----------- The Snowboarding FAQ - Revision Oct 4, 1995 -----------
* REALLY IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER STUFF!! *
* ------------------------------------- *
* The rec.skiing.snowboard FAQ is a compendium of *
* questions and answers that frequently appear on *
* rec.skiing.snowboard. Neither the contributors *
* to the FAQ, the posters of the FAQ, nor their *
* employers make any claim whatsoever regarding the *
* accuracy or safety of ANYTHING in the FAQ. Any *
* item that may appear to be offering either *
* medical or legal advice is doing neither. *
The snowboarding panel is provided courtesy of Mark Wallace (email@example.com). It is written by people who primarily are
from North America so some of the information does not apply to other
areas of the world. Don't hesitate to send any additions, corrections,
or comments, or better yet just go boarding.
NOTE 1: New and revised sections since the previous revision are marked
with 3 asterisks (***).
NOTE 2: The FAQ is available on the World Wide Web, it can be
accessed directly at URL:
TABLE OF CONTENTS
8.00)........ Welcome, Disclaimers, and Rules
8.00.01)..... So what's the obligatory disclaimers?
8.00.02)..... How dangerous is snowboarding?
8.00.03)..... What's this skier's responsibility code thing?
8.01)........ Hey! Why don't we start a separate snowboarding
newsgroup, and why is it called REC.SKIING.SNOWBOARD?
8.02)........ What is snowboarding?
8.03)........ What is snowboard skiing?
8.04)***..... What is the history of snowboarding?
8.05)........ What kinds of equipment are there?
8.06)........ What is the right stance for me (regular or goofy,
stance width and angles)?
8.07)........ As a snowboarder newbie, can you give me a set of
general guidelines to narrow my purchasing decisions on boots,
bindings, and a board?
8.08)........ What is all this weird talk I hear from boarders?
8.09)***..... Where is snowboarding not allowed?
8.10)........ How does one learn to snowboard?
8.11)........ Is it true that a snowboarder is less likely to get
injured than a skier?
8.12)........ I always see snowboarders laying around on the snow, why
are they such wimps that they can't even stand up?
8.13)........ Why don't those damn snowboarders just go home and leave
the skiers alone?
8.14)........ I got a C+ in wood shop and I want to build my own
board, how do I do it?
8.15)........ Can I become a snowboard patroller?
8.16)........ Why do ski areas make snowboarders wear a leash?
8.17)........ What is "Old School" and "New School"?
8.18)........ What is an extruded base, what is a sintered base and
how do you repair them?
8.19)........ How do I tune my snowboard and can I use a blow torch to
8.20)***..... Has the Holy Asymmetric Empire fallen?
8.21)........ Why Snowboard?
8.00) Welcome, Disclaimers, and Rules
Welcome to rec.skiing.snowboard. This group is a forum for the
discussion of snowboarding and related topics. If you're new to the
net, or even just new to rec.skiing.snowboard please take a
couple of minutes to read the FAQ... it will save you a lot of grief
in the long run!
If you're *brand* new to the net, please check out the group news.announce.newusers for general information about usenet.
Here are a few rules of thumb that will help you get around in
rec.skiing.snowboard (and even some other places) without firmly
inserting your foot in your mouth.
- Don't quote entire articles. Only quote what is absolutely
necessary in order to make your point clear. Anytime you
are quoting more than you're writing you should question
- Avoid long signature files. They may look cool the first time
you see one but they get real old real quick.
- Limit lines to 80 characters *max*, preferably 68-72 chars.
If you don't, whatever you write will be very difficult for
alot of people to read because the lines will get broken-up
- You're probably better off if you avoid telling everybody what
a radical snowboarder you are.
- rec.skiing.snowboard is populated by some "unique" individuals.
You'll notice a lot of people making fun of various ski areas,
various techniques, and various other people. Don't go taking
all of this seriously! For the most part there are a lot of
tongues firmly inserted in cheeks.
- There *will* be flame wars from time to time. Try not to take
these too seriously either; they rarely get hot enough to
actually melt the snow.
