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Vince contacted me to see if I wanted to demo next years replacement for the Titan, the Raptor. I think my reply was "are the Kennedy's gun shy?"
So I picked up the 159 Raptor from the factory a couple of weeks ago. I had seen the board at SIA and it definitely had caught my eye. It looked like a an aggressive freeride board which is where my heart lies. As it turns out, that is exactly what it is.
The basics, the stance is set back with rocker in-between the feet. Then there is Neversummer's camber at the tail and tip. The camber on the nose is longer allowing for more stability at speeds. I normally ride in the mid 160-ish range, so this board was shorter than norm for me. It rode a lot longer for sure. I mounted my K2 formulas on it, normal stance +-15 angles, 22" stance.
The first day I took it out was at Loveland. Riding with my lady. I was planning on maching it down some groomers. The 6" of reported pow at Loveland turned out to be more like 20". It was ridiculous, especially over at chair 8. Thigh deep snow to ride through was not a problem to find. I was worried that with the elongated camber nose, the board would pearl under the snow, especially since the board was a little shorter than what I ride. No problems what so ever. With the rocker and set back, it popped right up on top of the snow. Even when I stopped in one of the deepest drifts possible, I was able to get her moving again, without much effort. I got bucked playing around trying nose butters (which I suck at) and on the tail. Typical rocker, very little effort needed to press onto either end. Overall a great day and was very happy with the performance.
The next day I took it out for a couple of runs at Berthoud Pass. I actually strapped on snowshoes and hiked out to Floral Park with it. For those not familiar, Floral Park is a steep 38-40 (depending on where you are at) degree shot in the trees. Nicely spaced trees, but not a gimme on spacing either. You have to hang some tight needle like turns in there. There was about a foot of fresh, which helped but also made it more of a challenge. Just about every turn you cut, you went into the white room. This board held an edge exactly where I wanted it too. I'd cut a turn aiming for an opening into the trees and dig the edge into the firm snow underneath the blower. At that point I'd be in the white room and not really seeing anything. Unnerving in the trees, but when I trusted my line I'd come out of the whiteroom and would be on my line every time. When I did slam on the brakes, it pulled up nicely and reliable fashion.
The final outing was last Friday at Winterpark. WP had gotten a foot in three days and it was a perfect excuse for me to play hooky. First thing I did was take the Raptor into the Mushroom patch. Basically a bunch of boulders stacked on top of each other covered with snow. I dropped a pillow and then went to ride off of a snow covered log that turned out to have some branches that snagged me and threw me right side up into a deep tree well. Oops. After taking the board off and climbing out, I rode the second set of boulders down to Corona Way. It tracked awesome and was super stable doing the multiple drops (at least one triple) on the way down. I finally got to open this board up on groomers and I can say it carved like a champ, didn't get the chatters and was much like it's predecessor the Titan. Only this board is a lot lighter. I also took this board out to the Cirque and rode some 45 degree chutes. Which was a mistake on my part, as ski patrol probably should not have had them open. I hit some rocks, sorry Vman, I didn't mean to do that! No core shots but some decent scratches. This is where my size 11 feet did give me some problems with the doing the steeper hard packed stuff. I got a bit of the chatters from my toes skipping out. I'd love to have the wide offering, the Raptor X for that type of terrain. I did take it down the pillow case line in the water fall area and had a blast. We wrapped up our day with a couple of runs out the 40 gate through the trees down to highway. This board just feels like it's meant for the steep tight tree runs of Colorado. I had a blast.
This would be a kick ass splitboard offering. This thing is a big mountain board that is also a pow board. The only thing it isn't is a freestyle offering. If you like back country riding, charging the hard technical lines at the resort, this is a great choice.
It's also a lot lighter than a lot of offerings we are used to from Neversummer. By a lot. I didn't weigh it, but I can tell you it's lighter than my Flow Solitude. The durability is still there. Proof by the rock shots it took in the cirque. I am sure those would have been core shots on any of my resort boards. The new top sheet (Carbon fiber I believe) is dope and from what I understand adds strength that also allows them to lighten up the board. The vario grip is great. Not as hooky as the magne. I didn't notice any weirdness with it. The board felt like how it should. It was a rockered board that felt like it had camber on the hard pack, yet floated in the pow.
Again, my apologies for hitting them rocks. I'm sure Vman will correct me on any misinformation I have about the specs on the board, and I welcome the correct info.
This board has definitely made the wish list for me.
I'm weighing in at about 240 (yeah I need to lose some weight) and my Solitude is the 161 too. It's from the 06/07 season. Great board for sure. Though when I plunk down for a new board it's going to be rockered for sure. Rocker is just so damn fun, and Neversummer's RC tech really gives you the best of both worlds. So much so, that Lib Tech has to copy it. That's how good it is.
I'll have to take some pics of the board and post them up. I really do like it. Definitely a big mountain ride, with fantastic powder riding capabilities. Vince even talked about how they were aware that the Titan was a nose diver and that was something they made sure they fixed with the Raptor. The weight of this board is great too. It's very light as I mentioned. I am really hoping NS will add this to their splitboard options. Between the Summit R, the Raptor, and if they added their freestyle option they'd have a very complete line for all sorts of riders.
The real question is...are we going to see this board offered as a split????
I just got done swapping emails with Vince of Neversummer. The Blaho bros and himself had been talking about it, but they weren't quite sure. After I gave them some very positive feedback on how kick ass this board would be as a split, it's going to be offered! This is going to be a light weight shred the gnar split board that can take a beating. With a pair of Sparks it'll just rule.
All I can say is FKNA! I know where my tax return is going next season...