A really short explanation of selected topics related no only with riding techniques and equipment. More about raised topics are available on SnowboardAcademy.pl in Polish, but there is much more to be described, but we need to wait for them ;)
It is a collection of our experience as competitors, coaches, and carvers. It's how we see it, how we are doing it and how we teach... form the early beginning of the century.
You will find here also references to adventures of our friends, friends of our friends and interesting theories from the internet :D
Priority and accidents on-piste.
Unfortunately "FIS Decalogue" is not precise enough... You can find it here
We must remember that our carving rout is different than 90% other people on the piste, which are sliding, scraping down the hill. We are beginning and finishing our turns almost across the slope. Sliding scrapers are not expecting that... And the end of the carving turn when we are riding almost across a slope is where most of the accidents happen... The worst thing is that rules in this moment of carving turn are not precise enough. Theoretically rider "above" should avoid rider "below" (Rule 3,4) but carver that are riding across the slope when ending a turn can be treated as a rider "moving upward" so in this case, he should give a space for riders riding down the hill (Rule 5). For us everything is clear, but when accidents happen, almost always "accident’s perpetrator" is carver riding across the slope, not slider going down the hill, almost always very fast with minimal control. That is our sad experience...
So let's be careful, and take a look up the hill, every second/third backside turn, to check if some mad slider is not going down the hill without any control...
The second thing is stopping/sitting on a slope. The best way is to do it as close of slope edge as possible. If you will sit 0,5m from the slope edge, you can be sure that some skier will go there. I'm sure everyone has expired such a situation...
And always stop/sit in a place where you are visible, never behind a sloped area and narrow part of piste.
What first hardboot board?
Maybe lets ask in a different way... What we are not recommending?
We do not recommend old and very hard boards. New constructions are much easier to ride. Maybe better to spent some more money and to buy a board which is the current generation that three generations back.
We do not recommend very hard/stiff boards. To bend such board you need much of weight or/and strength. And riding will not be pure pleasure, especially when snow is not so hard.
We also do not recommend bards with a big radius >15m. To have such board bent, there is neede quite big speed, which is not recommended when you are learning od carving urns.
To small radius, like SL boards, maybe it is quite good for the beginning of hardboot adventure, but it learns to ride with too big turn radius in a compartment with board sidecut radius. So when riding on board with a bigger radius you will have a problem with it. SL boards need specific, very dynamic technique.
Board length. A longer board will be more difficult to ride, short board will be less stable. GS board will have different length then SL or tourist/carving board.
For the first hardboot board we recommend a board with radius 10-12m, not so long, but also not too short with camber construction.
Boots and bindings.
Most of the carvers are using F2 Race Titanium bindings. They offer good quality at a good price. Continuous regulation of boot length, the ability of lift/cantings, lightness and endurance/timelife are their advantages. We recommend them for beginners and advanced carvers.
Boots. everything of Raichle/Deeluxe and UPZ. Blax/Head are boots that we like not so much, but there are also good boots. Burton Fire/Wind if you can find, are also very good boots. And Point, old NorthWave, but the price is astronomical...
The setting of bindings.
The minimal angle of bindings is when any part od boot/binding is not touching snow when the board is tilted/angled 80-90 degrees.
The maximum angle of bindings depends on your life philosophy.
In general front binding should be set 5-10degrees more than rear. Most often it is 50-60degrees for front binding, and 45-50 for the rear. Narrow boards need a greater angle than wide boards.
Stance (distance between bindings)
As a basic stance for first days on hardboot boards we recommend a distance between the top of the patella and center of the inner ankle. For more experienced riders it can be different, but it depends on your anatomy, equipment, and riding technique.
For softboot equipment, it can be a little bit more.
In general, for lower bindings angle, bigger stance. So for angles 30/20 stance will be closer to described than for 15/0, where could be few cm bigger.
Center of boot and center of binding.
Every boot has mark with "center" of the boot. What is this center, we do not know, it can be center od boot length, a center of feet inside of boot or maybe the center of riders mass projection on boot or feet...
Much more important is to have boot/binding not touching snow when board tilted almost vertically during carving turn. Where is your center is not important anymore, when part of boot touch snow and lift the edge of the board up, over the snow, and you fall... So have boot not touching snow is much more important than center of something...
Boot and binging sizes.
Few boots sizes can use one boot shell. It is normal that 2-3 liner sizes are using in one shell size.
