Chop / Crud
The Slayblade definitely excels in these conditions. Similar to other stiff boards, like the Venture Zelix and the Flow Maverick, the Slayblade can really smooth out bumpy, choppy snow. The dropped parts of the board near the nose and tail maintains contact with the snow when on edge or while pointing it through crud.
K2 has also incorporated their Harshmellow technology into the Slayblade. “Harshmellow” is meant to, unsurprisingly, dampen the board, mellowing the harshness of crusty, choppy snow.
The squishy Harshmellow pads sit under each foot, providing more space for a more natural flex in the bindings. Rather than being locked down tight to the board, the pads’ squishiness offers a little bit of wiggle room in order to provide a better flex down the the long axis as well as torsional flex.
So far, the technology has seemed pretty effective on the Slayblade, although I’m having trouble determining whether the dampness is from the Harshmellow or the board’s stiffness. Regardless, it is one of the dampest boards I have ridden, and one of the best at controlling unwanted vibrations, though the Venture boards I have ridden are still the most damp.
Jumping & Landing
While the Slayblade’s stiffness, its convex pre-loaded ollie bar (which works like a spring), and the Lifted base technology would all suggest that the board would be really poppy, I haven’t really found that to be true. I am still able to get a lot of pop from the Slayblade, but the board’s stiffness means that it takes a lot of force to load up that pop—it’s not naturally poppy.
One of my favorite runs at Taos is actually the fairly mellow Bambi from the top of Chair 2. It has multiple quarter pipe-shaped wind drifts that create really fun features to launch in and out of. I actually found that it took a lot of focus and accurate timing to pop off of each transition, and I often felt like I would get thrown forward. The Slayblade takes a lot of energy to initiate the pop, but it releases with a surprising amount of power that often bucked me forward.
On the other hand, landing airs on the Slayblade is really smooth. I felt comfortable landing in all types of snow and at varying angles; the board is solid and doesn’t bounce around in any unexpected way.
Although the Slayblade uses K2’s “Tweekend” technology that is supposed to allow the rider to use a lot more of the board’s surface area to help with butters, I didn’t really find this to be the case. The board is so stiff, that I found it quite difficult to butter and press; I could do it, but it takes effort.
However, once I got the Slayblade up to higher speeds, I found that it was much more maneuverable and responsive. At lower speeds, it was a lot more work to pivot the board and make smaller turns, and I felt it really came alive when going faster.
Although the Slayblade is fast and stable, it hasn’t been the most durable board I’ve ridden. The sintered base uses a die-cut inlay method that I wish was a bit stronger. I think this could be accomplished by a thicker base material. I wish it had a stronger base, since I’ve racked up quite a few core shots.
I’ve ridden both the 158cm and 161cm Slayblade, and I’ve really liked both sizes. Although I prefer the 161cm length for groomers and riding fast, for me, it isn’t nearly as playful. The 158cm Slayblade did much better in moguls, and was still really stable at high speeds.
I rode the 158 and 161 Slayblade with a handful of different bindings of varying stiffness ratings. Unsurprisingly, the stiffer bindings provided more stability and responsiveness, but even with softer bindings, both sizes of the Slayblade still felt quite damp. If I had to pick one size, I’d personally go with the 158cm length, since it best suits my all-over-the-mountain style of riding.
The K2 Slayblade is a stiff, solid board for advanced to expert riders who want something that can really handle high speeds. I don’t think it would be appropriate for beginners; if you are not on top of your riding, it will be pretty scary.
Although I was initially worried about the changes K2 made to the Slayblade, I’ve been really impressed with the updated board. I’ve noticed some sacrifices in the board’s performance at slower speeds and when scrubbing speed, and it isn’t quite as playful, but it has definitely been more stable when going fast, which I really appreciate.
If you’re looking for a stiffer, burly board that has some freestyle characteristics to it and can tackler bigger lines around the mountain, the Slayblade is a great option. I definitely I plan on riding it in my freeride competitions again this year.