Employees at Burton got a holiday surprise from Jake. Secretly in the prototype factory (right under their noses) Jake had the first of the Burton snowdecks manufactured as holiday gifts. The afternoon Jake handed them out, staff abandoned their desks to head out into a snowstorm and jib picnic tables in the parking lot.

Snowdecks are not new. In fact, they will likely be the next thing you will hear many people claim, “Hey, that was my idea! Damn, why didn’t I pursue it?” Snowdeck historians 20 years from now can fight over who invented them, meanwhile, Burton will likely be improving and making them.

The snowdeck idea is essentially a snowboard without bindings (or more aptly, a skateboard without wheels) for sliding on snow, rails, tables, etc. One can ollie a snowdeck like a skateboard, levering it into the air to clear obstacles. Kids have been taking skateboard decks and doing this since the seventies, and more recently, more dedicated equipment made of plastic have hit the market by storm.

Burton’s approach is to elevate this skateboard deck a couple of inches. Beneath it, a set of risers (approximately where you’d expect to find skateboard trucks) support the deck above a snowboard-construction subdeck, with a polyetyhlene base and steel edges. Because the subdeck is narrow, and the rider’s toes and heels on the deck overhang the subdeck, edging to turn and stop is almost as confident as with bindings on a snowboard. Plus, the elevation provides more leverage to ollie.

Riding a snowdeck is like discovering snowboarding and skateboarding all over again. Being unattached means one can do real ollies, kickflips, shove-its, and varials. One can also shift stance to nollie, ride switch or fakie, do manuals. Railslides are a genuine challenge, as they demand one truly ollie up to the rail, and maintain balance and footing on the board to land. A lot of jibbing in bindings on a snowboard now looks like cheating.

The appeal of the snowdeck is not only its technical riding potential, but also its simplicity. We’re back to the days when you can ride in your yard, or on a golf course, without spending hundreds of dollars on equipment, or feeling foolish for doing so when riding such terrain. Cities become terrain parks, backyards become backcountry, snowboarders become skaters.

It’s actually quite easy to ride a snowdeck. Making turns on packed snow is simple because of the leverage of being elevated, and the flex and sidecut of the subdeck. With a leash, riders are already getting on resort lifts and hitting terrain parks-or just cruising, making turns, and popping the occasional ollie.

Burton’s first snowdeck, the Junkyard, hits specialty shops in North America this February in a limited, late-season release – something Burton often does to launch new technology early. More models and features will surely follow next fall. Your next opportunity to ride one may be at the Burton North American Demo Tour. Check www.burton.com for dates and locations.