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Is skiboarding dying? And how can we save it

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  • Bad Wolf
    replied
    The only real way to know if our sport is growing, declining or holding it's own, would to know the actual sales of new boards over the last few seasons. Although that doesn't tell us how many folks are actually on the slopes, it is probably the best indicator of the health of the sport. I don't believe we will ever get this information though. Perhaps we should just be happy that RVL8, Spruce and Summit are selling enough boards to still be in business.

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  • Tom91381
    replied
    Originally posted by Steeps View Post
    So, I've been mulling over the whole access-to-skiboards question, and started wondering about the practicality of setting up skiboard co-ops in ski towns. The idea here would be to create a private club that would co-own a quiver of skiboards, to be used by the membership, with a yearly fee less than the cost of a pair of boards.

    Mostly, I see this as a way to get around the liability issues of rentals (since everyone involved is an owner) and allow the optional use of non-releasable bindings. The target market would be skiers who want to take out skiboards a few times during the season without fully committing to a purchase, and would work well for skiboarders to access a bigger quiver without actually buying a full set of new boards. That would be a major incentive to found such a club... the local resident skiboarder gets their hands on a wider range of rides, and has the ability to promote the sport directly without lending out their own personal gear. I'm all for lending my stuff, but do worry a little bit about liability issues if I lend to someone that's not a close friend.

    Thoughts?
    Maybe some regional clubs, I have a decent quiver that I donít mind sharing so others can try and find what they like


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  • Steeps
    replied
    Skiboard Co-ops?

    So, I've been mulling over the whole access-to-skiboards question, and started wondering about the practicality of setting up skiboard co-ops in ski towns. The idea here would be to create a private club that would co-own a quiver of skiboards, to be used by the membership, with a yearly fee less than the cost of a pair of boards.

    Mostly, I see this as a way to get around the liability issues of rentals (since everyone involved is an owner) and allow the optional use of non-releasable bindings. The target market would be skiers who want to take out skiboards a few times during the season without fully committing to a purchase, and would work well for skiboarders to access a bigger quiver without actually buying a full set of new boards. That would be a major incentive to found such a club... the local resident skiboarder gets their hands on a wider range of rides, and has the ability to promote the sport directly without lending out their own personal gear. I'm all for lending my stuff, but do worry a little bit about liability issues if I lend to someone that's not a close friend.

    Thoughts?

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  • boyanr
    replied
    Here is my perspective from a different part of the world.

    My wife is a snowboarder and my son got really interested in skiing at an early age, so I tried to learn skiing so we can go together. I wasn't enjoying it and it wasnt going well, so I had pretty much given up. I had no idea skiboards existed, as they are not really part of common culture here. But then last winter I was the family driver at a little ski area here called Rila Lakes - there's no resort, just some pistes and is popular for off-piste mainly and draws a younger and hipster crowd. So I noticed many people skiing in these really short skis and it seemed quite effortless. So I googled it, then found a rental where I can get a pair and I learnt to ski in a day. I've done ~40 days since and I saw other people on blades pretty much every time, including in the park, ski instructors, etc. (except when we went to the Dolomites - much less skiboarders over there). I also get asked about them every time - and most people actually do know what these are and they say they have been thinking to get some, so they ask how they feel.

    So basically - people who don't ski have never heard of them, so beginners are not aware of this option. Then those who ski often have noticed them on the slopes and have an interest, but the lack of easy availability and information is why they haven't tried them.

    Thus I would agree with previous posters that the only way to become popular is to get some presence with rentals-ski shops-instructors.

    I also definitely agree with the Twin Tip comparisons. I am planning to get some for my son, so I was browsing some skiing forums and pretty much why twin tip fans praise them are the same things that people praise skiboarding here. I could just replace "twin tip" with "skiboard" and it would remain valid! And just in a few years twin tips moved to much shorter lengths, from directional to fully simmetrical, from backset to center mounted. If calling skiboards short-skis is quite incorrect, calling them "short twin tips" is much more closer to reality.

