A number of boards are required for race days in snowboardcross. We will ride the race upon our race boards but as these have had their bases prepared for racing; waxed, scraped and structured/brushed we cannot ride to the race course or inspect the course upon our race boards. Even a few runs on your race board will remove some of its performance from the base preparation. So we will ride to the course upon our training boards and complete our inspection run on them. This is why if you go to a snowboardcross event you will see many riders holding there prepared snowboard in a board sleeve of some sort.
Snowboardcross Race boards are specifically made for racing and often handmade, so I personally only ride mine at races and competition training, in order not to damage it, it’s expensive to replace! Although it is important to train on the race board you will be using in races, I will use my training board for most of my practicing at our GB Base where we will be focusing primarily on technique. When I am doing UK based training and freeride training, I will use my freestyle board, as damages to this board aren’t as critical and expensive!
Key characteristics; Fast sintered base, super stiff flex, plank shape, quite heavy, very responsive, high end materials (e.g. Titanium, Carbon), sharp and clean edges
In order to be responsive race boards are relatively short and have long effective edges to provide riders a greater turning circle and high contact points for better edge control for turning. This will mean the boards will have a comparable effective edge of a very long and heavy snowboard, but with a shorter, more manageable and responsive length, giving it a very ‘wooden plank’ shape. The boards will often have a twin tip like shape, with rounded nose and tails so you can ride switch when required, it happens sometimes! All the characteristics of the board are designed for speed and response, which are essential for going fast down a snowboardcross track!
Currently the race board I am using is an Volkl Coal Race (159cm)
Reasonable price for a World Cup race winning board! See here for more information Volkl
Key characteristics; decent sintered base, shorter length, twin tip, soft flex, light and forgiving, quite responsive, good materials (e.g. Steel) and smoother edges
Most of my UK based training is upon my freestyle board, this is because I mostly practice freestyle in the UK which helps my board control and is a lot of fun; rails and kickers. As much of the centres I ride at are artificial, there are limited opportunities to train for carving and riding transitions, it is mainly freestyle based. Was I to try and ride my race board I would likely damage it from banging trying to slide a rail, and I would likely not have the best time doing it as the board will be heavy to manoeuvre especially at slower speeds and not very forgiving as it’s very stiff.
My freestyle board is shorter than my training and race boards, and is much more flexible to play around with. It makes the board a lot more playful rather than a race board which charges around like a tank, this isn’t to say both aren’t fun though!
I’m currently riding a Volkl Vice SQD (156cm) board
Check out There range on the Volkl website!
Key Characteristics; Stiff, responsive, reliable, easy to replace parts
Bindings are very important as they obviously connect you to to the snowboard! For snowboardcross bindings reflect the snowboards to an extent, they need to be stiff and responsive to ensure the board moves where you want it to move and when you want it to move. They need to be tough and durable, so they will not break when you least want them too. Bindings are the most breakable piece of hardware given the cold conditions and high pressure they undertake. When they do break you need to be able to replace them and often be able to get hold of the parts fast. This explains my binding of choice!
I currently ride Burton Cartels
The Cartels are a high performance binding which is both stiff and responsive. They are reliable and as Burton is stocked in a huge number of shops around Europe, it’s easy to get hold of replacement parts.
Boots – Stiff, comfy, snug fit
Boots are very important in terms of comfort and performance. If the boots are not a snug fit, they can become painful and uncomfortable. Some call them the most important pieces of equipment, if your feet hurt it’ll affect your performance! Again stiff boots will provide optimum response, combing a hardware set up which complements each will give you a powerful set up fit for racing!
I currently ride Salomon F20’s
The F20’s are a stiff boot, although not the stiffest, which helps absorb impacts from jumps etc. This is particularly important for freestyle based training. I find them really easy to lace up with there fast lacing system which doesn’t compensate how you want them fitted, I like them!