Know what the subject of countless high-powered snowboard-company design meetings is every year? You. That’s right, board brands around the world put tons of energy and cash into trying to figure out exactly what it is you want out of a board-and of course, some pull it off better than others.

For this reason, TransWorld SNOWboarding holds the infamous yearly board test. We know you won’t be able to try every board you’re thinking of riding this season-who has those kind of resources? Well, TWS does. We know people who know people who got us this winter’s most popular boards, delivered to the Copper Mountain, Colorado testing site minus graphics or any other indication of Know what the subject of countless high-powered snowboard-company design meetings is every year? You. That’s right, board brands around the world put tons of energy and cash into trying to figure out exactly what it is you want out of a board-and of course, some pull it off better than others. The handpicked testers, chosen to reflect a broad spectrum of sizes and riding styles, are nothing if not totally serious about documenting how each board performs freeriding and in the park and pipe. After all, none of the testers have board sponsors-they want to find out which board rides the best for their own self-serving reasons. So take a good look at this year’s contenders. Find the tester who best reflects you and how you ride. Multiply the total area by the length of the hypotenuse-and voil, you’ve found a great board for the season. -Jennifer Sherowski

 

THETESTERS

 

Eric Kovall
Height: 6′
Weight: 175 pounds
Foot size: 11
Years riding: 15
Current home resort: Waterville Valley and Loon Mountain,New Hampshire
Sponsors: ASS Industries, Eastern Boarder, DC, Grenade,M6, Whiteflag.com

Eric Kovall has enough surplus energy to power a small village-easily keeping the board test afloat for a second year. Jus’ when thecrew appeared defeated, Kovall’s deafening “Ooooh, ooooooh! ” blewin a second wind. Eric had more to give than Ritalin-addled behaviorhowever-like mad experience: try 15 years in the game. A fixture onthe East from an early age, “Man Child” has been throwin’ downbefore most of TransWorld’s target demograhic was born-seriously.Check his stats for the season: “I did close to 90 days riding thisyear-at least 50 of them at Mammoth and June parks, 30 days on theEast Coast, and ten elsewhere.” All this from a man who’s servinghard time resurrecting ASS Industries from oblivion.

After breaking in his first proper season on the West, hechanged his game up: “I slightly altered my testing technique. Thisyear, I set a stance up on the boards pertaining to what theylooked like they were intended for. My standard 22-inch, duckedout,centered stance was not always the most practical.” Ericprefers a wide board with mellow sidecut-a board to dampen hisspastic behavior. “I rode 84 runs from nine in the mornin’ till five atnight-Monday through Friday! That’s 672,000 feet … 127 milesof Copper Mountain.”

 

Tyeson Carmody
Height: 6’1″
Weight: 200 pounds
Foot size: 11
Years riding: 14
Current home resort:Whistler/Blackcomb, CanadaSponsors: Anon, DaKine

Tyeson Carmody’s a lumberjack duringsummer, so it comes as no surprise thathe’s most comfortable shredding theWhistler backcountry. However, the way henegotiated his heavyweight frame on, off, orover the entire Copper park caught peopleoff guard.

“Tyeson’s bearish form belies his agility-he’s as light-footed as a gazelle!” commentedDresser. Similar maneuverability was displayedoff the hill, as well when he quickly disposedof Dresser in a late-night wrestling match,nearly killing him.

Tyeson put each board through a widerange of punishment, as well-from carvingcorduroy to smashing stumps andeverything in between. So what does thisfleet-footed mountain man desire in a board?”Something that’s stiff enough to hold anedge well, but not too stiff to buer and jibaround with. It has to be wide enough formy feet, no narrower than 25 centimetersat the waist and around a 157 to 160 forpark riding.”

 

Tyler DeWilde
Height: 5’11″
Weight: 160 pounds
Foot size: 10
Years riding: 12
Current home resort: Mt. Bachelor,Oregon

It could be coincidence that Northwestriders Tyler DeWilde and Tyler Lepore rideso similarly and so damn well. Who knows,it may be the water, or possibly all Tylersfrom up North just rip.

