The most exciting snowboard design of next year?
Words Oisin Fogarty Graveson Photography Thomas Stoeckli
With a huge nose and channeled base, Korua Shapes’ Tugboat took home Product of the Year at ISPO design awards last week. Snowboard design is going through an ‘everything is possible’ phase again. Designers charge at conventions, and snowboarding has rediscovered its excitement. With North America receiving purely epic snowfall, Japan’s peaks caked in fresh powder and Europe slowly deciding that maybe it’s time for the season to start, that’s good news.
Korua is one of the new snowboard brands that’s making snowboarding exciting again with freethinking design and democratic pricing. Korua’s designs, as well as those of a whole series of other European and North American brands like Yes Snowboards, Snoplanks and Aesmo, can be traced back to the mountainous area of Hokkaido, Japan. They’ve taken the origins in the east and switched it up, shaping their boards so riders can carve hardpack just as easy as they can carve powder.
It all started with a surfer. Moss Snowstick, kicked everything off 45 years ago when founder Shinzo Tanuma had the dream of experiencing snow like he experienced the sea – with carving that until then was only possible in surfing. He began producing his own boards that, with tapered shapes (nose wider than the tail), could glide more dynamically across the snow.
Inspired by 70s surf style, snowsurfing in Japan was all about “rediscovering the natural flow”, says Taro Tamai, previous star rider of Moss, and now owner of Gentemstick. Tamai is producing boards which gained cult traction over the last ten years with their surfboard inspired designs, some with and some without bindings. The aim: Feel that mountain. And flow with it, Instead of ripping it.
Nothing stays a secret for long. These grassroots Japanese brands inspired European and American riders and brands. Austrian brand Korua Shapes is one of the most recently converted. They’ve carved themselves a niche in the European scene with their film series Yearning for Turning. Their old-school approach has now been awarded for it’s innovative design.