Easy Riders

This season's snowboards are more refined than ever—so you don't have to be

Arbor Element Alt, Flow Infinite, and Ride Prophet     Photo: David Clugston

The Testers

Othello Clark, 31, 6'1", 185, pro snowboarder

Mitch Stout, 30, 5'9", 165, snowboard coach

Freeride
Arbor Element Alt
The Element Alt's bamboo topsheet isn't just for looks; it delivers an explosiveness that park-and-pipe riders will appreciate. "I couldn't find much wrong with this board," says Stout. "I adapted to it right away." A dimpled base reduces friction for increased speed great on long, Vail-type traverses and a carbon-fiber leaf down the center provides torsional strength for high-speed turns. But our favorite part is that Arbor uses sustainable wood for all its topsheets. "They not only continue to get better each year," says Clark, "but they do it in an environmentally smart way." $499; arborsports.com

Park
Flow Infinite
A park junkie's dream, this fiberglass-and-carbon board is as lightweight and spry as a Russian gymnast lining up for the vault. The incredible responsiveness comes thanks to a titanium-and-aluminum fork that stretches laterally from the foot plates, transferring every toe twitch directly to the edges. Flow touts this as an all-mountain board, but our testers found it a bit chattery at high speed and less than stellar in the crud. So, like 2005 U.S. Open slopestyle champion Risto Mattila, who'll make the Infinite his everyday board this season, keep it in the park. $529; flow.com

Carving
Ride Prophet
Ride furthers its well-deserved reputation for smooth, stable boards with the Prophet, a high-speed fiberglass-and-aramid (another strong synthetic) carver that has carbon-fiber strands running diagonally from the center to the tips to distribute rider power over the full surface. "Super well made and feels like it will ride new for years," says Clark. Still, that Mercedes-Benz polish on the slopes comes at the expense of the liveliness required of a good park board. "It's an all-around great cruiser," says Stout, "but you really have to load it up for jibbing." $550; ridesnowboards.com

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