Some other groups that you might find interesting are:
rec.skiing.announce Moderated group for general rec.skiing stuff
rec.skiing.marketplace For Sale ads, etc.
rec.sport.waterski waterskiing and skurfing
rec.boats more waterskiing stuff
8.00.01) So what's the obligatory disclaimers?
Thanks for asking. This FAQ is a compilation of many frequently
asked questions and their frequently posted responses. As such it
is merely a compression of information from many sources. Neither
the persons maintaining and posting this list nor their employers
make any claims about the safety or even the accuracy of the
information in the list.
You're on your own. Make informed decisions. Only take the risks
that you feel comfortable taking. Don't board alone. Stay warm. Don't
get caught in an avalanche. Use appropriate equipment. Don't board in closed areas. And for gawds sake, LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER!
Have some respect. Respect the other people on the slopes. Respect
the mountains... they can bite. Respect the weather, it can change.
Respect your limitations, exceed them and you'll hurt yourself.
Respect the setting... littering is for morons.
8.00.02) How dangerous is snowboarding?
It's about as safe or as dangerous as you want it to be. While there
is always some inherent danger in the sport most problems are due to
"pilot error". Pay attention to posted signs... they're there for a
reason. Board in control. Don't Board in closed areas.
The injury rate for skiing has been fairly level at about 3 injuries
per thousand skier-days. These injuries include everything from
minor bruises and lacerations to broken necks. The most common
injuries are thumb and knee injuries. Snowboarders experience about
the same injury rate as skiers but the injuries tend to be to the
wrist, ankle, and neck (refer to the injury section of this FAQ
(8.11) for more info).
You *can* kill yourself snowboarding. You can also kill somebody
else. Stay in control. That being said it should also be mentioned
that you're probably more likely to slip and fall in the parking
8.00.03) What's this skier's responsibility code thing?
Well, rather than saying much *about* it, we'll just include it
here. And while it is called the "Skier's Responsibility Code"
everyone of these codes is applicable to snowboarding.
Note: This code is widely accepted in the United States... other
countries may have similar codes. One netter reports that
this code is similar to what's posted in New Zealand.
The Skier's Responsibility Code
1. Ski under control and in such a manner that you can stop or
avoid other skiers or objects.
Excessive speed is dangerous.
2. When skiing downhill or overtaking another skier,
you must avoid the skier below you.
3. You must not stop where you obstruct a trail or are not
visible from above.
4. When entering a trail or starting downhill,
yield to other skiers.
5. All skiers shall use devices to prevent runaway skis.
6. You shall keep off closed trails and posted areas and
observe all posted signs.
The Skier's Responsibility Code is endorsed by The American Ski
Federation, National Ski Patrol, United States Ski Industries
Association, Professional Ski Instructors of America, Cross Country
Ski Areas Association, United States Ski Association, Ski Coach's
Association, and other organizations.
The European countries have the FIS-rules (Federation International de
Ski). They are a basis for courtroom decisions but are not laws.
The FIS-rules are:
1. Consideration of the other Skiers
Every skier has to behave in a way he or she doesn't endanger
or damage any other.
2. Controlling of speed and way of skiing
Every skier has to ski on sight. He has to adapt his speed
and way of skiing to his abilities and the conditions of the
terrain, the snow and the weather as to the traffic density.
3. Choice of track
The skier coming from behind another has to choose his track
so that skiers before him won't be endangered.
Overtaking is allowed from above or below, from right or left
but always with a distance so that the skier being overtaken
has space enough for all his movements.
5. Entering and restarting
Every skier entering a trail or starting after a halt has to
assure himself uphill and downhill of the fact that he can do
so without danger for himself and others.
Every skier has to avoid stopping at small or blind places of
a trail without need. A fallen skier has to free such a place
as quick as possible.
7. Mounting and descend
A skier mounting or descending by feet has to use the border of
8. Pay attention to signs
Every skier has to pay attention to the marks and signs.
