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Featured Rider: valmorel

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  • Featured Rider: valmorel

    This is the second in our Featured Rider series. Up this time is valmorel - a long-time forum member, treasure trove of skiboard and skiing knowledge and all around gentleman.

    SBOL: What is your real name and where do you live?

    valmorel: David Stevens and I live in a little bankrupt country in Northern Europe called England. So far the USA has not invaded.

    SBOL: How long you have been skiing and how did you into the sport of skiboarding?

    valmorel: I have been skiing for over thirty years, so as a sport it looks like it might stick with me. I am totally self-taught. I got into skiboarding by accident really. I bought a close ski buddy and lifelong friend a pair of Snowblades for Christmas, and it suddenly occurred to me that I would not be able to share the experience, so I bought myself a pair too. Used them for the first time in the Italian Dolomites around 2000. Was totally blown away. NEVER went back to skis. To be fair, I was a bit bored with skiing anyway and totally ticked off with having to have so much kit to do such a simple thing. Skiboards were a revelation. Discovered SBOL by surfing and got into 'real' skiboards from there.

    SBOL: What is your take on how the sport of skiboarding has progressed over the years? Where do you think the sport is headed? Do you like where things are going right now?

    valmorel: Firstly skiboarding is very much a niche sport. That is always going to make development difficult because the sales needed to fund it are limited. As far as I can see only SBOL is involved in development. Other manufacturers are either static or copying SBOL. With the number of experimental products practical in any given period limited, our option to experiment is also slowed.

    With the development of the wide bodied Rockered boards a huge leap forward has been taken. Almost like starting again. This is a very exciting direction. Potentially, boards like the Rockered Condor have sufficient 'presence' to get outsiders interested and sufficient performance to please them. This is the kind of board we need to raise our profile and get more folks interested.

    I have a feeling though that we could overcome the development costs by crowd funding. I am sure that there are enough dedicated skiboarders now that would be prepared to put funds into new designs. I know I would. How cool would that be?

    SBOL: What are some of your favorite places to ride? If you had to pick one place, what is your favorite and why?

    valmorel: Total no brainer. The Three Valleys in France. This ski area is absolutely HUGE. I don't especially need a huge area, it's more about options. Everything from low tree runs down to delightful villages or exposed glaciers. Cliffs, moguls, Freeride areas, powder, hardpack, multiple parks, whatever. The only downside is that because it is simply the best on the planet the locals milk it. Off the slopes prices are high and quality is low. Customer service is 'limited'.

    Closely followed by Hinterglemm in Austria. Much smaller and lower ski area but everything off slope is of the highest quality and the apres ski is killer. The lift system is the best I have ever used, many of the chairlifts being high speed sixes with pull down canopies and heated seats. If I had to choose one it would be Hinterglemm because no matter how good the skiing, bad service gets old very quickly.

    SBOL: What is the scariest situation you have found yourself in while skiboarding and how did you get in that situation? What did you do to get out of it?

    valmorel: I have never really been scared in the true sense on skis or skiboards, but I am REALLY scared of heights. The lift system is always a bit of a challenge to me. The fact that the US military have actually been known to fly into the lift cables doesn't exactly help, but mostly I can manage OK. But not always. I was riding a chairlift in the Val d'Isere region in the French Alps which was new to me. As we approached the top I prepared to exit. What I did not know was that rather than stopping at the top the lift dropped steeply down into the next valley. OMG that was close to a passing out moment as the chair crested the arrette and dropped down into the decent. Even now I know about it I can't quite prepare.

    SBOL: If you had to pick 2 set of skiboards to use exclusively which boards would they be and why?

    valmorel: RCs and 120s. Both are incredibly capable, neither is tiring to ride, both are go anywhere boards. The 120 represents the very best of conventional design, and the RCs represent the most futuristic. The two boards represent two different riding styles too. Everything I could ever want. Honourable mention to the Blunts.

    SBOL: Do you have any advice for people who are just starting out skiboarding? And what advice for intermediate riders who are looking to advance their skills?

    Actually the advice is pretty much the same for both groups: try to ride with other skiboarders. Shredfest just has to be one of the greatest things to happen to skiboarding and now it looks like there is going to be a Euro Shredfest. Nothing will advance your skills quite like riding with this incredibly friendly group of people. Something for everyone from beginner to expert. Other than that, just go do it. Skiboards will self-teach. Oh, and ignore pretty much everything skiers tell you LOL.

    SBOL: If you could have a set of custom skiboards built what performance characteristics would you be looking for and what the specifications be?

    valmorel: Non-grabby ultra carver with gentle characteristics. 105 with 140mm width in the centre, 7m sidecut, zero camber with shallow rise low profile tips. Medium/soft. Basically a 105 Blunt with 7m sidecut. Would happily consider helping fund protos. Why 105? The Blunts show well designed skiboards don't have to be long, 105 fulfills the 'little bit more of everything while not too much of anything' paradigm.

    SBOL: You developed a “twist out” (TO) binding based on a modified fixed binding – can you give a brief history of that project and the results? Do you think this design is commercially viable?

    valmorel: The traditional fixed binding has a lot of advantages. Light, easily adjusted to a wide range of boot sizes, compact, and a superb direct no rock interface with the boot. Nothing controls a ski like a fixed (plate) binding, but for me the risk of non-release plays on my mind with boards as big as the RCs. It's the risk of spiral fracture that scares this old man the most. For anyone who doesn't know this is what a spiral fracture looks like



    The TO binding is an attempt to retain all the advantages of the fixed binding along with a chance at least that it might release in the kind of load that produces a spiral fracture. It was never intended that it should have full release or even have accurate DIN adjustment, just a fighting chance. The result was better than I ever could have hoped for. In several seasons of intensive use nobody using the system has suffered a pre-release whereas mine have released in some spectacular falls. Highly successful. The design is most certainly commercially viable, but I fear it will never be built. In this increasingly litigious world, 'might release', 'limited release', and 'limited protection' are the kind of statements that will guarantee it stillborn. Everyone loses.

