Alterra Mountain Company and the New Ikon Pass


For years, skiers and snowboarders had only one option when it came to a multi-resort pass.  Yes there were passes like the Cali4nia pass, the Mountain Collective, the M.A.X. Pass, the Rocky Mountain Super Pass, but these were very region driven or meant for somebody who can take many ski vacations in one season, which is not a large number of people.  Really, if you were a skier/snowboarder in most places that are not the East Coast, your best choice was the Epic Pass from Vail Resorts.  Now, a new company, Alterra Mountain Company, has compiled a collection of major ski areas and released a pass that looks to rival the epic pass.  Alterra Mountain Company owns eleven ski resorts in five U.S. States and three Canadian Provinces.  They have also strategically partnered with fourteen other ski resorts across the country, including Jackson Hole, Deer Valley, and Aspen. The resorts Alterra Mountain Company owns/partnered with are:

  • California: Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, Mammoth Mountain, June Mountain, Big Bear Mountain Resort
  • Colorado: Aspen Snowmass, Steamboat, Winter Park Resort, Copper Mountain Resort, Eldora Mountain Resort
  • Maine: Sugarloaf, Sunday River
  • Montana: Big Sky Resort
  • New Hampshire: Loon Mountain
  • Utah: Deer Valley Resort, Alta/Snowbird
  • Vermont: Stratton, Killington Resort, Sugarbush Resort
  • West Virginia: Snowshoe
  • Wyoming: Jackson Hole Mountain Resort
  • Alberta, Canada: Banff Sunshine, Lake Louise, Mt. Norquay (SkiBig3)
  • Ontario, Canada: Blue Mountain
  • Quebec, Canada: Tremblant
  • British Columbia, Canada: Revelstoke Mountain Resort, CMH Heli-Skiing & Summer Adventures

The new pass, the “Ikon Pass”, will feature two different price levels, the full Ikon Pass ($899) and the Ikon Base Pass ($599), as well as both a college and military discount ($719 – Full, $419 – Base for both discounts).  Both passes will also features different levels of access to this list of undeniably iconic resorts (no pun intended haha).  The full Ikon Pass will allow you the following access:

  • Unlimited: Steamboat, CO, Winter Park Resort, CO, Copper Mountain Resort, CO, Eldora Mountain Resort, CO, Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows, CA, Mammoth Mountain, CA, June Mountain, CA, Big Bear Mountain Resort, CA, Stratton, VT, Snowshoe, WV, Tremblant, QC, Blue Mountain, ON
  • Seven (7) Days at Each: Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, WY, Big Sky Resort, MT, Killington Resort, VT, Sugarbush Resort, VT, Revelstoke Mountain Resort, BC, Deer Valley Resort, UT
  • Seven (7) Days Combined: Aspen, CO, Alta/Snowbird, UT, Loon Mountain, NH, Sugarloaf, ME, Sunday River, ME, SkiBig3: Banff Sunshine, Lake Louise, Mt. Norquay, AB

The Ikon Base Pass is much more regionally based, has blackout dates, and drops the seven days to five days, but is still a great deal if you call one of the unlimited access ski areas your home mountain:

  • Unlimited: Winter Park Resort, CO, Copper Mountain Resort, CO, Eldora Mountain Resort, CO, Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows, CA, June Mountain, CA, Big Bear Mountain Resort, CA, Snowshoe, WV, Tremblant, QC, Blue Mountain, ON
  • Five (5) Days at Each: Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, WY, Big Sky Resort, MT, Killington Resort, VT, Sugarbush Resort, VT, Stratton, VT, Revelstoke Mountain Resort, BC, Deer Valley Resort, UT, Steamboat, CO, Mammoth, CA
  • Five (5) Days Combined: Aspen, CO, Alta/Snowbird, UT, Loon Mountain, NH, Sugarloaf, ME, Sunday River, ME, SkiBig3: Banff Sunshine, Lake Louise, Mt. Norquay, AB

So, looking at these lists, the Ikon Pass could be somewhat of a gamechanger.  The major differences in the two levels of passes, in my opinion, are that Mammoth, Steamboat, and Stratton are not unlimited in the Ikon Base Pass.  For most people in these areas that buy season passes, this shouldn’t be much of a problem because the full Ikon Pass is a similar price to the Epic Pass and cheaper than most of these mountains single passes from previous years (i.e. Mammoth – $950, Steamboat – $1500, Squaw/Alpine – $1150).  If you live in these towns, you’re obviously riding at these mountains, because they are so isolated (not Squaw, but if you already rode Squaw when it was $1150, you’re definitely still riding Squaw when it’s now $900) and now you get a cheaper pass and multiple other mountain privileges.

