Leo and I spent the last few days doing non-stop demos at MRA Test Fest at Boyne Mountain Resort in northern Michigan, it is an SIA-like event for the midwest regional brand reps to showcase product, offer on-snow demo opportunities and preview softgoods and accessories. We rode a buttload of new snowboards and bindings, slept little, ate pretty much nothing but free hot dogs and drank pretty much nothing but free beer and red bull (thanks Burton, Salomon, Marhar, Ride and whoever else was slinging free food!).
Here’s a brief recap and a teaser for you.
Brands: All the big ones and some of the smaller ones were there – Burton, Forum, Rome, Ride, K2, Rossignol, Salomon, Capita, Union bindings, DC, Lobster, Bataleon, Switchback bindings, Flux bindings, Gnu, Lib Tech, Marhar, Arbor, Drake, Flow, Oakley, Smith, etc.
By my count we should have something like 30+ snowboards to review, as well as a few bindings. Here are the boards from my list and I know Leo had a few more that I didn’t ride.
- Arbor Element 161 with Ride El Hefe
- Arbor Blacklist 157 with Flux TT30
- Capita BSOD 159 with Flux SE30
- Burton Custom Flying-V 158
- Burton Joystick 157
- Burton Nug 150 with Malavitas
- Burton Whammy Bar 154 w/Genesis
- Forum Holy Moly II 155cm w/Republic
- Gnu Rider’s Choice 157.5
- Gnu Street 152
- K2 Fastplant 154
- K2 WWW 151
- Lib Attack Banana 156
- Lib T Rice 157
- Lib TRS 157
- Lobster Parkbaord 154 (basically a Bataleon Airobic) with Switchback no-backs.
- Marhar Archaic 154 with Flux SE30
- Ride DH2 157
- Ride Kink 152
- Ride Machete 158 with Rodeo
- Ride Buckwild 157 w/Revolt?
- Rome Agent Rocker 155 or 157?
- Rome Artifact Rocker 153
- Rome Hammerhead 153
- Rome Butterknife
- Salomon Man’s board 159
Weather/Conditions: For the most part, the weather was perfect for demo conditions. Monday was firm snow softening as the daytime temps inched upwards towards 40 degrees, bluebird morning with an overcast afternoon. Tuesday and Wednesday were both phenomenal days beginning with firm corduroy groomers, daytime temps around 30 degrees, and sun all day long. The snow was firm but not icy, and overall very good for testing a variety of boards.
A typical day at MRA Test Fest: Your day begins at 8am when you wake up, wishing you had not done that last shot of 100 proof at the bar the night before. You grab a coffee, pray that your boot liners dried out a little bit overnight, and head down to pick up your lift pass and take an early meeting with the team. Then it’s a dash to the demo tents. Find a rep who is already drinking beer, have him or her fumble awkwardly to try and set frozen bindings on a frozen snowboard. The board will not the right size. This will take longer than you think. Take a few hot laps, return to the tents, find another board and repeat until 4pm. Wait for some tent to start grilling hot dogs and snag lunch for free.
At the end of the day Burton tapped pony kegs of New Holland beer to take the edge off. Get out of your outerwear (optional) and head to the bar for dinner and drinks. Squeeze in a shower or power nap before returning to the party at night.
Repeat for 3 days.
It is a tough job but somebody has to do it. Stay tuned for all the detailed reviews!