You may want to consider buying an alpine snowboard from a small manufacturer that
can provide excellent personalized customer service, and who can suggest either
a standard production board, or a totally custom design.
one disclaimer about boards from small manufacturers - most of the boards are expensive. Therefore, it is
speculated that carvers rave about them regardless of actual performance, in
order to justify the purchase to their wives.
The SWOARD 3rd generation extended
The SWOARD snowboard company is run by the ExtremeCarving people. Their first model was called the ExtremeCarver 3D Pro, and they now make the ExtremeCarver 2D. However, each model is often referred to as the SWOARD model. It is "the sword that cuts deep,
and also a contraction of Swiss and board". The board is designed
for the ExtremeCarving method of riding. Jacques Rilliet, previously
a shaper at Wild Duck, designed the board. The SWOARD uses a very similar outline
as the Wild Duck Knifer 160 '95 (only the sidecut radius has changed). They
fabricate the ExtremeCarver 2D in one of three lengths:
- 161 cm (12.1 M radius), 21.0 cm width
- 168 cm (12.7 M radius), 22.1 cm width
- 175 cm (13.3 M radius), 23.1 cm width
The rise of the wide board
When SWOARD's shaper Jacques Rilliet started producing wide alpine boards with softer flex for alpine carving in 2002, long-time carvers were skeptical - everyone was carving on skinny boards with high binding angles. But over the years, the wide board has caught on, as riders have discovered the benefits of greater rotational freedom, torsional stiffness, and softer flex. And more alpine riders have discovered the ExtremeCarving style, which requiring exactly this type of board. And now many other manufacturers are catching up, by offering wide alpine boards that attempt to mimic the performance of the SWOARD. Looking back, it's clear that SWOARD was the pioneer in developing wide alpine boards that bring a whole new level of performance to the sport of carving.
In addition, each length comes in multiple stiffnesses: extra soft (for the 161cm length), soft, medium,
hard, or extra hard (for the 175 cm length), based on the rider's weight. If you are on the borderline between two stiffnesses, then chose the softer flex if you ride mostly on icy slopes.
Several aspects of the ExtremeCarving technique
dictated the design of the board:
- In order to perform the heel side turn using the ExtremeCarving technique,
low binding angles are necessary to provide better rotational movement. In order to accommodate low binding angles,
the SWOARD is wide for a carving board (21-23 cm width).
- For ExtremeCarving, a 12-13 M sidecut radius is optimal: For heavier riders, go with 13M, and for lighter riders, go with 12M. Sidecuts < 12M
require tricky fast turns, which are especially difficult on heel side. For
sidecuts > 13M, too much speed is required.
- During a carve, the ExtremeCarving style cranks the board almost vertically
on edge, up to around 85° with respect to the slope . In order to maintain good edge grip with a wider board that is tilted
high on edge, the board requires high torsional stiffness. The essential feature
of the board is the "ATC Matrix", an inner carbon matrix recessed
into the core that gives the board medium longitudinal flex and high torsional
stiffness, allowing the board to be wide but also have good edge grip, by
transmitting power from the feet to the edge of the board.
- The softer longitudinal flex allows the board to decamber naturally into a circle, without kinking in one or more spots.
An all-mountain board is not suitable for EC, since:
- The smaller sidecut radius of an all-mountain board results in tight turns, which bleed off too much speed.
- The edge hold is insufficient, due to lack of high torsional stiffness.
The SWOARD is unique for several reasons:
- It is specifically designed to be tilted vertically on edge. In comparison,
a typical wider alpine board does not accommodate the
EC technique because it has insufficient edge grip when cranked vertically.
- The board is technique-specific: You need to ride it using the ExtremeCarving
style to get optimal performance from the board.
- The length and stiffness of the board must be selected base on a rider's
weight, height, and foot size.
For these reasons, reviews/evaluations of the board are valid only if:
- The rider is using a board that is the proper length and stiffness.
- The rider can perform ExtremeCarving "by the book", using the
ExtremeCarving technique to get the board nearly vertical in the middle of
every carve with extended legs.
