The Testers

 

JenniferSherowski

Height: 5’5″

Weight: 125 pounds

Foot size: 7.5

Years riding: 13

Current home resort: Mt. HoodMeadows, Oregon

Jennifer likes long walks on wet Portlandstreets and coffee shops with sad-eyed boysin thrift-store regalia. She doesn’t seem to likethe board test very much. Every year threatsare made of a final visit. Either Jen’s simply aglutton for punishment or she can’t pass up afree round-trip ticket home to Colorado.

Maybe Sherowski just can’t resist Mom’ssuper-energizing blue-green algae. Whateverthe reason, she suffers through year after yearwith the utmost professionalism: “I try to giveevery board the chance it deserves on allkinds of terrain, balancing out the freeridingwith a bit of jump and jib-but ya know, I couldusually tell if I was going to dig it or not in thefirst few seconds of footpushing through theliftline.” So what does this hot lil’ Vail nativewant in a boy, I mean, board? “A snappy,poppy one with good sidecut, ’cause turningis fun.”

 

Rachel Nelson

Height: 5’4″

Weight: 110 pounds

Foot size: 6

Years riding: 11

Current home resort: Vail , Colorado

Sponsors: Vail, TechNine, Emage, RDTM

Rachel Nelson is one of those mountain-town kids who’sbeen snowboarding half her life and probably skiing straightout of the crib before that. So we understand perfectly whyshe’s so comfortable on the snow, but what we don’t know ishow she learned to ride a mechanical bull that well (Rachel’sthe reigning bullriding champ down at the local cowboy bar)or how she perfected that mean milkshake. A woman of manytalents, as they say.

“I like to shralp anything and everything,” says Nelson abouther riding style, which is a big part of why we chose her as atester. She’s very well-rounded-can definitely slaughter therails, then boost a mean pipe run, or just turn the hell out of asnowboard. Her Board Test runs were all part of a relentlesssearch for “something light with good flex and a lot of pop.”When asked how the testing went, she speaks the simpletruth: “Sometimes it was fun-sometimes it sucked.”

 

 

Tricia Byrnes

Height: 5’7″

Weight: 155

Foot size: 9

Years riding: 15

Current home resort: Stratton, Vermont

Sponsors: Cold As Ice, Bolle, Kombi, Stratton Mountain,ClifBar, Eastern Boarder

T. Byrnes is a halfpipe force to be reckoned with-earningsixth place at the 2002 Winter Olympic Superpipe and podiumingsix times at the esteemed U.S. Open, starting with a winin 1992 when she was just a green little scrapper of an am.She’s also been designing her own pro model for severalyears, so she knows a lot about what makes a good board-and what a good one should feel like: “I want something I canride in all terrains-a board that can handle freeriding on the icyEast Coast and in parks and pipes, a fun board with a goodflex that’s snappy and sassy, just like me.”

For Tricia, the testing marathon went something like this:”Get on the lift and contemplate whether I’m going to love orhate the board based on its weight for the next fifteen minutes,get off the chair, nose wheelie, snap it around, 50-50 the smallestboxes in the world, carve, carve, carve, hit the jumps, ridethrough the pipe, and repeat until the lifts close.” Although thismight seem like quite a whirlwind-and it was, believe us-everytester had their own make-it-or-break-it trial for each board. “Forme,” says Tricia, “it was always in the pipe and freeriding that Icould get a real sense of how the board handled.”

 

The Testers

 

 

K2

Mix 151

Other sizes available: 147, 151, 155, 159

k2snowboarding.com

Effective edge: 118.8 cm

Sidecut radius: 7.5 m

Waist width: 24 cm

Price: $480

The K2 Mix was developed with the input of multilevel riders(up to Gretchen Bleiler herself) with the intent on making aboard with no learning curve. She says, “This board is allaroundquality, from the way it rides to the graphics thatmake it pop. I ride the Mix all the time: in the halfpipehrough the park, in the backcountry-I don’t think youcan say that for too many boards.” Need more proof itworks? Gretchen rode a Mix to victory in competitionafter training on it for only two days.

K2 Designer Doug Sanders says that whatmakes the Mix ride so great is the balance of featuresversus one overriding feature. He offeredthe Hyper Progressive sidecut as one featurethat really stands out. Our testers agreed.Jennifer said, “This board has a greatshape-you can really ride the sidecut.”Tricia added that it was “reallyresponsive in the pipe,” and Rachelbacked her up about it being agood pipe board-”an allaroundgreat board.”

And how about themgraphics? The 80s areback! With Pat Benatar”Love Is A Battlefield”lyrics on the base andlipstick-pink lips on thetopsheet, these graphicsare on time. Gretchen isfeeling it, too: “To top it all off,the graphics on this board are myabsolute favorite-feminine but with an edge.”

