Substance Over Style

May 6th, 2009

By Cameron Parsons

You look good, you feel good, you ride good, right?

Well not always… The psychology of it might work for some but generally your appearance does little to enhance your riding. Gone are the days when snowboarding was associated to a punk rebellion against the system whereby the youth could express their outrage against society in both their lack of care for fashion conformity and their riding style.

In the past decade snowboarding has made a rapid integration into the mainstream and although there still remains an ideological element of individuality and expression it seems inevitable to think that snowboarding has largely turned into a fashion show. No longer does ones riding do their talking for them but rather what brightly coloured, outrageously designed, gloss finished board hangs up in their room.

Photo: Kieran McLaughlin,combining substance and style in Hakuba Japan by Lee Ponzio

Don’t get me wrong to no extent is this an attack on a fashion savvy youth but to simply choose your gear based on its design is indicative of an ignorant understanding of the most basic principle of snowboarding, to ride! One should not be concerned with creating a fashion faux pas but more concerned fumbling round like an idiot on the slopes for I’d much rather look like a kook and ride like a king than look like a king and ride like a kook.

Snowboards come in many different shapes and styles. There is not one board on the market that is suitable for all styles of riding so to expect a board to function in the park, the pipe, in powder, around the mountain and then drive you home after a few après beers would be to fast forward into the distant future somewhere, where Toyota make snowboards and Burton make cars.

Before you purchase a board you must first associate yourself with a style of riding. What do you enjoy? Droppin’ big lines in pow or stompin’ something new in the park for there is a world of difference between these two styles of board:

1. Park boards are twin, directional, short, flexible and generally technically un-advanced (ignoring all the rhetoric that board manufactures use to enhance a boards appeal)

2. Freeride boards are light, long, stiff, technical powerhouses that usually costs an arm and leg.

Burton Fix
$ 659.95

Burton Vapor
$ 1299.95

To spend $1000 on a board may be well and good if you have the money but to get to slopes and realise the board you just bought is actually harder to ride than the shitter you picked up at midnight from the servo in Jindy is a sickly thought, for sometimes it is well worth spending less to get more.

So next time you look to purchase your first or new setup take heed of what the rider at your local shop has to say;

  • Make sure you are conscious that you are buying the right setup for your skill level and style of riding.
  • Avoid purchasing boards on the internet like the plague, the advice it offers can be somewhat confusing and can quite often steer the novice in the completely wrong direction.
  • Buying on the internet from overseas also destroys local shops who offer hours of advice on the purchase and fine tuning of equipment for no additional cost.
  • You will find that once you develop a good rapport with the guys at your local store they will look after you for years to come. Who knows it may even offer you a place to hang and talk all good things snowboarding.

Remember, substance over style unless you want to be labeled one who can talk the talk but not walk the walk…