The board is lengthwise symmetrical: the inserts, flex, torsion, camber and
sidecut shape are all centered, the sidecut is circular, and the board has no
taper or setback. The inserts are stainless steel.
The SWOARD production has evolved over time. For the '04 model year and earlier, SWOARD manufactured the ExtremeCarver 3D, which were fabricated at the Duret factory. The 3D model had these characteristics:
- The topsheet used Isosport ICP 2960, which is lightweight and provides
a lot of dampening for vibrations. On the downside, it was highly susceptible to scratches.
- The belt grind was applied
at the factory, using a 120 grit paper belt followed by a 320 grit finishing
- Unlike most alpine boards, the nose and
tail of the SWOARD were not protected with metal rails. If a skier collides
with the tail, it can get damaged or delaminate. One solution is to use a
dremel tool to add a slight bevel at the tail so that skiers slide over the
board rather than breaking it. Someone posted directions on the EC site on how to add a bumper to the tail.
- The bonding process at the Duret factory used a high temperature and short duration (90°C/30 minutes), which is a less optimal, when compared to lower temperature and longer curing duration.
In '06, the SWOARD team switched to the Virus Factory for production, and made the ExtremeCarver 2D. Starting in the '08 model year, they shifted production again, so that the board is 100% manufactured by Nidecker. The SWOARD 2D uses a cost-reduced version of the carbon ATC Matrix, called the ATC Matrix 2D. The ATC Matrix 2D still acts as a torsion distribution device for great edge hold. The flex pattern of the 2D and 3D are nearly the same, but the 2D has a bit less edge hold on ice at high speeds, and mainly affects the heel side turns when doing EC carving. The 2D is also less lively than the 3D, but a bit more comfortable to ride. Differences between the SWOARD 2D and SWOARD 3D:
||ATC Matrix 2D
||ATC Matrix 3D
- The 2D has the same specs as the 3D (length/width, flex)
- The boards have urethane protection inserted for the tip and tail.
- The core is Ash/Spruce, vertically laminated
- The board is reinforced using triaxial fiberglass
- The base is made of Electra 4000.
- The 2D has a belt grind, which gives the base a very fine structure which is good for very cold snow. The Electra 4000 P-Tex performs best when it is smooth, with very little structure - its gliding
characteristics degrade when a stone grind is applied. Base structure is only needed in spring conditions, and can be applied
using a brass brush.
- For the previous '06 model year, the 2D used a topsheet with high-end Duraclear. One side is PU, which allows silkscreening, and the other side is PE, which has a textured surface that is more resistant to scratches. The edges of the topsheet will also get a small bevel.
There are a few minor changes for '07:
- The '07 model uses a more highly textured topsheet surface that is more scratch resistant.
- More protection in the nose and tail
- Thicker edges, especially around the nose and tail, for improved durability.
- You can order the board from the SWOARD website, then Virus will deliver it to you. They also have several dealers in Europe.
- Plus, the SWOARD guys provide excellent customer service. They are also available 24/7 via MSN Messenger:
For '09, the SWOARD team added more enhancements:
- The board outline has a small modification, and the SWOARD guys tweaked the flex for better performance.
- The boards have a new glossy topsheet, which is more reliable than the ICP previously used.
- The SWOARD team has expanded the number of flex options available; now, very heavy and very light riders can order a board with optimum flex. SWOARD now offers more flex options than any other manufacturer.
The ExtremeCarver will not likely benefit from Titanal, because the board must constantly flex into a very short turn radius, which may over-stress a metal board.
See the television interview (in French) with the SWOARD guys.
Several companies have copied the ExtremeCarver dimensions, however none of them have the ATC Matrix:
- For '05, Virus made a board that appeared to be an attempt to copy the SWOARD.
It had the exact same specs, and is custom-built with a stiffness according
to the rider's weight. It was available as a custom design only, and not listed on the Virus web site. Unlike the SWOARD, it had an elliptical sidecut. Reviewers found it to be more lively and nimble than the SWOARD, but not as stable at higher speeds.
