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Rob Stevens

Low angle stances, high angle edges.

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Hi there;

Let's start a conversation around what we might call "Knapton style" carving. I use that phrase as most on here will have seen his videos and know right away that our subject will be low carves at low stance angles. 

Previous forays into the subject have been constrained by the admittedly superior forward stance angles used if carving is above all your goal. The topic is also held back by folks who think what we're doing isn't in any way efficient or "stylish". Their noise distracts us from our goal, as we're not likely to change our stance. 

If carving AND smashing up the rest of the mountain is what you like, then we can likely share some strategies and set up advice here. 

I figure that if your angles are not much over 10 degrees forward on the back foot, you're in our ballpark. 

So... who out there is doing this? Where are you at in your progression? What sort of rig do you run?

Let's get after it! In 35 years of riding hard boots, soft boots, high angle binders, low angle binders and no binders at all, this is the most compelling thing I've tried in years. As it is now, I'm probably the only guy with a cat boarding operation who lately prefers groomers over pow. 

Edited by Rob Stevens

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So how do you handle boot out?  I’m on size 9s and with a 255mm waist and riser plates, I start getting noticeable boot out below 15 degrees.

I ran -12 degrees rest for a while and although it’s definitely more versatile, I ended up going back to more traditional carving angles because it just delivered on the groomers!

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It's all in the board. What's the widest board you can immediately get your hands on? Something like a Yes 420 is fairly easy to find. I'm hoping Yes delivers on a longer board in that model (keeping the 28-something waist), but in the meantime, the wide Donek I'm using is a 28 waist. Yes? Donek? Somthing else custom maybe. In other threads, we've talked about the choices being pretty thin on the ground for proper wide boards. Want to go over 160 (again, c'mon Yes)? It gets really hard in the NA market.

Forward + groom = Ideal. I think that if I were back amongst Ontario's glorious peaks, I'd be 55 and 45 as of days gone by. The steep freeriding slopes, which tend to finish with groomers at Lake Louise, see me at -3 in back. At -3, the inside of my foot, centre of heel to ball of big toe / big toe, are straght across the board. With pure carving being unrealistic as way to approach the pitch, that setup slarves swell, then handles the carve in a balanced way.

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35 minutes ago, Jack Michaud said:

27/12 on a custom wide Winterstick ST166, 27.5 waist. US Size 10.5 Burton Driver X. 10.5m sidecut will do layouts. I tried higher angles but felt they robbed power and freeriding ability. 

No friends on a groomer day!

I like that board of yours. You said it was a Seth Westcott design? Makes sense.

At higher angles, I feel as though I can change adges noticably faster, but I make more pressure late in the turn and feel more balanced in rough terrain, especially toeside, at that "effective 0" angle I described above. Technically, it's duck, but once referred to as "barely quacking".

If I came across your board, I'd probably set it up exactly as you have it.

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Yeah, for freeriding I’m definitely changing the angles.  I’m going to move up to a 26cm BX for my next board too.  Going out to Banff and Kicking Horse for a week starting Saturday - so excited to be back out west again after 11 years!

Edited by ShortcutToMoncton

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11 hours ago, Rob Stevens said:

I like that board of yours. You said it was a Seth Westcott design? Makes sense.

At higher angles, I feel as though I can change adges noticably faster, but I make more pressure late in the turn and feel more balanced in rough terrain, especially toeside, at that "effective 0" angle I described above. Technically, it's duck, but once referred to as "barely quacking".

If I came across your board, I'd probably set it up exactly as you have it.

Actually the ST series (Severe Terrain, ooooh!) is a downsized version of the Tom Burt pro model (172).  I also have a Wescott 164 which will be up for sale soon as it is the stock 26cm width.  I'm currently working with them on a custom SB carver.  It will basically be a Kessler Cross knock off, but 27.5 wide and 166 long.  With the factory at my home mountain, how can I not?

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35 minutes ago, Jack Michaud said:

Actually the ST series (Severe Terrain, ooooh!) is a downsized version of the Tom Burt pro model (172).  I also have a Wescott 164 which will be up for sale soon as it is the stock 26cm width.  I'm currently working with them on a custom SB carver.  It will basically be a Kessler Cross knock off, but 27.5 wide and 166 long.  With the factory at my home mountain, how can I not?

I'd like to see a Tom Burt pro model where all the dimensions are blown out around a 28 waist. 

We could get into some pretty unwieldy nose widths, but I might just go custom and take my chances, if the press will go that wide. 

Keep me posted on that KK knock off... N+1. 

