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Powder board perfection


neanderthal
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Merry Christmas everyone

So today I went out to my local resort to enjoy  fresh 33"  holiday storm.
With that much fresh snow of course carving takes a backseat to pow - Stealing a tagline from a member - Any cat can make cord

What is the ultimate powder board and setup?  This is a quest I have been on as my local resort is blessed with some truly epic days.

Today a constellation of circumstances aligned and I was able to try a new board - Mark Fawcett's reverse sidecut tribute powder board.

This is the marketing hype from 9y ago when the board was released

REVERSE SIDE-CUT: Once you start riding in penetrable snow conditions, the principals of hydrodynamics come into play. Sidecut is slower and the deepest penetrating points are at either end of your ride, allowing “trip & tail” to have the mechanical advantage over you.

This “surf” inspired shape puts the engaging point between your feet, giving you the advantage over the board. This allows for tighter radius turns at higher speeds and the ability to draw-out long turns from the same board. The outline shape also has far less drag when compared to traditional freestyle decks, yielding super early planing, and much higher board speeds on flatter terrain." (https://mountainculturegroup.com/snowboard-legend-mark-fawcett-launches-new-board-company/)
 

Tribute-164-tribute-split.jpg)
 

 

A few yrs ago I tracked down the makers and convinced them to build a board as they were out of stock for a few years - after a bit of back and forth with Olive and them asking Mark if it was OK they built me a tribute. (https://www.oliveskateboards.com/)

Today anxiety was high as I started on a cat track to the lift from parking.  My previous experience with the reverse sidecut concept was a Furberg POW (https://www.furbergsnowboards.net/snowboards-splitboards/the-pow) And while this board had adequate float it just does not want to turn.  To my delight I was able to maneuver the reverse sidecut with a bit of sideslipping actually with more ease than the Furberg. (Very doubtful this would work if hardpack or ice) Once I dropped in and was riding in POW  WOW!!! The marketing copy does not overstate a bit. This is something everyone should have a chance to ride even if just once.  Turns were effortless and could be super tight or long and drawn out but stable either way.   After the first run I was taking some high consequence lines through tight trees at faster speeds with less effort than ever before.  As for float it is better than my Prior Fissile 178 and turns much more nimble. A centered riding position is key. Trust the pintail to do the work and enjoy stability and power between your feet.  One thing I really dug is the way it cut through chop and the nose which is quite short doesnt load with transitions through chop. As for speed this board accelerates through the powder.

There are some downsides but not in the pow.  I have not caught edges in years and this board put me on my ass a few times.  In the least intuitive way you can carve like mad in the POW but lean a bit to much on hardpack and it wants to turn the opposite direction slamming you down rather than coming back under you. 


would love to hear what boards everyone loves and recommends for those deepest days.
 

 

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I've ridden a lot of powder boards. The last couple of seasons my "go to" board has been the Burton Skeleton Key, replaced this year with the Hometown Hero. I would say that most powder boards, whoever makes them, are likely to be good, but equally you really need to ride them to know which you like, as the differences can be subtle and your weight/ style are critical. I fully expect to hate 12 of the 13 different sized Lib Tech boards, and love the board which is precisely my size.

I always like new stuff so I'd certainly try reverse sidecut and am interested in how it rides. I'll pass on swallow tails and tankers though, that's not my style. I'm a hard booter, although I ride powder boards in powder, not hard boot boards.

I used to carry two boards: a heli powder board, and a Kessler SL for the piste. When there's a powder day like the 20cm I had when last in Revelstoke... I'd ride the first fresh tracks run or two on the heli board, then switch to the Kessler for the rest of the day, because riding crud at a resort is like riding hardpack. My Burton powder board was horrible to ride in those conditions as I couldn't edge it well - it felt too wide. At Snowbird I mostly ride my Kessler.

