A ten year retrospective of Transfer , would not be possible without the actual physical product, which is the snowboard. And what a ten year ride it has been on the snowboard design front. The snowboard industry has always looked for the next “big” thing to market, and apart from graphics and savvy marketing teams, there was a time when the construction and shape of a snowboard was very vanilla. There was not much that separated board companies apart when it came to the actual design of a board. Sure there is good and bad quality craftsmanship, but at the end of the day we were all riding popsicle sticks of laminated plastic and wood. Fast forward to the last yen years, and you would be hard pressed to find a conventional snowboard on the hill. From the park through to the backcountry, obscure shapes are the new black. Although this renaissance movement in snowboard shapes is nothing new, especially if you look back to early Winterstick shapes for reference, it is pleasing to see companies, both big and small, embrace the movement.
No single person is the same, so why does every snowboard have to be the same. I am a firm believer there is no right or wrong when it comes to snowboard design. What works for one, might suck for another. It is no different to food, music, or any other personal taste. We are humans, we are all different, why pigeon hole the design of boards, and stem the flow of creativity. You would be naive to not know that companies base the design, both shape and graphics off what sells. And thankfully in the last tens years, as the general snowboarder consumer has matured, and the kids keep getting cooler, the demand has been for something outside the box. The older generations want powder boards for their brittle knees, and the kids want to be Halldor. Seems pretty ok to me.
Sure there is function and purpose, for example we are probably not going to see the top Half Pipe riders taking a gold medal run on a single kick, deep swallow tail, although it would be epic. But that doesn’t mean you can’t, so having the plethora of choices we now enjoy, it enables the mind to open, and new feelings be generated. The only truth is how it feels under your feet. Leave the judgment for the gold medal run.
Another big advancement in the last ten years has been the push to make snowboards more environmentally friendly. Like all industries, there is a lot of green washing, but the fact that companies are striving for more sustainable materials, lower production numbers, better supply chains etc and consumers are supporting these choices, it can only help in keeping our winters cold and deep.
The binding free movement is also one which cannot be ignored. It was only a matter of time until this became a trend. When something is good, you can’t stop progression on all fronts. There is something special about freeing up the feet, and feeling the subtle nuances of both board control and the terrain you are riding on. The same can be said for the boom in split boards. With companies continuing to evolve the construction and materials in splits, and the obvious advantages they allow for backcountry movement, it is no wonder more and more people are moving towards a board being dissected down the guts. If it wasn’t for the ease they provide on getting up a mountain, I would worry it’s a ploy from the ski industry to slowly convert us to the dark side.
Technology continues to develop, across all platforms of snowboard construction. This is not surprising, and while kids stay in school, I cannot see these advancements coming to rest. How this technology is used, is what separates a good marketing campaign and a board that actually rides better for these advancements.
The funny thing about everything I have written above, is none of it is really new. Snowboards started with crazy shapes, sans bindings, with shapers caring about how they built their boards, with a constant urge for a progression on the tech front. Like any fashion, it just goes full circle. We just got lost there for a little bit. Are brands rehashing old ideas, and marketing the hell out of it to push more sales? Maybe. Have we finally put down the can of energy drink, and matured past the 2000’s era? Maybe. The only thing I am certain of is riding that laminated piece of plastic and wood down a frozen mountain sure as hell is fun.