The Blackboard Experiment, Smokin Snowboards

Here at SNOWBOARDER Magazine, we decided to break the mold of traditional snowboard reviews and embark on a completely unbiased blank snowboard test last winter, called The Blackboard Experiment. We hit up ten brands in snowboarding and asked them to provide us with a snowboard of their choice, but the one caveat was that it had to have a black topsheet and base graphic, so as to keep the anonymity of the brand only between them and us. Then, we partnered with Mammoth Mountain, California because of their hallowed Main Park, a trail that has done more for freestyle snowboarding and terrain park design than almost any other mountain on Earth. We selected 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic gold medalist Sage Kotsenburg to ride the boards and record his experiences, because, one: he didn’t have a board sponsor, and two: Sage is one of the best park riders our sport has ever seen. Last April, Sage made the trek to Mammoth for five days of extreme testing. From sunup to sundown, he was strapped into one of these blank decks and when he wasn’t riding them, he was jotting notes about how they rode on jumps, jibs, tranny and on the trail. The result is the most comprehensive snowboard test that we’ve ever put together. Below, you’ll see exactly what Sage thought of these boards without him knowing what brand made them, so read on and take notes, because he will give you all the info you need, from tip to tail. This is SNOWBOARDER Magazine’s 2016 Blackboard Experiment.


The Blackboard Experiment, Smokin Snowboards

The Blackboard Experiment, Smokin Snowboards

Smokin Snowboards

Grey McCalla, Smokin Team Rider, with the Smokin Hooligan. photo: Mike Yoshida


Model Length Tested: 152
Additional Lengths: 144, 148, 156, 159
Shape: Twin
Camber: Reverse
MSRP: $469.99


We were super excited to get the call from SNOWBOARDER to take part in The Blackboard Experiment. To be considered as one of the ten brands in the test is really big for us. We were given the rider’s height and weight, and told he would be riding the board on jumps, rails, and tranny in Mammoth's Main Park. I thought for a minute, '150 pounds, Mammoth, best all-around park board--that sounds like half our line, but we gotta go with the Hooligan.' The Hooligan has a Dirt Rocker Profile (DTX) that’s built for catch-free, buttery, freestyle runs and is also there for you on bigger park features and landings and has mellow Magne Traction. I made and finished this board—waxed and scraped it three times by hand—to make sure everything was perfect, then drove it to Mammoth for the hand off to the SNOWBOARDER crew. I then checked out all the other Blackboards one-by-one and I couldn’t believe the submissions. The results have been a big secret, and I can’t wait to see how the Hooligan did. — Jay Quintin, CEO, Smokin’ Snowboards

Sage Kotsenburg, Smokin Snowboards

photo: Huggy

Sage Kotsenburg, Smokin Snowboards

photo: Huggy

Really strong when turning; very responsive and easy to spin around and butter. It’s quick edge-to-edge, too. I was really surprised by that. I thought it may not be the best jump board, but if it carves this well it may have some capabilities in the air. - Sage's first impression of the 2017 Smokin Hooligan

Jib Score: 10

It’s so light and real smooth. It’s my favorite board to jib on so far. It’s pretty much an ideal rail board: light, flexible, and quick to adjust. Spinning in and out was incredibly easy and pressing was effortless.

Jump Score: 4

I could feel every little imperfection in the runway: ruts, bumps, slush piles. I was going over them, not through them. I felt like it had loose suspension. It’s fun for small stuff and tweaking grabs, but I was wheelie-ing out doing 540s on a thirty-foot jump.

Tranny Score: 4

It was good in smooth tranny, like a sidehit or a hip or if the pipe was perfect, but once there was a kink or some slush in the flatbottom, I didn’t feel very comfortable. I just kept wheelie-ing out on it.

Carve Score: 5

Although I loved it, once there was a tiny bit of slush I would just mash into the piles and dig right in. I almost fell a couple of times. It’s incredibly awesome for buttering, though. I just had to get used to it when buttering because you want it soft, but not so soft that you’re falling over.

Overall Score: 23