Mar 04, 2015 by Ben Gould
Ability Level: Advanced-expert •
Riding Style: Surfy, hard charging, picks unorthodox lines •
Days You Ride A Year: 50+ •
Strengths: Speed, agile turns, big drops, technical lines •
Weaknesses: Switch airs and often gets into lines too gnarly for the conditions •
(for Boards, Boots & Bindings) Height, Weight And Boot Size: 150 for park, 156 for pow, size 7 Salomon Dialogue Wide Boots, small Malavitas and medium Cartel LTDs, 5'7" 165lbs
Had the honor to ride the Cheetah for a couple days at Stowe and Jay Peak this year in prime conditions. Packed powder underneath with a daily dose of about 6-10" of fresh on top every day. This board HAULS. At first I was surprised at how lightweight it is, just standing in the lift line lifting it off the ground with one foot makes it feel as though it won't hold up if you get into some gnarly stuff. I was dead wrong. Because of the 5mm of taper, turning is a ridiculously fun process. As you set the edge, the board wants to turn all the way back uphill so you have to power out of each turn and MAN is it the best feeling ever to blast out of turns on the soft stuff! It is incredibly quick edge to edge and can easily smear speed checks if you get into a hairy situation. Once you dip off the trail and into the deeper stuff, it is certainly at home. Tight turns through the trees become a breeze and the nose stays out of the snow the whole time while you use the full camber to rip apart the chopped out sections you may encounter. I was able to find 50 yard stretches of open trees with a good 2 feet of pow and felt as though the stretches were 100 yards long because of the amount of turns you can make in a short space. Slashing natural features is quite easy, the board is fairly good at coming back under your feet, it may have been a tad slow in some spots because I buried it pretty far, but overall just dropping the tail a tad will elevate you out of the chowder. Dropping the cliff lines near Beaver Pond at Jay was effortless. I felt in control from takeoff to landing, the nose may lift up surprisingly high when you land but after a few times you get the hang of it and appreciate its boat-like float coming out of hard and deep landings. The nose is super lightweight and soft and the the tail is rigid and stiff, giving the board a solid back end for powering out of tracked out lines and staying steady through chop. Switch is kind of a no go but you can butter it with a lil bit of force on the harder snow, cab 1's are pretty fun off mellower side hits on the groomers. On the Cheetah, when you see park you will now see a carving playground. I was able euro carve every slope and landing, with roast beef toe side carves and layback heel side hand drags on the walls of hips and spines. It truly changed my perspective on how fun riding park can be. Took it off some mellow 25, 35, and 40 footers and it SOARS. Throwing proper methods (as a swallowtail board like this deserves) is super easy because the board is lightweight and easy to throw around in the air. Setting the tail down on heavy landings helps and feels great. You can get veeeery low during carves at even low speeds, it changes the game for riders that want a lightweight, high performance, pow cannon that rips on groomers and can give a surfy feel to the whole mountain.
Final prognosis: the Cheetah is fast, lightning fast, and is the most soulful ride I've ever had while maintaining modern high performance in a classic swallowtail shape. It's not for the faint of heart, prepare for some serious back leg burn, but ripping the Cheetah can be life changing.
Cheetah 159, 23" stance moved half an inch forward from reference, angles +18 front -9 back, Burton Diodes medium, Salomon Dialogue Wide boots