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How alpine killed alpine


This article was published in March 2002. Progress has been made since, and the article is now outdated.
Like all manifesto, it was provocative and meant to provide a shake-up.
More than 20 years later, at least one of our goals has been achieved: the renewal of alpine snowboarding and the creation of some passionate followers! Some people in the racing community felt they were under attack by our article, which was unfortunate and not our intention since we ourselves were racers. We wanted to show the general public a new aspect to alpine snowboarding which, in our opinion, is more polyvalent and gives more fun to everyone: extremecarving.
The positive reactions to our website, Extremecarving.com, encouraged us to create our own brand, SWOARD, in 2003. The board was based on our prototypes which were 10 years in the making. The new "wide boards" trend we were launching was initially criticized, but eventually followed by other board builders (although the width alone is not the secret of our boards).
Multiple news articles, TV shows and even a film festival award in 2007 made our sport widely known to the general public. Whereas snowboarding may be regressing compared to skiing, alpine snowboarding has been stable and even becoming more popular. We are hoping that through our Web site, our communities and our annual events, all contributed to the promotion of our beloved sport.
This manifesto now takes its place in a nostalgic archive file.

Since the middle of the nineties, alpine snowboarding is falling apart, so much, that today it is difficult to find gear in the shops.
Why did people take no further interest in an, untill then, very popular discipline, at least in Europe?

It is precisely at that time that the alpine snowboards began a diet. Their width decreased (untill 16 cm to the waist width for some of them) for a supposed reduced egde to edge transition time.
Because of this, the feet angulation had to be increased (60 degrees and more), imposing a uncomfortable position which reduces significantly the rider's mobility on his board. Furthermore, this small width lowers the stability at slow speeds.

Thus, the alpine snowboard lost its pleasure and versatility.

At that time began the freeride fashion. Freeride boards (which are only freestyle boards...) and step-in bindings were invented. One made believe these gears could do everything (freestyle, freeride and alpine).

The snowboarders, eager for liberty, turned away from this now becoming restricting alpine and replaced it with freeride. Furthermore, the youngsters made a natural choice on the less expensive and the most differentiated from skiing equipment.

A short time later appeared the carving ski (that is directly derivated from the snowboard). The unfortunate alpine "freeriders" found there a mean to renew with the curves of yesterday.
Here too, promises were made: the carving skiing had to provide most of the snowboard feelings. We tried top-of-the-line models (we had been skiing teachers) and want to tell you that it has nothing to do with the snowboarding we practice.
It's easy and comfortable, but quickly boring because monotonous and devoid of life.
When we went back on our boards, we really had the impression to ride bombs, because of the way the dynamics, the lightness and the rebond are superior!...

The rebirth of alpine snowboarding goes, in our opinion, through a total questionning.
Its easyness and versatility must be given back, while giving it the benefit of the latest technological innovations (notably in the construction) in order to turn it into a fun, pleasant and very high-performance sport.

The boots must be reconsidered. There elasticity should not depend on the shell deformation, but on an independant adjustable mecanism. This would allow to improve the mobility of the rider, while increasing the pushing power. Furthermore, a shell that keeps its shape would protect the ankles.

In these pages, we propose you our idea of this "New School" alpine snowboarding.


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