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Great Debate #6: Is Alpine Dead...or Dying?

post #1 of 36
Thread Starter 
IMHO, It is growing rapidly as older boarders realize their limits...
post #2 of 36
It seems to me like it's dying, but I still love it, and most of my time on a SB is on an alpine board.
post #3 of 36
Hardbooting it is definitely not dead. Bomber binding has carved a nice little niche for themselves in this area. Almost eveyone in Summit County that rides alpine uses bomber bindings. Using AT style boots and alpine style bindings are very popular for BC use. The advantages of using Hard boots on a splitboard are numerous, and out of the splittes I see, about half use hardboots. I still ride softies, but every season I think about going with the AT boot setup.
post #4 of 36
Victim of an unsuccessful suicide attempt that has now stabilized and will remain in the niches already noted. IMO probably at least half of the recreational riders out there might enjoy an appropriate freecarving setup, so the potential for it to blow up again is huge but for cultural reasons I don't see it for the next 5 years or so at least.
post #5 of 36
I am not sure about blowing up but it's popularity is on the rise. There was a couple of hardboot meets this past season. A few hundred people showed up at each. As us older boarders start getting more and more on geritol, I think you will see this part of snowboarding solidify itself.
post #6 of 36
Thread Starter 
Killclimbz - what is your screenname on BOL...I should have known you were a crossover.

there were a couple of polls over on BOL earlier in the season... they seemed to show a demographic among carvers that they tend to be in their 30s.

also...not so sure what this shows...http://www.bomberonline.com/vbulleti...ead.php?t=7283
but I speculate that some of the newer carvers aren't really jumping into the forum, but there was definite growth over the last 10 to 5 years. If you discount the newbies not finding BOL till a few years in, I think you have a pretty solid growth curve developing...
post #7 of 36
In our area, it's just starting to take off.
I got some information on this site last winter regarding a board for my nephew.
After that, we rode a chair lift with an alpine boarder. The conversation with him was enlightening.

It seems that there is a new club in our area that encourages newly interested alpine boarders to get their equipment from within their club.
People who are improving their equipment pass their old stuff on to a newbee at a tremendous bargain. The rule is.....if you are the recipient of this bargain, you are required to pass that bargain on to another newbee when you get an upgrade. They all use the same ski shop for maintenance and care. This ensures that the equipment is in good repair when it is passed on, and that ski shop gives a great discount to those in "the club".

My nephew is seriously considering getting involved this coming season. This is a good and inexpensive way for him to begin, with the added advantage of having others who are knowledgable about technique and equipment.
post #8 of 36
As an older rider realizing my limits, I have been riding hard boots less and K2 clicker system more. Arcing trenches is way harder than scarving, even riding moguls seems easier to me. Alpine skiing must die though.

The snowboarding world always seemed strangely backwards to me. Analogous to 97% of skiers telemarking, while fixed heel skiing limited to racers and a fringe group of freecarvers. Now that I'm older, I feel like it's easier to ride softboots. Unless you are using carving to replace freestyle, big air, rails, etc. as a focus.
post #9 of 36

Hard Boots

I'm suprised Phil hasn't chimed in on this one yet. I attended a hard boot event this year at Ski Roundtop where the skinny boards basically took over the mountain (one of them even hitting rails!): . I don't know exact figures, but it seemed to me that folks indicated that this event was growing each year. As far as at my East Coast ski bump I can count on one hand how many plate riders I see the whole season. I had only one requested lesson for hard boots. There's a few more on a daily basis when I'm at Breck. I've also had more frequency in folks wanting instruction when out west. I'd say that discipline was close to dying, but is now slowly regaining popularity and growing. Bomber does an amazing job with promoting and supporting the hard boot community. The coach finder section of their website is a great resource and almost all of my requests for hard boot lessons have come directly from the listing. I hope it continues to grow. It's another area in instruction where I can increase my income and get other people involved in the sport. I also actually have fun when I ride my race board. I know the other areas of my riding improve as a result of riding the race rig.
post #10 of 36
Thread Starter 
again I ask...another hardbooter...who are you for real, and where do you ride...

