Its trade show silly season in the snowboarding world. SIA, the US’snowboard clothing companies major show just finished on Sunday, and without giving anyone time to get over the hangovers, Europe’s biggest show ISPO also started on Sunday. That’s a bitch of a clash of schedules for anyone in the snowboarding industry. Now that the trade show circus is in our neck of the woods we thought we’d take a look at the industry in Europe. Specifically we thought it would be interesting to ignore the traditional big guns of France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Italy and see what the other places have to offer. And to keep the list just partially sane we limited ourselves to just looking at companies producing snowboard. Despite its limited girth Belgium has made its stamp on the world with their statues of pissing children, fictional detectives, beer, waffles, chocolate and brutal colonisation. What is a bit of a surprise however, given that the highest point in the diminutive country is only 694m above sea level is that that actually have a decent sized snowboard brand.
Imperium was founded in Les Arcs, France, in 2004 by Belgium pro snowboarder Demir Julia, who despite our first guess turned out to be a bloke. After a year’s hiatus they are back up to speed with a line-up of 16 snowboards as well as their own bindings, goggles and skateboard lines. The snowboards are made in an OEM factory in Austria. Julia looks like he’s moved on too and is about to launch another snowboard brand in the next few days called Verdad. If the modestly bumpy Belgium is an unlikely country to find a snowboard brand then the pancake flat nation of the Netherlands is even less likely.
It barely tickles the sky, reaching only 322. Despite its natural disadvantage with a little help from an unlikely benefactor in Norway it’s now home to one of the most respected European snowboard brands. Bataleon was started by probably the least likely founder of any snowboard brand, a 44-year-old biophysicist called Jørgen Karlsen who doesn’t seem to have any history of snowboarding himself. TBT, comes complete with a full compliment of emergency escapes. They were headquartered in Norway for most of its existence but the company appears to have moved to Amsterdam in the last couple of years. Next up it’s the tiny Danish offshoot most famous for an eccentric warbler and its recent crippling financial implosion. There’s just over 300,000 people in the country, which is officially known as a handful, but two of them have just set-up their own brand. Lobster was started in 2011 by interweb snowboard stars Eiki and Halldor Helgason, snowboarding’s most famous fans of scat porn.
Likes’ which makes Lobster by far the most socialising snowboarding brand on this list. In their first season they’ve gone out with arrange of 3 snowboards which are made with TBT technology in conjunction with Bataleon in the same OEM factory in Austria. Here we go, finally a country with some mountains paired with some people. Finland churns out professional snowboarders by the bucket load so they should have a few snowboard brands. Started in 2000 Icon is, as far as we can see, Finland’s only snowboard brand. This year they have a range of 6 snowboards, but they also produce a range of outerwear including this natty little number. This is one of the reasons why Finnish clothing brands don’t travel well. The only thing they don’t have is a snowboard brand.
Australia and New Zealand. But clearly those Sloves have a hell of a work ethic, i’ll be back to check out other gear for sure! Columbia Sportswear Company, rome and Neff are really good too. I had worked there for like, and to keep the list just partially sane we limited ourselves to just looking at companies producing snowboard. The problem is that providing reams of detailed technical information wasn’t the aim of the article.
Way back in 1981 the guys that started Extrem built their first snowboards. The company was founded in 1993 making snowboards before they added ski production into the mix in 1998. Sadly it looks like they were producing snowboards up until about 2008 but today they concentrate solely on skis and the nation of Sweden is now without their own snowboard brand. In Elan though, Slovenia do at least have probably the biggest snowboard company on this list. There also the second oldest company on the list as they started out making skis right back in 1945. The end of WWII was a weird time to start a leisure sports factory, but hey, it worked for Elan. Elan’s snowboards are made in their own OEM factory just over the border in Austria.
It’s the same factory that also makes boards for the likes of Capita, Arbor, Rome, Bataleon, Nitro, Lobster, Artec, Dinosaurs Will Die, Academy, Allian, and Amplid. They guys have taken mixed cambers to a whole different level. I can’t fathom how it works but I like the fact it looks like a cheese toasty and I’d be keen to have a try. You might think that Elan would be keeping themselves busy producing most of the world’s snowboards, but clearly those Sloves have a hell of a work ethic, because they decided to fill in those awkward hours when they weren’t making snowboards with making more snowboards. In 2004 they launched Artec, a sub-brand of Elan made in the same factory in Austria. Billy Morgan’s triple rodeo just revolutionised snowboarding to universal acclaim. Surely the UK have a snowboarding manufacturer.
There’s one but it looks suspiciously as if it’s on its last legs. Even as we were writing the website of True appears to have given up the ghost. Started in 2006, it made ugly snowboards primarily for the rental business across the UK’s assorted dry slopes and fridges. They’ve got a decent sized snowboard brand too. Contract was founded in 2009 as the public face of Poland’s OEM snowboard factory. They currently sell a range of 7 snowboards to the public and they’ve also taken alternative cambers to a whole other level with their latest invention — 3D Snake Transition technology. So far we’ve been dealing with odd countries with just one snowboard company a piece. Then we get to the Czech Republic, a land we thought only existed to be a depository for the vomit and blood of British stag parties, however it turns out they’ve not just got one snowboard brand, they’re infested with them.