Words: Jenna Kuklinski, Marketing Assitant/Social Media @ Nikita
After going in to the office for a brief morning,
I hopped out into my car and began the 3 ½ hour drive from Portland to Bend. I was going down there to check out the WWRSA demo, an industry-only on-snow event where ski and snowboard companies from all over the US convene to offer up their latest wares for testing.
When I go into a demo, I keep an open mind about a board until I’ve taken it on two runs. It’s good to listen to what the screw crew tells you about the deck as they set it up, but the real test starts when you unload from the chairlift.
After filling up on breakfast burrittos and coffee, I left the cozy “city” of Bend and wound my way up towards Mt. Bachelor. It was clear and sunny when I stepped out of my car and into the parking lot, which I always take as a sign of a great time to come.
My first demo of the day was the Sideways Sista. And I hated it.
Why did I hate it? It wasn’t actually the board, I took the board out again later and it was a blast. The problem was with my binding set-up. The bindings that the demo tech had put me on were too small and the stance too narrow. My toes were hanging off the front edge, making my toe-side turns severe and my heel-side awkward. Having too-narrow of a stance took away my control of the board, making me forget about enjoying the ride and simply trying to get back to the demo area ASAP.
So what did I do? I returned to the tent, asked for bigger bindings and a wider stance. The tech happily obliged and I went back out for a ripping-good time. Knowing your stance prior to going in to a demo will make or break your experience. Before you go, look at your board and measure the distance between your bindings. Write it down. Write it on your hand. Write it on your forehead so the tech can see it as they’re setting up your board. It’s your personal measurements and they matter.
Also, don’t ever hesitate to give negative feedback. If you never say anything bad about a demo experience, then you’re only harming yourself. There are different board profiles because there are different riders. There is no such thing as a universal “perfect board” and that’s why we have things like, “Beginner”, “All-Mountain” and “Freestyle” categories.
The second board I took out was the Nikita Expression. I loved this board! It was hands-down my favorite test of the day, which I had not been expecting. I usually stick to a twin-tip freestyle board that I’ll take all over the mountain. I often feel that “all-mountain” boards are too stiff and don’t allow me the freedom to transition easily from park to pipe to side-country. Boy, was I wrong about this one. It carved beautifully, launched off the jumps and landed with the unruffled ease of an eagle soaring in from the cloudless sky. I kept this board on for more than two runs, and was sad when I finally handed it over for the next one.
My last test was the Nikita Chikita. I went into this test knowing that the Chikita was a beginner board. I don’t want to toot my own horn, but it’s safe to say I haven’t been classified as a beginner rider for some time now. The reason I decided to take this out, however, was to test my own ability at evaluating a board. Will I truly feel a difference between the souped-up $450+ snowboard and the entry-level $200 number?
The answer was yes. I felt it in the turns, I felt it when racing my friends down the mountain and I felt it when trying to mess around in the park. However, I’m not the person that this board was made for. I believe this board is an important piece for a company to have in its quiver. It’s affordable, solidly built and will get you easing into the process of learning how to turn. You don’t know what kind of rider you’re going to turn into when you start snowboarding, and so you can’t know what board specs will be your favorite. Even though I don’t think everyone needs to test a beginner board while at a demo, I do think it offers a good baseline for building the rest of your personal reviews off of.
I’ve tested dozens upon dozens of different snowboards since learning how to link turns. It never ceases to teach me more about my personal progression as a rider and just be a damn fun time. I got to talk snowboard tech with people who knew more than I did and left with a new favorite ride that I’ll be lusting over for some time. If there’s a downside to attending a demo, I haven’t found one yet.
So what are you waiting for? Get out there!