Aaron Lebowitz is out to change the way we think about snowboarding; he wants to “revitalize stoke on the mountain,” as he says, through surf-inspired designs to get back to the roots of snowboarding. He believes that the common popsicle stick is more of a “survival board” than anything else– these shapes can handle everything, but do nothing exceptionally well. And here’s a thought: why does every surfer have a fish, longboard, and shortboard for all types of conditions, while a snowboarder often has one do-it-all board, even though a mountain can change as much as the wave?
Enter his brainchild, Soulmotion Snowsurf. Aaron created a brand that designs impeccable boards for certain days, rather than a single daily driver that does everything alright. This is certainly a revolutionary approach to the industry, but it will be the future. I can tell you this after getting to spend a couple days riding with him, and over a month on his signature shape, the Goldfish.
The Goldfish (click here for specs) does four things unbelievably well: head turning, groomer carving, deep-snow-surfing, and tree weaving. This thing catches people’s eye, as it’s like nothing they’ve seen before. On my my maiden voyage, without fail, I got at least two or three cases of “what the heck is that thing?” each time in the liftline. I initially developed a reply which sounded a little like, “Well, it’s got an enormous spooned up nose that pushes snow under and lets you glide right on top of powder. Combine that with the short fish-tail and the setback stance that lifts up your front foot even more, and you have one mean powder board.”
But that’s only what I said on the first day, as I had not yet realized that this board rips groomers as hard as it does powder. It’s full camber and arcing sidecut allow you to lay into turns like nothing else. The camber was playful enough to pop you right back out into the next carve without sacrificing stability, and the sidecut, concluding in the fish tail, made for ridiculous edge-hold until you wanted to kick out the loose tail. Even the the mellowest, easiest groomer became an absolute blast on this board, as I would just focus on turning as hard as I could.
In this video, even Jeremy Jones admits that his favorite “trick” is the turn and says, “if you need powder to have a good day on the mountain, you’re in the wrong sport, you’ll be miserable” (Also note how he’s ripping a fishtail on corduroy…) Aaron taught me this lesson of groomer appreciation first hand when I got to ride with him. We just floated down the mountain and painted clean lines across, rather than straight down, the fall line. Even though the snow wasn’t anything special, it was still one of my favorite riding days ever. My eyes were opened, as I realized railing turns on a groomer is easily the most underrated part of snowboarding. It’s a thing of beauty when you don’t skid a turn, and instead glide from from rail to rail. Enough talking about it, check out Aaron and his friend Alex flowing around Copper Mountain showing off their smooth style in this in this video.
Surprisingly enough, this board also hauls for it size. As a 147 (11 cm shorter than I usually ride), I was still charging full speed on corduroy when I wanted to. But that was rare, as I was instead sailing from one side of the piste to the other like these guys taught me, trying to scrape my hand on toeside carves and my hip on heelsides.
If you were worried about the short board length in the deep stuff, don’t be. The setback stance and fishtail combined with the 350 mm nose keep you afloat and virtually eliminate back leg burn. Check out one day I had at Loveland floating and slashing on this shape, without even breaking a sweat.
Overall, my favorite feature had to be the spooned-up nose. It keeps you gliding in powder, yet does not bother on groomers because most of it is lifted up and not touching the snow. Instead, the contact points start farther back, and the thinner waist keeps you moving from edge-to-edge without the slow-moving lag one would expect from a shape this wide up front. Rather, this board is actually quite nimble in trees and tighter sections, as the short tail and thinner waist allow for easy pivoting and catch-free switching in between tight turns.
But with such a specific shape comes the unavoidable downfall. This board would not be my go-to for steeper, icier lines or crud-busting. The loose tail does not create enough hold on more extreme terrain, and isn’t stiff enough enough to shoot through tough snow conditions. But that’s part of having a quiver. If I were to break out this board for the day, I would simply avoid these areas and focus on the places where this thing kicks ass better than any popsicle.
To compensate for the areas that this board doesn’t cover, Aaron created another shape, the Red Tailed Hawk, which has the same signature nose but a stiffer tail for bigger lines and harsher snow. I would grab this board if I were heading down Crested Butte Steeps, or knew I was going to be cruising the groomers a bit quicker than usual, while still having that surf-inspired flow underfoot.
At the end of the day, these guys ride differently, and it starts with the shapes that they are on. The creation of a surf-inspired quiver forces you to hone in on different aspects of your riding rather than a popsicle, which does a bunch of things somewhat well. I thank Aaron for introducing me into the other side of snowboarding, and although it will probably require a more cash for more boards as I now have an addiction, it’ll be worth it, as he and Alex Yoder discuss here.
These boards forced me to think about the mountain more like a wave, and have defined my style of riding for the better ever since. I’m having more fun on my board than ever before with a completely different mindset. Try ditching the popsicle, and paddle out on one of these game-changing surf-shapes to take your snowboarding experience to a whole new level.
Check out the Soulmotion Snowsurf site for more stoke on this topic, and where to find one of these boards.