I have small feet. A size 8 or 8.5 snowboard boot, to be exact. So wide boards never really appealed to me. Something in the range of 25cm on the waist always seemed right. And when I first had a look at the K2 Carve Air, I kind of wrote it off. A 154 with a 26cm-plus waist? Nah. Too wide, not responsive enough. I even turned one down when we went to Japan with the K2 crew last January [see the Hakuba feature in Issue 13.1].
Then I went on a road trip with Kael Martin and Harry Kearney later that year [see the Due North feature in Issue 13.4]. We were up at Marmot Basin, AB, which has long, uncrowded groomers. Kael had a Carve Air. Kael’s a big man. He rides with power. But he was psyched on this board. Too short? Nah, the chopped tail gives it the effective edge of a 159. Too wide? No, it just lets you lean over and really dig in an edge without any boot drag. Following him down said groomers opened my eyes to the unconventional design: Kael was ripping, carving up hill, holding an edge through 360-degree turns, holding speed through the flats. It was impossible to follow his lines. A month later, he was riding the Carve Air in the Stevens Pass, WA park, landing fakie off 40-foot tables. “Ok, maybe I should try this thing,” I thought.
It took me until February 2016 to get my hands on one. Turns out the Carve Air is in high demand with K2 team riders. By then I was headed to Tahoe with Tim Eddy and an international crew. We were hoping for powder, but instead got California sun.
A little background: the Carve Air is Tim’s brainchild. They let him draw up a board, then they made it. Tim’s got that creative ride-it-all style, and he finds fun no matter what the conditions, sometimes in weird ways. He made something a little different, and it worked.
My first day on the Carve Air was at Boreal, CA, home to a sprawling terrain park, with everything from large booters to a mini-pipe, snake run, and a few wide-open groomers in between. It was 55 degrees and sunny. It was clear from the get-go that the engineers got Tim’s concept right. Lean the Carve Air on edge and it’s fully engaged. Despite the chopped tail, it was surprisingly stable on landings. That pointy nose looks dangerous when pointed downhill, or wrapping uphill, for that matter. It’s plenty stiff enough to handle high speeds and pretty much a blast to ride from hard pack to soft pack conditions. The bottom line was that I’d never ridden a board that held through a turn quite like the Carve Air, and for that alone it was a welcome addition to my quiver. I ended up grabbing the Carve Air whenever snowfall totals were less than three or four inches through the rest of the year, and rode it from Mt Baker to Mt Bachelor on those non-powder days.
The final verdict? I’m not gonna say the Carve Air should be your only board, unless all you ride are groomed slopes. I’ll probably choose something else when the snow gets proper deep. But it’s undoubtedly my go to ride when conditions are less than ideal—mixed conditions, hard pack, slush—everyday conditions for most of us. It makes groomers more fun. And for that alone the Carve Air is worth a rip. Carve on.
The K2 Carve Air, part of K2 Snowboarding’s aptly-named “Enjoyer” series, comes in 149cm and 154cm lengths, and retails for $449.95. Learn more at k2snowboarding.com.
About the reviewer:
Weight: 160 pounds
Boot size: 8-8.5
Riding style: fall line/freeride
Riding experience: 20+ years, 50+ days per year
Typical board length: 158cm