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11 hours ago, davekempmeister said:

my stance is almost never the same, twice.  100 % board dependent.  always flat but never duck,  as high as 72/64 or as low as 42/30 (hardboots).

as high as 45/30 or as low as 18/6 (softboots).  size 15 boots (31.5) have some say in the calculus.

Dave. 

You, more than anyone, need a custom width board. 

What do you use right now when your back foot is at 6?

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Okay....  Full disclosure:  I have been building boards since 1992 and have recently started up a small enterprise doing such in a commercial context, ie I'm selling these things now, so if there is any problem/issue with me posting please delete or let me know.  That said, I feel I have something to add to this conversation.  I have always had a freeride out west bent on the boards I built, but they usually had a hardboot context in that I wanted to carve when snow got hard or grooming got good and I freeride in hardboots.  The boards tended to end being as narrow as possible with 45/35 angles and plastic boots.  I think Rob's approach to the issue is fundamentally correct.  Take the best working board for freeriding you can find and make the thing wide enough to avoid boot-out.  The fundamental dimension is edge contact length.  Interesting the Tom Burt model and my standard board since 1993,  Priors 4X4, Jones' big Flagship are right around 132 cm +/- a couple.  The alpine folks will scoff, but this is pretty long in the softboot world.  This would probably be a not too bad place to start for bigger guys.  I just built a 170 overall with a 132 ecl, 9/10 vsr and a 26 waist.  Makes for a  pretty nice board, and could easily be pushed out 2 cm wider.   The temptation looking at the Japanese guys carving is to make the ecl longer.  They're boards are really quite long (proportionally!) but those guys usually have pretty small feet and aren't too tall.  For a six footer with size 11's you are starting to bump into the standard width for p-tex at the 132ecl/10m sidecut/28 wide intersection.  Looking at the photo's  of Rob from Nakiska it seems that getting high edge angles is achievable so you could probably get away with less sidecut (bigger radius numbers) as long as you maintain adequate torsional stiffness;  this could allow for an increase in ecl without exceeding the 33 to 34 cm width limits in standard p-tex.  Torsional stiffness could turn into the elephant in the room as the boards will tend to get stiffer overall without increasing torsional stiffness proportionally due simply to the increase in width.  in order to make the boards flex nicely lengthwise (stiff, but not too stiff) it could become difficult to keep torsional stiffness high enough.  This is not such an issue with hardboots as the platform is more powerful and can deal with higher stiffness better (most of the time) and the skinny boards don't have to be as proportionally stiff in torsion.  I love building stuff like this.  The market, generally speaking, not so much.  The recent (snowsurfing) trends towards really short boards with big tapers will carve ok but quickly run into grip/stability issues as speeds increase or the grooming is imperfect.  Similarly, all mountain/freeride boards are getting shorter, especially ecl-wise (shout out to Mig Fullbag and his Diamond blade - bucking the trend!).  The buttering trend has led to fewer boards using triax layups that provide the torsional stiffness needed for carving.  Finally the current fetish for lightweight cores and flexy boards makes for lots of easily exploded boards when driven hard and making mistakes (hard heelside carve oopsie leading to loaded up shuddering jerking stop from high speed=crunch).  Ok, enough geek talk for now.  If its cool for me to post this sort of stuff be happy to continue the conversation...

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I started carving on softboots, working my angles up to around F30, R21.  I have recently dropped them down to F21,R0 for more versatility.  I have relatively low angles for hardboots at around F52,R44.

I still feel really comfortable on toeside carves and I'm steadily working at improving my heelside carves with my softboot setup.  Right now it feels like there's room for both technique refinement and dialing-in my equipment settings.

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If I am mostly going in my preferred direction, I will ride @ 15 or 18 F and -9 R, if riding switch as much as preferred, then 15/-15. I can carve a turn with either stance, but probably get lower with the first. 

A Donek Flux (168) and Phoenix (165) both with 28.5 cm widths help with the low binding angles. Driver X in US 11 with Burton Genesis (L) will still boot out heel side if I get too far into the edge angle, but for all over the mountain riding and still being able to lay some trenches on the groom it works pretty good for me.   I would run a little steeper with hard boots of course, but really only use those a few times a season these days as  higher angles in the back kind of hurt my old knee :)     

Totally sold on the wider rides, could probably even go to 29 or more in the future. Might have to get an offset insert pattern to compensate for those pesky heel cups, but the binding has got to be the most comfy soft boot binding I have ever used (and i have been riding for a long time) so don't really want to try anything else.