- Goltes makes an ExtremeCarver in three lengths.
- Pen Snowboards makes the Blackjack
- The G-Force carving site fabricated their own board for ExtremeCarving.
- Donek makes an ExtremeCarver
- Coiler makes an ExtremeCarver
|Sean Martin rails on the Donek. He produces some of the best freecarve boards around, with stellar
customer service. Donek boards are often described as lively, with a lot of
snap, but some people find them a bit "nervous," requiring a more precise riding technique, especially on crud.
- Previous to '04, Donek topsheets
were somewhat prone to scratches and breakage, so Donek sold gaskets to go under
some stiffer bindings. If you use Bomber TD1 bindings with these boards, you
should use the gaskets to make sure your warranty remains valid (TD2 bindings
don't need the gaskets). For '04, Sean added another layer of lamination to
the topsheet that provides more durability - the entire topsheet is basically
a stomp pad. For '06, Donek has re-calibrated the flex stiffness, and the FC-I is now a bit softer and more forgiving.
- Donek has a demo-by-mail service: Sean will ship you a demo, and
when you are done, you tune it and ship it back. In Vermont, the Startingate is the East Coast Donek demo center. Donek also has a factory near Denver airport, so you can pick up a demo on the way to Summit County.
- A custom Donek can be
ordered with any type of graphics or fabric on the topsheet.
- Starting in '06, Donek will be able to ship boards with a stone grind. Even with a stone grind, the base and side edge come with a 0º
bevel. As a result, the base structure appears in the base edge, so you need
to put a bevel on it and do a polish job.
- The Donek FC-I 171 was designed using
the same outline as the Madd 170 (but without the carbon fiber topsheet).
- Donek backs their boards with a 30-day guarantee: If you purchase a Donek snowboard and are unhappy with it, you can return it within 30 days of the purchase, and a get a refund that includes the return shipping charges.
For 2006, Donek started producing the Pilot, a lower-cost, entry-level carving board with more flex for women and smaller riders. It is proving to be quite popular, and may be the first sign that hardbooting is growing beyond a niche sport.
Check out the extensive Donek Factory tour.
||Bruce Varsava is a snowboard racer who makes quiet, damp boards with great stability
and edge hold, especially on ice and frozen crud. In particular, his All Mountain series gets raves. Bruce makes everything to order and does not usually have demo boards
available. Also, you generally won't find any of his boards available off-the-rack at retailers. The good and bad news is that Coiler boards are so inexpensive that Bruce has a one-year waiting list. He makes a fixed number of boards each year (~100), and typically takes orders only in January, with delivery the following year.
Other Coiler facts:
- Coiler also makes women-specific race boards, which are narrower, and have less camber, stiffness, and torsional stiffness.
- The top of the inserts
on some Coilers are recessed by about 3 mm, so you need longer binding screws
to get sufficient thread engagement - See the parts list.
- For alterations, Bruce can do a change-o-matic
trick on his boards to add more stiffness: he can peel off the topsheet, add
more fiberglass, and put it back together for you.
- Bruce has his own stiffness index, which he inscribes into the sidewall.
- The boards use Isosport Highspeed sintered base material.
- Bruce is one of the few builders who uses wood cores with a pre-milled camber. Boards with a pre-milled camber have certain characteristics:
- It adds liveliness to a board, but it also allows the builder to add dampening to certain parts of the board to get the best of both worlds.
- Boards can better retain their camber over a long period of time. As a result, Coiler boards hold their value very well.
- On the downside, it's easier to break down the wood fibers of a core with pre-milled camber, since the wood core will be bent to a greater degree when the board is decambered.
Coiler offers SuperBoard dampening for good performance on ice. He is still experimenting with Titanal, but the board prototypes are not yet durable enough to be sold in production runs. If and when the Titanal boards are available, it will be essential to use a protective gasket underneath metal-base bindings to preserve the warranty, because otherwise the Titanal on the topsheet may delaminate. The Titanal board has a softer flex between bindings for better edge hold on ice, and is primarily intended for rutted-up race courses. In 2005, Jasey-Jay won two gold medals at the world championships in Whistler, British Columbia on a Titanal Coiler. Here are some of Jasey-Jay's pitches for Coiler:
- From an interview at the '04 FIS World Cup at Mt Bachelor (pre-Titanal):
"I was absolutely blown away by the performance and how much my riding
has improved ... I went from aiming for top 16s to aiming for podiums."
