The Gentemstick Flyfisk is Taro Tamai’s vision of all terrain freedom for Mads Jonsson. Is this high-end snow craft a keeper or catch and release?
To be honest, I have never had that much interest in riding Gentemstick boards. I mean, they look like beautiful powder boards but I never really felt they were relevant to me.
In that inverse-snobbery way, I think I saw them more as ‘learning aids’ for people who couldn’t ride powder without a big nosed powder stick, or too specialised to be effective as an all-round ride. I don’t know if that was more from how people ride them more than the boards themselves. I was curious to challenge my irrational preconceptions, so when the Gentem demo day rolled into Happo I took the chance to jump on one and see for myself.
The board I had my eye on was the Gentemstick Flyfisk; born out of Mads Jonsson spending time in Hokkaido with legendary board shaper Taro Tamai. After all those years on Burton Customs, it’s actually Mads’ first ‘pro model’. The shape is based off the Big Fish (second board back, behind the Flyfisk closest, in pic left) but with a solid, slightly pointed tail instead of a swallowtail to allow for switch landings. The bonus point is that the stance goes up to 62cm, which means you can run a more aggressive stance than most other Gentems.
Before riding it, the biggest question in my mind was, “Would it have pop?”
For the typical Gentem customer, it’s all soul carves. Is that a result of the riding characteristics of the boards… or just the typical owners? Other concerns were whether the super wide waist would make it a dog edge-to-edge, and if it would feel dull and heavy underfoot.
First up, it was crappy conditions for an uber-wide powder board… but it was still fun. It’s a 164 but, with a relatively short effective edge of 113cm, it feels smaller than a typical 159. The big nose is mostly elevated and so doesn’t really affect the ride.
On piste it carved pretty well… my first impression was “not bad” for a board with a 28.7 waist and 9m sidecut. The taper feels like it helps the turning once on edge but you still have to initiate hard to rock over onto the edge with the big wide nose. Of all aspects of the board, carving was the one that felt most different from a ‘standard’ shape. It felt like you would need a few days to really acclimatise to how to work the shape on firm snow. Once you do, one thing’s for sure – you won’t be getting any toe drag while railing carves on this wide waist!
Got nose? It feels strange looking down at a regular board nose after getting used to seeing this:
The back end… the classic flair of swallowtail is replaced with a subtle diamond tail shape:
In really deep snow this thing would fly. A few laps through some heavy powder lingering in the trees confirmed that. It’s not rocket science to say that you would have trouble sinking it in deep conditions. What was a pleasant surprise was the flex and pop. The flex felt solid and consistent, with a slightly softer nose and a solid flexing tail.
The nose wasn’t that soft though; it wouldn’t flex enough to let me tripod on it! The tail, however, was perfect for tail blocks. I’ve never seen anyone pop an ollie on a Gentem, but they are missing out. Loading the camber and boosting ollies off rollers felt great. I forgot I wasn’t supposed to like ‘powder shapes’.
Stop having fun! ‘World’s smallest method’ training:
“You know Mads won’t be keeping it on the ground. Jump off something!”
Throwing a back 3 off a cat track, it popped nicely and the short tail felt really easy to spin round underneath you. The tail is stiff enough to land on and support you, and has just enough kick to land fakie too. Riding switch in powder is possible. It’s clearly no twin, and you are super-weighting that big nose as your tail, but it’s doable. Switch layback slashes in powder: just as fun as ever.
Here’s Mads blasting on his Flyfisk. Note how he lands switch fine but reverts round to keep riding… and looks like he is having a lot of fun:
So was I converted? Taro Tamai has often pressed the point that Gentemsticks aren’t just ‘powder boards’ – they are boards to give you more ways to interact with the terrain. The Flyfisk definitely embodies that idea more than most in their line up. Mads Jonsson has ridden his on massive icy park hips, but for mere mortals I think it will really come into its own in the conditions it was born out of: deep snow. They are not cheap, but if you want to invest in the sensations you’ll get riding pow, while still being able to have freestyle fun on natural features, this one would probably keep you happy for years.
Gentemsticks are now available internationally and have demo days throughout the winter in Japan. For more info and to work through your own feelings about large noses, check their site: http://gentemstick.com/