This season someone lent me a Burton Hometown hero. I'm not particularly a Burton fanboi, but I know some people who are connected. I've ridden lots of other brands and they work well too, but I can usually find what I like in Burton. Anyway, the Hometown hero (image on another thread here) worked surprisingly well in good on-piste snow conditions (standard Whistler fare). It was much easier to ride than I remembered from Revy with my previous board. There could be two reasons for that: (a) following advice from kind person on here who'd seen my video, I mellowed out my back foot to 35 degrees or so; (b) the hometown hero rides piste really well. [I know, it's a powder board thread, bear with me...] It's not a Kessler, but it's pretty much as much fun - I can carve it really hard, it's stable enough at resort speeds, and easier in moguls.

Powder, then. In line at 06:30, first lift, first chair, fresh tracks. Didn't notice the board - it rips in resort powder. We had maybe 30cm on whatever, and you could feel the base most of the time, but that's pretty much non-heli powder, and the board rips it. So now I have one board which I can use on hardpack and also powder.... yeah, no more carrying two boards.

But how about deeper snow? Well we went to Big white and rode with an old mate who's responsible for avalanche control there. So that's in zero-length line at 08:45, straight out onto massive vertical powder runs with no people. I love "family" resorts 😉 Anyway, the next day things got deeper and fresher, and steeper, so although I couldn't see much, I can confirm that the Hometown Hero was easy to ride in bottomless powder too.

So for now, that's my board. I'm hoping I won't have to give it back.

 

 

 

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So interesting to me - what's the perfect powder board, or what's great about different powder boards. I ride resort powder (plate bindings and hard boots) and I like Burton Malolos. I have a 158 and a 162. My wife has a 156 and likes it a lot. I also have a burton fish 160 that is fun too, but not as forgiving on the groomers as the Malolo. Would love to try some other powder boards and shapes. Local shop has some beauty's that would be cool to demo.

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well, I like the concept...Because, as a Skier for many years, with many days of good deep Pow, Skis would let you PENETRATE DEEP and then return to the surface...all this Snowboard Big Nose, wide Stick stuff, is for Floatation basically, I would love to see a different approach in a Pow stick, especially for Steep and Deep, much like a small board in the tube, the pitch gives the Energy needed to Dive Deep and return to the Surface, so especially here in Colorado, the Snow consistency and Pitch would allow this, Yes, with Pitch and Light Pow who Cares, however, today with all this new Snow I am sure my current Stick will work just fine...

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41 minutes ago, softbootsurfer said:

... all this Snowboard Big Nose, wide Stick stuff, is for Floatation basically, I would love to see a different approach in a Pow stick, especially for Steep and Deep, much like a small board in the tube, the pitch gives the Energy needed to Dive Deep and return to the Surface...

I think that's been changing through the years though. Originally Swallowtails were massive (180, 190?), and the rule was "go big or go home". In BC those were never popular, with the Burton Supermodel being the standard "heli" board ridden at 168 or 174 as needed. The Fish (1997ish?) was radically small at 156 in its day, and some of us ignored it initially for that reason. The Fish was fun and was designed (I think) to just ride, not to float. The Malolo (as noted above) was slashier and entertained for longer with a tail, and rode at around 163.

My last board (Dump Truck) was 156; the same length as my Kessler SL but very different. I just swapped that Dump Truck for a Hometown Hero which is 148.


So I think sizes, for me at least, are getting smaller. I'm not sure how far it'll go - I tried a Burton Nug the other year 142 and it was too small, but I think I'd got the wrong size. => I think it's correct that "float" isn't really what you want if you know how to ride the conditions at least.


My mate Gary Wayne used to make reverse-sidecut skis and they worked ok in powder - I watched a bunch of people ride them. On the other hand I didn't see anyone throw away their old skis to buy reverse-sidecut... and Gary's business doesn't seem to exist any more (he was selling in around 2015).

