The results are in!

It’s getting colder. Your teeth chattered as the car warmed up this morning-and you liked it. A change of season is in the works. And we all know what that means … it’s time to go snowboard shopping!

Pull that battered snow stick out of the garage, desticker it, and square up those rounded edges. Finish it off with a hot wax and last season’s pride and joy is ready for the chopping block: eBay, Craigslist, or the local ski swap.

Now that you’ve recouped some cash, it’s time for the payoff-purchasing one of ’06′s sweetest new freestyle shapes. A board with the dope graphics your friends will envy, and most importantly, the perfect shape and flex to get you ahead in the park this season!

Choosing the right freestyle board has become overwhelming. Cool graphics, technical features, and rider endorsements are great, but with the sheer volume of board choices, where do you begin? Under the tutelage of TransWorld SNOWboarding and the 2006 board test, people! For the sixth season, TWS has organized and executed the most thorough, unbiased, freestyle board test in existence.

How do we do it? Well, we start with blank boards, pros in between contracts, and free reign of The Park at Bear Mountain-the world’s greatest all-mountain snowboard park-for a week of rigorous testing. You need more details, but this is only a preview. Check out the October issue of TransWorld SNOWboarding for a comprehensive breakdown of the winning boards, testers, and board-testing techniques. – Dresser

Five years ago TransWorld SNOWboarding created the Good Wood Board Test out of necessity. At the time, many park boards stunk-there was a real need to distinguish gems from the junk. It was black and white back then. The strong stood out from the weak, and our board testers had it easy. But board construction has evolved rapidly, and the bulk of current park sticks perform quite well. Today, the difficulty in determining winning boards has become a much more intensive task.

Most park boards are good today-the few that perform well everywhere are epic. Our mission is to highlight the best all-around park boards for 2006. A quick note, none of the Board Test winners will be the highest performing halfpipe board money can buy, nor the most stable for landing 60-foot kickers. Our service is to provide you with board choices equally adept throughout an entire terrain park-rails, kickers, and pipe. To take it one step farther, our testers all enjoyed these boards in spite of their unique riding styles, and size and weight differences. The intent here is to instill confidence in the buyers. The 2006 Board Test champs performed flawlessly for a variety of riders on all aspects of The Park at Bear Mountain. They’ll perform for you, too.


Testers:

Finding eligible board testers is hard work. In favor of unbiased testing, we don’t allow athletes with current board sponsors. You’d think having custom blank boards would be enough, but we exercise extreme caution-we’re paranoid like that. We choose riders of various heights, weights, and riding styles from different regions. Most importantly, a tester must possess a wealth of riding experience and the willingness to pound his or her body to the brink of exhaustion, day after day. Here are TransWorld’s select men and women for 2006.

Chris Hotell
Johnny Miller
Casey Nelson
Ahmon Stamps
Scotty Wittlake
Emily Coup
Sarah Phillips
Dana Star

’06 Good Wood winners

The season’s Good Wood winners all have one thing in common-versatility. Each of these boards exhibited good manners on rails, jumps, and through the halfpipe for a gaggle of riders of varying poundages and riding styles. The Good Wood winners rode well for everyone-these boards got it right!

“I can’t remember the last time I rode from nine in the morning to four in the afternoon, but we did it for five days in a row. After riding fifty boards, I really appreciated the differencein how boards perform. The TransWorld Board Test helped me learn a lot about the types of snowboards I like to ride.”-Chris Hotell


Atomic Alibi 156

Few boards achieve Good Wood status once during their life cycle, and Atomic’s Alibi is the only board in the history of our test to make the grade three times (in 2003 under the Syndicate name, as the Alibi in 2004, and 2006). Chalk it up to a focus on quality products and years of board-making experience-like Marketing Manager Curt Hulst says: “If it works, why change it?”

It’s a sound philosophy, but that’s not to say the Alibi hasn’t adapted to the times. Since its origination five years ago (when Atomic first started making boards under the Atomic name), changes have been made to the cosmetics-check the topsheet’s argyle graphic-and the core design.

Unchanged is the response from riders. “A great all-around board,” said John Miller. Its stability made a big impression, and even Scott E., who noted the instability of most boards, called the Alibi “very stable.”

Board design is give and take, though, and some testers felt better turning was in order. The Alibi employs a twin progressive sidecut: basically, a tight radius near the contact points (the widest point of the tip and tail) gets progressively shallower-a larger radius-as it reaches the center of the board underfoot. The trade-off: total stability at speed, on rails, and while landing tricks, for some responsiveness.

