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Downhill Snowboard Racing


utahcarver
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So, I'm watching the half-pipe mens finals with Ms. utahcarver when she asks, "When do they run the downhill race?". What do you mean downhill? You mean like the same course that the skiers race downhill on? "Yes, when do they run that race? Has Shaun White ever won that race?". I explained to her that in the Olympics there was no sanctioned course or medal for downhill snowboarding. "Why?".  I was dumbfounded for an answer. I did a quick search online and found the US Open in Vermont started as a downhill event exclusively. Fastest rider down the hill wins, right? From there, it seems to have turned it's focus on half-pipe and slalom. Eventually, dropping slalom and adding slopestyle and big air as it's only formats for "racing". Which begs the question:

Are there any current downhill snowboard events across the globe? I'm guessing that SBX and banked slalom events might mildly qualify as downhill events. I'm not even going to ask about FIS sanctioning for downhill snowboarding. So, asking for the missus, why aren't there any downhill events for snowboarding? I tried to find anything in Europe. The first name that came up was Hannenkahm. Nothing. Only skiers. FIS. 

I can remember boards from Sims, Burton, Gnu, Kemper, and others having triangles cut out of their shovels for racing years ago. Am I missing something? When did downhill racing go away? Personally, I am way past my prime of donning a race suit and running gates but, I still can point my board downhill and stay in the fall-line occasionally. Just long enough to scare me into reality. 

Mark

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The ISF still had rather Burly Super-G events as of '96. You'd see 197cm Prior-Made Sims Burners flying by at 55mph. Then the ISF went bankrupt trying to keep it's sovereignty on local events (They had to go to Court, many times, and had 'won' the Lawsuit, but only to find the FIS/IOC breaking the Court's Orders. This was Deliberate on the part of the FIS, knowing they could pay the fines, and Lawyers, where-as the ISF struggled to pay the Lawyer). At that point in time, Burton pretty much pulled out of Racing, and started to back away from it in The Open Events. They turned their focus on Freestyle, the X-Games, Big-Air, and 'played along' when the FIS started to truly consider how to put on a 'Freekstyle Show'. The Burton-led end-run around the FIS kinda worked, at least from a Marketing-Ploy POV, but it almost snuffed racing in Snowboarding. Oh, and the FIS, being Skiers, are TERRIFIED of clamp-down bindings on a Very Big Board that goes a Mile-A-Minute (They 'Need' Releasables to be "safer"), so they'll probably never let a Wide-Open DH snowboard event ever happen again. I left the ISF (as a Referee/Gatekeeper/Pipe-Park Judge)  in mid '95, because I could see the blood on the walls. MY sport was going Elsewhere, and would be controlled (but Not Owned!) by Plankers, and I'd had ENOUGH of their Crap!! To this day, what went down in the lead-up to Nagano boils my blood!! 

 

Edited by Eric Brammer aka PSR
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4 hours ago, softbootsurfer said:

Ugly...they had one here years ago and it was Ugly.. A Real WC Ski Downhill course would be Suicide...

See, that's what I'm thinking, too. But, SBX and half-pipe can turn ugly, too. And the crowds and announcers seem OK with it. Reminds me of some auto racing fans. 

Mark

 

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Sounds like a winner in the eyes of the Olympics, its all about youth appeal, ratings and audience numbers nowadays. Theyve tapped out the freestyle SNB well but think PSL is worthless, so why not a balls to the wall DH/Super-G event that ends in spectacular crashes? Just allow the participants to wear padding. 

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25 minutes ago, scottishsurfer said:

Couldn't you just drop the speed through course design ie downhill  but with a more slalom style gate layout with more spacing obviously to encourage carving swooping turns across the course 

That would then be a super-G, which is what we used to run. 

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Hypothetically, IF 'The Open' had stayed at Stratton, the best spot on the hill for a true DH would be Upper Standard/Rimeline, with maybe 8-to-10 'gates', but a narrow-down S - Chicane mid-hill [possibly banked?] , but staying far enough away from the Lift towers. I'd end it at the mid-mountain lodge (or just above where Frank's + Rimeline intersect ). Nothing under 170CM allowed. Possibly an artificial Roller or two, but not meant for 'airtime', but for a change-of-pitch. I figure that'd be just a tad over 70 mph for the best racers. Back-armor-plates and full-face helmets required.