Edited by philw
Fix quote!
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Been riding the Nitro Squash for the last 5 years (no boarding last year), and it is a remarkable powder board.  Tight turning, exceptional float, and stiff enough for softer groom days.  (It sucks on hard choppy days for my massive 135 lbs, although my son at 185 has no problem).  Both of us are riding a 153, which explains why he has no problem on harder days.  Can't say enough about this board off piste in the trees, steeps, and bumps.  It's still in the Nitro line-up and they've expanded the sizes this year.  

 

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As with carving board choices, I think it comes down to personal preference and style.

For me, I will never ride something shorter than 170 on a pow day…my go to boards are my Tanker 201 for almost everything and Tanker 186 when I want something a little more playful.

I will not deny that many of the new short wide/area displaced boards are fun (I have ridden many of the Japanese snow surf designs and copies: Moss’, Gentem’s, Wand, EGF, VectorGlide, Elevated SurfCraft, etc) they just do not suit my style of riding as I love longer effective Edge and am a firm believer in length over width displacement.
 

Additionally I normally do not ride in terrain where I am only going to find powder…would be great, but just not a reality. So I need a board that rides powder well and then suits my style of riding when the snow conditions change or the powder gets all tracked out.

I do find it interesting that North American riders all seem to gravitate towards American industry trends while European and Asian riders get better choices because companies like Dupraz, Pogo, Virus, Fenix, Swellpanik, Good Boards, Rad-Air, Stranda, Gentemstick, etc still build bigger boards in addition to shorter offerings.

Pray for snow always and ride what suits you.

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1 hour ago, svr said:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           Tanker 201                                                             Tanker 186                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Pogo                                                                                                  Rad-Air                                                             

       bigger boards 

Pray for snow always and ride what suits you.

My take away from Sandy's comments.

Edited by davekempmeister
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On 1/1/2022 at 11:19 AM, svr said:

 I love longer effective Edge and am a firm believer in length over width displacement.

that's my take away,

205 slalom skis were my go to before snowboards had metal edges, then the grocer showed me the light🌈

porpoise or float a good board can do both; but I'm done trying to get 170-80 through tight trees

would like to try a squash but I wanna switch on the groomers inbetween

Edited by b0ardski
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I had a 163 Squash for a season. Bought it in a panic before my trip to BC and MCC because all I had for powder was an original Burton Fish, which was great in powder, but no fun on groomers and really sucked on the cat tracks at Turner getting back to the bottom.

The Donek Nomad had a pretty similar shape to the Fish, but carved better, but I wouldn't say it was fun carving, but you had control. You essentially rode the tail to carve, because the nose was super soft and floppy. So, you still have to lean back to ride it, but on groomers, not in powder. It was great in powder, but the stiff "carving tail" felt like a compromise in powder.

I rode the Squash with "soft" hardboots and it was an decent carver as long as you kept your stance centered on the sidecut. It had a weird sidecut though, in that it got tight towards the tail. Since the split tail is flexy and naturally tightens the turn at the end, this didn't make sense to me. Maybe it helps softbooters complete turns. Never felt quite right, but was interesting. I still needed to move my whole stance way back for riding in deep powder or had to lean back to keep the nose from burrowing in soft snow. A pointy nose might work better. The Squash is likely better suited for softboot riders (or smaller hardbooters) who want a board that carves and does pow. I weigh about 185lbs and a smaller Squash might have been better in pow for me, but likely not as good for carving.

I got 2 Thirst swallowtails last year and though I've only had a few marginal powder days riding them, they seem like they might be the best powder/carvers I've ridden. They carve just like a carving board on groomers. Going into powder or soft snow the tail sinks on its own and the nose keeps its head up with no shift in rider weight. 

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Posted (edited)

@bigwavedave - thanks for sharing that video!

As a guy tipping the scales at 220 I want to second the displacement advice!  

Speed is your friend for float  and you can ride just about anything if it is steep and open enough to carry some speed. Trees cause me to slow and not all runs are at an ideal pitch for carrying speed - hence the search for an ultimate POW board.

