Blackboard Experiment

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.


Think Thank in Russia

Think Thank in Russia

Burton Snowboards

Zach Nigro, Burton Brand Marketing Manager and the 2017 Burton Custom Twin.


Model Length Tested: 156
Additional Lengths: 151, 154, 158, 160
Shape: Asym Twin
Camber: Traditional
MSRP: $599.95


Burton has created some of the best snowboards in the world and the Custom is one of them. It’s one of the most emulated boards in history and it has been in our line for the last 20 years. That’s why we chose the Custom Twin, the freestyle version of the Custom for The Blackboard Experiment. No board has had more days on snow and been backed by more riders in the world than the Custom. — Zach Nigro, Brand Manager/Performance, Burton Snowboards

Sage Kotsenburg

photo: Mike Yoshida

Sage Kotsenburg

photo: Huggy

I immediately felt really comfortable on this deck. It seems like it's very well made. On my first run, I ripped some carves and it was a little icy, but this board still held its edge and it didn’t give out on me or slip. It’s got solid camber. - Sage Kotsenburg, first impression of the 2017 Burton Custom Twin

Jib Score: 6

This board is really powerful, but also playful. On my first run it felt a little stiff, but the on the second run, I got more confident and everything started clicking. The first trick I tried was a nosepress and I was pressing really hard and not getting a lot out of it. On my second and third runs though, I was still working for the press, but it was way better. It’s by no means a 'jib board,' but it can jib.

Jump Score: 9

This is a really good jump board. I tried a 900 on an icy kicker on my third run and I felt completely confident going into it, in the air, and on the landing. This board can hold its ground on any jump, from 10 feet to 100. It’s an easy 9 out of 10.

Tranny Score: 8

It felt really good and natural in the pipe and on all the transition in the park. It has so much snap and pop. It’s powerful. Not one complaint.

Carve Score: 8

It was super responsive and can turn on a dime. I didn’t do too much buttering because it was a little stiff and almost too in control for that. It did really well powering through the slush, though. It really holds its own in all conditions.

Overall Score: 31