries. In the position, the only way for the snowboarder to fall is directly forward or backward onto their outstretched hands. The rider can not reposition to break the fall and the entire impact of the fall is absorbed by the outstretched hands. The non-releasable bindings also may be a leading cause of the ankle injuries. The force that normally allows a ski boot to release from its binding is absorbed by the ankle in a non releasable system. The design of the boots worn by snowboarders may contribute to the high rate of ankle injures. The soft-shelled boots worn by snowboarders allow a more free range of motion of the ankles than the hard shelled boots worn by alpine skiers. There is less torsion force concentrated at the knee, but more hyperextension and hyperflexion forces across the ankle. Alpine skiers are three times more likely to get a knee injury than snowboarders. On the other hand, snowboarders are twice as likely to get an ankle injury. Wrist and forearm fractures are more then four times as prevalent in snowboarders then skiers. Some of these injuries can be prevented by buying guards and padded clothing." ( www.heckler.com/snowback.html) Knowing how to repair and maintain the board can save lots of money and risk of being injured and stranded on the mountain. Waxing is important to keeping it in good shape. "There are six basic tools you need to wax your board Scraper, Base Cleaner, Wax, Iron, Scotch Brite Pad, Cork Block."(Bennett) You can pick up all the tools you need to wax your board at your local snowboard or ski shop. "The first step in waxing your board is removing your old wax. If your wax is thick, use your scraper to remove the bulk of it, then spray base-cleaner and wipe it clean. The second step is to melt the wax on with the iron (not too thick), then iron the wax evenly over the entire base, and let it cool. The third step is once the wax is cool, scrape it with a snowboard scraper. Do not use a metal scraper as it will remove all the wax. After you do this, use a Scotch Brite pad and wipe the bottom of your board."(Bennett) Now, according to some manuals, you are done. But if you take a cork and rub the remaining wax firmly into the base of your board, your wax will last longer. "When you talk to most shop techs, they all have their own waxing secrets that they claim work better than others. But the truth is they all work about the same. After a few times of waxing your own board, you will find a way that will work best for you."(www.solsnowboarding.com)) There are a lot of things to consider when deciding on snowboarding, the costs of the board, bindings, boot, clothing, taking the risk of injures, and investing time into repairing the board.

 



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