9. Behavior in case of accidents
In case of accidents every skier has to help.
10. Duty of proving identity
Every skier whether witness or involved, whether responsible or
not has to prove his identity in case of an accident.
8.01) Hey! Why don't we start a separate snowboarding newsgroup, and
why is it called REC.SKIING.SNOWBOARD?
Hey! We already did. There is another snowboard newsgroup called rec.sport.snowboarding but its not a legal group and is not
propagated very well. And why, you ask, is it called REC.SKIING.
snowboard? Because it was more technically feasible to do it that
way when rec.skiing was split up. Its the way it is and it would
take a lot of work to change it, so unless you're willing to do the
work don't even suggest it.
8.02) What is snowboarding?
Snowboarding is the relatively new sport which can be visually
compared to skateboarding and surfing except done on snow. The
rider stands on the board with his/her left or right foot forward,
facing one side of the board. The feet are attached to the board
via high-back or plate bindings which are non-releasable. Although
there is at least one manufacturer of releasable bindings, they are
not widely used. The sport is distinct from monoskiing. In
monoskiing both feet are side by side on a single ski and the skier
Some sports which have overlap in skills to snowboarding include:
skurfing, skateboarding, surfing, water skiing and certainly snow
skiing. In the following sections many comparisons are made to
skiing because of its widespread familiarity. If unfamiliar with snowboarding terminology the reader should first refer to the What
Is All This Weird Talk? section.
8.03) What is snowboard skiing?
Simply put, it is the legal name for snowboarding. Probably
contrived by the lawyers and the insurance companies sometime in the
80's. The PSIA also refers to snowboarding as snowboard skiing.
This means it has all the privileges and liabilities of alpine
skiing. Legally speaking there is no technical difference between
any form of skiing, including: telemark, cross-country, mono,
downhill, snowboard, boot-skiing. Thus to discriminate or prejudice
between them may actually be illegal. One day a court might decide
about the legality of a particular descent devices' right to be on a
skihill or not. Lets get along and police ourselves, before big
brother and lawyers get involved and drive up ticket prices.
8.04)*** What is the history of snowboarding?
Snowboarding became popular only in the last 10 years. It was
pioneered in the late 70's by a small group including Jake Burton
Carpenter, Chuck Barfoot, and Tom Sims. All now, or have headed,
snowboard companies with Burton being the largest snowboard manufacturer
in the world. Burton gets most of the media's credit for having
incorporated the first high-back bindings, metal edges and snowboard
boots into his line.
The roots really start with the snurfer, that sled hill toy you use to
ride, shaped like a small water ski with a rope tied to the nose and a
rough surface for traction from the center to the back where you stood. Sherman Poppin was the inventor of the snurfer which first appeared in
the 1960s. As it turns out Jake Burton was involved in snurfer racing,
a gag event put on by a group of bored college students. Well, he got
the bright idea to put a foot retention device (little more than a
strap at first) on his boards and began to win these events hands
At about this same time several other people were busy inventing the
sport. Jeff Grell is credited with designing the first highback
binding. Demetre Malovich started Winterstick, which didn't make
it financially. He introduced several important factors early on in
the sport like swallowtail designs, and laminated construction.
Boots evolved from Sorels (TM) or Sno-pac type boots. Early "snowboard" boots were Sorel shells with ski boot type bladders. It was obvious
that these early boots did not supply adequate support for the ankle
and inhibited control of the boards. The first hard-shell "snowboard"
boots were in fact ski boots. It didn't take long for the first true hard-shell boot to be produced before the end of the eighties.
Burton set up shop at Stratton Mountain in Vermont and by 1985 had incorporated steel edges and high-back bindings into his designs.
The metal edges allowed use at regular ski resorts and the rest is hiss-toe-ree. In 1985 only 7 percent of U.S. ski areas allowed
snowboards; today more than 95 percent do and over half have half
pipes. In the 94/95 season 13% of lift tickets sold were to boarders.