- In preparation for the World Championships in Whistler, Jasey-Jay explained that the Swiss riders using Kessler Titanal boards have an advantage when the course gets rutted up: "I'll race against one of the Swiss and beat him. Then the [weather and snow] conditions change and he destroys me. The discrepancy is the new boards. ... Regular snowboards are made of wood and fiberglass. They chatter on ice because they're rigid. They can't hold an edge. Metal quiets everything down. It sticks to the ice."
- After winning two gold medals at the World Championships in Whistler, with a Coiler Titanal board: "No matter what I'm doing, the board knows where it's supposed to go and it does its job. It holds its edge on everything. You can be drunk riding this thing."
Chris Prior makes boards that provide a lot of tail spring. To get the best performance out of these boards, it's best to use a technique that loads the tail like a trampoline.
Jim rails on the Prior
4WD (also referred to as the 4x4) is a versatile all mountain board with great float in powder, but also excellent carving performance. It's a tad narrow for softboots, but works great with any hardboot setup.
Prior holds demo days at resorts in Canada, Colorado, and the Northwest. Check the website for the demo days schedule, and be aware that this schedule changes often, at the last minute. Or stop by his shop in Whistler
and pick up a demo ($25/day). Several stores rent Prior boards, including Fanatyk Co.
at Whistler (more than $25/day). Prior has also OEMed for other companies. The Prior factory also has tours; call them up and reserve a timeslot.
If you are looking
for a custom BX board, you can get an ATV (if you have smaller feet), or get an ATV with a wider waist, or an modified MFR.
Prior has done a lot of OEM work, including the legendary Afterburner split-tail, sold at Alpinepunk.
(183cm length, 13.7M radius, 21cm waist)
Madd makes several alpine boards:
The SL, GS, and SG boards are available in one of three stiffnesses, based on rider weight. The boards have great edge hold on ice, are immune
to chatter, and have very high stability at speed. The performance characteristics
are achieved with an elliptical sidecut and a flex controlled by a carbon fiber
butterfly pattern on the topsheet. Madds have forward-loaded
camber, which requires a more aggressive carving technique and takes a bit of
getting used to. The setback on the 158 and 170 is quite high. More details:
- The 170 cm length (approximately 10.5M radius) board is easy to ride and is suitable
for beginners. It has incredible edge hold, and lets you concentrate on your
technique without worrying about maintaining a precise center of mass - it
allows you to relax while you carve. The characteristics of the board tend to change from one production run to another, in terms of edge hold and nose stiffness.
- The 158 cm length (8.8 M radius) board requires an advanced weight-forward
technique and is not suitable for beginners. It is
also necessary to maintain a more precisely balanced center of mass to get
the optimal edge hold characteristics. It offers the unusual combination of
small sidecut radius and high stability, which is great for narrow runs. The
very tight 8.8M sidecut allows you to put your twitch muscle to work. The
158 also proves one corollary: the length of a board does not necessarily
matter. The Madd 158 is like a German Sheppard: if no one is in charge, then it will insist on being the one in charge.
Info on the older Madds:
- Historically, Madd ceased regular production for a number of years, making only small batches
of boards for friends and family. Old models were made with a highly durable
graphite base. Later models used a double sintered p-tex 4000 speckled base. Some carvers have remarked that the older base didn't hold wax as well.
- Some Madd boards use brass inserts. Brass is not as durable as steel, but it theoretically provides a softer feel to the board.. When you order a Madd, you can specify whether you want brass or stainless steel inserts.
- The inserts of the Madd are recessed by about 2mm. Plus, the carbon fiber topsheet is 1mm thick. So, you need binding insert bolts that are 3mm longer than normal in order to get at least 4 turns of thread engagement, otherwise, you could be rip'n the cord, and rip out the inserts. Especially if you have a board with the brass inserts.