I have not ridden any of the sub 160 boards but but in theory they should work well by trading length for width. Coming from a carving background I tend to charge leaning forward and loading the nose to initiate/force turns which has caused more than a few forward cartwheels when committing/forcing some turns on steep or tight clutch turns. Adding width and a shorter effective edge probably wont make those turns easier for me but I can see these fish inspired boards as super fun for lighter riders who can ride with a centered position.

My usual powder board is a 178 prior fissile which I have no problems maneuvering  through tight trees but probably wouldnt go longer for trees and have yet to try my 200 tanker.

After a few more days on the Fawcett reverse sidecut I have a bit more insight to add. 
The widest part of this board  is about at the front foot making for a very long effective nose to assist in float from the front foot to the tip. The widest most surface area thus float  are right between your feet creating a weird feeling that your can only lean forward just a bit to step on the gas BUT more than a bit and you sink the nose  (remember any further forward than the front foot and the board tapers so you lose surface area)  With most other boards you rely on float coming from the nose - this difference takes a bit of getting used to.  I believe this quirk is also the key to the boards  unmatched maneuverability. Because there is less resistance/support/float at the nose turns becomes much quicker pivoting between the feet with less resistance at the nose to the turning than a standard powder board with a big shovel. 

With power between the feet and a centered stance I was able to push-pull and get enough pop to have a few unlinked turns even with 2' of  pow.

I think of the reverse sidecut as a hyper specialized powder board  in the same way a carving board with an isolation plate would not be good for certain conditions I would not think of riding this on less than 8" or on anything approaching groom! A fall on a packed out cat track sent me for an Xray this week demonstrating a nondisplaced humeral head fx/hairline crack.  While that event in no way diminishes my enthusiasm for riding a reverse sidecut in good  powder conditions I have better understanding of the cautions Lib Tech put on their version:

https://www.saltypeaks.com/products/1612/Lib-Tech-T-Rice-Banana-Hammock-Snowboard.html
WARNING:
Lib Tech experiMENTAL Division warning:
This board is a theory we turned into a physical object. Just because we built it, Travis rides it, and you are buying it, doesn't mean it is safe. Absolutely do NOT ride the Banana Hammock!

Edited by neanderthal
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Sorry to hear that, but bad stuff can happen on lots of types of board.

Quote

Speed is your friend for float  and you can ride just about anything if it is steep and open enough to carry some speed. Trees cause me to slow and not all runs are at an ideal pitch for carrying speed - hence the search for an ultimate POW board.
...
I have not ridden any of the sub 160 boards but but in theory they should work well by trading length for width. ... Adding width and a shorter effective edge probably wont make those turns easier for me but I can see these fish inspired boards as super fun for lighter riders who can ride with a centered position.

I think that - speed - is why some people like those big boards, which accelerate in a straight line faster than smaller boards. It takes a little more work to get a smaller board running, perhaps, but once it is, it out performs the bigger board in general mixed mountain terrain.

My guess would be that hard boot people will mostly probably use steep angles, which I at least find don't work well on short boards, making balance on those harder. 

Pitch... the one time you'll see big boards at the heli operators I frequent would be in deep snow/ shallow slope (high avalanche risk) conditions, where you're struggling with "penetration" and straight lining the biggest board you can find is the only thing which works. Those conditions aren't much fun. More generally, with practice "looking ahead" is the key to that one. Novices fall or stop on the flats, where as I'll wait until they do that, so I know precisely where I need to carry speed (it's important to always let the novices go first on the garbage bits).

When the Burton Fish first came out I sneered at it for that first season because it was tiny. I am "lighter" I suppose. Those and all the Burton boards I've ridden since then I've used the reference stance, although that's typically "back" a bit on their powder boards. Lib Tech and some other (often so-called "twin" even if tapered) boards I found typically required some set back.

 

 

Anyway, like cars, there's perhaps never going to be one "perfect" thing for everyone, it all depends..

 

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