Sometimes opportunity just presents itself, and I love it when it does. Its as if life just flows in the natural, right direction. On my second to last day on vacation in Gargellen, Austria, I was having a friendly chat with Mr. Juergen Wanko of the local Intersport Ski Rental, talking about riding, and work and GearLimits and he took me to the back of the shop, “you should try something” and he handed me a very peculiar looking board. A top deck, with two boards beneath it, attached to the top deck with skateboard-like trucks. A new invention from Australian based Cross Board. Did I want to try it out? Hell yeah!
Testing conditions in Gargellen were excellent, freshly fallen snow, off-piste powder and well prepared slopes with just a few patches of icyiness. Temperatures between 0 and -14 celsius.
This board is a cross-over between a surfboard, skateboard and a snowboard. Invented and refine to it’s present state by Dave “Max” Elphink, the story of this invention is one of almost 28 years. I always like people who try to look at existing things in a new way and create new and fun stuff. The construction of the board is similar to a skateboard, in the sense that there are two trucks attached to the topdeck, which in turn hold two smaller boards or blades. These, as was explained to me, can be of different lengths. Added to the trucks are springs that work as an extra suspension to the boards and help deal with bumps on the slopes.
That is the first thing that really presented itself, after having gotten use to the board and the way I needed to ride it. The smooth ride. The board really absorbs many of the bumps on the slopes and helps you control the ride. What I really needed to get used to was the different way you direct the board. On a snowboard, your feet are directly attached to the board which is in direct contact with the snow. So toe-side or heal-side pressure has a relatively direct effect (depending on the stiffness of the board). With the Cross Board however, there are the trucks and springs between the top-deck and the boards themselves. You have to work and just press harder to reach the same effect. Once you get the hang of it though, there is no issue with the maneuverability of the board at all.
Actually, the board is quite maneuverable. The top deck is no more than 1 meter long, and the boards extend 4 cm on both sides beyond that. So with 1008 centimeters, it’s an incredibly short board. You can really throw it around quite easily. Front and back foot, no problem. Edge to edge transitions are really easy and smooth. I am not sure about speed though, it’s not a naturally fast board and at higher speeds, iI hit no more than 50kph with it, it’s very loud and felt quite shakey. I didn’t push it further than that.
The weight is also an issue. Mr. Wanko warned me of this, being a prototype and promising a lighter board with the upcoming retail varieties of the board. The model I used was really almost double the weight of my regular board, and added to the length and the construction it was really not suited to ride in powder. I had a few goes but just got stuck every time. The board doesn’t have the needed float, and actually digs into the snow. The newer versions, boasting an extra 12 centimeters in length and a serious reduction in weight, should make the board more suitable for powder.
On the reverse side of powder are ice slopes. The fresh snow circumstances didn’t provide a tremendous amount of opportunity to test that side of the board, but I did run into some ice patches and the cross board is very grippy on those stretches. Confirming the claim by Cross Board itself that the board is very well suited for icy slope conditions. This also heralds back to the birthplace of the Cross Board, “Adelaide’s one and only indoor snowfield, Mt Thebarton” where thin layer of snow on hard packed ice is the rule.
I really had a blast on the Cross Board. It provides a very smooth ride, is quite manouverable and really just begs you to play around with it. It grips like mad and is quite a head turner on the slopes.
It is not however in a place where I would trade in my regular board for a Cross Board, but as an add-on it would be great. I am not sure about the retail price, I believe it will be around 800 euro’s, which isn’t cheap. Playing around on the slopes and in fun parks, the Cross Board provides a lot of fun potential.
I am really looking forward to the newer versions of the Cross Board and being able to ride those and see if the weight and float issues can be solved. For now I would encourage everyone to try one of these things out if you get the chance. There is a rental one in Gargellen available!
You can also check out the Cross Board website for more information on the board.