Considering the ski areas on these lists, one region has now been practically completely wiped off of the Vail Resorts map: Southern California.  Because Alterra owns Squaw/Alpine, Mammoth/June, and Big Bear, people living in Southern California really have no choice but to buy the Ikon Pass.  The two main mountains for Southern Californians are Big Bear and Mammoth Mountain.  And on the off chance that anybody from SoCal wants to drive past Mammoth and all the way to Lake Tahoe, they can use their Ikon Pass at Squaw/Alpine.  Some key areas where it will be interesting to see what happens with season pass sales are the Bay Area in California, the Denver Area in Colorado, and the New England Area in the Northeast.  The Bay Area is usually split between people who go to Tahoe and people who go to Mammoth, but if word gets out that you can go ride in both locations on the same pass, it could possiby hurt Vail’s Epic Pass sales in the Bay.  People in Denver will obviously have a big decision to make, and that may just come down to whether or not you take ski vacations and where you like to ski/ride.  If you have been riding Vail mountains for years now, you may very likely continue to ride those mountains, but the Ikon Pass introduces an option for those who are sick of Vail Resorts or prefer the atmosphere at one of Alterra’s Colorado mountains.  Finally, the New England Area, to me, is still somewhat up for grabs.  If you’re a Stratton Mountain skier, then you will probably be thrilled, but the rest of the resorts in the East are only “partner resorts”.  This means, if you ride a lot, and you live in, say, Rutland, VT or Bethel, ME, you’re not going to buy an Ikon Pass because you only get 5-7 days at Killington and 5 or 7 COMBINED days at Sunday River (outside of Bethel), Sugarloaf, and Loon.  Alterra could see some pass sales in the Mid-Atlantic and in New York, however, but only to people who like to take ski trips to VT/ME/NH or to Canada for Tremblant.  And if you rode Stowe before Vail bought the mountain, when they were charging Adults $2000 for a season pass, you’re not even paying attention to the Ikon Pass, because you can now buy two season passes to Stowe with money left over and many other resorts at your disposal (granted they’re in other states), thanks to Vail Resorts.

Hopefully this little summary/op-ed has been helpful for everyone reading this.  I just wanted to tell you what has been happening and to give my thoughts on what has happened to maybe help some people understand the current climate (again, no pun intended) of the ski industry.  And maybe this will help a skier or two decide which pass they want to get for next season.  The Ikon Pass goes on sale in March 2018.



Blue Mountain Ski Area – Palmerton, PA

Blue Mtn PA Sign

Snow Quality – Good – Blue Mountain Ski Area is located in Pennsylvania, only a couple of hours away from Philadelphia.  Because of it’s location, it does not really enjoy tremendous snowfall numbers.  You can usually see around 50 or 60 inches per year, but some years there can be more (sometimes pushing 100 inches) and sometimes there can be less.  The snow that DOES fall, however, is not bad, it is usually a mix between fluffy and wet, somewhere pretty close to the middle of the spectrum.  Also, the snowmaking crew is extremely good at covering the mountain and making sure everything is rideable.  Blue Mountain is usually one of the first to open in PA and is usually one of the last to close.

Crowds – Great – Blue has a good amount of crowd size variation.  On weekdays, it can be virtually empty, but if conditions are decent, the weekend will be packed.  They do a pretty good job of moving lift lines through and keeping terrain open but there’s only so much space skiers and riders can go.

Lift Infrastructure – 13 Lifts – There are thirteen total lifts but the main lift you will use if you’re not a beginner is the high speed, six man chairlift that starts at the base lodge and travels all the way to the summit.  Sometimes this lift can look somewhat backed up, but the wait never seems too long.  Unless something completely unexpected happens to a lift, the lifties are pretty great at keeping lines moving.

Trail Variety – 39 Trails – 15 Green, 4 Blue, 15 Black/Double Black , 5 Terrain Parks – The big things here for me are the trail distinctions and the terrain parks.  The blacks are, lets say, confidence inspiring, and the terrain parks are filled with smooth progression features.  I am a huge fan of their addition (I think in 2015? I could be wrong though) of their “Yeti” terrain park, which I’ll touch on later in the “Terrain Parks” section.  Other than that, they cover all their bases with their trails. They regularly have a few trails in varying difficulties with moguls on them, as well as a well shaped “beginner” half of the mountain where beginners can find nice, long, mellow trails.  They have a couple “double black diamonds”, which sound more intimidating than they really are.  They’re steeper, but definitely tolerable, and a lot of fun if you like to go fast.

Trail QualityGood –  The trails are kept well, but it is difficult with the weather sometimes, and the biggest issue for Blue Mountain is that it can sometimes get icy.  However, Blue does have the largest vertical drop of any ski area in Pennsylvania at just over 1000 feet

Terrain Parks – Good – It isn’t Big Boulder, but Blue Mountain can hold their own with some pretty cool features in their five parks.  The park crew here does a great job with their progression park (Yeti) and small park set ups, which allow everybody to hit the park and progress their riding.  Yeti park is there progression park, which features smaller, low consequence boxes, rails, and jumps, which allow all levels of skiers and riders to introduce themselves to terrain parks or to practice new tricks.  They don’t always switch things up, so you might be hitting the same features for a little while, but that’s probably their biggest fault.  They can sometimes build some pretty large jumps, and a few years ago, Flow Snowboards’ rider Tim Humphreys stopped by to take some laps.