    I would guess one option to gain popularity is therefore to fully blend twin tips with skiboards. I.e. calling the longboards "twin tip ski boards" (with ski and boards separate words intentionally). And why not companies like Rvl8 and Spruce making some twin tip skis? Using the knowledge they have from skiboards they should be able to make some kick-ass stuff that would be easier to push to the mass markets than skiboards, but in the long run it will allow them to promote skiboarding along the tt.

    I also find the whole bindings situation complex and confusing for a newcomer and solving this is a must for gaining more popularity. I do think there should be direct-mount options for the longboards >110, those boards would be more attractive to new comers, who would be happy with a stiffer board, plus to get into rentals you need a rental binding. Or come up with another plate that uses the 4x4 but without the raise, so stg like the demo bindings but mounted on a 4x4. Giving a simpler option does not mean the riser plate should be killed - it will stay for more advanced skiboarders who want max performance.

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  • mvhoffman
    replied
    So I don't think skiboarding is dying...

    This finishing my first full season on skiboards (first season on snow in 15 years) I have noticed a lot of questions from the majority. I had only run into one "questionable" comment made by a snowboarder who was quickly shut down when blowing by him on the North Face at Mt. Snow where "those little things" shouldn't go.

    The ridicule, as described on YouTube videos, in my short experience, has really been non-existent. I have been stopped by more people this season asking for more information on them than I have gotten the question "what are those." There seems to be a genuine interest from people after seeing how fun and free skiing they are. I have experienced a lot of comments from some of the older crowd describing how "weighed down" they feel from their skis. They express that these look easy to turn and carve with.

    I wont say skiboarding is dying. I will say skiboarding seems to be at a bit of a building time. I have a feeling within the next few seasons we are going to be seeing a big push in skiboards across the mountains. So everyone keep posting, keep videoing, and keep handing out the cards!

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  • Steeps
    replied
    Funny, I've never really heard them called mini-ski, except maybe by kids. The terms do seem to be somewhat regional, as Aussies will usually call them skiblades and North Americans tend to go with snowblades, and I've heard snow skates from a few people. I don't really mind having them called 'blades' as a slang term and even use it myself with buddies who are used to me ripping around on them. When I get on the gondy with the 2016 Spliffs, I usually try to keep the left-board tip logo visible to the other riders, which very helpfully includes the brand and the world "SKIBOARDS" on it.

    Usually when someone references snowblades, I tell them that this is the real thing (or in the case of my Spliffs, the new generation). Since it's spring now and some actual snowblades have been showing up on the gondola, seeing them side by side really brings it home how different they are.

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  • newbie2011
    replied
    Originally posted by Wookie View Post
    THEY ARE ALL JUST SKIS .... short or long, fat or skinny, twin tip or directional ....
    I don't think this is really accurate ... I mean it's true at a very high level, they all are sliding devices, but its a ten thousand feets view, it's like saying everything on 4 wheels is a car, including buses, vans, SUVs... Whenever the minis-skis/blades/skiboards discussion arrises, it's down to a differentiating level, where people are interested in specifics, advantages, limitations and such, so it's relevant which category you put things in...

    Originally posted by Wookie View Post
    And, frankly, if you respond to every "Are those mini skis?" question with a "No, asshole! They are skiboards!" attitude you'll never get anyone interested.
    Oh, I might have been misunderstood, my issue is not with people who don't know what these are and call them mini-skis. My argument is not to call them mini-skis ourselves when facing such a question, not out of righteous indignation, but as a way to put the information out there and inform people what these are and why we like them and use them and such




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  • Fun Machine
    replied
    Originally posted by Wookie View Post
    Every time one of these threads rolls around forum members talk about RVL8, Spuce, Summit, etc. as if they are on the same level as Head, K2, etc..

    The "just make rental skiboard bindings and make them available in ski shops" argument is not as simple as it sounds.
    Sorry, but I don't see any suggestions, direct or implied, by anyone that RVL8, Spruce etc are on the "same level" as Head, K2, etc.

    "Make rental skiboard bindings" and "make them available in ski shops" are two different arguments. The first makes the equipment a lot more practical and convenient, even a little cheaper. It is as simple as it sounds - that's already been proven. The second makes the equipment easily acquirable. It is far more difficult than it sounds, and I don't think that's the right strategy today to tackle the accessibility problem.

