Peter Baker and I first tried snowboarding back in 1988, unfortunately on a very average Avalanche board. It virtually had no flex, no sidecut and was as heavy as lead, so the result was another 2 years on skis. Whilst riding Mt Hotham’s Heavenly valley chairlift in 1990 with Pete, I spotted Gavin Crawford (the ding doctor from Beaumaris) laying down some sweet lines on a carving board and within days I was set up with my own gear which included ski boots, hard boot bindings and an alpine snowboard manufactured by Look.
We gradually progressed from soft bindings with Sorells (a walking boot) to the same boot with a ski boot liner for extra stiffness. By 1992 Sorell was producing a specific snowboard boot called the “Mt Mckinnley” and Air Walk had also entered the market. Board wise we were lucky enough to be importing Look snowboards which were more flexible, held a nice edge and their number 1 rider Steve Graham was not only one of the worlds top riders but also a regular visitor to Australia. A few years later a trip to the Las Vegas Ski and Snowboard show by Dave Pavlich and Shane Carter secured an agency for Winterstick snowboards, one of the original makers and pioneers. We were focused once again on the all mountain board but did also import a few twin tip jibbing type models.
Trigg’s in the middle with Marty Phillips and Bianca Hines up at the top of Heavenly this season
Freestyle events featuring rails and boxes has seen the evolution of snowboards to suit, a Burton dominant with hardly any edge and a soft flex has been a forerunner to the now popular rocker models, the Libtech’s with magnatraction, Burton with their Flying Vee, K2 combining flat with a bit of Rockerat the nose and tail of their boards. Its been a radical change that has aided the novice, given the jibber new wings and been a big plus for the powder hound. Snowboards that were rated 8 or 9 out of 10 for stiffness are now a rarity but for old salts like myself. There’s still a small range of cambered boards of the all mountain variety that can lay down a clean line at speed just as those visions of Gavin had sparked my passion for snowboarding some 20 years ago.
World class riders like our Aussies Chumpy Pullin, and Damon Hayler have ridden these style boards on the world cup boardercross circuit with great distinction and have been in medal contention at the past two winter Olympics. Mark Cowley with a series of top 10 finishes in world cup competition during his youth has been the outstanding local at Hotham for decades. His board of choice was the Burton T6, which I also kept in my quiver for some 5 seasons until recently acquiring the Vapor.
My updated 2012 model is like the Rolls Royce of snowboards its not quite as stiff as the T6 yet still holds a perfect edge under pressure, the super lightweight core provides an effortless glide along the trails while even though I could be riding shorter than 157 for my 69kg this Vapor has built in fast twitch response times when your toes are set to turn, so the extra length is simply a bonus for better edge control. I don’t drive a Porche, I don’t ride a Harley, I don’t have a tropical island but I do have a Vapor.
The red Fish with it’s white pinline is graphically identical to many of the 70’s surfboards Phil and I made. I Just had to have this one in the Quiver. It literally surf’s in the Pow. A good surfer with no background in snowboarding could ride this board effortlessly on a powder day.