If you’re not up on your German, that’s the International Trade Fair for Sports Equipment and Fashion, otherwise known as ISPO. That’s where we were on February 7-10, showcasing the Fuse in the BrandNew Village with the other winners and finalists. We spent a fantastic four days talking to people from all over Europe, including our dealers: Mans from Uhrweder Sport in Norway and Sweden, Sandy from Biwakscharte in Germany, and Volker from 4Mountains in Switzerland. We had a great time finally getting to meet face to face!
Splitboarding is definitely in the early stages of popularity over there. We heard a LOT of interesting excuses on why splitboarding wouldn’t work, but our very favorite was “the skin tracks over here are too narrow.” Despite the misconceptions about the sport, it is definitely catching on fast. We were psyched to be there to spread the good word!
Left: Christoph Weber-Thoresen and Will
Right: We are going to let you come up with your own caption for this photo…
Becca, Will, Jeremy, and John next to the new Jones Splitty!
Select winners of the ISPO BrandNew Awards were invited to the on snow demo at Garmisch- Partenkirchen in Southern Germany on January 28-29. The Fuse bindings were selected, but the dates overlapped the week that we were in Denver for SIA. So we called up our German friend Markus Reichard from Wildschnee (www.wildschnee.de), who makes custom 2 and 3 piece splitboards, and asked him to represent Spark R&D. To our delight, he said he would! He made a custom board with our logo, put our logo on his jacket (we don’t even have logo jackets!), took some days off of work, brought his team rider Tobi, and drove the two hours to the demo. We are forever indebted to him and are so psyched that he was willing to help us out at this great event. If you ever meet him, buy this guy a beer for us.
Here are some photos and footage from the German news! (Click here for the clip, we are at :45) It’s in German, but we think they’re saying good things …
And here’s a pic of Will and Markus at ISPO a week later:
On February 1st, we made our way to the on-snow demo at Winter Park in Colorado. When we heard about the uphill/downhill race, our very own Will Ritter couldn’t help himself and just HAD to sign up. The only splitboarder amongst a group of nearly 70 competitors, Will was welcomed into the fray with looks of surprise, disbelief and a whole lot of admiration and camaraderie. The course went 1,700 vertical feet up to the Sunspot Lodge, skins were removed, and then the downhill meandered through some moguls and gates until reaching the finish line. The winning time came at an unbelievable 27.22 minutes from Travis Scheefer from Team Dynafit, but the majority of the finishing times were between 35 and 60 minutes.
We were all psyched to see Will steam through the finish line at 47 minutes – even after switching over to ride mode and taking time to crack open a beer at the top! I hope that inspires everyone that Splitboarding is the Answer and dispels the myth that pegs splitboarding as heavy and slow. During the award ceremony, Will got called up to the stage for a special award for being the only splitboarder. Woot, Woot!
(that’s Will on the uphill, second from right)
We’ve been at SIA (Snowsports Industries America) for the last two years just to walk around and check it out. This year we decided it was time to have a booth and show off the product line for 2010/2011. The response was overwhelming. Really, we were blown away by the love! Our little 10×10 booth was packed from 9-6 everyday. It was fantastic to meet with our retailers, customers and pros. We were just flattered with positive feedback and support for our small but growing business.
Some highlights of the show:
->We heard some interesting rumors that we were bought by a larger company! We had no idea! Wow, looks like we can go shred more and stop working 14 hours a day! Seriously though, if you’ve heard this rumor, it’s not true. We are very much a local family owned and operated business.
->We were honored to meet DCP, Dave Downing, and Steve Klassen, as well as spend time with some of our favorite pros Jeremy Jones, Mike Basich, and others
-> We won a snowpress innovation award for our dynafit adapters! All you hardbooters out there would be impressed by the interest for this lightweight setup. Even the skiers came by to check it out. You should too. (Although this picture they used is of the Fuse, not the Dynafits)
->Unfortunately, Jeremy’s one and only Jones Snowboards splitboard was stolen attached to a pair of mis-matched green small and bronze medium Fuse binders. Bad karma for the person who took it. If you see it out there in the world, let us know …
->We handed over a $200 donation check to Protect Our Winters from the sale of some specialty Fuse bindings with POWgraphics that were bought by an anonymous stoker in Maine.
