By Courtney DiFiore
Like many that live in Southern Vermont, I too share a deep love for the outdoors. In the winter season, you can find me shredding the mountain on my snowboard most of the time, but I can ski as well. I don’t share the same love for it as riding but it is a nice change. Another on-hill sport I’ve been dying to try since I first learned about the sport is Alpine boarding.
Alpine boarding is similar to snowboarding in that you have both feet strapped to one board, but there are some major differences. The board is longer, stiffer, more narrow and designed only to be ridden in one direction. The boots used are hard shell boots, similar to a ski boot, but softer and significantly more comfortable. The bindings are more rigid than a freestyle binding and in conjunction with the hard boot, provide greater control over the edge of the board.
Because Alpine snowboarding is such a niche sport, finding equipment locally is near impossible. This is why getting the chance to participate in the East Coast Expression Session (ECES) was so exciting for me! ECES comes to Stratton every other year providing demos and clinics for Alpine boards.
ECES set up a tent in the main base area February 26-28 allowing anyone interested to demo and learn more about the sport. On Thursday, I took the plunge and demoed a Donek Alpine Board. Todd Brown, one of the many that make up our local contingent of passionate carvers at Stratton, helped me on my first run. He used the Gondola ride to the summit to prep me with some need to know info like: it’ll probably feel a little weird at first, getting up is the hardest part, it’s important to set your edge before leaning into the hill and so on.
The bindings for Alpine boards are comparable to step in bindings for a snowboard; it’s really quick. Once I was clipped into the board and ready to ride, Brown set sail for Janeway Jct. and the Meadows. Talking me through it, Brown and I cruised back to the main base focusing on locking in my edge before I tried leaning into the turn.
I was surprised at how easy it was. I’m no professional, but I’d definitely say the learning curve is a small one if you’re already an experienced snowboarder. Though I was ready to start taking turns on my own to practice, I decided instead to join the woman’s clinic ECES was holding. What a great group of ladies! They were so motivating, encouraging and educational.
If you’re looking for more information on the sport or equipment, see www.bomberonline.com. Bomber Industries is the largest US supporter of Alpine Snowboarding and is a one stop shop for equipment and information including a very active online forum.