“ Brand: Nikita / Equipment Type: Snowboard / Sport: Snowboarding „
I had already bought clothes and boots when we went to nosy round Subvert "just for a look" at what boards they had in the end of season sale. Somehow I walked out of there and onto the Chill Factor slope with a board. This board. Baby's first snowboard.
When people ask me what kind of car I have I tend to say a silver one, and by that logic if they asked me what kind of board I had, I could say a pretty one, because this is very pretty. With a bold pink, orange and black pattern (a lot better than it sounds) my board is hard to miss and definitely stands out next to the faded rental boards Chill Factor supply if you don't have your own. I also like the way it has the brand (Nikita) written on it, and lots of instances of the letter N. Why? Because some of the Ns are on their side, as you can see in the dooyoo product pic. And an N on its side is a Z. Score! The Nikita Chickita range has various boards in various colours, but the design is the same, it's only the colour scheme that changes. Unfortunately you cannot choose which colours you have, as they correspond to the different lengths of board and you have to go with the one that's right for you. The design of snowboards is a bit business, but some of them are quite frankly ugly. I didn't want one with a cartoon character on (I've seen Miss Piggy ones) or one with a naked woman on (never yet seen a naked man one, hmmm...) so I was very glad to go for one with a bold, almost geometric print rather than an illustration. It just seemed more sensible and grown up, really, and definitely more to my taste. I added some black bindings (you buy these separately to the board) as I had black boots and it adds to the streamlined, almost minimalist look (as far as a cerise/tangerine combo can be minimalist)
There are lots of things you need to consider when buying a snowboard, foremost of which is apparently not how pretty it is, but the length. Snowboards are measured from tip to tip, nose to tail, and you can either call it by its length in cm or its length beyond 1m, so the rental boards I was riding were either a 140 or a 40 depending on who was talking about them. The Chill Factor team had set me up with that when I first went, eyeballing it based on my height (for beginners, you want one that's somewhere between your collar bone and chin - the better you get, the longer your board could/should be until it's taller than you). I had it in my head that I was a 40, and requested these every time I went there, or to Xscape or to Ski Dubai. So, imagine my stress when I was told the Chickita doesn't come in a 40. Unlike with clothes or shoes, there aren't uniform sizes for snowboards across all brands, so my choices were a 139 or a 142 (the range running from 135 to 152).
I let them advise, even up to the point where they asked my weight. In front of the Boy! Who until that point wouldn't have had a clue if I weighed 7 stone or 17 stone. I hadn't known this before, but weight is also important. Confusingly, 'average weight people' which is what I would classify myself as, in proportion to my height, should have a board that's somewhere between your chin and nose, which is slightly longer than my ability would suggest (lighter people = shorter boards). Suddenly buying a snowboard was becoming trickier than actually using it. You also have to take into account the width of the board but this is in relation to your feet as you need your toe and heel to both be as close to the edges as possible without overhanging, for better control. When you're measuring up, you also need to stand with your feet turned out at the angle you ride, because the more turned out your feet are, the narrower a board you can get away with. Short fat people with big feet, or talk skinnies with tiny tootsies would really struggle. The better in proportion everything is - height, weight and foot size - the easier life becomes. On their recommendation I took the smaller 139. And felt smug and skinny for the rest of the day.
Buying a snowboard is a big investment, and I really didn't know much about what I was looking for. But I had noticed a difference in boards. We'd been to Xscape that weekend and I liked their rental boards a lot more, even though I didn't know why. Enter the experts, in the shape of the Boy and the shop staff including one who works on the slope too, and had also taught me to board. As a newbie who just wants to get from the top of the slope to the bottom, I didn't need a board set up for racing, so I was steered towards the freestyle designs. These boards are softer flexing and easier to control for those who have little control. I.e. me. They are more responsive which is what I need as I don't yet have the power and skill for more advanced boards.
The reason it turned out I preferred the Xscape boards was because they were more flexible, so I wanted to replicate this in the board I was buying (or, as it turned out, having bought for me). As a beginner, I benefit from a soft, flexible board because these are more responsive and will turn quicker than stiffer boards, even at lower speeds. I may feel like I'm zooming along at the speed of light, but apparently I'm not. Not yet. So I need a softer board quite simply because it lets you do what you want but requires less technique and strength to do it than some longer or stiffer boards. As you really get into it you can choose a board based on whether you're on hard snow or powder, but that's beyond my reasoning at the moment. All I know about snow is that it's white.
