Airwalk A-1

Known to testers simply as “number thirteen,” Airwalk’s top-of-the-line A-1 is full of mystery.Sales and Marketing Coordinator Brian Stephanson describes this board as “very James Bond,” but all weknow is it’s impressive. Built for, but not limited to, advanced riders, the A-1′s list of standard ingredientsreads like aftermarket erotica: sintered P-Tex 4000 base, tip-to-tail torsion box, and get this-no wood. Theboard employs a patented, completely composite core. “High energy” describes the A-1 and its snappy feel.Kurt complimented the board’s flex, saying it had “the right amount in the right place, and always at the righttime.” Robyn and Kevin expanded, claiming respectively, “Effortless turns,” and, “a light feel for the park andpipe.” Amy and Wendy found the board’s stiffness, both torsionally and longitudinally, made it difficult tobend into a carve, but noticed strong edge hold once turning. The A-1 is the call for technical ninjas orapprentices.

Atlantis IBT

A solid ride wherever you go, this board ranked high in the overall performancecategory. Plus, its narrow waist width received praise from the testers with small feet. This is no surprisebecause Ingemar Backman, the rider behind this design, has little kicks. “Great board!” exclaimed Randy.”Anything I asked for, this board gave me.” Though all the testers stated they’d use this to ride all over themountain, its strengths shone in the halfpipe and the park. “Super snappy in the park. Great in the powderand good for jumps, too!” Wendy wrote. Keeping in mind that Ingemar is most famous for his freestyle skills,it’s a testament to Atlantis’ manufacturing that this board was built for versatile riding.

Burton Custom

TheCustom is everything you’d expect from a tri-holer. It even had J2 throwin’ down compliments. It’d be hardto go wrong recommending this ride to any snowboard artisan. The Custom was redesigned for 2000 withhelp from Burton riders like Dave Downing, Marcus Egge, and Leslee Olson, which lends a clue to theboard’s versatile traits. Its purpose? A board with both a freestyle feel and freeride capabilities. The Customwas appreciated across the board and appealed to a surprising variety of test riders. Robyn and Randypegged it as the one that could, quite possibly, end up going home with them “by mistake” at the end of theweek, labeling the board “a smooth and lively ride.” Hard-nosed Delaney hailed the Custom’s balls-outcarving and light feeling underfoot, claiming that it’s the ticket to surviving anything the mountain can throw atya.

Burton Fluid

“Leather-upholstered, high-powered luxury snowboard for controlled cruising andfreestyle finesse,” is how Burton describes this model. Our testers agree. “Just buttery,” says Kevin. “Whip itor walk it through turns, stomp on the pedal and let it run.” Randy adds, “Good in bumps, nice in crud, faston the groomers.” Pro-rider Jason Borgstede had a hand in the design, and as an Alaska/Tahoe ripper heneeds a board he can throw technical tricks, go big off kickers, and surf steep pow with. What could bemore Fluid? If you like effortless turning and a forgiving ride for all-around fun, this is your best bet. Alsogood for people with a slightly larger boot size.

Burton Supermodel

You can’t do much better than”Burton’s best freeriding board.” That’s how the company’s Scott Rivers labels the Supermodel. One notchstiffer than the Fluid, a couple clicks softer than the Custom, and benefitting from a do-it-all shape, theSupermodel lives up to its name by being unbelievably well-proportioned. This year’s board is beefier than itswaif-like predecessor; it’s Burton’s first ride to combine the Carbon I-Beam and cap construction. Still, theSuper retains the easy-to-ride-and especially carve-versatility it’s become known and loved for. Kurt pinnedthe tail on this one saying, “The length adds stability without the feeling of a big board.” Others wrotecomments like “responsive,” “quick,” “great sll turns,” and “lively but not jittery.” Is there an equation forthe best of both worlds? If so, it’s probably in the head of designers/refiners Craig Kelly and Shannon Dunn,who had a hand in this beaut of a board. A true freerider. Good choice for those with slightly smaller feet.

Elan Vertigo

There are no free rides here. Our testers agree, this board takes work, but once you’vecommitted, the reward is worth it. With a deep sidecut, the Vertigo offers carvability for a rider who likes torail. Wendy says, “Once you get it on edge, it’s awesome-but it takes a bit of thigh to get it going.” Tricktechnology adds to the Vertigo’s unique riding experience. Special polyethylene plates integrated with theVert core create a three-millimeter shock-absorbing pad at each binding location. For all you jibbers, thisadds more boost going into the jump, and a smooth, solid landing. Take it from J2, “This was a good one.”

