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If you Could........


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If you could carve as hard on a soft set up as on your hardboot set up would you ever put on hard boots again.Imagine having the versatility of a soft boots while being able to lay out carves of a 170 cm alpine board......Hard boots might become a thing of the past.As a matter of fact it is becoming a thing of the past.10 years ago you could go to a mountain in the northeast and see 10 alpine riders at it.Now every 2 trips you might see one other.

7 years ago I was a buyer for one of the largest shops in the northeast and we sold over 120 alpine boards out of 1600 decks sold.Today that shop sells 0.What Happened????.

The reason I bring this up is because I just put together a setup of catek fr bindings/Oxygen 70 quantum(27 cm wide) and Nitro Havok (super stiff soft boots).This settup carves as hard as many of the alpine decks I have had with the versitility and comfort of a soft boot...The Donek and atf 700's might see an early retirement.If you don't Believe it, just ask people who have seen Vin Q ride.He is a couple years ahead of the carving learning curve and figured it out a number of years ago.Keep an open mind and give it a try

:D

Doug M

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You're saying that soft boots can match hard boots, which <b>may</b> be true for some people, but in general, people use hard boots cos it makes the type of riding they want to do <b>easier</b>.

So instead of hyping the supposed "versatility and comfort" of soft boots, you could be hyping the "ease of use" of hard boots, at least when it comes to carving.

As for "keeping an open mind and giving it a try", most people here will have a fair degree of experience riding soft boots, and probably still do ride them some of the time.

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I will never go back(wards) to soft boots. In a nutshell, footpain. Comfort? Hardly. As in walk 100 yards? Ouch! I've hiked 1.5 miles in mySB224's. I could surf-carve with a soft setup but never as well as with hard boots. I can ride moguls better in hardshell boots, not that I am ever going to be great at it. Hard shell boots are the next step FORWARD in the pursuit of a skill set known as board control. You can get close on the heelside, but never on the toeside. Just my ramble on the subject.

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--i ride both setups----167 ride timeless with flow pro bindings and salomon malamute bindings---and a coiler 184 pure race with cateks-----i can carve my softs pretty well--layed out carves(really stiff setup) but the COILER--anyone that has one knows what im talking about---NO COMPARISON IN DESTROYING THE GROOMERS!!!!!

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If they could make freeride boards longer, narrower and stiffer, and soft boots stiffer with a better binding - but wait- we have that, it's called Alpine! Like driving through snow with good all season tires, you think you're great until some clown with real snows blows past you. Sorry, for carving hard boots and alpine boards are the only way for me.

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The question is If "you" could would you stop using them.I already see people on soft set up's out carving guys on 180 doneks.Technique overides most equiptment.I hated carving on soft boots in the past because of foot pain.The Havock boot is the first boot I have ridden that did not do this.Does it carve as hard as my Doneck 182...No but it is 80% there.

Most of us went to hard boots because we like the precision ,control,and lack of foot pain with this settup.The only proplem is...crowds..mogels..powder..trees..where these set ups suffer greatly.Yes I know some of you can negotiate those conditions on a hard settup but I never see them on the mountain.Over the last 10 years...I have been riding plates 17 years I do not see anyone getting better on hard setups.Why??

My point is that the future or survival of carving is going to be on hybrid type setups and technique .Every major board company has gotton away from race boards.When I see the faces of the the ex sessions I see faces like mine...old.

Doug M

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Nice trap. Your question is worded so that only a fool would disagree. The problem is, no softboot setup will ever carve as well as a hardboot setup, <i>while still performing like a softboot</i> for other types of riding. Two <i>major</i> things softboots will never provide as well as hardboots, without crushing your foot, are response (i.e. lack of slop) and lateral support. These two criteria are paramount for carving.

Even if there was a "softboot" setup that could carve like a hardboot, it would sacrifice performance in the areas of snowboarding that typically use softboots. Witness the Flow binding. Arguably the most carvey soft binding out there. According to you, it should be putting all other binding makers out of business. But you'll notice it isn't even close to being the most popular binding on the hill. Or even popular at all. Why?