DeWilde is an Oregonian in the truestsense, with a mellow disposition, an infectioussmile, and loads of well-rounded snow-surfingtalent. His board-riding techniques are decidedlylaid back, but all so complicated: “I’d doa carve, then an ollie to butter-then proceedto do every grab I could come up with, followedby some more serious carves to olliesand butters. It’s a very delicate process … it’skinda hard to explain.” When further quizzedabout what he likes in a board, TransWorldreceived an e-mail stating, “I like snowboardingeverything, all the time, but I hateice of any kind.” Doesn’t really address thequestion, but it pretty much sums the manup-he likes everything … but ice.

 

Adam Merriman
Height: 6′
Weight: 175 pounds
Foot size: 10
Years riding: 21
Current home resort: Vail, Colorado

The TransWorld board test has held somefast company over the years, but nobody canmatch the output of Adam. Merriman lovesto snowboard. He’s a machine-whether hotlappinggroomers at Vail or plundering powder,he always rides with the quickness. As one ofthe most well known Colorado riders of alltime, Adam continues to ride with ruthlessenthusiasm-there are no signs he may slowdown. Two decades of catching first chairsand poaching first tracks has solidified hisposition on snowboards: “I don’t like boardsthat are too stiff and need to break in with useover time. I want it to ride right when I get it,like a good new car.

“A medium width with a deep, mellow sidecutworks best for me-not the radical sidecutthat wants to turn you in circles. I like directionaltwins-directional flex patterns withtwin-tip shapes, ’cause I like them to look thesame riding forward and backward.”

Board testing techniques: “Speed. I’ll rideslow for one second to test the flex with a couplewheelies, then it’s all hustle-pop off some jumpsand make sure it’s easy to throw around with awell-balanced tip and tail. Then I’ll hit a couplerails and ride it through the pipe-you need afreestyle board that’s versatile.”

 

Cody Dresser
Height: 6′
Weight: 180 pounds
Foot size: 10
Years riding: 13
Current home resort: Squaw Valley,California

You know that Cody Dresser is a snowboardinglegend of the first jib revolution. Youknow that he got the December 1998 coverof TransWorld SNOWboarding riding hisEvol pro model. And you know that he’s beenan editor at this here mag for nearly fouryears and can settle any feisty little puke inthe TWSNOW Mail column.

However, what you might not know aboutCody is that by the time you read this, he willbe a baby daddy. That’s right, Mini-Dresser isdue sometime mid September. And althoughthis doesn’t change how he approached the2004 Buyer’s Guide Board Test, it changeseverything else.

Mini-Dresser aside, Cody says he’s ridinghis boards a little wider and softer than inyears past: “You know, rails an’ shit.” His testruns went something like this: “I startedthrough the mini biker park, then straight intothe guts of Copper’s famed stump line, afterwhich I’d scrape my face performing someJean Nerva-influenced carves on the way to themotherf-kin’ park. A quick triple combo on thebigger kickers into a frontside invert on the quarterpipe.Uh, a couple rail maneuvers toward thehalfpipe, shred the super ditch, and then jumpthe same ol’ rope ollie I used to do back in ’91-still pretending I’m Tarquin Robbins.”

 

TOP TEN BOARDS

 

 

Burton
Jussi 159
Other sizes available: 154
burton.com
Effective edge: 123.5 cm
Sidecut radius: 8.2 m
Waist width:25 cm
Price: $500

Revamped for its fourth year in the line, the Jussi (pronouncedyou-see) 159 stacks up to any Top Ten contender. It’s a promodel, so there’s no shortage of tech construction and thedetails that only Burton’s got.A Pro-Tip design means the nose of Jussi’s boardtapers in thickness to reduce swing weight (the energyit takes to rotate a board)-at the very tip, it’s down toa single millimeter.

Other features you can actually see are the10:45 sidewalls and the Vision base. That’s asidewall with two slant angles: a ten-degreeangle directly over the edge blends into a 45-degree angle that meets the topsheet. TheVision base is sintered-fast and has betterclarity for graphics that pop (Jussi’s friendJari Salo did the artwork).

That’s not all that pops on this doanything159. “Bomb, snap!” wroteKovall. “Out of the trees and into themetal park without any wack antics.”Responsiveness and OverallImpression were high-scoringcategories for this one,blank board number five.(To maintain anonymity,Burton built test boardswith traditional four-holebinding insert patternsrather than its proprietarythree-hole setup.)But then, the Jussi scoredbig in almost every category.