The sam with bindings. Let's take a look at F2 Race Titanium. They are using the same binging plate/base, plastic parts with straps are also the same, the only difference is a place of mounting screws hole.
for example boot size 45. Burton Fire can hardly fit into L size binding. For L size bindings and Deeluxe Indy boot binding lengths have to be much reduced, but boot also fit into M binding. UPZ size 45 fits in M binding with length reduced almost to the middle.
So when buying boots or/and bindings it is good to check if the boot fits into your binding and vice versa.
What softboot board?
The most important thing for softboot carvers is a stance. If the minimal stance is bigger than 56cm you can forget about riding in alpine/rotated position. Too big stance interrupt basic alpine, angled, rotated position...
Second thing is that best for carving are directional boards with setback, not twin-tip.
Best board profile for carving is camber or hybrid rocker-camber-rocker. Others are not good for on-edge turns. Of course, you can ride carving turns on a flat or rocker but it will easy or pleasant...
We do not recommend boards "American mainstream inventors" like Never Summer or Lib Tech with inverted profiles like camber-rocker-camber or Magne Traction. We have only negative experience with such boards, only thing that helped was basic camber board...
It is not so easy. Rule nr one is the same as for hardboot bindings. No boot/binding part can touch the snow when board tilted. This is how we are setting a minimum angle of rear binding.
But what is the maximum angle of binding? The angle where boot-binding is working in a meaningful way. Softboot set (boot and binding) has quite good stiffness in a back direction because boot resists on highback. In the front direction, the boot resists on the ankle strap and boot itself. So stiffness is a result of stiffness of boot and strap. And in these two directions stiffness is quite good.
The angle is greater, the force goes more to the side of the boot. Softboot set is not designed to resists on the side. So the greater angle, the more force is lost. So what angle is reasonable? If board width allows us to set angle like 30/20 it is OK. But the narrower the boards, the greater angle must be set. Sometimes we need to set 45/40degrees. It is definitely not optimal for softboot, even for really good boots and bindings, but we need to choose the lesser of two evils... Better is to lose some force on side of a boot than loos edge when boot touches snow and lifting edge up.
Bindings cantings and lifts.
There are two approaches. One is to have bindings flat, second to have it lifted/canted symmetrically. And a third...
Try to stand in your snowboard position and do a squat. Look at your back hill. Is it lifted? That is why we recommend using a lifts for front toe and back hill.
If you are using F2 Race Titanium bindings, you have one big lifting box in the kit. You can assembly it to rear binding to have heel lifted. Also in the binding kit, you have mounted cantings. You can remove it (from both bindings) and use two of them to make "a small lift" for front toes. You can use the same screw.
Cantings: we recommend to remove it. Have knees too close is not so healthy for them, and also it is not so good for snowboard position and its stability during turn...
How to make small lift from two cantings: Facebook Gallery
Springs in boots.
If you are racer you are using boots without springs like Deeluxe Track700 or boots with hard and short springs like UPZ or Deeluxe Indy.
But if you are tourist carvers, springs will be a good addition to your boots for may reasons, like mainly more progressive adjustable stiffness and vibration reduction.
If you like hard equipment you can use racing boots, if you like softer gear, and you have boots without springs, you can add them to all deeluxe/raichle and also blax/head boots. There are a lot of manufacturers of such spring systems.
We definitely do not recommend riding with walk-ride switch unlocked.
Step-in/intec bindings systems.
There are always Two Sides of the Coin.
Most important is comfort. Secon is more transverse stiffness.
But steel wire likes to break in the worst moment. And to release boot with broken wire form binding, you will need two skiers... Sometimes no both pins will click into holes and it can be a very dangerous situation for your knees.
With time, holes in bindings and pins degrade and clearances/looses appear.
To have such bindings for a long time you have to take care of it. You need to lubricate mechanism inside heel and steel wire, and always have spare wire and a screwdriver to have it fixed on the piste. Or one spare normal binding ;)
And if you are using normal bindings at the end of the day on piste you have enough power to plug into a binding, it means that you are so tired and time to go home. With intec, you have no such indicator ;)
Boards with titanal core. Definitely yes! Do not be afraid of them. It really makes a difference. They are different, but not harder to ride. They are much better. Different riding experiences, elasticity, dynamic, transverse stiffness and stability during a turn.