I have yet to make it to one of the events, but would really love to...
post #11 of 36
Here ya go....
This was the MAC (Mid Atlantic Carvers) Tracks event at Roundtop this past Feb.
(I'm 4th from the right in the back row, blue jacket, red board)

and a hardbooter riding rails (I think that's Phil)

post #12 of 36

Thanks for the pics, I couldn't upload the ones I have, and yes that is phil on the rail. And his board is definitely NOT detuned : : .
post #13 of 36
Originally Posted by Jibster
And his board is definitely NOT detuned : : .
It is now!:

No doubt Phil RIPs, but metal rails are not good for edges. I've seen the aftermath, and it's not pretty.

FYI, I didn't upload. I just linked to the old one that Phil posted.
post #14 of 36
Originally Posted by Jibster
Bomber does an amazing job with promoting and supporting the hard boot community.
They do an amazing job within the existing community, and are also very generous with free advice and are all-around good people. IMO they haven't done a good job marketing to the outside world as a whole, but it's easy to say this without having all the demands they face in running their business as it is. I understand they're getting more-focused marketing input at present and this may well lead to more cross-over results.
post #15 of 36
Originally Posted by telerod15 View Post
Alpine skiing must die though.
What kind of dumb-ass comment is that?
post #16 of 36
In Europe I see fewer and fewer hardbooters in general.

On the other hand those who see hardbooting as a sport, rather than a hobby, their numbers finally seem to be on the rise again.

After the snowboard alpine gear market has consolidated (in the sense of most mainstream producers of soft boards and ski equipment quit the market leaving in Europe basically F2 as only real mass-producing raceboard manufacturer and lots of very high quality small customised companies) the same seems to be happening to the riders.

Here in Austria some years ago there were still lots of mediocre hardboot riders who carved no better then very good people on soft equipment. Those who stayed are now however more eager then even to lay it down, go fast, and feel the gravitational forces. Local race series last winter was a huge success having more participants than during the last 5 years (thinking about old times with hobby races of 200-300 participants is over though). Most participants are now however truly engaged. Young people see the chance to beat those 35-38 year old ex-worldcuppers and more and more are on custom produced boards than ever (Kessler beginns to dominate the podiums now on local race series too - Tomahawk custom boards somehow having missed the show loosing its domination in amateur race series).

What we used to call Alpine here may die in future - what we call race or hardcore carving on hardboots seems to prosper.
On the other hand many racers switch over to skis - where having good snowboard race technique will pay off in local ski races with higher ranks than in local snowobard races. Carving and racing on skis (except DH and SG which are quite different) is very easy for a hardbooter.

Let it live on - Carve your turn faster and shorter to feel the gravity.
post #17 of 36
Originally Posted by extremecarver View Post

Here in Austria some years ago there were still lots of mediocre hardboot riders who carved no better then very good people on soft equipment. Those who stayed are now however more eager then even to lay it down, go fast, and feel the gravitational forces. Local race series last winter was a huge success[snip]...
Great points in the whole post. What I think happens when you have a core of people left who tend on average to be really good riders is that the activity starts to look cooler again. When there are really good alpine riders at resorts here in the U.S., I notice that people tend to turn their necks to watch -- it's undeniably dynamic and athletic and something people can relate to, or at least wish that they could do. And that is very effective grassroots marketing.
post #18 of 36
Disclaimer: I'm a skier. I've never boarded, and never had the urge to.

But, today I saw guy in hardboots on Loveland hanging outriggers like gravity didn't exisit. The guy's elbows were on the ground, and was pulling some serious "G's".

I"ve never had any desire to board, but that visual rang my bell. I though, "Now THAT, is waaay cool". The dude looked like a world-class surfer hanging ten.

Why don't more boarders do this? Is it a skill thing (hard to do)? Or, is a hard boot set-up limiting in other ways?
post #19 of 36

Looks like fun

To me.
post #20 of 36
Originally Posted by Captain_Strato View Post
Why don't more boarders do this?
Well for one thing, you need good grooming. Everyone knows how hard this is for snowboarders! I'm sorry, but this was just too hard to pass up.

