Weston snowboards earns more awards, becomes world’s No. 2 splitboard provider
Started in Minturn, backcountry brand has used a sustainable growth model to find success
MINTURN – Weston Backcountry has taken home another slew of awards heading into the new season.
The local manufacturer of snowboards and splitboards has earned the Backcountry Magazine Editor’s Choice award for its swallowtail splitboard, the Japow, and its women’s splitboard, the Rise. The Rise also earned Splitboard Magazine’s most versatile award.
Started in Minturn in 2012, Weston Backcountry has used a slow growth model and strong community focus to earn recognition in the industry. The company started getting noticed a few years ago; in 2016 a pair of Weston snowboards received Transworld’s Tested and Approved stamp and by 2018, the company had produced the top-rated board of all 86 tested by Outside Magazine’s team of more than 30 snowboard testers.
During the 2018-19 season, Weston Backcountry also learned it is the No. 2 splitboard manufacturer in the world, according to sales figures released at the Snowsports Industries of America trade show in Denver. Weston is also the No. 2 snowboard manufacturer in Colorado according to those same figures.
Owner Leo Tsuo says the company earned the designation first and foremost through the products themselves. Weston has been on the cutting edge, literally, of the shaped board movement, where the traditional twin tip has been cast aside for something with more shape and less symmetry. The Japow snowboard, with its deep swallow-tail design, has been a poster board of sorts for this movement. While a swallowtail — a tail with a V cut out of it to allow the nose to rise up out of the snow easier — is not an uncommon sight anymore on the mountain, few swallowtails are as uncompromising as the Japow. Other swallow tail snowboards have a smaller V cut and more early rise in an effort to create a tail that can be ridden forward in the switch stance, but Weston’s cut in its Japow tail is unmistakably deep, with no early rise to mitigate its impact. Strap into a Japow on a powder day, and you’ll feel the tail sink deep into the snow, allowing you to float the nose with less effort, preserving your strength for more turns later in the day.
Last year, Weston decided to create a splitboard version of the Japow, and the editors of Backcountry Magazine took notice during their annual test.
“Named after arguably the hottest shred destination of 2019, Weston’s Japow was the highest-rated men’s board of the test, and it thrives in the fabled blower conditions that even dirtbag splitboarders will chase halfway around the world,” Backcountry wrote.
In their description Backcountry is, of course, referring to Japan, where Tsuo takes his crew every spring to test boards and enjoy the culture.
Amid the travel and fossil fuel consumption that comes with creating a snowboard company known around the world, Tsuo says sustainability — not just within his company, but in the larger environment as a whole — has been constantly on his mind. Weston has worked to become carbon neutral through purchasing offset credits, and the company has taken a hard stance against the sale and development of national lands and contributes to the National Forest Foundation. The company also inspires riders to go human-powered on their expeditions, with the splitboard seen as the ultimate way to avoid helicopters, snowmobiles and chairlifts in snowboarding. Weston has also taken a more sustainable approach to its showroom, selling boards out of a mobile, solar-powered tiny home.
With splitboarding comes a degree of responsibility and education, which Weston riders have helped the company promote over the years. Weston hosts clinics, intro to splitboarding classes, education seminars and partners with the Colorado Avalanche Information Center and other avalanche information centers around the country to promote safe decision making in the backcountry.
This total-package approach will continue to mark the company’s growth strategy heading into the future, Tsuo says.
“I think we’re doing things that people care about, and that’s resonating,” Tsuo said. “The brand and what we stand for is not just limited to a well thought out, high performing board. Riding a Weston board also means that you’re standing behind sustainability, you’re standing behind the building of community and the promotion and proliferation of education, safe travel and being a good steward of the environment.”
For more information visit westonbackcountry.com.