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  • Toro
    replied
    I definitely agree, Wookie, that RVL8 and Spruce could not come remotely close to matching the large ski industry players. I do think (from my completely outside perspective so take with massive grain of salt) there is the possibility of very very small pilot programs with a few trusted shops. Would it take the world by storm? Definitely not. But the value of incrementalism tends to be overlooked.

    I do think that as many people recommend skiboards to others on the slopes, they should have the link to the demo program (maybe make the handout cards about the demo program). The hurdle to buy is obviously much higher than renting and in line with the pie in the sky demoing in shops this could be a way to have in house.


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  • Wookie
    replied
    Originally posted by Fun Machine View Post
    If RVL8 and Spruce wanted to make skiboards more accessible for the masses...
    Every time one of these threads rolls around forum members talk about RVL8, Spuce, Summit, etc. as if they are on the same level as Head, K2, etc.. Outside some short skis made by Head and Elan the entire skiboarding industry is small businesses working out of their garages.

    The "just make rental skiboard bindings and make them available in ski shops" argument is not as simple as it sounds. K2 and like drop millions in RD, marketing, demos, etc. The big ski companies likely give away more skis annually than the entire skiboarding segment sells in a year. And once you get past the dollars and cents of the issue you have the liability concerns. If RVL were to put demo boards in 50 stores on the West Coast and one person gets hurt, claims it's the proprietary demo bindings, and sues RVL8 the entire company is gone. If you don't think it's tough to be a small business ask Greco to share the legal battles over the Revel8 (now RVL8 thanks to lawyers) brand.



    Originally posted by Fun Machine View Post
    And you seem somewhat offended or at least unhappy with calling skiboards "mini-skis."....
    Originally posted by newbie2011 View Post
    Oh, I'm definitely unhappy, especially in the context of popularizing skiboards ...
    THEY ARE ALL JUST SKIS .... short or long, fat or skinny, twin tip or directional .... it's all just skiing. You'll never hear someone differentiate between a GS ski and a powder ski. They are both in the same family just like skiboards. Remember if not for early skiboarders riding through "Snowboard Parks" the twin tip park ski might not exist along with the XGames and Olympic Freestyle Skiing.

    I was once very insistent on people calling my "short skis" skiboards but I am over it. They are skis. Skiboards are just a type of ski you select for a certain riding experience. And, frankly, if you respond to every "Are those mini skis?" question with a "No, asshole! They are skiboards!" attitude you'll never get anyone interested. On the hill I don't get asked what they are or what they are called and don't offer the name skiboards unless a conversation goes deep. I get asked more practical questions like "Are they easier or harder than long skis?", "Can you ride them in powder?", etc.. Once people understand the capabilities of skiboards they become more interested. Especially if they are struggling on long skis.


    Originally posted by Fun Machine View Post
    BTW I mean Wookie and you no offense!
    I am physically incapable of being offended because I am always pissed off to start with .... LOL.

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  • newbie2011
    replied
    Originally posted by Fun Machine View Post
    It certainly isn't the case for many people, but the mentality persists. Even in this thread Wookie "confesses" to owning twin tip skis as if that's something to hide. Really, what is wrong with owning twin tips? Absolutely nothing. I do, too.
    To me "mutually exclusive" is not the result of a mentality thing, but of a voluntary choice. I've done skiing, then discovered skiboards and I know that I won't do skiing again because I choose to, because I enjoy skiboards a million times more so it's my choice to give up on skis. And probably lots of other people make the same choice.
    But it's equally ok to do only skiing or both of them. I don't think anybody here is preaching any sort of "only skiboards" religion. As far as I can tell, when people "confess" that they still do some skiing, they do it at least half-jokingly, because nobody will scorn them or hit them over the head with a ski pole. And not only because skiboarders don't use poles

