Burton Lightens Up

Traffic in the Burton booth at the SIA show was heavy as retailers tried to get their piece of the company’s 1997 production run, which includes Burton’s entry into the cap board market and a step-in binding that everyone wanted to talk about but very few people saw.

Out in the middle of the booth Jeff Brushie’s craps snowboard is set up like an actual craps table with dice to roll, but that’s not the entire story. Burton is bulking down. “We went through another diet program to reduce some weight for this year,” says Burton’s Tom McGann, vice president of hardgoods. “There’s really nothing we can point to, basically We’re fine tuning the composites we use to get the same strength with less material and weight.”

The biggest news is the new Super Models line. “The boards are a longer, directional freeriding board,” McGann says. “These boards are designed for the riders who have migrated to the longer directional boards, but who still want performance. I’ve had people who were avowed twin riders get on one of these and be amazed.”

The Super Model boards are cap construction with fly-weight full-length cores, meaning no tip and tail spacers. This gives Burton a total of three different top of the line construction methods: the cap sidewall (like the Super Models), the round-top sidewall, and the vertical sidewall.

But before anyone calls these constructions normal, McGann explains how it works. “When you make a 100,000 boards you learn all the secrets to getting the most out of every kind of construction,” he says. “We’ve done a lot of things to the boards for next year that we’re not even going to mention. There’s nothing that we can point to one benefit. What we’ve been doing is hopefully improving the product and making it better for everyone.”

The step-in that many people said they saw, is still not in the Burton line. Last year they showed a model of their binding and then never delivered. Hopefully, the same thing won’t happen this year. K2 and Switch are just lengthening their lead in the market and Burton is going to need a miracle to catch up. Not that anyone would rule out the hand of God working at Burton, it’s just that we haven’t seen anything yet.

And we’d like to.