Mike Walsh | Powder Report: The benefits of shopping where you shred

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"This thing is a plank."

That was Bill Whitaker's initial reaction when I brought my 15-year-old Original Sin snowboard to his Garden shop on North Street a few months back.

You might remember the board from last season's farewell Powder Report column, in which I waxed as poetic as I could about The Giving Tree of snowboards that my parents helped me procure from a Play-It-Again Sports in Marlborough as a teenager.

That board treated me well, even when I didn't treat it so well in return. And when the binding clasps started failing mid-black diamond last year, it was time for an upgrade.

Which led me to a day back in November. My errands for the day consisted of getting my suit dry-cleaned for a wedding that next week, and starting the process of replacing my ride.

I texted my buddy Evan Valenti of Stephen Valenti's Clothing to see where they recommend taking the suit. His response was to have me bring the suit — which I bought from them for my own wedding in 2018 — in so he could take a look.

There-in lies the theme this week: Shop where you shred.

I handed Evan my suit, and he and Marcus Duncan told me to give them a few minutes with it. So I jogged across the street with my old board to The Garden, where I think Bill was as psyched as I was to get me on a new board. Of course, that could've just been the Sturgill Simpson "Sound & Fury" album that was blasting and playing on the TV screen.

Anyway, after toying around with a couple different display options, I landed on the sweetest Arbor Westmark Camber you've ever seen.

It's a hand-dyed ash powerply — looks like the sexy wood-panelling in luxury car, with a rim series that goes black at one end, a teal blue at the other and puzzled into white in between the bindings. Oh, by the way, Arbor bindings in that teal-ish shade as well, which combine with my brown leather Thirty-Two boots to give it a steezy finish.

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Side note: The wife convinced me to get a dog this summer, and I'm somewhat ashamed that one of the benefits I've come to realize is that while driving, you can reach around and pet some soft fur while the little guy is chilling in the back seat. What I'm not ashamed to tell you, though, is that on my drive home from The Garden that day, only my new ride was in the back, and I still only had one hand on the wheel.

According to Arbor, the Westmark is its "FSC Certified Highland Core. Our most versatile core, constructed with a 1:2 popla to paulownia blend for super light weight performance, durability and return."

Bill got it all set up for me, installed the bindings with my boots for sizing, gauged it all out like an artistic chemist. He even threw in some tools, a sweet sticker and I got out of there for way less dough than I was planning on dropping. Plus, first tune is on them, and he said to bring it back in if anything feels off.

Again, the benefits of shopping where you shred.

The Westmark's got some decent flex, but the true twin camber is perfect for cruising trails, which you already know I've been out doing all season.

Day 1 for me was chock full of powder gobs at Jiminy Peak back on Dec. 2. The board took some getting used to, my stance felt a bit wider, and the length seemed short to me, but all that seems to have worked out of my system with a few reps. I measured it up and the Westmark is a centimeter longer than The Giving Tree. While I did flip into a neck-wrenching faceplant, that certainly wasn't the board's fault, and I landed in some luscious, forgiving pow.

The Westmark has checked all the boxes thus far. It handled outrageously on some bulletproof hardpack and icy patches on the blacks at Mount Snow on Founder's Day. It wrecked the whale rollers Ski Butternut has been pumping out there, and ripped up some delightful corduroy at Bousquet a week ago. We even had our first road trip down to Pennsylvania for the annual Marist Men's Shredsylvania Weekend. And everywhere it has gone, the compliments roll in.

That's what you get when you shop where you shred. The best service and you know, the money you spend goes right to someone else's lift ticket or apres lifestyle.

Back in November, I locked my new ride up in my car and hustled back across North Street, where my suit was waiting, freshly pressed top-to-bottom, no charge and no need to risk it at the dry cleaners. I bought a pair of steezy socks on my way out. Shredding isn't just for a mountain, you've got to look sharp if you're going to shred a wedding dance floor, too.

Until next time, keep your tips up and stay spoice.

Mike Walsh is an urchin snowboarder who can be reached in the local lift line or at mwalsh@berkshireeagle.com.


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