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Wait, he gets the chair to himself? And he is complaining? Man, he is lucky......

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Yes the result is I get an empty chair but imagine how pissed off people behind me are on a busy day  thinking I'm such a snob I have to ride alone. Unfortunately it doesn't get me to the chair any faster.

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On 2/19/2020 at 6:51 PM, lonbordin said:

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.

LOL! I thought of you when I posted it up for sale, glad you got it ! Its a beast of a board, I could lick the groom on toe side with that stick!

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Hi Dave, Corey, and everybody else here...  Just wanted to share my experience...

I got into alpine snowboarding in college around 1996 in Northern California...  My college classmate worked for the Burton west coast sales rep, and for 2 seasons I had my pick of Factory Prime/Ultra Prime salesman samples along with Burton Reactor boots and race plates...  The Factory Primes and boots were made in Austria, and the Ultra Prime was made in VT, I think...  While I enjoyed watching the freerider Craig Kelly, it was Peter Bauer and Jean Nerva that caught my eye...  I still have the Peter Bauer asym board at home with rat trap bindings...

I was very fortunate as there was no cost for me to get into alpine/hardboot snowboarding...  I remember going to Kirkwood and happening upon a group of 15 or so carvers...  That's the most I've seen at a US resort, with the exception of MCC 2020 at Turner Mtn...  Also, the last time I rented alpine gear at a resort was around 1997/98 at Blackcomb...  I got a Rossi VAS alpine board in their rental shop...

I moved to NYC about 21 years ago, and took a very long break from snowsports, but picked it back up a couple of years, sold off the old boards, and got a new setup...

My usual resorts are Hunter (because it's close), Gore (my favorite), Okemo (pretty good except the weekend crowds)...  I am usually the one of the few on hardboots at any of these resorts...  Sometimes people ask my questions, and I am happy to answer.  Some common ones are: What are you riding?  Is it a snowboard?  Are those ski boots?  Last week at Okemo, I passed out 2 of those cards we got from MCC.  One to a skier in the lift line, and a snowboarder on the bus...  But most people are not very curious about it other than a passing glance, and they may say: cool board, or something like that...  Also, it's tough to find people to ride with, for example, at resorts, skiers ski together, soft booters side slip, or go to the park together...  Carvers are left on their own as an oddity...  Even carvers are a testy bunch, as the really good ones usually keep to themselves...  I'm an OK rider, but it's tough to find people around your level to ride with...  If you are beginning, and you don't have a patient friend, you are pretty much screwed for support...

I'm not sure what the answer to growing alpine snowboarding in the US...  It seems to have more of an audience in EU and Asia (Japan/Korea).  I think here in the US, the only time we see alpine snowboarding is the PS, and PGS every 4 years during the winter olympics...  Other than that, there is no promotional events with big sponsors like they have for half-pipe, slope-style, even extreme freeriding...  There are no freecarving showcase events that are televised or promoted...

I think there is a pack mentality...  If all your friends are skiing or snowboarding(soft boots) you are going to gravitate towards that more easily, rather than seeking out a strange activity with expensive gear like alpine snowboarding...

So, I think there are so many factors going against taking alpine snowboarding to a larger audience...  I think the some would be:

1. Access to rental gear so you don't have to drop $1K for a starter setup

2.  High learning curve

3.  Perception that hard boots would be uncomfortable

4.  General lack of visibility/support/lessons at most resorts, on the internet (save a few forums)...

Also, I don't think about just getting the youth interested in just racing...  It could involve getting them interested in freecarving...  My buddy Pierre M who rides at Okemo, and came out to MCC 2020 told me that his 11 year old son recently asked to try hardboots, so he could go out and ride with dad in the morning...  Pierre says his son is doing really well...  This is really cool, and I hope there will be more stories like this...

I do agree with what Sean said, and what he is trying to do to try to get more people interested in alpine snowboarding, but I think he can't go it alone, and other builders and equipment manufacturers have to step up their game if they want interest in alpine snowboarding to grow...

Sorry for long winded rambling post...

Cheers,

Tim

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I totally agree that racing by itself is at best 1/2 the answer; exposure to free ride/all mt. riding in buckles and plates was mostly nonexistent between the Burt/Zellers alpine days and the recent begrudged acceptance of phantoms and modded AT boots for split boards/backcountry. The average joe that hits the slopes 3-5 times a season (the majority of the boarding population) will never advance their skills enough to even think about "performance gear".

There's a lot of "what the frack is that" interest in never before seen gear, which rarely sees any follow up.

