Standing in front of a long row of snowboards leaning up against the wall at Comor on the corner of Burrard Street and West 4th Avenue, store manager Brian Michals says there are plenty of options for winter adventurers. He pulls out a backcountry split board manufactured by Salomon that comes with interior ABS walls and enables the user to climb up hills.
“You don’t need chair lifts anymore,” Michals says with a big smile. “It’s also ecofriendly, with bamboo, and not as many hard plastics in the board.”
He notes that Salomon, one of the major snowboard manufacturers, has gone back to camber—putting a slight arch in its boards—which provides plenty of hop and height. He adds that the early rise at the tip and tail makes this board easier to turn.
For those seeking flexibility on the hill, he points to Burton’s EST system, which eliminates the baseplate material beneath the snowboarder’s feet, thereby reducing the weight of the board. With only two bolts, rather than four, on each binding, it’s relatively easy for boarders to alter their position.
“You switch it very, very quickly from, say, a freeride stance to a freestyle stance,” Michals says.
Some boards, he concedes, are jacks-of-all-trades and can be used in different conditions and locations. But many people prefer ones that are suitable for either the slopes or the backcountry. Full-rocker construction is often favoured by those who like terrain parks, Michals adds, because it’s a little more forgiving.
“For people riding fast groomers, they really want a rigid product,” he states.
From Michals’s tour of the store, it’s clear that technology is transforming winter sports equipment—and that includes skis, which have taken on some of the characteristics of snowboards. He describes the Rossi S3 as the most versatile ski on the wall, with camber under the foot, which adds some spring. Michals explains that the early rise and rolling edge make this ski much easier to carry around.
Because skiing has become more convenient, it’s enjoying a remarkable renaissance. “The side cuts, the rocker, the reverse cambers…came from snowboarding,” Michals says. “There’s no more of that picking up that inside leg, pivoting left and right, and working really, really hard out there. The new technologies are awesome.”
Similarly, there have been advances in boots, which are the most important gear of all, according to Michals. He recommends customers spend more time on their footwear than anything else, trying on at least two or three fits. Comor offers a boot-fit guarantee, which ensures people can get their money back if they’re not satisfied with their purchase.
When it comes to clothing, Michals says it’s all about the layering. That’s why it’s important to have a Gore-Tex or waterproof high-level breathable-membrane jacket on the slopes. “Build the layers that you need that make sense for a long, comfy winter,” Michals advises. “When you’re spending $100 [on a lift ticket] at Whistler, you don’t want to be into the hot chocolate before noon.”