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Future of alpine

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I personally would appreciate if anyone who attended Montucky CC and has a video of Sean Martins little discussion of the future of alpine would post it to the forum or have Sean repeat it for everyone here.

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I'm going to hazard a guess that it contains two keywords: Ryan and softboots? 

You guys know how to make a mention, right???

@Donek or @Donek Josh

Loving that Donek I got off Nitro! Fantastic board. I'm a raving fan, btw.

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Not once was either mentioned. He spoke about engaging youth racers, it was really good. Sean wants to see alpine progress, I had a separate conversation with him the next day about  demos at other resorts and the lack of boots specifically making this a challenge. Alpine is only 10% of his market currently and he is concerned it may disappear due to the lack of access and instruction for alpine snowboarding.

@Donek is selling intro board packages that include bindings and boots for under a 1k bucks which is a great start. 

We all have the opportunity to help grow the sport thru being seen at the local hill. I have instructors who ask me how to try alpine, but there is limited access to equipment

 I try to loan out anything I can but boots are always the issue.

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If I had a dollar for every time someone (typically a younger softbooter) in the lift line said, "Man, I want to try that!". A few words into the conversation, comes the inevitable follow-up of, "How much does a set-up cost?". I always reference those folk to Donek, with their fantastic packages. However these are (youthful) softbooters, who can't quite comprehend the $1000 entrance fee. To absolutely no fault of their own; they're used to going to REI or Dick's, and walking-out with a much less expensive setup. And $1K just to try something? That's a tough sell.

I've thought about this subject quite a lot, this season (not sure why, but probably due to fatherhood); How to get youth (call it sub-29) involved, and interested? After a season of observation in the Midwest and Rockies I've come to the conclusion that, for better or worse, kids like jumping, spinning and going through the woods. Occasionally you see a kid laying-down some Ryan-esque carves, which is awesome to see. However that's just on his/her way to the next set of ramps or woods. And I'm not sure how, or if, you can change that. Kids are kids.

Another observation I get is in relation to the hardware. There is a lot of it, and a lot that can adjusted, tweaked, etc. The sentiment I receive is kids (sorry, I keep using that word) just want to jump on a board and go. They don't want to spend days, weeks, a lifetime, worrying about tweaking cant angles, constantly checking screws and hardware. For us, that's part of the fun; Finding the perfect setup. Kids don't have time for that. 

Yes, I'll echo @snowjob1 sentiment; Boots are the hardest part. I have a friend who's been wanting to try this, but our boot sizes are way off. Again, some $350 just to try it?

There is no easy answer.

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58 minutes ago, MNSurfer said:

If I had a dollar for every time someone (typically a younger softbooter) in the lift line said, "Man, I want to try that!". A few words into the conversation, comes the inevitable follow-up of, "How much does a set-up cost?". I always reference those folk to Donek, with their fantastic packages. However these are (youthful) softbooters, who can't quite comprehend the $1000 entrance fee. To absolutely no fault of their own; they're used to going to REI or Dick's, and walking-out with a much less expensive setup. And $1K just to try something? That's a tough sell.

Yes, this is exactly my experience too.  I scrounged together my first hardboot setup for about $300 on eBay and the old Bomber forums, but then I replaced that stuff multiple times over.  

I can only hope that someone sees me having fun and wants to try it.  I don't bother actively promoting, but will eagerly help anyone who asks more than "is that fun?"

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Talking about older gear- I've been trying to sell my older stuff to newer hardbooters for prices that are fair to me and get them on a package well under $1k.  I direct folks here and the alpine snowboard trader FB group. Hell, I ride a bunch of very nice newer(but second hand) kit, and I generally have less than $1k in my set ups (new 951's excluded, but I've been at this for 25 years).

If someone wants to try it, I still think using their ski boots or a borrowed pair for the day will give them a taste. Many of us have a loaner board or so in the closet. We're all gear snobs here, myself included, but a pair of $25 used ski boots and a $200-$300 board/ binding package is enough to get someone started for several years, and can be shifted to other newer riders before they step up to Seans $1k kit or newer used gear.

Edited by Mr.E

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I believe USASA coaching certifications currently require a variety of skills, including switch riding, basic pipe skills, jibbing, etc. for a level 100 certification.

That's fine - but what if they had a separate certification track for alpine racing based on carving skills?  My daughter, who races, could be a great alpine coach in the future, but could care less about jibbing, pipe, etc.  

In fact, given the scarcity of half-pipes nationwide, it would seem that a much higher percentage of younger snowboarders in USASA programs would have access to racing.

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Youth don't seem to have a problem laying out similar cash for skis and Boots and poles, so I am not sure that money is the issue. Money is always the first stated reason, but often not the real reason why things don't happen.

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IMHO, the reason alpine is stuck in its own little rut (trench) is that very, very, very few people think as I do that it’s the awesomest thing one can do on snow. I show skiers and snowboarders pics of beautifully carved turns and they say, “cool” and that’s as far as it goes. The snowboarders go skidding back and forth down the hill and the skiers just show zero interest. It used to blow my mind but I am now used to it and pretty much just keep my mouth shut and do my own thing. Skidding back and forth down a slope on a snowboard seems so totally boring but sometimes terrain and conditions dictate it. In those situations I go back to my skis. 
Because of the above I think alpine will grow extremely slowly or not at all.

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On 2/20/2020 at 6:45 AM, snowwjob1 said:

...Alpine is only 10% of his [Donek's] market currently and he is concerned it may disappear due to the lack of access and instruction for alpine snowboarding.

