Spring in Wanaka is probably the most beautiful part of the year. The sun is out, there's still snow on the mountains and the days are getting longer. It's a mixed feeling for me as it also means my time in NZ is coming to an end again, but it's been an all time winter and I feel so lucky to be here. As always I've met some amazing people and will be sad to say goodbye but that's all part of living and working in a transient industry, no doubt we will all meet again soon.
The weather here is so variable, we've had a cold spring up until now but the past few days have been glorious sunshine. It's crazy how quickly the snow transforms here, the snow melts so quickly that everyday the mountain has new 'obstacles' to challenge you ( or in my case more things to crash into)
Snowboarding in NZ gives you a new attitude to making the most of the terrain. You learn that anyone can ski powder, but it's being able to ski the 'terrain' that makes you a complete skier/snowboarder.....and it teaches you that you can have fun in any snow conditions.
Theres something about spring that is so much fun. It must the sun that just seems to bring out the stoke in everyone, and the fact that spring slush is so damn fun to play around on!
Yesterday was the finale of Treble Cone which was celebrated in true kiwi style......the infamous 'Treble Cone Closing Day'
This is a day of epic proportions. If you aren't in fancy dress then you may as well stay at home, if your not going to get loose......you may as well stay at home, if you are precious about the bases of your skis.....definitely stay at home
A day of tussock skiing,rock hopping,retro dressed craziness topped off with booze, food and music. The sun always shines on closing day and yesterday was no exception, it must be due to the good vibes from the people at TC. It was a great day topped of with a great after party.
I still have a month left which I hope to fill with some adventures.... sky diving, splitboard trips and hopefully a heli ski trip before heading back to Europe to do it all again!
So this year i have decided to enter more Freeride World Tour Qualifier events and to really push myself. Its weird as i hate the build up to the events, i get sick to the stomach nervous.....but for some reason i carry on. I like the mix of nerves and excitement plus the challenge of picking your line, using the features of the mountain to fit my strengths and hopefully Impress the judges.
That feeling when you drop in is hard to describe, all the nerves go away and everything becomes still and your in the moment.
The NZ Freeski is one of the best qualifiers on the tour, the level is so high and the atmosphere is electric. Everyone is amped, both spectators and competitors....its a unique environment.
After having one day already called off due to bad weather and bulletproof snow, Thursday was definitely a banger. There was a fresh top up of snow and it was a bluebird day. The snow warmed up nicely although it still made landings tough.
The snowboarders dropped first to take full advantage of the fresh snow, and they definitely showed we can hold out own. This was the first year that snowboarders were allowed into the NZ Freeski, and we justified our lace in the comp. Everyone picked great lines. We don't go as big as the skiers, but we are definitely creative, picking technical lines matched with big 20 foot drops.
This one didnt go to plan for me, i thought i had a good chance of making the finals but unfortunatly i messed up my run. I missed my entry point at the top, which kind of through me off course. I managed to find a mid sized drop into fresh snow, but i had missed so many of my hits that i knew it was already to late. I ended the run with a technical big drop that was hard to get into and only one other skier hit, unfortunately i crashed on the landing and that pretty much put the nail in the coffin for my run.
I was pretty disappointed with myself but shit happens, especially in comps where you have just the one run. I had never snowboarded that face before and you could tell a few of the other guys knew exactly where to go but thats the beauty of the Freeride Tour.....you just don't know whats going to happen.
Overall it was one of the best comps i have entered, the standard of riding was insane, the atmosphere was killer, the scenery was breathtaking and the people who ran the event should be very happy. I can't wait for more comps this coming winter.
The North Face
Freeride World Tour
NZ Skier Magazine
Down days from the mountain can be a good thing sometimes. It means i get to look up shit i find interesting and then puke it back up on here....
Nowadays the main stream brands of snowboards pretty much come from a handful of OEM factories, one factory could produce boards for 3 or 4 brands.
Sometimes this isn't a bad thing, but there is also a very hardcore group of hand built boards that often exceed the build quality of OEM factories. Being a tech, and the fact i also build my own snowboards, mean i find this side of the industry interesting which is where this latest post fits in. It can be confusing as a lot of the bigger brands use more then one production facility. There are always problems in the manufacturing side of everything, its part of the business and in a fickle world not all can survive.
Click on the orange links to find out more about each company..
NBL Sport/Nobile Factory
Ive chosen Nobile first as they are a small family run factory out of Poland. They are know for building some of the highest quality ski's and snowboards on the market. I love what they stand for and the fact they still hold quality craftsmenship as the backbone of their factory.
Brands out of Nobile -
Each of these brands are relatively small and run like a family, its reflected in the quality of their skis and boards which is down to the guys at Nobile.
The biggest is probably GST, in Austria. Although earlier this year it was announced that they will also be closing. I think its due to the cost of running a major operation like this in Europe, and also brands not paying on time has a big effect.
These guys make
This went bankrupt in 21013 even thought they were probably the biggest factory at the time.
Capita Snowboards took over production and carried on making decks.
Salomon and Atomic are part of Amer Sports. While they are owned by the same company their boards and ski's are made separately. Salomon have a factory in France and in Bulgaria and Atomic is in Altenmarkt,Austria.
Rossignol have a huge factory near Chamonix where the high end race skis are made along with 'Look' ski bindings and Dynastar.
The rest of the line is made in their factory in Spain. The reason for this is because the wood they use for their cores is grown here.....so thats where they put the factory....well done Rossi! People hate on them but they are one of the oldest brands out there.
SWS SNOWBOARD FACTORY are a new player in the game, but they have pedigree. Strangely they are based in Dubai and run by two of the most experienced snowboard builders in the industry,John Colvin and George Cant who both earned their stripes at the legendary brand 'Option' and the Elan factory.
They definitely make 'Arbor snowboards' and i think 'Yes' are now based there.
Lib tech and GNU are all made in the Mervin MFG factory in the States.
These guys produce some of the most indestructible boards in the industry as well as constantly innovating new designs. Much like the two brands below they are hand built and a lot of time is taken to make the best product.
Never summer and Signal both have their own small factories in America where they build their own boards, but on a large scale. This is great as they can keep up with the big boys but they also have direct contact with what they are making. In other word they could think up a design in the morning and create a prototype in the afternoon. Signal do this brilliantly with their webisodes called 'Every Third Thursday'
Never summer do now produce skis for a brand called 'Icelantic'. Its the same construction as the Never Summer boards who are well know for making the toughest boards around, i can definitely back them up on that one!
Final shout out to a new and exciting company from the UK, DOUK Snowboards. They produce good boards that are made from start to finish, by hand in the UK. Its great to see this and although i haven't tested the boards myself, i have heard a lot of good feedback so hopefully they carry on the good work.
Notice i have left out 'Burton'. Yes they did pioneer snowboarding but i think along the way they have got lost. I think they make terrible quality boards and only cater towards people that won't truly put the deck though its paces. Although there is a market for this, it doesn't interest me.
Its interesting to see that the biggest factories have struggled and closed, meaning brands have to find new production. I think the Ski and Snowboard Industry is blessed in that people are willing to spend a lot of money on their equipment as they want the best, they know how important it is to be able to rely on their kit and for this reason i think more people will look to the smaller more artisan brands, which can only be a good thing.
For any one that is interested, check out my own snowboards. the link shows how i made everything.