The Madds have a few distinguishing characteristics:
- Phenomenal edge hold, until you release it.
- You often find yourself going uphill on a very locked-in carve.
- The smaller sidecut radius allows you an added measure of safety, because you can carve tighter turns and reduce the width of the slope that you burn up, thereby minimizing the change of a collision.
- The board slows down time (a la the Matrix) by bleeding off speed, especially for the shorts 158 and 170. Because the board is able to stay locked-in until the very end of the turn, you can dump more speed per turn on the steeps.
- The boards are ideal for the steeps: they want to carve tight turns at high speed.
- The Madds are a tad narrow,
so you may need to crank up your binding angles.
- The board was designed specifically for narrow runs of East Coast ice, with tight sidecuts, and a flex pattern for ice.
- The boards are built in Italy
- To add to the mystique, Madd boards have a quixotic design,
because not even the Madd guys know exactly why the board works so well.
Another tidbit: Madd often has insanely good early-season sales, around Thanksgiving. Be sure to get on their mailing list.
PureBoarding - #ONE
The #one is available from PureBoarding.
It is an asymmetrical carving board designed specifically for their style of
carving. It is fabricated by Kessler
snowboards in Switzerland and comes in three lengths:
- 152 cm (8.5 M radius), 20.5 cm width (no longer available)
- 157 cm (8.6 M radius), 21.5 cm width
- 161 cm (9.0 M radius), 23.5 cm width
According to Jörg, the boards have medium flex with high torsional stiffness,
and are softer than many alpine boards on the market. The tail is slightly upturned,
which makes it easy to ride switch. The board was designed with a wide waist
to allow for lower binding angles. They typically use binding angles of front: 55º / rear: 20º-30º,
allowing the rider more rotational freedom, which is required for their eurocarving
style. The price is around $1100 USD.
PureBoarding - TWO
Mike rails on the TWO in Aspen.
The TWO is the second board from PureBoarding. It's also called the "Black Betty." This time around, it is a symmetrical board. Initially, it was available only in a 158 length, but now it comes in three lengths:
Sigi Grabner Snowboards
Sigi has started a snowboard company, and he's selling race and all-mountain boards, including one that has Titanal. The Speed model is highly specialized for a race course, with a soft flex, a pointy-shaped nose that is supposed to glide over crud, and up to 11mm of taper. Sigi mentioned that the boards are manufactured in Carinthia, which means that Elan is the likely factory.
R.A.D-SE : A design with a shape similar to the Kessler. Made in Sweden.
Bryan rails on the Tinkler board.
Tinkler is previously known for the Tinkler Plate, a butterfly-shaped plate that is mounted on top of a snowboard, to give it more dampening. Recently, Tinkler now manufactures boards that have both a carbon fiber butterfly pattern as well as SnowStix, which are rods mounted on the front and rear of the board to provide more stiffness for very long boards.
If you decide to get a board custom made, you call up the guy who will press
the board, and tell him your weight, height, foot length, skill level, intended
terrain, and riding style. Based on this, he will draw from his considerable
experience and conjure the perfect board shape/flex/stiffness for you (it's just like talking
to a phone psychic).
If you have big feet, or if you like to carve with low binding angles, you
will need a wider board to prevent boot overhang, in which case you should consider
going custom. You can also go custom if you want a board with a weird combination
of parameters. Want a really long board with a really small sidecut radius?
In addition, you can bring life to even the most unnatural science experiments,
like Zie Scalpel™,
a board with an abnormally long effective edge, or freaks of nature like a 228
cm board with a 19.5M radius.
If you don't go for the custom made option, bear in mind that production boards
from different manufacturers have very different characteristics, so there is
no rigid rule of thumb for how to select a board. On top of that, the same model
of board can change characteristics from one model year to another: The Nidecker
Custom GS, F2 Speedster, and Donek FC have gotten a bit softer. The Volkl RT now has a stiffer
Recommended production board manufacturers
- Nidecker - A Swiss company.
