Blog Category: ’Spark Hits the Road’

Baker Splitfest: A Journey To Cascade Country

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Destination Baker

We weren’t the only ones who made the journey to this years’ Mt. Baker Splitfest. Between the variety of Splitboards on hand from a number of board builders, and the trailer of Spark gear we towed along for demo, there were no shortage of pow grins out on the mountain. Following local’s advice, we made it out early morning to get the snow at its coldest. Headed in the direction of a zone we had been up in the past, we found ourselves standing at treeline where everything above us was lost in an endless gray void. We retreated back to protected trees at lower elevations and had no trouble finding deep pow glades to session for the rest of the trip.

Demo Day / Pow Day

Sparks to the People!

Looking at our trip’s worth of routes on the topo map within the context of what’s out there beyond the range of visibility we had, only proves we had just begun to get our feet wet — at least in the figurative sense. In the literal sense, it was not only our feet getting wet, it was our hands, arms, legs, and everything in between. That’s not to say we had anything short of awesome riding, it’s just to say, be prepared, there is no amount of waterproofing that can possibly be done to keep dry under a Spring storm in the North Cascades. With the Baker Area being one of the snowiest spots on earth, it’s a place where deep is what you can expect. And that’s what we got.

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Baker Splitfest HQ @Chair9

After tons of fun, on and off our boards, and truckloads of gear raffled off to benefit the Northwest Avalanche Center, it was time we get back to the shop. Our first sighting of Mt. Baker towering under blue skies at dusk didn’t make it any easier to head for home, but we rode the storm, and shared great times, and we will be back for more.

 

 

SIA: The Snowshow, The Superbowl & Riding In The Colorado Rockies

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SIA SnowShow, Denver, CO

It nearly took a map and compass to navigate the bustling grid of overflowing rows and aisles to find the spot where our crate was awaiting setup. Upping our floor space to twice what we had last year gave us the opportunity to design a new booth from the ground up. Our work was cut out for us to get it built in place, but our time paid off, and after a rush to the finish line, the doors opened and it was show time.

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SIA OnSnow Demo, Copper Mountain, CO

We were amped to be back with another exciting year of innovation in the world of splitboarding. We’ve been working hard to design, build, test, and debut our newest addition to the Spark Binding family: the Dyno DH hardboot Binding System with D Rex Crampons. Also new for Fall ‘14/15: the Heel Locker accessory for Tesla System bindings, and fresh colorways across the line.

Huge thanks to all our awesome Dealers and the many friendly faces who dropped by to share the stoke! Also, big thanks to our friend and Bozeman neighbor, Eric Newman, founder of Seneca Boards (Seneca on Facebook.), for the time and use of his cnc mill—a big help on the construction end of our new Spark booth. Thanks!

ISPO: A whirlwind of outdoor gear, good friends, and beer

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Production manager Kory Graham putting the final touches on our ISPO booth.

The craziness that is Trade Shows has come and gone.  The weeks leading up the shows are a time of great stress and anxiety as we have a thousand things to do to get ready:  build prototype gear, create and print a catalog, design and build trade show booths… the list goes on and on.  The first real break, actually, is the 13 hour flight to Munich for ISPO!

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This guys was REALLY excited about our new Dyno DH hard boot bindings!

If you haven’t been, ISPO is truly a sight to behold. This year, 2,565 exhibitors from 51 countries filled over 1 million square feet of exhibition hall space that seemed to go on forever.  It’s absolutely overwhelming and, for a gear junkie, heaven on earth.  Over the 4 days, more than 80,000 visitors wandered the endless displays of outdoor gear bliss.  At one point, it seemed all 80,000 were standing in our booth!

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Team rider Luca Pandolfi stopped by to hang out and talk splitboarding.

To the many great dealers, friends, and fans of Spark we meet during the show, thanks for stopping by!  It is your energy, enthusiasm, and kind words that make all the hard work worth it.  Very special thanks to Markus Reichard, owner of Wildschnee, for all his help constructing our booth, helping out with the crowds, and (most importantly) bringing us beer.   We couldn’t have done it without you — see you next year!

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Markus Reichard and Spark owner Will Ritter enjoying the local flavor at the St. Augustiner beer hall in Munich.

Japanimation

After an interesting week of riding in Chamonix, it was time for the Spark crew to press on. So we headed back to Munich, just in time to throw Jeff on a flight to Tokyo for the SBJ and Interstyle trade shows. A quick 13 hours later, he was checking out the latest in shred, for the Japanese market.


Overall the trade shows went very well. It was great to see many of the Japanese based brands selling splitboards. Also representing were Rome, K2, Mervin, Burton and a few others. All in all, a great sign that splitboarding is gaining popularity in Japan. It was also great to be able to meet with some of our Japanese dealers. Jeff even squeezed in a couple interviews with a few Japanese snowboard mags.

