One look at the GNU Zoid is enough to make your head spin. Designed and manufactured in the USA “near Canada,” the Zoid is asymmetrical, which means that its toe-side edge is longer than the heel side. Because of this, it is necessary to buy either a goofy- or regular-specific model. More importantly, that longer toe-side edge means that you can lay down carves where your nose kisses the snow. Previously only the territory of hardbooters and slalom snowboarders, the Zoid opens up that amount of control and tight turning radius to the mass market. We put it to the test at Park City Mountain Resort to try (rather hard) to find a chink in the Zoid’s armor.
Bindings Ridden: Rome Katana
Test Location: Park City Mountain Resort
While other companies have brought asymmetrical shapes to market — namely Smokin, Yes and Bataleon — almost all of those shapes are asymmetrical twins, meaning that although the board has an asymmetrical shape when reflected on the vertical axis, it is symmetrical when reflected on the horizontal axis. The Zoid is asymmetrical on both the vertical and horizontal axis. This is a fairly revolutionary idea in snowboard design, and one that GNU thinks is a good direction for all-mountain snowboarding. At first flush I am inclined to agree with them.
Designed as an all-mountain board, the Zoid destroys everything that you put in front of it. In testing the board in the side country at Park City Mountain Resort, the sunbaked powder and skied-out chunder turned out to be no match for the power and determination of the Zoid. It’s long enough to carry gratuitous amounts of speed on the straights and flats, but still incredibly nimble in the trees.
To get the most out of the Zoid, lean in to lay down a toe-side carve like you never have before. The result is nothing short of extraordinary. This board holds an edge better than any I have ever put to snow — simple as that. Between the Magne-Traction (wavy serrated edges like a steak knife) and the long edge on the toe side, you can carry as much speed into the turn as you want without washing out.
The board’s multi-camber profile also lends to its performance. With rocker between your feet and elliptical camber underneath the bindings and out towards the tip and tail, the Zoid combines the best of both traditional camber and rocker profiles. Without much effort, the nose floats through powder and the board has a good displacement overall. With some boards, this type of powder performance would come at a price — namely, poor on-piste performance — but the Zoid defies that stigma. While it performs well in powder, it arguably performs even better on corduroy and packed powder.
About the Test Location
In the summer of 2015, Vail Resorts bought Park City Mountain Resort which then merged with neighboring Canyons Resort, previously the largest ski mountain in Utah. The result is the largest ski resort in the United States. PCMR constructed a new gondola called the Quicksilver to connect the two resorts and also built new trails on the ridgeline that used to separate them. As part of the expansion project, PCMR also completely renovated the old lodge that used to sit at the base of the Silverlode lift, the area in which the new Quicksilver gondola now resides. The new mega-resort offers 7,300 acres of skiable terrain comprised of over 300 trails, 14 bowls, 38 lifts and 17 on-mountain restaurants.
The Zoid is also very snappy. It has a mid-stiff flex that helps it to charge through any conditions, while its core and sidewall construction keep it damp to absorb any unexpectedly rough landings. When messing around on flat and gently sloping trails, the Zoid is just playful enough to have fun. If you barely lean into a butter or ollie, the Zoid won’t react much. If you really lean over the tip or tail and load the camber beneath your feet, however, it will reward you with plenty of pop and an overall enjoyable response on mini-shred features like little hips and kickers to the sides of trails. While the Zoid is definitely not a park board, I found it to be fun when taking off of small and medium jumps.
The rider who likes to go fast and carve out of his mind will find the Zoid to be a blessing from above; ultra-tight S-turns are a breeze, making a snowboarder feel like Ted Ligety pulling about two G’s on a giant slalom course. It unlocks a host of potential for the intermediate to advanced rider, allowing them to ride the mountain in ways that they never thought possible. For all-mountain ripping and shredding, there simply is no better board this year.