Off Base: Textures add to performance and shop service

When Salomon launched its snowboard program, the company presented something unique: an aggressive base structure (also called a texture). While this base produced a board that Salomon said performed better, the structure created a problem for shops that wanted to service and replace the texture.

According to Jeff Krueger, Salomon snowboards’ product manager, the structure works like the treads on a tire: it removes water from the surface below the board. “A snowboard’s glide properties depend on the thickness of the water underneath it,” he says. “If the film is too thick, it will act like a suction cup. But if there isn’t enough water, there will be friction and the board won’t glide very well, either.”

Salomon tested more than 160 geometric patterns and depths of cuts, searching for the best. The one they settled on is usually good for 30 to 50 days on snow, says Krueger. To extend the life of the board, he advises riders to make sure there is always a good coat of wax on the base.

For shops, a good stone grinder won’t duplicate the texture, but can add a good structure back into the base once the original is gone. But Krueger cautions techs not to use a belt sander-it will damage the base.

According to Krueger, waxing shouldn’t be a problem with the texture. Shops should heat the wax a little longer and really melt it into the grooves. Once it cools, the wax should be buffed, scraped off, and then brushed out.

Scott Scarbrough, owner of Inflight in Seal Beach, California, has been working with base textures and stone grinding for more than five years. “Burton was putting textures into its race boards, and we wanted to be the only shop that could work with the boards, so we bought a stone grinder really early on,” he says. Burton provided the shop with a book outlining all the grills it used on the boards.

Scarbrough says he changes the different structures the shop puts into boards throughout the year. “It really depends on the snow and how dry it is,” he says. “The structure works best on wet snow to get it water out from under the board.”

For the Salomon boards, Scarbrough uses black P-tex to repair gouges, adds a light sand, then runs the board over the stone. Scarbrough says it’s all pretty straightforward, and notes that he makes sure his employees go to clinics every season to refresh their skills.