The Jones’ Twin Sister has been on my radar for a couple of years now and it seems to get better and better each season. Last year it was the board that haunted me though I thoroughly love the Gnu Beauty I got instead. This board has a little bit of everything. It is very lively underfoot. It wants to play and bop around the whole mountain. It is a directional twin with camber between the feet and rocker outside of the feet. It also features mellow Magne-Traction for extra grip on icy surfaces. It has a medium flex (6/10) so you can take it pretty much anywhere.
There are some updates to next season’s board. It has a new core. The “master core” features dual density poplar and paulownia woods to maximize lightness and dampness. And the new core is supposed to have more torsional flex. New recycled rubber edges provide edge dampening. And a new shape features a more pronounced blunt nose to minimize snow plowing in powder.
I rode this board in a 146 (a little smaller than I normally ride) in torrential rain, so the snow was soft and edgeable. I took out next year’s NOW Vetta bindings with it and unfortunately they were a size too big and much of the joy of them was lost on me. The board still feels lively under foot. It felt more likely to bounce around on the snow piles than to plow through them. And it actually felt a little stiffer torsionally than I was hoping for. But rumor is that they are still dialing in the flex and there could be subtle changes before production. Riding the larger sized bindings didn’t provide the leverage that the smalls do. Overall I didn’t feel the same love as last year, but it’s still a very solid all mountain choice.
Then there was the Jones Air <3, a new addition to the women’s line for next year following the success of the men’s Aviator. This is a stiff, full camber board featuring Jones’ new spoon tech. The Airheart features spoon 2.0, which is the second mellowest level of spoon they offer. (There is some information about spoon in the Jones 2016/2017 preview.) It is dubbed an “all-mountain resort razor” ideal for carving, jibbing, and jumping. I can see that. I couldn’t make it do that, but I can see that that’s what the board is designed for. It is for advanced riders who like to go really fast and get air. It was a lot of board to maneuver, and when it locks in, it locks in.
Speed is definitely your friend on this board. Without speed you will just aggravate yourself. The only size available for me to try was a 152. While that would normally be fine, on this board, I would have been better off on something a little smaller that wouldn’t get quite as committed. Buzz about the board was that it could easily ride you if you’re not a strong enough rider. I didn’t have the time to figure it out, and I really didn’t want to take the lumps necessary to do so. It is definitely not a forgiving board, but if you know what you want, and this is it, you will probably love it.
The last ride of the demos was to put the right sized NOW Vettas on the Gnu Girls B-Pro…a familiar ride by then, since I had ridden it each day. There was a very marked difference with the proper sized bindings. The new straps are excellent. The toe strap is minimal but it’s all you need. The connection to your boot is seamless and a huge improvement over past models. And the ankle strap is a 1 piece EVA strap that is much larger than the old straps. It was mostly comfortable, though I had a little bit of pressure in one spot that could have just needed an adjustment. Because the strap is so much bigger than the original IPO strap, it feels more restrictive, but not necessarily in a bad way. The correct size made a huge difference in the response. It had that skatey/surfy feel that I love about NOW bindings, that was stifled by the too big pair.
After all of the demos I ended up buying the B-Pro for my ride for next season. I really think this board will help me take my riding to the next level, and I look forward to spending many more days on it.
A lot of REALLY good riders turn out for the demos. Shop kids and industry people who have been riding forever and look like they were born with boards attached to their feet. It was really fun to watch. And as they absolutely bombed down this icy, sketchy mountain that scared the heck out of me, they were locked in and not looking worried at all. It was fun and inspiring to watch them, and I kept reminding myself that the edges are designed to hold on, so if I just trust them, and ride right, they would.