Riding Different Boards as a Learning Tool

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Riding Different Boards as a Learning Tool

Postby SteveH » Thu Mar 13, 2008 9:43 pm

Had an interesting experience a couple of weeks ago that I have been meaning to share. I decided to try some different boards over several days to see how it affected my riding.

Day 1 I appropriated by son's K-2 board, shorter and softer than my Ride Havoc. I liked the K-2 immediately. I felt more in touch with the snow and was able to fine tune torsion adjustments to tweak my turns.

Day 1 worked so well, I took the K-2 into the shop for a tune and checked out their demo equipment. Alas, Lib Tech has been stripped from the shelves by this point in the season. After talking with the extremely knowledgeable (but not omniscient as we will see) staff at Mountain Wave, we decided on a Never Summer Premier. Described as a very damp freeride board, it has a rubber layer to absorb vibration.

It was hate at first ride. It felt like trying to turn an oil tanker. I got no feedback through my feet from the snow. Admittedly it would plough through crud like it wasn't there, but that was the only redeeming quality. I suffered with it for two hours to give it a fair shot, then headed back to the shop for an exchange. After a fair amount of discussion about what I didn't like about the Never Summer, they put me on a Burton X8, on the theory that it feels about as different as you can get from the Never Summer.

The X8 was a pleasure from the moment I rode off the lift. It gave a good feel for the snow and was as responsive as the Never Summer was sluggish. It took some experimentation to find the pressure points that smoothly initiate a new turn, but it was fun trying different techniques and new discoveries were rewarded with a very nice response from the board. All in all a very good day.

Day 3 I went back to my Ride Havoc, mainly to get a benchmark for comparison against the other boards. This was the big surprise. Not only did I find that I liked the Havoc better than the other 3 boards I had ridden, but my technique was markedly better. I was initiating turns with more control and guiding the board more precisely through the turn. This was completely unexpected.

After thinking about it for a while, my conlusion is that forcing myself to learn how the other boards worked was an excellent learning tool. I got a better sense of how torsion worked from the K-2. The Never Summer forced me to greatly exaggerate turn initiation to get it to do anything. The X8 was quick and twitchy forcing me to concentrate on smoothness. The end result was better technique when I got back to my familiar board.
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Postby John » Fri Mar 14, 2008 6:47 am

Interesting idea. Since I bought my first board years ago, I have rode only a handful of demos and my current one. It has always been too much of a hassle to swap out bindings to a new board that I've never done much shopping around. As you point out, maybe I should.
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Postby bernwern » Fri Mar 14, 2008 9:04 am

This is a great idea. My group of friends swaps boards on occaison, but you don't adjust stance or anythng...just swap and ride. Not to mention the board may be too long or short for each different person.

But actually trying a correct board with completely different characteristics would be a welcome challenge. I may need to do that next season :) Thanks for the idea.

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Postby canoer » Tue Mar 18, 2008 2:05 pm

I have an Elan Answer and an Elan Inverse. The Answer is heavier and stiffer than the Inverse - the Inverse is supposedly one of the lightest board out there and it's easy to twist. Very snappy.

I usually save the Inverse for fresh snow days. When I take it on a firm day it frustrates me because I really have to work and stand on the edges to get a grip. After a day (or a few runs) like that, I can really cut up and carve when I return to the stiffer Answer.
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