Editors Note: After hearing some great reviews and a steady stream of social media buzz we reached out to OZ Snowboards‘s owner Adam Browning to get the low down on his Colorado based company.
Take us back to the beginning, before OZ Snowboards. How did you get wrapped up in snowboarding in the 80’s?
When I was in high school my dad worked for a contractor and was moved from Denver to Aspen to build a hotel. I had skied many times so I was super stoked to move to Aspen. When I arrived all my new friends were riding snowboards. At that time it was a very new sport. I took 1 run on a snowboard and was instantly addicted! I sold all my ski equipment and bought a used snowboard and used my dads Sorrel boots because they didn’t make snowboard boots at that time. I still have my board, a 1985 Kemper mini rampage. At that time the only mountain in the area that would let us snowboard was Aspen Highlands. Aspen Mountain, Buttermilk and Snowmass banned snowboarding. Aspen high school gave us free passes and we would ride everyday after school or build kickers behind my house. I have been riding now for 25 years and still love it like it was first day on the hill.
I heard that you had thoughts of starting your own company for almost 15 years, what pushed you to follow through with your dream?
Starting a snowboard company takes a significant amount of money and time. It’s always been my plan to start a snowboard company but I never had the resources. In 2009 I invented a plumbing product that has been pretty successful. That product success has allowed me the time and money to pursue my dream of manufacturing snowboards full time.
It’s interesting to see the list of standard construction features on OZ Snowboards. Other manufactures may use some of these features as upgrades or only include them in their high-end boards. Why is this?
When I started OZ one of my core principles was to build a better snowboard. My philosophy has always been to put only the best components in every board. Those decisions are not based on maximizing our profit but maximizing the quality of our boards. Deciding to use environmentally conscious materials and processes, manufacturing our boards in Colorado, using full carbon fiber, using full length poplar cores all tie into my belief of building boards that make our riders better and not letting the cost of materials govern our designs.
With all of OZ Snowboards boards utilizing carbon fiber construction, how do they ride compared to fiberglass boards?
Carbon is an amazing product! It is lighter, stronger and more responsive then fiberglass. When I started OZ I tested many different fabrics including Kevlar, carbon fiber, fiberglass and combinations of the three. Pure carbon fiber was by far superior in ride quality. The most surprising characteristic is the responsiveness. It rides like a “smarter” board. It allows you to flex but then pops back and provides stiffness when you need it most. Most people think our boards are going to be stiff. They actually flex just like fiberglass but better. Once I decided on pure carbon I experimented with many different qualities and grades. I ended up choosing an aerospace grade triax carbon fiber. It’s the same stuff they build commercial jets from. We only use the best components in our snowboards.
It’s great to see the addition of a third splitboard model next season. What role does splitboarding play within OZ Snowboards?
Splitboarding plays a huge role at OZ. Splitboards now make up the majority of snowboards we build. Riding in the backcountry is my passion and maybe that is why OZ has naturally gravitated towards a splitboard company. I really love that there is so much opportunity in splitboard product technology right now. Every year the sport makes huge leaps in equipment advances. I think there is a lot more room for improvement from the splitboard and I am excited to be a part of that. I have some crazy ideas rolling around in my head that I am trying to figure out how to build. They will be cool!
Can you tell us about your snow shedding topsheet material?
In an effort to make our splits better last year we started testing different top sheet materials. We came across a new textured top sheet material from a local ski builder. They loved how durable the product was and made their skis looks super cool. We tested it on splits and loved how it performed. Specifically for splits it made our top sheets more durable and noticed it seemed to shed the snow extremely well. It’s a clear poly with a random rounded texture to it. The rounded texture of the topsheet keeps snow from binding up and sticking to the board. All of our splits this year have been manufactured with the new top sheet material and the consensus is it’s a winner!
It’s great to see you working with artists such as Nicole Bishopp and doing custom pieces such as the Splitlicker. Do riders have the ability to pick and choose their graphics or supply their own?
Yes! In fact, we have designed a killer new web application called the CusomOzer that we are launching this summer that will allow buyers to fully customize their splitboard from a top sheet design, base design, sidewall color, add custom text, clip style, and splitboard shape. You can select from existing top sheet designs or you can design your own. We will build it in under 3 weeks with a full carbon fiber layup for only $850. The app will be available on our website or at www.customozer.com this summer.
With Backcountry riders like Mike Meru and Justin Ibarra, you’ve got some real go-getters on your team. What does OZ Snowboards look for in a team rider?
First off, let me say we are so stoked on all our riders this year! These guys are top notch and I would put them up against any riders from the big companies.
We look for grassroots riders that will test our splits in the most extreme conditions on a routine basis. Our riders are our product testers and designers. I tell all of them to push the limits of our boards and give me feedback. We take those suggestions and tweak our designs. I want to make sure that the splits we build will excel in every condition. As you have seen on our social media posts these guys put our boards in some of the most extreme conditions! I love watching what they do. I look at OZ as a collaboration company we all are in it to make better splitboards. The riders deserve a lot of the credit when it comes to our splitboard designs.
What does OZ Snowboards do to limit its environmental impacts?
One of our core principles is to be an environmentally conscious manufacturer. Our factory is 100% powered by the wind, we use USDA certified bio resins sourced from the waste stream of industrial processes, we use recycled plastics in every snowboard and we recycle all of our scraps.
Anything else that people should know about OZ?
With the growing number of backcountry riders we are trying to do our part to help educate people on the dangers of riding in the backcountry. Last year we lost our team rider George Dirth to an avalanche and it has been devastating. We offer a free avalanche class in the fall, donate to CAIC events and plan on doing much more for avalanche safety in 2015-2016. George’s mother created an avalanche scholarship fund that we sponsor. If anyone is interested please check out this site to apply: George-Dirth-Memorial-AIARE-Scholarship