Snowboarding isn’t snowboarding without a snowboard, so let’s talk about snowboards and other snowboard stuff that you need to have a good time standing sideways. As per anything at Snowboard Canada, you can expect these to be real gear reviews by real people. We don’t do fake at SBC.
KORUA REVIEW by BEN OSBORNE
Born and raised in the epicentre of snowboarding in Burlington, Vermont, Ben Osborne has been snowboarding since the ripe age of 8 when his dad let him start sliding sideways, and along the way, he’s been on every shape and size board you can imagine. He’s one of our go-to testers, and this time he’s on the Korua Shapes Pencil Splitboard.
NAME: Ben Osborne
YEARS SB: 20
CONDITIONS TESTED IN: A little bit of everything!
NUMBER OF DAYS TESTED: 25
KORUA SHAPES PENCIL SPLIT, THE SHORT OF IT.
When I first saw the Pencil Split, I was a bit worried—I assumed it would be a dream to ride in wide-open spaces, but I was concerned about maneuverability in tight trees, it’s performance on steep couloirs with variable snow, and other situations where conditions weren’t perfect.
I was wrong. The board can rip a turn in any conditions, is easily maneuverable, and is just as much as a pleasure on the uphill as it is on the down. This board re-defined what I look for in a snowboard, and I couldn’t be happier to be on it.
The best thing? When you get it up to speed, you won’t find a board that can arc a turn any better than the Pencil Split.
Don’t use in these circumstances: I couldn’t find any.
Favorite feature? Speed. The fastest splitboard I’ve ever ridden, and boy is it fun when you get this thing turning.
Pencil Pusher: Korua’s Pencil Split Opened My Eyes
When I came across the selection of boards at the German-based Korua Shapes, I was intimidated. Their quiver has a variety of shapes that look unbelievably fun—especially becaue they put out videos of their riders ripping on the shapes—but being unfamiliar with the brand and having an admittedly conservative quiver myself when it comes to shapes, I didn’t know where to start.
My heart wanted me to go with the Pencil Split, but its heavily directional shape intimidated me. With a splitboard, I often find myself is situations where being able to be comfortable switch is absolutely critical—which led me to believe the set-back stance and shape of the Pencil might be a problem in the backcountry.
Instead of becoming a problem and limiting the way I ride, the Pencil Split did the opposite—it opened up a whole new way of seeing the mountain that I never anticipated.
On every board from KORUA shapes it says “may you never find your perfect shape”. For years I had searched for just that—the perfect shape. So naturally, I scoffed at the notion of never finding it. But once I hopped on the Pencil Split, I began to understand—it’s not about finding the “perfect shape”, but about finding a variety of boards that are able to function in the conditions that are offered on any given day—which is what the folks at Korua Shapes have been preaching since day one.
The Pencil Split comes in two sizes, a 147 and a 164. Being on the taller end, the 164 was the obvious choice, though I was intimidated by the size as 164 is slightly bigger than what I usually ride.
With a setback stance giving the board a shorter tail, the length of the board quickly became a non-issue.
I was amazed by the board’s stability in all types of snow, especially when transitioning from deep powder to hardpack. With an effective edge of 1200 mm, digging in on a turn is no problem for the Pencil Split. In deeper snow, getting up to speed to fully lay out a turn was the hard part—but when I got it there, the performance began to speak for itself.
Another bonus of the Pencil Split (and all Korua Shapes) is their width—for a person with big feet, I could still dig in an edge in any conditions and not worry about toe or heel grab.
True to their style, KORUA focuses on the ability to perform—i.e. carve a perfect turn—so the board has a regular camber underfoot. But, since it’s a splitboard and geared towards riding powder (ideally), the rocker under the nose and tapered shape leaves it feeling plenty floaty when you’re getting deep turns, and the short tail gives you an opportunity to experience a different feeling when snapping turns through the trees.
Overall, the board far exceeded my expectations—and completely changed my mind as to what these so-called “alternative shapes” are capable of. It’s not about finding one board to do it all, it’s about building a quiver that can do it all—and I’ve come to realize the Pencil Split is now an integral part of my quiver.