Originally Posted by mnskibum
Sinecure, I'm not sure I completely understand what you're saying....
Did you feel that CycleBob and his group didn't handle the situation well? I'm really confused by your last comment regarding "having a better appreciation of what its like to be a snowboarder"
Would you mind clarifying? Thanks!
I'm saying that as ambassadors for the mountain, proponents of on-hill safety, and to a degree, on-hill police, we need to have a better understanding of what its like to be the person on a snowboard. Its very easy to make fun of something, and to criticize the way people behave and perform if you haven't tried it yourself. I hear and see so much animosity toward snowboarders from patrollers. I didn't think it was appropriate, nor warranted, back in the 90s when boarding was getting popular, and I think its even more inappropriate now. I routinely hear patrollers say things like "be careful because some snowboarder may crash into you" or make jokes about dragging knuckles or whatever.
Also, I see patrollers who expect boarders to make turns and carve down the hill with the same rhythm, line and patterns as skiers. That's not likely to happen since they are on a different type of equipment. If you are driving down the road do you hang out in the blind spot of a tractor trailer? Most of us know not to do that. If a snowboarder rides with his/her left foot forward, they likely have a blind spot on their left side. Right foot forward, right side. Boarders don't often make short-radius turns in a zipper line straight down the hill. They also don't always maintain the same turn rhythm as they go. And their turns to their heel side will often define a different arc than to the toe side. If a left foot forward boarder is entering a trail from the right side (on a cat walk, trail merge or from the trees), they are going to have a very difficult time seeing traffic coming from above them. It should still be their responsibility to look up and yield, but if we see them coming, we should be more careful and if we see them being unsafe, we should know enough to be able to tell them that they need to be particularly cautious when they're entering a trail like that. Heck, depending on the layout of the hill and what traffic they may be focused on ahead of them, its possible they didn't even notice there was another trail coming in from their blind side.
It is not acceptable for a group of boarders to stop and sit 3,4,5, or more abreast across the hill. But do you know why they do it? First, its unlikely that anyone taught them not to. Second, they want to talk with one another and if they stop in a line down the hill, they'll back-to-front and its really hard to talk when you can look at someone. With skiers if we all stop in a line down the hill (skis across the hill), we can look to one side or the other and "face" the person we're talking with. The only way for 3 or more boarders to do that is if they're stopped across the hill. That doesn't make it right, nor acceptable. But at least if we as patrollers understand why they've done it, we might be less nasty to them the next time we ask them not to do it. And we might explain to them more politely why its dangerous.
Boarders face a whole different set of challenges from skiers when it comes to flat sections of the hill and traverses/cat tracks. Especially if the traverse is off-camber one way or another. A long traverse that it canted slightly down-hill can be brutally painful for a snowboarder, especially if it is a heelside traverse for them. One day when you are in a lift line, try sitting with your calves vertical and your thighs horizontal (pretend you're sitting on a chair) for a minute or two without taking a break. It hurts. And if the snow is sticky or the boarder is losing momentum for some other reason (flat slope, had to avoid some gaper skier, etc), it becomes very difficult for them to make small or quick corrections to their direction of travel. Where I patrol there are a couple of spots where boarders (and small kids too) often get stuck on a flat/traverse. I will often give them a push or offer a pole to pull them along (be careful doing this if you haven't tried it much - if you pull too hard to one side or the other you'll knock them over - best is to approach on their toe side, match their speed and offer your basket for them to grab on to, then get in front of them and give them a slingshot as you let them pass - staying on their toe-side, but close to them).
In the midwest and on the east coast, I find snowboarders can be much more "menacing" to others than out west. The snow out here is usually softer and easier to carve/edge in. Therefore snowboards make much less noise out here than they do back east. If a snowboarder is coming up behind you back east, you are very likely to hear them and it will be quite noisy - therefore perhaps more scary. It is much easier for me to overtake someone out west without them knowing or worrying about me. On ice, they'll hear me coming and are much more likely to do something unpredictable (like turning hard toward the woods and stopping suddenly), increasing the likelihood of a collision.
There are probably lots of other examples that I can't think of off the top of my head. I've been snowboarding for over 20 years and skiing for 40. So a lot of this stuff is just 2nd nature to me. I'll try to think of some other examples. But my point is that telling someone they are an idiot, or even just treating them that way, isn't very productive. And criticizing their shortcomings is less productive than helping them understand how to be better.
In my experience, the likelihood that someone is going to be a jerk, or dangerous, or a menace has little to do what tool they're using to slide on. It has much more to do with their age, attitude, training, experience and brains. A group of obnoxious teenage boys will be just as obnoxious on skis as on boards. They may stand out more on boards, since you're used to seeing skiers, but they aren't any more, or less obnoxious because of their footwear preference.