Nidecker Custom GS 172
- Volkl - A German manufacturer. They
have good customer service, and will replace gear after it is out of warranty.
Volkl Renntiger 178
- Oxygen - The Proton has a
tail that sticks like glue to the snow. It has a notch centered in the tail
edge, which screams "alpine board!" Oxygen's parent, Atomic Ski, may
or may not continue the Oxygen line. The older APX was a decent all-mountain board.
Oxygen Proton 168
- F2 - The Speedster is a fast race
board. Curiously, starting in '03, the Speedster race boards have rounded
tail corners, which are normally seen only on freecarve boards.
The speedster has a somewhat softer nose and stiffer mid-section, which allows it to handle bumps a bit better.
The Speedster GTS is a freecarve board; for 2007, the GTS is available is wider models, which qualify as an all-mountain board. The F2 Silberpfeil has a stiff nose and tail, with a softer midsection, which makes it better on ice, but it also has a tendency to be nervous and sensitive to bumps.
F2 uses IsoSport Nanospeed base material, which includes silica particles for better wax absorption and durability.
- Hot: The Hot Blast is a highly
regarded race board. The older Hot Shine is a good freecarve board. Hot was
recently absorbed into Hammer Snowboards, and the boards are now manufactured
in Spain. The Hammer Snowboards web site has a complete museum index of all
Hot boards ever made, with photos.
- Spirit Snowboards in Italy
has a line of race boards. They sell the Radikal and the Piega in 158, 173, and 183 lengths:
Spirit Radikal 158 '06
Spirit Piega 154, 158, 175
Other Board makers
Other board manufacturers that currently make carving boards:
- Pen Snowboards, which makes the Blackjack, yet another board for ExtremeCarving.
- Surf-Rodz, in West Haven, CT has just come out with two twin-tip freecarve decks, the Carve 170, Carve 180. They also make the Cruise 165, a wider, directional board.
- Matrix Boardsports makes the Overlord..
- Tropical Tube seems to be cranking out several models.
- Kessler in Switzerland.
- Oxess in Switzerland.
- Happy Monkey
may produce alpine boards for '07. They are currently beta testing boards
in the Seattle area.
- Phiokka makes the Cooper alpine board, which is probably an OEM of some other board.
- Tomahawk: Made in Italy (Kronplatz area) by Sigi and Alois Renzler. They produce about 100
boards per year.
- Liberation Sports, previously
BS RaceBoards. Designed by BJ Slater, who formerly designed boards at NeverSummer.
They make race boards and freecarve boards.
- Scott USA makes the Scott Striker,
sold in Europe and Canada.
- Inca Snowboards previously made race and
freecarve boards with huge reverse taper that worked great on ice.
- Custom craft Marty can
make a custom alpine board that is less expensive than boards from other custom
- Goltes, in Slovenia, makes race boards
with a carbon fiber topsheet. Sold by Dan Yoja in Canada.
They also have an ExtremeCarver.
- Rad-air A Swiss Company that specializes
in long boards that are made at the Volkl factory. They make the Tanker, a
great board to use on a pow day. The Tanker Crown also carves well.
The Tanker also comes in extra wide widths, which is ideal for people with big feet.
- Radical Sports in Zürich
makes a freecarve board, as well as board that's waaaay long: the Surf
- Choc snowboards in the Czech
Republic. They OEM the Trans boards, which tend to be skinny. The Trans Bastard model has a 15 cm waist.
- Virus specializes in narrow
race boards: The Cyborg has a length of 181 cm and a waist width of 14 cm.
Some people use Skwal bindings on them. They are also expensive.
- Goode makes the Exile
- Pogo, a German manufacturer.
Pogo has a Museum archive on its site where you can gawk at ridiculous-looking
in Austria makes the IQ race board, and several freecarve boards, including
the Chrono, the Peak, and the Ranger. They also make the Terra BX board.
- Snowblind makes custom boards, including
a few asym models.
- Black Hole Snowboards,
- Duret, in France.
