Grassroots Powdersurfing Says Time Is Right for Bindingless Snowboards

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grassroots 470Grassroots Powdersurfing got its start building skateboards. But since Utah’s long winters usually mean a six-month joint-custody arrangement between skateboarding and snowboarding, founder Jeremy Jensen and his crew started working on a way to blend the two sports in a way that would offer the freedom of skateboarding, but on the snow. The end product is a quick, compact board that lets you throw kickflips in backcountry powder and carve lines with the feel of surfing a wave. Each board is carefully built by han, in Logan, Utah.

We caught up with Jensen to learn more.

How did Grassroots Powdersurfing get its start?
We’d been trying out various bindingless solutions since ’99. We put stomp pads on full-sized snowboards and old vintage snowboards in the beginning and had mixed results. So we started chopping up old snowboards into new shapes and putting pads on them, but they didn’t turn very well at all. They were very restrictive. So, we backed off on trying to use old snowboards and started experimenting with our own shapes. We had always wanted to be able to ollie, ride backwards and do some skate-style tricks, so we started with shapes and profiles that would accommodate our desires. Taking a step away from traditional snowboard construction was crucial for us to be able to get the results we were after.

It must have been a big process evolving from snowboards without bindings to the shapes you use now. How did you stay motivated while you worked on them?
They were so much fun to ride that it was easy to stay motivated. The fact that we were able to ride binding free and with no ropes or anything with a surprising amount of control was pretty crazy to us, and we hadn’t ever seen it done before. It was so much fun, the feeling of not being attached to your board. It added a whole new dimension because you were actually balancing on a board while riding a mountain rather than just having the board be an extension of your body as it is when you are snowboarding. It just made every turn that much better, it made every drop feel bigger, and every run more satisfying. The feeling of freedom we got from riding these boards was unbelievable, it was like starting snowboarding all over again. We felt like little kids again, experiencing the same feelings we had decades earlier when we were learning to snowboard and skateboard.

grassroots 02Without asking you to divulge your sacred stashes, are there any locations or types of terrain that lend themselves to powder surfing?
The beauty is that you can do this any place where you have five to six inches of soft snow and a slope to slide on. It can be your backyard, your local park, sidecountry at your ski resort, any backcountry terrain is great. Mellow runs, steep runs, short runs, long runs…it’s all good. Even sessioning a small bump in the snow or a little cornice formation can be a ton of fun. Pow surfing teaches you to look at your environment differently and take advantage of stashes that you never would have noticed or considered on skis or a snowboard. As of right now, there are a handful of resorts out there that allow you to pow surf in-bounds, so hopefully that catches on with other resorts. Obviously, there are factors to be considered when riding at ski resorts or any slope for that matter. You just have to be smart about your line choices.

Where do you see powder surfing going from here?
A lot of people are getting into it all around the world. I have shipped boards to Russia, Japan, Canada, and all over Europe.

I think it will get bigger as people realize that it’s not such a foreign thing, and rideable conditions are more available than people seem to think. It will catch on with the people who love riding powder and are not afraid to think outside the box. It is not heavily marketed and served up to the masses like snowboarding, but I think that is part of the attraction for some people. It is more about the soul of riding and less about trendiness. It is however, highly contagious; all it takes is a little taste and you’re hooked on it.

What I would really like to see is people pushing freestyle progression. That was really our whole idea, to open up a new avenue of progression that hadn’t been explored before. I would love to see people push the limits, flipping and spinning the boards, bigger cliff drops, more exposed lines, more skate-style and surf-style tricks. All those things that really take advantage of the fact that this board is not attached to your feet…that’s what stokes me out and really sets powsurfing apart.

In affiliation with Backcountry.com and Treeline, BC’s spotlight on craftsman, designers, and emerging brands.

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{ 4 comments…read them below or write one }

  • Malcolm Daly

    A few years ago we screened a movie at the Boulder Adventure Film Festival that featured some snowboarders in Japan that were “surfing”. I forget what the movie was called but it was heavily underwritten by Chouinard and/or Patagonia and featured surfing, powder-surfing and fly fishing.

  • Hayduke

    The film was called Signatures by Sweetgrass productions. It’s great, as are all Sweetgrass films. Man oh man I wanna ski Japan!

  • PHNX Boards

    These seem like pretty sweet boards! The powder snowboarding must be superb out west, too. I’m looking forward to this season – hopefully we get some snow in the east. A similar board (small, more like the original Snurfer) that doesn’t have a binding in the traditional sense is the PHNX Board, a powder snowboard that works great in backyards and local hills too.

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