There are two types of boards from Nikita currently on the market, the Sideways Sista and the Chickita. Mine is the latter which is a true twin board, so shaped exactly the same at both ends which means you can ride it regular or goofy without any problems, and will be helpful when I start to learn to ride switch properly. The difference between this and other boards is that those that are not true twin have a softer nose and stiffer tail rather than it all being the same, so you have to decide which foot forward you are before you attach your bindings. In theory, someone who is regular could ride this board straight after me, who rides goofy, without making any adjustments.
In terms of snowboards, the term camber refers to the arch of the board between contact points. Some curve upwards like an 'n' (but much longer and flatter) - these are called traditional camber. Some curve downwards like a 'u' (ditto on the long/flat thing) and are called rockers. Others are flat with virtually no curve and are called....flat camber. The Chickita has a traditional camber which is ideal for beginners. It adds stability and responds easily when carving. Are you starting to get the picture? Every feature of the Chickita adds up to the same thing: a light, responsive board that is easy for beginners to control.
The Chickita has 360° steel edges which also make a difference. While these full wrap edges are supposed to make the board slightly heavier than partial wrap ones (which don't go all the way round the board), a full wrap is also much stronger and makes the board harder to damage. I remember asking when I bought mine how easy it would be to break a board and being told it would be pretty much impossible to do so at my level of riding. For once, being rubbish at something means you are less likely to cause damage. But back to the edges. Yes, it's a newer board than any I've ridden before, but I was shocked by how lovely and sharp the edges are. They really carve through the snow and between those and the smoothness of the base, I flew down the mountain the first time I strapped the Nikita on, at a speed faster than I'd ever known before. I wasn't doing anything different, so it clearly had to be the board.
I didn't want to make a mistake and get the wrong snowboard, but I also knew that I was at a good stage in my learning to buy, as I was still doing just that: learning. I was craving consistency, something which comes when you have your own board every time and can learn precisely what is needed to control it. Therefore while a big part of my love for this board is the board itself, there is a small part that is down to having the same board under me every time I hit the slope. Whatever the reason, I feel so much more comfortable on this board. My turns are much better and more controlled as the board goes where I want it to, when I want it to. I am spending more hours on the slope than before (we went for 3 hours straight the other night) and yet my legs aren't getting tired as they used to, because it takes less effort to steer the board. It's light to carry around which is useful, even if you only technically carry it from the changing rooms to the base of the lift and back again, and the combination of boots, board and bindings feels wonderful, as I feel in contact with the board and able to push my toes into it to steer around, or lift my heels off for a toe edge carve.
The range is specifically targeted at girls which is reflected in the sizes and widths of the snowboards, and their weight. It makes sense: girls are, on average, smaller than guys, so need appropriate kit. In the world of snowboard, this means shorter boards that are easier to maneuver. I've not tried out the Boy's board because it's massive, has big foot bindings, and quite frankly would send me catapulting head first down the slope, but I have lifted it up and I can tell you it's a heavy sucker compared to mine.
The official Nikita site is:
Scroll down to see the colour options for different lengths, and click an image for the full break down of dimensions.
A snowboard on its own isn't that much use because as well as boots, you also need to buy and attach bindings to the board before you can hit the slope. I got Burton bindings because I had Burton boots and I like things that match, but I was offered others in the shop, too, where they also fitted them for me. In addition, at some point I will need to get a board bag so I can take my board on the plane, but for now I just carry it around as it is, which is actually helpful for letting it dry out - if you put it in a bag without drying it off they can go rusty. For now I just get off the slope, brush off the snow and ice, and stick it in my car, and I'm done, no other care or maintenance needed.
Snowboards should be hard wearing and mine certainly shows no sign of wear yet, though it gets an outing at least once a week. It was an early birthday present (mine's in August - so really early as I've had it for some time now) bought so I could get used to it prior to our holiday (in December) and I am confident it will last far beyond that time.
This snowboard should have been over £300 new but as it's the end of season, sales currently knock about £100 off that or more if you're lucky. Lots of places online seem to have them, but most only seem to be selling a few different lengths, not the whole range, as stocks drop off, so now is the time to buy. Snowboards aren't something you can easily try out - while they have some demo days the chances of getting the perfect length and bindings for short girls are limited - so I think as a beginner you sometimes need to take a gamble. I'm just thrilled mine paid off so well.