Family Friendly – Average – There is a decent ski school program, and although there’s not many places to eat on the mountain, there is a decent selection of items for everyone to choose from.  There is also childcare for ages 6 weeks to 5 years for $10 an hour per child.  Overall, it is not the most family friendly place, but it is easy enough to navigate with children and you can keep them safe on green runs by the summit lodge until they are experienced enough to roam the mountain.

Cost – Good – $47 to $62/Day – The cost here is good in some ways, bad in others.  It’s good in a sense because other nearby resorts are charging weekday tickets closer to $55-$60 a day, however, their season pass prices are fairly high, but it is Pennsylvania and single mountains are still the norm there.

NightlifeAverage – So, there isn’t a ton of stuff to do around Blue Mountain.  It isn’t like if you’re staying in Denver and riding one of the resorts on I-70, but if you chose to stay in Allentown in the Lehigh Valley, there are a few hidden gems and you coulkd have yourself a alright time.  You could also get lucky and catch a concert either in the Lehigh Valley or in nearby Philadelphia (~ 1 to 1.5 hours)

Things to do – Good – In the winter, the only other activity they have is snowtubing.  In the summer, though, there are a number of great hiking trails in the Pocono Mountains/Lehigh Valley area, with great views and awesome wildlife.  Nearby, there’s also whitewater rafting and kayaking if you enjoy watersports.  And finally, at the resort there is mountain biking, a ropes course, a summer camp for children, disc golf, outdoor laser tag, and “action archery”, which is like tag, but with bows and arrows tipped with foam.

Blue Mountain PA.jpg

Jay Peak Ski Resort – Jay, VT

Jay Peak Ski Area – Adult Day Pass $82, Adult Season Pass $700-$1000

Looking at the summit at Jay Peak, VT

“If you’ve been to Jay Peak, you know our reputation is deserved—the most snow in eastern North America and a liberal in-bounds policy that ensures you can enjoy it. 78 trails, slopes and glades wait for you but the nooks and crannies are what really set Jay Peak apart. If you haven’t been here, come experience the reality behind the legend. From the far-out corners of the backcountry, to the close-at-hand convenience of The Zone learning area, there’s a little something for everyone at our larger than life mountain. Poke around and make some moments of your own.” –

Tucked away amongst the northern green mountains in the “Northeast Kingdom” in Vermont is Jay Peak and the town of Jay.  Named for John Jay, First Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the town of Jay sits next to many large mountains, including Jay Peak and Big Jay, both of which served as markers for Native American travelers as they passed through the area.

Snow Quality – Great – Jay Peak is unique here.  While many places on the east coast would love to have even 100 or 200 inches of fresh snow a year, Jay Peak is consistently higher than all other eastern ski areas, and can even compete with western resorts in some years (500 inches, 2016-2017 season…#2 in U.S. Snowfall, 2014-2015 season).  The locals call the spontaneous snow dumps the “Jay Cloud”, which can sometimes see Jay bring in a foot or two of snow, when other Vermont ski areas only receive a few inches.

Crowds – Good – Because of Jay Peak’s proximity to Burlington in Vermont (about 1 hour 30 min) and Montreal in Quebec, Canada (about 2 hours), there can get to be a fair number of people on the mountain.  However, there is a very large indoor water park on site to help mitigate the crowds, the trails are separated in such a way so it is easy to stay away from where the most people are, and the lifts are good.

Lift Infrastructure – Good – Jay Peak has 9 lifts including 1 tram and 4 quads.  These five lifts service the majority of the terrain that brings people to Jay Peak.  The other 4 lifts (1 triple, 2 doubles, 1 surface) all service beginner/low intermediate terrain.  The way the lifts are laid out is like a progressive sections.  You can start on the lower lifts with all of the beginner terrain, then move to the middle section for intermediate runs, and finally to the summit section for advanced/expert terrain.  This is a nice set up for some, but it also limits many from seeing parts of the mountain, because they may not be good enough yet to make it off the summit or off the middle section and they may not have an easier trail option.

Trail Variety – Good – 20% Beginner, 40% Intermediate, 40% Advanced This is tough, because there is some variety here, but it’s mostly between intermediate and advanced/expert terrain.  There is also a decent beginner area, with some easy runs to start on and some solid progression runs as you start to get on the chairlifts, but the real reason you go to Jay is deep snow and advanced terrain, both in-bounds and backcountry.

Trail Quality – Great – This is big here.  Jay enjoys a multitude of different trail conditions, but overall they are usually in good shape.  The mountain crew does a great job getting trails open, making snow, grooming and keeping things ride-able.  Also, the large average snowfall means there are usually considerably more powder days here than anywhere else on the East Coast.  All that said, there is still some serious wind once you get over the ridge near the top of the mountain. When I was there, a Canadian local on the chair warned me about the wind, but I had no idea how serious he was.  That section of the mountain was so icy and windblown that I may have had a better time if I was on ice skates.  Now, while I was told that when the wind was kicking, the ice was the norm, most of the mountain that day was still soft and very much ride-able.