There just might be another reason (besides there's not a lot of them to begin with) why you don't see a lot of alpine boarders riding switch in the terrain park or blowing killer piles of pow. But B2 could tell you better than I can if we could just wipe that silly grin off his face.
post #21 of 36
My old college roomate rides with hard boots and loves it. But he's primarily a tele head these days.

Pretty much he switched to snowboarding when we were in college. he took advantage of a rent one/get one free deal in So. Lake Tahoe. He convince another of my buddies to try it with him. By noon he was ripping up the mogul black diamond runs no problem (it took our other buddy a good week and some change before he was riding well). My college roomie switched right then and there to boarding, bought the whole set up and everything. He eventually switched to hard boots (and unbeknownst to me he actually raced competitively). we had a running joke for several seasons because he was always blowing out this k2 board riding it so hard. it got to the point where the shop in Tahoe wouldn't exchange the board even though it was still under warranty.

like i said, he predominantly rides tele now, but he'll bring his board and boots along when we ride and if the conditions warrant, he'll either board in the morning or in the afternoon and tele the other portion of the day. and yeah, he doesn the whole outrigger action both on groomers and pow.
post #22 of 36
I hope not! I'm getting back into it after a long break (last time out was in '98). Just bought a new board (Donek Axxess) and Bindings (Bomber TD2's), and can't wait for the season to start.

Trench it up!
post #23 of 36
The problem with the Alpine set up is that it is basically worthless in powder. Also, you can't ride switch, I say that with some hesitance though because I have seen some guys with really small feet and binding risers that can sort of ride with their feet perpindicular to the board. To me alpine snowboarding with hard boots is just monoskiing.
The whole beauty of snowboarding is to be able to surf the mountains. There is no tool out there that can float in the deep pow like the Burton Fish, currently my favorite board, and I like to ride skateboard style with that same old stance just like I did when I was a kid. You can't do that with the hardboot alpine set up. Carve away brothers it's all good but this old rider will be out surfin the pow.
post #24 of 36
Originally Posted by Jibster View Post
I'm suprised Phil hasn't chimed in on this one yet.
I can't believe that I missed this thread! I did not check in here much last year. This season I must have glossed over it.

Originally Posted by JohnH View Post
rails are not good for edges.
No, they are not, but....As long as you ride on flat rails and keep your board flat (O.K., that is not as easy as it sounds - especially on a race board) you will have no damage to your base. I run a 1 degree bevel on my race boards, so there is less chance of catching an edge. On a race board, I only boardslide flat rails - period. I just don't have the balls to boardslide anything with kinks or pitch changes. In any case, I would defy anyone to inspect the board in the picture and find any rail damage. That board has been on a lot of rails, too. You can see marks in the base after I ride rails, but they are gone at the next waxing - they are just superficial.

BTW, I am not advocating rails on race boards, I am just saying that it can be done without hurting your equipment.

Originally Posted by danimal's dead View Post
The problem with the Alpine set up is that it is basically worthless in powder..
If you were on Bomber, those would be fightin' words. There are a lot of people who exclusively ride alpine for pow. I personally have ridden my race boards in pow and while they are not the optimal tool, it was not a problem.

Originally Posted by danimal's dead View Post
Also, you can't ride switch, I say that with some hesitance though because I have seen some guys with really small feet and binding risers that can sort of ride with their feet perpindicular to the board. .
Huh? A race board can outcarve other boards switch. I say that with absolutely no reservation. They are high performance carving boards - turn them around and they still are.

Maybe you are referring just to the stance. My problem is that I have really big feet. Even on a wide freestyle board, I can't get lower than 33 degrees. It stinks, but I live with it. Because of this, I am used to riding with high angles. Once you are used to it, it is not really that big of a deal. I would not even say it is that much harder. The biggest drawback I find is that riding switch effectively with high binding angles creates a HUGE blindspot, so one must use caution.

