At the heart of Vimana’s powder-specific Heka line, the Astro adds a freestyle spin to the traditional powder board.
The Vimana Astrowas released in the 2020 season, with the introduction of Vimana’s Heka line of powder boards. For a hardcore freestyle brand like Vimana, powder boards might seem like a bit of a step into the unknown, however these boards were the logical next step past their slightly tapered directional model called the Clone. The Astro differs from its Heka sibling, the Vega, by having more taper and is considered more firmly in the powder category rather than overlapping with all mountain. Enni Rukajarvi’s ‘The Ennitime Pow’ board rounds out the Heka line for smaller or lighter powder rippers.
Vimana have always had eye-catching graphics by renowned artist, The Shallow Tree. These are usually intricate designs found between the bindings with a clean nose and tail. On the Heka line they’ve cranked up the volume, with the Astro graphics spreading out into the nose and tail. The larger graphic works well with the pointy shape, with big eyes prominent in each year’s version – extra help for spotting your landings? Or keeping an eye on encroaching rental skis in the lift line? Either way, it’s a clean and distinctive look that always had me stoked when i looked down.
The Astro is a tapered directional board, built in a traditional fish shape – wide pointy nose, lots of taper (30mm) and a pintail. It features a set back camber zone, that when weighted, makes the rockered nose pop up a little bit more. It is a light, flexible board but has carbon in the tail to stiffen it up. The nose is significantly softer, designed to bend into a more rockered shape for maximum pow floatation. The flex isn’t rated but it feels like a very playful solid medium through most of the board behind that nose, and stiffening up significantly in the tail, with plenty of snap. It comes with a sintered 7200 base, and like all high end Vimana boards arrives all ready to go with a stone ground base.
How does it ride?
I found the Vimana Astro to act more like an all mountain board on hardpack than I had expected. My first day was an early season boiler plate day – the worst conditions for judging a power board – yet I found it more than capable for mobbing around and hitting sidehits. Later on, I discovered that park laps shouldn’t be counted out either. This works out well when the powder gets tracked or when crossing groomed areas to hit the next secret pow stash, you can still ride like you’re on your park board. At the end of the season, the Astro proved really fun for surfing around in spring slush too. The slightly wider waist was enough to avoid boot drag and the poppy camber profile gave a much more freestyle feel on piste than the shape would suggest.
Coming from a less tapered board, the tail can feel washy on firm snow at first, but when you get used to it and weight the tail more, the edge hold is strong enough for some tight euro carves. The 30mm of taper makes turning extremely easy and they’ve made sure to have a stiff tail to stop the back end from washing out at the end of carves. The waist width of 258mm is one of the reasons why the Astro has more of an all-mountain freestyle feel. Narrower than more ‘volume shifted’ powder boards, this keeps the edge to edge response reasonably snappy. Vimana is a freestyle snowboard company to the core and from how the Astro handles, you can see that they made a point of keeping the freestyle vibe strong even in their powder line.
The Vimana Astro has what looks like traditional fish shape, and that 30mm of taper, pintail and set back camber all contribute to back-leg-burn free powder days. However Vimana’s freestyle roots are clear in how the Astro performs on deep days as well as on piste. With the inserts seemingly close to centered, even with the front binding all the way back, the Astro definitely feels like it has less nose than most powder shapes. I was initially sceptic about how this would perform as an out-and-out powder day board, but I found it really came alive in powder when ridden like a freestyle board. Although the pintail can be sunk easily, it felt most fun when ridden with your weight more centered. There is enough float from the nose, and it has a really well balanced feeling for powder ollies and popping off natural features. The tail had good snap and was stiff enough to hold landings on drops.
Talking of float, Vimana recommend sizing down for the Astro if you ride tighter trees and shorter runs, but also say you don’t have to. At 5’9 and 145lbs, typically on a 159 ‘regular board’, I found the 158 Astro to have a good balance of powder float and freestyle fun. The nose isn’t long enough to rescue you if you really get your weight too far forward, but it comes back to the surface nicely when playfully bouncing through lower angle pow. I was more than happy to ride this on deep days and in tight tree runs, and I wouldn’t want to size down to the 154. If powder days are your main focus with this board, sizing up seems a better idea. Japanese friends who usually ride 152’s for resort had no problem ripping around on the 158 and in pow it was unsinkable for them. On the other hand, Marc at at 6’2 felt he’d prefer a size bigger than the 158.
Don’t be fooled by the ‘fish shape’ at first glance. The Vimana Astro takes that classy powder shape and adds a much more freestyle twist to it. At first I was skeptical how well a Scandinavian freestyle company could make a powder board, but Vimana haven’t just created some token powder shapes for their Heka line. They’ve made something that performs in powder when ridden with a riding style that their regular freestyle-oriented fans will love. This isn’t a board a for someone who purely wants to the make long drawn-out soul carves, but for someone who wants to take a freestyle-first approach all over the mountain on powder days. No more finding yourself on freeride-centric powder board just for the float …and then wishing you were on a more playful board when the mountain offers up natural lips and transitions. The Vimana Astro keeps that freestyle fire burning on powder days, and if you get your normal size or even size up, you’ll get all the float you need – and have one of cleanest looking decks on the mountain too.
Don’t just take our word for it, Japanese local ripper Takahiro Nishii has taken a couple of Freeride World Qualifier podiums on the Vimana Astro this season, and he sometimes hits the park on it too…
Disclosure: The Astro was provided by Vimana snowboards.
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