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We haven’t learned a thing

Kent Roberg

Throughout this season we have been ridiculed, scorned and laughed at from colleagues and friends for engaging in this silly debate. Even more people may be in a state of shock and awe to find us still banging away at the tired, sarcastic and in some ways, superficial argument we call Planks v Boards.

We have had some shining moments, Maynard’s attack on “4:20” was one of the funniest of the year. I have discussed the sub-cultural roots of boarding, attacked elitist resorts who exclude boarders, compared gear prices and ranted, raved and thumbed our noses at the other discipline.

What have we learned?

Not a thing, seriously.

We have however, opened up a dialogue, examined our differences and explored our common ground. It got us thinking about skiing. And we were lucky enough to write about skiing, even though we would rather be skiing than writing about it. But we are really geeks hiding in ski towns when all is said and done which means we will write about something. I was once told a writer is only responsible for what is in the front of the mind when they sit down to write. I think about riding a lot.

It has only been through more experience on the mountain and spending more time on the hills with skiers that I have really come to any revelations on the subject. (Sorry Maynard).

I had the opportunity to spend a couple days on the mountain with a co-worker, longtime local and skier friend of mine this weekend. We discovered we both love riding the same type of terrain, and the same lines. In matters of navigation, we found some startling differences. We go faster in different spots. The long rolling run outs of gulleys and valley bottoms are places were skiers slow down, they can afford to what with the poles and all. Snowboarders, on the other hand, must go as fast as they can through these sections. Stand on your board, keep your legs bent and ready to absorb the terrain and ride out as fast as you can is the only real formula for success when riding flat terrain.

I have found skiers, having never ridden a board or with anyone with enough competent to keep up with them, invariably stop and wait at the worst possible places for snowboarders to stop. I’m not talking about stopping in dangerous places on the hill, or hindering, harassing or blocking others movement on the hill, just simply stopping in flat spots where boarders need to keep up speed.

Here is where the initial conflict between the two disciplines really begins. I can’t stop to regroup, communicate and the like because of the flat terrain. Meantime, skier friend sees me fly past in a tuck wondering why I am so rude and thoughtless. Consequently, I stop further on down and the skier flies past just as I had done and we don’t get back together until we hit the lift line. We miss a couple of hidden trails and don’t end up where we talked about on the lift.

The snowboards pack out the trail differently due to the different approaches skiers and boarders take. The run outs tend to become rolling and undulating fast tracks which are pretty fun on a board but terrible on skis. Catwalks can slaughter a boarder but remain hardly consequential for a skier. This is another place on the mountain where skiers and boarders can become separated. Although mildly frustrating, these pitfalls are easily overcome with a little patience and understanding. By accepting our differences we come to appreciate our similarities. Skiers and boarders can get along on the hill. And the boarders promise not to make you walk too far for that apres drink.


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