jibs for cribs


What makes a good Snow feature? box for snow vs skateboarding

Why are snow features different from Skate features?


Boxes and rails used for skateboarding are not suitable for snow sports like snowboarding and skiing. The fact of the matter is most skate features are undersized and underbuilt for the demands of snow sports. Although you can use a snow feature for skateboarding, you should never do the reverse. The following is a list of things to look for in a good box or rail for snow sports.

Adjustability – Boxes and rails for snow or skate should be flexible enough in design to grow with the athlete’s ability and skill level.  A feature that cannot grow in height or length becomes boring very quickly (think of it like never progressing beyond the bunny slope, forever stuck in the pizza wedge position). Having the flexibility to change the pitch, height or even grow the length quickly gives the athlete motivation to excel in the sport without having to shovel snow or dangerously place objects under the feature. Being adjustable means that not only can different skill levels of riders use it during the same session but also that it will accommodate the athlete’s growth within the sport.

Size – Width, length and height. A good snow feature “Box” should be wider than 12”, longer than 8’ and a minimum of 12” in height. Why? Just think proportions - the average snowboard is 4 and a half feet long and approximately 10” wide. Since a snowboard (or skis) is twice as big as a skateboard, it stands to reason that the jib needs to be twice as big doesn’t it? If you are just beginning on boxes and rails, a box 12” wide or less will be a challenge, and if it’s only 8’ long, you’re off the feature before you knew you were on it. “Ride-ons” are great when you are learning, but nobody uses the magic carpet forever.  A box or rail for snow taller than 12” is a must. Remember a one foot feature set in snow is lower than a sheet of notebook paper turned on its side. More often than not, features found on mountains will be much taller than a foot and working up to and practicing at that level is important for success in the parks. As the skill level of the athlete improves, they will need these higher features to accomplish advanced tricks (2’s and 3’s are very difficult off a 12” high feature). Rails for snow need to have all of the larger scale features mentioned above.  Narrow square or round coping 1 ½” or smaller is a difficult rail surface for beginners. Many rails at mountain terrain parks are rectangular in shape yielding a wider surface area. Although rail preference will vary from athlete to athlete, when given the opportunity a round double barrel design is highly desired because it has all the stability of the flat design but with much less friction.

Strength – A snow box or rail must be built to a higher standard than a skate feature. Boxes and rails designed for snow have greater impact on them from the force of the snowboarder or skier landing from higher jumps, greater distances and faster speeds. Winter weather also can be tough on the materials used to construct the feature - quality materials, welding and stainless steel hardware are a must.  A typical inexpensive skate feature would not hold up to the abuse a snow feature sees in a season.  Box surface material type and thickness is essential factors for a snow feature. Skate boxes typically have some type of wood or laminated wood surface with metal edging or coping. This type of surface is unusable for a snow feature because the metal edges of the snowboard or skis will quickly chip the wood surface creating a hazard for the athlete. The surface for a snow feature must be made from a thick composite plastic material specifically designed for impact resistance, high density polyethylene or polycarbonate is the standard choice for boxes designed for snow.  However, just using the right material is not good enough the proper thickness must be used as well. 3/8” material or thicker is acceptable, using thinner material can result in warping, cracking or breaking creating a hazard for the athlete.

Stability/Safety – Snow features have a higher center of gravity, are used on less stable surfaces and receive higher impacts than skate features, therefore skate features are not designed to have the same support and stabilization that is needed under these conditions. Simply placing a box or rail in the snow is never enough support, the feature will move or tip over creating a very dangerous situation for the athlete, the feature must be solid and stable. Typically a snow feature base is not wider than the top surface requiring it to be frozen in place by packing snow around it, sometimes adding additional water and waiting for it to set up. This is standard procedure for Mountain terrain parks that have park crews and the time to set all the features. When you want a quick stable feature that can be moved this process is ineffective. The only option is to use a feature with a base wider than the surface to offset the side impact of the athlete. This gives the user a lot more flexibility. Now the feature can quickly be set up and made stable enough for use even when there is very little or no snow where the feature is placed.

  Let’s face it, using this type of equipment is an extreme sport, there will be injuries, that’s why wearing helmets and protective gear is a must. Some box and rail designs clearly do not have safety in mind and can increase the chances or level of injury. Boxes designed with sharp square ends or rails that end straight without a down turn add an unnecessary level of danger. This type of design should be avoided completely, at all skill levels. Using round corner design features also decreases equipment damage. Landing on sharp corners or edges with the bottom of your board or skies can do significant damage. Skis and Snowboards are expensive; reducing the damage means a longer life for your skis or board.