GNU Carbon High Beam

The fact that the Carbon High Beams are a favorite among GNU’s amateurteam is a good indication of this board’s fun-riding way. Torsionally the most forgiving (flexible) of GNU’sline, the Carbon High Beam was easy to ride, but still hung on through a turn. Wendy, who almost neededmore paper to finish scoring the High Beam, was the most surprised. “I thought it would be heavy and toowide, but it rode great. Powder, halfpipe-everything.” She also noted the board’s potential for ollies, a benefitof what GNU terms the Correct Cap-a combination of cap and sandwich (at the tip and tail) construction.The Carbon High Beam is a dual-directional (twin-tip) board with a centered sidecut-in theory, this makes itlean heavily toward being a freestyle-specific sled. On the contrary, the High Beam is a testament to themanufacturer’s belief: “All boards can be ridden in all situations.” Best for intermediate or finesse-type riders.K2 A-Star Named after a helicopter, this board slices like a blade. Kurt described it as, “The go-fast,land-anything board. Once it’s in a turn, it stays in.” K2 suggests this board for aggressive freeriders withsmaller to average feet. The number-one choice among team riders, the A-Star features narrow, full-wrapedges making for a lighter board with less drag and more speed. High scores in the overall-performancecategory. “For my weight, height, and attitude I’d look for a board that rides and feels like this,” Kevin says.Amy adds, “Stiff enough for stability, snappy enough for ollies, perfect length for me. Maybe a little wide formy feet, but comfy in all terrain.”

K2 Futura

When the Futura’s number came up, the test team was sentscrambling for a new scoring system, adding plus signs and decimal points where they could squeeze ‘em in.K2′s premier board, the Futura boasts recent technology like the electronically damping “piezo chips,” firstintroduced in 1998, and the best of the tried-and-true: electra base (stoneground and structured out of thewrapper), cap construction, and narrower edges for less friction and weight. Testers more or less united inresponse to the future, I mean, the Futura, as if they’d taken time out between runs for some sort ofharmonic, hand-holding drum circle. Kevin weighed in with a Zorro analogy: “My mind and my reflexes mustmold with my weapon. Here is where they come together to overcome the elements and fortify the land withnew hope.” And Kurt, at the end of his babbling, finally put it together with a prophetic, “Trust in the 16B.”Somebody up there at K2 is doing their homework. As Wendy noticed, the Futura is particularly suited forriders with slightly smaller feet.

Lib Tech Hard-Carving Freestyle Series

(Acme, Rice Rocket, TearYea!, Emma P.) The “Quiver Killer,” as Lib Tech’s Pete Saari says, this series is “where the focus ofsnowboarding should be.” Speedy boards with deep sidecut. “Awesome!” exclaims Wendy, describing theturning initiation of this ride. Kevin has a little more to say: “This board was fun whether I rode like JohnTravolta or Jabba the Hut.” And J2, a man of few words says, “Maybe it’s because this board is the size Iusually ride, but I like it the most so far.” The Hard-Carving Freestyle Series features Lib’s unique Teflonbase and aircore. This combination makes for a speedy, lightweight, torsionally stiff, and damp, chatter-freeride. Morrow Blaze Powerful on edge, with the versatility to freeride and freestyle, Morrow’s Blaze shinesunder pressure. This big-mountain badass comes alive at speed, holds on when the going gets rough, andthen begs for more. High scores in stability are often countered by a frigid, dead-in-the-water feeling. Notthe case with the Blaze. This board has loads of life, it just requires a little more leg, weight, or juice (like asyringe full of adrenaline) to tap into it. The responsiveness and raw potential energy stored in the Blaze are aresult of Morrow’s creative use of torque-rods-repositioned in this model to focus stiffness near the edgesand add rebound to the board without adding weight. Stronger testers powered up the Blaze and were aptlyrewarded. Randy cited the stability of this “big mountain/freestyle” (if there can be such a thing) sled, andWendy enjoyed a pleasant surprise in the powder. If you’re smaller, or a novice rider, the Blaze might throwyou around a bit.

Morrow Dimension

This model’s popular with the ladies. “Floats through the powder,helped me keep it together in the crud, fast carving,” says Wendy. “A good one.” Structural embossing and3-D carbon-fiber torque rods lock a spring in this board’s step you can unload at will. “Soft, snappy flex,made me feel comfortable everywhere,” Amy adds. “Narrow enough to make quick turns, light enough forshort turns and airs. Yummy like chocolate, stable like a lounge chair.” But not to leave the men out of themix, J2 adds, “Rides good all around, especially for its size.

