The day started out with rain that changed to snow. By the time I arrived for night riding, it snowed around 5 inches and the temperature had dropped to around 22 F with brutal 30-35 MPH sustained winds and gusts as high as 50. The snow was epic. It was dense, wind packed powder and the entire mountain was literally “groomed” by the wind. In the trees and in lee areas, there were drifts of waist deep powder and on wind exposed surfaces, bullet proof polished ice.
Riding terrain and style:
I lapped the steep bowls, trees and natural freestyle features such as rollers, gullies and wind lips all off piste free riding with some light natural freestyle such as straight airs and 180`s off small features. Was really a night for steeps and speed.
All I can say is WOW! This deck was intense to ride on tonight and I was really able to open it up due to the conditions. My overall average according to the Ski Tracks app was 43 MPH with a peak of 58 MPH. This board does not chatter, shimmy or in any way feel unstable at these high speeds in these conditions. On some of the wind scoured icy patches, I cranked the speed back down into the low 30`s. This was more for my own comfort not because of anything the board did. Overall, in these sections, it held its edge flawlessly when I used good carving technique and never washed out once.
In the powder, this damn thing was so stable, smooth and consistent in the way it handles turns. When traversing across different snow densities, it does not falter in the least with regard to float or having the nose dive on you. The turns are quick, yet stable and one thing this board seems to do well is recover from rider error. You get your timing or intensity off a bit and I find this board feels more forgiving and easier to recover from any out of sync or balance condition.
On some of the packed down, wind scoured areas I did have the opportunity to lay out some hard high speed carves and like the Heritage, it does extremely well. The camber under foot behaves very much like any traditional cambered deck provided you ride it at speed and at a high edge angle. Because of the rocker profile, it is a lot more crucial to use decent fore=aft movements to maintain good edge hold in a carve. If the rider is static with a forward or centered stance, it will wash out just past the apex of the turn as a result of the rocker between the feet. Al the rider has to do is remember to shift their weight from forward to aft through the turn and tail washout is not a big issue. No it is never going to be an alpine carving board with a stiff cambered profile, but for what it is designed as “all mountain freestyle” it kicks ass carving.
Tonight`s conditions were totally different than any previous reviews in that I was able to ride in powder without speed restriction. Tonight was all about riding fast and making either huge GS style carved turns or quick slash turns to throw up huge plumes of snow dust which I did plenty of and visited the white room on several occasions tonight. The base is fast too. I was able to easily glide uphill to reach ridges that only the skiers make usually. Once you get it moving, this thing glides extremely well and does not bleed off speed rapidly. I noticed this aspect earlier in wet sticky snow as well.
There has been a lot of discussion about the way the Cobra rides switch. It definitely rides very different switch but once you ride it switch a little bit and get a feel for the nuances of it, it is quite manageable. I rode the board from the top of Mt. Hood Express down the black diamond Face all the way back to the lift twice tonight without any incident or problems and did so at a very reasonable speed. The thing to remember about being on this board switch is that you do have to be very careful not to get too far forward as the very properties that give it good float in powder, work against you in switch mode. In addition, the board feels very quick to dive into a switch turn and tends to not want to fully complete the turn without rider input. Once you figure things out though, this board is no problem at all riding switch. I will say this though about it switch. I definitely felt better on it on the steeper terrain. On the flat run outs and cat tracks, I felt a bit defensive. Never felt out of control and the board never did anything bad the entire run, but I felt like it would be unforgiving of any error riding switch on flat, icy terrain.
I keep going back to the Heritage for comparison and that seems logical to me since this board has a lot of the Heritage in it with some tweaks. The float in powder changes they made in the creation of the Cobra have definitely been an improvement from the Heritage. I was originally worried that this board might sacrifice edge hold and stability in the process but in all honesty, I don`t feel it yet. In most riding situations, it feels like I have the Heritage strapped to my feet except it butters easier, seems to respond quicker to torsional twist and floats a bit easier in powder. As for the flex and dampness it really just like being on the Heritage only a little easier to ride.
Something I spent some time thinking about on this is the rider stats. I have a tiny size 8 foot for my 5`10″ 190 pound frame and I have found that most boards that should be ideal for me are just a little too stiff and long. This board is the exact same size as the Heritage but just a tad softer. When I ride both decks on the same session, the Heritage feels stiff to me after being on the Cobra. I think that a small footed rider will enjoy the performance of the cobra over the Heritage and a guy with a larger foot will probably find the added stiffness of the Heritage to his liking. Just a thought I was pondering as I was riding both decks about exactly what I am feeling and I think it has to do with foot size.