Hybrid soft systems have come and gone. The Craig Kelly toungue, the Elfgen toungue, hybrid hard/soft boots, mountaineering boots... all history. And step-ins aren't even conquering the marketplace as was predicted.

And speaking of comfort, I use custom footbeds and Thermoflex liners. I wear my hardboots all day without touching the buckles once, not even for lunch, and my feet do not fatigue.

You don't buy snowboarding boots to walk in, do you?

Bottom line is, what you're talking about is a compromise. Sure, there are always people who can carve better than other people using multipurpose equipment. But purpose-built equipment in the hands of experts will always outperform compromise equipment. It is true just about everywhere - skis, cars, motorcycles, windsurfers, you name it.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that your setup is bad, I'm sure it kicks butt, and I'm sure I would enjoy it. It's probably what the majority of softbooters <i>should</i> be riding. I like the idea of promoting your setup to softbooters, to get them to think more about serious carving. So I think you're barking up the wrong tree here in this forum. Softbooters should aspire to carve like us, not the other way around.

-Jack

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Before switching to hardboots, my last two pairs of softboots were sizes US15 and US14 respectively. Even with the widest boards that were in production those years (and believe me, I knew about all of them), I still had considerable overhang even at higher angles. Consequently, I booted out all of the time, when I wasn't breaking stuff. I know I am not the only one who found this aspect of softboot riding to be totally unacceptable, but big feet problems notwithstanding, if for some reason I even stood on a factory board again, it would be with hardboots and Bombers/Cateks. Otherwise, I am back to riding 28+++cm waist widths. Icky.

Not to center out Vin Q, but it seems unavoidable in these conversations. From what I understand, he was an extremely talented/gifted hardboot rider before making the switch back/to softies. It seems totally reasonable that if anyone was to make a successful transition to softboot carving, it would be someone like Vin. There is no questioning the fact that a good rider is able to make any setup work at a high level, but I think for the masses, a hardboot setup allows access to a lot more control, more easily. There does seem to be a lot more choice in softboot setups now then there ever has been (especially with the Catek freeride), but not for this sasquatch.

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I've been passed on the hill by a soft boot rider carving hard. Once. He was a competitive BX guy, and all credit to him. But for the style of riding I do, my hard boots work fine, my feet are comfy and I have no intention of switching. I've got no interest in the park, if I want to ride pipe I'll go skate. My trusty 224s work everywhere else, including bumps, pow and trees.

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carving in softies and carving in hard boots are both great...in different ways. One isn't better than the other, they are just different.

I spent years carving in softies and freeride decks. The mechanics of it are different and the feel is different but it is great.

People say you can't carve as well in softies as you cna in hardboots. I disagree. One can match the turn style, radius and speed in softies that they can in hardboots...but the form used to acheive this is much different. if you try to carve in softies like you would in hardboots It won't work, the same is true the otherway around.

I ride hardboots 100% of the time now-a-days though. Even on freeride decks in the trees and pow. Now my only real interest is perfecting a carve and riding hardpack (soft snow, blah) so hard boots are all I want/need. For the little I ride off-piste (pow and trees) I can deal with and work around the restriction of my hardboots in that too. In my 20 years of riding I've learned how to work around that but if I was a beginner I doubt I would even try to ride trees/steeps/pow in plates.

If I rode alot of pow-trees I would buy a soft boot binder/boot. i've considered it a few times recently but when given the choice between untracked fresh pow or freshly groomed (setup nicely over night) untrack groomers...it is not even a close choice. I'll take the groomers 100% of the time....

If I had to make the call and ONLY pick one boot type (sorta have anyway) it would be hardboots. i not only find them more comfortable and easier to deal with but for the type of riding I want to do (even just cruising around) plates are the only way to go.

