Few places in North America inspire the kind of snow-deluged escapism that Silverton, Colorado does. This ski area in southern Colorado’s toothy San Juans pairs you up with a guide (or not), puts you on a rickety, second-life lift, and ushers you up to a grand playground of crystal-coated pitches, chokes and cliffs – the stuff typically reserved for grueling backcountry slogs. It’s what every ski resort would be if leather-faced powder refugees were running things rather than riding things.
It’s no surprise that a ski area that serious inspires equally serious gear. Venture Snowboards has been churning some of the industry’s best freeride sticks out of Silverton for about half a decade. It conducts its R&D on the ominous, cold smoke-laced mountain hunching over its wind-powered factory, then starts manufacturing boards on the spot. The independent board maker builds boards with grit, soul and green demeanor.
Venture has never been at a loss for smooth, powerful freeride hardware, but last season it stepped up its game. Venture founder Klemens Branner worked closely with big mountain force Johan Olofsson to build the Odin board, an award-winning big mountain, big pow board born of the type of lines you can scope around Venture’s headquarters. As you may recognize, the Odin name hails from Norse mythology, a nod to Olofsson’s and Branner’s Scandinavian roots.
Olofsson says that the Odin is a “one for all, all for one” type of board, but when you’re as big mountain- minded as he is, that “all” most certainly relates to big mountain, powder and backcountry riding, with an occasional smattering of all mountain cruising. The board comes in an array of mountain-barge sizes, from 164 to 173, and Venture offers four widths to get the edges dialed in around the rider’s feet.
Instead of the typical rocker-camber constructions that have become commonplace around the market, Venture has a different take. That take: “If it’s room temperature outside, do you turn on both the heat and the AC to get the right temperature inside?” Venture puts rocker out at the tips to deliver the heavenly float that any backcountry goucho lives for. A blunt, bulbous nose and offset stance contribute to effortless, ethereal float. Instead of going camber, Venture just flattens things out between the tips, providing control and edge hold on command. That flat center works with a quadratic sidecut to deliver smooth, stable carving and turning on even the sketchiest stretches.
The Odin is based around a core of Forest Council Stewardship-certified ash and poplar. Other ingredients in the sandwich include rugged P-Tex sidewalls, a Durasurf sintered base and triaxial fiberglass. Venture lists flex at 7 out of 10 – like a lot of riders, the board has big mountain aspirations and abilities but is plenty content taking the day off and lapping some slopes and trees.
The 2012-13 Odin is available for pre-order on Venture’s website. Venture will be pulling them out of the oven and shipping them off to customers just as quickly as it can. The board costs $595, and a splitboard version runs $895. Those all tapped out from their season pass buy should check out last year’s model (168 only), which is marked down to $468.