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
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
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 Core Matrix: the tip-to-tail wood core has custom Impact Plates under the front and rear binding areas to decrease core fatigue and compression.
Ahmon Stamps wished it was jus’ a little softer for rails, but everyone agreed this tool is one well-balanced machine. “At the most basic level, the Agent is just a great jumping board that can also throw a butter or handle a fairly high-speed carve,” commented Rome’s Josh Reid. It’s designed for riders who like to ride jumps and rails most of the time, but still want to slash some powder on the mountain.
Chris Hotell chimed in, “It has good stability without sacrificing the versatility needed in a park board.”
Agent feedback is provided by the likes of teamriders Jessse Fox, Marius Otterstad, and Jussi Tarvainen. It’s also one of the first three-board series Rome originally launched. Since then, the Agent has evolved in terms of shape and technology, improving its performance for both the park rider and the park-influenced freerider.
Board length: 155
Effective edge: 120 cm
Sidecut radius: 8 m
Waist width: 25.4 cm
Available lengths: 148, 152, 155, 158, 160, 162
Web site: romesnowboards.com
Mervin Riders Choice 157.5
“I’d go buy this one!” yelled Ahmon Stamps. Strong words from a kid who hasn’t shelled out dollars for equipment in the last ten years. A striking combo of much pop, quick turning, and excellent edge hold married to an awesome flex pattern elicited positive vibrations from the whole test posse. We overhead one tester exclaim, “It’s the best board in the stack!”
How do they do it? The R.C. starts with a full aspen wood core, with layers of birch running alongside the core’s length and UHMW sidewalls. Apparently, this sandwich construction combo is both rugged and poppy. “This board has great pop and a nice flex for handrails,” concurs Chris Hotell. Snowboard craftsman from the U.S.A. finish construction up with a sintered 9900 base for maximum speed and wax absorption. Have you ever heard of a directional twin boasting two-stage, tri-humped camber? Neither have we, but our trusty testers loved it. Hey, the stick’s called the Riders Choice after all.
This board is no spring chicken; it started life as the Factory Choice model (Gnu factory workers originally designed it) before Kyle Clancy, Zach Leach, and Hampus Mosseson took over. The trio has been working on its evolution for three years now, and the tweaking and tuning has paid off-a park board you can comfortably ride on the whole mountain. Word up.
Board length: 157.5
Effective edge: 120 cm
Sidecut radius: 7.7/7.8/7.6 m
Waist width: 25.1 cm
Available lengths: 147.5, 151.5, 154.5, 157.5, 161.5
Web site: gnu.com