Weston Snowboards gaining momentum in niche of backcountry riding
Special to the Daily
106 Main Street, Minturn, CO
MINTURN — Many avid snow sports enthusiasts may be unfamiliar with splitboarding, as it represents a newer branch of snow-related recreation. Stemming from snowboarders’ desire to easily access the backcountry, a splitboard takes a traditional snowboard and adds a unique binding system along with a split down the middle to transform it into skis for uphill skinning. Once at the top of a face, the board can be reassembled for the descent.
Colorado companies have largely spearheaded the splitboard market. With all the skinning and backcountry opportunities around the state, it seems natural splitboarding would find its stride with Colorado backcountry riders. In particular, Weston Snowboards, of Minturn, has been leading the charge in this niche of backcountry riding, and their brand has been gaining momentum.
Driving into Minturn, it’s hard not to notice the first building on the left, which typically has a snow cat parked in the lot. Headquartered on this corner since its inception, Weston Snowboards has distinguished itself as a backcountry authority in Colorado and is starting to turns heads throughout the snowboard industry as well. Mason Davey, vice president of sales, says that it’s been an exciting year for the small company as they’ve started to pick up dealers on both the East and West coasts looking to introduce their product to a larger market.
In particular, Weston’s Big Chief, a splitboard model put out by the company this year, has received accolades from Transworld Snowboarding Magazine and Backcountry Magazine’s 2015 Gear Guide. Davey says that creating the Big Chief was a labor of love aimed at charging big lines in deep Colorado snow.
“We knew we had something special once we started designing that board; it embodies the spirit and style of the local mountains,” he said.
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SPIRIT OF THE MOUNTAINS
The spirit of the surrounding mountains has long been a catalyst for the company, as the draw to create a shop for backcountry riders to get both the products and education to explore the surrounding mountains is modeled in the spirit of the 10th Mountain Division.
“Barry (Weston’s founder and owner) set up shop in Minturn because of its sense of community and the fact that it’s so rich in mountain history. Minturn is ground zero for the 10th Mountain Division. They trained in the area, lived in the area and started exploring these mountains. When we’re out there we feel a real connection to them; they paved the way for the ski industry,” Davey said.
The spirit of the 10th Mountain Division is manifested in several ways for the crew at Weston. This year the company unveiled its 10th Mountain Splitboard, in honor of the storied division. Detailed with the 10th Mountain Division insignia, the board will be featured in the Colorado Ski Museum’s 10th Mountain Division section. Additionally, for each 10th Mountain Division board purchased, Weston will give part of the proceeds to charities benefiting members of the iconic on mountain unit. Weston collaborated with fellow Colorado pioneers in the splitboarding industry, Venture Snowboards, out of Silverton, to honor the division with a Colorado made board.
While the shop has a collection of both snowboards and splitboards aimed at getting people on and around the mountain, Weston’s focus on education is of particular importance. Not only does the shop put on free avalanche awareness classes to educate riders about the Colorado snowpack but it encourages customers to get together for meet-ups aimed at getting groups together to learn about splitboarding and safely explore nearby terrain. The meetings take place on Saturdays throughout the winter and provide educational opportunities on stable snow, along with instructional time for riders to understand the sport.
“The educational aspect that we focus on at the store is so important,” Davey said, “Come on in and ask us questions. Hang out with us at the store. We want a lifelong customer, not a statistic.”
Davey explained that while exploring the backcountry is a major draw for the sport, a bigger part is enjoying a different form of recreation in the mountains.
“The physical aspect of splitboarding is something that’s really special, along with just spending time in the mountains. It’s nice to go for a morning skin with my dog,” he said, “You can’t help but feel a connection to the people that explored this area before us.”
It’s this passion for the sport and Weston’s Minturn roots that continue to set them apart.