Behind the Transworld Good Wood Test

19 Apr, 2009


For the past 11 years, the Transworld Good Wood Test has set the standard for snowboarding board tests, consistently offering riders a glimpse into popular boards for the next season. While no test is perfect, the Good Wood has worked each year to dial it in and make improvements to the testing format. There have been many debates on if the Good Wood Test is legit and represents a true test of snowboards. I set out to find out the truth.

In September, I talked with Annie Fast over the phone about the Good Wood test and received an invite to come see it done in person at Breckenridge. I accepted knowing that seeing it done is more valuable than being told how it’s done. On Thursday, April 16th I made the trek to Breckenridge to witness the Good Wood Test for 2009-2010 boards as they completed their 4th day of testing boards.
The Good Wood Test is a collaboration between HCSC and Transworld to put on the test.

Each day the riders have a line up of boards selected for them to ride. This eliminates the last minute stress of finding a board and making sure all the boards get through the test.

Just like us, each rider has their stats and those boards need to be set up to their stats. Here is Reid’s stat’s for the Good Wood Test. Reid was a tester last year as well.

Thursday’s boards lined up for the test, mounted with the riders bindings ready to go. The riders were told to bring two pairs of bindings if they have them, making less time to set up each board.

In the back room is the collection of boards for the board test. For the 09-10 Good Wood, there were a 153 models of boards from various companies. Each board came in multiple sizes in order to give the riders a size closest to what they ride.

 

This year’s test featured more reverse camber. I overheard one of the riders talking about how last years test, when they rode a reverse camber it was like wow and how for this years test, it was wow when they rode a cambered board. Shows the change of times in the past year for board technology.

There are always boards to be snuck into the test, this year it was the YES boards that got sneaked into the test. Luckily for me, that meant I could ride it! Annie was cool with me trying a couple of the boards that were in the back room so I found myself on a YES, K2 Eco Pop and Smokin Vixen for the day.

Purl Wax is in charge of mounting the boards and getting them ready for the riders during the test. The boards are mounted with the riders bindings, with the exception of Burton boards where there are stock bindings to use for their mounting system.

The 23 testers of the Good Wood Test are part of the HCSC family. Some of them are coaches, some are counselors, the list goes on. None of the riders are sponsored by a snowboard company and not testers for any company. I noticed that when I saw each rider’s bindings, often previous seasons and have endured some hard riding on them. I took some laps with the riders and could vouch that they are good/solid riders from freeriding to hitting Park Lane in Breck.

The 2009-2010 Good Wood Test has three categories: Pipe, Park and new for 09-10 is All-Mtn where the riders take the boards submitted to the all mountain test through the trees, freeriding and jump line.

The testers filling out score cards for the boards they just rode. I was able to check out the score cards to see how they judge each board. It’s fun to see the wording, First Impression judges from “I’m gonna die” to “I’m loved it” and Spinnability is “Tried 7, did 3” to “Tried 3, did 7.” Certainly not your typical test, but each rider fills out a scorecard on a scale to judge each board. Those numbers are then added up and with 23 different riders, you have a sense of what boards ranged most popular amongst the testers.
They average one run, maybe two runs on each board. I discussed the runs with Annie on the chairlift and if a rider needed more time they could take more laps but typically each got a good impression with one run at Breckenridge. One run included freeriding to Park Lane and riding jumps and rails in Park Lane. When I took photos in the park, I noticed riders getting one lap and some taking two laps.
A female tester taking a board on the kinked box rail
One of the male testers hitting the jump line on a Nidecker

Annie Fast, editor at Transworld Snowboarding mounting up a board to ride. I was able to take some laps with Annie and talk about the test.

At the end of the day, everyone checking out the photo shots of the board test

Seeing the Good Wood Test in person was an amazing experience, I am so thankful to Annie that I was invited to tag along and experience the test in person. I’ve been doubtful of the test and how fair it is, especially since the boards changed from blank topsheets to the real topsheets but tagging along really opened my eyes on how the test is run, that it’s not a test where winners are picked by brand and that every riders input is gathered, collected and equals the results. I was blown away by the effort involved in the test, setting up, being organized and each rider taking the same run for 5 days to test boards.