    SBOL: Do you have a favorite skiboarding memory – something that really stands out in your mind?

    valmorel: The very first time I rode the 120. It was the moment it became clear that riding shorties did not have to mean compromise. It was the most instantly likeable board I have ever been on. The Blunts are a close second. But that's kinda boring.

    I remember being in the backcountry being guided by Jjue (a forum member). There was a small group of us, Slow, Wendell, and others. Don't remember where we were but Jjue had gone on ahead. He had negotiated a drop off and was safely at the bottom. I remember he called back 'Watch out for the drop. I think you guys can make it!' THINK? Some guide! That really cracked me up.

    But my most treasured memory actually happened on skis. I was in Courchevel with my ski buddy Russ. It was the end of a bluebird day, second week in Jan. We were in the café at the lift house at the top of Saulire just enjoying a beer. The lifts had closed but all we had to do was ski down to the resort so it didn't matter. As it began to get dark a group of four pisteurs came and told us we must leave. These are the guys that ski around at the end of the day to try to ensure nobody is trapped on the mountain. We left of course. Outside it was pretty much dark but there was a lot of moonlight. Conditions were perfect. Cold, crisp, great snow as we were at around 9000ft, and the mountain totally deserted. The lights were on in the village below. It was breathtaking. We skied back around 4500ft vertical fairly gently but without a break, just the six of us on the whole mountain. THAT is why I do it! I have skied a couple of times by moonlight and I love it.

    SBOL: Can you share a few of your favorite wintersports photos with us?

    valmorel: Actually I don't keep photos really, mainly videos and everyone has seen my favourite 'Piste pole incident' too many times already LOL.

    (Editorial note - we just couldn't resist giving people on more chance to see the infamous piste pole incident! )



    SBOL: Any final thoughts?

    valmorel: Something like this has to be finished with a big thanks to SBOL and Spruce. Without the energies of both Greco and Jeff we would be nowhere. It has been a tough ride for them but they never stopped believing. Thanks so much.
    In pursuit of Peace, Harmony and Flow.....
    Think Like a Mountain

    Boards ridden, some owned: Sherpas, Spruce 120 "STS", Blunts, DS110 custom prototypes, Rockered Condors, Revolts, DLPs, Summit Custom 110s, Summit Marauders, Head 94s, Raptor prototypes, Osprey prototypes.

  • #2
    What an enjoyable read. Thanks, guys!
    '07 "soft" ALPs
    Eyeball DLPs
    125 LEs
    Ospreys mounted bindings
    Crossbows
    Spruce riser release bindings
    Sometimes borrower of Chad's spare Blunt XLs

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    • #3
      Thanks Bluewing and Valmorel. That was a very interesting read.
      Valmorel. I hope to be back in the Alps skiing with you again sooner rather than later. It's always been a pleasure and your advice has really helped me to progress in improving my skiboarding technique.


      Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

      2015 RVL8 Blunt XL 100 skiboards
      Tyrolia Attack 13 release bindings on Spruce Risers
      Atomic Waymaker 80 ski boots

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      • #4
        Another great read blue wing:-)


        I'm gonna get 45 days on the mountain this year if it kills me!
        33 down, 12 to go!

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        • #5
          Great stuff!! So far we have profiled the two undisputed Jedi masters of the sport ... can't wait for the next rider profile.
          Boards:
          2016 Spruce tuned Head Jr. Caddys - 131cm
          2013 Spruce "CTS" 120s
          2010 Spruce "Yellow/Red" 120s
          2018 Spruce "CTS" Crossbows - 115cm
          2016 RVL8 Spliffs - 109cm
          2008 RVL8 Revolt "City" - 105cm
          2017 RVL8 Sticky Icky Icky - 104cm
          2011 Defiance Blades - 101cm

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          • #6
            Excellent read guys.


            Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
            sigpic


            Osprey, Sherpa, Custom Coda 120WT, Custom DS110, Condor (Green), Spliff

            Custom Twist Out duck foot bindings, Bombers (custom duck foot base plate and 3 pads), releasable S810ti on custom duck foot riser

            Nordica N3 NXT ski boots (best so far)


            Wife: 104 SII & 100 Blunt XL with S810ti bindings on custom "adjustable duck foot" risers

            Loaners: 125LE, 105 EMP, 101 KTP, 100 Blunt XL, 98 Slapdash, 88 Blunts

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            • #7
              Reading stuff like this makes me even more excited to join the sport, after my previous post and recent purchase of some RCs it makes me even more positive that i've bought something that will get me anywhere and albeit a more advanced board confident that I will get to level where im blowing my already well confident mates away and not having to let them go because im not at their level with snowboarding.

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              • #8
                Another great interview. Keep 'em coming!

                Skiboards:
                2013 Spruce Sherpas w/Tyrolia Peak 11s
                2015 RVL8 Blunt XLs w/Tyrolia Attack 13s
                2018 Spruce Crossbows w/Tyrolia Peak 11s
                2017 RVL8 Sticky Icky Ickys w/Tyrolia SX 10s


                Boots:
                Salomon X-Pro 80

                Past boards: Salomon Snowblades, Line MNPs 89 & 98 cm, Five-Os, Bullets, Jedis, Spruce 120s, LE 125s, Ospreys
                Summit 110s, Nomads, Jades, RVL8 ALPs, BWPs, KTPs, Tanshos, Rockets, DLPs, Blunts, Condors, RCs, Revolts, Spliffs

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