As a company on the leading edge of design and innovation, it’s no surprise that Venture Snowboards is once again pushing the envelope with the Shape Shack, an experimental division charged with dreaming up new and innovative board shapes.
“Pushing boundaries and trying new things is built into the DNA of snowboarding,” says Klemens Branner, Venture’s founder and design engineer, who is heading up the effort with creative input from big mountain legend Johan Olofsson and select guest shapers. “You never know where a good idea is going to come from, so inviting new perspectives into the mix is a great way to spark the creative process.”
Shape Shack boards are produced in small, limited edition runs and made available to the public through choice retailers and Venture’s online store. For 12/13, the three new Shape Shack designs are limited edition collector's items, with only 25 of each design produced.
What does Branner enjoy most about the Shape Shack? “Of course riding the finished product is the best part! But bringing a new board shape from concept to reality in a short period of time is extremely gratifying. It brings our whole team together, and because we own our own factory we have control over that process from start to finish. We can produce pretty much anything that we can dream up, and then walk out the front door and ride it right here in our backyard. It's an ideal setup for experimentation without boundaries.”
Here's the skinny on the different shapes, available for purchase now through Venture's online store:
Resident Shaper & Graphic Artist: Johan Olofsson
The Powder Pig is the second powder specific shape dreamed up by big mountain legend and pow surfing pioneer Johan Olofsson. Available in a 156 cm length, it has no edges and only two inserts - one near the tip and one near the tail - for attaching a rope. The flat “bat tail,” mellow rocker, and 33 cm width provide uncanny floatation. A true pow surfer’s dream. Say oink as you gorge on the deep stuff!
Guest Shaper: Skylar Holgate, Graphic Artist: Shanna Duncan
The Skylar Special is a big mountain twin designed by infamous Silverton Mountain guide Skylar Holgate. Available in a 160 cm length and 25 cm waist, with a true twin shape that offers greater maneuverability and effortless switch riding. While this deck’s slightly softer flex makes it fun and playful, quadratics still give it plenty of bite and grip for less forgiving conditions.
Guest Shaper: Aaron Brill
The Swallowtail Bomber is a classic swallowtail shape designed by Silverton Mountain’s founder and owner Aaron Brill. Lots of length for charging big lines and an elongated rocker profile for effortless float in the deep stuff. 180 cm length and 26 cm width. Go big or go home.
Photo above, from left to right: Powder Pig, Skylar Special, Swallowtail Bomber
For the fourth year running, Venture has taken home one of the most coveted awards in backcountry snowboarding - the Editor's Choice award from Backcountry Magazine. The 2013 winner is our Euphoria Splitboard - a pow surfer complete with rocker, reverse sidecut and a swallowtail ideal for those epic, deep days. Dubbed "Floatilla the Hun" by Backcountry's testers, here are some of their choice comments about this deck:
"Surfs like a dream. Incredibly agile and nimble for such a wide-waisted board."
"Merges snowboarding and surfing more than any other model...Ride it with bindings or without, as a solid or a split, and chase down the white wave."
The Euphoria is the result of a close collaboration between pow surfing pioneer Johan Olofsson and Venture’s founder and design engineer, Klemens Branner, and emerged as part of the company’s experimental Shape Shack division. “The idea is to take a bit of a mad scientist kind of approach, experimenting with designs that might normally be considered too wacky, and then testing those concepts by offering small batch releases to the public,” says Branner.
Olofsson was visiting the Venture factory working on other board designs when he spotted a board tucked away in the corner. It was a shape that Branner had created several years prior, inspired by classic surfboard design. “I had tinkered with a few different reverse sidecut designs but had put the project on the back burner. When Johan saw that prototype he got all fired up.” With a few modifications Olofsson thought Branner’s experimental shape would make a perfect pow surfer. They decided to resurrect a previous powder specific model, the Euphoria.
After several new prototypes were built and ridden, Olofsson and Branner settled on the final shape. It includes rocker, reverse sidecut and a swallowtail for unsinkable performance on bottomless days. A full insert pack allows it to be ridden with traditional bindings, though it is designed to excel when surfed bindingless. When asked what it is about bindingless riding that appeals to him, Olofsson explains: “Everything is kind of new, and you have all these new spices. It takes me to a level of snowboarding where I don't even care what anyone thinks about how I ride. I'm having fun.”
The Euphoria is the fourth board in the Venture quiver to receive an Editors’ Choice Award, following close on the heels of victories by the Odin Splitboard in 2012, the Zephyr Splitboard in 2011 and the Storm Splitboard in 2010. “Four Editors’ Choice awards don’t lie,” says Branner. “To receive such an incredible honor four years running is a huge statement about the quality and performance of our boards. Clearly the backcountry community feels we’re doing it right.”
For the 12/13 winter season the Euphoria is available through select Venture dealers, as well as the Venture webstore. Like all Venture’s boards, it will be offered in both solid and split versions, which will retail for $595 and $895 respectively. Available lengths are 156, 162 and 168 cm.
Put dibs on your dream board before we sell out! We are now accepting pre-orders for the 12/13 lineup through the Venture Snowboards webstore. Orders will ship on a rolling basis from mid-September through mid-November as boards come off the production line.
A big congrats to Brandon Reid, the new reigning King of the Hill! For the second year running, the winner of this big mountain snowboard competition at Thompson Pass, AK has won riding a Venture board! Brandon truly earned his title, moving up from fourth place in 2011 to first in 2012. Kudos Brandon!
Here's an awesome photo of Brandon's winning run.
And some video footage of Brandon on his Venture towards the end of this piece:
We are super stoked to announce that big mountain legend Johan Olofsson has joined Venture Snowboards as a product tester, and will be contributing to product design and development.
Initially an accomplished freestyle rider, Swedish-born Olofsson is renowned for being one of the first snowboarders to take freestyle tricks out of the terrain park and into big mountain environments. According to an interview in White Lines, “ What followed was nothing short of mindblowing…he tackled lines which veterans of the Alaskan heli scene had only contemplated in their dreams, with a speed and fluidity that would change the concept of freeriding forever.”
In 1996, Olofsson shook the very foundations of snowboarding with his descent of the Cauliflower Chutes in the Standard Films movie TB5. The ride took him down an Alaskan slope of over 40 degrees and 3,000 vertical feet in just 35 seconds, averaging close to 50 miles per hour. This feat landed him in the 1996 Guinness Book of World Records and solidified his status as a living legend of big mountain snowboarding.
Olofsson’s involvement with Venture began last spring when we sent him a splitboard while filming in Glacier Bay National Park for the Teton Gravity Research movie Deeper. After riding Venture’s Storm splitboard in some of Alaska’s most remote and inaccessible terrain, Olofsson was impressed. I like the solid feel of Venture boards and the first try at riding the Storm was a blast. The rockered shape and snappy turns make it a fun freeride board. You can slash and throw the tail around in all kinds of places. I like to have fun on my board and this one helps.”
The primary role Olofsson will play with Venture will be to influence product design and development. “I’m super stoked to have Johan riding our boards and am looking forward to working with him on continuing to improve our designs,” says Klemens Branner, Venture’s founder and co-owner. “It’s going to be amazing to have one of the world’s most accomplished freeriders collaborating with us.”
Olofsson is also excited about the opportunity, especially in regard to developing splitboards. “ I’m always looking into projects that will progress the sport, in this case freeride boards which are getting to be a rare breed in the industry. The split theory speaks for itself. Working on this level with Venture makes it possible to create and shape boards quickly, and I hope to get some good shapes out there for you all.”
Welcome on board Johan!