VAIL — Longboarding and ski racing have more in common than you think, and a new board from Colorado manufacturer KOTA celebrates the biggest ski racing event the U.S. has seen in a decade and a half with a 2015 tribute graphic emblazoned on the deck.
KOTA owner Mike Maloney says the camber in his longboarding decks was modeled after that of a racing ski, with a curved surface allowing the user to generate speed out of a turn.
“Our boards are carving boards,” says Maloney. “The complex curve in our boards gives you the same engineering performance that you’ll find in a downhill ski. When you’re setting an edge, that puts a tremendous amount of tension and compression in the core of that ski, or our boards. Because of all that tension and compression, that energy that’s in that core, we have the spring then to rapidly reverse our turns and set the other edge.”
It’s that appreciation for ski racing that inspired Maloney to design his 2015 tribute board, complete with official FIS Alpine World Ski Championships graphics and a picture of a ski racer carving up a hillside.
“There’s some subliminal messaging there,” Maloney said. “We have underutilized summer activities in the Vail Valley, and we thought that, by exposing skiers to this kind of carving-style longboarding, we could help spur some new emphasis to summer activity among skiers in the action sports arena.”
Maloney, a lifelong skier himself (his first trip to Vail was in ’66 at the age of 4), says many skiers don’t realize how naturally they will take to longboarding. While the sport seems to have more in common with snowboarding than skiing, don’t forget a longboarder spends much or his or her time facing forward — not just during the kick/push phase of the riding but while performing the more advanced “foot-brake” maneuver, as well.
“The weight balance and stance of downhill skiers is very, very similar to longboarding,” Maloney said.
10TH MOUNTAIN TRIBUTE
In addition to the 2015 board, Vail Valley skiers and snowboarders will also appreciate KOTA’s 10th Mountain Division tribute longboard, which has the original ski troopers’ insignia printed on the top of the board.
“As soon as we knew we were able to print graphics on our boards, I knew I wanted to do a 10th Mountain Division board,” said Maloney, who is himself a Navy veteran and F-14 pilot. “So, that was the first one we did, it turned out so cool I still have it hanging in my office.”
The art on top of KOTA’s boards is what sets them apart from other companies, Maloney says. “We knew from day one we had to move the primary art surface to the top of the board, and have the secondary art surface on the bottom. You don’t do flips and rail riding with a longboard, so people rarely see the bottom of the board. You never see anyone lean their longboard against the wall with the wheels sticking out, and so the top of the board is the expression of your personal style ... that’s why we felt, in what many people consider to be a very crowded marketplace, we could really differentiate ourselves with our product,” he said.
Look for KOTA Longboards’ 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships and 10th Mountain Division tribute boards at the Vail and Minturn farmers markets.