Terrain Parks – Average – They did have a park section, but it did not seem all that impressive. There are 2 terrain parks (excl. Riglet Park) and they are certainly passable, everything is groomed fine and there is a decent mix of features, but there isn’t anything that crazy or progressive and it could be groomed a little better and all that.  But you don’t go to Jay for the park, head south in VT for some of that.

Family Friendly – Great – This is a little bit of a “catch-22”.  So it is a great place for families because everything you need is there at the resort.  They have 16 different food/drink options, and 5 retail shops, including the “Provisions” General Store.  They also have a daycare, a spa, an ice arena, and of course, the “Pump House” indoor waterpark.  However, there is not much around the resort, unless you want to drive an hour or two.  Also, the beginner area and the teaching programs are very good, but, you can only use 3 chairlifts and a surface lift, and you can only ride 20% of the mountain. But, if you are a true beginner and you now you’ll be limited to that terrain ahead of time, they do offer a beginner-terrain-only lift ticket at a discounted price. So again, it isn’t the absolute best place for families but it is a pretty great place for families, especially if you have young children.

Cost – Good – Not the cheapest trip you’ll ever take, but by no means the most expensive trip you’ll take.  There are plenty of much more expensive resorts in the East Cast alone, but Jay definitely will start to build costs quickly if you’re not careful.

Nightlife – Average – There are a few bars on the mountain and they’re definitely nice but there isn’t anything special happening.  You would have to drive an hour and a half to Burlington.

Things to do – Good – There’s a lot to do on the mountain and if you’re there for serious skiing then there is also some backcountry terrain that you can venture to, but there isn’t a ton to do off mountain, other than snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and cultural activities. Again, if you want to drive an hour or two, there is A LOT more going on.


* A friendly Canadian Jay Peak Local told me that on a clear day, you can see Montreal from the top of the mountain…..I’m not sure I believe him though haha*

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HEY EVERYBODY!! After a LONG hiatus, I am finally back writing reviews. I haven’t been able to get out as much as I had hoped this season but I’ve been trying to make every day count! Anyway, I hope you guys have been looking forward to some new gear and resort reviews, because I’m going to be writing reviews for Boreal Resort (CA), Diamond Peak Ski Area (NV), Blue Mountain Ski Area (PA), Jack Frost – Big Boulder Ski Area (PA), the DC Media Blitz Snowboard, the Signal John Jackson Sierra Series Snowboard, the Salomon Hologram Snowboard Binding, the Salomon Defender Snowboard Binding, and the Nike Kaiju Snowboard Boot, among many others!! I’m going to be cranking these reviews out as fast as I can to get you guys some new reviews and info. Thanks for reading and share with your friends!! 

2015 Rossignol Retox 150cm

Brand – Rossignol

Model – Retox

Length – 150cm

Camber Profile – “AmpTek Freestyle”, Hybrid, Camber Under the Feet to Outside of Inserts, Rocker Tip and Tail

Key Board Specs – AmpTek Freestyle, Twin Shape, Sintered Base, Wood Core, Medium Flex

rossignol-retox-amptek-snowboard-2015-147What the Company Says – The RETOX is a true-twin powerhouse is built for pure park pandemonium. The stiffer, ultra-blunt tip and tail provide monstrous pop and smooth swing weight, while AmpTek Freestyle enhances stability at high speed to set-your-spin and stomp the biggest hits in the park, so you never come up short.

On Snow Feel – Stable – The Retox, with Rossignol’s AmpTek Freestyle camber profile, has a nice feel when riding.  It creates a stable platform while not becoming catchy.  This allows the board to be perfect for takeoffs and rails in the park, but it still is playful enough to butter around the mountain without having to worry too much about catching an edge and falling.

Flex – 5 – This board has a good freestyle flex.  It’s soft enough to butter and hit rails, but it has a snap to it that really helps on jumps and ollies.  Since I’m on the heavier side, this board was a little bit on the softer side (more like a 4), which made buttering a little easier, but the snap was still there when I ollied or hit any jumps.

Turn Initiation – Fast – When I bought this board, I was a little skeptical because, the board specs allow you the ability to downsize and ride shorter than you normally would, so I went with the 150cm, which is now my shortest board.  I had seen some other reviews of this board that said the Turn Initiation was lacking a little and felt laggy.  I have not have the same problem.  It is not the absolute fastest board edge to edge, the increased waist width on the shorter boards definitely decreases the expected turning speed, but I was still able to get from edge to edge pretty quickly while riding the Retox.  However, because of the waist widths of this board, and my size 9 boot, if I rode the 156cm or even the 153cm version, it may have been much slower edge to edge.  I would definitely check the waist width before deciding to purchase a certain length of this board.

