Snowboarding only looks impossible Essay

They’re not schussing on modified surfboards orskateboards–they’re riding snowboards. Invented some 10 yearsago, snowboarding is growing in popularity in the West. It’s afairly easy sport that can be done on almost any snowy incline.

A fewski resorts let snowboarders use lifts and trails. All require use ofankle strap; snowboarders must stay on groomed slopes. This month youcan even watch the World Snowboarding Championships at Boreal Ridge nearLake Tahoe, California, planned for March 30 and 31. Snowboarding owes much to its surf and sidewalk cousins. Thesnowboarder squiggles down a slope using the same arm balance andhip-turning motions as the surfer (with snowboards, bindings hold yourfeet in position). Tight turns are executed in much the same way asthey are on skateboards: you press down on the tail with your back footand pick up the nose with your foot, swinging it into the turn.

How do you stop? Simply turn the nose uphill or, failing that,just sit down. While the basic concept of snowboarding its simple,mastery depends on coordination and practice. Snowboards: limited choices.

Measuring about 4 feet long and 10inches wide, a snowboard weighs about 10 pounds. Less-expensive designs(about $80) made of laminated wood have simple metal fins at the back toaid turning. Newer, more sophisticated sytles offer metal edges foreasier turning, slick plastic lamination on the bottom for a smootherride, and better bindings for more turning control; they’re alsomore expensive, costing $230 and up.

Bindings may be simple wide bands of rubber with adjustable strapsor more elaborate, foam-padded plastic with ski boot-type buckles.Bindings aren’t as critical to safety as they are with skiing,since your ankle isn’t locked rigid as in a ski boot. But a securebinding will help you turn more easily.

The boots you wear should bewarm; a firm-sided, over-the-ankle boot such as those worn bysnowmobilers will also aid in turning. Availability of snowboards is still somewhat limited. They aresold at some sporting goods stores; try shops that specialize inskateboards, surfboards, or ski gear.

Of the manufacturers we surveyed,these two firms can help you locate shops that sell snowboards in yourarea: Burton Snowboards, Department ST, Manchester Center, Vt. 05255;and Sims Snowboards, 835 N. Milpas St., Santa Barbara 93103. Where to go snowboarding? Powder snow is fun, but for the noviceit’s too difficult to carve turns in. Dry packed snow on a gentleslope free of rocks or trees is best for learning.

A flat, broad runout at the bottom allows easy stopping. Some cautions: you can pick up speed quickly (experts say asnowboard can travel as fast as competition skis). If you tumble, asafety strap from your ankle to the snowboard keeps it from shootingaway and perhpas hitting someone. National forests that allow sledding usually allow snowboarding;call to check. Some alpine ski resorts are open to snowboarders who buylift tickets (though they may be confined of specific trails), a fewrent boards, and one (Soda Springs) offers lessons. but many resortsdon’t allow them yet, adopting a cautious attitude:”We’re afraid snowboards might interfere with skiers, or carvemore moguls into our groomed slopes,” says one manager. We surveyed Western ski resorts and found 22 areas (mostly small,family resorts) that will allow snowboards with safety straps.

Information numbers and lift ticket fees are listed below. Alaska. Arctic Valley Ski Resort (closed at press time due to lackof snow; call ahead), 15 miles east of Anchorage; lift ticket $12; call(907) 272-7767.

Arizona. Greer Ski Area, off U.S. 60, near the Arizona-New Mexicoborder; $10; (602) 735-7503. California. Borel/Soda Springs Ski Area, 10 miles west of Truckeeon Interstate 80; $14; (916) 426-3666. Donner Ski Ranch, 3-1/2 milesoff Interstate 80 at Norden; $10; (916) 426-3635. Southern California.

Mountain High Ski Area, 30 miles north of SanBernardino on State Highway 2; $20; (619) 249-5479. Snow Forest SkiArea, in Big Bear Lake 1/2 mile south of State 18 on Pine Knot Avenue.$16; (714) 866-8891. Colorado. Berthoud Pass, 57 miles northwest of Denver offInterstate 70; $8; (303) 572-8014. Breckenridge Ski Area,9 miles southof Frisco off Interstate 70; $22; 453-2368. Eldora Ski Area (allowed onweekdays only), 21 miles north of Boulder; $8; 447-8012. Ski Ester Park,75 miles northwest of Denver; $10; 586-4887.

Idaho. Bogus Basin, 16 miles norths of Boise; $16; (208) 336-4500.Schweitzer Ski Area, Sandpoint; $17; 263-9555. Montana.

Big Sky, 45 miles south of Bozeman; $20; (406) 995-4211. Nevada. Slide Mountain, about 35 miles southwes of Reno off StateHighway 431; $14; (702) 849-0303. Oregon. Timberline, near Government Camp, 60 miles southeast ofPortland; $14; (503) 272-3311. Mount Ashland Ski area, Ashland; $13.

50;482-2897. Utah. Alta about 20 miles southeast of Salt Lake City; $12; (801)742-3333. Beaver Mountain Ski Area, Logan; $10; 753-0921. Washington. Mission Ridge, near Wenatchee; $16; (509) 663-6543.

Mount Baker, 50 miles east of Bellingham; $16; (206) 734-6771. StevensPass (no weekend, holiday, or Friday night snowboarding), about 70 mileseast of Seattle; $18; (206) 973-2441. Wyoming. Americana Snow King Mountain, in Jackson; $10; (307)733-5200.

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