Test Fest 2012 Recap

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!

7 thoughts on “Test Fest 2012 Recap

    1. I rode the ’12 El Hefe’s on the DH2 last year, they’re solid and actually I don’t think they have changed much except for how the footbed attaches to the baseplate. I prefer the ’12 version in that regard. But yeah, solid binding I really like Ride’s straps, super comfy, love the 3d thin grip toestrap, and ratchets are super smooth as always and their tool-less adjustment is easy to use even with gloves on.

      1. Thanks for the quick response, I literally have these sitting in a cart on-line. Haven’t even seen them in person, going strictly off of feedback and reviews. Since it seems only 1 retailer has them in my size, I think I’ll go ahead.

        On a side note, I like the site. I have enjoyed reading your reviews along with Leo(?), and your park progression blog. I’m 41, just got my kids up this year, and my son wants to learn in the park. It’s just as fun as my skateboard used to be, but I don’t remember getting this sore!

        Thanks again from Colorado-

        1. No problem man, it’s always cool to get reader feedback!

          The El Hefe’s come in this sweet aluminum box like the type you might imagine that they carry the nuclear “football” in. I *think* they also come with several options for canted footbeds, 2.5, 3 and 4 degrees. The 2013 I think also has a 5 degree cant.

          The terrain park is definitely a challenge and you’ll wake up sore more often than not, but that’s the price of glory, am I right??? As an older guy who just started doing that stuff a few seasons ago, it’s been a challenge but it’s super rewarding, and really opened up a whole new level of fun for me on the mountain/hill.

  1. David,
    Just landed in South Lake for the NASJA meeting.
    The Grand Prix at Mammoth was stellar once the winds died and the sun lifted off the ridge. Chas Guldemond killed it again in slopestyle. Louie Vito took the halfpipe. Michigan’s Ian Thorley didn’t make it to the SS finals but he’s back on course at at the US Open in Vermont.

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