    Originally posted by Fun Machine
    And you seem somewhat offended or at least unhappy with calling skiboards "mini-skis." But they look like ... mini ... skis.... Of course, I get it. I, too, correct others when they call my skiboards "blades" - I know they don't mean it in a derogatory way and probably aren't even familiar with the term "skiboard," but I'm still annoyed. Silly me.
    Oh, I'm definitely unhappy, especially in the context of popularizing skiboards, and I think there are good reasons for that :
    - mini-skis/blades have certain specifics in terms of usable range, type of snow, type of ride; but these specifics come with some limitations. When you equal skiboards to mini-skis, automatically you assign them the same limitations, which is just wrong, because for instance the are lots of skiboards that are all-mountain, all-snows devices, unlike any blades I know of
    - mini-skis and blades have been around since before skiboards. People have a certain idea about what they are and what they are useful for. That idea will be in a range, from very precise to absolutely wrong. Thing is, when you talk to someone new, you don't know what their (mis)conception about mini-skis is and you kind of help them assign the same misconception to skiboards ...
    - when someone asks about skiboards, most likely they will be on skis. And most likely they are not attracted by mini-skis, or they would be riding them. So I would rather avoid helping them imagine they already know and dislike skiboards
    - when you get a question about skiboards, it comes from a sparkle of curiosity from seeing something unfamiliar. if we just tell them "oh, they're some sort of mini-skis", without any further explanation, I think most of the time that curiosity will go away, because they fall back on something "familiar", because they kind of know what mini-skis are so it becomes less intriguing. Telling them they are "skiboards" requires a follow-up explanation, so it provides two benefits: it puts the name out there, and it gives us the possibility of describing, explaining what they are, their benefits, where to get them, the forum address, etc.


    Originally posted by Fun Machine
    (BTW I mean Wookie and you no offense! ).
    This is one of the - if not the - most friendly forums I've been part of, so don't worry, none taken !

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  • Fun Machine
    replied
    Originally posted by Toro View Post
    Therein lies the catch-22.
    ...
    I envision RVL8 sending out boards and bindings to the shop for demoing while they run the logistics of renting them out.
    ...
    I know there are some places that are fine renting out skiboards (Sugar mountain in NC does but they are the Head 94cm) so
    Well, it's not all catch-22. In order to rent skiboards out, you first need adjustable release bindings. There are actually quite a lot of ski shops that rent out blades like those Head 94's because there are no technical hurdles to servicing them and renting them out. If RVL8 and Spruce wanted to make skiboards more accessible for the masses, one very simple thing they could do is to add countersinks to support the direct mounting of SLR rails. What you lose in performance and flex won't matter to the target audience who are beginners and intermediates.

    Originally posted by newbie2011 View Post
    Maybe it's just the wording, but the way you put it sounds like somebody would miss something out of choosing one over the other, which might not be the case for many people.
    It certainly isn't the case for many people, but the mentality persists. Even in this thread Wookie "confesses" to owning twin tip skis as if that's something to hide. Really, what is wrong with owning twin tips? Absolutely nothing. I do, too. And you seem somewhat offended or at least unhappy with calling skiboards "mini-skis." But they look like ... mini ... skis.... Of course, I get it. I, too, correct others when they call my skiboards "blades" - I know they don't mean it in a derogatory way and probably aren't even familiar with the term "skiboard," but I'm still annoyed. Silly me. (BTW I mean Wookie and you no offense! ).

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  • Wookie
    replied
    Is skiboarding dying? Yes and No

    For the YES: I have definitely seen less true skiboarders on the mountain each year (on general days when I am not going to a planned meet-up with another skiboarder). It was a shortened season for me only getting about 20 days in but in those 20 days I encountered less than 5 skiboarders and only one was on a newer skiboards. The rest were riding old blades from the 90s just to try something different. I've actually seen more people on SledDogx SnowSkates than skiboards this year.

    Plus skiboarding has been a bit stagnant. There were no new designs this year to be excited about just some new graphics. I don't know if there is much innovation left in the sport to excite core riders or bring in new riders. RVL8 and others have tinkered with rocker, size, and shape but at a certain point there is only so much you can do with a 110cm +/- ski package.