After a few days of trade shows, it was time to head to the mountains. First stop would be Hakuba. While walking the trade show floor, all snow reports were increasingly positive. Finally! Rumor had it that 3-4′ of fresh snow had fallen the previous couple of days, and the sun was supposed to shine for the next few days.

Hakuba, Japan

We were able to spend a few days in the greater Hakuba area, riding a variety of different terrain. The sun was out each day, which was great. While riding the Iwataka resort, I bumped into a local guy rockin some Spark bindings. He was kind enough to allow me to do a little impromptu demo at lunch. It was a pretty big hit with the locals.

 

Splitboard demo. Iwataka, Japan

After a few too many days of sun, the snow in Hakuba got a bit heavy. So we decided to head to Tenjin. The snow here was amazing. A few feet of fresh right before we got there, then nothing but blue skies for the next few days. The terrain there was great and the side country splitting, even better. Easily the highlight of the trip.

 

Our zone in Tenjin, Japan

I would like to thank Toshi, Yosuke and Yoshi at Native Products for the hospitality. I would also like to thank Taku at Voltage and William at The Boarding Company. Its always great to be back in Japan and to meet some new friends.

 

 


Chamonix Ice Fest

After a hectic run of SIA and ISPO trade shows, and almost a month without riding, we felt it was about time to hit the snow. So we packed up our gear in Munich and drove to Chamonix, France to check out the splitboard scene and visit Zero G, our dealer in Chamonix. We had heard rumors all week long about how terrible the snow was out there, as it hadn’t snowed in well over a month. But we figured we would be able to find something fun to ride out there.

Zero G, Chamonix France

Sweet splitboard selection!

Despite the grim snow reports, the Zero G and Spark crew set out on a tour in the greater Cham area. The conditions weren’t all bad. It was sunny and very pleasant out. However the snow conditions would be best described as… well, “firm”. The touring was actually quite nice and the scenery was amazing.


We would like to thank Martin at Zero G for the hospitality, and Tom from Zero G for taking out. Hopefully next year the snow will cooperate a bit more. Until then, we can at least find solace in the fact that Americans are by far superior thumb wrestling champions. Thanks for the competition guys, if you wanna call it that. Jeff will be looking forward to defending his title next year.

Heated thumb wrestling battle

Who has two thumbs and kicks ass at thumb wrestling... This guy!

ISPO, FEBRUARY 2011

MUNICH, GERMANY

We had 2 1/2 days after SIA to unpack and re-pack for ISPO, ship out the remainder of our orders, catch up with emails, change our auto-responders, and make sure none of our bags were over 50.0 lbs. It was a mad dash to the airport, but once we were sitting on the plane there was nothing left to do but sleep and get caught up on our Hollywood movies.

Welcome to Germany!

5 of our 6 bags ended up in Munich … the missing one of course with our 2011/2012 fleet of bindings. Doh! At least we budgeted an extra day before the show to deal with things like this so it wasn’t too much of a panic. Three train rides and three  flights of stairs later (lugging 100lbs+ each) we made it to Feldkirchen where we were staying. Our warm welcome to Germany started off with a random dog peeing on Jeff’s bag, which was even funnier than it sounds when you’re sleep deprived.

Our Booth at ISPO!

ISPO was amazing. Splitboarding has really gained popularity in Europe since last time. A year ago, many of our conversations started with “it’s a snowboard that splits apart to form two skis” … followed by silence and a perplexed look from the bystander. This year people were coming up to us “hey, that’s a splitboard! I’ve never seen one in person…and you’re the Spark binding guys!” We did much less demonstrating how a splitboard works and much more technical discussions on how our bindings and accessories improve the experience. With the word “splitboard” becoming everyday vocabulary, we saw many new board manufacturers catching on having at least one split in their line. What a difference a year makes …

Of course one of the best parts about our annual tradeshow migration is meeting up with industry friends and having some fun:


After the show we stuffed our 3 board bags, 3 roller bags, and 3 of us into a rental car and drove across Switzerland with plans to spend a few days riding in Chamonix…(photos and story coming next!)

SIA 2011, what are those YAhoos up to?

We made our annual migration to SIA at the end of January to showcase our 2011/2012 product and to catch up with some good friends. The last year flew by and with splitboarding becoming more popular worldwide, it’s kept us really busy. It felt good to take a break, get some face time with our retailers and customers, and drink a few beers.

Here are some highlights:

Travis Rice gives a salute to the Spark R&D team

Danny Davis says - I love my LTs! Will and Jeff say - He loves his LTs

Johan Olofsson and Will coincidentally making the same face while showing off the new Blaze bindings and Johan's new Odin board by Venture -

Chris Coulter and Jeff posing in the Spark booth