This is a scary stat from arguably the USA's most known maker. Is HB carving only for old dudes?!...if so, sad because those old carvers will retire from carving one day, then poof like Sean says.

I can't remember seeing another HB carver under 40 (or female for that matter) on my local hills - (except my daughter!!)

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IMO, it's simply because HB snowboard is much more difficult than SB snowboard and skiing. I guess the same happens to telemark skiing.

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9 hours ago, rjnakata said:

This is a scary stat from arguably the USA's most known maker. 

I don't find it particularly scary. I don't know Sean's buisness, but I've seen him mention that Donek has done a lot of growing in the last few years. It's entirely possible that the HB boards are growing, but the softboot sales are outpacing them. Makes a ton of sense in the general market if he's pushing bx, freeride, freestyle and surf style shapes. Sounds like smart buisness more than a death knell of Alpine.

Looking at his social media, it seems Donek is doing a great job of getting under the feet of youth riders, at least in the race arena. 

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Possible, but a similar growth path happened with Prior. Now, they are almost out of alpine business and don't care much - they sell tons of freeride, pow boards and skis. Of course, the premature passing of Chris was a tragedy and detrimental to alpine too. 

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Yes, but Prior was already stepping back from alpine a bit at that point. The early WCRM boards (and how they treated warrenty work and customer service) were sort of the end of their alpine development. Kessler, SG, Oxess, Donek and Coiler continued to push development, and it wasn't until a few years later the FLC came out in response. 

No condemnation of Prior there, they chose to pursue a market that made more sense for them. But that's different then Doneks development in parrallel to continued product grown in other catagories.

Alpine in todays market is a passion project for any maker, with development in the niche being the thing that keeps them relevent. More power to all the players for keeping that passion while hopefully continuing to produce hardgoods that they can keep making and selling in a profitable way.

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My biased opinion would be to get more kids racing gates, will help to increase the HB community. At a certain point, a soft boot board just cannot compete at the level needed regardless of how good the rider is, and to stay racing gates, the kids need to go to HB.

I find many kids actually want to try a HB setup, but with programs pushing the "all around rider program" which is, in essence, simply catering to the largest monetary denominator to the exclusion of having HB training, I see this as a large factor preventing the growth of the HB community.

This is not something unchangeable, but we need to push coaching to understand the value of the learned edge control, and maybe this trend can be turned.

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7 hours ago, hknz said:

IMO, it's simply because HB snowboard is much more difficult than SB snowboard and skiing. I guess the same happens to telemark skiing.

Much more difficult all right. I suspect if there was a bio on alpine riders something else would distinguish them from the general population. There is a ski racing and performance skier crowd at Nakiska that loves to watch the trench digging under the chair. Many ask about it but it seems to end there.  

Telemark had an arc. It was difficult on 3 pin bindings (skinny skis), became easier with cables and harder/easier with the heavyweight NTN, depending on your background. Then Dynafit's tech patent expired. 

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21 minutes ago, TVR said:

My biased opinion would be to get more kids racing gates

I got my start on an alpine board at 15 racing (poorly) in high school. The fast kids I regularly lost to were on Rossi and Bomber. 25 years later I'm still at it.

At th time you could, occassionally, find alpine gear in shops. Magazines had a small alpine section in their reviews. Carving had some coverage in the media. I'd say in my case it was a modest bit of media exposure, personal application based on my access to a race team, and my natural inclination to venture into niche activities. Plus super supportive parents that were willing to help me source some gear.

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As a species we're  very good at turning simple into complicated, inexpensive into expensive. Playing on snow shouldn't be where it is today. If you want to make it fun and inexpensive support a local community hill, organize ski and board swaps, encourage teachers to have ski days and help organize transport and chaperones. I have yet to see kids at our local bump playing with their phones when attending school ski days. Once a child that has never been skiing has an opportunity to experience it they are also exposed to the other snow sports that might be taking place at the same time. Upon my return to the local bump from MCC I was surprised to notice the stares my Skwal attracted from both young and old. ( Teachers strike brought them out of the wood work this Friday) . Sometimes they ask but the conversations between their friends always ramps up when they see my Skwal .Not sure why but as I approach the chair most back off leaving me alone to load the chair i'm hoping it's so they can have a longer time to stare at the board but never sure. I now have a small supply of Alpinesnowboarder.com cards to hand out to the curious. Thanks for those MCC.

 

 

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To be fair, it appears we've been lementing the death of Alpine for my 25 years in it. Seems to me new riders and new industry folks have popped up the whole time. I'd say it's a safe bet it's never going to be huge, but I don't know that it's any more dead, and possibly at least equally as alive.

Edited by Mr.E
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"Alpinesnowboarder.com cards to hand out to the curious. Thanks for those MCC."

I am going to ask Jack if he 

1. Has stacks of cards

2. Has a card and minds if we create our own stacks...

 

Cards might be a modest small start..

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Bomber use to have a business card that they would include in their orders to pass out to inquiring minds.  It included a link to the old forum and tech articles. We decided to replicate those with a link to the current forum and the MCC website.  Hopefully they will contribute to overall growth in alpine carving.  

I will be sending the left over cards from the MCC to Jack to send out with orders from this forum for swag.  Swag sales help keep the doors open on the forum and the surplus dollars are donated to support young racers. 

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5 hours ago, lowrider said:

Not sure why but as I approach the chair most back off leaving me alone to load the chair......

Boarder odour. Alpine boarders seem to be be particularly "high" in it. Skwalers are clearly completely off the skwale.

Edited by SunSurfer
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