Hot, new trends for cold sport

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In the decade-plus that snowboaring has been a mainstream mountain sport, companies have continued to find ways to make the equipment more efficient and comfortable.

One of the most popular items on sale this year is toe-cup snowboard bindings. The toe cup eliminates the need for a lower foot strap and gives riders a tighter and more secure fit on the board.

Phillip Johnston at The Click said the store carries two sets of bindings with the toe cup, one made by Burton and the other by Technine.

The toe cup came out last year, Johnston said, and is growing in popularity. The new technology cuts down on heel lift off the board, a complaint many riders have about aging equipment. It also allows the board to be more responsive, he said.

"Its more comfortable and more stable for the foot and ankle," Johnston said.

Burton offers the toe cup in many price ranges for their bindings, and those who just want to add the toe cup to existing binding can do so for $30 to $40.

Another new feature is using two holes to attach bindings to the board, instead of the traditional three or four. Using fewer screws make the boards lighter and easier to move, a bonus for freestyle boarders.

For those who'd rather return to the more nostalgic days of snowboarding, Allison Berger of Powder Tools said Burton is introducing a new line of Burton Air Snowboards.

The Burton Air has been around since the beginning of the sport.

"They have taken an old favorite and improved it to today's standards," Berger said.

The quick-lacing systems for boots, which does not require boarders to deal with tying laces, also continues to be popular, Berger said.

"People don't like to take the time to lace boots, especially those used to skiing where you clip your boots," Berger said and noted the quick-lacing system also gives a tighter fit and more leverage.

Another new trend, Berger said, are Burton helmets that have incorporated interior headphones, allowing riders to listen to music on the mountain.

As far as snowboard clothing, Berger said denim continues to be a popular fabric for snowboard outerwear. Camouflage also is being sold, but this year's gear uses more digital and blocky patterns, she said. As far as what color is hot, Berger said it is brown.

Another popular clothing item is a Zip Tech jacket and pants, Johnston said. The store sells the jacket and pants separately, but the jacket's powder skirt can be zipped to the top of the pants, which will keep snow out.

"It helps when you take a good fall on a powder day," Johnston said.

Another hot item is goggles with a new polarized lens. Oakley goggles with the polarized lens are about $50 to $80 more than similar Oakley styles without it, but they also provided much better vision.

-- To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229

or e-mail cmetz@steamboatpilot.com

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