Sunday, November 18, 2012

Board Exam: 2012/2013 Burton Con Artist Snowboard Review

What the Rep Said: Aggressive powder board; high-end, Dragonfly core (same as in the Custom X); 20mm taper, only available in a 152

First Impressions: Not the best day to demo a powder board, let's see how she rides in a resort setting. What's up with the name? Lighter than average, but it's also shorter than anything I've ever ridden (besides my girlfriend's board).

Stats/Setup: I was 6'1" tall and 165 pounds when I rode the Con Artist 152 at a Mt. Hood Meadows demo day. I completed the setup with Salomon Dialogue Boots (size 9.5) and Burton Cartel EST bindings.

Conditions: Variable groom, some powder off the groom (boot-top at best), chop and chunder

Ask Burton for the whole story on this board. Specs on pull-down menu here.

The Ride: First, the paradox: you want to demo a powder board in real powder, but would you really want to risk a board you're unfamiliar with on a rare and precious deep day? Risk vs. reward. In this case I didn't have a choice. The demo day was not a pow day. I walked up to the Burton rep and asked him, "What's new?" This is what he gave me. I was intrigued and did my best to find some pow.

The Con Artist combines specs like a tight sidecut and 20mm of taper for the ride of your life through the trees. I found one grove that held boot-top powder and she was right at home, slashing mercilessly and floating effortlessly. It got back and forth on edge faster than some caffeinated ping pong pros.

Despite almost entirely lacking a tail, the Con Artist popped nicely. That's the camber and Dragonfly core talking. Burton calls it a 5 of 10 flex, but I'd say 6, especially torsionally. Lengthwise, there's so little board that it's easier to flex and even press on the nose and tail, but the waist holds firm through turns.

Even with the benefits of camber and all the carbon in the Burton universe, this is not a board you want to be blasting away on at high speed on hardpack. Unless your normal resort board is also a 152. Or you have a titanium skeleton. It definitely got squirrely on me as I pushed it. Interestingly, I've seen racers who are fast as hell through banked slalom courses on small tapered boards.

Bottom Line: The Burton site says it best, "Depending on your reality, it's a quiver board or a lifestyle choice, but either way this is for those days that define light and deep." I'd love to either make that lifestyle choice or at least be able to test powder boards in deep powder. Until then this will have to do. I still prefer a bigger board in the pow, but the Con Artist's deep sidecut and heavy taper performed better than some of its fishy kin. I don't fee like it conned me out of anything. 

Similar Boards: Jones Hovercraft (stiffer and less sidecut)

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