At the end of the test day, no one knows what board won and the riders were stoked to be out there testing them. While the Good Wood Test continues to set the board test standards, in the end it’s a test by riders to determine which boards were ridden most favorable for them. At the end of the day, despite any test or board review…you as a rider decide what works for you. 
I do not know the Good Wood winners, but when they get tallied up and announced, I’ll be sure to post them up.

About the author

Shay

From the beginning of time, I was Shannon. From the beginning of snowboarding, I was Shay. From the beginning of online communities, I was Shayboarder. In the end, I’m the writer, photographer, editor, publisher, guru of sorts, product tester, curvy girl, and most importantly the snowboarder behind it all. Follow me on this journey through snowboarding, mountain biking, traveling and fun experiences!

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13 Comments

  1. Timbo
    April 19, 2009

    Great insight, Shay.

    Tim M
    Heresy Snowboarding

  2. Anonymous
    April 20, 2009

    Good report – so how was the YES, and was it R/C?

  3. Anonymous
    April 20, 2009

    I don’t like how transworld doesn’t give any reasons why they like/dislike a board. They simply post the top five boards in each category. Since everyone rides differently and wants different characteristics from a board, the good wood test doesn’t really give any help.

  4. Anonymous
    April 20, 2009

    “Snucked.” No. “Sneaked” into is the proper usage.

  5. Anonymous
    April 20, 2009

    Actually this insight is shocking to me. I always thought that Transworld puts the boards throught its paces, but now after I read this the good wood award is worth nothing in my eyes. Of course it’s hard to define pros and cons when there are so many testers, but Transworld doesn’t even name where you can make the best use of the board. In my eyes a few runs are far to less time to judge on a board. Hell, even a day is too short sometimes. How can they give a board a “Goodwood Award” when they even don’t know if the boards qualities last for a long time? What if a great board looses its live after 30 days? Some boards loose their pop more, others less and that isn’t honored. Thanks for that great insight, Shay. Now I will take such an award with a grain of salt. Hell, they don’t even test a board by every manufacturer. From what I’ve read they didn’t test brands like Omatic or Bataleon and these are the brands which I’m most interested in. … And I always asked myself why the boards by these two manufacturers get so great reviews every time, but no honour by Transworld.

    Greetings,
    Phil

  6. Shayboarder
    April 20, 2009

    The YES review will be coming up.

    If everyone rides differently, why would they put why they like/dislike a board? I understand what you are saying, but it’s the good wood…it’s not meant to tell you what board you will like but here’s a list of the most popular boards by this group of riders.

    Yep there are always grammatical errors in my posts.

    Phil. Good points. The good wood is a freestyle test, definitely not based on durability or quality or longevity of boards. Even in those cases, so many factors come into place with sizing, rider style, riders weight to be able to determine how a board will last. 153 models to go through, to test all of those would be an entirely different test and would take a lot to get it done. They do test bataleons, omatics, smokin’s, endeavors. I got to see a lot of boards in the test this year that aren’t big brands.

    Snowboard Mag is putting out a board test for 09-10 so it’ll be interesting to see how they do theirs.

    5 days of testing, 23 riders, 153 models…that’s a pretty large test and a lot of work.

    We’ll definitely have more discussion on this…I have a lot more to say without wanting to take over the good wood post on it.

  7. hanh
    April 21, 2009

    they used to all be blank boards but now they all have didnt graphics so it would be a mystery who’s board was whos thats the only thing i dont like about the goodwood test

  8. Anonymous
    April 22, 2009

    anyone with ANY common sense KNOWS one or two runs is not enough to truly judge a board, and the basic flaw remaims, this test just shows what oards they liked on those days, it doesn’t mean anyone else will like them.

  9. tonicusa
    May 01, 2009

    I ride a lot of boards each year for a long period of time. On average I will ride 12-18 new boards all season long really breaking down how I like them on hill, in park etc. I keep notes and really have an agenda everyday I ride (75 days this year). And I have to say that regardless of how the Good Wood test is structured it very, very, closely resembles my findings of owning many of the same boards and riding them all year. So as an experienced snowboarder and tech freak I will tell you in my experience the Good Wood test is a very useful resource to determine how you will spend $500 bucks for a product you can’t return.

  10. Annie Fastest
    May 06, 2009

    Hey Shay,
    Thanks for coming by the test. It was fun to get some runs in with you!
    Annie