Lame or Fame?
A taste of recent snowboarding technologies and philosophies bouncing around the industry, and our opinion on where they'll end upby Cole Lehman
Since the beginning of snowboarding new technologies and trends have faced one of two fates: Lame or Fame. Some, like reverse entry bindings, might have the opportunity to switch teams over the years, but in the end they will only be remembered in one respect.Just like Mark McGwire.
Magne-Traction, split boards and the idea of earning your face shots, reverse camber, park specific edge bevels and board shapes ... these are all concepts that have contributed to snowboarding's progression, but for every eureka shouted out across the snow-capped peaks, there are just as many blood-curdling screams echoing through the valleys.
Here's a taste of some recent technologies and philosophies bouncing around the industry and our opinion on where they'll end up.
Brought to life during the afterglow of what must have been a fantastic mushroom trip at America's largest night ski area, Skibowl Oregon, Glowboardz promise to improve every aspect of night riding. That is, if the most important thing about riding at night is looking like a glow worm. The visionaries at Glowboardz do recycle 90% of the waste they produce, which is rad, but we can't help wondering how durable a light-infused base is or how much weight it adds to your board.
Cheetah Ultra Sports created what some have called The Lamborghini of snowboards. As far as we can figure, it only has two things in common with a Lamborghini, and those are that it is über expensive ($1900) and doesn’t play well with what we love most: real snow. Cheetah Ultra doesn’t recommend the board for deep, ungroomed, or off-the-trail conditions, and we don’t recommend you ever touch this board unless you love manmade snow like you love your BMW.
Tired of having to turn and stop the "old-fashioned" way? Sick of having to wear those useless boots and strapping them into annoying bindings? Are you fed up with, or repulsed by, the sport of snowboarding? Well then, an evolution in the realm of no-boarding is here to take away your pains. Just make sure you slip that giant pine tree some tongue when you fly into its prickly arms. The video features a traditional snowboard forced to evolve, and it looks like they'll soon have a conversion kit so you can cut holes in your deck ... and your soul.
Voile light rail splitboard binding
Enhance your split-boarding powgasms with lighter, lower, and more efficient bindings. Voile is releasing the Light Rail and Trax splitboard bindings this January. With the slider track and binding joined in glorious harmony, you get closer to your board for more control, as well as reducing weight without sacrificing any stiffness. The baseplate is specially designed to avoid ice buildup when you're making a few laps or going on a long tour. Voile also added an avalanche ripcord to quickly release both buckles in case you trigger a slide.
One of the coolest new things in snowboarding—and, in our humble opinion, the world—are these new goggles from Recon Instruments and Zeal Optics out of Vancouver. An inlaid console inside of the goggles digitally displays your speed, location, and height of that last air. As an added bonus, it will record your riding statistics for the day so you can show your friends just how big you went.
The concept for these sexy goggles started at Recon and was recently acquired by Zeal. Both companies have a deep passion for groundbreaking technology and flawless quality. In the future, we’re hoping for a total integration of your communications, detailed trail maps for every new mountain you visit, and a connection for your favorite headcam so you can see all the HD goodness you’re recording as it happens. We can’t wait to see how this masterpiece evolves over the next few years.
Joel Warren and Tate Evans have found a brand new and ingenious way to connect with Mother Nature on a snowboard: Cross Country Snowboarding. Being an outside, outsider sport that its connoisseurs do outside, XC snowboarding will never be overrun by tourists, gapers, or beaters. Not many of us will have the dedication to stay strapped in from dawn to dusk and, unless you're willing to take it to that limit, you will never see what it's all about.
Practice your skootchline blunts, frontside skootches, and backside skootches in the backyard or on a treadmill whenever you can't make it to the chalet. Make sure to bring some loud hip-hop or heavy metal when you are evening out your skootch leg on the Nordic trails so the skiers warm up to your presence and the sport. Although many will never understand the appeal or attempt to enrich their lives with this amazing sport, we still love it and look forward to a new pastime in stormless times.
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There you have it: the best, the bad, and the worst of what’s out there right now. Maybe there is a demand for janky snowboard brakes that we aren't able to grasp. An underground night-riding cult might eat up the Glowboardz like the delicious mushroom caps that probably inspired the design. And, though it’s not something we’d like to think about, the Whip could become a great option in the event of extreme climate change and dwindling snow packs. So if your lip is quivering and tears are forming in the recesses of your eyes, get out there and prove us wrong.
Conversely, cyberpunk GPS-infused goggles might not catch on with the masses, Voile split-board bindings might be replaced by something even better in the future, and Cross Country Snowboarding might just leave a select few with misshapen quads and shattered dreams, but we would rather bet our scrounged dollars on the lifespan of these three innovations than ever ride a snowboard with a brake.