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Help with crossover


Guest Necro
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Hi,

I am looking for some advice moving to a hardboot rig. I have been snowboarding for about 10 years, For a number of years I was getting in 60-70 day seasons, but I moved away from the mountains for the last 5 years. I am moving back to the hills this winter and am considering a hard boot setup.

I have pretty bad tendonitis in my left (front) ankle from snowboarding, so it collapses under me from time to time. I also have bone spurs on the insteps of both my feet from soft boot straps, so I am looking to ease some of this pain.

My riding style tries to be fast & smooth. I like the steeps, shooting chutes, straightruns, like to hike for it & don't care too much about jumping. Springtime finds me bombing groomers. I do a moderate amount of backcountry powder as well, though my ankle can handle that sort of condition with soft boots.

So... My gear is pretty old. I am trying to make the decision between a modern, stiff softboot setup and a more alpine rig. I unfortunately do not have the cash for both this year. Is there a nice all-around setup you would recommend. Am I going to be bummed on powder days? Please help!

Oh, I am living in tahoe, so we are talking heavy cement snow if that matters.

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I ride both soft and hard boots, and find hard boots are great fun in powder once you get used to it.

You can get some fabulous deals on hard boots right now at the Bomber store. Look at the 423 or the LeMans... $150 - $180, and they are good for both carving and freeriding. Both come with ThermoFlex liners which is going to be important considering your issues with your feet. I sprained my left/front ankle badly in March, and it's still somewhere better than 90% but not 100%, so I'm hoping for the best this season!

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Hi Necro. I'm in a similar situation to you: freeride oriented, and switched to hardboots last season due to ongoing ankle pain. I can't match your days on the hill, and really only have 1/2 a season of hardbooting experience at this point. But, the transition issues are still really fresh in my mind, so I'll chip in my 2 bits.

So far, I've found hardboots superior for all riding. The level of response is totally different. I mean, I find a lot of softboot gear is "quick", as in you can swish the tail around rapidly... but with hardboots, you get instant response while also sticking SOLID edge pressure. You can jam it and the board will cut around fast. You just have a ton more leverage to control the edge of a longer board at higher speed.

We get the same wet snow up here, and it's all good. I've had one deep powder day in hardboots, and it was just as much fun. It does feel a little different though. A bonus goes to hardboots on hard refrozen days: in softboots I'd be bummed, but with hardboots it's consideribly easier to (try to) carve iced groomers.

I'm still not quite as competant with hardboots as soft, but I see every indication that I'll end up riding more aggressively than I ever did on softboots given a little more experience. I do feel like hardboot riding is quite a bit more technical: you really need to be solid and accurate in your motions. Expect it to be some work and adjustment when you first go out. If you're into the fast and smooth style of riding, I think you might really like a hardboot rig. There are a few riders here that I try to keep up with that use hardboots everywhere: steeps, chutes, bumps, etc... so don't worry about hardboots being to limiting, as long as you don't get a monsterously overstiff setup.

The best news is: I've had *zero* ankle issues with hardboots. They completely solved that problem for me.

I was able to try hardboots relatively easily and cheaply by borrowing a skinny freeride board (from MikeT, thanks!). So you could get a single board that would work with both setups. The donek incline is a good example of a board that you could ride with both hardboots and softboots, if your feet are small enough or your angles high enough in softboots to fit. I have the 413 boots Mike mentions, and it's fairly easy to upgrade them piece by piece with much better liners, a 5 position lean controller, etc. If you stay with hardboots however, I'm fairly sure you'll want to move to a board narrower than even a narrow freeride board: it just rides a lot better once you've made the hardboot commitment. There are deals on alpine boards on ebay, the classifieds here, or even sometimes blemish boards/seconds from the carving specific manufactures like donek. Bindings you could go cheap... but I'd advise not: if you don't like the hardboots, you can always sell a good condition pair of bombers or cateks for a price pretty close to their original retail.

I imagine you could get in touch with some other tahoe area carvers through their website, and perhaps get a chance to demo equipment or face to face advice: www.tahoecarvers.com

For softboot gear definately look into the flow bindings. You'll probibly want the stiffer models, which unforetunately are harder to find and more expensive, but they are very comforible, very solid ankle hold. I personally don't think you can do better than flow for ankle hold in softboots.

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Welcome. If you are in the 130-170 lbs range. I have a Burton UP 162 that you can try out (Randy S. might have some stuff as well). Jason covered most of the talking points as I just started last season as well. I'm told the heat-moldable liners will solve the funny foot problems (I plan on trying them since I have skinny feet/ankles with a high instep).

I still like freeriding and freestyle riding though. I usually ride my alpine setup in the morning groomers only. Personally I don't like hardboots in powder (like using a sword to cut warm butter) but then they are people who'd almost say they would run marathons in their hardboots (gratuitous exaggeration).

Tahoecarvers.com is the local site, but Bomber has more general advice/equipment.

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