Board Test: Top 25 Intro

Rear up on your hind legs and stride from the ambiguous fog of the board-buying dark ages. Renounce themarketing hype. Reject the fuzzy logic of basing your next big-money decision on which board has thecoolest graphics. As a discerning snowboarder (you’re reading Snowboard Life, aren’t you?), you deservemore.

You deserve answers to your board-buying questions. You deserve the truth. With this in mind, weset out to find that truth, conducting our first-ever Snowboard Life Top 25 Snowboard Review. We wadedthrough the hundreds of freeriding models available and determined which ones are worth your precious timeand hard-earned money. Finding “The Board” was not our intention; no two snowboarders are exactly thesame, and no single board will satisfy every rider’s needs. Instead, we aimed to simmer the pot down to thebest 25 freeriding boards on the market.

Assembling an elite team of snowboarders-current pros,experienced instructors, outspoken editors, even a former world champion-we descended on MammothMountain, California in late-April to put the snowboard maker’s 1999/2000 offerings through the paces for aweek. As soon as our crew of tire-kickers arrived, we swiftly placed them under a tighter sequester than theO.J. jury. Our goal was total objectivity, and in order for the test team to focus single-mindedly on theperformance qualities of the snowboards, we eliminated as many variables as possible. Topsheets weremasked with the most hideous wood-grain contact paper we could find, removing any brand or graphicsbiases. Testers were instructed not to discuss review boards. Incoming mail was carefully screened andphone calls were tapped to avoid test-team tampering.

Even the weather facilitated total focus as a mutedmist shrouded the surrounding views of the Sierras. There was nothing to distract the testers from the task athand. An appropriate circuit was established taking advantage of Mammoth’s big and varied terrain-perfectruns on which to test each board’s ability to handle whatever the mountain offered: steeps, bumps, crud,rock-drops, powder, groomers, you name it. As our valiant binding techs mounted setup after setup-morethan 350 change-outs in all-the piercing whine of their electric drills served as the soundtrack for our loftyproceedings. And as the Top 25 Snowboard Review unfolded and the scorecards piled up, certain boardsrose to the top while others faded into obscurity.

The scores have been tallied and retallied, and what followsis our list of the best damn snowboards on the market. Go ahead and buy any of ’em-there’s not a dog in thebunch. But before you do, read what our editors had to say about each and every board. While they’re allgreat, some will suit you better than others. Whether you’re a woman or a man, a power rider seekingstiffness or a lighter rider leaning toward softer, narrower boards, there’s a board for you. We’ve done theresearch so you don’t have to, so read on and find the board of your dreams. You deserve it.