Mt. Aurora Skiland Fairbanks, Alaska.
Clear, sunny and cold lows 0 to 5 above with highs in the 20`s no wind.
Firm packed powder with icy spots on the groomed trails. Light sugar snow powder off piste very cold, dry snow.
On Saturday March 24`th I arrived at Mt. Aurora shortly after opening around 10:00 AM. It was a heaven of morning at the top of the world. This little ski area has true mom and pop Alaska charm through and through with all volunteer ski patrol and grooming. This little spot on the top of the Cleary Summit has a surprising variety of rideable terrain and makes an excellent test area for the board.
Saturday and Sunday were all about high speed carving on hard conditions, tight tree runs through Taiga forests and birch trees, riding the short steeps and 2 to 3 foot hard moguls and just having a great time on this board. I had recently applied a fresh coat of Arctic wax to deal with the very cold, very abrasive snow conditions so the board was set up just right. I started out with some warm up runs on the firm, fast groomers, then moved onto some steeps and then went exploring in the trees with frequent side trips to the truck for an ice cold Alaskan Amber.
Firm, fast groomers:
Again, this is where the board really shines in its ability to hold an edge at high speed in very firm to icy conditions. Generally rockers are though to be a bit sketchy on ice but the hybrid profile and pretty aggressive if short camber under foot really kicks in once the board is up on edge. The dampness of the board can really be appreciated in these conditions. Very little chatter and the ride was quite smooth and comfortable without any irritating chatter. If a rider frequents an area where there are long periods between powder dumps and clear cold temperatures, this board handles this well. I will not say it is as good on hard pack as a full camber board, but is one of the best rocker camber hybrids I have tried and I would rate it as 8 out of 10
Firm, fast steeps:
The board`s edge hold, dampness and stability really builds confidence to ride these icy steeps fast and smooth. With average riding skill, a rider can negotiate their turns on this type of terrain without the tail breaking loose on the bottom of the turns and going into the chattering skid of doom. As with any board, the correct riding skills must be utilized but if they are, this board handles the terrain admirable. What I noticed though was that this board, in these conditions really wants the rider to be front foot heavy. If you are centered or back going into the turn, the rocker between your feet wants to cause an uncommanded pivot. One of the things that I found I liked about the board was once I learned to fully use fore-aft movements to make the rocker work for me, I could really get my turns completed quickly without the speed build up often experienced in turns. Fore-aft movements are really dramatic on this board when you learn to time them just right. I give it a solid 9 out of 10 here.
Cold dry off piste sugar snow:
This is where the board can really get you into trouble. Because of the camber under foot, this thing will behave much like a standard camber board in powder or loose sugary snow. In order to make this board truly perform here, you have got to keep your weight just aft of center to utilize the rocker. If you slip forward at the wrong time, you will go over the handle bars. I did this several time while in the the thick Alders off piste. I would get too forward in a turn and the nose would dive and occasionally get caught under a branch causing a spectacular cartwheel through the bushes. As long as the rider stays a bit aft, this things performs admirable in these conditions. I would like to see the camber sections moved in toward the center just a tad and add a little bit of rocker to the nose and tail for handling these scenarios and giving just a little bigger margin for weight distribution. In this category, I give the board a solid 7 out of 10.
Tight trees off piste:
Keeping the fore mentioned weight distribution in mind, the torsional flex, edge hold and ability to incorporate pivot into turns makes this thing a dream in tight trees. This board is super responsive to torsional twist with the feet. Combined with a responsive side cut and great edge hold and a little bit of rotational force applied to pivot around the board`s center using the rocker, the rider can turn this thing on a dime. Additionally, the dampness of the board allows for the occasional panic stop without a chattering loss of edge hold. This knowing that you can stop dependably boosts the rider`s confidence in the tight trees. I really enjoyed my tree runs with this thing and give it a 10 for 10 in the trees.
Firm, medium to large moguls on the steeps:
Just as in the trees, the maneuverability of the board makes mogul busting a little bit easier. A better rider than me could really appreciate the board`s ability to ride through the moguls, making medium radius symmetrical turns through them. The responsiveness to for-aft movements, torsional twist and pivot really help here. I found that the overall stiffness added a little bit of challenge but nothing too much to dial in. The board maintains good edge hold and directional control extremely well yet is easy to make quick edge changes and fluid turns in the moguls. Because I personally prefer a little bit softer board in the moguls, I give this an 8 out 10 here. This does not reflect a short coming of the board, more of my own personal preference.
In conclusion, the board was a real pleasure to ride in all the variable conditions I rode it and made for a fun 2 days riding at the farthest north chairlift in North America; possibly the world just 75 miles south of the Arctic Circle at the top of the world.