Using Demo Days

Dealing with aches and pains--and better yet, avoiding them--and fitness related to snowboarding. This is also the place to talk about helmets, safety pads, and goggles.

Using Demo Days

Postby John » Sun Nov 18, 2007 3:11 pm

I'm no expert in boards, but that didn't stop me from writing something about my experience at a demo day:

If you get the chance to attend a demo day, do it. Yesterday I went to a demo day at tried several boards. Even more than trying out the gear, I enjoyed being part of the a swarm of people enjoying the opportunity to be back on the snow. I am far from being a gearhead, but I'll pass along a few thoughts and tips gleaned from the experience.

I tried some a few boards--not nearly as many as I would have liked--and was amazed at how much lighter they are compared with current board, which needs replacement soon. That will ultimately be a good thing, but it's also a bit scary.

If you're shopping for a board, try to replicate the first principle of scientific experiments: minimize the number of confounding variables. Do what you can to make sure that the only thing different about each demo of a board is the board itself.

For example, take your current bindings to the hill with you, and ask the manufacturer or store rep to mount them to your board. Reps like to sell bindings with boards, naturally, but if you will be keeping your old bindings, you won't get a true comparison of board-to-board.

To extend this principle, use the same stance with each board.If you ride duck normally, make sure that your demo board has a duck stance. If you're a goofy rider, don't accept a board that is set up for a regular rider.

Take some measurements of your current setup before you leave the house. What stance angles do you use? (If you are currently renting, you may need to guess from your experience). Do you ride with a narrow stance, a wide stance, or something in between? Measure the distance between your bindings. Again, the principle is to minimize the number of things that are changing so that you can focus on the board and not innovations in your stance or anything else.

This next item sounds silly, but don't overlook it: What kind of board do you ride now? I don't mean brand name, but type. Is it a twin tip, with tip and tail of equal size? Is it directional, meaning that the nose is wider than the tail? Does it have a lot of flex, or just a little? (And, by the way, would you like to change any of these qualities because of a change in your riding interests, abilities, or the kind of terrain you expect to ride?)

When you take the boards out on the hill, cover the same terrain each time you demo a different board. If you take one board on an icy run through the woods and another board into an open trail that has been softened by the sun, you'll distort the comparison.

Run the board through different kinds of techniques. Ride it hard. Ride it playfully. Ride it in the pipe or in the park, of those are your things. You may need to make these little experiments on several runs, or you may be able to get them all done in one. It depends on how much and what kind of terrain you have to work with.

Finally, know yourself. What kind of rider are you? Are you the fastest one in your group? The one who brings up the rear? Are you aggressive or mellow? Are you a speed demon? Do you like going down the fall line or do you like to play with the rolls of the terrain and cover more ground before you get to the bottom of the run?

I said that you should make a true board-to-board comparison. That's not entirely possible, of course. The change of temperatures and sun exposure throughout the day will make a difference, as will your changing energy levels. But do what you can to minimize those confounding variables, and you'll have a more useful demo day.

By the way, thanks to <a href="http://shayboarder.blogspot.com/2007/08/demoing-gear.html">Shayboarder</a>, whose insights I have included here. Shay is not yet old enough to be a Gray on Tray, but she is one of the better young voices out there on snowboarding.
John
 
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