I try to be an ambassador of alpine (everyone loves watching smooth sinuous carves from the lift) proving every day out that hard boots do not negate switch, bumps and powder riding; but lone wolfs like me can never alter the public perception that plates and plastic is for racing only.

Boots are the biggest obstacle by far and forgiving, softer flexing, all mt riding "hardboots" are a niche in the niche.

Some well done vids of offpiste shredding with some promoting like yearly ski movies, would go a long way towards adjusting public perceptions.

When I win big on the lottery I'll start a boot/binding company with zero strap/laces offerings:smashfrea

pipe dreams r'us

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I totally agree that the perception of plates and hardboots is that they are only for racing...  I am not a racer, and have almost no interest in it save for the occasional attempt at the $5 NASTAR slalom course at Okemo...

Last week at Okemo, one of the guys said my board was a slalom board... Which speaks to his lack of knowledge about alpine snowboarding...

I have also been stopped by skiers who like to see my attempts at carving...

I also agree that we need some better PR and marketing to put this aspect of snowboarding back out there...

Some hurdles I think would be the $$$ to produce these things as the builders and companies that make hardbooting equipment are probably small, and do not have the marketing budget and PR people like Burton for instance...

While not perfect, I would applaud Deeluxe for releasing the Ground Control boot to try to make hardbooting seem softer...

Or maybe hardbooting seems a little too European for most North Americans...  I though I'd just put it out there...  While there are builders here that make alpine boards here, and one company that makes bindings, all the other companies that make boots and bindings are from Europe, and maybe from Japan...

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I believe Alpine will never be more than a tiny niche part of downhillers for all of the above stated reasons and from my own experience. 
I remember in about 2005 when a shop in Sun Valley had finally come to the realization that hard boot alpine was going no where so they were liquidating their rental equipment, i.e. a pile of assorted Burton hard boots at $25/pair. 
It’s only me, you and a very few others who think Alpine is the coolest thing ever but very, very, very few others have even the slightest interest in it. When someone on the chair asks you a question, which is seldom, you answer them and they say, “oh” and that’s it. Sometimes I think they think I am lying to them when I tell them I am not wearing ski boots. 
THERE IS JUST ZERO INTEREST...makes me feel special, I guess. 
Rowing is similar. I row my racing shell on Horsehead Bay almost every day and when I bump into one of my neighbors from across the bay in the grocery store they say, “I think I saw you in your kayak the other day. Is that fun?”...no clue. Of course it’s not fun. It’s a PIA but it is good for your heart and lungs and almost every muscle in your body. Hey, that’s ok. 

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Exact opposite experience of xsculler. I've had several people actually stop me at the top of the hill or in the chalet and ask me tell them everything about what I'm riding. Some know what it is and some have never seen it before. Short answer is, "yes, it is as fun as it looks, and you can find out more at Alpinesnowboarder.com and it's the best place to find good used equipment cheap in the classifieds".  

I think the average skier/boarder looks at it and thinks it looks like fun, but would be too hard for them do or learn, and they may be right.

I had a ski carver ask to follow me around the hill recently. He had been trying to duplicate my turns by going next to my trenches all morning. He was okay until we got to the steeps, and then he just couldn't crank the same turn. Now he's seriously thinking he needs to try an alpine set-up. Who knows, maybe algunderfoot will hook him up at Indianhead.

I've seen more and more good softboot carvers on the hill in the past couple of years. I suspect some of them may want to take it to the next level and try (as Fin called it) "adult snowboarding".

btw, BSO (Big Snow Outfitters) in Bessemer (near Indianhead) has some Thirst boards for rent and I've seen them out on the hill.

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25 minutes ago, bigwavedave said:

I've seen more and more good softboot carvers on the hill in the past couple of years. I suspect some of them may want to take it to the next level and try (as Fin called it) "adult snowboarding".

 

Softboot carving has finally stepped up, but I would argue that it does not help to promote hardbooting. The majority would decide that the cost (financial, wearing "ski" boots, looking like a freak, learning time) for a perceived marginal performance benefit is not worth it. One only needs to look at the softboot carving videos from Japan and Korea to realize that most riders are far from extracting all the possible performance from a softboot set up. For the outside observer, top level softboot carvers look every bit as impressive as a hardbooter, so where is the motivation to make an investment in time and money? Their opinion would differ once they got on a hardboot setup, but as we all know, the opportunities to try before you buy are slim. 