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Jack you picked up on it right away.The word hybrid is sort of incorrect.It is just a very stiff soft setup.The funny thing was that I got 5 times more interest from the "dudes" seeing that I was carving on softies then when I am on my alpine gear.I think that most of them did not even have a clue that you could carve hard on softies.It was funny watching some of them trying to carve after I passed.I love carving and it will always be the biggest rush I get on snow, but I would like to see it continue in the future.Thank God for a sight like this because I feel without it we would be walking that fine line of extinction...not that it might not be around the corner if more young people don't get into it.I used to think that it would get bigger as the boarders who started 10 years ago came of age and did not want to freestyle anymore.It did'nt happen.Are their any young riders on this board???Not many from what I can tell.Right now guys like Fin,Jeff,Sean are benifitting from the attrition of the large companies dropping out of the market.Not from an Increasing market.What happens when it no longer becomes profitible for them to stay around.I have a feeling they will have to adapt to survive(Cateks FS binding).This is where I am going with this.Jack you have been around a while.Are my observations incorrect??.From what I have seen the equiptment needs to be more user friendly to get new people into carving and more versatile to keep them on it.Some of the new "soft" boot/board/binding setups are getting there.Combine this with good technique and you can carve very..and I mean very hard on a setup that is not limited to groomed terrain.And has appeal to many more people.

Doug M

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Interesting thread because I've been wanting to devolve and learn to ride "duck". After seeing soft boot riders laying out some nice fluid carves and then popping over to switch and basically carving backwards, I confess, I want some some of that action. Since I learned to kitesurf, riding a duck stance feels normal on a wakeboard and I figure that alot of the moves can be learned on the snow. Don't get me wrong. I haven't had softies in the quiver for a looong time and have no intention of leaving the "dark side" but I've seen guys RIP in flow binders. When I wanna go mach 2, there's plenty of knives in the drawer to choose from but when teaching a friend or on crowded days it would be sweet to have a knuckledragger setup. Anybuddy devolving out there?PSR?

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Here is my take on softies vs hardboot carving.

I've been riding for 16 years with 13 on plates and here are my conclusions or takes on both set ups. I use to ride the soft setup with the Burton Flex bindings and the PJ6.

You can push some nice carves on a soft set up but there is a totally different feel from soft vs hard carving. Like Jack said the paine in your feet on the soft set up was a big one. Edge to edge transition is not as fluid in soft set up. You can't put the same amount of pressure on your carves as you can with a hard set up. You can't get as low or can't rip a carve as deep or as hard as on a hard set up. Speed is another big one, I never feel like I have the same control carving at high speeds on a softies. Try holding an edge on ice with softies and then try it with hardboots.

I personally think it also has to do with skill level (and I am in no way refering to folks that posted here, just my experience). If your a beginner on hardboots I don't think you'll see much of a difference between the set ups, but once you master carving on hardboots there is no way you'll go back to carving on softies. I tested this out 2 years ago by riding me F2 with both set ups and came up with my above conclusions. But everyone is entitled to there on takes on this right.b The only time I'd use softies would be in the pow, but then again I would feel more comfertable in a hard set up anyways.

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I simply don't have the will power. as for would I go to a soft boot. the answer is no cause I occasionally have been known to stick other items on my feet and soft boots no matter how stiff and comfortable simply would not cut it. Another Issue for me would be the possiblity of nickname degradation. I already have "Weasel" which by itself is no prize but what if what happened to Our good friend Ken happened to me...... I mean really "Weasel of the soft Boots" this simply won't work. I realize that Ken is working hard to change that with the word formally but changing ones name is not easy, plus you are now forever linked with "Prince" which may be ok for some of you folks out there in MN but not here in the north East. And finally on to our friend Vin. Please keep in mind a couple of things here.

1. Vin will get more days in this year than most of us will in the next 4 and he puts a tremendous amount of energy and effort into everything he does. He could ride a damn lunch tray from the lodge and sooner or later he would find a way to rip on the damn thing.

2. He is an intelligent person when it comes to Retail and he like so many of us know that hard boots and alpine boards are not making anyone rich. He knows that if he is out there opening up new markets for those folks making stiff soft boots and boarder cross boards life is only going to get better for him. Lets face it he is OOBS number one marketing tool.

3. If other folks had had as much trouble with Raichle as Vin did a couple of years back they would be in soft set ups too.

