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First Impressions from Winter 2001 Outdoor Retailer On Snow Demo
By Cori Jones

In February I had the opportunity to see and test some of next seasons snowboard equipment. I was invited to an on snow demo as part of the Outdoor Retailer trade show here in Salt Lake City. Trade shows are an opportunity for companies to show off the coming season's products to their dealers and members of the media. While the Outdoor Retailer show is one of the biggest for the outdoor industry, it isn't that big when it comes to skis and snowboards. The snowboard companies that made it this year where: Ride Snowboards, Salomon, Inca, and Vans and Flow (boots and bindings).

The demo was held up at Park City Mountain Resort so we could take the equipment up for a few runs on the slopes. The few snowboard companies that came to the show all had demo equipment for us to test. Since I only had a few runs down the slopes on this equipment I cant give a full review but I did want to share my first impressions with you and let you know about a few products that I will definitely be testing next year. I also don't have all the technical specs on these products or the retail prices. So with all the disclaimers out of the way here are my first impressions.

Snowboards

Ride Fuel 161

Ride FuelVery light, nice design, very responsive, tight carves. The fuel is basically a narrower version of the Timeless with a little extra side cut for more responsive turning and more powerful carves. It did tend to slip out a little on the Ice, but the board may not have been well tuned. Over all I really enjoyed riding the Fuel.

Contact Ride on the internet at www.ridesnowboards.com.

Salomon Mandate 158

Salomon MandateSuper snappy, ultra responsive, held great carves, and handled well at high speeds, quite light and well balanced. I really loved my few runs down the mountain on this board. It just felt perfect, on the second run down I launched comfortably off two 30-foot tabletop jumps. Really makes me want to test more Salomon products.

Contact Salomon Snowboards on the internet at www.salomonsnowboard.com.

Inca dual Camber 171

Inca dual CamberKind of heavy, carved well on ice and at high speeds, very poor at slow speeds and in choppy snow. I fell down getting off the lift almost every time on this board, I don't know if it was the extra weight, massive mid-board flex, or the flow bindings that made me feel I had no control. I hated the board until I got out on a really steep icy run and was able to scream down with confidence. It really preformed at the higher speeds and on the fast flat surfaces, so if that's all you like to ride it may be the board for you.

Contact Inca on the internet at www.incaempire.com.

Snowboard Bindings

Ride Team Binding

Ride Team BindingTall high back, ridged, very stiff/supportive. I like a binding that is not quite so tall. This would be a great all mountain high speed binding. They have an excellent ratchet system that makes it easy to get in and out of. I like the feel of my year old EX bindings better.

Contact Ride on the internet at www.ridesnowboards.com.

Salomon SP4 Binding

Salomon SP4 BindingVery ugly, they look like generics, very comfortable, and lightweight. I really liked these bindings, I am sure part of it was the board (mandate 158) but they did seem to have just the right angles on the straps and were light and easy to use. The straps have a nifty tuck in system that doesn't leave any thing hanging loose. Also the toe strap doesn't come all the way loose when released then it folds down over the toe of the boot making it faster getting back in.

Contact Salomon Snowboards on the internet at www.salomonsnowboard.com.

Flow 21 (Boardercross style)

Flow 21 BindingsLook cool, too high and stiff for my liking, felt heavy, may take some time to learn how to get in and out of them quickly. As I have mentioned before I don't like bindings that are to tall or that come up to far on my ankle, these bindings did both. I would have tested a lighter version but they had just sent them out when I came along. They look so cool I really wanted to like them, but I couldn't. I will try and get some lighter versions like the flow 5 or flow 11 bindings to test next year.

Contact Flow on the internet at www.flow.com.

Snowboard Boots

Ride Taiga

Ride TaigaNice fit, great ankle flex, good upper ankle/shin support. This boot is a good balance of flex and support. I really liked riding them even though it was only for one run.

Contact Ride on the internet at www.ridesnowboards.com.

Vans Fargo Pro

Vans Fargo ProAll Vans boots take a while to break in, so for a one day/three or four run test it is hard to judge them. They felt very stiff, due to them not being broken in well. They look nice. As with the 00/01 boots they have the cool solid loop inner lace system with a piece of plastic tubing on the top most part, making a perfect comfy grab spot for pulling those laces tight.

Vans can be contacted on the internet at www.vans.com.

Summary: Even though I had to go back down to the parking lot several times and run back and forth from booth to booth and wasted a lot of time, it was worth it to get to test some of next year's gear. I tried to test a lot of gear that I didn't know much about before, this lead to a few great discoveries like the Salomon Mandate board and the Ride Taiga boots. It was a great way to get my list started of what I want to test next season. I hope this gets you excited to look into some new brands or models that you may have just written off in the past.

Cori Jones is a new contributor for GearReview.com specializing in snowboarding and mountain biking. He can usually be found at the local resorts throwing big air in the winter and screaming downhill in the summer.


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