Blackboard experiment Never Summer

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.


Blackboard Experiment

Blackboard Experiment

Never Summer Proto Type Two

Cooper Hoffmeister, Never Summer Sales and Marketing with the Proto Type Two.


Model Length Tested: 157
Additional Lengths: 152, 154, 157, 160, 153X, 155X, 158X, 161X, 164X
Shape: Asymmetrical
Camber: Ripsaw Rocker Camber
Core: Twin, Mid Flex
MSRP: $569.99


We narrowed the decision down to two boards: the Proto Type Two with Ripsaw Rocker Camber and the Warlock with Original Rocker Camber. We chose the Proto Type Two, which is a mid-flex Asym twin. We figured a known pro would want a little stiffer flex in a freestyle board. We knew the rider was going to be roughly 160 pounds and nobody likes to ride a board that’s too small for them, so we went with a 157. In the interest of keeping with the secrecy of the Blackboard Test, the fact that we can’t produce the Warlock without the embossed skull and bones made the decision to go with the Proto Type Two even easier. — Chris Harris, Marketing Director, Never Summer Industries

Sage Kotsenburg

photo: Mike Yoshida

Sage Kotsenburg

photo: Mike Yoshida

As soon as I strapped it on my feet, I felt like I could pretty much do anything right away. I love the shape of this board and I like how playful it is. You can do any butter in the world on this thing. It turns surprisingly well for being so soft. I’m speculating that on rails it will be really awesome. I’m a little concerned by how soft it is for jumping, though. I think it will be really good for 30-40 foot jumps, but I’m a little concerned on how it will ride on bigger ones. - Sage Kotsenburg, first impression of the Never Summer Proto Type Two

Jib Score: 9

It’s very light. Spinning on and off of jibs is easy. It holds when you want it to, but if you want to shuffle around it’s really buttery. It has a ton of control, but the board’s not in control, you are. It’s stable inside and out and it goes wherever you want it to go on a dime. I would ride this board in the streets!

Jump Score: 7

It holds its ground on bigger jumps a lot better than I thought and it had super good pop. I went pretty big one time and it held a straight line and it didn’t give out on me like a soft board normally would. It just felt like it was made of really good materials. It felt sturdy and flexible in the places it needed to be. That was one of my favorite parts of the board. If I had to correct myself in the takeoff or landing, it would let me. I’m really interested to see who made it and how they made it.

Tranny Score: 7

It holds a good edge in the pipe. You wouldn’t really want it for slushy walls because it’s so soft that it doesn’t power through but the aesthetics still make it so it can ride transitions well. It throws me off how much I like it.

Carve Score: 7

It was quick edge-to-edge and really responsive. It’s so light and super flexible but it still has some power to it. It’s one of the best boards for buttering I have ever ridden. It’s playful, light and it edges when you want it to. When I was shuffling and reverting I could pull it back super quick. The fun factor for the board is all-time. I would give it an 8 but I take a point away because it’s a little soft, so I’ll give it a 7.

Overall Score: 30