But there is more risk of mechanical damages and much more expensive.
For titanal boards - always! Binding plate/base edge can generate point pressure on board. If it is really big it can cause delamination of titanal layer from wood core inside the board, which can cause delamination of all board near the binding.
The plate is distributing force from binding to much bigger area of board avoiding point pressure. It also distributes force close to the board edge, to minimize transverse deflection of the board. The plate gives us more transverse stiffness of the board, which is very important for carving turns. It also reduces vibration.
So almost all kind odf plate will help our board to ride on edge, carving turns for every kind of board, and will help to avoid damages for titanal boards.
It depends on what you want to do. Almost always you need to have more than one board. If you are a Racer or like dynamic style, you need to have sports boards: GS and/or SL. For laid turns ("extreme carving") you need EC board. And another one for "tourist" ride.
We are changing boards quite often when condition on-piste changes. For morning hard snow, when there is no one on piste, we love to ride GS boards. Of if someone prefers extremcarving - EC board. But when more people come, and conditions go worse, or 20cm of snow falls, GS board is not the best idea ;) Carving board will be much better there.
I'm personally 95% of the time using two boards. When conditions are great and the piste is empty I'm riding Kessler GS 185 but when conditions going worse - Pathron Freecarver 177. For powder days I use Pathron Softcarver or go to bar... ;)
Always! all that you have.
- Head: Helmet is absolutely minimum. Remember that riding with unlocked strap is more dangerous than without helmet. Must fit around your head, can not hurt or press head. The helmet also must fit with your google, to have no space between them.
- Back: back protector - we recommend also to use it always. It can not be too long, not to damage your cervical spine.
- Chest: If you have "full armor", of course, it will improve your protection.
- Hips, pelvis: protector pants "ass protector" also very helpful when you will fall on hard snow.
- Wrists: debatable thing. Wrist protectors are saving your wrist but can cause forearm or metacarpus injury, which could be a more serious injury. We do not use them. Over time you will learn how to fall softly and safe, It will be much more as laid turn than fall. But if you want to use them, we will not discuss with you ;)
- Knees. Important especially during beginning of snowboard adventure. We recommend soft volleyball knees protector.
What to check before the season starts?
Everything... Every part of your equipment that can loose, fall off or change position, etc.
It is much easier to buy such boot/binding/plate element a few weeks before winter than when you are on piste.
So check every screw ;)
Do it yourself.
Every carver should know how to basic service your board. It is not difficult. Basic service equipment is 100-200EUR. If you have a few boards (your or family) the cost of service equipment will return quickly.
What is also important, your equipment will be always prepared similarly, which is very important for your safety. Sharpening of edge often by yourself is almost softly touching the edge by file, it will increase your board lifetime. Sharpening by machine is like being a butcher for your board. Every machine sharpening takes a fraction of a millimeter, no matter if the edge needs to be sharpened here or no. So by the time, the edge will be finished. Doing it yourself you feel when you need to sharpen it more and where not.
1) Scrape old wax by scraper and brush
2) Edge sharpening. (there can not be wax on base to have correct edge angle)
4) Before ride (or minimum one hour after waxing) scraping and brushing of the base.
First waxing of new board.
Factory waxing is more marketing or/and preserve/conserve when the board is in store. It is not wax for a ride.
Every new board must be waxed. We can go to a service to have a board in an "oven" or thermic bag where the base is absorbing wax for a long time. It is very good because the wax is absorbed through the whole thickness of the base. There are special very soft waxes for it.
If you want to do it on your own, it is not a problem. We nend to wax board by most soft wax that we have, wax it long time and check if topsheet is not so hot to damage board, especially titanal. And we need to do it approx 10 times, after every day of ride.
When after whole day of ride bas is not dry/matt near edge, we can say that board is waxed OK.
How often to wax?
If base is dry/matt near edge after a day of the ride, it is time to wax your board. Or better before it will go dry ;) When snow is soft it can be a few days when snow is hard it can be every day. In normal conditions, we recommend to wax board every two days.
Why wax and sharpen?
Maintenance, comfort, and safety. The waxed base is less susceptible to damage. And when the base is waxed, it just rides much better.
Safety. If you are waxing board once a year, we bring to service very dry board and we receive board which is waxed properly and it will ride much differently. It can be dangerous because we do not expect it. When the board is also sharpened once a year, the edge can "catch" accidentally and it can be a very dangerous fall.
