First some background: I never participated in any snow sliding sports until 4 seasons ago when I rented some Big Easy skiboards at a local resort out of boredom while waiting in the lodge while my children were snowboarding. Since then I have used 90 Snow Jams the first two seasons, and 105 EMP last season. The EMPs took me a huge step forward in boosting my confidence to try more challenging terrain and are a fun and controlled ride. When I am accompanied by my wife (on Tanshos), we like to cruise the green and blue groomers, and occasionally challenge ourselves on the black runs. But I found that when I pushed hard to try and keep up to my young adult children (advanced snowboarders) while racing on the groomers, and negotiating the powder or the trees, I was exhausted and beat by the end of the day, having struggled to keep my balance (front to back) when going through uneven terrain, crud or changing conditions.
Although I rarely post, I read the forums every day and took notice of the many comments (by Valmorel, & Jack to name a few) of the Spruce 120s being stable, forgiving (and requiring a sharp edge). So I picked up a “blue” pair from Greco and mounted Salomon S810ti bindings on a Spruce Composite riser with a 35 mm setback, and polished the edges (0 degree base, 89 degree side, detuned 1” from the front and rear contact points), and gave them a hot wax.
These are my first experiences with the 120 Spruce:
Day 1 – Local hill (250′) with only one short run open with manmade snow and about 1” of fresh powder.
My first impression, “these are long”. But skating was not a problem and it was effortless since they glide so well. I did notice that with the extra length up front, the edges caught a few times on my first run. But after a couple of runs, I learned to weigh the tails (stand straighter) to alleviate the front edges from catching while cruising. But when I wanted to carve aggressively, I would keep them on edge and change to a lower (gorilla) posture to weigh them centered/forward. My first full day of the season was without a stop and not a single sore muscle (or spill). I knew they were fast but the real test against my son was yet to come.
Day 2 – Local hill (110′) with a single groomed run and the balance set up as a terrain park. The run was very hard corduroyed man made snow and it was bitterly cold. (I joined my snowboarding daughter who was being certified by the ski patrol.)
I made the first tracks in the rock hard corduroy and found that the edges held well and I was not sliding out. After about three runs, I was confident that I could stop prior to the lift (confined area) and get around the moving pylons (new snowboarders) if I just ripped down the hill. By mid afternoon, I started noticing that middle age skiers were waiting for me to get off the lift so they could race me. And by the end of the day they were joining me on the same chair so they would have the same momentum at the top of the hill. Not a word said, but definitely a competitive atmosphere. If I did not beat them, it was a tie at its worst.
Days 3 to 6 –Lake Louise, Sunshine Village, and Norquay resorts, in the Canadian Rockies and Kicking Horse resort in the Purcell Mountains. (This was our annual family Christmas trip to get out of the flat lands of the prairie where we live.)
This was my first opportunity to ride with my children. My son’s on hill statement sums it up best: “those boards made a big difference for you Dad”. He made the proclamation after the two of us exchanged the lead position during a race that left my daughter and her boyfriend in the snow dust.
My on mountain impressions of the 120 Spruce:
Very stable as others have already noted. It takes a major error or loss of balance to find yourself on your butt as I did once in the four days coming out of a wind packed powder tree run (the steepest longest and most difficult black I have ever tried). As Valmorel has pointed out, if in trouble, put them on edge and you will recover. It allows for a very relaxed non-tiring cruise at speed on the groomers.
Skating was effortless, with great glide. So much so that I did not take poles with me to the mountains this year, which I had in the past due to the long flat sections at some resorts.
Moguls were very manageable. What little maneuverability was lost due to length was made up in stability and less effort to keeping your balance if the best line was not taken.
I found that I was no longer giving much attention to the conditions. I only knew I was on ice or crud by the change in sound I heard. It was my signal to point straight down and if required, reduce my speed somewhere else.
The flex of the board made it easy to negotiate rough terrain and trees in a (speed) controlled manner or transition into softer conditions without a face plant.
A fast or a relaxing cruiser, the rider’s choice.
Edge hold was good with a sharp edge (89 degree). Only noticed some sliding on my last day on very icy conditions. This was not unexpected given that I had not undertaken any edge touch-ups after prior days of edge abuse on granite rocks hiding under the powder and on early season marginal coverage runs.
I did not have the opportunity to ride in knee deep plus fresh powder. But I was able to find some wind packed powder and had no problems (other than the rock hiding underneath).
The black sintered base will be easy to repair.
We all are looking for the perfect board that meets all our needs. I am lucky because I have found mine; the 120 Spruce meets my needs.
Thanks Jeff and Greco for making it possible with such a great product.
BTW: I am 48 years old; consider myself non-athletic, and am 5′ 11”, 186 lbs without any riding gear.
Rider – Slow – Intermediate Skiboarder