Friday, August 13, 2010

Ride Women's Board Testing Session

Ride snowboards has recently launched a movement to really step up the level of the products available for women. In the spring they held a session with a handful of women who are strongly involved in the snowboard industry. Athletes, buyers of key snowboard shops around the country, and women who are pushing the movement were all attendees. We spend three days discussing women's products from snowboards, boots, bindings, and outerwear. Discussions included what the consumer wants and what athletes think are important features in their products. One of the key elements we had asked the engineers of our products was to develop technology specific to women and not to just carry over the same technology in both genders' equipment. Recently, a few of us realized that the engineers are actually listening to what we requested. Ride is going the extra mile to make sure their products are as specific to women as they can be.

On July 28th and 29th, Ride snowboards conducted a women's specific product testing session. They asked a few of our team riders to be there as well as Molly Hawkins and Emily Kaelin. Molly handles the marketing for Evo gear an online shop based out of Seattle. Molly is very passionate about the development of women in the actions sports, so it was great having her there. Emily is an important part of the design team for Ride. It was really nice to see her shredding and hanging out with the ladies outside of the office. The team members that were there included pros: Hana Beaman, Megan Ginter, and ,newly joined, Silvia Mittermuller. The other members of the team included myself, Jessika Jenson and Rainey Pogue, both Ride's young up-and-coming shredders.

Our board engineers, Doug and Paul, were there to mediate the testing session. This testing session was a blind test. They provided us with 8 boards to test. The boards are 2011\2012 prototypes that had already released 2010 graphics on them. All of the boards looked exactly the same. Four of the boards were park specific and four of the boards were all mountain specific. Even though all of the boards looked exactly the same, they all rode completely different, thus giving us the chance to make unbiased comments about the boards. The engineers are really passionate about using the right combinations of technology to develop the best boards for women.

The engineers asked us ahead of time to not share our opinions with each other until the testing was all complete and they wanted us to take the exact same run every time so the results could be as accurate as possible. We took full runs from the top of Palmer to the bottom of the Mile. This gave us a chance to take lots of turns and test the riding ability of the boards on the way down to the public park where we could jump and jib to test the park abilities of the boards.

Each run we stopped at the picnic tables at the top of the Mile chair where we would take the time to fill out some questionnaires and swap out our bindings onto the next testing board. The questionnaires were really specific about what they wanted us to determine about the boards and in each category we were asked to rank from 1 to 5.

In the end one all mountain board was voted 8 for 8, a clear winner. The board is amazing and I recommend that everyone give it a chance in the future. There wasn't as clear of a park board winner, but I think that is because we all have very different expectations of our park boards. Some like a softer board to jib, some like a stiffer board to have stability on large kickers.

Overall the testing experience was an amazing experience. Spending more time with the team was great to get to know each other more. All of the girls on the team have amazing personalities and are all very kind and interesting. It is an honor to be a part of a project that has so much potential and really cares about women. Being able to have such a significant influence in the development of women's products is not very common. Overall, snowboarding is a Male dominated sport and Ride snowboards is really focused on supporting and developing the Women's side of snowboarding. Thank you to Paul and Doug for putting so much love into our boards. Also, big thanks to Casey Raymer, Ride global marketing manager, for really supporting the movement to develop our women's industry.

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