 

 

Endeavor
Paavo 157
Other sizes available: 153, 161
endeavorsnowboards.com
Effective edge: 122 cm
Sidecut radius: 7.95 m
Waist width: 24.8 cm
Price: $440

Endeavor’s Paavo 157 made a clear impression on testers:entire comment cards were filled with unprintable expletives.Tyeson put it simply: “That’s the way a snowboard shouldride-sick.”

Made in Canada, by proud Canadian snowboarders-like pro-shred/CEO Max Jenke-Endeavor is in its thirdyear of production. The Paavo model, designed forFinnish rider Paavo Tikkanen, reflects the company’scommitment to well-made boards that look goodand ride even better.

Unique to the Paavo is a mouthful of jargonknown as the “pre-cured micro-glass topsheetwith carbon stringer weave.” What it means iscrazy pop and snap for a lively feel, lightweight,and a diamond glossy finish.

“F-king ill” is how Dresser translatedthe board’s design traits into real-worldriding terms. Both he and Adam saidthe Paavo is best for, well, everything.They circled pipe, jumps, rails, andturning on the scorecard.One of the highest-scoringboards in the test, this oneis topped with real art andEndeavor’s Easy StanceSystem: a ruler on thetopsheet to guidebinding placement.

 

 

K2
Disciple 158
Other sizes available: 155, 161
k2snowboards.com
Effective edge: 124.4 cm
Sidecut radius: 7.6 m
Waist width: 24.7 cm
Price: $620

 

The Disciple earned plenty of followers during the weeklongpark and pipe bash of the Board Test. Naming the top-scoringboard in the Top Ten isn’t our deal (that’s like picking yourfavorite child … or girlfriend), but let’s just say K2′s all-aroundass-kicker had testers looking for more paper and wishingthey could score up to eleven.

In its second year, this model is stacked withconstruction bells and whistles-what the companycalls: “Everything you can sink into a board tomake it quick and lively.” A couple of the bigfeatures are stainless-steel edges and a CGXbase (that’s the tech 4000 ceramic baseimpregnated with wax).

Testers, of course, couldn’t shut upabout this one. Tyler called it the “bestyet” and a “smart shape.”Hard-to-please Dresser went intohis longest comment: “Nice flexpattern and shape. Soft enoughfor handrails, but stable on thebigger jumps, too.”

Average riders wouldn’tcall the Disciple “soft” byany means, but then it’snot made with theaverage rider in mind.If you’re a strong,experienced rider whocan handle your businesson a board, lookno further.

 

 

K2
Temptation 158
Other sizes available: 154
k2snowboards.com
Effective edge: 124.4 cm
Sidecut radius: 8.1 m
Waist width: 25 cm
Price: $520
K2 did what no brand has ever done. Effective edge: 123.5 cm
Sidecut radius: 8.2 m
Waist width:25 cm
Price: $500

Revamped for its fourth year in the line, the Jussi (pronouncedyou-see) 159 stacks up to any Top Ten contender. It’s a promodel, so there’s no shortage of tech construction and thedetails that only Burton’s got.A Pro-Tip design means the nose of Jussi’s boardtapers in thickness to reduce swing weight (the energyit takes to rotate a board)-at the very tip, it’s down toa single millimeter.

Other features you can actually see are the10:45 sidewalls and the Vision base. That’s asidewall with two slant angles: a ten-degreeangle directly over the edge blends into a 45-degree angle that meets the topsheet. TheVision base is sintered-fast and has betterclarity for graphics that pop (Jussi’s friendJari Salo did the artwork).

That’s not all that pops on this doanything159. “Bomb, snap!” wroteKovall. “Out of the trees and into themetal park without any wack antics.”Responsiveness and OverallImpression were high-scoringcategories for this one,blank board number five.(To maintain anonymity,Burton built test boardswith traditional four-holebinding insert patternsrather than its proprietarythree-hole setup.)But then, the Jussi scoredbig in almost every category.

