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The powder stick revolution’s taking shape

Say goodbye to riding one board all winter, and say hello to the powder quiver!
Snowboards from various brands
Powder shapes© Jason Horton
By Jason Horton

After 20 years of outlines looking basically the same, today there’s something of a revolution happening in snowboard design. Partly inspired by the shaping revolution that’s been happening in surfing for the past decade, snowboard brands are now producing some radically different shapes, designed to be as much fun as possible in a variety of different conditions and terrain.

Of course, powder shapes are nothing new: one of the earliest ‘true’ snowboards was the Winterstick, a powder-specific shape with a long, pointed nose and a short, spiky swallowtail that makes the board float above even the deepest powder. But when the ’90s arrived, riding switch became a thing, twin tips were all the rage, and board outlines all started looking the same. Powder hounds could still get their hands on a classic swallowtail, but that was about it until 2002, when Burton came out with The Fish: a hybrid board with a fuller nose and tapered tail that was fun to ride anywhere, but excelled in powder.

Fast forward to today, and we’re seeing more options for custom powder sticks than Eskimos have words for snow. Here are six of our favourites.

Nitro Quiver

Snowboards from Nitro
Nitro© Jason Horton

Nitro’s Austin Smith and Bryan Fox are two pros at the forefront of the move towards experimental shapes: last season’s short-and-wide Quiver Pow 154 was such a hit with the team that Nitro have added two more powder shapes to the lineup: a 183cm traditional swallowtail and a 160cm hybrid shape.

Venice

Snowboards from Venice
Venice© Jason Horton

Venice are a tiny French brand making beautiful, hand-crafted powder boards using amazing all-wood topsheets. They’ve got 5 models: a 158cm all-mountain shape, three swallowtails (164/174/184) and a splitboard. Definitely one for the big-mountain powder connoisseur.

Capita x Spring Break

Snowboards Capita x Spring Break
Capita x Spring Break© Jason Horton

Inspired by the insane plywood decks created by snowboarder-slash-artist Corey Smith in his garage workshop, Capita make some of the wildest-looking powder shapes out there; and yet, somehow… they totally work.

Äsmo

Pow Surfer from Äsmo
Äsmo Pow Surfer© Jason Horton

For most of us, the idea of riding powder without bindings seems about as practical as without trousers. But for the true purist, freeing your feet opens up a whole new world where mellow, boring terrain becomes a paradise for laying down surf-inspired turns. Äsmo Powsurfers are designed and shaped by Austrian pro Wolle Nyvelt, and Wolle is probably the best footloose snowboarder in the world.

Lib Tech x Lost

Snowboards Lib Tech x Lost
Lib Tech x Lost© Jason Horton

With the inspiration for this new generation of creative shapes coming from surfing, Lib Tech have made the smart move: team up with Lost’s Matt Biolos, one of the best surfboard shapers on the planet, to create two powder-surfing beasts. Meanwhile, the mad geniuses at Mervin MFG are now building (maybe) the most technologically-advanced surfboards on the planet.

Korua Shapes

Snowboards from Korua
Korua© Jason Horton

Founded by Swiss riders Stephan Maurer, Nicholas Wolken, and Alvaro Vogel, Korua Shapes are a range of snow surfing craft that combine beautifully minimalistic graphics with exotic shapes that are optimized for both deep powder slashes and smooth on-piste carving.

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Snowboards Photos from Flickr