Nearly 90 percent of potential riders who show up for a beginner snowboard class don’t return for a follow-up lesson, according to resort statistics. Whether they choose to sit by a fireplace, watch Oprah, or (mutter something under your breath) ski isn’t clear; all we can say is that they don’t come back.

Maybe their instructors were the suave/repulsive types or just didn’t know what the hell they were doing, but Burton Snowboards took that figure to heart. The alarm of a mere ten-percent return rate sounded loudly–atrophy up ahead! And while there are a lot of variables that affect an inaugural on-snow experience, the one that Burton can control is products. Hence, the Learn To Ride (LTR) program: boards, boots, and bindings uniquely designed to make learning easier and faster, and to hopefully get new riders turning their first day.

Working in conjunction with the American Association of Snowboard Instructors (AASI), Burton’s aim was to address the needs of beginning riders by eliminating “the days where you couldn’t sit down for a week after your first lesson because you tried to learn on a board designed for someone who’s mainlining chutes in Alaska,” says Burton Product Manager Stephan Cleary.

The LTR program is made up of a super-soft, twin-tip Day One board (140 or 150 cm), and a still-soft directional Day Two board (145 or 155 cm). Both boards utilize a three-degree base bevel to curb edge-catching.

Rounding out the LTR system are Burton’s step-in bindings and an especially forgiving SI boot that makes steering through your first turns a breeze.

Early results from Killington and Mount Snow proved that if you put people on the right product, they’re more likely to have fun and become snowboarders for life. Second dates with snowboard instructors jumped to nearly 35 percent.

What does LTR mean for those of us who already ride? Now we can whole-heartedly encourage a friend to ride without feeling guilty or adding the perennial, “You just have to get past the first day.” We’ll also have more friends to shoot video or fill that extra seat in the heli.

For more details on Burton’s LTR visit www.burton.com/reburton/newbie/ltr/index.asp