In snowboarding’s infancy a woman’s body type was never considered during board production, which resulted in women riding boards designed for men. Stiff board flexes and wide board widths made snowboarding for women a frustrating endeavor unless your name was Morgan Lafonte. However, this all changed in 1998 when K2 engineered the Luna. Today, K2 continues supplying women with what they need to rule the mountain. We caught up with Gretchen Bleiler to get her thoughts on K2’s support of women and some insight into her 2010/11 GB Pop, each individually signed by Gretchen herself.
“The GB Pop graphics are just straight up sassy and fun, I mean who doesn’t like lightning bolts and color fade?! It was really sweet working on this graphic with K2 and I sort of had an out of body experience while I was hand signing every single board! Having a signature model board is such an honor and I’m so proud to be working with a sponsor that has been so innovative in supporting women’s snowboarding from the beginning; K2’s Luna snowboard was the first women’s specific snowboard out there which just shows you the commitment!”
Gretchen’s GB Pop LTD, each signed personally by Gretchen Bleiler.
Recognized as one of the industry’s first premier big mountain specific snowboards, the K2 Eldorado has roots from 1995 culminating in 2008 as Wille Yli-Luoma’s signature graphic and design. Since its inception, the Eldo has maintained the classic star spangled colorway and 2008 was no different. So what was the inspiration behind the art in 2008? We asked Wille to unwrap K2 Snowboarding’s final Eldorado.
In collaboration with friend and artist, Antti Rastivo the art for the K2 Eldorado back in ’08 was inspired by the backcontry. “The idea came from topographic maps and zones we flew over trying to ride,” says Wille. “It was important to me also to keep the clean simple look with a base that popped real well. I choose to work with Antti each year because we feed really well off each other. He is very open to working with ideas I have and easy about changing things around if need be. Antti’s art is super cool and in my mind seems to be ahead of its time each year.”
R.I.P. K2 Eldorado. By the way, Wille has been crushing it with K2 for over ten years. His board of choice these days is the Turbo Dream
Straight from the catologue - K2 Eldorado, Wille Yli-Luoma style
Excavating the Zeppelin was a delicate process, we used white gloves and steady hands to assure the greatest care… and for good reason!. As one of the most respected snowboards of all time, the K2 Zeppelin defines the K2 heritage and revolutionized freestyle snowboarding. For eleven years the Zeppelin reign supreme in the freestyle world bringing unparalleled pop to riders everywhere.
We caught up with former K2 board master mind, Sean Tedore for some special insight into the construction that defined the K2 Zeppelin. “The K2 Zeppelin was one of the first boards to add additional materials into the layup of the board to increase performance in key areas. On the Zeppelin, Titinal was added spanning out in a V from the bindings towards the contact points to increase torsional stiffness and add POP without adding a lot of weight. This also allowed to focus the torsion and POP into the areas that the rider would utilize most. The result was one of the best, most responsive boards ever created. The board was such a success that it remained in the K2 line for over 10 years.”
Iconic artists such as Bobby Meeks brought this board to life; enjoy the next three minutes down memory lane with Bobby and a snowboard which will never be forgotten.
Snowboarding shouldn’t be stresful…, it’s fun! Among snowboarding’s elite “athletes,” or artists as I like to call them, Travis Parker exemplifies the epitome of fun. When the concept came up of highlighting old board graphics and revolutionary board design I knew immediately I had to call on Parker. Always stoked to share his thoughts, Travis let it rip. Here he is, uncensored giving the inspiration behind the 02/03 K2 Parka. FYI, if you haven’t heard, Travis is back on the K2 Pro team and has been riding the new K2 Raygun.
“I meant no disrespect to Chad Muska, only respect for his ability on a skateboard and as a musician too. The silhouette of me on the toilet with large headphones on and rolling toilet paper was meant to show that sometimes I felt down in the dumps but I tried to make light of the situation, through design and flipping on my board. Snowboarding was good and fun and the stuff I heard on the radio (large headphones) about war was not so fun. In a lot of ways I suppose I didn’t feel worthy of my position in life when others around the world were suffering so much. I snowboard for a living, or, I used to. It was my lively hood and I felt dumpy about it at that time with what was on the news. Life isn’t fair. Hell, it seemed really good to me, but I didn’t feel I deserved such a posh lifestyle. It’s a humbling graphic. Everybody poops. I hope folks didn’t take the design expression the wrong way. In hindsight, what I / the world needed was a metaphorical, spiritual, and healing “Parka”, to be draped over me / us to keep me / us warm and protected from the bitter, cold, and war torn world. We have a big Parka on here in America. Folks were fighting and dying while I was snowboarding and getting paid for it. Crazy world. I like it, but it’s crazy. The graphic can be looked at in a lot of ways. Shit happens. I think the following year we (K2, Travis Kennerly Parker, and Nemo Designs) designed the “Wild Style” graphic. I’m not extremely formally educated. I’m a snowboarder, cross country skier, and an artist, among other things. I like to have fun and be creative and I’m very fortunate and thankful for this every day.
“Without wide boards, us big-footed people would still be segregated and considered second class snowboarders. There may have never been a Marc Frank Montoya, Scotty Lago or Mikkel Bang.” – Chris Engelsman
Evolutionary once again, K2 snowboarding opened up a side of the industry that has become a standard today. As the poster child for the Fat Bob I felt it was crucial to get Chris Engelsman’s thoughts on what the Fat Bob meant for snowboarding. Here’s what he had to say.
“Before the Fat Bob, you could only chose a board by it’s length to match with your height. Once the Fat Bob came out people could choose boards based on their foot size which is important because we’re standing sideways… not straight like skiers. It’s ironic that a ski company would be the first to come out with the variable width story…”
“I was no longer inadvertently falling due to booting out on my toes and heels. I could finally shred like the rest of my friends with small feet, and power turns like Jean Nerva and Peter Bower.”
Don’t follow Farmer! Yeah that’s right I said it and so have many others around the snowboard community. Shawn Farmer is a snowboarding icon who, to this day, shreds harder than most pros half his age. Back in ’93 Shawn was one of few who took Alaska by the horns and came out alive. Without guides, Farmer and his crew of mad men destroyed pow lines which are just now being discovered by the general public. We caught up with Farmer recently for some insight on his pro model from back in the day.
“Inspired by hotrod cartoons from the seventies the graphic portrays an out of control tractor dude and cow print because cow print is timeless. Additionally, this was one of the first pintails… which I really didn’t understand at the time… now I ride a pin tail most of the time; that and the Gyrator which is pretty sick in the pow.”
Check out the video of Farmer and our homie Nick Perata smashing pow lines in Alaska, vintage style.
How’s it going suckas, Pete here. In case you didn’t know, K2 Snowboarding has been in the game now for just about 25 years. During this time not only has K2 been supported by many of the industry’s top snowboarders but they’ve executed damn good work to progress the product side of our beloved sport as well.
Over the next six weeks we are going to excavate some of the fossils, taking a look at the most revolutionary moments in K2 Snowboarding’s history. Centered around influential riders and the boards they rode we’re taking a step back in time (some further than others) as a way to investigate progressive moments in snowboarding. You can look forward to the voices of Shawn Farmer, Chris Engelsman, Travis Parker, Bobby Meeks, Wille Yli-Luoma and Gretchen Bleiler walking you through board design and the inspiration behind their board graphics.
Legend big mountain rider, Shawn Farmer will be kicking things off next week. In the meanwhile, here’s one of my favorite snowboard parts of all time. SNOWBOARDING IS FUN, SO HAVE FUN SNOWBOARDING!