Easy Riders

Rome Design, Salomon Special, and K2 Podium

From top: Rome Design, Salomon Special, and K2 Podium     Photo: David Clugston

Powder
Rome Design
Though the Design was made for backcountry powder, X Games nuts will appreciate it for its proficiency in the park. The lightweight build intended for hikes to the deep snow results in a board that soars off jumps and rails. Specially designed hardwood plates underfoot keep the board in one piece after jarring impacts, and a carbon-fiber base layer gives it an energetic feel. But if you're looking to rip big-mountain steeps, the Design may be a bit too soft Stout suggests going for something slightly longer than your normal board length to compensate. $550; romesnowboards.com

Featherweight
Salomon Special
Salomon's ultra-lightweight (108 ounces at 159cm) construction took some getting used to. But once our testers realized that the secret lay in riding aggressively and diving hard into turns, the Special came to life. "It doesn't rip right out of the wrapper," says Clark. "You need to ride it some to understand the higher technology." That would be Salomon's hourglass-shaped aspen core, a slab of wood that's thick in the middle and tapered toward each end to produce soft, flexy tips for easy turn initiation and a meaty, rigid center that holds a tight line all the way through the apex. $480; salomonsnowboard.com

All-Around
K2 Podium
The only question is which podium, exactly, this board is supposed to put you on. "It's a great overall freeride board that can still get nasty in the park," says Stout. Both testers found that the board's springy tail allowed for "huge ollies." But it was the deep sidecut and capped tip and tail that enabled this K2 to easily initiate and hold turns it's usually one or the other in variable snowconditions. Added perk: The Podium offers more binding positions than most boards, for a wider variety of stance options. $420; k2snowboards.com

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