1.27.2009

Expensive, But Dumb


It's not that Cheetah snowboard's must think we're crazy if we're going to buy a $1300 snowboard. In truth, snowsports are where trust fund babies can ride a conveyor belt over and over again so that everyone can see what happens when you stick several grand worth of skis, poles, boots, technical undies, and designer outerwear on an uncoordinated beginner. They might be right there.


It's that Cheetah must think we're stupid. See that slit in the center of the board? That's to allow you to go faster because there is less friction. Except that every skier and boarder knows that to go faster, you get longer skis or a taller board. Increasing surface area means that you have more space to spread your weight, so there is less pressure pushing each point of your board/ski into the snow. That results in less friction. Reducing the area has the opposite effect.

It is true that you can wear skis long enough (in theory) that their weight alone will increase the friction and slow you down, but that would take some damn long skis. Think about opposite extreme: skiing on ice skates. They have a small surface area so all your weight cuts into the ice to get you an edge.
Who would have thought that such a cool looking board could make its rider look like such a tool? I think they are banking on it.

2 comments:

Male Moon said...

I have questions regarding your physics analysis here. Don't ice skates work by compressing the ice in contact with the skate to liquefy it and thus reduce friction? Don't skis work in a similar manner on packed snow? If so, then wouldn't you lose this liquefication at a certain point by increasing the surface area of your ski/snowboard? However, decreasing surface area to increase liquefication would have the negative effect of causing you to sink into the snow - thereby increasing friction - depending on how packed the snow is. The most packed snow is ice, on which skates are best. The other extreme, powder, would favor the larger surface area to avoid sinking too deep, right? I also noticed that the website for the Cheetah snowboard says it's not good for deep powder.

Also, if the liquefication model isn't how skis/snowboards work, then it would be similar to sliding down a sand dune, right? Seems to me that, once again, you don't want the biggest surface area you can get because you'll have drag issues. I think you still want the minimum surface area that will keep you from dipping below the surface level of the sand.

Anyway, I'm not certain at all about my analysis, but your post just got me thinking. For that, I thank you.

PS: Firefox is telling me that liquefication isn't a word. What's the word I should use then?

xerpentine said...

I so rarely respond, but what the hey - The work you are looking for is liquefaction (not liquification), which means "the process of liquifying."

A few more thoughts:

* Yes, powder skis are bigger to keep you from sinking, but that is a questions of floatation rather than speed.

* Skis do not move above snow through liquefaction, though I am sure it occurs at some level. Rather, they do so by distributing weight to reduce drag. Unlike the sand-board, however, they have wax to further reduce friction, so that a larger surface area provides more in the way of distributing weight than it does in adding drag.

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