When snow is soft, even not sharp edge will work, but when snow became very hard, you will be unable to turn or even brake or ride through the "iced" part of the piste etc etc.
The most important is to have board always prepared, prepared properly, waxed by correct wax type and with a sharp edge.
In general, every wax is good. But some of them are better than others. If ski/snowboard wax is paraffin with additions, if you will buy a bar of paraffin in pharmacy and wax board, in normal conditions, it will be good for the board.
But ski/snowboard waxes are much better ;) Because of additions they have.
There are universal waxes for all air/snow temperature scope or waxes dedicated to special conditions like air or snow temperature. For more advanced waxes there are more parameters like humidity and kind of snow. But it is important mainly for racers or their serviceman ;)
We prefer to use wax with two variants. For low and high temperatures. If you have two wax variants it is easy to wax by proper variant. But if you have three or more variants for particular conditions choose the correct one could be more difficult;)
In general: base/universal waxes costs approx 20-50EUR/kg, low-fluor (LF) 50-150EUR/kg. High fluor (HF) it's more than 100EUR for bar compared to a pack of matches...
Not to make us paranoid, we recommend using base/universal waxes for low temperatures, and LF for high temperatures. Fluoro is important with high humidity when snow is wet.
There are also more kinds of wax, Molibden, Hydrocarbon etc etc. You can find everything on the websites of manufacturers.
During decades of riding, we found our favorite set of waxes. Cold - base, hot - LF. It is really enough for tourist carving or even amateur racing.
Remark here is needed. Even similar wax of one manufacturer can be really different than another for particular conditions. But is is topic for a really long story...
In the last years we can observe the "fluoro ban movement" because of nature degradation. But this is also a racing cost reduction. Judge it by yourself.
What equipment do we need?
- Ski/snowboard Iron. You can find it approx 50EUR
- Edge guide, file, and clamp - less than 50EUR.
- Wax. two 0,25kg bars - 20 EUR. It will be enough for a year or more.
So we have less than 130EUR for a basic set of service equipment.
How often? The rule is the same as waxing. When the edge is not sharp enough ;) On very hard snow it could be necessary to do it every day, when snow is soft you could ride a week without it.
Diamond files? Yes. IT makes edge sharper, and it will last for a longer time. Edge is polished so less susceptible to corrosion.
First sharpening of the board.
Most of the boards when leaving factory have sharp edges, so you can just wax it an can ride. When the board needs to be sharpened after a few days of riding, we can then set an edge angle.
But "hi-level" and racing board very often are not prepared to ride. It is because every rider wan to have it done his own way and by himself (or serviceman)
So we need to prepare such a board. At first by sidewall remover called "claw", then edge side with proper angle, then edge base with a proper angle. Then waxing.
What edge angle?
Most of the boards leave the factory with an edge angle 89-90degrees.
How is it important? The greater angle the less board tilt is needed to have the edge "caught" snow in carving turn. Racers use 88-87 but you can find also 86 degrees and more. But the greater angle, the faster edge will blunt.
As an optimal angle, we recommend 88degrees as a good compromise. By the way, 88-degree edge guide has almost every carver around the world in his service box ;)
Edge base sharpen.
Board with sharpen edge base will not "catch edge" accidentally, and will be more stable and smooth when tilted a small angle.
What angle? 0,1-1degree. There is a lot of theories.
But for tourist carver, much more important is that using this tool we can level/align the edge base, what we will consider much more as maintenance, not tuning. We can do ie every two/three/four edge sharpening by angle 0,5 degree.
Should we sharpen all edge lengths?
Yes. That is why we buy 185cm board to have as much effective edge as possible. If you need a less effective edge, better to buy shorter board ;)
Blunting/dulling edge near the nose and/tail helps us to slide but is not good for clear on-edge carving turns.
For riders that are using "slide" in the early part of on-gate turn, we suggest increasing edge base angle near boards nose/tail, than blunting it.
Conservation of board for summer.
Sharpen edge, both side and base, if possible by diamond files to avoid corrosion.
Wax base, with a thick layer of soft wax, to secure base from mechanical damages, when for example if we put 2-3 boards into a one cover.
Loose screws that are mounting bindings/plate.
That should be enough. Then when winter comes, just scrape wax and wax again with proper wax ;)
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