This year the British Snowboard Test has not only changed its name to the much catchier “Spring Break” but it has also taken on campers to join in the fun of riding spring slush in Kaunertal.
It is from here, that we will be bringing you a daily test report on the sickest sticks of the 2013-14 season. These will be put through their paces by snowboarding’s very own Stig – replace small man, in fast car, with helmet, with medium man, in facemask, on a board.
Anyway, the first board that our Stig, in the White mask – not White’s mask - put through the thrill-mill was the Happy Place, from Slash.
Slash Happy Place
Austrian superstar Gigi Rüf has never been one to follow the crowd, so the arrival of a new snowboard brand fashioned in his image was greeted with great excitement. The Happy Place is at the lower end of the range, but true to form it takes a creative approach in its shape with a small swallow-cut at the nose and tail. First impressions were good – the board has an eye-catching graphic and is also incredibly light – and it certainly feels lively edge-to-edge.
The unorthodox shape means sinking the tail, or even landing switch, in deep snow requires less effort. The flex, meanwhile, is soft but snappy, making this a playful model to throw off banks and generally jib about. Heavier riders, however, might find the Happy Place too soft; one heavy landing saw the springy swallow-tail buckle on the run-out, sending me into a wheelie-cum-face plant.
But then, they do say pets resemble their owners, and perhaps the same is true of snowboards: if you’re a spritely freestyle cat like Gigi, you’ll have a lot of fun on this rule-bending stick.
The Slash Happy Place – could be a great name for a self-harmer’s manual – is a true twin, with true twin flex and centered stance. Add to this regular camber between the bindings, for the response and pop that Gigi likes in his sticks; rocker rise in the tip and tail (camrock they call it), which mellows the board temperament; and a soft flex, and you have a board that won’t buck the novice but can delivers progress to the rider who wants to push it.
In short, whichever way you’re taking off or landing the Happy Place will glide like Liberace’s fingers over a grand piano. Its up to you how much glam you want to add.