I've bombed this run-set [minus the added features] a few times, and on a Coiler 184cm, it was scary-but-doable; Much more fun on the Safari 205 and not as scary; and it's slower on the Tanker, but a good thrill anyhow. 

Similar hill profiles abound out West. And, there, the snow is Cush. 

 

Edited by Eric Brammer aka PSR
oops, punctuation
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It's like the fabric has been ripped out of reality.

 

You can't race on snowboards thinner than 16.1 mm because they have an unfair advantage and always win. 

Hence, they were disqualified.

There's no "Downhill" in snowboarding because both feet "hips" are engaged, with ski's the hips can absorb irregular ground, with a snowboard, irregular ground sends the rider airborne, it's to dangerous, luckily, until now, common sense has stopped airborn carnage.

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The last true DH I was aware of was Iron Mountain, 1989 or 1990. Scariest race I ever did.  

IIRC there was a Super-G in Tahoe in the early 2000s.

you want to see real insanity? Check out speed week at Vars. Those guys get up into the 95+mph range on soft boots and 120+ on hard boots

Edited by tex1230
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It's a pretty sedate course but I've done the CT State Senior WInter Games Downhill race on a 178 cm SG board a couple of times.

About ten years ago I rode through a downhill speed trap in Davos and was clocked at 88 kph (55 mph) on a 168 cm Volkl Renn Tiger.  Not the smartest thing I did after turning 60.  The fastest skier in our group hit 45 mph.

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On 2/18/2018 at 7:11 AM, softbootsurfer said:

Ugly...they had one here years ago and it was Ugly.. A Real WC Ski Downhill course would be Suicide...

Can you imagine what would happen to your body, if you fell at Super-G speeds on hards with our non-release bindings...tumbling?

I've been clocked at 66mph on my soft boot SBX set up...it was pretty scary.

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47 minutes ago, Emdee406 said:

Can you imagine what would happen to your body, if you fell at Super-G speeds on hards with our non-release bindings...tumbling?

I've been clocked at 66mph on my soft boot SBX set up...it was pretty scary.

It depends upon your Reactions! Mine is, 'Slide-on-body, lift edges'! As you Slide, maybe 'touch down' to impart steering or braking. Once 'down' you are no longer anymore in  control than a skier who's lost a ski, or a Biker who flipped a Harley. But, Streetluge Racing has taught me that the 'raggedy andy doll' can survive some crazy 'oops' moments! DO NOT Tumble, though! That leads to 'edge-catch' flips (Think, fresh Fish, slapped on the kitchen counter! Not Good!), so sliding out with minimal resistance and jellified muscle input is best. Of course no one can "FORCE YOU TO RELAX!!", but if that becomes your 'go-to' plan, you can walk away from some crazy stuff! The leverage this speed puts on you is intense. I don't counter nor doubt that. But I do think it's an acceptable level-of-risk that can be mitigated by protective gear requirements, and course design that 'looks scary-fast' but is within a 'speed limit' that designers can predict. I'd hate to think we are only able to 'bomb' Blue-square' trails, when I've been diving into Double Diamonds for over 2 decades...

 

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DH racers have this prediliction to just explode with little choice on how to handle it. Things go wrong in a hurry at those speeds and you are dealing with a metric assload of momentum. I would hate to be in that situation locked into a board long enough to handle a DH. 

Edited by Neil Gendzwill
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Wow...no safety netting at all...you are a Brave Soul :biggthump

This is a WC Downhill here, which is on the shorter but technical side Of WC Downhill courses...

I have never seen anyone on a Snowboard do this...can a Snowboard make it down the course?, of course...

Can a Snowboarder compete with a Skier on a course set like this? 

 

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2 hours ago, patmoore said:

Again, this is a very tame course but fun nonetheless.  It was the Connecticut Senior Winter Games at Ski Sundown in New Hartford, CT.

The video makes it hard to get a sense of the steepness of that, but I'm sensing not very.  Looked like fun anyway.

The only downhill course I'm familiar with is the one they run every year at Lake Louise.  It drops 826 m over 3.1 km for an average pitch of 15 degrees, and is considered relatively easy by World Cup standards.  I've skied or rode down those runs many times but always in relatively soft conditions and never balls-to-the-wall bombing it. I've stood by a corner and watched the racers fly by at 120 kph on that water-injected course, that looks terrifying to me.

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