Salt Lake based Niche Snowboards will enter their second season of board production in the fall of 2012. Their Aether is an all-mountain model I was fortunate enough to spend an extended amount of time on last spring and it is a board I really enjoyed. In October of 2011 Niche announced that they would be licensing Magne-Traction from Mervin and would incorporate the technology into the 2013 Aether. However for those unable to wait they issued a limited release Aether available this season. I was able to spend a few days on this limited release model, and luckily I not only got in some good days at Brighton but also took it to Snowbird during one of our rare powder days. Other than the addition of Magne-Traction the Aether for 2013 is much like the 2012 model, a mid-stiff, all mountain twin which makes it the go to Niche board if you are looking for a more progressive park/trick oriented style of all mountain riding. The other notable change is the switch from the 2012 pure reverse shape to a hybrid with reverse in the mid-section and a mellow regular camber on the tips. Niche boards have come to be known for two stand out features, insane pop and unreal dampness and the Aether for 2013 upholds this tradition. Even on a 20 inch pow day at Snowbird the Aether was a stable ride in the late afternoon chop. The addition of the Magne-Traction is the icing on the cake for the already fun Aether and its very slight reverse camber underfoot feels closer to flat. Couple the Magne-traction with the slight cambered rise in the tips and you get that little bit of extra edge control/hold needed for non traditional camber boards to help prevent the tips from feeling “floppy” and loose. The Mid-stiff rating is as advertised and this all mountain board was great popping off the natural hits on Brightons Millicent Mountain as well as the numerous drops and cat track gaps at Snowbird. That being said for a mid-stiff rated flex I found the Aether just nimble enough to butter over rollers and press in the flats with a bit of effort put into it. It is stiff torsionally which is good as it’s not a jib board and you dont want that jibby torsional flex when you are pointed down the steeps and pushing through the chop. However if you are a very aggressive park rider doing large jumps and really big gaps to rails you may find the Aether a surprising fit. Niche team member Everest Arnold has been seen killing the Aether in Brighton’s Park but I’ll caution and reiterate I’m talking about high level, aggressive, park slayers on the sponsorship level not your average joe. Overall for me as someone who prefers softer playful boards the Aether is a board I’d ride all the time at Snowbird but be a bit selective with it at flatter resorts such as Brighton or Park City where I do more lateral “playing” on the mountain hitting natural jibs and rollers versus high speed bombing. If all mountain if your cup of tea this board will not disappoint you on any front as it carves, bombs, and jumps with ease, holds up well at high speed, and can even be a bit playful when you want it to.
In addition to the Aether I was able to check out the rest of the Niche 12/13 line this past winter at SIA and heres a look….