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Cutting-edge advances in snowboard and ski technology mean more crossover on the slopes

By Jason Avant

Over the past few years, there’s been a quiet revolution in the way snowboards and skis are designed, built and sold. Once little more than skateboard decks without wheels, snowboards are now being built with an eye toward a wide range of specifications, from gender and skill level to the terrain of the run. Ski designers, in turn, are paying attention to the snowboarding world. Because it’s not uncommon these days to see skiers venture into half-pipes—once the exclusive domain of snowboarders—manufacturers have begun to incorporate snowboard design elements into skis. What does this mean for skiers and snowboarders? The opportunity to push the envelope when they hit the slopes.

The designers at Chevrolet know a thing or two about pushing the envelope: The Sonic Hatchback RS, for example, comes freeway-ready with a 1.4L turbocharged engine, a suspension that can easily handle twisting roads and fuel economy that’s perfect for long road trips to the mountains. In the hands of Chevrolet engineers, the tried-and-true hatchback design has evolved into something special.

Ski and snowboard designers could be taking their cues from cutting-edge automotive research—and vice versa. As snowboarding’s popularity increased, ski designers sought ways to make skiing more accessible to newcomers and more challenging to veteran skiers looking to emulate the snowboarding experience—much like the Sonic Hatchback RS appeals to performance-oriented drivers as well as those looking for a practical, gas-sipping family car. One simple solution: “shaped” skis, which are shorter and wider toward the tips and tails. This hourglass shape makes quick linked turns easier, reducing the effort required with traditional straight skis. It is these newer ski designs featuring upturned tips and tails that allow daring skiers to ski in half-pipes, and even compete in half-pipe events.

Snowboard designers have also learned from ski manufacturers, creating snowboards that can handle terrain and conditions typically reserved for skiers. Most of the changes in snowboard design aren’t immediately visible, especially to the untrained eye. The evolution in snowboard performance starts with the board’s profile: Traditional snowboards had more camber, or arch, which gives the board great traction on snow. As snowboarders began venturing into deep powder, designers swung the other way, giving some of their snowboards a “rocker” profile—bowing rather than arching under the feet, allowing for better performance. These days, snowboarders can opt for boards that combine camber and rocker, for a true all-mountain experience. And some manufacturers, like Lib Tech, are offering snowboarders the opportunity to custom design their boards, just as Sonic owners can explore a wide range of available dealer-installed Chevrolet accessories, from expressive body graphics to the Borla Exhaust for a clear, aggressive sound.

Skiers and snowboarders, like Sonic drivers, are looking to get as much out of their rides as possible. Thanks to pioneering designers, there’s never been a better time to strap on a new pair of skis or a new board—or get behind the wheel of a Sonic Hatchback RS.

The trademarks mentioned in this story are held by their respective owners.

Jason Avant, founder and managing editor of DadCentric, is a writer and avid skateboarder and surfer who lives in North San Diego County. Follow him on Twitter @PetCobra.


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