Ready to ride? Local shops pick favorite snowboards on market this season
November 19, 2016
Editor's note: This is the second part of a three-part series covering new ski and snowboard equipment and apparel for the 2016-'17 season. Visit http://www.vaildaily.com to read about this season's ski gear, and pick up a copy of the High Life section in Monday's Vail Daily for an article about apparel.
With Opening Day on the snow-capped horizon, snowboarders across the valley are putting the finishing touches on the season's preparation. All of the new gear has been sitting pristine long enough, waiting to shred the gnar.
In case something's missing, we chatted with a few local shops about new snowboard gear they've picked up for the 2016-'17 season, and here are some of their top shredders for hittin' booters and slaying pow.
Buckshot from Hovland Snowskate
8.5 inches by 33 inches (for foot size 9 or smaller)
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9.35 inches by 35.5-inches (for foot size 9 or larger)
The details: Snowskating has come a long way in the past few years. The idea started as an effort to give board riders more of a skateboard or surfboard sensation while they're on snow, and this sensation was created through the absence of bindings. Not having your feet strapped in made the sport more challenging than snowboarding, and for a while, you were not likely to see a snowskater cruising down a run in the same way you might see a snowboarder.
But in the past few years, that has changed. Snowskaters have gotten better, and so has their equipment. Epitomizing this move out of the snow-covered driveway and onto the ski run is the new all-mountain snow skate from Hovland Snowskates called the Buckshot. It was designed by professional rider Ryan Palmer as a resort-focused snowskate.
"He's been snowskating since the late '90s, and he wanted something that would be great on hardpack, but would also be great with 12 to 18 inches of snow," said Dan Russell, with Hovland Snowskates. "This will be able to handle 90 percent of what you'll find at a resort — it's a little wider and longer, so it's stable on steeper runs, but it's also flexible enough to take into the park."
Sometimes, when the conditions haven't changed in a few days or weeks, snowboarders can get a little bored, as funny as it sounds, Russell said.
"If the conditions aren't changing, try changing up your equipment," he said. "You won't believe how much fun you can have on a snowskate. It's basic enough that any snowboarder can do it, but it's challenging enough to work out some new muscle groups in your core and keep you having lots of fun out there."
The goods: Check out the Buckshot ($299) at hovlandsnowskates.com.
Weston Range Splitboard
• Length: 155, 158 or 161 centimeters
• Edge: 122 centimeters (on 158 centimeters)
• Tip/waist: 30.3/25.6 (on 158 centimeters)
• Sidecut: 7.85/7.7 meters (on 158 centimeters)
The details: One of the biggest outfits in snowboard media is Transworld Snowboarding, which has been putting out a great publication since the dawn of the sport. Its annual gear guide is a true review, pointing out the good and the bad in products, and when reviewing has concluded, the company gives everyone their products back — some broken, some still wet with snow.
So when Transworld Snowboarding says it has found the best in splitboards, it means it has found a seriously great product.
In its 2016-'17 gear guide, which came out in the fall, Transworld put the new Weston Range at the very top of its splitboard recommendations.
The Range came out last season as a solid snowboard, and never has a board boasted such a serious connection to Vail, Eagle County and the mountains that surround it. The art features an outline of the Gore Range, which is red against a white backdrop. That's an homage to the local trail used to access the backcountry, titled Red and White, and a nice touch you'd expect from the board's designer, local snowboarder Joe Otremba.
This season, with the new Range available as a splitboard, local snowboarders will use both the Red and White trail and the Red and White splitboard to access that backcountry. And when they've finished their climb, they'll find a perfect product for whatever they're ready to try on the way down.
Transworld said it was the board on which it "saw the most backflips last season" and pointed out that the board's early-rise rocker in the twin tips and a 20-millimeter setback stance handled being towed really well behind sleds on bumpy Forest Service roads. Remind you of anything?
"The poplar core is soft, but bamboo adds rebound, and camber runs the full board length to help stabilize the ride," Transworld writes. "Testers touted the Range's excellent edge hold for carves and stability in both steep and bumpy terrain."
The goods: The Range splitboard ($899) is available online at http://www.westonsnowboards.com, or check out the company's location in Minturn this winter and its tiny-house shop on the road at resorts across the region.
Never Summer Proto Type Two
• Length: 152, 154, 157 or 160 centimeters
• Edge: 122 centimeters (on 157 centimeters)
• Tip/waist: 30.1/25.2 (on 157 centimeters)
• Sidecut: 7.65/7.27 meters (on 157 centimeters)
The details: The newest from Never Summer is a snowboard birthchild of its Ripsaw and Funslinger technologies — the Proto Type Two.
Its perfect asymmetrical combination of the two mixed with the existing Proto HD, released last year, creates the all-mountain twin that can take you anywhere.
"You can take this thing and totally rip on the hard pack and also take it into the park and powder," said Ethan St. Germain, snowboard manager at Buzz's Boards in Vail. "Take it everywhere."
Either digging an edge hold or going for tremendous pop, the Proto Type Two is the go-anywhere, shred-anything asym twin.
The board features more camber under foot and is for boarders of all skill sets.
"Basically, it's aggressive camber under foot, yet the board still flexes and rides kind of park style, but you can take it all over," St. Germain said.
The guys and gals at Buzz's Boards carry seven specific snowboard lines, and the Never Summer Proto Type Two has them most excited, especially because it's a Colorado company, based out of Denver.
A bonus is the three-year warranty that comes with Never Summer snowboards.
The goods: The Never Summer Proto Type Two ($569.99) is available at local snowboard shops, including Buzz's Boards in Vail, 302 Gore Creek Drive; 970-476-3320.
Reporters and On the Hill hosts Ross Leonhart and John LaConte are ready to provide conditions reports from Vail and Beaver Creek this season.
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