Elevated Surf Craft owner and shaper Aaron Lebowitz riding one of his surf-inspired board shapes. Photo: Wade Dunstan

Feeling The Mountain

‘Rated Radical’ snowboards from the Shaper Summit’s diehard testers.

The Shaper Summit (formerly the JH PowWow) is a gathering of snow tribes, each from a different background and ethos, all dedicated to a life sliding sideways. It is a gathering that refutes any notion of a dying industry.

Yes, in recent years some have declared snowboarding dead. Burnt out. Stale and stuck in the park. There was a reaction to this end of days proclamation. Many gathered and discussed the essence of snowboarding, how to breathe life into something they love. They began to draw new shapes and old shapes, for both snowboards and the way they would ride them.

They did more of what snowboarders have always done: listened to the elders and watched their lines, hucked with the gusto of the groms and grinned ear-to-ear like a child feeling the glide for the first time.

Rider and videographer Matt Hines grins ear-to-ear while hiking up for a Glory lap. Photo: Wade Dunstan

Each year local pro-snowboarder Rob Kingwill draws some of those passionate, diehard snowboarders to Jackson Hole Mountain Resort to test boards and celebrate snowboarding. They bring forth the past, present, and future of the sport under one giant tent at the base of the mountain. There are shapes of every size for riders of every style. Meanwhile, in the tent and in the tram and gondola lines, shapers and testers discuss sidecut and taper, theories of performance, the state of the industry and its future. There is also no shortage of hooting and hollering with new and old friends, experimentation in form and function, exploration of possibilities, praise and criticism, gondolas full of stoke, boxes of pizza, trenches laid, kickers sent, swallowtails, local brew, late night bonfires praying for pow, and thousands of vertical feet engraved.

To walk into the testing tent is a mix of candy store dreaming and a long awaited elementary school recess. Everything imaginable is sprawled across the racks. And if it’s not there, someone in the tent is indeed drawing it up in their head.

More soulful young brands pop up every year to claim a seat at the table alongside the established pillars of the industry. One board does not fit all. Each vessel is designed with an intentional directive attuned the shaper’s style. Some focus on the curves of the shape, others the construction and build, some the aesthetic, and always on the way it feels riding the mountain. If a shape is worthy it may be “Rated Radical” by some of the most influential test riders in the field.

Arbor Clovis

TESTER NAME
Benjamin Louis Pellegrino

SIZE
157

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT THIS BOARD?
“Well considering that I hated the last version. This was a huge surprise. Figured it would be stiff and pissed for Carter. Not the case. Medium flex, easy to manipulate in and out of turns in all conditions. Everday big mtn ripper! Sign me up.”

Nitro Cannon

TESTER NAME
Eric Odlin

SIZE
173

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT THIS BOARD?
“Yes please. There were other boards I liked better, but this board gave me the best feelies hands down. It may have been the pinkness but I couldn’t stop smiling the whole time on this swally was on my feet. Cant wait to own one.”

Elevated Surfcraft Shortboard

TESTER NAME
Cliff Roberts

SIZE
5’0″

Overall Comments
“Loved this board. Carved like nothing I’ve ridden before. Could lay it over as much as you could, and it would just want to go more. Short but stiff and poppy as hell.”

Nitro Drop

TESTER NAME
Micah Anderson

SIZE
146

Overall Comments
“This board was by far my favorite at the powwow! It was almost bad because one I got on the thing it was the only thing I really wanted to take out, even over my own board. It is super smooth and effortless in pow and just cruises groomers/ all mountain.”

Dinos Will Die Pow Reaper

TESTER NAME
Ellie Turner

SIZE
160

Overall Comments
“This honestly would have been my favorite board at the pow wow of it was a little bit wider… I am a girl but wear a men’s 9 boot and had toe drag and heel drag a little when I laid over all the way for deep carves. I wanted to go deeper!!! And I think that board could handle it… one of my all time favorites.”

Niche Ember

TESTER NAME
Alli Noland

SIZE
155

Overall Comments
“This might be my next board. incredibly light underfoot and super responsive. Last board of the day, but it made me feel like it was just the beginning. At one point, I looked for the Nitrous button, thinking I’d hit it by accident, but apparently, there isn’t one, just super fast fun. Even going faster than I should have been, it felt grippy stable on all terrain: bowl, trees, flats…”

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