Brand Ambassador and Burton legend, Dave Downing knows how he likes his pow riding: deep, surfy, and fun. Back from a recent trip to Baldface to test some new 2015 powder shapes with a heavy crew of Terje Haakonsen and JG, Dave talked a little bit about some of the new Family Tree shapes coming out, his favorite powder board, and a brand new splitboard design that Burton collaborated with Spark R&D and Voile on.
You were just up at Baldface, how was that trip?
The Baldface trip I just went on consisted of Terje Haakonsen, JG, and myself. We basically went up there for the 10-year anniversary of Craig Kelly’s passing. We went to celebrate him, remember him, and put up the new Craig Kelly cross, which Jeff Boliba and Bob helped make. It’s really cool. We put that in, and Savina and Olivia came up (Craig’s wife and daughter), and we snowboarded with them, which was amazing.
Another highlight was that Travis Rice and Mark Landvik heard that we were coming to Baldface and really wanted to be a part of it. They came up and we got to go heli-ing together one day. It was really cool to see Travis and Mark, who had never met Craig Kelly, but were so honored to be able to come and be there for that. I was super stoked to see Craig still affecting guys like that in such a positive way. All in all it was a crazy trip.
And obviously JG brought some crazy new Family Tree prototype boards to test.
Do they have some super deep swallowtails or something?
Some swallowtails and some different shaped tails. Also a lot of different widths and sidecuts. Overall, pretty “powder specific” boards, but they work really well.
We might not see those until 2015, or maybe even later than that?
Ya, those will probably be like a 2015 project. We also rode some other 2014 boards we developed last season. Terje and myself rode the new Landlord and the Fishcuit. We also rode this new “Schmusekatz” board that Nicolas Müller and Terje are working on for 2015. It’s a new Family Tree prototype. That thing’s pretty sick.
What’s your favorite board in the Family Tree line?
The Landlord for sure. I really missed the Malolo and the Landlord feels pretty similar to that, so I’m pretty psyched on it.
I see you have a split version of the Landlord right now; can you tell us about that?
Ya, this is basically the same shape as the Landlord—but it’s split. It comes with the new Channel interface, which is coming out early in the fall of 2014. The board will come pre-mounted with Voile/Burton Channel Pucks—and is our first splitboard with The Channel—allowing you to get your stance totally dialed in just like you were mounting up a normal Channel board. No more compromising stances—it’s awesome and so easy.
What about that binding?
The binding is a new Spark R&D design that basically takes out the pin in the front and replaces it with a new lever. You kind of have to see it to believe it, but it’s really cool. It’s a lot simpler and a lot less complex without the pin going through, and it slides on and off really easy. It’s just amazing.
It looks like it gets you a lot closer to the board as well.
Ya. The Spark interface is all about getting you lower to the board, and using the rigidity of the binding to keep the splitboard together and give it a better feel. Another thing with the new Spark binding is that it has the heel risers in the binding itself, instead of on the board, so it’s nice to be able to drop your heel risers from the binding instead of picking them up off the board.
And Dual-Heights, too?
Ya, Dual-Heights in the heel risers. Gives you two options in touring mode depending on how steep a pitch your skinning up.
And I notice that it’s got some real nice colab Burton React straps. They look real lightweight.
It’s probably the lightest splitboard binding I’ve felt, but it’s also just so much easier to switch over to snowboard mode from ski mode without having that big pin in the front.
How long have you been splitboarding for? You’ve been splitting longer than most, right?
I’ve been splitboarding since 1995, so 18 years now.
Did you ever think the gear would come this far?
Totally. When I first started, JG was cutting boards for me—they were just Custom 64s. I rode those for a few years then we started developing that first Burton splitboard, which was around 1998. It took me a few years to talk them into making that. That was a good setup, but as times change, things get better. The system we have now is great. It’s light-years beyond what I started with.
Do you have any split trips planned for this year?
I don’t have any trips planned; I kind of just split in Tahoe when I have time. I don’t have as much time as I used to, so I don’t splitboard quite as much, but it’s awesome when I get to.
Are you going to cut some Choppers in half for your kids?
Dude. You know, it’s funny you asked that. Dylan, my youngest son—he’s 8, he saw me playing with my splitboard in the garage and he’s all into stuff like that, and now he thinks he wants to get one. So now I’ll have to hit up JG for a Chopper 115 Split, haha.