In the U.S. 80 percent of boarders are male with an average
age of about 21 years. The average boarder is single and
normally day trips instead of staying overnight and he rides 15 days
a year which is 3 times that of the average skier. Some resorts
report averaging 25 percent ticket sales to boarders. The growth rate
in number of snowboarder daily visits rose 11% between the 93/94 and
94/95 seasons. (Numbers compiled from various snowboard and ski
publications for U.S. resorts only, Fall 94 and Fall 95).
8.05) What kinds of equipment are there?
The history of the snowboarding industry is brief but the equipment
evolution has been explosive. The boards, boots and binding styles
sold in 85-86 aren't even available today. Gone are the split
tails, center fins, bolt-on metal edges, wide short bullet-shaped
boards and non-supportive boots. Today there are no less than 65
snowboard equipment manufacturers (boards, boots, and bindings)
including these large ski and boot companies: Rossignol, Atomic,
Dynastar, K2, Nordica, Raichle and Sorel. In the 91-92 season
230,000 boards were manufactured with half of these being purchased
by Americans. In the 92-93 season 124,000 boards were purchased in
the U.S.. These were from 29 snowboard companies, last year
(1993-94) at least 57 were selling boards. The cost of snowboard
equipment is very comparable to ski equipment with a wide range of
costs and types.
Boards are categorized into one of four groups: race, alpine, all-around/free-riding and half-pipe/free-style. They range in
lengths from under 100 cm to over 200 cm. Their construction is
nearly identical to skis; a board has metal edges, side-cut and
camber. All of the same materials are used. The real differences
are in the shapes and flex patterns.
The term symmetry is used extensively in any discussion of boards.
Because a board is ridden with one foot forward the turn dynamics
are obviously different from a ski. A board can be symmetrical
front to back and/or symmetrical side to side. Normally a ski is asymmetrical front to back and symmetrical side to side. Most
boards have symmetry like skis. Reasons for different symmetry configurations include:
Front to back symmetry:
Usually found in free-style and half-pipe designs. A
board like this can be ridden in either direction with
equal control and often has a centered stance.
Asymmetrical and/or shifted side-cuts:
Refers to asymmetry about the longitudinal centerline
of the board. The side-cut shift is on the order of a
few inches. The toe edge is shifted forward relative
to the heel edge and accounts for the fact that the
rider's toes are nearer to the nose of the board than
his/her heels. Because the toes are nearer the nose,
the center of pressure (C.P.) applied to the edge is
farther forward than the heel side C.P.. Additionally
the side-cuts can be of different radii and the flex
patterns can be asymmetrical. Boards with these
characteristics are predominantly found in the race and
alpine categories. An asymmetrical board is made to be
ridden either goofy footed or regular footed therefore
any board of this type comes in two shapes, one the
mirror image of the other.
This is a rough schematic of a goofy footed asymmetrical
snowboard with shifted side-cuts:
t / / / / / | o
a / / L / / R / | s
i / \__/ \__/ / e
These boards are used for downhill, GS and slalom
racing. They tend to be stiff, narrow and long.
They are designed for high speed use with long
effective edges for carving turns.
These boards tend to target crossover skiers. The
design of these boards reflects that of a ski with
many of the same characteristics and many even
look like fat skis.
This type of board is sometimes called all-terrain
or all-mountain. They are designed for use in all
snow conditions and most can even be ridden in the
half-pipe very successfully. 80% of all boards sold
in the U.S. are of this type.
These are boards designed for use in the half-pipe and
for jibbing, bonking, and general freestyle moves.
They tend to be more flexible with wider foot stances
more centered on the board. The board probably has
more nose and tail area and less effective edge than a
board from the other categories. Boards in this
category generally do not have good all-around utility
because of their inability to hold an edge on hard snow
and steep slopes. The board is generally more
difficult to control due to the stance configuration.
Two types of bindings are used in snowboarding: the high-back and
the plate. The high-back is characterized by a vertical plastic
back piece which is used to apply pressure to the heel-side of the
board and with two straps which go over the foot. One strap holds
the heel down and the other the toe. Some high-backs also have a
third strap on the vertical back piece called a shin strap which
gives additional support and aids in toe side turns.