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Can I play Rob? I only ride hard boots, but all sorts of angles, from -6/21 to 0/0! I have small feet and with extra lift from plate bindings, I can ride pretty standard width freeride boards... 

I'm always surprised how well I can carve that directional duck stance with hard boots... I rode my Arbor at -6/21 and Nidecker Proto at 27/45 for the duration of the Level 4 course, last week. Both setups had their pros and cons. However, I bumped the Arbor to 30/12 yesterday and it really rocked! 

I'm very convinced it's actually a larger splay, not necessarily the duck, that adds versatility to a setup. On my narrower Proto and 27/45 I can do pretty much everything as on a wider -6/21. I might have a bit rounder toe side sliding turn on the later, but carve better on tge former. Interesting enough, I rode pow a bit better on the Proto! 

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17 hours ago, carlito said:

(shout out to Mig Fullbag and his Diamond blade - bucking the trend!).  The buttering trend has led to fewer boards using triax layups that provide the torsional stiffness needed for carving.

Thanks for the props Carl !!!

And triax top and bottom on all boards for Fullbag. :biggthump

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On 2/11/2018 at 5:58 PM, Rob Stevens said:

So... who out there is doing this? Where are you at in your progression? What sort of rig do you run?

Since u asked ! ...    Here is my beloved Lib Tech twin (Travis Rice model:  L162, W262) ridden at 21/9 (size 9 Burton footprint), doing my 2nd favorite documented carve to date.  Click here if you want to see it being cut.  Well, that's all for carving.  My real love is moguls and that's why i always ride low angles

 

snowgun_carve.jpg

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liking this thread. would like to try square-er angles, but would need to buck up for custom to do so. even on my 265 wide diamondblade i need to run around 30-40* forward angles for my 9.5 drivers. curious if anyone has had success running risers (ie, donek bx plate) to achieve lower angles. bit of a tradeoff in angle vs height off deck, i assume. 

after a bunch of years oscillating between hard & soft boot setups (and running hard boots back in the 90's well before i had discovered proper carving), i've found my happy place with the contemporary carve happy softboot setup. we're still in the embryonic stages of development, with limited hardware options, but things are progressing in a positive direction. i'm fairly stoked about this. 

Edited by xy9ine

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On ‎2‎/‎12‎/‎2018 at 3:26 PM, carlito said:

Okay....  Full disclosure:  I have been building boards since 1992 and have recently started up a small enterprise doing such in a commercial context, ie I'm selling these things now, so if there is any problem/issue with me posting please delete or let me know.  That said, I feel I have something to add to this conversation.  I have always had a freeride out west bent on the boards I built, but they usually had a hardboot context in that I wanted to carve when snow got hard or grooming got good and I freeride in hardboots.  The boards tended to end being as narrow as possible with 45/35 angles and plastic boots.  I think Rob's approach to the issue is fundamentally correct.  Take the best working board for freeriding you can find and make the thing wide enough to avoid boot-out.  The fundamental dimension is edge contact length.  Interesting the Tom Burt model and my standard board since 1993,  Priors 4X4, Jones' big Flagship are right around 132 cm +/- a couple.  The alpine folks will scoff, but this is pretty long in the softboot world.  This would probably be a not too bad place to start for bigger guys.  I just built a 170 overall with a 132 ecl, 9/10 vsr and a 26 waist.  Makes for a  pretty nice board, and could easily be pushed out 2 cm wider.   The temptation looking at the Japanese guys carving is to make the ecl longer.  They're boards are really quite long (proportionally!) but those guys usually have pretty small feet and aren't too tall.  For a six footer with size 11's you are starting to bump into the standard width for p-tex at the 132ecl/10m sidecut/28 wide intersection.  Looking at the photo's  of Rob from Nakiska it seems that getting high edge angles is achievable so you could probably get away with less sidecut (bigger radius numbers) as long as you maintain adequate torsional stiffness;  this could allow for an increase in ecl without exceeding the 33 to 34 cm width limits in standard p-tex.  Torsional stiffness could turn into the elephant in the room as the boards will tend to get stiffer overall without increasing torsional stiffness proportionally due simply to the increase in width.  in order to make the boards flex nicely lengthwise (stiff, but not too stiff) it could become difficult to keep torsional stiffness high enough.  This is not such an issue with hardboots as the platform is more powerful and can deal with higher stiffness better (most of the time) and the skinny boards don't have to be as proportionally stiff in torsion.  I love building stuff like this.  The market, generally speaking, not so much.  The recent (snowsurfing) trends towards really short boards with big tapers will carve ok but quickly run into grip/stability issues as speeds increase or the grooming is imperfect.  Similarly, all mountain/freeride boards are getting shorter, especially ecl-wise (shout out to Mig Fullbag and his Diamond blade - bucking the trend!).  The buttering trend has led to fewer boards using triax layups that provide the torsional stiffness needed for carving.  Finally the current fetish for lightweight cores and flexy boards makes for lots of easily exploded boards when driven hard and making mistakes (hard heelside carve oopsie leading to loaded up shuddering jerking stop from high speed=crunch).  Ok, enough geek talk for now.  If its cool for me to post this sort of stuff be happy to continue the conversation...

