Women Toe the Line
Snowboards Designed for Smaller Feet
Just because their feet aren't as big and they don't weigh as much doesn't mean the girls can't pull the huge air or carve the deep cuts. The size difference is where the women-specific snowboards can give the control to the women who are penetrating deeper and deeper into the male dominated sport.
With narrower waists specifically, and a general 1 to 1.5 cm difference overall, women-specific snowboards allow for more control for those with smaller feet; with the narrower waist, the smaller feet won't fall back too far from the edge, offering more maneuverability. Everyone knows how bad toe drag is, well, it's like the opposite of toe drag is equally as bad. Though we're not all the small girl and a lot of us can ride the unisex board without our toes too far from the edge, the flex may be ideal for smaller girls (and boys, not all the graphics are too super girlie) in terms of being able to power the board and have faster edge to edge capabilities.
"She was sick and tired of riding boards that are too wide," Chris Samiee, said of his sister, Missy, with whom he founded Goddess Snowboards two years ago. "A lot of girls don't know," he said, "because the shops say 'here's a good board, ride it.' They aren't really interested in helping customers perform better on the slopes."
Goddess manufactures boards designed specifically for women. With six models this year, the narrow Goddess boards are designed to also have soft flex pads and Samiee says "some guys say 'I can break that board,' but there's no way. Our boards are probably firmer than what people would assume because we don't know who's getting on-a beginner or a pro."
Sims pro-rider Tina Basich, whose signature board is a 143 "kind of a freestyle board," she says, and features her photography (roses). According to Sims, the board is for "smaller footed freestylers of all types that mainly like 'in area' technical terrain including parks, pipes, etc.. These riders that are looking for a light agile board for quick terrain transitions and aerial maneuverability found in parks and pipes." The recommended weight category is 115-145 pounds.
Basich is developing a new board for freeriding (she freerides on her freestyle board, too), which she says, she and a lot of other female riders are getting into more and more. The new Tina board (to be unveiled in Las Vegas for the fall line season) will be "longer and still be narrower- I'm mostly adding the length for landing in deeper snow," she said. As for the graphics, Basich would hint only that "I painted them."
Basich saw all the difference in the world when she got to design, from scratch, her first board.
"When your equipment is perfect for you, all your energy goes into your riding instead of getting your equipment moving," she said. When designing the board, Basich (and friend Shannon Dunn, of Team Burton whose '98 board is a little longer and stiffer), said "we consider the width to fit our feet, the flex to fit our body shape and the shape to fit our riding."
This year, Goddess boards have tip-to-tail wood cores (a method of manufacturing not preferred by Sims or K2) and 360-degree caps, which "are more responsive and easier to manufacture (less components)," Samiee said from his Salem, Ore., location. The wood core throughout makes the board lighter and more reactive, "it springs a little better; a little more power off the tail and it's a little more durable" in the pipe or freeriding, he said. The boards are made as light as they can be without bouncing the rider around on choppy snow. They average around 5 to 6 pounds and aren't going to feel like cement shoes when the girls are hanging them off a lift. Goddess graphics include Spawn comics characters Tiffany and Angela, and a Betsey Johnson (New York fashion designer) board.
All snowboard manufacturers have boards with narrower waists for those PEOPLE with smaller feet. It is in the rest of the design including; the designer, the flex, length, and shape that designates it under "women's snowboards." Even Goddess has a 154 and though the boards are geared to women, can fit a guy with a foot size up to 81/2 - women's foot size 11.
Basich said the key to finding the right board for you is to rent different ones, "sometimes you can't tell right off the bat; I got to compare," she said. "Go to a store that will set you up right, it's better than borrowing a board or getting one at a garage sale," she said. So if you've got a smaller foot, or a smaller frame or stature, women-specific boards may be the key to your success. I guess the moral of the story is that if you want to ride to the best of your ability, find the perfect board for you (and know that all kinds exist).
Other boards with narrower waists for the male or female microped: Absolute Soul will have two female-specific boards this year: the Tropical and the Butterfly; aside from the Shannon, Burton has the Victoria and for intermediate women riders, the Custom and the Motion. There are also, of course, a bunch of boards that don't have the word "women" in the description, but are for the smaller footed, lighter riders, like K2s Juju Slim, Dart Swinger or Markus (pipe & park). Like Samiee said (without negating the whole point of the story I hope) "the board doesn't know who's riding it."
Sarah Love, Mountain Zone Staff
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