*Ratings will be Poor, Average, Good, Great, and Excellent, and explanations will follow.*

Edge Hold – Great – Because of the Camber dominant profile, with the camber between the inserts, the Retox is really able to grip the ground when you engage your edge.  It’s definitely not a Magnetraction or even an EQ 5 like from Salomon, and you can definitely slide out if you’re not careful when you’re on icy patches or extra hard snow, but for the most part, the Retox can handle anywhere you’re trying to ride.

Powder – Good – Haven’t ridden the Retox in any pow, but during the spring it handled all of the heavy slush the east coast could throw at it.  Because of the shorter sizes, it may be more difficult to ride this board in powder if you downsize like I did.  However, the rocker in the tip and tail could make some more freestyle oriented riders, who like to land switch in pow, pretty happy.  It’s not going to be effortless, but it is for sure doable.

Carving – Good – Another place where the Retox isn’t going to blow you away but can surprise you is carving.  Because of the camber dominant profile, the board can really lay into the snow.  But downsizing the length of the board combined with the rocker in the tip and the tail after the inserts, really causes some issues when trying to really carve it up.  If you’re a park rider who wants to throw down a little carve here and there between hits, go for it.  But if you’re a big time carver all over the mountain, look elsewhere.

Speed – Good – With the sintered base, you’ll have plenty of speed in the park, which is where this board wants to live.  It rides bigger than its size, which is why you can go with a shorter board, but if you’re trying to set speed records, you’re going to get a lot of chatter.

Uneven Terrain – Great – The Retox does pretty well sliding over rutted up snow.  Because of the rocker in the tip and tail, it allows the board to be a little more playful, even with the more medium flex.  This lets the board flow a little better over crud and chop than if it had been full camber.

Switch – Excellent – Super easy to ride switch.  The twin shape paired with Rossignol’s AmpTek Freestyle camber profile give you a solid, stable platform to feel confident on, while the rockered tip and tail give you a playfulness that lets you feel safe, like you won’t catch an edge while riding switch.

Jumps – Great – Pretty good pop on is board.  Stable platform for hitting kickers, enough camber between the feet to spring you into the air off the lip.  Decent ollie power.  Because I am a heavier guy, the board acted softer than usual under my feet, but the tail has pretty decent pop when loaded up.  Definitely better ollie boards out there, but this is a pretty solid, balanced freestyle ride.

Jibbing – Great – This board can really perform in the jib park.  With the AmpTek Freestyle camber profile, the Retox can really lock on to rails.  The flex, although stiff enough to hold its own on jumps, is soft enough to press on boxes and rails.  The shorter lengths also offer better swing weight and better maneuverability which can help you get those crazy spins on and off.  Rossignol also uses their Glass Fiber laminate which they say gives RRR (Rusted Rail Resistance), whatever that means, sounds good though.

Pipe – Average – Not going to be a great pipe board, especially if you’re jibbing a lot.  But if you’re trying to get a few hits in maybe on a nice spring pipe or even a solid minipipe, this could be some fun.

Overall, the Rossignol Retox is a great freestyle board that you can downsize a good deal on.  The AmpTek Freestyle camber profile creates a stable enough platform to hit jumps while still remaining playful enough to butter around.  The twin shape allows you to feel comfortable riding switch.  This board is a great option for more stability and better all mountain performance than the Burton Raduction boards, thanks to the camber under the feet.  The small size holds up pretty well all over the mountain, but really helps the board excel in the park on jibs and while spinning and buttering.  If you’re a park rat who likes to throw down a mellow carve here and there, maybe give the Rossignol Retox a try.

2016 Salomon Official 155cm

Brand – Salomon

Model – Official

Length – 155cm

Camber Profile – Full Camber

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Key Board Specs – Ghost Green Core, Sintered Base, EQ 5 Sidecut, Freestyle Edge Bevel, Bamboo Rods, Carbon Inlays

What the Company Says – Constructed to guide you through this season’s biggest and baddest setups, the Official Snowboard is packed with technology for sending it, including a bamboo Popster Eco Booster Core for snap off the lip. Featuring the all-new Slingshot Sidewall for added control and power under foot, plus a Camber profile and EQ5 for steadfast edge control.

On Snow Feel – Semi-Catchy – This board is very stable while flat-basing and one footing, but you do have to be on your game.  Before you ride this board, you should definitely know what you’re doing on a board and be very aware of your edges and how you are changing the board.  If you slack off, this board is very capable of bucking you off, but for the most part, it offers up a very stable, responsive ride.

Flex – 6 – Medium-Stiff flex, between a 5 and 6 depending on how heavy you are, capable of buttering and pressing but will take some work on the rider’s end.

Turn Initiation – Fast – Since this board is so responsive with the full camber profile and the medium-stiff flex, if you know how to turn a board, you can get this board on edge pretty quickly.  Maybe not the absolute best board for tight trees but anywhere else on the mountain is no problem.

