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How does your Softboot carving affect your Hardboot carving?


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Softboot carving makes me stronger.  Besides the added ankle strength required it's generally more physical.  My core gets worked as much as my legs, whether I'm riding soft production boards or super stiff custom wide boards.

When I go back to hard boots I find it's smoother riding and easier on the body, though it does recruit slightly different muscle groups and I get soreness in some small weird spots until I adapt.

I think the techniques are very similar, the main differences being the stance and the fact that I can lean into the hardboots and relax my feet more.  Also, my shoulders are less vulnerable in soft boots, particularly the front arm that tends to get left behind in ruts and snow piles in hard boots.

The soft boot stance is more natural for all mountain riding, and more comfortable for falling so when I **** up it tends to be less catastrophic (for a given speed).

I find soft boot carving more challenging and more satisfying, plus, I fit in better and don't look like such a freak.  (No offence to hardbooters.)  Most people don't even recognize that I'm on highly specialized high performance gear; I like to think that maybe it opens their minds to what's possible instead of dismissing my carving as some foreign niche sport.

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Hmm, I'm more of a duck-feet type with softboots for latter part of the career. I'd say roughly 2002/2003 was when I went duckfeet. Previously, it was relatively mostly slightly angled on front and less angled on rear. 


Now, during my entire hardbooting/racing career, I was quite high angle.


However, I've retired from hardbooting since 2006 and switched to skiing (with UPZ boots) since then. So I don't know how it is now-a-days for me, though. 

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For me the biggest thing is that hardbooting really taught me to use hip rotation to make the carving way more dynamic. Prior to hardbooting, I would just use the sidecut and the board would make whatever arc turn the edge angle and the sidecut radius would dictate. With a proper hip rotation, I can alter the turn shape in ways I didn't knew were possible.

The background is that I spent about 20 years riding duck stance before learning hardbooting. The reason why I went hardboots is that I booted out with all the production carving boards with a duck setup so it was time to either to custom wide board or alpine. Affordable second hand alpine gear made the choice pretty obvious and I haven't regretted.

Now that I finally have my dream custom wide board, I can use the techniques I learned from alpine snowboarding. The biggest advantage is the heelside turn. It's a lot harder to implement proper hip rotation with a duck stance than with posi angles so at least for me it was really important that I already had the rotation in muscle memory from alpine setup when I tried to translate that into duck stance riding. I'm pretty damn happy with the results and I don't know if I ever learnt this technique by just riding duck. Probably not.

It's harder for me to contemplate if there was any benefit from my softboot riding when learning to ride alpine gear. I think it's easier to think about how the new stuff affects your riding than something that has developed over a long time.

Now when I've ridden this early season almost exclusively with a softboot duck setup, it was interesting when I tried alpine setup one day. It was so much easier to carve the heelside turns. One thing I felt like the softboot riding benefited my hardboot riding that day is the toeside turn. Last season I had problems with the hardboot toeside turn but now that I've ridden duck so much where the toeside is much easier, I was more confident doing hardboot toesides and those worked a lot better than earlier.

So I guess in a nutshell the toesides are easier with relaxed angles and heelsides are easier with high posi angles.

Also I 100% agree with @crackaddict that it's so much more comfortable to fall with a softboot setup that it really helps you commit.

At the moment I have enjoyed the new softboot setup a bit too much though and my front leg ankle is pretty sore so might have to hardboot a bit and let it rest. 😅 That's another thing why I really like to be able to ride both setups. You can take turns and that way keep on riding even if you have exercised too much using one specific setup.

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I think soft-boot carving will make you stronger at both. 

Despite plastic inserts and power straps there is a great deal more strength involved in smooth consistent soft-boot carving.  The foot/ankle support just isn't there.  Your whole body is involved in the soft boot deep carve, see Korea/Japan "Carve Yoga".  This translates to a much more controlled and efficient carve when I return to hard-boots, but sometimes more rigid.  Conversely.  When I feel my hardboot carving becoming lazy, I switch back to soft-boots for a few runs or days to remind myself of the finesse and extra muscle control required for smooth clean carves. Does a run count if your skidded a turn???

It is a different carving experience.  Longer free-carving and race hard-boot boards can blast through imperfections in the groom with a somewhat locked-in edge carve.  But this edge can be difficult to get off of quickly.   Whereas the soft boot carving board require a more dynamic style to absorb or quick edge changes around obstacles and the inevitable "two-planker"...

I agree with the wipeouts.  Soft-boot carving wrecks seem to be less punishing on the body than hard boots.  Although, it may be the change in board size.

I've been on hard-boots at my local bump since they allowed snowboards.  I get more questions from the regulars when I'm not in hard boots or on the longest "plank" on the hill.

Snow soon...

Cheers, Trev

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Softboot carving totally enhanced my hardboot riding without a doubt but I have found that hardboot riding enhanced my softboot riding even more. I started snowboarding carving a softboard 36 years ago. Within a few years I progressed to plates and a race board. About 18 years ago I went back to softboot carving exclusively and never went back. I feel that I would have never been able to carve my softboard with the control that I have without having had hardbooted.


Edited by jtslalom
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