Other features include a carbon fiber I-beam in the tail and four-layer fiberglass-both contribute to an aggressive (read: stiff) flex and mad pop off the tail. Strong riders will appreciate this board and make more landings because of it.
Board length: 156
Effective edge: 124.1 cm
Sidecut radius: 7.9/8/7.9 m
Waist width: 24.9 cm
Available lengths: 149, 153, 156, 159, 163, 166
Price: $469
Web site: atomicsnowboarding.com


Burton Custom X 158

Burton’s Custom X is the latest reinvention of the most trusted model in snowboarding. Now in its third season, the “X” is like a traditional Custom (still available and in its tenth year) with aftermarket upgrades built into the package.

Lauded as the most sophisticated woodcore board on the market, the Custom X features high-end materials from top to bottom, literally-from the WFO sintered base to the ultramodern “lenticular inlay” topsheet graphics.The meat of it all is a Dragonfly core with over 500 independent lengths of lightweight wood that are laminated together in opposing directions, creating a sort of truss. The result (all that really matters, right?) is an impressive strength-to-weight ratio, innate responsiveness, and a board feel worthy of the Custom label … and then some.

Directional in shape with a stance setback of 2.5 cm, the Custom X is as much a freeride board as it is a freestyle board. A couple of testers noted that the stance options were limited (the inserts weren’t wide enough), but it’s still as close to a quiver killer-one board that does everything-as any snowboard ever made. Designed under the watchful eye of all-around rider Dave Downing, the X is made for shreds who know what they want. Premium materials and a time-tested shape deliver-anywhere.
With so much going for it, the Custom X just might replace the original Custom as the best-selling snowboard in history.
Board length: 158
Effective edge: 123.2 cm
Waist width: 24.8 cm
Sidecut radius: 8 m
Available lengths: 147, 152, 156, 158, 160, 164
Price: $599
Web site: burton.com


Burton Vapor 157 (Lightest)

Lightweight is the new black, and the aerospace-aged Vapor is a full one pound lighter than any other board in the Burton line. A developmental offshoot of the soon-to-be-famed T6, the Vapor went the way of high-tech user-friendliness. Burton’s Todd King says, “The board works for a large cross-section of snowboarders-whether you’ve been riding your whole life or you’re a newcomer, the Vapor will allow you to reach new levels.” Accommodating as it is-mostly because of an all-around shape and a relatively less-aggressive flex-the Vapor is also the pinnacle of today’s snowboarding technology. Strictly top-shelf materials and their application set this board atop TransWorld’s charts.

Engineers would use the word “optimized” to describe the methodology behind the Vapor and Vaportech construction-the composite framework that makes up the guts of the board. For our purposes, think of it as a board that has everything you need and nothing you don’t.

Because of its weight (or lack thereof) and design, the Vapor reacts effortlessly to rider input-it takes less energy to ride than traditional boards that depend on more material (weight) to create stiffness and durability.

Tester Chris Hotell hailed this board, saying: “It handled the park perfectly with the stability of an all-mountain board.” Others thought the Vapor leaned too far toward the freeride side of things to really perform on handrails-better for pipe or powder, they said.
Board length: 157
Effective edge: 121.2 cm
Waist width: 24.8 cm
Sidecut radius: 7.7 m
Available lengths: 154, 157, 160
Price: $899
Web site: burton.com


Nitro Team 157
(Best Value!)

“Degress” and destroy. TW testers and Nitro teamriders agree on the ride of the Team model. When asked for his input on an early version of the board, Marc Frank Montoya said: “This board is off the f-king hook!”

Marc was right in more ways than one: the Team’s “dual degressive” sidecut takes the hook out of turning/spinning. Dual degressive is the exact opposite of other sidecut theories, with a larger radius (less sidecut) at the tip and tail that progresses toward the board’s center. A twitch or bobble won’t send you into a carve, but there’s enough sidecut underfoot to crank a turn on demand.

Unanimously popular among testers, Scott Wittlake scored the Team high and called it “a really fun ride.” “Awesome pop” and “a good shape” came up on other cards.

