|Here I am trying Salomon SnowBlades at Lutsen.|
Longtime readers to this page might notice a certain loyalty (or even bias) toward Sled Dogs. Part of my loyalty was based on their innovative design and newness on the market. However, I've noticed a few problems with Sled Dogs (even the new K-9 model). For example, because the toe isn't upturned and isn't flexible, it's easy to hit a slushy patch or a pile of ungroomed snow. This usually leads to a slowdown or an abrupt stop, which makes it harder to gain speed to do jumps and tricks. Also, some people have experienced problems with the K-9's leashes and buckles, as well as the ill-fated T-nut system. The company is currently in Chapter 11, and I'm hoping they'll survive. But, in order to survive, they need to make a product than can compare to skiboards, especially since manufacturers such as Salomon and Dynastar are well-financed.
Anyway, enough rambling; it's time for the reviews.
|A closer look, taken while I was riding the chairlift.|
My initial impression was that they were very similar to Sled Dogs in their handling: the motion is basically that of inline skating, not skiing, so all of my knowledge of Sled Dogs applied here as well. They handled very well, and I didn't have any problems carving on them. (In contrast, I've occasionally noticed that Sled Dogs sometimes sideslip rather than carve in icy conditions.) They seemed to go as fast as, or faster than, my Sled Dogs. And, the best part was that they didn't catch on piles of snow, nor did they get stuck. Here's how they performed in various conditions:
Carving: These things carve great -- I'd use them for a Thanksgiving
turkey. (Or Thanksgiving tofu, if you're a vegetarian.)
Moguls: They were so-so in the moguls, but that's probably because the runs with moguls were way too icy. I was having bad luck with the moguls on Sled Dogs because of all the ice.
Jumps: I had a lot of confidence making and landing jumps, because I didn't have to worry about making a mistake and landing in the wrong position.
Powder: Minnesota is not known for deep powder, so I can't answer this question.
Halfpipe: How I wish. I don't think Lutsen even tried to make one this year because of the minimal snowfall.
Ground spins (360's): This was the only negative part of the experience. I wasn't really able to pull off ground spins because I kept catching an edge. The uphill skiboard either dug in, or one of the edges was dragging.
Overall, I liked the SnowBlades. I'm a little curious about whether the plastic guard on the nose can stand up to abuse and aggressive use, though.
|Picture of a Dynastar Twin skiboard. (I actually rented two.)|
Twins are a little bit shorter, but about half again as wide, as Salomon
SnowBlades. (See the picture above.) Also, Dynastar's skiboards
have a metal edge going all the way around the base; I don't remember if
the SnowBlades had a metal edge on the tip or not. Also, the Twins
didn't come with leashes. I asked the rental shop people about them,
and they said that people either ended up breaking off the leashes or removing
them. I would have preferred to have them, mainly because the Ski
Patrol requires some kind of retention device and because I wouldn't want
to chase down the hill after a skiboard fell off. I didn't have to
test that theory, though.
|Detail of the base of the Twins. They must expect you to get a lot of air, since they printed their name on the bottom too.|
Carving: These things carved great -- in fact, they were a little
bit better than the SnowBlades. I was able to carve so hard that
I had to put my uphill hand on the snow to keep my balance.
Jumps and tricks: Like the SnowBlades, the Twins had a lot more stability on landings than Sled Dogs. Unfortunately, Afton Alps didn't have such good jumps in the park; I went off one jump and I felt I was diving off the edge of the earth. I landed very hard and lost my balance. (Of course, I would have hit that landing hard on a snowboard, skis, or Sled Dogs.)
Ground spins: These were a lot easier to do on Twins than on the SnowBlades. The edges didn't catch into the snow.
Moguls and powder: Afton Alps didn't have any moguls set up, which was probably just as well since they'd have been even more icy than Lutsen's. There's no powder in Minnesota, as I mentioned.
Halfpipe: Again, Afton Alps didn't have one. I'd love to try these on the halfpipe sometime; I think they're perfectly suited for the halfpipe and they might just impress some of the 15-year olds who sit around watching everyone else.
My overall impression was that the Twins were a lot of fun. They behaved a little more radically than the SnowBlades, but not so radically that they were impossible to control.
It's hard to pick a real winner between SnowBlades and the Twins, because
I liked them both. The SnowBlades are a good choice if you want a
lot of stability and tend to be a cruiser. The Twins are great if
you want to be more radical and get into doing tricks. That said,
I think my interests lie more in the radical direction, and I just might
end up buying a pair of Dynastar Twins.