The past two years we have been super lucky weather-wise at the demos…powder? Yes, please. This year, not so much. We had incredibly hard, ice chunky conditions on Tuesday, torrential rains on Wednesday, and more shiny hard stuff at the top on Thursday, with much softer snow lower on the mountain. The past two seasons almost everything we demoed felt great in the soft snow, this year was a little different story.
picture borrowed from our friend Marc Angelillo
I am an intermediate rider who tends to like more aggressive boards than my style of riding warrants. So much of snowboarding gear is about preference, and that just happens to be mine. I generally like the extra stability and edge hold of a little more camber and a little stiffer board than probably makes sense for me. But you have to go with what you like the feel of, not what a book says you should be riding. And regardless of my personal preferences, it’s always fun testing out what’s coming in women’s snowboarding gear.
Mervin Manufacturing who makes Gnu, Lib Tech, and ROXY boards is always a favorite of ours and is usually my first stop on the demo tour.
Next year’s Gnu Girls’ Ladies (and Eco) Choice is the board I have been waiting for, or so I thought. Next season’s Ladies Choice is ASYM C2 BTX, so it falls squarely in Mervin Manufacturing’s idea of the perfect camber profile. Up to this point it has been EC2, which has less camber and is considered “easy perfect” on their spectrum. (for more info on Gnu profiles check out this post)
You can ride C2 a little more aggressively, laying into carves and getting up to speed, but you still get that awesome blend of playfulness from the rocker between the feet, and pop, stability, and edge hold from the camber. It is a profile that you can ride hard if you want, but it will be forgiving if you let your guard down a little. This is the first year that Gnu Girls’ is offering ASYM on a C2 board. The men’s Rider’s Choice has had it for years, and I love that we are finally getting it on a board of our own.
This was the first board that I took out (in a 148.5), and it didn’t disappoint. It held an edge on that super hard stuff (even when I was afraid it wouldn’t), it was plenty fast, and it absorbed a lot of the chatter from the ice chunks without feeling dead under foot. All around this board was a fun and predictable ride. Even when the snow softened up at the bottom it was happy to slice through it, and it handled the variable conditions like a champ, not seeming to care that the trail could go from hardpack, to soft stuff, to sheer ice in the matter of seconds. It was a board I went back to later in the day when I was a bit disillusioned by the conditions. I tend to pick up a board at the demos every year, and I was pretty sure this was going to be the one. But every year also seems to come with some surprises.
I rode the Klassy 151, which replaces this year’s Beauty that I am currently riding, but with a few changes. It has a funky new powder nose that makes you just want to point it and go, and the tail is more squared off for next season. It is still directional XC2. So it’s directional perfect aggressive on the “Aggression spectrum”.
It was a very familiar ride. The new shape made the nose feel large, and it kept catching my eye as I rode, even though the setback is actually only 1.5” this year vs 2.5” on the Beauty. This is a board that can do just about anything. It has a little more bite than C2 due to the shortened rocker section and extra camber. But the rocker keeps it from being catchy at all. The Klassy is Kaitlyn Farrington’s pro model, and it seems to reflect her style of riding very well. She is no longer competing, and she is doing more mellow riding and spending more time in the backcountry these days.
Next season marks 20 years of Barrett Christy’s pro model B-Pro, the longest running pro model in women’s snowboarding. A few years ago it changed over from C2 to the C3 profile, which is the most aggressive profile in the Gnu Girls’ lineup. The rocker is very mellow, the camber is more pronounced, and it’s a little on the stiff side. I rode the first C3 B-Pro a few years ago in Winter Park, CO and it was a little scary. It was fast and it would reward good riding and really punish you if you let your guard down.
But since edge hold was the order of the day, I figured I would take the suggestion of the people working the tent and give it a chance. So I took out the 149. Having taken two really rough falls in the morning, feeling secure on a board was of the utmost importance. Even though I definitely prefer some Gnu models over others, there is something familiar about the way they all ride. And having ridden Gnu boards since my first day on a snowboard, there is definite comfort in the familiar.
The B-Pro is a dream for girls who like aggressive, sort of stiff boards with a lot of camber. It is a board you can charge really hard on, and you need to pay attention when you ride, but it still has a measure of forgiveness because of the rocker between the feet. Many of the girls who were riding at the demo favored this board because of that. But the consensus is that it’s not a board for everyone.
The Forest Bailey Space Case was definitely on my radar even though it is a guy’s board. The smallest size they had there was 153 (a little bigger than I normally ride) but it was out the entire first day…some boards are just that popular. This is a new profile for the line so it has not carried over to the Gnu Girls’ line yet. It is XC2 with Asym. When I first rode Asym a few years ago, I wasn’t sure if I could really tell a difference, but now I am a believer. You definitely get more leverage over your heel side with it.
The Space Case was really fun. It would hold an edge without locking in, was still playful, and was super stable. It was a little stiffer to me since it was a bit big and wide for me, but it’s the profile I love, blended with the Asym that I love, and my only hope is that next year they will add this profile to the Gnu Girls’ side.