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Racing? Give me HB, Carving, give me SB,

SB, mixed with the latest Boards, are now Carving ready equipment, Burtons Step in will expedite this as well, what with the big increase in front side turn support, this is actually the first real season here at Milkland, there are people trying to follow my tracks all the time 👣, for a number of years, the Ski Instructors have used my Style and Tracks, to help show, Skiers about their Edges 👽 but this season, Everyone is Stoked on Carving, once they exit the Terrain Parks 😀... then again, we are talking about some Locals,  this season however, I have noticed those people, that are here for a week or so, have become very enthusiastic about trying to Carve some turns, be it on a Snowboard or with Skis...this bodes well for Carvings future, as for HB Alpine, I believe it will no longer exist in another 10 years...

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1 hour ago, bigwavedave said:

Exact opposite experience of xsculler. I've had several people actually stop me at the top of the hill or in the chalet and ask me tell them everything about what I'm riding. Some know what it is and some have never seen it before. Short answer is, "yes, it is as fun as it looks, and you can find out more at Alpinesnowboarder.com and it's the best place to find good used equipment cheap in the classifieds".  

I think the average skier/boarder looks at it and thinks it looks like fun, but would be too hard for them do or learn, and they may be right.

I had a ski carver ask to follow me around the hill recently. He had been trying to duplicate my turns by going next to my trenches all morning. He was okay until we got to the steeps, and then he just couldn't crank the same turn. Now he's seriously thinking he needs to try an alpine set-up. Who knows, maybe algunderfoot will hook him up at Indianhead.

I've seen more and more good softboot carvers on the hill in the past couple of years. I suspect some of them may want to take it to the next level and try (as Fin called it) "adult snowboarding".

btw, BSO (Big Snow Outfitters) in Bessemer (near Indianhead) has some Thirst boards for rent and I've seen them out on the hill.

The likely reason for bigwavedave's and my experience to be different is that he is undoubtedly a much better carver than I am. People see him lay down his trenches and they want to know more. they see me and they think I can see what he's trying to do but what's the point and they skid back and forth down the hill.

I still think Alpine is going no where and that's just fine with me.  It makes me feel more special.

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1 hour ago, softbootsurfer said:

Racing? Give me HB, Carving, give me SB,

Don't want to get into a hardboot v softboot thing. The "adult snowboarding" remark was just what Fin used to call it--it just sounded funnier when he said it--and it was kinda true, as most of his customers were...older.

But, I would add to the best use for hardboots & alpine board above---ice and impenetrable groom, something we can get a lot of east of the Rockies. If I didn't start using an isolation plate this year at my local hill, or drive 2½ hrs to the land of lake-effect snow, I would not have had much fun this season.

If I rode in Aspen all winter, well...I wish! When in Aspen, I did have more fun on a wide-waisted old glass, full-camber board compared to my alpine sticks. Aspen groom is a dream.

Btw Bob, it looks like you've been having a wonderful season. Please keep posting pics.:biggthump

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@1xsculler I ride at small midwestern hills where any decent skier would be board to death, so any skilled downhill slider is an anomaly. One of the reasons I got into alpine snowboarding was that I found carving turns, even on the relatively gentle mid-western terrain, lit up the pleasure center in my brain much like windsurfing did, but better, and I didn't have to wait for a windy day (and the waves were bigger than any lake).

There's a ski area a few hours north of me that is more of a skiers hill, and has terrain to challenge a good skier. When I go there, skiers have little or no interest and it's one place that I'll get some attitude from skiers.

Small, quiet ski areas that are boring for skilled skiers are my favorite places for carving.

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1 hour ago, bigwavedave said:

Don't want to get into a hardboot v softboot thing. The "adult snowboarding" remark was just what Fin used to call it--it just sounded funnier when he said it--and it was kinda true, as most of his customers were...older.

But, I would add to the best use for hardboots & alpine board above---ice and impenetrable groom, something we can get a lot of east of the Rockies. If I didn't start using an isolation plate this year at my local hill, or drive 2½ hrs to the land of lake-effect snow, I would not have had much fun this season.

If I rode in Aspen all winter, well...I wish! When in Aspen, I did have more fun on a wide-waisted old glass, full-camber board compared to my alpine sticks. Aspen groom is a dream.

Btw Bob, it looks like you've been having a wonderful season. Please keep posting pics.:biggthump

Of Course Dave, I know your Passion for the Carve 😀 I certainly agree that ones location dictates the equipment, Race Course, Mid west Boiler plate...East Coast Ice...I give opinions based on my observations here in Colorado, SB are on 99.99% of Snowboarders and now, a significant number are starting to think Carving is Cool, I think that is a Wonderful development for Carving, not so much for what is defined here as Alpine Snowboarding...

