This year was a little different at the demos. Since we no longer have the shop, the goals when heading there were a far cry from what they were in the past. We went to ride, have fun, and test out some cool new stuff rather than trying to figure out what our customers might be interested in buying in a year. Since this is our first “Winter of Freedom” in 6 years, we were focused on enjoying our time on the mountain.
The first day was a day after a big pow day. Conditions were mostly really good. There were some scraped or blown off areas, so you could get a feel for how much edge hold a board did, or did not, have. But for the most part, things were soft, and there were still little stashes to be found.
I started out visiting YES. The new Hel Yes sounds like a lot of fun, so I really wanted to get on it. The new core is lighter and has more pop than the previous one. It was not the best choice for an early morning outing when my legs had a powder day hangover. But it’s a versatile enough board that I was able to work through some foot cramps and still have some fun. It was set up with the new Now Vetta bindings in size small.
Being on the cusp of a small and medium binding it’s always a tough call which to ride. I get better leverage with the smalls and can better appreciate NOW’s Skate Tech. But there is a pressure point that I have experienced in the past that has not changed at all. The footbed is rather narrow, a constant criticism of the Hanger 1.0 heel cup. But with a size 7 Salomon women’s boot (which tends to be narrower than some brands) I don’t expect my feet to get pinched by any binding. The medium binding would hit at a different spot and might not cause that same discomfort.
Pressure point aside, these bindings are fun as my trusty old IPOs.
The Hel Yes. is Helen Schettini’s pro model and next year’s is getting a bit of a makeover in the form of a new core. This new core is lighter than its predecessor. It is also supposed to be more responsive and damper. The board is always a bomber, and it is always fun. It’s definitely stiff, and it really wants to charge. So if that’s not your style, there are better choices out there for you. But if that is your style, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better fit. This board transitions seamlessly from powder to hard pack to bumped up crud never missing a beat. And the edge hold is impressive.
It is definitely not the easiest board to ride, and I rode the 152, which is slightly larger than my typical 148-149 board length. You have to be on your game to not have the board take you for a ride. But if you ride this board as it is intended to be ridden, you will be richly rewarded with a fun and stable ride for all of your freeride needs.
I took out the Jones Dream Catcher next, also with the NOW Vettas. That should have been the first board of the day since it’s not as stiff and is much easier to get your legs warmed up. This is a fun all around board. It’s easy to ride, quick edge to edge, and while the edge hold isn’t quite that of the Hel YES., it’s still up to east coast riding. The Dream Catcher is pleasantly forgiving, and while it will still hold up to hard-charging, it’s much more versatile and will be a more fun ride for many girls than a power house like the Hel YES. After taking a few runs on this I was good and warmed up and having a fun time in the powder day leftovers.
Next up was the GNU Ladies’ Choice with Bent Metal Upshot bindings. This was one I was waiting for since it is switching from C2 to the C2X profile. Two years ago I rode the men’s Space Case. It was an asym twin C2X board, and I loved it. I waited for that profile to transfer over to the Ladies’ line, and when it didn’t happen last year, I found myself a Never Summer that did have it. GNU got with the program this year, and this board was everything I hoped it would be. C2X has a shorter rocker section and more pronounced camber than C2. To me, C2X provides a more dynamic experience than C2 with a more responsive feel and a cool juxtaposition of in the form of a loose, skatey feel and added edge hold, pop, and stability from the increased camber.
The Upshots are Bent Metal’s only women’s bindings in the line, and they are a 4/10 flex, freestyle oriented binding. Following the Now Vettas, the Upshots have a very wide base plate. It almost seems too wide, like your foot could slosh around, but my feet didn’t move, and the bindings were very comfortable. They were a good matchup for the mid stiff Ladies’ Choice.
The new Ladies’ Choice is the only board I forgot to photograph. I was having too much fun. It was responsive, had great edge hold, blasted through crud, and was surfy in the little powder piles that were left. Wish I could have spent more time on it since it was one of the most fun boards I rode over the three days. But it wasn’t fair to hog all of the fun.
We retired a little early on Tuesday to save some gas for the impending powder days ahead. Check back for days 2 and 3.