*Ratings will be Poor, Average, Good, Great, and Excellent, and explanations will follow.*

Edge Hold – Excellent – The Official, with its EQ 5 Sidecut, which is actually a series of five straight lines that compose the sidecut of the board, is very good at holding an edge.  I rode this board for most of the season and I only lost an edge once or twice.  The EQ 5 Sidecut is meant to create more predictable edge hold by using the straight lines, which more easily mold to the shape of the snow you’re riding than traditional sidecuts, and makes for a much easier ride.  Because the sidecut can mold to the shape of the snow more easily, riders have constant edge contact on snow which brings a smoother feel to the ride.  This sidecut also allows for more maneuverability and easier corrections because of how pressure is evenly distributed across the edge of the board.

Powder – Average – Not made for powder.  It can handle a little bit of the goods but the heavy camber in the board makes it want to pull the nose down so if you tried this in deep powder, it would take a lot of effort to keep it afloat.  I rode it at Jay Peak in Vermont with around 5-7 inches of fresh snow and it worked but it was tough on the legs.  Probably best to just leave this one at home on a powder day.

Carving – Excellent – Awesome carving board, the sidecut really lets you lay into the snow and carve out really fun turns.

Speed – Excellent – Super fast base, never had any trouble getting speed.  This board likes to ride aggressive and go fast.  It rides super smooth when you’re at speed, but can get a little fussy at slower speed or on bad snow.

Uneven Terrain – Good – Not terrible going over uneven terrain, but the stiffer flex definitely doesn’t do it any favors.  Like I said before, it gets a little fussy when over rougher terrain.

Switch – Great – Although it is marketed as a directional twin, if you set up the board with a centered stance and similar binding angles, it feels about the same both ways.  Great freestyle deck.

Jumps – Excellent – The Official really excels here.  The flex and the camber provide a super responsive, poppy feel and the addition of Salomon’s Popster Eco Booster Core, which adds bamboo rods to the core of the board, provides tons of extra spring on ollies and jumps.  The camber gives a stable platform for take-offs and helps save you if you land a little backseat.  Overall, great ollie power and amazing pop off jumps.

Jibbing – Good – Not really made for the jib park with the stiffer flex and heavy camber, but it can handle some less technical rail tricks.  The freestyle edge bevel gives a little bit less catchy feel when on rails, by detuning the tip and tail, then having a two (2°) degree bevel until the bindings, and a three (3°) degree bevel between the feet.  This allows the board to still have enough bite to hold its edge, but be able to slide across rails a little easier.

Pipe – Excellent – Incredible pipe board.  The combination of the camber, flex, and edge hold makes for a super fun ride in the pipe.  Definitely another spot where the Official thrives.

Overall, the Salomon Official is an incredible, responsive, super fun board.  It like to ride fast and aggressive and is not so much a fan of going too slow.  Although it is full camber, it’s not super catchy.  It can still buck you off if you’re not paying attention to what you’re doing.  I was lucky enough to get some advice on this board from Salomon pro rider Jamie Nicholls after shooting him a message on Facebook.  Super cool guy, so grateful he took the time to respond to my message, and so glad that I listened and scooped this deck.  The Official has been one of the best boards I’ve ridden.  It’s a must bring when I go to the mountain.  Pretty cool graphics too haha.

Signal Snowboards: Signal 6 – The Best Way To Buy A New Board

Let me start this post by saying, I now own six snowboards, all from different manufacturers, and I have had great experiences both purchasing and using all of my boards, and with the customer service I have received from each of these companies.  Having said that, Signal Snowboards customer service has gone above and beyond what is normally expected.

Based out of Huntington Beach, California, Signal is a relatively small company that builds great snowboards.  They even had a show on their YouTube channel in which they built a bunch of unique snowboards (i.e. a full candy snowboard, a Lego snowboard, an all glass snowboard) called “Every Third Thursday”.  But I digress.  Since the addition of John Jackson, one of the best backcountry snowboarders around, to the Pro team, Signal has started to put out new progressive shapes and technologies.  One of the changes they made in the 2015-2016 season that has returned for the 16-17 season is their new Quad side cut, which was designed by and for John J.  This new side cut was designed with help from JJ and is supposed to help you hold an edge better while riding fast and traversing.  It does an excellent job all over the mountain and the few times I’ve been able to take it out have been incredible (review coming soon).  They also now have a board with a full carbon fiber layer in the core and a carbon fiber topsheet.  Like I said before, Signal builds some amazing snowboards and I think everyone, from park rats to powder hounds, should pick up one of their boards.  You will not be disappointed.

Now, you’re probably thinking “oh I can’t afford another snowboard for $500+ dollars” or “why buy a snowboard right before summer?”  Well, along with the new technologies Signal has been working with, they’ve also been developing snowboarding’s first ever subscription service called “Signal 6”.  This is how I came to own my first Signal board, the 15-16 John J Sierra Series.  This was a no-brainer for me.  I desperately wanted a new board, one that I could really charge on, but I didn’t have the money to buy a board in the $500 dollar price range.  I had been watching ETT for a while on YouTube and I had been becoming familiar with Signal and their program.  When John Jackson joined their team and they came out with his pro model, I knew I needed it (he’s one of my favorite riders/I knew the board would rip).  With Signal 6, I was able to get the board plus a TON of extra gear.

