Just joined the forum after lurking a bit
Thought I would post my thoughts and reflections as an "old guy" just getting back into the sport
. I snowboarded heavily in my teens from í90 to í95. Iíve only been snowboarding twice since then, once in í03 and once in í05. The funny thing was that in í03 I was out of shape, and felt it. At the time, I just figured I was too old and my true boarding days were behind (jumps and stuff). However, in í05 I was in great shape and felt like there was no time difference between the last time I rode and then. While itís been almost 10 years since that time, I have high hopes that my continued skateboarding, surfing, and fitness will help when I hit the slopes this weekend.
The early days:
I learned to ski at 7 Springs when I was 8 years old in í86. Funny note, my dad was into racing, and friends with some people, and Robby Unser taught me to ski. I was too scared to ride the chairlift, and spent my day on the bunny slope outside the lodge with the tow rope (It looks like this is now a technical park?). It was either that year or the next when we took a trip to my Uncleís in CT, went skiing, and I saw my first snowboards. As a Pittsburgh native who was fascinated with surfing, I was stoked! I asked my dad about snowboarding and he told me it wasnít allowed at 7 Springs.
Hitting the slopes:
I could be wrong but I remember Ď90/91 season as the first year snowboarding was allowed at 7 Springs. My first board (well, second if you count the plastic board with velcro bindings that broke on the first time down the sledding hill when I was 10) was a blue Look with pink lettering (80ís style)
. It came from Dunhamís Sporting goods. Iím pretty sure it was flat, though it may have had some camber, it certainly was directional as it had only the slightest lip in the rear. Plain plastic bindings with 3 straps. I remember my first weekend at 7 springs Ė I couldnít board for crap. No one could. A snowboard was extremely rare at that time, you were hounded with questions on the lift, and anyone that could actually stand up and turn was considered a mini celebrity. Both days, I went back to skis after only a few runs of falling down. Jammed my wrist so bad it went numb, too. Over the next 2 weeks I would strap into my board in the garage, and kind of play around. Then, the next time I hit the slopes I was able to ride, and away I went never to ski again!
Skiers vs boarders:
From lurking the forum lately it appears as though there is still a very slight bit of animosity left, but wow were the slopes hostile just after the boards were allowed. My experience was like this, at first (Ď90/91) there werenít many skiers against boarders, they were mostly curious about it, and dismissive as most boarders spent the day crawling down the mountain. I think many skiers just figured it was a fad and that it would stick at about 5-10% max and that would be it. However, there were some skiers that were flat out PISSED that snowboards were allowed on THEIR slopes. These were the ones to watch for, they believed boards would scrape the snow off the mountain, theyíd lecture you on what a horrible person you are when on the lift together, and were just an all around buzz kill. These were the elitest skiers.
Looking back, I think part of the issue was that up until the early 90s, skiing was a bit of a social status type sport, but with snowboarding a lot of skaters and surfers started hitting the slopes. We were dressed in layers of flannel rather than the latest in snow fashion, and age wise we were teens to 30s at the time. Bottom line, we were different, snowboards were like the Happy Gilmore of the slopes, bringing a whole new crowd to the coveted slopes. But you know, what I think the skiers hated most about us back then, was we didnít walk funny through the lodge because we were just wearing regular boots
Our first half pipe:
when the 91/92 season opened, 7 springs had dug out a half pipe! It wasnít very great, they had no way to groom it, but it was ours. If you boarded that pipe just to the left of the main quad lift around this time, we probably met, maybe even knew each other. Especially, if you were one of us that used the pipe more as a ramp than a pipe, borrowing shovels from the tow rope office to dig out a jump, or try to get some vert on the maybe 70 degree walls. There were many days that I spent most of my time just hitting it over and over again, riding the rope tow back up. At the beginning of the season a few runs up the rope tow would wear me out, but by the end I could go all day with no issues. Lots of good memories of that pipe, and it really amazes me how the terrain parks have evolved. Iím looking forward to checking out 7 Springs again over the next few weeks to see the difference.
Equipment and gear:
As I mentioned, my first board was a blue Look, which was fun because when people would ask me what kind of board I had and Iíd tell them ďLookĒ, they would look at the board to see the name (Whoís on first)! That board started cracking and delaminating after a season, so in 91/92 I called up The B-Side (the place to order from at the time) for a new board. I canít remember exactly what I wanted, either a Lib-Tech or Santa Cruz (with the notches), but they were out of stock. The sales girl on the phone told me I might like some new company I never heard of (or maybe Iíd seen a few ads in magazines by that time) called ďNitroĒ. She said the pyro had the asym twin look I was looking for, so I said OK hook it up. Turned out it was a great board, lasted me up until a few days ago when the binding strap broke as I was getting it out of the car! Granted Iíve only ridden it twice since í96, but still, even in í03 and í05 it still rocked! Itís got stress cracks in the laminate on top, but other than that has held up awesome. However, I used that as a sign to get a new board (Lib Tech TRS with Union Force).
So, I started looking into equipment for the first time in 20 years. Holy crap things have changed LOL!!! My Nitro had 2 mounting options: regular or goofy. The angles were preset with the rear being about a 5 degree FORWARD angle! And for binding adjustments, there were 2 options Ė tighter and looser LOL! So yeah, Iíve been reading up on how to set my bindings up once everything gets here. As for the board, the people I rode with knew nothing of camber, flex, etc at the time, we just picked a board by length and if we liked the way it looked, then rode it. My Look was a 160-165, Iím sure of that and my Nitro is a 165. And that was when I was 14 years old! I almost bought the Nitro Magnum 171, but liked the Lib Tech better (168). Iím very curious to see how I like the camber/rocker/camber on this board.
And where did all the boots come from? I have never owned a pair of snowboard boots! We always just rode in whatever boots we could find, the duck boots were pretty popular. I canít find much on snowboard boot history, but the way I recall it was that board boots were just coming out, Burton had some expensive ones, and at least for my circle they were either for the pros or the ultra rich. I had a thing against Burton at the time just because it seemed like that was all you saw on the mountain, but I really wanted a pair of Burton boots. I ordered Sapient Yetis with my new stuff, and I know they have mixed reviews, but as long as they work better than the motorcycle boots I wore the last time I boarded then I should be fine
Let me break here for a sec: MY NEW LIB TECH JUST ARRIVED!!! (And itís a 167, not 168, my mistake)
OK, so why have I written this up? I donít know, I just started reminiscing on the good old days and thought Iíd share. The last time I bought a board, I didnít spend all day researching and stuff. As great as the internet is, it can be a bit too much at times. I see that on these forums sometimes Ė I used to be very active on car forums, but then I found I was becoming even more OCD about the finish than I already was, and I needed parts I didnít know existed, etc. Iím not trying to be a ďback in my dayĒ kind of guy, but rather just sharing. I think these forums are great for getting information and advice, and there is nothing wrong with that. But Iíve also seen where they can provide so much information that it can be a bit of an overload, and you start thinking too much rather than just enjoying!
As Iíve reminisced, and looked back, Iíve really realized what snowboarding meant to me and what I am looking to get back. The thing is, I donít miss the equipment I didnít have, I donít remember tricks I didnít land, and I donít really even remember the good airs and tricks I did land. The things I remember are the general clearing of my head while on the mountain. I remember never knowing who I was going to meet on the lift. I remember the view from the top just before heading down a slope or trail. I remember the smell of wood smoke. I miss just the general, overall feeling of surfing the mountain.