- Limited4You Makes several race
- Rabanser Snowboards in Italy
makes the WorldCup Edition race board, as well as race boards for kids (110
- Xtasy snowboards, in Germany
- You can order a freeride board to your custom specs at Ride
- Klein Snowboards, in Germany.
Boards available only in Japan:
- BC Stream
- R.17#Addicted was sold by Burton, but '05 was the last year they were available in Japan.
They are a tad less stiff than the older Burton Speed series.
- Fishtail / powder:
Board manufacturers that no longer make carving boards. You might find older
carving boards sold used:
PureCarve was founded as a small, carve-dedicate board company
in Aspen that has since disbanded, but you can sometimes find the boards used.
They fabricated the Maverick 175 (11.2 M sidecut), a board designed for their
style of carving. It is wider and softer than most race boards. At the time
it was sold, it had an uncanny resemblance to the blue-topsheet Rossi 173 (probably the Shannon Melheuse Pro-Ride). The
Maverick is a good carving board, despite some minor delam problems. PureCarve
also produced a rather wide all-mountain board, the Joey Cabell:
||Joey Cabell 167
left: Joey Cabell. Center: Doug Dryer. Right: Joey Cabell.
Burton Ultra Prime 169 '01
Burton Alp 164 '98
Burton Speed 168 (wide) '03
The last year for the Burton alpine line in the US was 2003. Burton continued to manufacture boards under the R.17#Addicted line in Japan for '04 and '05, but for '06, Burton has pulled out completely. Since Burton no longer makes alpine gear of any kind, they will not
be able to replace broken gear, even if it is still under warranty. Some older
Burton gear is sold on Chris Klug's website:
- The last alpine board from Burton was the '03 Speed, in lengths of 154,
158w, 164, 168w, and 178. The Speed has the shape of a race board and the
flex of a freecarve board. Two of the lengths came wide: the 158 (21 cm),
and the 168 (22.5 cm). The wide models may be able to accommodate the ExtremeCarving
style of carving (a poor man's SWOARD).
- The older Ultra Primes had a
race shape with a freecarve flex: these boards can be used for racing by lightweight riders, or for freecarving by heavier riders. Another oddity of the Ultra Prime was the change in sidecut radius from the 168 of the '00 model year to the 169 of the '01 model year:
| 2000 Burton Ultra Prime 168
||sidecut radius = 11.92
||effective edge = 152
| 2001 Burton Ultra Prime 169
||sidecut radius = 10.52
||effective edge = 148
- Except for the old Burton Coil, Burton carving boards are generally considered
less highly than the European brands. The Coil replaced both the Alp (a freecarver)
and the Wire (an all-mountain board), and is considered a good all-mountain
carver. The Wire is considered an OK all-mountain board, as well as its predecessor,
the E-deck. Many riders have reported that the base of the Alp warps to a great extent over time, resulting in a board that is unrideable.
- Burton boards have a softer Rockwell hardness on the steel edges. As a result,
they dull quicker and are more susceptible to rust.
- Burton boards have the 3D hole mounting pattern, an insert pack from which
you can select three inserts centered on the vertices of a 43 mm equilateral
triangle. All other board manufacturers currently use the 4x4 pattern, an insert pack
from which you can select four inserts centered on the vertices of a 40 mm
square. When using non-Burton bindings with a Burton board, make sure the
bindings can work with the 3D pattern. If the binding does not come with 3D
center disks, you may need to either fabricate your own, or modify a 4x4
binding disk by filing two holes outward by 1.5 mm each and then drilling
a 3rd hole. The 3D hole pattern offers fewer possible binding positions and
fewer placement options than the 4x4 hole pattern.
Other discontinued boards:
- Plenk : the Pin Trip race board, the
FreecarveFC, and the Maniac BX board.
- Nitro previously made a few race boards: The GT, GTR, GTX, GTO, CAM, and Scorpion. Freecarve/all mountain boards included the ARX, Instinct, and Blazer.
