Talking Tech and the Snowboard Industry With Burton and Rome

Photo courtesy

In the Colorado high country the lovely gold and red leaves are starting to drop.  This may be the only part of the world where we don’t wish summer would last just a little bit longer.  Instead, we start counting the down the days to the very first chair up for the first tracks of riding and skiing.  To make the wait less painful, we think about the new gear that will allow us to achieve our best days on the powder.  Chris Cunningham and Jeff Boliba of Burton and Matt Stillman of Rome offer some insight regarding the year’s trends and technology.

The buzzwords continue to be “flex” and “shape.”  Matt Stillman reports that Rome is excited about their brand new binding, the Katna.  “The Katna is designed as an all mountain assassin with a focus on customization and flex with feel.” This binding is ultralight and super responsive, so it is an excellent choice for casual riders and the most experienced boarders.

Burton reports that riders seem to be looking for more precision and agility in their ride, versus the “playful looseness” of the past few years.  In response, they have created the Pure Pop Camber, “It blends subtle rocker elements for a little playfulness, flat sections for increased snap, and traditional camber for precision and response.“ In addition, Burton is leading the industry with sustainability. Every men’s and women’s snowboard produced by Burton includes “The Channel.” The Channel gives you ultimate control of your stance and your board in a design compatible with all major bindings (not just Burton’s). The Channel gives riders limitless options for stance width, angles, and toe and heel adjustment and with half as many screws and it’s twice as fast to mount.“

Burton’s Malavita Bindings.

The Green Mountain Process, introduced in 2008, pays attention to every step of the manufacturing process, “featuring FSC certified wood cores, Mountain Dew 100% recycled PET top sheets, and low-impact water-based lacquer. All Family Tree models will come in a fully recyclable and compostable bag.” It seems Burton is truly listening to the generation that demands more from businesses and manufactures in terms of truly caring and protecting the environment.

In addition to a conversation about technology, we discussed the perception that snowboarding has lost the attitude and following it had in the 90’s. According to Boliba, the very youngest riders are enthusiastic about snowboarding.  “We have some really positive numbers and have plenty of reasons to be optimistic. In the past year alone, Burton’s Riglet Park Program events have introduced over 10,000 kids under seven years old to snowboarding in 14 different countries. This number is increasing every day. Since 2011, Burton has opened 38 full-time Riglet Parks. The Burton Riglet Park Program has seen exponential growth over the past three years, and is helping pave the way for resorts’ success with young kids (ages 3 to 6) who want to stand sideways from the start. And since 1998, Burton has produced a full line of gear and partnered with resorts and shops to grow the sport. We haven’t done it alone, as there are over 185 Burton Partner Learn To Ride Center Resorts worldwide that are part of this community and are dedicated to providing a quality first experience to help grow snowboarding through a variety of products and programs. We also did a Kids Riglet survey this year and 22% of kids have learned to ride at a Riglet program and 27% of kids are ages 5-6 years old. 76% of parents are planning to take their child snowboarding again in the next 12 months.”  In addition, Burton has noted an increase in the number of women who are new to snowboarding.  They have responded by a Learn to Ride site with a section for women riders. Most exciting is their dedication to make snowboarding a broader experience.  They have taken it from the mountain to the classroom with the Riglet Snowboarding for Physical Education.  The PE program simulates many of the skills and “focuses on balance, endurance and of course, having some fun along the way. The unique curriculum allows PE teachers and kids alike to experience snowboarding in their own class gym with learning stations and instructional videos featuring Kelly Clark, Danny Davis and Ben Ferguson for the first time.”

It sounds to us that Burton is investing long term in its future client.  What better way to develop a loyal customers than providing them with the tools and motivation to grow up to be the best snowboarders in the country!

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