January 15, 1995

Snowboards Pump Up Ski Industry

Larry W. Earl Correspondent
 
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Snowboarding is here to stay. The sport that many ski resorts banned from their mountains a decade ago is now a big business.

It didn’t take long for the ski industry to figure out that when a family planned a vacation to a ski resort, they did it together.

So when a resort wouldn’t let junior and sis use their boards, the family went somewhere else.

In recent years, reports from ski areas have shown a steady rise in “skier visits,” with the increase generally attributed to the fast-growing snowboarding crowd. Ski Industries America, a trade association, reported that snowboarding participation increased 50 percent from 1992 to 1993. The association’s research found that 79 percent of snowboard participants are male and 82 percent are under 25.

Many adult snowboarders say they’d never put on regular alpine skis again. They speak of a renewed exhilaration from snowboarding and looking forward to visiting new ski resorts to ride their boards.

Most ski resorts are creating permanent half-pipes on their slopes and some are developing special parks to meet the needs of snowboarders. The management of Snoqualmie Pass Ski Areas, for example, actively solicited input from local riders to help design its new snowboard park. Its jumps, rails and obstacles have been created to maximize the natural and man-made terrain features at the Cascades resort.

Snow-cat skiing operators at ski resorts, such as Big Mountain in Montana, Brundage Mountain in Idaho and Anthony Lakes in Oregon, are also welcoming snowboarders to join their regular clientele of alpine skiers. Helicopter skiing companies also promote their remote, powder skiing trips to the snowboarding market.

A handful of resorts still ban snowboarders on their slopes, so if you’re planning a ski vacation to a new hill, make sure to ask about snowboarding policies.

Although the appeal for snowboarding has centered on the below-30 crowd, there is a growing population of baby boomers who are either adding a board to their list of snow sports or trading in their traditional alpine equipment for the snowboard.

The main problem for adults learning to ride is that their bodies are not as resilient as when they were younger. Falling down is part of learning how to snowboard, and it hurts more when you’re older.

The snowboard industry has helped to cushion falls by providing pockets at the seat and knees of pants for removable pads. Wrist and elbow supports also are advised.

For beginners, taking lessons and experimenting with different kinds of rental equipment are good ideas. Renting lets you discover the individual characteristics of board designs before investing in your own equipment.

All ski resorts in the Inland Northwest offer snowboarding lessons to all ages, and they frequently host multiple-day clinics specializing on advanced boarding techniques.

Snowboarding is gaining more respectability each season. The first U.S. Snowboard Team was fielded in 1989 immediately following the U.S. National Championships held at Snow Valley, Calif. Snowboarding may be recognized as a full medal sport as early as the 1998 Winter Olympics.

Snowboarding costs

Like downhill skiing equipment, a snowboarding package does not come cheap.

The typical starting price for a decent board, bindings and boots ranges from $570 to $650.

It can’t be over-emphasized that snowboarding boots are the best investment to prevent ankle injuries, and beginners should not rely on the popular Sorrel boots.

The length, width and design of the board determines its capability for tricks and slalom, just as alpine slalom skis are different from freestyle skis.

The cost of proper clothing needs to be added to the equipment price. Riding a board means getting wet, even if you don’t fall a lot.

Boarders must sit to fix their bindings and kneel or sit to take a break, so durable waterproof pants are necessary to keep drier and warmer. xxxx

This sidebar ran with story: A LANGUAGE OF THEIR OWN Like members of any other sport, snowboarders have their own language. They call themselves riders or boarders. They describe their moves as “shredding” or “slashing.’<’ Here are some terms to clarify the places and moves associated with the sport: Half-pipe: A long trough with contoured sides that allows a rider to gain speed by going down one side and up the other in order to become airborne and perform aerial maneuvers. Rail: A wooden or metal railing used by the rider to slide his board along the top or side, or to balance on. The rider uses the rail in a similar manner that a gymnast uses a parallel bar to perform various maneuvers. Ollie: A maneuver made to jump onto an object. By leaning back and bending the board, the rider gains momentum to leap forward and up, as the board flexes back to its original position. Rooster: Throwing a rooster tail of snow, similar to a water or snow skier who turns sharply. Cookies/snow cookies: The chunks of frozen snow left behind by a snow groomer. As with alpine skiers, a rider hitting snow cookies may lose his balance and fall.


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