Thursday, March 31, 2011

What happens to the mountain when you're not there?

Ever wonder what happens at the resort while you're not there? Here's some great time-lapse photography. Thanks Rocky at

If you're reading this on Facebook and want to see the video, go to

Eye Candy HD TimeLapses - TimeLine bonus 1 from TimeLine on Vimeo.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Backcountry in Colorado

From the Never Summer website, this video presents a nice view of accessing and riding the backcountry in Colorado.

If you're seeing this on Facebook and want to see the video, go to

Earning Turns from Michelle Shea on Vimeo.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Full contact snowboarding - Mitch Tolederer wins Free Ride World Tour Championship

After a few seconds, the riding begins. Seriously gnarly terrain.

If you're seeing this on Facebook and want to see the video, go to


Monday, March 28, 2011

Never Summer Raptor Review - Part 2

In the first review, I gushed - er, wrote about my experience riding the Never Summer Raptor in icy conditions. In short, it was incredible. Naturally, however, I didn't buy it for ice - powder is my primary motivation.

Saturday, A-Basin had 4 inches of fresh stuff so, in the interest of science, I rode it.

As good as the Raptor is on the ice, it's that much better in powder. Surfy is an overused word but it seems so appropriate to the Raptor's feel on pow. Turns are effortless and you go from rail to rail naturally and smoothly. The nose floats without radical back leg burn to keep it up. Speed is there along with stability.

When hard turns are necessary, the Raptor makes them without getting stuck or losing all speed. Trees continue to be a joy - the board is so easy to control.

At one point I'm sitting on a very steep drop, trying to pick my line. The rider near me, contemplating the same, said his first time on this drop, he just skidded down. I nodded and smiled - I've skidded a few.

I pushed off and skidded a few feet - hell, that's no way to ride - I cranked a hard toe-side turn. It's hard to describe the feeling - I was riding the way I've wanted to ride since I started snowboarding.

The rest of the day followed the same pattern. Sometimes I went faster, other times steeper but all the time I had more fun.

I'm an intermediate rider with no illusions about my skills but, on the Raptor, I'm a lot better and have a lot more fun than ever before.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Never Summer Raptor - A review

Changing of the guard - moving bindings from my Never Summer Summit to the Never Summer Raptor.

Sometimes it’s difficult to review an excellent product without sounding like a 12-year old describing her favorite pop singer. The Never Summer Raptor is just such a product. After riding it, the tendency is to rant and rave about it until you sound adolescent. Just keep reading – I’ll prove it.

I was fortunate to see the design for the Raptor well before the board hit the market. The Raptor is the first board I ever saw that made me inhale hard – as if I just won something big. It’s design, graphics, and layout is amazing.

I was late in getting mine, not because of the folks at Never Summer, but because I was in the middle of an international move – things just don’t go easy in those cases. Finally, because Never Summer (Vince in particular) really went out their way to help me, I got mine on 19 March. To say I was excited is an understatement.

The next day, I left extra-early for A-Basin. That might not seem unusual but the conditions were crappy – I usually don’t even make the drive on those days.

Icy was the word for the day – at least for the morning. Given that I had a new board and that the conditions were very treacherous, I took it easy on the first run.

I’ve ridden boards with rocker in the past. I always thought they were unstable and, unless there was in powder, somewhat unpredictable when turning. The Raptor uses a rocker-camber design unique to Never Summer. I’m not giving all the tech description here – you can read it on their site at

However, I will talk about how it feels. Essentially, rocker-camber gives great acceleration with little or no effort from the rider (like some of the rocker-only boards) but provides all of the traction on ice that you get from the magnetraction boards (maybe more – it’s hard to quantify that experience). The big advantage though is that rocker-camber is super-stable at extreme speed and very forgiving when you screw up.

As the day went on, I tested it in rough terrain (still icy), nearly flat terrain, and in the trees (very icy). True confession time – I usually don’t ride trees on icy days but this board just begged to go there. I consistently pushed it through the morning and left A-Basin somewhat hesitantly and later than planned.

In the trees, I was riding far more confidently than I would normally be on ice. On flat spots, it’s amazingly easy to Ollie a bit and accelerate out of them. When attacking something steep, rough, and icy, you’re able to maintain control and direction. The board is phenomenal. The confidence builds from the first run. In a short time, you’re trying – and making – runs that you would have (wisely) avoided with other boards.

Now, I can enjoy riding in all conditions. For a while at least, I’ve overcome my snow snobbery and having fun snowboarding in less-than-excellent conditions. The experience riding the Raptor makes me anxious to go back and do it again – regardless of the snow. It just gets me excited about riding again – even on a bad day. I was giggling sometimes – I admit it. The Raptor just rocks.

At the end of the day, the takeaway is confidence, fun, and success. Because I felt better about my riding, because the board made me believe I could do things, I had an outstanding day. I still remember a short, steep, rough wall. Normally, on an icy day, I ignore runs like that. But, by then, I felt like – well, I felt like I could ride anything. I made it – easy.

For now, I’m limiting this review to the icy conditions – that’s where I rode it. When I get to test it in powder, I’ll post something on that too. My feeling is that it will be even better in the good stuff but I’ll save that raving for another day.

My advice – buy one. You probably can’t get one now – Raptors sold out early in the season but get ready and buy one early next winter.

Never Summer manufactures their all of their boards in the U.S. – right here in Denver, Colorado. Most manufacturers make at least some of their boards – if not all of them – overseas.

In this economy, making things in the U.S. is really an important consideration. People need those jobs. I’ve toured their factory – it’s very nice and the staff is happy and extremely dedicated. Folks stay there a long time – Hell, I’d love to work there.

So, save your money and order early. You’ll get the best board you ever rode and put your neighbor to work and stimulate the economy. That almost makes it a charitable contribution – but a lot more fun!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A new view

I'm beginning a new site with another soon to follow. To see the latest, go here. It's still in the design phase. I'll also be doing a new site on snowboarding. More to come!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Something new

Anyone wondering...I've moved to Colorado. Still love Japan and miss it and my friends.

Thanks to Jeremy Jones for this flashback: