Dimensions (mm): 299-253-299
Turn Radius: 7.35 m
Actual Tip-to-Tail length (straight tape pull): 156cm
Boots: Nike Zoom Kaiju
Bindings: Union Force
Stance: Regular – 15/-12, 23.5 in. wide. No setback.
Test Locations: Snowbird, Utah; Niseko, Japan
Days Skied: 50+
There are some obvious upsides to living in Utah and riding at the Bird—the combination of deep, consistent snow and big terrain makes it a great place to be on a pow day.
The downside is that I’m not alone in my opinion, and the snow can get chopped up fast.
So while I’ll always own more than one snowboard at time, I am always looking for the elusive “quiver killer,” the board I can enjoy from First Tram to 4:00 P.M. in a variety of conditions, from first tracks down Hanging Bowl to jib runs down Chips.
I’d been itching to get on a Never Summer for a few seasons, as they are handmade in Colorado, have a reputation for making very durable boards, and it’s easy to find testimonials of their outstanding customer service. (These things tend to matter when riding over rocks to get to the goods is just another part of your day.) The problem had been that they never made the board that I wanted to ride, the “workhorse” described above. That is, until the Proto CT.
Never Summer has this to say about the Proto CT: “We’ve taken the powerful flex of the time tested SL, and blended it with the responsive dampening of the Evo to create the ultimate all mountain true twin.”
Profile and Flex
The Proto CT features what Never Summer calls “R.C.” or Rocker & Camber technology, similar in concept to both Lib Tech’s “C2 Banana” and Nitro’s “Gullwing” camber profiles. With the Proto CT, there is substantial rocker between the binding inserts for flotation, and short sections of traditional camber outside the inserts for stability. It is a true twin in both shape and flex, and features a blunted tip and tail for a “reduced, more balanced swing weight, while increasing effective edge for on snow stability.” Never Summer rates the Proto CT a 5 on their 1-10 flex scale, and a 3.5 in terms of dampening.
Here’s my opinion on the matter: The length of the board you ride is a product of your size and the terrain you want to ride, but mostly preference. I was torn between the 154 and 157, and opted for the longer end of things because (1) I weigh 155 lbs, (2) it generally snows a lot where I live and ride, and (3) I’m not worried about getting it around for my Cork 12.
While the 2011/2012 season provided some disappointingly one-dimensional testing conditions at Snowbird, I was fortunate enough to catch a few good local storms. I also caught two weeks of the most consistently deep conditions I’ve ever seen, in Japan. But more on that in a second.
The first month of riding in Utah last year consisted primarily of bombing groomers and sessioning well-formed jib lines throughout the mountain, and a few things became apparent:
1) The R.C. rocker profile is substantially more stable than others that I’ve ridden (Lib’s Banana and Capita’s Flat Kick, for example).
2) While stable, the Proto CT has a speed limit. While both substantially damp and stiff (despite Never Summer’s own ratings), it didn’t chatter so much as wobble at speed. In this regard, I’d consider it average for its “all-mountain freestyle” class.
3) The relative stiffness in the tip and tail is very effective and saved me several times on less than ideal landings and in rough, hard terrain. I kept expecting it to buck me, but it never did.
4) The Proto CT’s sidecut is comfortable and forgiving when making either big, arcing turns on hardpack, or shorter, carving turns. In other words, the Proto CT will allow you to charge, but will also allow you to make quick turns in the trees.
Never Summer claims that their “Durasurf XT Sintzzered 5501” sintered base is the “fastest they’ve every used,” and I would agree that it’s among the fastest I’ve ridden. It is also very durable, as I spent the first part of the year hitting rocks like it was my job, and the Proto CT came away with hardly a scratch. When the Cirque first opened with poor coverage in December, I was absolutely certain that I would do irreparable damage, but every time I unstrapped and looked at the base…nothing.