When you subscribe to Signal 6, you have two options: pay for the board outright, get 5 months of gift boxes, and receive your board as soon as it’s finished, or, you can pay $89.99 a month for 6 months, receive gift boxes each of the first 5 months, and get your board during the sixth month (you can also pay $44.99 a month for just the gift box or $99.99 a month for a board with a custom graphic).  This service is unreal.  The gift boxes are put together by the guys at the Signal factory and the riders on the Signal team, with the help of many different brands.  I was ecstatic with the gear I received in my boxes.  Each month I eagerly awaited the day I received my box, it was like I was a five year old on Christmas.  The board in total cost $540 dollars, which I would have paid in full if I had purchased virtually any similar board.  The gear I received inside the gift boxes easily tallied a few hundred dollars.  Just a few examples, I received an old school snurfer from Signal one month, another month my box contained a pair of Wu-Tang Clan x Celtek Collab mittens (easily one of my favorite pieces of gear), and another month I got a necklace from John and Eric Jackson’s new mountain-themed jewelry company (another favorite haha).  Those three items alone are over $200 dollars of extra gear, and there was way more in all of the boxes.  I honestly don’t know how it could get any better.  Lastly, I started my subscription over the summer, and I think that’s the best way to do it.  If you start in the summer, the gift boxes work as the perfect thing to keep you connected to winter and ready for the snow.  Plus, you end up getting your brand new board right as winter is starting and the resorts start to open up.

The day I got my brand new Signal Snowboard was surreal.  Knowing it was coming but not really knowing what to expect, the anticipation was crazy.  But as the months went on and the gear started to pile up, the stoke level ended up insanely high, and my first day on that board was amazing.  It held up to all of the hype and I could not have been any happier with the decision to buy it or how I bought it.  Like I said, if you’re thinking about a new board, give Signal a chance.  They’re driven by snowboarders, for snowboarders and aim to make everything exactly how you want it.  Scoop a board through Signal 6 and get a ton of extra gear and spread out payments so it’s easier to afford.  I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

Here’s a few photos of some of the stuff I got while on Signal 6

Mr. Fun Snurfer
Snapback, Stance Socks, Beanie, Koozie, Bliss Mag
Wu Tang Mittens, Signal Shirt, Jerky, Signal Sharpies, Stickers
John Jackson Sierra Series w/ Nitro Team Bindings

Vail Resorts on the Front Line of Technological Innovation

Have you ever been heading to the mountain and wonder whether it was crowded or not?  Maybe you’re trying to get to the top after lunch the fastest way possible? Or maybe you’re just trying to pack as many runs into your day as you possibly can.  Well now you can always figure out the fastest way to your favorite terrain as Vail Resorts has just released EpicMix Time, a crowd-sourced phone app that posts estimated wait times for different chairlifts on a resort map.

Vail Resorts EpicMix Time

For the 2015-2016 season, Vail Resorts will have the app setup to cover Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, and Keystone, and they will be looking to expand the app to include more resorts for the 2016-2017 season.  The app uses a mix of WiFi and Bluetooth signals from your mobile phone to track and calculate up to the minute chairlift wait time estimates.  The app will cover 55 chairlifts/ Gondolas which service 13,600 acres of skiable terrain.  They say that once the app debuts in Colorado, they are looking to move it to many different resorts in the 2016-2017 season.  They are currently testing the app at Perisher Resort in Australia, who just recently became a member of Vail Resorts.

2013 Burton Joystick 157 cm

Brand: Burton

Model: Joystick

Year: 2013

Length: 157 cm

Camber Profile: Rocker

2013 Burton Joystick 157cm

Key Board Specs – 

  • Gondola Package
  • The Channel
  • BEND: V-Rocker
  • SHAPE: Twin-Like
  • FLEX: Directional
  • CORE: Super Fly II™ with Dualzone™ EGD™
  • FIBERGLASS: Triax™ Fiberglass with Carbon I-Beam™
  • BASE: Sintered
  • SIDEWALLS: 10:45™
  • EXTRAS: Squeezebox, Jumper Cables Hi-Voltage, Scoop, Frostbite Edges, Ellip Kicks, Pro-Tip™, and Infinite Ride™

What the Company Says – “Turn virtual into reality with the highest performance V-Rocker™ on offer.  From first tracks to park laps, the Joystick is like a warp zone for those ready to ride at a higher level. Squeezebox brings more energy into the mix for enhanced pop and quicker control, while the catch-free float and relaxed feel or rocker takes freestyle from virtual to reality. Looser and more park oriented than the Sherlock, but sharing a similar performance package, the Joystick is for the all-around rider looking to get the most out of rocker.”