 

LamarAinjel 152

Other sizes available: 144, 147, 152, 156

lamarsnow.com

Effective edge: 113 cm

Sidecut radius: 7.4 m

Waist width: 24.2 cm

Price: $400

 

The Ainjel is Lamar’s Gold Team board-the highest-levelwomen’s board in the line. Lamar’s design offices arebased in Vancouver near the slopes of Whistler, whichinspired the all-mountain technical freestyle design.Ainjel features include a side-cap hybrid constructionfor a smooth blend of flex and performance. Theboard is also pretty light thanks to the reducedweightwoodcore that’s reinforced with carbonfiber down the center.

Rachel, who swore off any board thatacted like an anchor on the chairlift, was abig fan of the reduced weight. She alsoliked how it rode: “Fun, fun-really easy toride, and light.”

“Wicked” is how Jennifer describedthis board: “It rides long, but in a goodway, and holds an edge.” FormerLamar rider Tricia Byrnes wasresponsible for a lot of the feedbackin the design of the board,she thought it was a “prettygood all-around board.”Keep in mind that thiswas a blank board test,so testers never reallyhad a chance toappreciate the mistyLord Of The Ringsesquegraphics.

 

 

Nitro

Fate 147

 

Other sizes available: 143, 147, 152, 156nitrousa.com

Effective edge: 113 cm

Sidecut radius: 8.7/6.7 m

Waist width: 23.4 cm

Price: $399

One of three boards in Nitro’s women’s lineup, the Fateis sandwiched between the more aggressive freeridingBlack Widow and the gentle Mystique entry-level board.Teamrider Jessica Dalpiaz spent her winter on a widerversion of the Fate. She says, “I rode this board in theslope contests, pipe, and street.” Jessica liked howthe board wasn’t too soft and didn’t lose its popthrough the season: “I like a board I can ride onjumps but still feel comfortable hopping on astreet rail, too. I felt like this board did well forme in any situation. It’s even solid enough tohandle the bigger situations.”

When Nitro set out to create this board,the goal was to have a board that rode wellfrom day one. From the response of thetesters, Nitro succeeded. Tricia said thatshe liked the board best on fast icygroomers and in the halfpipe: “Thisboard loves to shred it all.” Jenliked the “light and quick edgeto-edge” power of the board,also giving it high marks forcarving and pipe.Rachel summed upthe Fate in her owntechnical way: ”

 

Fun,poppy, wheee!”Rome

Vinyl 151

Other sizes available: 144, 147, 151, 155

romesnowboards.com

Effective edge: 113.5 cm

Sidecut radius: 73 cm

Waist width: 24 cm

Price: $350

 

Once again our testers picked out a good fun-in-everyconditionboard. The Vinyl is a new addition to the EastCoast-based, three-year-old company’s lineup. Rome’sCofounder Josh Reid says, “The uniqueness of thisboard comes in the control of its shape. It’s not catchy,hooky, or stiff.” The Vinyl has a mellow sidecut with avariable-transition-zone profile along the rest of theedge. These design elements are responsible forthe responsive, reliable, and easy turn initiationand completion.

The design is based on feedback from femaleR&D riders in the Syndicate and tested on thewily slopes of Stowe. Feedback resulted in aboard with, as Josh puts it, “a mellower personality.”The softer flex is perfect for butterpresses, rail sliding, and forgiving landings.Rachel really liked it in the park,even though she said, “It got a bitchattery going fast.”

Board-tester Byrnes said, “Iliked this snappy, mellowboard for everything frompipe to jumps to rails andcarving.” Jennifer likedhow it was just easy toride right away and funin all conditions. Soundslike you can’t really gowrong here-sign on to theSyndicate.

 

 

Santa Cruz

Muse Antique 154

Other sizes available: 144, 148, 151, 154, 157

scskate.com

Effective edge: 115.6 cm

Sidecut radius: 7.5 m

Waist width: 24 cmPrice: $460

This board is a top pick for more aggressive female ridersand possibly one of the most technically designed boardsin the top five. The combination of a super narrow waistand a smaller sidecut radius makes for effortless edgeto-edge control. The Muse also features ComPly sidewalls,which are basically rubber shock absorbers thatalso give the board increased edge grip and stabilityon icy slopes and in icy pipes. That might explainTricia Byrnes’ effortless head-high airs out of theCopper pipe on this board.$399

The base of the Muse is littered with ovalimprints called Structurn base, which isdesigned to decrease friction, therebyincreasing speed. Think golf-ball technology-you can’t miss it.

Damn, Tricia loved this board-hercomments included, “gold stars anda double thumbs up.” Jen thought itwas “a fun turning board and allarounder,”while Rachel justthought it was “so fun.”Sounds like this is a dreamboard for hard-ridingwomen.on.

The design is based on feedback from femaleR&D riders in the Syndicate and tested on thewily slopes of Stowe. Feedback resulted in aboard with, as Josh puts it, “a mellower personality.”The softer flex is perfect for butterpresses, rail sliding, and forgiving landings.Rachel really liked it in the park,even though she said, “It got a bitchattery going fast.”

Board-tester Byrnes said, “Iliked this snappy, mellowboard for everything frompipe to jumps to rails andcarving.” Jennifer likedhow it was just easy toride right away and funin all conditions. Soundslike you can’t really gowrong here-sign on to theSyndicate