The 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.


The Blackboard Experiment

The Blackboard Experiment

Sage Kotsenburg

Mervin Marketing Manager, Jesse Burtner and the 2017 Lib Tech TRS. photo: Yoshida


Model Length Tested: 154
Additional Lengths: 148N, 151N, 157, 157MW, 159, 159MW, 162, 165
Shape: Twin
Camber: Hybrid
Core: Horsepower Construction
MSRP: $599.00


An all around, all mountain, “good for everything” board shouldn’t be code for boring. It should be lively, responsive, stable light, fun and forgiving. Or, in other words, good for everything. Sounds like an impossible balance but that really is what we’ve achieved with the Lib Tech Total Ripper Series. With over a decade plus of testing, tweaking and revising this handcrafted-in-the-USA-zero-hazardous-waste-producing quiver killer just keeps getting better. So when the Blackboard test came up, with all its unknown elements, it took us 0.0 seconds to decide to send the T.R.S.! —Jesse Burtner, Marketing Manager, Mervin Manufacturing

Sage Kotsenburg, Lib Tech

photo: Huggy

Sage Kotsenburg, Lib Tech

photo: Huggy

First of all, I’ve never been that big of a fan of reverse camber, but I was going to come into this unbiased. This snowboard seemed really soft and it had reverse camber so it kind of got away from me sometimes but that’s when the serrated edges counteracted that feeling. Once I was fully in my turn the edges would really lock in but transferring over to the other edge felt loose and slidey. - Sage's first impression of the Lib Tech TRS

Jib Score: 7

It was easy to press and super fun to do pretzels and spin out of rails. It was smooth, but really easy to loop out on because it was a little too soft with the reverse camber.

Jump Score: 4

So playful on small jumps, but I definitely wouldn’t mess around on anything bigger than thirty feet on it. Minipark phenom.

Tranny Score: 5

Tons of fun on small tranny, but once you get into anything legit it’s pretty soft and loopy. It feels good for minipipe shred, little hits and cut outs, just nothing bigger.

Carve Score: 5

It did feel washy in between turns, but once I initiated a carve, I felt the serrated edges definitely kick in. It’s crazy playful and good if you’re doing butters and not looking to lay into some really big carves on hardpack.

Overall Score: 21