On Snow Feel – Loose – This board is super loose because of the Burton V-Rocker camber profile.  This profile features a less than mellow bend in the middle of the board that actually makes the tip and tail of the board come up off the ground when it is placed flat.  The dramatic bend in the board helps to create the loose board feel which helps beginners and experts alike to not catch an edge.  It also allows for this board to be super buttery and playful.  There is also scoop in the tip and tail which turn up the tip and tail edges to allow for easier buttering and pressing.

Flex – 4 – If you are a lighter rider and you fit into the size chart for this board, the board should be pretty medium soft, somewhere around a 3 or 4 probably, but if you are heavier, the board might react differently than advertised.  I am a heavier rider, though, and I think the board is still pretty medium soft.

Turn Initiation – Lightning – It is very easy to get this board on edge.  Definitely a fun board to throw around on a soft day in the trees.

*Ratings will be Poor, Average, Good, Great, and Excellent, and explanations will follow.*

Edge Hold – Average – This is a HUGE downfall of the Joystick.  While this board does have Burton’s “Frostbite Edges”, which means that there are tiny bumps right after the binding inserts which are supposed to help grip the snow, they really do fall short hen it comes to edge hold.  I live on the East Coast and while it is doable to ride this board on hard pack and ice, you definitely need to be careful when you’re speeding through and throwing this board around because it will slide out from underneath you extremely easily if you’re not looking for the ice.

Powder – Great – This board will perform well in powder.  Because of the V-Rocker and the Scoop tech, this board will really want to try and stay afloat.  The centered stance will make it a little bit more difficult, but it would be a great choice if you like to ride switch a lot in powder or land switch a lot in powder.  You could also set the stance back and ride it very directional in powder and its float would be even better.  This board is also offered in a 161 cm version which would want to float even more.

Carving – Poor – This board was not meant for carving.  It will wash out if you try and push it too hard.  Definitely look somewhere else because this is all about being loose and playful.

Speed – Good – Not the best board for bombing runs but you can pick up some good speed pretty comfortably.  I have gotten up to 50 mph on this board and still felt like I was in control of the board, but it was a somewhat stressful experience knowing that I was going that fast on such a soft V-Rocker snowboard.  You are definitely going to get a lot of chatter if you’re trying to go that fast.

Uneven Terrain – Excellent – Because this board is so soft, it just bends over rough terrain.

Switch – Great – Not perfect but the twinish shape definitely helps when you’re riding with the opposite foot forward.

Jumps – Great – This board is great for small to medium jumps, but it really excels when you’re creating your own air.  If you pair this board with a pair of Burton EST bindings with HingeTech like the Cartel, Malavita, Genesis, or Diode bindings (I probably wouldn’t pair the super stiff Diode with a soft board like the Joystick but…) you can create incredible amounts of air, it might even catch you off guard.  The only problem with this board here is the lack of camber means if you land backseat, it will be tough to ride away.

Jibbing – Excellent – If you detune the edges of this board, it would be a nice jib board.  It is also available in a 150 cm and 154 cm version, which would be even better for jibbing because they would be easier to throw around.  The scoop in the tip and tail really helps with pressing and avoiding catching an edge on a rail.

Pipe – Average – Not a pipe board.  Maybe a soft spring pipe for a few hits and slashes.

Overall, this is an amazing board, for a beginner or an expert rider.  The soft to medium flex of the board let you use this board all over the park, but also lets you explore the rest of the mountain and make it your own playground.  If you’re looking for a quality first board that will allow you to learn or progress your riding, the Burton Joystick is a good choice, especially because 2013 was the last year for the Joystick, and they sell online on some sites for 250-350 dollars, which is well below some of the sticker prices for new snowboards.

Snowboard Review System

Hey Everyone! Here is the system with the categories I am using to evaluate the boards that I am reviewing.  Check it out:

Key Board Specs – Any special or unique features the board may have.

What the Company Says – What does the brand say about the board.

On Snow Feel – How does it feel when you’re riding on snow, loose, semi-stable, stable, semi-catchy, or catchy.  Also, how easy is it to flat base or one foot.

Flex – Noodle to Plank, 1 to 10, how soft is the board.

Turn Initiation – How easy is it to put the board on its edge and make a turn, slow, average, fast, or lightning.

*Ratings will be Poor, Average, Good, Great, and Excellent, and explanations will follow.*

Edge Hold – How well does the board hold an edge on snow and ice.

Powder – How well does the board ride powder.

Carving – How well can the board hold a carve.

Speed – How fast can the board go comfortably, snail, slow, average, fast, or bomber.

Uneven Terrain – How well does the board handle bumps in the snow, crud, and chunder.

Switch – How well does the board ride switch.

Jumps – How well does the board handle small to large jumps, ollies,and nollies.

Jibbing – How well does the board handle rails, boxes, bonks, stairs, tubes, and any other jibs you can hit.

Pipe – How well does the board perform in the halfpipe, both with edge hold and drive from wall to wall keeping and generating speed.