Nitro Shadow

This one rips the short turns,”Kurt says. “Feels balanced and light. Ride it with a stance of about twenty inches and be stoked becauseyou’ll have more nose.” Not ideal for a tentative rider with small feet. Testers also note the Shadow tends toride short-a good freestyle board with freeriding abilities. This series replaces the Seth Neary pro model andwas designed in conjunction with Seth, Mark Reilly, and Jonathan Smallwood. The Shadow features ahigh-performance freestyle shape with a new tri-progressive sidecut: tight in front, mellower in the middle,and very tight toward the tail. The result, according to Nitro, is a board that’s forgiving in the most demandingfreestyle and freeriding situations, and delivers forward and switch turning power. Nolimitz CreationNorthwest underground? Not any longer. The small, dedicated crew at Nolimitz fine-tuned their Creationline for broad, performance-rider appeal, etching a spot for themselves alongside the big guns in the TopTwo-Five. The Creation incorporates a pair of carbon-fiber stringers that fan into what is termed a “PowerV” in the tail. Use of composites like carbon fiber in addition to the board’s full-length woodcore enhancewhat Sales and Marketing Manager Scott Ghering calls “recoil,” giving the board a snappy, responsive feel.He adds, “If you load the board up, it will respond in kind.” Along those lines, though, the Creation is ahigh-end board requiring a certain amount of riding ability to fully appreciate. Randy and Kevin (who havecompletely different riding styles and physical makeups) both dug into the Creation, jotting down things like”solid,” “floaty,” “quick but stable.” Some of the smaller/lighter riders, however, found the performancecharacteristics demanded more than they could muster. Oxygen Vibe Can you feel the Vibe? “Able to ridepow, spin, and arc a carve in a single run,” says Kurt about this board’s superhero traits. Pro-rider JasonOnley helped with this design. Ceramic stringers reduce the weight, making for a snappy, responsive boardwith all-terrain freeride and freestyle versatility. “Felt reallyor Jabba the Hut.” And J2, a man of few words says, “Maybe it’s because this board is the size Iusually ride, but I like it the most so far.” The Hard-Carving Freestyle Series features Lib’s unique Teflonbase and aircore. This combination makes for a speedy, lightweight, torsionally stiff, and damp, chatter-freeride. Morrow Blaze Powerful on edge, with the versatility to freeride and freestyle, Morrow’s Blaze shinesunder pressure. This big-mountain badass comes alive at speed, holds on when the going gets rough, andthen begs for more. High scores in stability are often countered by a frigid, dead-in-the-water feeling. Notthe case with the Blaze. This board has loads of life, it just requires a little more leg, weight, or juice (like asyringe full of adrenaline) to tap into it. The responsiveness and raw potential energy stored in the Blaze are aresult of Morrow’s creative use of torque-rods-repositioned in this model to focus stiffness near the edgesand add rebound to the board without adding weight. Stronger testers powered up the Blaze and were aptlyrewarded. Randy cited the stability of this “big mountain/freestyle” (if there can be such a thing) sled, andWendy enjoyed a pleasant surprise in the powder. If you’re smaller, or a novice rider, the Blaze might throwyou around a bit.

Morrow Dimension

This model’s popular with the ladies. “Floats through the powder,helped me keep it together in the crud, fast carving,” says Wendy. “A good one.” Structural embossing and3-D carbon-fiber torque rods lock a spring in this board’s step you can unload at will. “Soft, snappy flex,made me feel comfortable everywhere,” Amy adds. “Narrow enough to make quick turns, light enough forshort turns and airs. Yummy like chocolate, stable like a lounge chair.” But not to leave the men out of themix, J2 adds, “Rides good all around, especially for its size.

