Leash Laws: The Rise and Fall Of The Snowboard Leash

Leash Laws: The Rise and Fall Of The Snowboard Leash


Leash Laws: The Rise and Fall Of The Snowboard Leash


Let us discuss the under-enforced, or sparingly-enforced leash laws. Not the leash laws that encourage you to keep your canine on a leash on the trails or at the park. Rather, this is an observation about the demise of the requirement of snowboard leashes and at the ski resort.

When snowboarding skyrocketed in popularity in the 90s and early 2000s, the crotchety suits in the ski industry made a brilliant observation: snowboards do not have brakes like skis do. The powers that be deduced that if a snowboard comes loose and torpedoes down the hill, there could be a serious injury. This observation may have resulted from a general lack of understanding of how a snowboard binding works. Still, the solution was clear, snowboarders should be required to use leashes at many. In the 90s and early 2000s it was commonplace to hear lifties or patrollers ask riders to show them their leash before loading a chair. It was written into ski and snowboard code books, employee manuals, and enforced with regularity.

There were a few kind of leashes. The simple short leash that clips from your binding to the laces on your boot. There was also the particularly goofy long strap. This thick strap would run from your binding and loop around the rider somewhere near the knee. It would undoubtedly get hooked on objects, trees, ski poles, pretty much anything. The idea of a snowboard leash seemed simple and harmless. Telemark skiers had to use leashes and they never complained.

As the years went on, this policy lost its steam and began to fade. People began to realize that, unlike ski or telemark bindings, it is really hard to pop off a snowboard binding strap in a crash. It is especially difficult to break two or four straps to send your board shooting down the hill. Step-in bindings are a different animal, but they are rare and typically limited to rental boards. In 2018, you are hard-pressed to find any resorts or ski patrollers demand to see a snowboard leash.

Let us reflect on the days of the snowboard leash and thank the stars they are gone. Skiers will be happy that their monoplank friends don’t have yet another step to further slow down the process of attaching a snowboard. Snowboards will enjoy not having to take gloves off to unclip their strap every time they need to bootpack up something or go into a lodge.

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