Killer opportunity or job from hell? Testing boards can swing either way depending on the time of day or day of the week. But for seven 24-hour tours of duty last spring, seven testers rode over 70 boards with just one objective: identify the 25 best all-around snowboards and the top-five women’s rides for 2000/01.
It doesn’t seem that challenging a job, at first. That is until you consider the sheer number of boards on the market, and the fact that judgment calls take a direct stab at the heart of a magazine’s subsistence¿advertising. But we’re editors, not advertising sales people.
So because you seem to appreciate an inkling of truth now and then, we rallied the forces, stockpiled the boards, and dove headlong into a whole industry’s offerings¿again.
Companies were asked to first pare down their lines, singling out what they deem their top all-around/freeriding models, and then send them in¿tuned, and hopefully waxed. The number of boards a company could submit was determined by the size of its line: it varied from one to three boards for the Top 25, but no one was permitted more than three.
In all, over 40 companies enlisted, and considering they chose the best boards from their entire lines, and then we selected the cream of that crop, the Top 25 represents the picks of a many hundreds-of-boards litter.
Mammoth Mountain, California, always a late-season sure-thing, again provided the perfect stage for all-mountain riding and finger-pointing. There, testers poured over the boards, riding and then coming in for a change-out while holding their tongues as to not influence other testers, and riding again.
Over the course of the week, morning pow turned to hardpack, the park only got better, and testers guarded their stashes of good snow with staunchly sealed lips. Changing conditions affect how a board performs, so the test team rode each board at different times of day and on different days.
By week’s end, every board was given a fair shot, and the testers had spoken¿giving some the nod and others the axe. An average of the testers’ scores¿high and low cards thrown out¿left us with what you’ll find here: The 25 best all-around snowboards for 2000/01¿the boards we’d recommend to friends, and the boards we’d buy ourselves.
The winners of the test appear in alphabetical order, not the order they ranked. We don’t rank ‘em because, first of all, everyone would buy the number-one ranked board. Second of all, because every rider is different, that would be stupid.
What we did do this year (because a lot of readers wanted to know “the” winner last year) is list each tester’s top-three scoring boards. That way you can surmise which boards really high-marked, and which ones particular testers liked most.
For more insight to the test team, click here. By associating with them (scary), you’ll be able to better decipher the board reviews. Also, check the specs and make sure they jive with your foot size, etc. (all specs are for the boards pictured), and inform yourself by going to the Web sites we’ve provided.
As you dig in you’ll notice that we seem to have miscounted. There are 26 boards in the Top 25 and six women’s boards. No, this wasn’t a last-minute advertising coup, it’s just that there were ties in both tests¿we’ll have to string it out another decimal point next season.
The Top 25
GNU Carbon High Beam
Lib Tech Joey Maguire
Palmer Circle Carbon
Santa Cruz TBX
Winterstick Severe Terrain