What is “Old School” and “New School”?

Well, those are terms which sort of defy definition. Some argue it’s a riding style, others that it’s an attitude, still others that it’s nothing at all. Here are a couple of selected posts which express the opinions of their respective authors:

Guys from Old School probably started boarding around the mid to late 80’s when the Burton Safari and the 1st generation Sims ATV came out. At this point in boarding, we were running our back foots kind of straight across with Sorels. The “trend” at this stage was to evolve boarding to a more ski/high tech thing. Stances were going tighter and more angled, hard boots were getting more consideration (I’m sure old Damian helped out here..), and asym’s were starting to flood the market. This is not to say “freestyle” and pipe riding was declining. However, sometime later (92?), there was a backlash towards more trick oriented boarding with heavy emphasis on bilateral abilities. In order to be fully symmetrical with a lot of fakie oriented moves, the board really requires a rider to have his feet straight across, wide for stability, and the board to be fully symmetrical (did barf make the first real “twin-tip” board?) Thus, boarding reverses its trend and this is where I believe “New School” arrived. I remember the days when guys would laugh at you if you rode a perpendicular stance. Anyway, that’s how I view it.

I was always under the impression that the difference lies mainly in tricks and overall style. Old school tends to be big on huge air, grabs, a nice carvey riding style, bigger boards, freeriding, etc., while new school tends towards shorter twintip boards, flatland tricks, spins, a really wide stance, lots of time spent in the park as opposed to freeriding the slopes, etc. (A lot of this difference is reflected in skateboarding, I’m told by a friend who’s been skating since the mid-80s.) >…is it as trivial as the old bunch of stylin’ snowboarders turning 20, and thus ceasing to be relevant? πŸ™‚ Well, yeah, that too, probably… πŸ™‚

When I started riding there were no freestyle bindings. I’ve stayed pretty up to date with the technology though, and ride a fully symmetrical Barfoot (a recent one, not the one from the 80’s) with pretty much 0/0 stance angles. But I still consider myself “Old School” when I have to make the comparison (and I don’t like to), because I consider the difference to be mostly an attitude thing. Perhaps this may be inaccurate, but I’ve always associated “New School” with the whole lame, commercial, gangster imitating, skier dissing, baggy pant wearing crowd of (worm)heads who have of late started giving the sport a bad name and sparked quite a few closures to snowboarders around the country. Just my $.02 worth. Take it or leave it.

When it comes to repairing gouges and “dings” in bases the correct process depends on how the base was originally made; there are two different methods of manufacturing the polyethylene used for bases. Extruded bases are made by melting pellets and forcing the material through a nozzle of the required size to form sheets of the desired thickness. The resulting base material is very easy to repair, but equally easy to damage. Very few boards are made with extruded bases. Maybe some of the cheap Kmart type boards, etc. Sintered bases are made by slowly heating powdered polyethylene under great pressure. The result is a block (sort of like a big wheel of cheese) that is then skived (cut) to form the base material. This method costs about three times as much as producing extruded bases. Sintered bases are much higher in molecular weight; with increasing molecular weight, abrasion resistance and wax absorption is increased.

While it’s great to have a base that won’t get gouged as much, it is a lot harder to fix. Repair candles contain a whole bunch of stuff other than polyethylene, like wax and things to make it able to burn at a low temperature. It won’t stick to sintered bases. Snow, especially granular snow, can be very abrasive (how ’bout that last bloody face plant you/I did!). You can scrape out a drip repair with your fingernail. Depending on the size, depth and location of the damage there are three repair methods, using pure polyethylene, that can restore the base to as good as new (or almost): using an extruder, a plastic welder or putting in a base patch. For each of these methods to work right it is important to heat the surrounding (good, clean) base material also so it will bond securely to the repair material. It is also more difficult (than with drip candles) to remove the extra material that is left above the surface of the base. Unfortunately, the tools to do the job are expensive and not practical for most people to own. If it is more than some small scratches, it is worth having a good shop do the work.