Faux Snow Fixes

ben kindlon

As I clambered into my trusty Mazda 3 last night, I was shivering in my button down and exhaled a steamy, visible breath of air.  With the turn of my key in the ignition, the radio popped on.

“Lows in the 40s with some overnight frost,” the man in the box said.

And so it begins,” I thought.

I think my roommates are getting pretty annoyed with me. All of my free time is spent watching countless snowboarding videos. I’ve spent more time researching new binding technology than on my homework.

It’s only October, and again I’ve made the mistake of bringing up my gear on the off chance (very off chance) we get some snow before Thanksgiving break. If Hunter Mountain makes or collects enough snow for even one rail to be set up, bet your ass I’ll be there.

As I get older and rapidly approach the reality of having to become a “real-person,” I regret not putting even more of my youthful energy into trying to snowboard. It’s tough, being an Ice Coaster, but there are alternatives to snowless slopes.  Avid shredders have been known to create “backyard” setups, often times consisting of a rail or box to practice jibbing in the offseason or when getting to the mountain is out of the question.

Although some of these DIY setups can be pretty sketchy, it’s all for the sake of spending more time strapped in, right? Here are a few:

1) Astroturf.

Scrappy, but it does the trick for a fun couple of hours in your backyard and get you that quick fix you’re jonesin’ for. Using plywood, create a down ramp and run up to whatever feature it is you’re hitting.  It’s important to put the Astroturf on top of plywood because it will wrinkle if placed directly onto the ground.  Also, put a tarp or two underneath the plywood if you care at all about your lawn.  On top of the turf, apply powdered detergent and water to make your board slide.  Make sure your run-up and jump are well aligned with the rail, because you’re not going to want to try making any sharp turns on that thing.

2) Dry Slopes.

I haven’t heard of many in the U.S., aside from indoor foam pit jump at the Woodward at Copper snowboard camp.  Dry slope technologies, developed by companies like Skitrax, make artificial snow that remains stable year round. Skitrax has built full runs, moguls and terrain parks in over 12 countries throughout Europe that can be shredded during every season of the year. I can’t imagine the falls being very forgiving sans snow, but I guess it can’t be much worse than our hard-packed or icy East Coast landings.

3) Stealing Snow.

In the dismally boring town of Bethlehem, N.Y. where I grew up, once the indoor ice-skating rink opened, we would head over and find where they were dumping their excess shavings.  We’d fill as many coolers as we could and throw what we had collected on the ground leading up to our rail.  A friend of mine constructed an Astroturf covered platform and down ramp that was set up before the rail. We’d stand on the platform to strap up and drop in on the ramp to get speed for the hit.

4) Making Snow.

If Mother Nature just won’t cooperate, which it seems it always does, you can take matters into your own hands.  There is a chemical process using sodium polyacrylate that allows you to produce a non-toxic snow substitute.  I’m no Walter White, so I can’t break down the entire process, but desperate times call for desperate messures.

Good luck rad scientists. East Coast, Beast Coast. Later skaters.