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FWIW they were having some sort of race day at Beaver Creek and a younger dude struck up a conversation with me by the escalators.  It was his first run out on a borrowed HB set up.  Unfortunately I was heading out and he was heading up so it ended there.  I also saw a younger fella that was riding a race style pretty well that I didn't recognize.  Like others have said I think getting the younger crowd into racing would be the way to keep the sport going since that's where the gear will get passed around more.

SBS, I'll bite.  Sure, I could carve in soft boots, but then I wouldn't get to be that fruit-bootin weirdo now would I?  Pfft- conformists.

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I was not trying to say, one is better than the other, only making an observation based on 35 years at Milkland...there used to be Lots of HB here, now there is the Milkman and Curly , with the Butcher once or twice a season, Corey from Hawaii for a week...Doug comes up from Grand Junction a couple of times and some LCI come over for a couple days, there was a young HB on a new Donek ( 30 or 40 ) 🙂 that was here for the last two seasons, but has since disappeared...I have not seen Anyone here for years that would be considered Young wanting to HB...Like I said, I see a lot of Interest in Carving from Everyone Now, be they on Skis or Snowboards...

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15 hours ago, softbootsurfer said:

 have become very enthusiastic about trying to Carve some turns, be it on a Snowboard or with Skis...this bodes well for Carvings future, as for HB Alpine, I believe it will no longer exist in another 10 years...

well then thank ullr my 25yr old metal bindings should last another 25yrs, guess I better start hoarding boot shells.

That's a joke, Highbacks suck, and laces suck too, as long as there is ice there will be hard shells even if they are AT ski boots.:argue:

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I have had a very heartwarming experience this season. 

Last season a bunch of students here at Carrabassett Valley Academy (alma mater of Mark Fawcett, Jeremy Jones, Jeff Greenwood, Adam Hostetter, Seth Wescott, Bode Miller, others) went to USASA Nationals and observed that most podiums were occupied by hardbooters.  These kids are at CVA because they are competitive by nature.  They were participating in racing mostly as cross-training for Boardercross, but they came to enjoy it and wanted to be more competitive.  A wave of them decided to get into the Alpine gear.  CVA contacted me for help with part time coaching and sizing/acquiring gear.  We started the season with 6 and then other kids saw this and wanted in.  We are up to 9.  They are consistently collecting medals in USASA racing and are headed to Nationals at the end of the month.  CVA hasn't had a team like this in a generation.  Other kids are making noises about doing it next year.  Similarly, Lynn Ott is helping with Gould Academy's team down the road at Sunday River.

Because these kids were already good softboot carvers, they took right off in hardboots.  It was awesome to see.  It confirmed my belief that the transition from softboots to hardboots should be easy and liberating, not grueling and frustrating.

This is the only significant growth in Alpine in my area that I've witnessed.  This is why this site is dedicated to supporting youth racing through USASA, and USSRT.

I've set up the director of Snowboarding at CVA with my old RC10s and my Kessler 168.  He's an expert softboot carver, but his mind was expanded by the hardboots.  He's loving it.  I did the same for the chief engineer at Winterstick (which is headquartered at Sugarloaf), he had been on hardboots many years ago.  He's also an expert softboot carver.  I wasn't able to be with him when he took it out, but he texted me "OMG, I had forgotten that feeling!!"

Carving in hardboots is distinct from carving in softboots.  In my opinion it's more fun.  I don't see it disappearing ever.  If it was going to, it would have happened already.  Look at the racing scene in Europe for one thing.  Also, with climate change creating more thaw-freeze cycles, hardboots will be getting more useful, not less.  I'd estimate the ratio of good groomer days to powder days here is at least 25:1. 

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On 2/22/2020 at 5:59 PM, Mr.E said:

To be fair, it appears we've been lamenting the death of Alpine for my 25 years ...

I think that's correct. Sideslipping won the mass-market. Now we have soft boot carving and hard boot carving too, it's all good.

1 hour ago, Jack M said:

....  I don't see it disappearing ever.  If it was going to, it would have happened already.  Look at the racing scene in Europe for one thing.  Also, with climate change creating more thaw-freeze cycles, hardboots will be getting more useful, not less.  I'd estimate the ratio of good groomer days to powder days here is at least 25:1. 

I think the climate generally is partly why hard boots (and edges on boards) were more popular in Europe from the start - we just needed something which works on the snow we have, not the snow they have in Utah.

I suspect that the fact that racing exists is important in that. It's a more grass roots thing than ballet tricks, which seems to me at least to be driven top-down from the marketing.

