Sean Beckwith: The life of a snowboard
I couldn’t even tell you what the name or brand was of my first snowboard, boots or bindings. It was seventh grade and I was living outside of Portland, Oregon. I couldn’t tell you what happened to that board because I hated it. The bindings were step-in, which sounds like a good idea until you think about having to unfasten — not unstrap — at the bottom of every lift.
As every lap increases the snow/ice buildup, eventually that easy click turns into a “I’m not sure if my foot is locked in.” I can’t stress enough my hate for that jack-in-the-box feeling of knowing your foot is going to pop out. So when I finally got a real board seven to eight years later — it’s kind of hard to consistently snowboard when you switch from Mount Hood being an hour away to Mount Crescent, Iowa, being an hour away — I cherished every moment of that Forum’s lifespan.
It’s a 160 wide with a red bottom and a black top featuring a phalic-looking silver sword handle design. I rode that thing until the core shots were too big to fill and the edges were nice and rounded. I finally moved on once I picked up a friend’s board that didn’t weigh a couple dozen biscuits, which makes a lot of difference if you are hiking terrain or, as was my case, walking from the Snowmass rec center bus stop to Club Commons.
When I finally upgraded to cambered, reverse-cambered, magna traction, not heavy-as-shit tech, it gave me almost as much confidence as riding with music so loud you can’t hear the sound of your board hanging on like Sly Stallone circa “Cliffhanger.”
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In fact, I had so much confidence that I powered into the Cirque Dikes early in the season and caught a shark. The resulting tomahawk left my board in worse shape than my aching shoulder. The nose edge split and, I don’t know if it was the fall or craftsmanship, but the board started to delam behind the right heel. (Delam, short for delaminating, is when the top and bottom of the board start to split like if you were peeling apart a well-adhered grilled cheese.)
Because everyone in Aspen knows somebody who has dealt with gear warranties, I found out that I could notify the maker, Lib Tech, and see if they could help me out. Unfortunately, I surpassed the one-year cutoff but the nice people at Lib Tech were nice enough to give me 50% off a new board.
Naturally I obliged and purchased a board. I rode that during the season 2017-18 year that sucked so much I happily traded a dangerous core shot on the rail for a 6-inch “powder day.”
If you’re keeping track, I’m on board No. 4. I still ride board No. 3, the Cirque Dikes tomahawk number, even though I’ve glued the edge a handful of times. And last year I picked up board No. 5, a Burton rig that charges. So right now I have three boards in rotation.
This year, I took out board No. 4 at Highlands in the early season and couldn’t help myself in Deep Temerity. So now that rail core shot is real suspect. That said, the fact that I, and probably a lot of locals, can recall the story behind every little nick in their equipment like it was the 2000 Blazer I used to deliver pizzas in is a testament to how much people in Aspen really love the sport.
(For the record — and comedic purposes — that Blazer backed into a fire hydrant, was backed into by a brother-in-law, was backed into by an electric company van, clipped an Audi while spinning out on Owl Creek road and had a muffler fall off leaving campus.)
I bet people could identify their gear by the repaired bottoms as much as the stickered tops. I don’t even really do arts and crafts but when it comes to sticker day, I’m drawing designs and cutting up stickers like Buddy the Elf decorating the Macy’s North Pole display. I did a rising sun on board No. 3 and a Nirvana smiley face on board No.4. I’m not sure I’m going to do on board No. 5 but it will probably be some kind of rhino art surrounding the rhino sticker I already put on. Remember I said it charges?
Unless you straight up break your board in two or the tune shop tells you they literally can’t grind your board down anymore, the hardest part is knowing when it’s over. It’s like that pair of jeans that go from your nice pair to your casual frayed pair to the “so many holes your wallet falls out but you still refuse to let go” pair. I have one such pair; they’re called my hunting jeans.
I still have the original Forum that I should’ve thrown out already. I have no desire to turn it or boards 2 through 4 into one of those snowboard benches that you see falling apart at the disc golf course.
I recently went through my two-decade-old comic book collection and wondered why I saved the ones with covers that have fallen off. I don’t have an answer, though, and I probably won’t have one when I throw out that Forum in a decade either.
Sean Beckwith is a copy editor at The Aspen Times. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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