    For the NO: I would argue that skiboards have just evolved into twin tip skis. Each year I see skiers, especially park skiers, on slightly shorter, slightly wider twin tip skis. They are really just the evolution of skiboards. They are light and nimble like skiboards but being a bit longer gives them more edge hold on ice, more float in powder, and more landing gear for jumps. I'll confess I own a pair of 160+cm twin tips that are a more stable ride than any of my skiboards (albeit less playful). As the major ski companies fully absorb the fun features of skiboards into nimble twin tip park skis the skiboarding industry is reduced to a few one man shops like RVL8, Summit, and Spruce that only have the resources to focus on the few remaining diehard riders. How long it will last is anyone's guess but until one of the big ski companies sees profit in it skiboarding will remain a niche sport and will only survive as long as those few remaining companies chose to stay in the business.

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  • Steeps
    replied
    I don't see this as a dying sport, but maybe that's because I'm out west and have been the lone skiboarder on the mountain for a long time. It's a niche sport and I don't see it ever becoming equal in ridership to long skis or snowbords. However, that small base of riders does make it completely possible to double or triple ridership in the foreseeable future.

    I agree with Toro that promoting the sport outside of the park dimension is the way to build a bigger user base. I still get asked a lot on the gondola if they're trick skis or exclusively for jumps and spins. I don't really do much for tricks; I'm on a big ugly mountain and use my skiboards to slay the steepest slopes, the tightest glades and the narrowest chutes (and some speed runs on the the groomers, now that it's spring and half the mountain is closed for avalanche danger). It's always interesting to see the attitude shift in someone I've talked to before they've seen me ride, and after.

    I also agree with newbie2011 that the main target market for expansion in skiboards is the intermediate masses that are struggling with skiing, but I think the image of what a skiboard is needs to include the capability to send anything the mountain can throw at you. I switched in the early years of the sport as a double-black rider who had started to stagnate on skis and needed some freedom to keep advancing.

    I do think there's also room for expansion with expert skiers who would consider adding a pair of skiboards to their quiver of long skis. Skis have got a lot better since the 90's, but so have skiboards, and these are now serious all-mountain tools that can outperform other types of gear in difficult conditions. Ease of riding is what will keep people on their boards, but pushing the limits gets attention. Nothing changes someone's mind quicker than getting their ass kicked by a blader.

    This is the whole point of ski/snowboard movies, magazines and media, and why gear companies spend so much money on promotion and sponsorship. Skiboarding, being a small-revenue industry with only a few producers, just doesn't have the capability to market and distribute directly to the masses. So it's encouraging to see this discussion taking place, and to have so many riders willing to be ambassadors for the sport. This spring, I've been trying to get buddies who ski and have ridden with me to saddle up on the Spliffs for a few runs and see what they think. Those that have, enjoyed it.


    This thread is another reminder to get off my arse and start getting some videos shot and posted. I've got zero social media presence and no smartphone, but I do have enough friends that are keen to get me on video that it should be doable. Anyone got a cheap used GoPro for sale?

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  • newbie2011
    replied
    Originally posted by ThatSlyBastard View Post
    Also I think the name skiboard hurts us. No one knows them by that name. I actually just tell people I ride mini skis because it is much easier than trying to explain what a skiboard is without using the term mini ski or snowblade.
    The fact that some people don't know what they are does not make the name incorrect. Everybody that knows what skiboards are would not name them otherwise.

    Calling them mini-skis or snowblades is not only technically incorrect, because this is not what they are, but it's also misleading and I think it doesn't do the sport any favor, rather the opposite. "mini-skis" has to me a clear connotation of a kind of toy-like thing, something to play with in special circumstances, maybe for kids or for park and tricks. One would expect to do "serious" skiing on skis, not on mini-skis. As an adult I would want to do "real" skiing, so I would never buy into "mini-skis". Not to mention they have several restrictions, I don't think for instance anyone would ride mini-skis in deep powder...

    Skiboards on the other hand are full-featured devices on their own, which can be used in all conditions, circumstances and snows. They can and are completely replacing skis. They are not mini-versions with reduced functionalities.

    A short but misleading explanation is worse than a longer but accurate one. It's like explaining the game of Go by saying "it's a bit like chess" when in fact it's nothing like chess ...

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