Don’t be fooled by the name, the Team isn’t just for riders working on “sponsor me” videos. When it comes to flex, the Team walks the line. It’s soft enough for handrails, but it won’t fold at speed or on landings. Nitro Marketing Manager Tonino Copene explains: “The flex is only forgiving to a point.” The flex also makes the Team an easy board for almost anyone to get on and ride.This is the do-all board for technical park riding, pow-doggin’, and it’s a good value-designed in the U.S. and made in Europe.

Super aggressive or pro-level riders who like the idea of the Team may want to check out Nitro’s MFM pro model-same concept, beefed up to Marc’s hardcore standards (i.e., it’s stiffer).
Board length: 157
Effective edge: 119 cm
Sidecut radius: 11.3/7.3/11.3 m
Waist width: 25 cm
Available lengths: 152, 155, 157, 159, 162, 157 wide, 159 wide, and 162 wide
Price: $399
Web site: nitrousa.com


Venue Onyx 158

A board is a board, of course, of course. Venue’s “mid flexing” Onyx is tagged a directional, all-around board, but it out-parked many 2006 twin-tips and freestyle-specific boards.

In its debut season, board maker Venue (the same company as well-known Drake bindings and Italian-made Northwave boots) rocked the vote with the Onyx, a favorite among Venue’s in-house riders and, now, Good Wood board testers. A middle-of-the-road flex is what landed this board in the Top Ten. It’s easy to ride, butter smooth, and perfect for general park riding. Scotty Wittlake noticed that it wasn’t the most stable board at high speeds, but that’s usually the trade-off for a forgiving and easy-to-ride flex.

Dual progressive sidecut, which means that the sidecut radius is shorter (tighter turning) near the tip and tail, gives the board a twin-tip feeether you’ve been riding your whole life or you’re a newcomer, the Vapor will allow you to reach new levels.” Accommodating as it is-mostly because of an all-around shape and a relatively less-aggressive flex-the Vapor is also the pinnacle of today’s snowboarding technology. Strictly top-shelf materials and their application set this board atop TransWorld’s charts.

Engineers would use the word “optimized” to describe the methodology behind the Vapor and Vaportech construction-the composite framework that makes up the guts of the board. For our purposes, think of it as a board that has everything you need and nothing you don’t.

Because of its weight (or lack thereof) and design, the Vapor reacts effortlessly to rider input-it takes less energy to ride than traditional boards that depend on more material (weight) to create stiffness and durability.

Tester Chris Hotell hailed this board, saying: “It handled the park perfectly with the stability of an all-mountain board.” Others thought the Vapor leaned too far toward the freeride side of things to really perform on handrails-better for pipe or powder, they said.
Board length: 157
Effective edge: 121.2 cm
Waist width: 24.8 cm
Sidecut radius: 7.7 m
Available lengths: 154, 157, 160
Price: $899
Web site: burton.com


Nitro Team 157
(Best Value!)

“Degress” and destroy. TW testers and Nitro teamriders agree on the ride of the Team model. When asked for his input on an early version of the board, Marc Frank Montoya said: “This board is off the f-king hook!”

Marc was right in more ways than one: the Team’s “dual degressive” sidecut takes the hook out of turning/spinning. Dual degressive is the exact opposite of other sidecut theories, with a larger radius (less sidecut) at the tip and tail that progresses toward the board’s center. A twitch or bobble won’t send you into a carve, but there’s enough sidecut underfoot to crank a turn on demand.

Unanimously popular among testers, Scott Wittlake scored the Team high and called it “a really fun ride.” “Awesome pop” and “a good shape” came up on other cards.

Don’t be fooled by the name, the Team isn’t just for riders working on “sponsor me” videos. When it comes to flex, the Team walks the line. It’s soft enough for handrails, but it won’t fold at speed or on landings. Nitro Marketing Manager Tonino Copene explains: “The flex is only forgiving to a point.” The flex also makes the Team an easy board for almost anyone to get on and ride.This is the do-all board for technical park riding, pow-doggin’, and it’s a good value-designed in the U.S. and made in Europe.

Super aggressive or pro-level riders who like the idea of the Team may want to check out Nitro’s MFM pro model-same concept, beefed up to Marc’s hardcore standards (i.e., it’s stiffer).
Board length: 157
Effective edge: 119 cm
Sidecut radius: 11.3/7.3/11.3 m
Waist width: 25 cm
Available lengths: 152, 155, 157, 159, 162, 157 wide, 159 wide, and 162 wide
Price: $399
Web site: nitrousa.com


Venue Onyx 158

A board is a board, of course, of course. Venue’s “mid flexing” Onyx is tagged a directional, all-around board, but it out-parked many 2006 twin-tips and freestyle-specific boards.

