I now live in San Diego and have been a snowboarder since 1989. Prior to that I was an Alpine skier for 20+ years. I was a ski patroller for 23 years in New York State's Catskill mountains.
First run of the morning... "Fresh Corduroy" is fun!
From 1992 through 1998 (when I retired from Ski Patrol) I used a snowboard exclusively in my patrol work and I haven't been back on skis during that period. (Anyone want to buy some used Alpine ski equipment, from 1990? )
NSP's Eastern Division (7,500 members) led the nation in the evaluation of snowboard patroller capabilities. In 1993 I was appointed as the first NSP divisional Snowboard Advisor in the nation and I formed the NSP Eastern Division Snowboard Demonstration Team which was instrumental in NSP's formal National recognition (approval) of snowboard patroller operation in 1995.
Snowboard Demo Team
I was one of the first patrollers in the USA to operate a ski patrol toboggan (1991) while using a snowboard. That was more due to dumb-luck than any great snowboarding skills on my part. Until about 1990 I had always assumed that it was impossible to operate a ski patrol toboggan with a snowboard. Then, one day I tried it...... boy was I wrong! Snowboards and toboggans are highly compatible, in fact in many snow/terrain conditions I think snowboards are better for toboggan operation than Alpine skis!
Back in 1989-95 it was difficult for most of the members of the Ski Patrol to accept the idea that a snowboarder could operate a 250 lb. loaded evacuation toboggan. So I and several others set out to prove that they were wrong.
Beginning in 1993 I started visiting ski resorts all over the USA to
demonstrate to local/regional ski patrol officials just how well a snowboarder
could handle a toboggan. This would inevitably lead to them asking me to
do the "demo" on their steepest and most moguled slope. I would select
the most skeptical ski patrolman, who usually was the one who had earlier
suggested the steepest slope, to be my "passenger" for the toboggan
ride. It was amazing to see just how scared these people would suddenly
become when confronted with the prospect of placing themselves at the mercy
of a snowboarder..
Another part of my demo was to show what happened when a snowboarder falls (catches a down hill edge) while operating a toboggan at moderate speed.
I did this because it was the biggest fear of both ski patrol "snowboard skeptics" and prospective snowboard ski patrollers. As you can see in the pictures, the snowboard actually wedges itself in front (not under) the nose of the toboggan. This is actually a very stable condition where both the patroller and their passenger are quite stable/safe and from which the snowboarder can easily extricate themselves and go on. I use to invite the Alpine skiers to try the same maneuver, none ever would because the toboggan usually comes up and over their narrow skis and can trap/injure them. (In icy conditions I wore hidden knee pads inside my boarding pants... let the truth now be told!)
It would be accurate to say; "I built my snowboarding reputation on falling." Now how many people would say that?
In 1994 I created and operated the "Snowboard Liaison Project" which was funded/sponsored by snowboard manufacturers operating through Ski Industries America (SIA). That program involved meetings with resort management, as well as the distribution of instructional materials to make ski areas more receptive to the needs of their snowboard customers and to help soothe the animosity between Alpine skiers and riders.
Like many former Alpine skiers I initially rode hard boots on Alpine boards at stance angles of 50+/45+ degrees. In 1992 I discovered soft boots and my life was forever changed. These days you will find me on "free-ride" boards, like a K2 "Electra" (157cm); or K2 "ElDorado" (158 cm); at stance angles of about +17/+2. (Remember, I only weigh 150 lbs and wear size 8 boots)
I also am a strong advocate of Soft Step-In Bindings and for the past five years I have been using the Switch system.
While patrol work was satisfying, like most people I have more fun when I am not working. The picture below holds many fond memories for me. One of them is that it represents my ("Kermie's") last day on Alpine skis.
I was heading to a Costume Contest at the top of Aspen Mountain (January 1991), where they
didn't permit snowboarding until 2001, so I HAD to be on skis...... we won 1st prize!
In April 1998 (before I cut my hair) one of my snowboard patrol friends
go out riding in my leather motorcycle jacket & chaps..... he lost the dare!
I have the good fortune to travel extensively in my work in the broadcasting biz.... so I get to ride all over North America from November through August. My favorite spots are in Utah, Oregon, and the Sierras. I carry complete back-country equipment and am known to ride "out-of-bounds" when I can find knowledgeable local riders to lead the way. (I need to improve my pipe riding, anyone want to volunteer instruction?)
: I might be visiting a mountain near you!
Copyright © 1993 - 2001 David E. Schutz