NOVELTY: Niche Aether - Started at $499
The "niche" here is that its basically one of the greenest boards out there, sustainable and all that good stuff. What we weren't expecting was a board that cruised as well as it did. It somewhat expectedly didn't have all the makings for the best freestyle board — though it's not a write-off, either — but the Magnetraction tech allowed it to carve just as well as others we tested, and even better than a few that have been in the space for a lot longer than Niche. This was definitely the most pleasant, well-rounded surprise of the field testing.
Thank you to Vail Resorts and Aspen Snowmass for providing the best grounds for our snowy shenanigans.
Michael Woodsmall learned to snowboard from an Australian instructor named Michael Brownie. He then further "learned" by following his older cousin David down chutes and through back bowls well above his experience level — largely because he thought it was cool. Countless broken bones and concussions later, he doesn't even have a wince of regret. Follow more of his adventures on Twitter @mkwoodsmall.