Everyone knows that an hourglass figure turns heads. Not as many people know that the same figure is also behind the design of modern snowboards. While the hourglass figure on a snowboard doesn’t turn heads as fast as a women’s figure does it does help you to turn faster than any head can.
The degree of side cut on a snowboard does effect its performance on the hill. The side cut radius is the size of the circle that is cut out of your snowboard. To put this into perspective, most skateboarding ramps have a radius of 9′ and professional ramps as seen on TV will have a radius of 11′. As you can imagine, there is a definite curvature to the snowboard but it is subtle enough that it isn’t always easy to spot.
When a person first thinks about the side cut they may feel that it is a ploy by manufacturers to reduce the materials and thus cost of producing the snowboards. This can not be further from the truth. To understand side cuts you must think of why the map of the world has slices in it. A flat object can not proportionally represent a round object. For this reason a snowboard with a curve, or side cut, can turn faster and more aggressively than a snowboard that is straight along it’s length.
The reason that this is true is due to the way that the snowboard tries to bend and comfort to the surface that it is on when riding. When you turn your snowboard your weight and twisting causes the snowboard to flex and bend. The key to turning is to have the effective edge bite into the surface that you are riding on while being flexible enough to twist so that you can control the movement. A long straight line does not like to deviate from its basic shape but a curved line will meld with the hill and still have enough flexibility to bite into the surface as needed.
When it comes time to purchase your snowboard you must think of its use and how it will react to the environment that it is exposed to. Proof of this fact comes when we think of surface area on a snowboard. A small side-cut radius means that more of the material has been cut out of the center of the snowboard. A large side-cut means that the cut is shallower thus leaving more surface area.
So what difference does side cut make to the rider? Simple, more surface area means more pressure is spread out over a larger area, which leads to more potential energy and thus greater speed due to reduced friction. Basically if you want to go fast, and reduce your maneuverability, than you want a large side-cut in your snowboard. However, if you seek more control and sharper turning than you want a small side-cut in your snowboard.
To many people snowboarding seems like an easy and simple past time that can be mastered in a very short amount of time. While it is true that snowboarding can be learnt in fairly short order there are many fine details that a snowboarder must pay attention to in order to achieve their peak performance. As you can tell from this even the seemingly minutest details can have a big difference.