We headed up to Vermont on Sunday (2/1) to avoid the oncoming snowstorm. That was an excellent decision. It snowed about a foot and a half all night and into Monday. And we just happened to be at Okemo on Monday slaying pow before 3 days of demos at Stratton. The groomers were out packing down the flat runs so people could get back to the lift lines but a great deal of the terrain consisted of light and fluffy mounds of snow with some exposed ice in windy areas.
Wednesday and into Thursday we had another storm come in that brought 8 to 10 more inches of fresh and the temps stayed low keeping it light and blower. Those were the conditions we rode most of the boards in on Wednesday and Thursday, with Tuesday being just plain cold and windy. I’ll break down what I rode into three posts- one for each day, since I demo’d about 17 boards and 2 pairs of bindings. It was a good time to try out the new Arbor Snowboards, Jones, Yes and Monument boards.
For 2015, Arbor has added what they call the Camber System to compliment their Rocker System, to a number of boards in their line. Some boards in the line, like the Westmark, are offered in both versions. The Camber System consists of camber between the feet that gradually tapers down to the contact points. The Camber System also has uprise fenders that put a 3 degree bevel at the contact points for a more catch-free feel. The Grip-Tech contact points remain on most models. Also, the Westmark and Draft have what Arbor calls “Flathead” tips that offer more surface area for butters, ollies and nollies.
I felt the board had nice medium flex, much like last years rocker Westmark, but it feels slightly stiffer in the middle. The Flathead tips made me a little anxious in the chop because they look so damn low to the ground. It felt stable cruising but the tail kept washing out on harder turns. I’m not sure what was going on but this wasn’t the only board I rode that day that did this. It could’ve been the beveled edge- I don’t do well with beveled boards whether by Bataleon, Jones or probably anyone else. I took it off a couple of medium size jumps and again felt some washiness when I landed. Not sure if the tips were bugging me out or I was just not riding the board the way it is designed to be ridden.
Arbor Sin Nombre
The Arbor Sin Nombre is a twin tipped, directional, Camber System board with a very sweet medium flex. It’s designed for all terrain freestyle riding. The carbon stringers run in an X pattern from end to end giving the board a good amount of torsional flex and tail stiffness for extra pop. The tip profiles are what Arbor calls “Steelhead” and they offer extra float in powder and stability on the steeps.
This was one of my favorite boards of the demos. The tips blasted through powder stashes and chop incredibly well. I never felt out of control whether straight lining through the trees or slashing up the side runs. It carved really well on hardpack through the middle of the board but like the Westmark the tail seemed a bit washy at times. The flex on the Sin Nombre felt really good and added a lot of bounce and liveliness to the ride making it super fun to play around on.
The Monument FVK is true twin with rocker in the middle and camber under the bindings. It has a snappy bamboo core, sintered base, and rubber dampening foils to soak up the chop and chunder.
This was a really fun board to ride. It has a softer flex than the Arbors and the tips were extra wide and blunted giving it good float in powder, some good pop off jumps and felt pretty stable landing switch 180’s. It has a tight turning radius making it more for park than high-speed carving. It’s not going hang too well blasting down hard packed steeps, but for general cruising it should be awesome.
The Jones Explorer is a directional board with camber in the middle and rocker toward the tip and tail. The pointy nose is designed to float in powder and the semi-blunted tail offers a good platform for buttering and park riding. It’s a medium flex board akin the Mountain Twin but with a longer nose making it good all-mountain deck as well.
The Explorer felt really damp soaking up the chop with ease. But I felt some of that dampness took away from liveliness of the board. I was expecting a little more pop off the tail but it wasn’t there. The flex was really good with a looser feel through the middle making big turns and slashes feel really surfy and fun. I wouldn’t feel comfortable on this in the park, but for all around aggressive cruising it will work great. Oh yeah, and it has a killer graphic of Jones working his way down a brutal Himalayan spine.
The Yes Basic is a Cam-Rock board, camber between the bindings to rocker outside. It’s a medium flex, true twin with a poplar core, freestyle deck. The Basic also has what Yes calls Underbite sections at the toe and heel areas of the board, which are depressions in the sidecut that help with edge hold. Yes says it is less disruptive to the turning capabilities of the board than the bumps seen on Magne-Traction and Grip-Tech.
Like the Basics of previous years this one did not disappoint. I immediately felt at home and ready throw myself headlong into whatever came my way. The medium flex is even throughout the board and works great with the twin profile- a switch riders dream. It has great pop off the tail and is really stable blasting in and out of side hits. The Basic felt more lively and snappy than previous years I rode it. No doubt, it is an awesome do-everything freestyle board good enough for most of us.
So that’s day one. Still to come, more boards from Arbor plus Gnu, Mahar, Lib Tech, Salomon, and the Flux DS with the new ankle straps. Stay tuned!