Expert Review: 2023 GNU Velvet Snowboard [with Video]
Snowboard Expert Arielle Busch tested the 2023 GNU Velvet snowboard on carving, freestyle, and freeride at Powder Mountain in Utah.
Curated Snowboard Expert Arielle Busch got her hands on the 2023 GNU Velvet this spring and put it to the test at Powder Mountain in Utah. Check out how it performed in the carving, freestyle, and freeride categories, but consider the fact that each and every rider is different; if you have any questions about the Velvet or need recommendations on which board would be best for you, reach out to a Snowboard Expert here on Curated.
Before we get started, it's worth noting that Curated Experts are not sponsored by any brands. All of these reviews are completely unbiased.
How does it turn? The GNU Velvet features Magne-Traction on the edges. It's this serrated edge that gives you more contact points, so it does really bite into the snow. And what I did really like about this board is that when I was in my turns, it did grip really well.
Given the C2 profile, it is pretty easy to turn. It's definitely a confidence boost, for sure, for my riders who are just getting their legs underneath them and wanting to feel confident on their toe and heel side turns. I did take it through a couple of glades today. Nothing crazy. And it definitely is very easy to turn on a dime. Very maneuverable. And as I said, it's just confidence-inspiring in getting your turns and learning those freestyle moves.
How does Magne-Traction impact the riding experience? The Magne-Traction, not all boards have that. And so if you are a beginner learning how to ride on the East Coast where you want to feel a little bit more gripped in, this Magne-Traction is really going to help you. It may feel a little catchy at times, but that is because it's got more contact points. But once you get used to that feeling, it's going to give you that confidence and that locked feeling in those turns. I was able to get this board on a high-enough edge to be able to carve. It's not necessarily a carver, but when you start to progress and you want to learn how to carve, I definitely think you can do that on this board to begin with, and then you'll move on to a different board that will then excel you into more advanced skills on your snowboard.
How does it perform at speed? At speed, it does hold an edge really well. I actually didn't feel that much underfoot chatter. It does have a little bit of a speed limit on it. It's not going to be the fastest board in general. As I said, it's a true twin and doesn't have as much power in that back foot like a lot of other boards.
When you are learning how to snowboard and getting confident, you're not going to want to be going very fast. So, the nice thing about this board is that it's got progression in mind. It's not going to send you to the moon off a kicker. It's not going to send you flying down the mountain. It's going to be pretty mellow, very easy to ride, and just very easily approached.
Any chatter in the board? Disclaimer: I did ride this board in a lot of slush. The snow conditions allowed me to ride a little bit slower as well, so I can't say that I got this board up to the highest speed. But my guess is that at a very high speed, it would probably have a little bit of chatter.
How is it for freestyle? This board is meant to be ridden all over the mountain. Like GNU says, it's meant to make the mountain into your playground. It’s really an intro to freestyle, and snowboarding in general, type of board. It's going to be very user-friendly. And it is a true twin, which means it's not going to have as much power in the back, and which also means you are going to be just mellower on this board — no matter what.
Could you speak about playfulness and pop? It’s definitely not the poppiest of boards, which is good because it is truly meant for a beginner to lower intermediate rider looking to learn all of these skills. If you are a park rider who already knows how to do a lot of these things and wants a little bit more power, there are some other GNU park and freestyle-oriented boards that will give you a little bit more power. But this one is going to be for my lady riders looking to explore new terrain and explore new freestyle options.
It didn't have enough pop, and it didn't have enough power. But I'm an aggressive rider. This is not a board for me.
What about riding switch? The GNU Velvet is a true twin, so riding switch is no problem. Coming from an instructor background, I love when newer snowboarders start to learn switch earlier on. It will just make you a better snowboarder in general, and it will lend you to be able to do more freestyle things because you'll want to know how to land switch and you're going to want to spin a little bit — throw some of those 180s. So riding on a true twin, as I said, is going to allow you to ride both ways: regular and switch, or goofy and switch. And then also with that true twin, it's not going to overpower it, and it'll still give you that mellow ride while you are still learning and progressing.
How is it for buttering? The flex on the Velvet is pretty soft. It is going to be very forgiving, and it's going to really just focus on progression. It's going to give you a confidence boost in your turns. And it's going to give you the capabilities of trying out some butters, some presses, some spins, and a lot of flat land tricks.
How is it on jumps? The Velvet will allow you to practice jumping. I was able to go over some side hits and some kickers.
How would it be in powder? This board thrives a little bit more on groomers and packed snow versus fresh stuff and powder.
What terrain is this board ideal for? Obviously, you can take this board onto a steeper pitch, and as I said, that edge tech is going to keep you held in. Especially if it is a little bit harder-packed. But I do think this board shines in that mellower terrain, greens and blues.
What terrain is this board not ideal for? I didn't go on uneven terrain. It's just not the board for it.
Is there any location you'd pack this board for? For someone who rides on some slicker terrain, and because I think this board thrives a little bit more on groomers and packed snow versus fresh stuff and powder, I really think this board would do great on the East Coast.
Who would you recommend this board to? I would recommend this board to beginners. It does feature the C2 profile, which does have rocker in between the feet and is going to kind of give you that pivot point. And for those beginners and intermediates, it's going to make it really easy to turn, and just explore the mountain, figure out what kind of style you like, and figure out what you want to get into.
Who should avoid this board, there are other better options for them out there? It’s not going to have as much power in that back foot as some other GNU boards have; I would be very excited to help you find a board that maybe does have a little bit more power if you are a little bit more of a harder-charging rider. If you ride on this board and decide you want a little bit more power, then maybe you'll go for a C2X profile or a C3. But besides that, it's very approachable for the right kind of rider.
Snowboards work differently for different types of riders. If you have any questions about the GNU Velvet or want help finding the right board for you, reach out to Arielle or any other Snowboard Expert here on Curated for free, personalized recommendations.