Archive for January, 2013

National Geographic article on snowskating

Well not really an article on snowskating but the January 2013 issue about why we explore hit a cord with me. Going to get just a tinsy bit scientific here and seeing I’m no scientist you’ll have to cut me some slack. Homo sapiens,(that’s right I’m using the term homo sapiens in a bit about snowskating) explored the planet in a period of about 60,000 years. What makes this remarkable is that other species of upright walkers like Neanderthals lived several hundred thousand years without ever leaving Europe. The national geo article brought up the idea that homo sapiens had a gene in their dna that promoted explorations. The following  from the Nat geo issue is what caught my eye.


“If an urge to explore rises in us innately, perhaps, its foundation lies within our genome. In fact there is a mutation that pops up frequently in such discussions: a variant of a gene called DRD4, which helps control dopamine, a chemical brain messenger important in learning and reward. Researchers have repeatedly tied the variant, known as DRD4-7R and carried by roughly 20 percent of all humans, to curiosity and restlessness. Dozens of human studies have found that 7R makes people more likely to take risks; explore new places, ideas, foods, relationships, drugs, or sexual opportunities, and generally embrace movement, change, and adventure.”


So basically there is a certain percent of the population responsible for exploring the fringe. When you first saw a snowskate and thought it looked like fun, while your buddy standing next to you thought that it looked like a shit show, well you can thank genetics. I’m constantly hearing people say that snowskating makes them see their terrain in a new way. It brings back a sense of exploration, turning terrain that you knew by heart on skis or snowboard, into a fresh slate of opportunity. Tonight I’ve promised my daughters that I would strap on skis to show them that I can actually turn. That I grew up skiing is not something that they know, they have only seen me snowskate. It will be fun to ski with them but it will most definelty lack that sense of adventure that I have come to expect whenever I head out on the skate. Bindings just don’t make me want to explore.


jeffanddrewvisithiking National Geographic article on snowskating

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Another winter is well on its way and luckily things are new and fresh again. Snowskating has always had this feeling to it where you just weren’t sure what’s around  the next corner. Obviously with a new sport you really don’t know where it will go. This mystery is what attracted me to snowskating.

94C42B46 orig Back to blogging

Early on the goal was to reuse old snowboards and be able to stand up for most of the run. Just the fact that you could go down hill without bindings was enough to make me hike back up for another run.

firstthreeboards Back to blogging

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I had no idea what would make a good snowskate so I tried to make them really pretty using my woodworking skills. If they looked beautiful then maybe people wouldn’t question whether or not they actually worked.

8WheelerDeck Back to blogging

I fought the direction that most snowskates were going in. Small skateboard-like sizes to me seemed like I would be stuck in the parking lot. Of course I had never really tried a small skate so my opinion of them was totally wrong. At one point I realized that if I could control a massive snowskate and a small snowskate then what about all the sizes in-between? This was when the skilsaw came out. I had visions of trolling yard sales to score old snowboards for cheap then cut them down to size and re-sell them for a nice profit. I still have that same stack of cut down snowboards that have never touched snow.

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Luckily Adam at FPS did the hardwork for me and I felt like the time spent cutting down old snowboards was wasted time.

153and125fps Back to blogging

Riding big powder skates you immediately hone in on the conditions that will make them fun. Big long groomers just aren’t very enjoyable on powder skates so you become fixated on untracked terrain.

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At first building my own subs seemed like a monumental task. I was afraid of the mistakes that it would take to accomplish my goals. But after the first crappy skate I was hooked.

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Just heading up to the mountain with a new prototype that offered answers to my many questions was enough to power me through the inevitable let down and remorse that would come after riding it. There will always be mistakes and those mistakes will direct your future designs. The mistakes make the boards. Without them you would be directionless.

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If you haven’t already noticed the snowskate community is made up of riders and builders. In some areas the builders outnumber the non builders. Making attempts at snowskate innovation is part of the sport. Those attracted early on need a hand in the direction. This helps everyone I believe because there is a constant “sharing” of ideas. I know I would not have been inspired to make changes to my skates if it were not for FPS, Ralston, Lib, Starfish, Circuit and Grassroots to name a few.

7FFFEF0F orig Back to blogging

So here we are, in the winter of 2013 with skates that still resemble my original attempts made eight years ago. The goal is still the same to stand up for most of the run.