The thing with the ski and snowboard industry is everybody thinks they know everything. I’m certainly guilty of it. You go into a snowboard shop and the season-worker who’s coming to the end of an alcohol-fuelled first week in the mountains tells you “Dude, you should get a Burton Air. Burton make awesome snowboards” You’re thinking, well okay I’ve heard of Burton, they must be doing something right. “It’s got so much pop” he adds.
Pop? Well, it certainly sounds like something you’d want lots of. It sounds fun, and that’s what riding should be about right? “Okay I’ll take the one with lots of ‘pop’ – it looks sick”
And just as that shop assistant did when he learnt his first fact about snowboarding a week earlier, you’re now suddenly an expert. “Yeah I went with the Burton Air. Have seen the amount of ‘pop’ this thing has? Totally gnarly pop, man”. Then the person who you said that to then recommends to his mate to get a Burton Air, the claims become exaggerated (“Yeah my mate just got one, he’s been riding for years, nearly turned pro. Says it’s the best board he’s ever rode. So much ‘pop’” *Flexes board with his hand for effect*).
Until of course, you run into someone who actually knows their stuff, and you look like a dick. But then of course, the ‘expert’ corrects your knowledge, maybe they tell you about a smaller manufacturer who “… really concentrates on quality – they don’t make their boards in a factory in China. They’re handmade in Colorado, none of this Burton crap”. From this point, in your head at least, you know everything that the “expert” knows. And you start telling people how you used to be like them when you first started, but you could never go back to a “mass produced board like theirs”. And then you go off on one about camber and sidecuts.
Of course, admitting you know very little takes balls. So you bullshit. Then you bullshit so much that even you start to believe it – Does this helmet really contain the technology to bounce you up the right way when you land on your head, or did I make that up to try and sound knowledgeable?
The situation is not helped by the assumptions people make. They assume because you’ve ‘done a season’, or you work in a rental shop that you know everything there is to know. But those people only know what their ‘expert’ (and so on, further back down the line) told them. Chances are, the only stuff they actually KNOW is what length board you should have and how to fit boots. Ask them about the advantages of having Carbon-Kevlar beams running through their snowboard, and they’ll claim it’s for stopping bullets. But it’s not because they’re some sort of dick, having a laugh at you. They have a role to fulfil as shop assistant – saying “I don’t know” is not an option.