The plate or step-in binding is used with a hard shell boot much
like a ski binding except it is non-releasable.
Boots are categorized into 3 groups: soft, hard and hybrid. Soft
boots evolved from Sorel and Sno-pac type boots and generally have
lace up bladders and shells. The more flexible a boot the easier it
is to perform contorted free-style maneuvers but ankle support and
edge hold are compromised. The shells are made of rubber, leather
and/or plastic and the bladders are similar to ski bladders except
Hard boots are like, but designed distinctly from, ski boots. They
are used predominantly with race and alpine type boards and afford
support and edge hold at the expense of flexibility. Ski boots
don't work well as snowboard boots because boarding puts drastically different pressures on the feet and hence the boots than skiing;
lateral flex is desirable in snowboarding but to be avoided at all
costs with skiing.
Hybrids are those boots between the two extremes. They may have an
all plastic shell where the plastic is thinner than on the hard boot
and may be lace up vice buckles.
There is a lot of clothing designed just for snowboarding. It tends
to be reinforced in the knees, butt, shoulders, elbows, palms and
fingers. Some clothing is even padded in the stress areas with foam
or plastic. Considerations here should include these facts: a
beginner spends a lot of time on his/her knees and butt,
snowboarding will wear out a cheap pair of gloves in a few days due
to the abuse, because of the bending down/sitting/falling, the
clothes should not be binding, and the pants should be waterproof.
8.06) What is the right stance for me (regular or goofy, stance width
(Following written by Crispin Cowan (firstname.lastname@example.org)
It answers the question: Am I regular or goofy footed?)
It's my observation that correlations between which way one snowboards
and other handedness tendencies are weak at best. This is why there
are so many "tests" for which way one should ride, and they all
inevitably fail for some people.
I prefer the "linoleum" test: in stocking feet, run towards your
kitchen and skid across the linoleum floor. Observe which foot goes
forward. Put that foot forward on your snowboard. This test can also
be administered hillside by directing the student to the nearest icy sidewalk.
Unlike other tests (shoving, jumping, kicking, baseball batting,
cartwheels, etc.) this one *directly* tests you for your preferred
stance in a balance sport (balance sport: something where you stand
sideways on a deck, e.g. snowboarding, skateboarding, surfing, etc.).
Editor: Footedness is inevitably a trial and error decision when you
start snowboarding. Unless you are not sure what the right stance
is for you then try it both ways. Even if a "test" suggests
one way you may end up being more comfortable the other. There are
5 or 6 tests which could be listed here but some would show you
should be regular and some would show you should be goofy.
(Following compliments of Pete James
It addresses stance angles and widths.)
First off, there are about 20 schools of thought and one needs to
figure out which is for them, try something close, then dial it in.
A newer board with the Burton 3 hole or F2 4x4 hole patterns or some
types of adjustable step-ins make it real easy to adjust stances;
these allow for maximum and easy stance changes.
From Transworld Snowboarding here are the average stances of pro
riders from different snowboarding disciplines:
stance front rear center board notes
width angle angle length
Half-pipe: 20.7" 17 2 0.5" back 152.5 cm - some
boarders use negative rear angles (duck-stance)
Freeride : 21.1" 22 7 1.7" back 170 cm
Slalom : 17" 49.2 47.2 0.4" back 156.8 cm
GS : 17" 49.6 47.6 0.44"back 164.9 cm
Super G : 17.16" 49.4 47.4 0.45"back 170.5 cm
SlopeStyle: 21.3" 12 0 1" back 152.9 cm - 0 rear on
all riders (also known as freestyle)
- Angles are measured from 0 degrees being straight across.
- Center is the distance back from the center of the board to
the center of the stance.
8.07) As a snowboarder newbie, can you give me a set of general
guidelines to narrow my purchasing decisions on boots, bindings, and a
Why, yes. And here it is.
