Words and Photos: Owen Ringwall
The Jackson Hole PowWow Shaper's Summit is unlike any other event in snowboarding. It's organic and true to the glide. Where many of today's events are diluted by more time spent watching than riding, the Shaper's Summit's focus will always be on time spent strapped in. It's a snowboarder's snowboard event.
It all began when event founder Rob Kingwill took notice of an emerging trend in progressive snowboard shapes and designs. After years of similarly styled boards and a seemingly endless array of popsicles lining shop shelves, a revolution was beginning to surface. Small-batch brands and industry staples alike were digging back into their heritage and returning their focus to progressive board shape and design. It was the dawn of the quiver.
Now in its sixth year, the event brings brands and board shapers together from around the world to celebrate the next generation of snowboard designs. The concept is simple – snowboard innovation doesn't take place behind a computer screen, it happens in the mountains. For three days each spring, the industry's leading shapers congregate in Jackson Hole, Wyoming to test next season's boards, take deep turns, and propel the future of dynamic shapes forward. There is only one real rule at the Shaper's Summit – you need to snowboard, a lot, and you better have a damn good time too.
This season's demo featured brands and boards that span the industry spectrum. From custom boards and niche brands like Franco Snowshapes, Elevated Surf Craft, and Gentemstick, to staples like Burton, Dinosaurs Will Die, and RIDE, one of the Shaper's Summit's many unique qualities is that it features a bit of everything. The boards – some powder specific, some quiver killers, and others that are simply concepts – showcased that crafting a snowboard is as much an art as it is a science.
Mother nature rewarded those in attendance this year with new snow, bluebird skies, and a bottomless bounty of good times. We hiked deep into the backcountry seeking out fresh turns and exploring Jackson's endless terrain. We burned through fast groomers, launched ourselves around mogul fields, and rode each board with a fervor that you won't find at any other demo. When all was said and done, each board had been pushed to its ultimate limit, and all in attendance had a renewed understanding of the current board shaping landscape.
It is in this deeper understanding that the future of snowboard innovation lies. Over the course of the Shaper's Summit riders and shapers relay valuable feedback and data relevant to their experience on each individual design. This wealth of information is then used to compile profiles that not only give overall rankings as part of the event's Rated Radical Test, but also help to match boards to unique riding styles and personalities. After all, no two riders board alike, and the perfect snowboard is unique to each rider's own style and preference. Make sure to check back on RatedRadical.com next September to view the full results from this season's test prior to making your next big board purchase.
On behalf of all of snowboarding, I would like to sincerely thank Rob Kingwill, Jackson Hole, and all of the many brands and shapers for everything they do to progress snowboarding. The Jackson Hole PowWow Shaper's Summit is a yearly reminder that the future of board designs is alive and well and that your next deep turn will always be around the corner.