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Maybe if you folks had been "Here" over the last 35 years, you would understand what I am saying as opposed to thinking I am somehow attacking HB riders...Milkland was featured as one of the Top Carving HB zones on the planet years ago in Snowboard Life  Mag , which just reminded me of that other HB mag that released two issues and then he moved on to Kite Surfing I believe? remember the cool pics he put of himself over on 1a ?  hanging with the Pure Carvers,  the Sessions started Here, the whole Pure Carve thing went on Here, there used to be HB riders all over Tiehack Daily, Monthly, Yearly...now, NONE, and NO YOUNG HB are around HERE at All, for years now...so yea, I would stock up on The Parts for Old Farts Program 😀  the thing about Colorado is the Snow and how easy it makes it to Ski or Snowboard, SB or HB, if people aren't going to be doing it here, why would they be doing it on 300 ft. hills of Ice somewhere else? 

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On 3/5/2020 at 4:30 PM, timbox18 said:

While I enjoyed watching the freerider Craig Kelly, it was Peter Bauer and Jean Nerva that caught my eye...  I still have the Peter Bauer asym board at home with rat trap bindings.

This ^^^^!!!  Who, in their early days of snowboarding, didn't have a hero that romanticized their particular style of riding? Craig Kelly shaped the early years of my riding, Shaun Palmer and Missy Giove shaped my early years of mountain biking.  Bauer and Nerva shaped countless folks here.  

If we want to really grow the sport in the US (or lets be honest, it is still a niche sport in a lot of Europe too) we need a high-profile and cool rider in the snowboarding movies.  We need a hero archetype that is "mainstream" that the kids can relate to. Maybe we should take up a collection and entice Travis Rice to ride alpine???  (PS, please don't disparage Travis here because he rides softies.  He is really an awesome rider that has a huge following and was just taken as an example of someone who could refocus some attention on hard boots if he could ever be enticed to the dark side).  

In addition, growing the racing community for hardbooting is awesome, thanks @Jack M!

It really is crazy.  When you try hardbooting, and especially when you get to a certain level of proficiency, this sport IS THE TITS!!!  And it gets really difficult to figure out why not everybody gets on board (oh that is horrible, horrible english).  

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12 minutes ago, softbootsurfer said:

if people aren't going to be doing it here, why would they be doing it on 300 ft. hills of Ice somewhere else?

As much as I don't care what people ride/ski and am hesitant to join this discussion, I mostly live on 300ft icy hills.  Hardboot carving is way more fun on 300 ft of ice than softboot jumping - for me. 

Softboot carving on ice?  I have no experience with modern equipment so I can't comment.  

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7 minutes ago, softbootsurfer said:

... the thing about Colorado is the Snow and how easy it makes it to Ski or Snowboard, SB or HB, if people aren't going to be doing it here, why would they be doing it on 300 ft. hills of Ice somewhere else? 

 

Not that I am so hard against softbootsurfer's arguments, but this line to me is very problematic.  Colorado ( ignoring the traffic, lift lines, etc.) has very good snow that allows very fluid riding from many different sorts of styles.  However, the XXX ft. hills of ice are exactly the environments that benefit, uniquely and significantly, from HB equipment and techniques.

If I still lived in CO, I would never have switched to hardboots (despite having tried them previously and favorably in '94).  If I lived in UT, I REALLY would never have switched to hardboots.  Not because they suck in those conditions (they don't, they really really don't) but because I wouldn't have had the motivation to break out from the "mainstream" soft-boot offerings.  Moving to more demanding (icy) conditions was just the motivation I needed to migrate to hardboots.    

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32 minutes ago, Corey said:

As much as I don't care what people ride/ski and am hesitant to join this discussion, I mostly live on 300ft icy hills.  Hardboot carving is way more fun on 300 ft of ice than softboot jumping - for me. 

Softboot carving on ice?  I have no experience with modern equipment so I can't comment.  

I guess I am not being Clear, this thread is about the Future, not people here like yourself that have been Carving for years

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58 minutes ago, st_lupo said:

We need a hero archetype that is "mainstream" that the kids can relate to. Maybe we should take up a collection and entice Travis Rice to ride alpine???  (PS, please don't disparage Travis here because he rides softies.  He is really an awesome rider that has a huge following and was just taken as an example of someone who could refocus some attention on hard boots if he could ever be enticed to the dark side). 

As principled as I am, I'm also pretty sure I could be persuaded sub-optimize my riding with s*** gear that came packaged with buckets of cash per year spilling out of it. On reflection, I am morally weak.

1 hour ago, st_lupo said:

It really is crazy.  When you try hardbooting, and especially when you get to a certain level of proficiency, this sport IS THE TITS!!! 

Since we're on the topic of converting people, I can never quite figure out why we don't attract more women to the sport / site. Ah well, it's bound to remain shrouded in mystery...

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