-> We got to show off our new product line for 2010/2011. We’ll spare you the details for now …
After visiting the OR tradeshow in SLC and before driving the 8 hours to SIA in Denver, I got an unexpected treat: riding Snowbird with Mikey Basich and Dalton Paley! Having watched Mikey in all sorts of videos during my grom days, it fulfilled a childhood dream to get out and ride with him for a day. This was after the ‘bird’ had gotten a crazy dump of snow and had been ridden pretty hard, so mobbing with Mikey and Dalton through pow moguls all day was a serious workout. Mikey and Dalton put together “Open Space: The untold stories of Mike Basich” this year, which you can watch for free at Mike’s website: http://www.241-usa.com/index.html. This amazing film chronicles Mike’s life through 25 years of snowboarding, and his struggles and triumph over epilepsy as a child.
I left for Denver and Mike and Dalton headed up to Bozeman for the Cold Smoke Awards http://coldsmokeawards.com/, a festival celebrating winter photography, film and culture. Open Space won the “most innovative” award, and ironically, a pair of our Fuse bindings. Congrats to Mikey and Dalton!
(they were also at the X-Dance Festival)
We’ve been busy here at Spark R&D – busting out bindings and traveling the world to trade shows and demos – spreading the good word about splitboarding. So much has happened in the last two months we barely had time to catch our breath and reflect, let alone share all the goodness with you!
So here we go… we are going to post something everyday for as long as it takes to catch you all up on the fun.
Starting with our sweet end-of-the-year Jib party in an undisclosed residential area in Bozeman!
Deep fried turkey and snickers bars? Check.
Ramp built off of shed? Check.
Fun box lit up with Christmas lights? Check.
Take a look: (all photos courtesy of our very own Chris McIntosh)
Seven month old Leo Weber-Thoresen from Austria can’t talk yet, but has THIS to say about the Fuse:
(By the way, if anyone else has great pics of themselves or their kiddos enjoying their Spark R&D Bindings, send them our way and they might make it onto our website. Thanks for the stoke!)
We are excited to announce that Spark R&D’s Fuse binding has won the ISPO BrandNew Finalist Award for innovation!!! Thank you for all of your votes and comments and support. We couldn’t have done it without you. The sport of splitboarding is growing … and you all are part of the revolution. Be proud.
A little background on the ISPO BrandNew Award:
ISPO (Internationale Fachmesse für Sportartikel und Sportmode) is the 4-Day International Trade Fair for Sports Equipment and Fashion, and has been an annual event for the past 40 years in Munich, Germany. This is where all of the retailers and buyers go to see next year’s products and to decide what to sell in their stores in the next season, setting the trends for the outdoor market. Products and companies awarded the ISPO BrandNew Award are considered THE barometer of future trends in sports. This year there were over 350 applicants for the award.
To enter the competition, the company must be 4 years old or younger. The application process involves a public voting component (the part you are familiar with – thanks for all the votes and great comments!) and then a juried component where a group of 20 international experts test and evaluate the products. There is one overall winner of the entire competition, and then one winner and several finalists in each of 7 categories: Accessories, Eco/Fair Trade, Fitness, Hardware, Sportswear, Style, and Urban Style. Spark R&D won a finalist BrandNew Award in the Hardware Category. We are so stoked!
Where from here?
Will Ritter, the owner of Spark R&D and his wife Becca are headed over to Munich in early February to the ISPO trade show along with all of the other winners and finalists. They will be showcasing the Fuse binding and unveiling some great new innovations for the 2011 season.
Spark R&D has always been dedicated to pushing innovation in the sport of splitboarding. Being internationally recognized for this award is just one more way that splitboarding gets put in the lime light. Again, thank you for all of your support and votes, and your dedication to the sport!
The ISPO Brand-New Award recognizes innovation in sports. Our newest binding, the Fuse, is featured in the contest, and so we’d like you to…
Check out our video and vote for us here:
We’re proud to be in the competition, and may the best splitboard-binding company in Bozeman MT within a few blocks of the Filling Station win!
9.30.09 first snow of the season at Spark R&D HQ. Bring it!