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Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Updated: January 3, 9:37 PM ET
Pickle, Oh Pete!

Pete Saari in a pickle suit, and snowboard kraftsman "Dirty Al" pose with the Pickle in front of the factory X-Mass Tree.
Few technical advancements have impacted snowboarding lately the way Mervin's MagneTraction edge and Banana Technology have. As with all things from this Northwest dynamo (producers of Lib Tech and Gnu), these tech paradigm shifts come so wrapped up in self-effacing humor that you're never quite sure, at first, what's a joke and what's real. And then you ride one. Or flip through the major magazine snowboard tests. Or watch That's It, That's All and go, "Hmmmm, maybe they're onto something..."

With the Bananas now flying off the shelves and MagneTraction now firmly entrenched in the avant-shred psyche, the mad scientists at Mervin have done it again with the Gnu Park Pickle, an asymmetric-twin-banana-with-MagneTraction. It might sound like some sort of comic book pregnant lady food but, according to Mervin VP Pete Saari, the Park Pickle will tickle fancies you didn't even know you had yet. Read on and find out where the Pickle idea came from, why it's a natural advancement in snowboard-specific design, and why that Pickle jar might be gettin' empty by the time you read this.

Read the interview with Gnu's Pete Saari here:

What's your job title these days, Pete?

I have had job many titles over the years. I've been an Abrasive Technician in the '80s, a Production Inhibitor in the '90s, and, these days, I am officially near the top of the "Blame Chart" at Mervin Manufacturing as VP of Marketing. I am currently much smarter but less mature than I ever thought I would be at this age.

So the Park Pickle is an "asymmetric twin", meaning both the sidecuts and core profiles differ from toe to heel, correct? Please explain.

The Park Pickle is an asymmetric twin banana with MagneTraction. The "banana" means the board has rocker between your feet [and] is flat from your inserts to the tip and tail, which makes it a great all terrain freestyle design in all conditions from powder to icy hardpack. The MagneTraction "steak knife" edges give the board excellent edge hold in all conditions, especially ice. The "twin" refers to the fact that the board is symmetric from tip to tail, has [a] centered stance, and will ride the same in either direction. The "asymmetric" refers to the fact that the sidecut on the heel side is deeper than the sidecut on the toe side edge to balance out the fact that turn mechanics are different on your heel turns than they are on your toe turns. The asymmetry is to balance the sidecut depth on the "sweet spots" between your two toes and two heels where balance, power, and control are created. The asymmetry is also carried into the core construction where we have a more flexible wood on the heel side to allow the board to flex into the deeper sidecut. The Park Pickle is designed around the way humans are built and the mechanics your body employs to control and ride a snowboard. All this bullshit sounds complicated but don't worry about it -- we did all the thinking so you don't have to. Take three runs on a Park Pickle and you will become one with it. Get Pickled!

The new Gnu Pickle.

Why would a snowboarder want a deeper sidecut on the heel edge? Or a different core profile? Is it because five toes = feel/finesse vs. one big meaty heel = no feel/no finesse?

Yes on the "5 toes = feel/finesse vs. one big meaty heel = no feel/no finesse." You have much more control and ability to subtly refine your line on your toe edge. Toes are like little fingers: very sensitive but not super strong. Your heels are like the palms of your hands: not as much control but much more power... e.g. you stomp turns with your heels. Nature built your foot asymetrically: heel straight up to ankle [and] toes over to ankle [there's a] 90-degree turn up. When you turn on your toe side, you can lift the heel edge much higher off the snow than you can lift your toe edge on your heelside turn. The higher you tip the board on edge, the more aggressively the sidecut is engaged and the more aggressively the board turns... So, we put a deeper sidecut on the heel edge (that you can't tip as high up but can apply more power to). Balance through Asymmetry!

Are pickles also bananas? Sounds like some crazy pregnant lady food to me.

Yes indeed: all pickles are bananas. But not all bananas are pickles...

A free pickle hat with every purchase! No. Not really.

Do you think a Gnu Park Pickle would be a good board to try a "Warty Pickle to Revert" on? (As Bart once pulled on The Simpsons.)

I think if I was to try and revert anything it would be a Warty Pickle... Depending on the situation a Gnu Park Pickle might come in handy.

Is Gnu "getting the Pickle" to help spread the Mervin love out a bit given the insane success of the Skate Banana for Lib Tech?

We like to refer to it as the human condition;"insane" can have negative connotations. If you enjoy the Skate Banana, the Park Pickle takes some logical steps into the future of snowboard specific design: asym core; asym sidecut; banana tech; all-terrain freestyle geometry. Mike Olson (Mervin co-founder) thinks now is clearly the time for a board dedicated to those who ride duck [stance] that works for those who don't. My nine-year-old son, Paavo, thinks this board is the future. I think that turn mechanics are different from heelside to toeside, so why not get tech and balance that with asym sidecuts? Pickle tester Hendo says let's make the core asym too!

Is this asym freestyle sidecut mod an "old idea refined" or would you call it a truly new idea like MagneTraction?

The asym sidecuts on the Park Pickle are a brand new concept AND an old idea newly-refined: The new: the Park Pickle is the first board truly designed around duck stances. The two different sidecuts balance the depth of sidecut in the "sweet spot" between your toes and between your heels where all your control and power is located. The newly refined: Mike Olson and I handbuilt and rode the prototypes for the Nitro Pyro [an early asym freestyle board]. It was a great idea at the time and still is now. What makes it new and different now is that Banana tech allows you to truly ride your board from a centered stance and still get unreal float in powder and crud. The late '80s and early '90s cambered boards had directional hole patterns that were set back to compensate for camber, [so], when you made an asym sidecut board work for both regulars and goofy's, you needed set-back stances on both ends. This resulted in a ton of inserts... Banana tech and modern snowboarding done from a centered freestyle stance in both directions make the asym sidecut concept new again.

How park oriented is the Park Pickle? Will it still be good for freeriding?

The Park Pickle works great in the park but of course it will excel freeriding as all bananas do.

Ever hear that pickles are just cucumbers soaked in evil? Gnu is trying to change that stereotype.

What sizes will the Pickle come in? Price?

We have a 156 available right now at the nice price of $489. (Not bad for a super-tech stick handmade by snowboarders with jobs in the USA.) Next year there will be a full range of pickles, including some thick juicy ones.

Gross. Any talk of a "Powder Pickle" for us old bastards?

The thing about the Park Pickle is that we could well have called it "The Perk Pickle" because it gives you riding perks everywhere you go. It will kill the powder in both directions. It will absolutely carve up the groomers like nobody's business. And, of course, it is a jib, pipe, and park machine. I have also heard through Nate Ferrell [Gnu pro and pickle tester] that he has felt a strong "pickle power" sexual magnetism in the lift lines. —Colin Whyte/ Redcard Writing Group