There are plenty of people out there who will ride switch pipe, switch jumps, and switch rails on an alpine setup with no problem.

I would say that it is the equivalent to getting a decent time on a race course on softboots - it can be done, but it is more difficult. The rider will generally have to be better than his hardboot counterparts.(possible, but not likely) In the same way, a hardbooter entering a F/S comp could post decent scores, but they would have to be better than their softbooting counterparts.(possible, but not likely) Remember, in the late '80's and even the very early '90's, it was not unheard of to see pros rockin' softies on the course and plates in the pipe. O.K., I confess, I am glad that those days are gone.

Originally Posted by danimal's dead View Post
To me alpine snowboarding with hard boots is just monoskiing..
OUCH! Oh, the knife has been inserted and twisted!

I guess that I have a different outlook since I have to ride high angles regardless of what board I ride. Also, I am a big guy - the only gear that I have ever found that feels stiff enough for me is race gear.

To me, I feel that alpine/race boards are just snowboards. They will do everything that any other board will do. In the end, it is all about the rider.
post #25 of 36
Threads like this crack me up...

Bottom line who cares what tool your out on the slope using! I have to say that a great deal of my time is spent riding softies. However I do have two alpine hardboot set ups that I rock on a regular basis. You wouldn't believe the amount of positive feedback I get. Now Philsthrills and I have coreseponded a couple of times, from what I gather the MAC Tracks gig is a solid sign alpine is alive and kicking.

A question to Danimal's Dead: I actually have spent a great deal of time riding switch and in POWDER on my alpine set up and love it! As for rails let's call a spade a spade here, true alpine set up is not the greatest choice for rails. But my point is that it most certainly can be done. That's like saying a single speed mountain bike isn't good for mountain biking!
It's what ever tool the rider chooses to use. I'm not sure about exaclty when you started snowboarding or what exaclty is your favorite terrain to ride, but I can recall riding a snowboard when other riders (because of such few numbers out there) were just pumped to have people out there sharing the stoke.

Which brings me to my question Danimal's Dead: What's up with the fishing post any ways?
post #26 of 36
I don't think Danimal's fishing, he's just to me stating the reality you see on the ground most places. Jeff Greenwood got I believe a back cover ad going about 12 feet out of the pipe on his raceboard in TWS 2-3 years ago, but for most people that is not their reality or their story. It definitely is the rider at the end of the day, no doubt.
post #27 of 36
Nope not fishing at all, I've been riding since about 89-90. I spend a lot of time riding in the trees, big old larch forests, steep and deep. I have size 9 Vans boots with the boa system and ride bindings. I see almost nobody back there riding an alpine set up with all the forward (parallel to the board) lean, and I've certainly never seen anyone who can ride an alpine set up switch through that kind of terrain. Like someone else said I can't even imagine the blind spot, you'd kill yourself, and sometimes you get into tight situations where you have to go out switch.
I know alpine/carving boards are fun to lay down on the groomers, that's cool if that's your thing. Personally I'm not that into carving groomers.
post #28 of 36
You do see some "alpine" boards in the bc. More often it's just hard booters on some sort of setup. In reality, a splitboard is a much better option than snowshoes to get into some real bc. Prior is the only company that I know of that is currently making an Alpine Splitboard. There aren't much options out there yet. The Alpiners that I have seen have no problem what so ever in the pow.
post #29 of 36
I Have skied for 17 years, i've always lusted after high g's. I'm pretty good on skis, but there limitations on carving. So i've got a burton factory prime with cateks. Should have done it a long time ago. In my opinion hard booting is more desirable to expert skiers. Then this of genertation of knuckle dragging snowboarder's who wouldn't know a real carve if they tripped over a trench on a groomer run.
post #30 of 36
There was this poster back in the day in one of the break rooms for ski school employees over at Vail, it was this old crusty skier who was known as "master of the carve." His quote on the poster was something like
"These young guys jump off things before they can even turn. You want big air, pull my finger."
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