Snowboarding Equipment For The Ladies

snowboarding-equipmentAt the male-dominated BoarderFest in Aspen, Colorado, last winter, one competitor seemed to overshadow an the others. Twenty-nine-year-old Morgan Lafonte dazzled the audience with a fully laid-out back flip across a 20-foot-wide jump at Elk Mountain. The crowd broke out in raucous cheers that far surpassed its response to her male counterparts.

Riders like Lafonte, with her polished yet aggressive style, are luring women into snowboarding and forcing manufacturers to take them seriously. The numbers, too, are garnering attention: women participants rose from 18.2 percent of riders in 1994 to 27 percent in 1995-and the growth is not expected to stop anytime soon. So with more women than ever slapping on snowboards the industry’s cold shoulder has definitely warmed up. Read on to find out how to outfit your riding style with the season’s newest boards, boots and bindings for women.

Ticket to Ride

When you’re shopping for a board, look for one that suits your body type, skill level and the terrain you’ll be riding. In general, women’s boards (sometimes called boards for lighter and smaller people”) are more flexible, shorter in length and narrower in foot width than men’s to accommodate our smaller stature and weight. Beginners will definitely appreciate the flexibility of a softer board, which will aid in turning knot to mention staying upright). More advanced riders may want to seek new challenges in a longer, less flexible board. Taller, heavier riders will probably feel more comfortable on a standard unisex board. Just be sure to try out as many as you can before you buy.

From the many snowboard shapes to choose from, the majority of riders prefer two types: freeride and freestyle. Freeride boards are ideal for all-mountain terrain, including bumps, powder and groomed steeps. They run up to 183 centimeters in length, have a distinct nose and tail, and are ridden nose-first. This is the kind of board that most people start on. Advanced-beginner and intermediate freeriders should check out the Sanders 148 ($259), which snowboard pioneer Bev Sanders designed for Avalanche. Burton’s Freedom 51 ($430), designed by Victoria Jealouse, is an all-mountain cruiser that’s good for lighter-weight but powerful riders.

On the other end of the spectrum are freestyle boards. These are twin-twipped (there’s no distinct tip or tail of the board) and run shorter, between 140 and 160 centimeters. Since there’s no designated front or back of the board, they can be ridden either way, which makes them good for doing tricks in the snowboard parks. Evol offers a series of three women’s freestyle boards that are lightweight and very responsive: the Bird and Worm 128 ($293), the Ladybug 134 ($350), and the Love Sick 145 ($350).

If you’re one of those women who likes to freeride and do tricks, you’re in luck. Hammer’s Angel Series ($360) and K2’s Morgan Lafonte 146 ($360) combine features of both types of boards, so you don’t have to buy two.

Get Booted

If you’ve shopped carefully for a board and still aren’t getting enough heel-toe maneuverability, maybe your boots are at fault. Whether hard-sided or soft, the should be made on a women’s last to ensure that they aren’t just down-sized men’s boots. Although some women can wear men’s boots, don’t let anyone tell you that a women’s last doesn’t make a difference.

You’ll notice it in the better, more controlled ride you get. Several women’s boots are being introduced this year. (Unless otherwise indicated the following are soft boots made for traditional strap-on bindings.) Burton’s all=-mountain Ruler ($210) is stiffer than your typical freestyle boot, and therefore it’s more supportive and [email protected] try it in powder. Airwalk’s new-and-improved Freeride ($260) features a small heel cup and heel-harness system that make for an excellent fit. Vans has two models from which to choose: The Pinion ($169) is lightweight and narrow, and its snug fit improves energy transfer between your feet and the board. The Caprice ($249) is heavier and can also be used with the Autolock Switch step-in binding system ($149 to $179; Kurvz, too, makes women’s boots compatible with the Switch system). In the hard-boot arena, Raichle’s SB122 ($325) is cut lower in the rear to fit a woman’s lower calf muscle. To match smaller boot sizes, bindings are being offered in narrower widths as well. Joyride’s Wind ($105) and Rain ($119) soft-boot strap-on bindings and Preston’s EX Radius ($150) plate bindings all come in narrower sizes, as do Device’s soft-boot step in bindings ($178).


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