Really interested to see what might happen with a board like the one you describe, layed up with the triax. If it has to be stiff lenghtwise as well, I suppose a little early rise up fron might mellow that out?

Ultimately, I think if you can build boards that Chuckie G doesn't break, your gear likely holds up really well.

Maybe see you on this bike this summer, like days of old with the WBC boys.

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19 hours ago, BlueB said:

Can I play Rob? I only ride hard boots, but all sorts of angles, from -6/21 to 0/0! I have small feet and with extra lift from plate bindings, I can ride pretty standard width freeride boards... 

I'm always surprised how well I can carve that directional duck stance with hard boots... I rode my Arbor at -6/21 and Nidecker Proto at 27/45 for the duration of the Level 4 course, last week. Both setups had their pros and cons. However, I bumped the Arbor to 30/12 yesterday and it really rocked! 

I'm very convinced it's actually a larger splay, not necessarily the duck, that adds versatility to a setup. On my narrower Proto and 27/45 I can do pretty much everything as on a wider -6/21. I might have a bit rounder toe side sliding turn on the later, but carve better on tge former. Interesting enough, I rode pow a bit better on the Proto! 

I might look into an AT boot, or a soft hardboot. My ankles are getting worked.

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19 hours ago, Neil Gendzwill said:

My theory is that you just need more splay at lower angles. 

30 + degrees for me!

I like the front knee more set up to work laterally, initiating edge to edge, with the back foot aligned for pure pressure contro along the running length of the tail.

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9 hours ago, Mig said:

Thanks for the props Carl !!!

And triax top and bottom on all boards for Fullbag. :biggthump

That board you had on Facebook you said was for smaller riders with smaller feet looks like a great shape to blow out to a 28 waist, with all the other dimensions expanding accordingly.

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7 hours ago, xy9ine said:

liking this thread. would like to try square-er angles, but would need to buck up for custom to do so. even on my 265 wide diamondblade i need to run around 30-40* forward angles for my 9.5 drivers. curious if anyone has had success running risers (ie, donek bx plate) to achieve lower angles. bit of a tradeoff in angle vs height off deck, i assume. 

after a bunch of years oscillating between hard & soft boot setups (and running hard boots back in the 90's well before i had discovered proper carving), i've found my happy place with the contemporary carve happy softboot setup. we're still in the embryonic stages of development, with limited hardware options, but things are progressing in a positive direction. i'm fairly stoked about this. 

I haven't ridden a riser since the Palmer's of yore. The tippy feeling, which I kind of got used to on hardpack carving, didn't get me frothing on more freeride terrain. I just felt like it wasn't needed for the latter. I don't know much about new plates like the Gecko, but it seems like the baseplate could be unsupported. A plate binding with a riser is rigid, while a soft binding flexes at its ends if it's not sitting on a firm surface.

 Does the Donek or Gecko plate sit under the entire binding, or is there overhang?

 

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4 hours ago, Rob Stevens said:

I might look into an AT boot, or a soft hardboot. My ankles are getting worked.

Haha do it, the TEC committee are going to think I brainwashed you 🤣. Maybe Greg will finally let me complete my evaluator training... 

That's where it is, my ankles can't take softies any more, since long ago. For me, the problem starts when I have to flex and roll at the same time, under load... 

My solution is to ride super flexy plastic plates (F2 Carve RS or Blax), to provide the roll under the boot, while the boot is unlocked for free forward flex, for low angles, freeride and freestyle. At 45° front I sometimes lock for more aggressive carving. Beyond 45° I use the Snowpro bindings, for less roll. 

I rode the Garmont Shogun AT boots, last year. The soles were great, the side flex was a bit more, not that I really needed it though - I've got plenty from the binding. Locked forward flex was more then on my Dalbellos. The unlocked flex was about the same, but possibly more progressive. The forward lean was more, even unlocked and I didnt like that at all, especially in the park. Eventually, I broke both boots just under the tongues, so that settled it - back to Dalbello CRX, which last for many years. 

I hope it helps... 

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