There has been much ado about the On-snow demos at Winter Park as part of the SIA (Snowsports Industries of America) Snowshow. The reason for that is all of the big players in snowboarding and some of the small ones, turn out with the latest and greatest for l’il ‘ol us to try out. Last year we were lucky enough to demo at Winter Park, stay the rest of the week there, and then upon our return home head to Stratton for the regional demo fest. This year we weren’t quite as lucky (in a lot of ways…Blizzard Nemo!) because the two events overlapped. We chose Winter Park and we’re pretty sure we made the right choice.
Here is a recap of my experience there. As with the show, there were things I loved, things I didn’t, and things I very much wanted to love. Any way you slice it, I got to try a bunch of new snowboards and even managed to test out some new bindings.
- Roxy Snowboards Banana Smoothie
- Gnu B-Pro
- Arbor Snowboards Cadence
- Arbor Snowboards Swoon
- Niche Snowboards Minx
- Bateleon Snowboards Feelbetter
- Now Snowboarding Select Bindings
- Jones Snowboards Twin Sister
Keep in mind these are just my impressions…I am no expert. But here is my perspective.
My normal ride is a 2013 Roxy Eminence. It has Mervin’s C2BTX and Magnetraction. Basically it has rocker between the feet, camber outside and the Magnetraction gives it extra contact points to help hold an edge particularly on some of those incredibly hardpacked, pitched traverses.
That is why I started out at the Mervin tent. First stop Roxy Banana Smoothie. This is a board I have been wanting to try for quite some time. It has a variation of C2BTX – EC2. The camber on this board is shaped like angel wings and is a little more subtle than regular C2. Have I lost you yet? This is a free ride, all-mountain board. It is moderate flex…5 on their scale of 1-10. It is a true twin and it handled well on the hardpack groomers that were abundant on the demo days. It spent a little time in the trees where it seemed right at home. But it really wants to be in powder. Unfortunately that was not in the cards for us Monday and Tuesday. It is a soft ride. It locks in an edge but still transitions easily.
Then it was on to the Gnu B-Pro with a twist. This year Mervin is offering C3 in addition to all the other alphabet soup in their line. C3 is “camber dominant, BTX [rocker] submissive”. Basically it takes C2 and jacks up the camber while mellowing out the rocker. It should be noted that the B-Pro will be available with both the C2 (which it has traditionally been) and C3 profiles. This was one wild ride. The B-Pro is a very aggressive board. It is fast and moderately stiff. It is definitely an all mountain board. The C3 profile rewards good technique and punishes bad technique. Off the lift the board felt fast and squirrely, but locked in an edge like nothing else I have ridden. It was scary and intriguing. So I held onto it a little longer than perhaps I should have. It was a fun board and I wanted to know more about it. Winter Park features some REALLY flat trails to get from one side of the mountain to the other. And that’s where my ass got kicked. I let my guard down on a flat and caught a nasty edge! C3 while interesting, seemed a little unforgiving for my taste.
Then it was on to Arbor. Arbor snowboards was the highlight of the show for me. The Arbor Cadence rocks! It’s not just a pretty picture. All this board wants to do is play. It is designed as a park board, but that sells it short. It’s fairly soft, easy to spin, turn and press. But here’s the surprise…it’s also really stable and holds a great edge. It is a true twin, parabolic rocker board with grip tech. Whatever Arbor is doing just works! It was playful but not squirrely, it was stable, but not stiff, it was just plain fun! It held up perfectly to a big mountain with hardpack everywhere. I’m hooked! Not sure it would take the place of my Eminence, but given the chance to ride this again…you probably don’t want to be in my way to the tent.
The Arbor Swoon is another winner. It is a more aggressive, all mountain board than the
Cadence. It is a directional twin, stiffer than the Cadence, but just as much fun in different ways. This board hauls. It carves really well, is incredibly sure-footed, and nimble enough to get me through terrain that was probably beyond my abilities. There was never a wonder about what the board was going to do. We communicated seamlessly. Even though it is stiffer than the Cadence it will still play. Not sure if I liked the Swoon or the Cadence better, but I would love to ride both of them again to give them more time than was possible at Winter Park. This is one of the most attractive women’s boards I saw on our trip.
The Niche Minx…love this year’s graphic. It is not the board I remember from last year. Last year I rode the 145 and was really impressed at how the board rode considering it was a little smaller than my normal ride. This year I tried out the 148 and wasn’t as sure of it. This is a flat camber board and can be a little grabby. When I took it out, they told me to give it a few runs.
With our afternoon ticking away, it probably wasn’t as long as it should have been. This is designed to be a jib board. And anyone who knows me or has read any of my posts knows that I do not jib (yet anyway). My understanding is that the flat base allows it to really lock on to rails. It makes a lot of sense. And I think that a lot of people who frequent the park would find this a great all around board.
The Bataleon Feelbetter…for anyone who hasn’t tried TBT-Triple Base Technology, this is very interesting. This board is SUPER soft. It is a freestyle board all day long. A friend is in love with this board so I wanted to ride it even though we knew it wasn’t my usual pick. It is tip to tail camber with rail to rail concave. This is interesting tech. Next time I would definitely try one of their stiffer boards that would hopefully be a little more damp and stable. This board hauls on flats! I was blown away by it’s speed. And when you got it in a little bit of fresh snow it had an incredibly loose, surfy feel. On hardpack it was scary as hell and it slipped out on me more than once. If you need to stop, plan well in advance. That being said…we were pretty sure it wouldn’t be the particular board for me. I am intrigued enough to try the Distortia or Push Up to get a better feel for TBT in a board better suited for the way I ride.
This year, Now Snowboarding came out with two new bindings. I rode the Select which gives you the option of their traditional highback, no back or a low back. I went for the lowback. Riding Now’s IPO with highbacks all season, I wanted to try something different without the commitment of taking the whole thing off. I rode them with the Jones Twin Sister, one of my favorite boards last year. The Twin Sister is a directional twin with Camrock – mild camber between the feet and rocker outside the feet, and mellow Magnetraction. They stiffened up the board a bit this year. The lowback is intended for pow or freestyle riding. We didn’t have the luxury of pow so I tried them out in the hardpack with a little bit of snow on top. They were noticeably less responsive than with the highback, making it tough to lock in on the heelside. But you could definitely get the drift that in pow they would be really surfy and super fun. The board still felt damp and stable. It wasn’t the most fun board that I rode, but it is a really smooth ride and a great choice for people who just cruise the mountain and want a nice comfortable, easy to maneuver ride.
I wish I had time to try more. You learn something new from each piece of gear. On some boards you can just think about what you want to do and it happens. Others you have to shout at (figuratively…ok I have been know to yell out loud…not saying it’s right…just saying)
Winter Park is a big mountain and it takes awhile to give a board a proper try. Some boards you can’t get back to the tent fast enough. Some you love right off the lift and you find yourself thinking about what you packed that you can leave behind to slip this board in your bag and sneak it home without exceeding the weight limit. There were some of both on this trip, but I learned something from each one of them. As much as I loved some of the boards I tried (Arbor!) once the demos packed up and headed out, I wasn’t disappointed at all to be spending the rest of the week on my Roxy.