4. Most of the folks I know have been riding hard boots for a while now and don't realize how freakin stiff the "Soft" boots have actually gotten

this said though, in Short I have been very happy in my mushy hard boots and wouldn't change.

-Weasel-

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If I could carve as well in softboots as I can in hardboots I'd wear softboots all the time, but I'd much rather be able to ride trees and powder as well in hardboots as I do in softboots, and ride hardboots all the time. More comfortable.

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I think you are absolutely correct that if carving is going to be mass-marketed to softbooters, that it should be done on their terms. Which is to say, it should happen with softboots. There's no doubt in my mind that if a softbooter realizes he can carve better turns with more responsive equipment, that the chances of that softbooter eventually trying and liking hardboots increases exponentially. My point is, the ultimate goal for any carver should be mastering hardboots and race boards. You seemed to be calling to us to open our minds to softboot carving. Not gonna happen, been there, done that, bought the t-shirt.

As for whether or not the hardboot market is floundering in the ocean and in dire need of being tossed a life-ring, I think you're off the mark. If alpine was going to die, I think it would have happened already. Burton has been "out" for quite some time now, if you measure that by the fact that they ceased all innovation and effectively all marketing many years ago. The market is becoming more centralized via the web, and I think here it is growing. I know that Fin's sales increase each year, and this year he sold out in record time. Catek is obviously flourishing too, and even KlugRiding is having trouble responding to demand.

<i>"I used to think that it would get bigger as the boarders who started 10 years ago came of age and did not want to freestyle anymore.It did'nt happen."</i>

Umm, take a look around. That's exactly what most of us are here. I think this progression is exactly what is happening. Young people generally aren't going to get into carving en masse. They are worried about what's "cool" as much as what performs. Most softbooters simply dismiss hardboots out-of-hand because they wouldn't want to be seen in them, or because of comfort misconceptions, or because they wouldn't be able to go show off in the park every other run, or just... because. I can understand that. I mean, the Monte Carlo could be the best car on the road, but I'll never know because I think it's one butt-ugly car and I <i>hate</i> Nascar. So don't expect to convert droves of young riders. They will come to us when they're ready.

Indeed, this site serves mostly as a "receiving area" for people to come to once they've discovered or have decided to honestly try hardboot carving. Maybe we need to be more pro-active about bringing the joy of carving to the softboot masses? Anyone want to take that torch and run with it?

-Jack

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I agree with the others who find hard boots more comfy. I certainly find them easier to carve in than softies... my softie setup is Salomon Malamutes, Salomon S6 bindings, Donek Wide - all in all a pretty carvy soft-boot setup. I consider myself a more skilled soft boot rider than hard boot, but I enjoy plates more... each year I spend less and less time in softies.

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Originally posted by Jack Michaud

<i>"I used to think that it would get bigger as the boarders who started 10 years ago came of age and did not want to freestyle anymore.It did'nt happen."</i>

Umm, take a look around. That's exactly what most of us are here. I think this progression is exactly what is happening. ... So don't expect to convert droves of young riders. They will come to us when they're ready.

That's me. I started snowboarding in 97. Was always an all-mountain freeride kind of guy. Learned how to use my edge correctly on softies, but was frustrated by the mechanics of softie heelsides. Came here, and now I ride hardboots.

Maybe we need to be more pro-active about bringing the joy of carving to the softboot masses? Anyone want to take that torch and run with it?

I got my friend interested at the end of last year. He's got a pair of TD2's, a Donek Axis, and boots in the mail.

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we need to market CARVING to the softboot crowd, not hard boots and plates, at least at first. I don't know of a single soft-booter(except my 12yo step-daughter) that can even grasp the concept of a true carved turn. I think that this is the single largest problem that holds alpine back. Almost every softie rider I know thinks a carve is skidded linked turns, and almost refuse to see past that concept. Skiers, on the other hand, seem to grasp carved turns and their advantages. Go figure. With that said, I find myself riding with skiers almost exclusively when I ride w/friends. So the real question should be; how to market carving as a viable riding style with real advantages to how the soft-booter rides. So how do you market board control?

