The last day of the 2017 Stratton snowboard demos did not disappoint. It had been snowing since early morning and it kept coming all day, up to a foot plus in some areas. And because it was a powder day I spent more time riding than testing so here are three boards I got to: Yes Greats Uninc, Jones Mind Expander, Lib Tech Gold Member.
Yes Greats Uninc 156
I wanted to check out some powder boards at Yes and Jones but they were out at the time so I went for the Yes Uninc. I rode this one last year and it was awesome so trying it out in fresh snow seemed like a good deal while I waited for the other boards to get returned.
I had the rep put on some NOW Brigade bindings that were having some technical problems due to the ice that had built up on the ladders over night. The ratchets wouldn't hold in place so we heated them up to melt the ice and hoped for the best. The Uninc name comes from a Burton team board that was produced a good number of years ago. But the Yes Uninc has a completely different shape and profile, although it still sits squarely in the all-mountain/freestyle category.
Everything about the Greats Uninc is the same as last year except the graphic. It has the asym heel sidecut that allows you to lay down on your carves with power but without sliding out. The board floated easily through the powder and felt nimble edge-to-edge. But I think it really shines on hard pack where you can feel the flex and energy popping in and out of turns, buttering, and all around spin tricks.
Jones Mind Expander 158
The Jones Mind Expander is one of two new boards (the other being the Lone Wolf) that is a collaboration between Jones and surf shaper Chris Christenson. This board has a hybrid design incorporating features from three separate Jones boards. The result is a freestyle oriented powder board.
The Mind Expander has a long rockered nose with camber between the feet, a softer flex and a short radius, set back side cut. The tail is full length unlike most of the other surf-style boards I rode at the demos.
This board rolled effortlessly from heel to toe off the tail and once the side cut locked in I was able lay down some heavy slashes. There is a delay in the side cut engaging when turning, but once it does it feels incredibly smooth and buttery.
The extra tail allowed this board to pop off of rollers and side hits and of course that long rockered nose floated like a champ through the deepest stashes. This is a great quiver board for the powderhound who is looking for a really playful surf shaped board.
I rode the Mind Expander with the NOW Pilot bindings. I did not have the same ratcheting problems with the Pilots as I did with the Brigades. The Pilots felt really comfortable, especially the highbacks and ankle strap. They are a mid-stiff binding but they don't feel rigid or over-reactive. They have that classic NOW response that feels automatic edge to edge without having to work them hard. They matched up well the Mind Expander and make a great all-mountain binding.
Lib Tech Gold Member 159
The Gold Member is one of the boards that Travis Rice rides. It's a directional twin with pointed nose and a notched tail. By looking at it you would think it's strictly a point-and-go freeride board- but you would be wrong. The XC2 profile gives it a surfy feel without losing any stability or edge hold at speed. It has a slightly narrower waist than Rice's other boards which makes really good at quick, tight turns, as well as big, open carves.
This board was a winner for me. I took it into some gnarly tight and steep tree runs and it performed unbelievably awesome. Normally, when you're in these areas it's constant stop and go until the trees open up a bit. But on this board I was able to easily string together lines I really thought I had no business doing. On the slopes the Gold Member rode damp and stable through chewed up powder due to the medium/stiff flex and directional shape. The Gold Member is by no means a cheap board. But if you're a hard charging banger who likes to throw down and tear through the trees then this is a no brainer deck for you.
So there's my run of boards and bindings for the 2017 Stratton Snowboard Demos. It's always fun get out to this event and ride the latest gear. This year I had my focus on boards that sort of pushed the boundaries of your average deck. It's totally worth trying out some of these less ridden shapes and profiles. One of them just might inspire the crap out of you.