In its debut season, board maker Venue (the same company as well-known Drake bindings and Italian-made Northwave boots) rocked the vote with the Onyx, a favorite among Venue’s in-house riders and, now, Good Wood board testers. A middle-of-the-road flex is what landed this board in the Top Ten. It’s easy to ride, butter smooth, and perfect for general park riding. Scotty Wittlake noticed that it wasn’t the most stable board at high speeds, but that’s usually the trade-off for a forgiving and easy-to-ride flex.

Dual progressive sidecut, which means that the sidecut radius is shorter (tighter turning) near the tip and tail, gives the board a twin-tip feel, but the directional shape-a longer nose than tail-makes the Onyx a true all-rounder and provides float in powder.

Why does the Onyx ride so well? Johnny Miller noted the “great flex pattern,” which stems from the board’s innards. That’d be the V2 blend of biaxial fiberglass (“bi” implies two layers as opposed to “tri,” or even the four layers of fiberglass used in stiffer boards) and an aspen woodcore. A carbon fiber “X” in the tip and tail provides snap and righting without adding much weight.
Board length: 158
Effective edge: 124 cm
Sidecut radius: 8.8/7.9/8.8 m
Waist width: 24.8 cm
Available lengths: 152, 155, 158, 161
Price: $449
Web site: venuesnowboards.com


Santa Cruz Seth Huot 156

“Seth’s board is a twin-tipped freestyle board intended for all-around freestyle, park, and urban assault,” says SC’s Brett Sigur. Testers agreed that this twin is exceptionally stable with a forgiving flex best suited for rails and jumps. Casey Nelson, who felt that many park boards erred on the stiff side, praised both the flex and the shape of the Santa Cruz. Not surprisingly, this true twin received lower marks in the pipe and some criticism for a lack of sidecut. Hey, as long as you’re not a dedicated pipe jock, the Santa Cruz could be the ticket.

Johnny Miller summed the overall impression up best, “This is a really good all-round park board.” It rode every facet of park terrain well, but kickers and rails riding both forward and switch is where the Huot shines. The Seth Huot pro-model is basically a pimped-out version of the popular SC TT Riot with high-end upgrades including ultra-durable, shock-absorbing ComPly sidewalls and a faster, harder, StrucTurn 7200 base material. Of course, it also features Seth’s personal tweaks on board flex and his own graphics.

Board length: 156
Effective edge: 118.5 cm
Sidecut radius: 7.9/7.5 m
Waist width: 25 cm
Available lengths: 144, 148, 153, 156
Price: $499
Web site: scskate.com


Academy Merit 157

Academy returns to the Good Wood podium after its directional twin, the Rhythm, made its top-ten debut in the ’03 season. Academy has updated contact points and camber positions for 2006, and the Merit is another beast altogether in comparison to the Rhythm. The Merit’s a true directional board with stiffer flex and a built-in setback stance earning it points in the halfpipe. “It’s super fun on jumps and rails with the ability to excel in the halfpipe,” remarked Chris Hotell.

While it may have a traditional freeride shape, the board offers hybrid construction, featuring capped tip and tail with sandwich sidewalls throughout the running length. The idea being a capped tip and tail add “pop” and razor-sharp turn initiation while unmatched strength and dampening are found in the use of sandwich construction. Combine the two and you’ve got yourself a Merit: poppy, responsive, tough, and dampened enough for the entire mountain. Research and development feedback came from teamriders Chad, Matty, Micah, and Casanova. Academy’s Duane Pacha relates, “The Merit is a perfect fit for Mike Casanova, it’s a hybrid board for a hybrid rider, and that kid rides this board on everything. He also gives his boards a good beating, delivering some serious wear and tear ’cause he rides the exact same board everywhere.”

Board length: 157
Effective edge: 122 cm
Sidecut radius: 7.7 m
Waist width: 25.1 cm
Available lengths: 155, 157, 159
Price: $465
Web site: academysnowboards.com


Rome Agent 155

Rome has been kicking ass since its inception-in fact, it has made the TWS Good Wood for the last two years between the men’s and women’s categories. Stable, center-stanced, and sturdy-the Agent is a super-forgiving board for takeoffs and landings while still offering good snap due to the use of carbon in both the tip and tail. The Agent boasts toughness through an Impact.2 Co