- Rossignol. '02 was their
last season for alpine boards. Rossi boards from later years lose their
camber quickly due to a foam (microcell) core. Despite this fact, a lot of
people raved about how well the boards performed, and were willing to buy
a new one every year. A lot of the performance came from the VAS (Vibration Absorption System).
Models included the Throttle, Accelerator, Shannon Melhuse series, Race VAS, and the Alpine.
- Elan made the Ballistic, a
stiff and lively race board.
- Arbor made alpine boards that
tended to be very soft.
- Head made
the AX and MOA series for '02
- Salomon - the Salomon FRS is
a BX board that can be used with hard or soft boots.
sold by F2 in Japan.
- Wild duck
- Option snowboards
- HeavyTools made the Stinger, Lizard and the Patriot.
- Plasma: the Extreme, the Aggressive, and X-Over.
- Fozz Boards was Mark Fawcett's board company (OEM from Prior)
- Nale was the same company as Elan, and made the Speedball.
- Volant - They have a cool stainless steel topsheet, are heavier, and have
great edge hold on ice. However, if you bang the nose, it is susceptible to
delamination. Volant addressed this problem by adding a nose guard on the
later models. Nose guards should be installed on the older models.
- Kemper Snowboards
- Mistral made the Sonic and the Pace. Mistral later merged with F2.
- Riot made the Velocity race board.
- Original Sin, which changed to Dynastar Snowboards
- Freesurf made the Highlander, and the Mustang, and asym.
- Liquid made the Liquid Race, and the Arc freecarve board
- Aggression was bought out by Volant.
- Lacroix: one of the first companies to make carving boards.
- MBoo Snowboards. They made the Freecarve and the Race Pro.
- Santa Cruz
- Crazy banana
- K2 : The Skinny was their last alpine board.
- Checker Pig: The G5 and G6
- Ride made the Kildy
- Krass Snowboards
The Skwal is a monocarver that emerged around 1993.
The Thias Skwal 173° F
a monoski, which has bindings side-by-side, the Skwal has bindings
mounted inline, at angles between 86º and 90º. It is around 12 cm at
the waist, feels like a slalom water-ski, and allows very laid-over eurocarve-style
turns. With binding angles near 90º, the heel side and toe side feel much
more symmetrical than a snowboard. Skwal does not have a distributor in the
US, but sometimes Skwals are available used on eBay. Skwal factoids:
- Because of the large sidecut radius (15 M for the 180°F), it is necessary
to get these boards up to speed before you start carving. Wide slopes are
- It is really difficult to skid on these, so it can be a bit of a challenge for beginners.
- The Skwal is designed to work with special Skwal-specific bindings, which
look like skiboard bindings. The bindings are mounted closer together than a snowboard setup. The narrow stance may feel weird for snowboard carvers.
Like carving boards, you tweak the binding setup to get good performance,
and you generally need to fine-tune the setback and toe/heel lift. Bomber
sells Skwal bindings.
- RAD makes the Black Diamond Skwal
- Oxess now makes a Skwal: the SX174, 14M radius
- mpride, in Switzerland: They sell the
xrace 173 and xrace 183.
- Thias: The newer Thias Skwals like the
173°F and 180°F are considered superior to the older models. They
have multiple sets of insert holes so you can tweak the binding setup. Some
of the older Skwals do not have inserts: instead, you have to use ski screws.
- Lacroix manufactured a line of
Skwals several years ago, and resumed production in '05 with the Skwal
- Volkl made the Monocarver, with a 175
cm length, a 14.5 M radius, and a 12 cm waist. It also required special bindings.
Volkl recommends using hard snowboard boots in walk mode.
- Snowblind makes the Monohull.
There are a few Skwal resources:
The Teleboard is an inline carving
ski that uses telemark boots and bindings. You have to tweak the bindings so
that your back knee is tucked directly behind your front. The back binding provides
heel lift, and allows your back foot to flex at the ball for high response.
The Teleboard is generally easy to learn, and you can either carve on the groomers
or go through moguls on it. They also make the "168 Pipe Dreamer," which is for the half-pipe. Teleboard USA offers demo rentals on the east coast, and at Arapahoe Basin in Colorado. Other links:
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