Some rental shops use the rule of thumb that a board should touch
between the beginner's chin and nose. Every board feels different
when you ride it. You might like a 155 of one model and a 165 of
another. Like everything else, there are no hard and fast rules.
Morrow snowboard company has developed a method for determining
recommended board length. It is called the THAW (Terrain, Height,
Ability, Weight) chart and it is reproduced here. These recommendations
are for average riders on average or all-around boards. Note: Its copyrighted.
Length(cm) Terrain Height(ft'in) Ability Weight(lbs)
124-140 All Around 3'-4' Begin-Inter 40-70
140-150 All Around 4'-5'8 Begin-Inter 60-90
150-160 All Around 4'2-6' Begin-Inter 70-185
160-165 All Around 5'4-6'7 Begin-Inter 100+
165-175 All Around 5'4-6'7 Begin-Inter 120+
Now obviously if you are an average male (5'8, 150 lbs) then according
to this chart you could ride a 150 all the way up to a 175. Well, that
is correct. This is because there are other factors involved. This
chart doesn't speak to effective edge length or swing weight or several
other factors. Rent to begin with and try to demo your equipment before
(The following was provided by Crispin Cowen, email@example.com)
The stock newbie advice: suitable for most new riders who don't yet
know whether they want to specialize in some particular area, and
who don't have knowledgeable friends at hand to help them.
Brands: since you (presumably) don't know anything about the
manufacturers, stick to the large, reputable ones: Burton, Sims,
Nitro. They've been making quality product for ever, so you wont'
Style: Buy a freeriding style board (e.g. Burton Air), soft boots,
and soft bindings.
Setup: set your stance to 20" wide, 1" back from center, 30 degrees
on the front, 15 degrees on the back. Learn to ride, then play with
the stance to see what works for you.
New or Used: You can save a bundle with a used board. Buy one that
isn't too old (it has inserts in it instead of drilled bindings),
isn't too beat up (the base and edges look ok), and hasn't been
pounded to death (it still has camber).
Learning to ride: take a lesson. Really. I don't care how good
your friend is, or what kind of wicked shit they can pull. They're
not trained in giving lessons. Save yourself some bruises, invest
$20, and have a MUCH better time on your first day.
Disclaimer: Yeah, it's a boring old-school setup. Guess why? It
works. It's not optimal for jibbing, or racing, or whatever, but it
works great for learning. If I didn't mention your fav' brand, this
is not intended to be a complete list, just a simple and reliable
list. If you buy a Burton, Sims, or Nitro, it may or may not be the
absolute best board possible (give or take taste) but it will NOT
suck, and it will hold it's resale value so you can sell it and buy
something specialized later.
8.08) What is all this weird talk I hear from boarders?
This topic can be separated out into 2 categories: first, common
sport specific terminology which can be used at school or the office
without embarrassment and second the slang which is that part of the
language used by boarders to form a group identity. Listed here are
terms mainly from the first category:
ABS: Acrylonitrite Butadiene Styrene (Plastic used as snowboard
Aerial maneuvers: method, stale fish, japan, ollie, revert,
sidekick, heel/toe-edge grab, mute, crail, nose/tail grab,
nuclear, rocket, 180-to-fakie, roast beef, slob air, canadian
bacon, alley oop, two/one handed invert, j-tear,...
All-around, All-mountain, All-terrain, Free-riding, Free-
style, Alpine, Race, Half-pipe - Types of equipment and
riding styles, see the board equipment section for
Base: The P-tex bottom of the board.
Baseless Binding: A type of high-back binding which has no base.
The rider's boots contact the board directly on the top sheet.
The bindings are secured via holes on the outside of the
binding, not under the feet. Some advantages might be lighter
weight, more natural board flex, and less distance between
the rider's feet and the board. Predominately used by
Bevel Plate/Wedge: A shim placed under the binding to raise
the heel relative to the toe.
Bladder and shell: most ski and snowboard boots are made of
a supportive exterior shell and a removable interior
bladder. The shell is closed with buckles or laces.
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