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Sidecut Question

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 
Howdy guys/gals!

I'm a skier and have a question about the turn radius on snowboards. Why are they so small? My friend's board has a radus < 9m (while my dedicated slalom skis have an r = 13m). I never see snowboarders arc a 9m turn (thankfully). Usually turns are in the upper GS range of about 28m.

Why not make boards at that radus? Seems like you could have wider boards under your feet (less boot-drag) and could arc longer turns without sliding out. What am I missing?
post #2 of 4
It's depends on the type of riding you want to do. Freestyle vs Freeride. Alot of snowboarders don't want to make those arcing turns you speak of. They'd rather do freestyle in the park or on the slope. How easy is it for you to do a 180 off a mogul and land it switch?
post #3 of 4

I doubt you're seeing riders arcing 28M turns. Skidding 28M turns ... sure. Around my neck of the woods what you see a lot of is riders skidding 4M turns by kicking their back foot out. Whatever size turns riders are making, when they are skidding them, having a shorter turn radius is going to provide more grab during the skid.

But there are riders who are arcing turns. And as skiers have found out, having a shorter turn radius means it's easier to carve at slower speeds. Is there an inherent reason why the turning radii of most boards is less than the turning radii of most skis? We know that the top speed record is higher on skis than on a board. That's mostly due to wind resistance from being sideways. At recreational speeds it's going to be hard that riders are either inherently or intentionally riding slower. From an observational perspective, age and skill seem to be greater determining factors. Maybe it's because skiers are working their way down from higher radius sidecuts while snowboard companies have no historical market baggage to live up to. So now we've reached the stage where there is no market demand from skiers to go to smaller radius sidecuts because 11M skis are fun enough and there's no market demand for snowboards with 30M sidecuts because the existing boards are fast enough.
post #4 of 4
Sidecut alone does not dictate turn size, but rather its interaction with torsional and longitudinal flex, as well as camber among other things, even for skis. (If you think back to the evolution of shaped skis, you'll remember that some people thought that manipulating flex was really the way to go, not increasing sidecut.) In the case of snowboards, they're not only much wider than skis (try "twanging" two pieces of lumber of different width but otherwise the same dimensions) but also have two bindings affecting their flex pattern. The net effect is that, as noted, the sidecut of a snowboard is much smaller these days than that of a ski with a similar intended use. (In the 80s some boards did have really long but carveable sidecuts.) "Parallel" GS boards are now roughly 12-15 sidecuts; stock "freeride" boards that are intended for big open spaces on big mountains max out at about 11 but even those are very rare, whereas similar skis are high 20s to mid-30ish usually. Given current materials to work with, the differences in sidecut are pretty "inherent" in the differences in design between boards and skis in my uninformed internet opinion, and don't relate directly to speed.

All sorts of riders like to arc turns -- I've seen people on the way back to the lifts from the park goofing by laying out Eurocarves. One of the complaints on this forum about snowboarders seems to be that they actually do ride round turn shapes -- crazy stuff to actually use that sidecut...and without abducted plug boots no less! Carving firm snow on a board with a 20-ish sidecut would be similar to taking out some women's DH skis, though.
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