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Thanks Bob. I agree we all need to be ambassadors for our sport, but I was actually insinuating that someone like PSR or Vin or whoever ought to take the reigns and create a softboot carver's reference that we could use here. I am no authority on that subject, and honestly I'm not interested in becoming one. A section like that would dovetail nicely with the Welcome Center, under the "Not Quite Ready?" link.

And John Dahl just hit it on the head too.

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Good points and insight by everyone.But why is it a see less hard booters out on the mountain then 8 years ago???.Why do no shops carry alpine anymore.The reason you have to buy online is because no one carry's the equipment anymore.Not the otherway around.

Doug M

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Originally posted by Jon Dahl

we need to market CARVING to the softboot crowd, not hard boots and plates, at least at first. I don't know of a single soft-booter(except my 12yo step-daughter) that can even grasp the concept of a true carved turn.

Some of my friends get the difference. The ones that do have skiing experience though.

Bode charges gates and is a star... snowboard racers charge gates, and are lucky to get much exposure at all. Until the popular attitude around snowboarding changes, I don't expect carving to catch on. If there were (proportionally) more old boarders... perhaps that attitude would change... but it seems like skiiers stay skiing through their adult life, but boarders seem to grow out of it.

I also take some objection to the idea that mastering race board should be the ultimate goal of all carvers. In fact, I think carving will get a lot of converts looking for a more mellow way to enjoy the hill after age or injury.

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Originally posted by Doug M

If you could carve as hard on a soft set up as on your hardboot set up would you ever put on hard boots again.Imagine having the versatility of a soft boots while being able to lay out carves of a 170 cm alpine board......Hard boots might become a thing of the past.As a matter of fact it is becoming a thing of the past.10 years ago you could go to a mountain in the northeast and see 10 alpine riders at it.Now every 2 trips you might see one other.

7 years ago I was a buyer for one of the largest shops in the northeast and we sold over 120 alpine boards out of 1600 decks sold.Today that shop sells 0.What Happened????.

The reason I bring this up is because I just put together a setup of catek fr bindings/Oxygen 70 quantum(27 cm wide) and Nitro Havok (super stiff soft boots).This settup carves as hard as many of the alpine decks I have had with the versitility and comfort of a soft boot...The Donek and atf 700's might see an early retirement.If you don't Believe it, just ask people who have seen Vin Q ride.He is a couple years ahead of the carving learning curve and figured it out a number of years ago.Keep an open mind and give it a try

:D

Doug M

Did that several years ago with Clicker system from K2 and some stiffer boots.

Depends what you mean by saying "carving hard". If you are really advanced and into speedy carv9ing or precise carving I do not belive that you can reach level of control with soft board setup.

In higher speeds soft er board is good as it is forgiving on ruts, but it does not provide enough stability so you may lose control.

Also if you try to get thight and precisely carved turns you can only do that with setup up to some degree.

For some freeriding with several easy carves that setup might be perfect.

This is just like driving car. If you are a commuter liking to show off from time to time on a straight stretch of highway you can go with V6 Honda, Toyota or Lexus. However if you like to drive performance technique with high level control (not neccessarily very fast like some - including some cops - believe) then you may get some car with well matched transmission and good engine, good brakes and tuned suspension. It may not be a racing model, but definitelly you will be able to pull aggressive turns and pass other cars on carves of your highway (while the others will be scared due to limited control over car).

I bet this is the same as with motorcycles.

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Originally posted by Jon Dahl

So the real question should be; how to market carving as a viable riding style with real advantages to how the soft-booter rides. So how do you market board control?

Here's how I market carving/board control to soft-booters: As a way to improve thier freestyle skills. Better carving and board control = more speed carried through turns, more speed = going bigger. Look at any decent halfpipe rider, and how do they ride through the bottom of the pipe between hits? Are they skidding? no, a good halfpipe rider carves across the bottom of the pipe between hits, losing no speed.

A lot of kids can actually grasp this concept. Most of them are still of the mindset "I can't turn heelside, but I wanna learn 360 grabs....

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