Nitro Shadow

This one rips the short turns,”Kurt says. “Feels balanced and light. Ride it with a stance of about twenty inches and be stoked becauseyou’ll have more nose.” Not ideal for a tentative rider with small feet. Testers also note the Shadow tends toride short-a good freestyle board with freeriding abilities. This series replaces the Seth Neary pro model andwas designed in conjunction with Seth, Mark Reilly, and Jonathan Smallwood. The Shadow features ahigh-performance freestyle shape with a new tri-progressive sidecut: tight in front, mellower in the middle,and very tight toward the tail. The result, according to Nitro, is a board that’s forgiving in the most demandingfreestyle and freeriding situations, and delivers forward and switch turning power. Nolimitz CreationNorthwest underground? Not any longer. The small, dedicated crew at Nolimitz fine-tuned their Creationline for broad, performance-rider appeal, etching a spot for themselves alongside the big guns in the TopTwo-Five. The Creation incorporates a pair of carbon-fiber stringers that fan into what is termed a “PowerV” in the tail. Use of composites like carbon fiber in addition to the board’s full-length woodcore enhancewhat Sales and Marketing Manager Scott Ghering calls “recoil,” giving the board a snappy, responsive feel.He adds, “If you load the board up, it will respond in kind.” Along those lines, though, the Creation is ahigh-end board requiring a certain amount of riding ability to fully appreciate. Randy and Kevin (who havecompletely different riding styles and physical makeups) both dug into the Creation, jotting down things like”solid,” “floaty,” “quick but stable.” Some of the smaller/lighter riders, however, found the performancecharacteristics demanded more than they could muster. Oxygen Vibe Can you feel the Vibe? “Able to ridepow, spin, and arc a carve in a single run,” says Kurt about this board’s superhero traits. Pro-rider JasonOnley helped with this design. Ceramic stringers reduce the weight, making for a snappy, responsive boardwith all-terrain freeride and freestyle versatility. “Felt really light under my feet-almost forgot it was there!”Robyn exclaimed. The Vibe’s narrow waist width allows for quick response edge-to-edge, adding to thepopularity of this board among the smaller riders. But the bigfoots liked it, too. “Light swing weight and easyturns makes it fun to whip around,” says Kevin.

Ride Control

What Randy deemed “the best board I’veridden in a long time,” Ride calls “a confidence-inspiring board for riders of any ability.” Either way, thedirectionally designed Control can do a hell of a lot more than what its affordability implies. Most of thetesters said this board was easy to turn and lauded its ability in short, quick turns. No surprise, as the Controlis loaded with sidecut-an 8.3-meter radius on the 158. They also used words like “springy” and “snappy” todefine this fun-to-ride board. While designed with the everyday rider in mind, the Control is far from being aboard limited to recreationalists. In fact, in response to the test question, “What would you use this boardfor?” four of seven testers wrote, “Everything.” The Control is exceptionally stable for its length and liveliness,but was overpowered by the strongest riders: ideal for sophomore-level rippers. Ride Profile Testers agree,this board is good for quick turns and hauling ass. Ride board-designer John O’Conner says the Profile isbuilt for the more technically savvy rider. “This board is agile with deep sidecut, has a narrow waist, and is alittle stiffer in the tail,” he explains. Kevin notes the Profile, “was fun to ride due to ease of quick turns, ollies,spins, etc. Lightweights will love it. Also good for a one-board freestyler all-mountain slave.” With its”progressive angle cap,” the Profile offers smoothness in less-than-perfect backcountry conditions, as Ridestates. And a 30-percent lighter core gives life and confidence to the rider. Ride Timeless Ride’s freeridingmainstay, the Timeless proved itself for the power rider. This year’s board (it’s the model’s third year inproduction) is refined to be lighter and more damp-shock absorbing-than earlier versions. The Timeless hasa longer-board feel to it, which, when combined with the carbon-fiber and Kevlar stringers (strips) runningthe length of the board, makes for a stable, predictable ride. Meant for “experienced” riders, the Timeless isnot for pussyfootin’ around the slopes. “Stiffness,” in fact, was on the tip of lighter testers’ tongues andprobably hurt the board’s score in versatility, while strongmen like Kevin found it to be the perfectcombination for anything from jumping (especially helpful in landing) to carving in all conditions. A functional,fun ride with no top-end limits, but not for the timid or weak of quadriceps.

Rossignol Pro

The Pro is listedin Rossignol’s Air group, a category the company says is designed for “fearless freestyle riders.” “Not for thefaint-hearted,” says Amy. “The shorter length is easy to maneuver in the bumps. Sometimes the board wasahead of me and I was just holding on for the ride.” Rossignol’s Mark Bujold says, “J.F. Pelchat, RonChiodi, Alexi Litovaara, and Pavo Tikkenen worked in a ‘rider pool’ to help design the Pro.” Each size ofthis model was created for certain riders’ specific needs (e.g., the Pro 149 was designed by Rossi’s womenriders, while Litovaara created the 154 for aggressive freestyle riding). The Pro’s THC core (not a drugreference, it’s short for triple hybrid construction) is unique to Rossi. Riders get the benefit from acombination of three materials-wood, Isocore, and Microcell-making a snappy, lightweight, and stableboard. For all you tech-heads there’s a window through the topsheet to view the core. An aggressive boardfor power riders.

Salomon FRA

“If you want a board that will save you, this is it,” says Amy. All themakings of a good freecarver: quick turn initiation, strong edge hold, and stability. “Good in small and longturns if you work it,” says Wendy. “Super stiff, good for a strong woman or man who l