 

 

Endeavor
Paavo 157
Other sizes available: 153, 161
endeavorsnowboards.com
Effective edge: 122 cm
Sidecut radius: 7.95 m
Waist width: 24.8 cm
Price: $440

Endeavor’s Paavo 157 made a clear impression on testers:entire comment cards were filled with unprintable expletives.Tyeson put it simply: “That’s the way a snowboard shouldride-sick.”

Made in Canada, by proud Canadian snowboarders-like pro-shred/CEO Max Jenke-Endeavor is in its thirdyear of production. The Paavo model, designed forFinnish rider Paavo Tikkanen, reflects the company’scommitment to well-made boards that look goodand ride even better.

Unique to the Paavo is a mouthful of jargonknown as the “pre-cured micro-glass topsheetwith carbon stringer weave.” What it means iscrazy pop and snap for a lively feel, lightweight,and a diamond glossy finish.

“F-king ill” is how Dresser translatedthe board’s design traits into real-worldriding terms. Both he and Adam saidthe Paavo is best for, well, everything.They circled pipe, jumps, rails, andturning on the scorecard.One of the highest-scoringboards in the test, this oneis topped with real art andEndeavor’s Easy StanceSystem: a ruler on thetopsheet to guidebinding placement.

 

 

Nidecker
Advanced 157
Other sizes available: 147, 152, 161, 165
nideckerusa.com
Effective edge: 114 cm
Sidecut radius: 7.4 m
Waist width: 24.7 cm
Price: $389

The Advanced 157 signals Nidecker’s first appearance in theGood Wood Top Ten. One of four spankin’-new freestyleboards in the Swiss maker’s line, the Advanced ’57 made itsmark with an easy-to-ride (on the soft side) flex pattern.Expectations were challenged, and the flex surprisedtesters: most pro-level riders adhere to a stiffer-is-bettermind-set. Dresser called it “surprisingly stable for sucha soft board.”

Nidecker teamrider (not a tester) Travis Robisonbacks the Advanced. “It’s dope for how soft it is,”he says. “It’s still got pop and holds an edge-it’samazing on rails.”

Unlike many top-shelf boards that rely onstiff flexes, the Advanced leans more towardrails than big jumps or screaming pipe.The soft flex made Tyler feel that theAdvanced might break down (lose itspop or core integrity) more easilythan stiffer boards, but 200-poundTyeson was writing ballads: “I lovethis board. You should buy it.”At a comfortable 389dollars, the Advanced isa smart park pick.

 

 

Palmer
Burn 158
Other sizes available: 154, 160, 162
palmersnowboards.com
Effective edge: 121.5 cm
Sidecut radius: 7.3 m
Waist width: 25.18 cm
Price: $479

Palmer is a straight-up, performance-driven company. Itsboards are the result of some gnarly, glue-sniffing engineerswho never stop innovating. Honeycomb? Got it. Palmerpioneered its use in snowboards.

The Burn has all the high-end qualities you’d expectfrom Palmer-more than one tester commented on thebase finish alone. A Nomex honeycomb core meansthat the tip and tail are light and come around easy.But the Burn’s biggest story is the Klothoid sidecut,introduced for 2005.

Klothoid is engineering terminology that hasto do with multi- and variable-sidecut radii (anyword with two “i”s back to back is beyondthe scope of TransWorld), but the result iseasy to understand.

Turning and edging were the Burn’shighpoints with testers. “Solid” and”edges well” were all over the commentcards. Adam said, “It’s easy to getcomfortable with right off the bat.”The Burn probably isn’t softand forgiving enough to beyour rail board, but if you’rean aggressive rider lookingfor an all-around freestyleboard that turns well,check it out. For boardconstruction and highenddetails, Palmer is atthe front of the pack.

 

 

Rossignol
Todd Richards 157
Other sizes available: Nope.
rossignolsnowboards.com
Effective edge: 120 cm
Sidecut radius: 8 m
Waist width: 25.2 cm
Price: $499

 

Todd’s Rossignol pro model is called a “quiver killer” bydesigners-it’s as well-rounded as the legendary shredhimself. Originally introduced as a 156 during the2001/02 season, the latest version is totallyredesigned with a focus on versatility.Rossi’s THS FS