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Matt Sklar | 09.28.2018

Snowboarding has taken cues from surfing and skateboarding from its very inception. While true twins and terrain-park-oriented boards had become the norm, these early inspirations have returned in recent years. Until this year, however, these surf shapes have been relegated to specialized powder boards that aren’t practical for every day riding. By mellowing out the shapes of these boards, there is a new class of natural terrain-ripping, transition-shredding all mountain snowboards and splitboards.

In years past, snowboarding’s most interesting shapes were directional pow surfers that emerged as a stark contrast to the twin tip park board renaissance that had all but taken over snowboarding in the 2000s. Now, these “weird” and fun shapes are finding their way into the middle ground, inviting the more laid back soul shredders back on piste. The result is a style of riding that’s all about merging naturally inspired features with man-made creativity. Snowboards like the Lib Tech Stump Ape pictured below, the Ride MTNpig snowboard and Burton’s Skeleton Key fit this bill, and the Salomon Snowboards’ Pillow Talk for the ladies (which is also available as a splitboard).

This style of riding can be seen in the snowboard community and manifested in events like the Dirksen Derby, Mount Baker Banked Slalom, Drink Water Rat Race, and Holy Bowly. A culture of community, creativity, and camaraderie is gathering steam and has become the core driver of the current movement. These events aren’t about big tricks, they’re about gathering like-minded riders and having fun exploring the unique way each rider uses the mountain.

Want to check out some community events or some flow-inspired parks? See for yourself with these gatherings and places.

  • Dirksen Derby (December)
  • Holy Bowly (Spring)
  • Mount Baker Banked Slalom (February)
  • Gerry Lopez Big Wave Challenge (April)
  • Burton Peace Park (TBD)
  • Drink Water Rat Race (July)

Flow Park Shout-Outs

  • Timberline Flow Park, Mount Hood (Oregon)
  • Alpental Spring Park, Snoqualmie (Washington)
  • Mammoth Unbound Transition Park, Mammoth (California),
  • Happo Banks, Hakuba (Japan)
  • LAAX Snowparks, Graubünden (Switzerland)

Pow days are what we live for, don't get us wrong, but realistically they only make up maybe 10% of the season. That’s why it’s important to get a board that can be just as fun for the other 90% of the winter. These new shapes take the fun shapes of powder-specific boards and make them more approachable to the one-board-quiver kind of rider. Likewise, a big directional powder board isn’t the best beginner snowboard, so some moderation in terms of shape makes these board more approachable. Check out the CAPiTA Defenders of Awesome snowboard, or K2 Broadcast to get inspired by this category.

More directional, high-volume pow shapes are making their way farther into the backcountry, too, with more splitboard options available in different shapes every year. These splitters take the surfy characteristics that riders love in pow and let them access terrain where they can ride them in untracked snow. Splitboards like fishtailed Jones Storm Chaser or Rossignol Sushi LG are on the extreme end of shapes, while there are many more moderately shaped directional boards available now.

What’s old is new again with these retro snowboard shapes making a comeback. These boards are built to surf the mountain, no matter what the conditions are like. Pick your poison and have a great season!


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