t’s been a few seasons since Korua Shapes bravely entered the snowboard scene challenging an industry already overloaded in its most conventional disciplines. Hoisting their meticulous, distinct aesthetics and unique shapes, the German brand founded by pro-riders Nicholas Wolken and Stephan Maurer keeps displaying its yearning for turning, as simple as that.
Considering the brand has been linked to carving from the get-go thanks to their video series Yearning For Turning, it could seem as though splitboarding is far from their philosophy as a brand. However, as opposed to what many of us might think, splitboarding has always been part of Korua’s identity – and they have always made it clear in some of the interviews they have given. Passion for carving, indeed, but passion for powder as well.
We can currently find four splitboard models in their catalog. Three of them are based on their favorite shape line: the Pencil, the Tranny Finder and the Dart, and a fourth splitboard specific shape: the Escalator. Who better than Nicholas Wolken to introduce their splitboard line?
Hey Nicholas, at uncertain times like these it seems inevitable to reflect on how Covid is affecting us globally. How are you guys living this at Korua?
Well we are definitely affected by the virus like everyone else, what’s been toughest for us is the closing of many ski resorts all over Europe. Luckily enough most Swiss resorts around us have remained open so we are still able to produce content. However, we have been trying to avoid crowds here as well so splitboarding has been a top of our priorities. With travel being affected we have also been enjoying exploring our local hills and it has been a trip to find some new zones nearby.
According to the feedback we are receiving from different brands, and due to the closing of ski resorts as a consequence of the pandemic, the hype around splitboarding is increasing considerably all over the planet. It is well known that crises can also bring good opportunities; are you feeling this growing interest on your splitboard range?
Yes, we are definitely surprised by the high demand! Being hooked on splitboarding personally, I am really stoked about the growth in this niche area of snowboarding. With more focus and resources of brands on splitboarding, I am excited to see the progression in boards, boots, and bindings in the coming years!
It seems as though splitboarding has definitely reached the general public. What is your take on the current European scene? And how about your country? Do splitboarders in Germany make the most of more modest local hills, or does everyone basically travel to the higher Alps?
I feel like it is growing, and am definitely seeing more people in the popular areas so I am guessing there are a lot of first timers in Europe deciding to give it a go. I think the easy access to good terrain here lowers the bar to get started. With ski touring being big in Europe it’s pretty easy to find the right tour for you with all the pre-existing infos you need. I also think that a lot of “occasional” splitboarders are focusing more on the backcountry this season and might have decided not to buy a season pass with all the uncertainty in the air. The avid splitboarders are investing more into lighter and better gear and I’ve also noticed that among my friends many are investing in AT boot setups. I have also heard worries about overcrowding and following that more secrecy about the good, but not so popular areas. Who knows we might have to deal with some localism soon?
If anything marks the difference at Korua it has to be your shapes. What is Korua’s bet on splitboarding? Who are your target riders?
We have always tried to make boards that we ourselves like and that approach has been working for us. In that sense, we are our own target group. Most of us are into riding good snow in approachable and wavy terrain, sometimes even using a lift to gain some extra altitude so a lot of our shapes are focused on that type of riding. However some of us enjoy longer approaches and bigger mountains, and that’s basically how the Escalator shape came to be. But in general our focus has and likely will continue to be on the turning performance, so approachable and easy to ride boards.
In fact, one of the distinctive features in your boards is a wider shape, more focused in riding powder, unlike standard splitboards, which are more all-around or big mountain oriented. Do you distance yourself from the concept whose priority is to arrive as far as possible to ride the most extreme lines?
I wouldn’t say we are distancing ourselves from that, and that is actually why we introduced the Escalator Split Plus last season. It is a super light board with the perfect shape for long approaches and holds an edge on steep & technical lines. It might not be our main focus, as most of us are soft snow junkies, but it is certainly not something we our distancing ourselves from.
You now have four different splitboard models on offer. Can you describe each one of them briefly? What are their specific features?
The split version of our Dart is great for drawing fresh soul turns in soft snow, be it powder, corn, or slush. It is the perfect shape for riders who are looking to focus on their turning style in the backcountry, while driving out of turns with max speed. The wide frame, along with its setback and taper, offers maximum float and a relaxed riding experience in deep conditions. The extra width also reduces toe and heel drag, enabling low carves on hard pack snow. The swallowtail offers playfulness out the back, but still has the stability and torsion you need to hold an edge throughout turns.
The versatile and robust Pencil Split is particularly suitable for short to medium-long hikes, within the resort or touring missions. It’s an all-rounder for effortless turns in all types of snow conditions. The slight swallowtail offers you some playfulness out the back, but still has the stability and torsion you need to hold an edge throughout the turn. Its taper makes it easy going from edge to edge, and the shape generally feels more reactive and short than what it appears.
Whether it’s powder or old pressed snow, the Escalator Split Plus is designed for a power-saving ascent in alpine terrain, without compromising downhill performance. This extremely light splitboard seeks long adventures deep into the backcountry. The board has a directional, slightly tapered shape, setback and a float camber profile to provide substantial lift. The nose notch prevents hang ups and the slimmer outline makes it fit better into existing skin tracks.
The versatile and robust TrannyFinder splitboard is a transition-magnet and the ultimate melting pot of freeride, freestyle and carving. It’s particularly suitable for short to medium-long hikes, within the resort or touring missions, and complements a surf inspired riding style, while allowing you to integrate freestyle in your runs. It works great for spinning off of natural features in the back- and sidecountry, like cliffs and windlips, but also holds its own on resort side-hits, allowing for easy switch landings and takeoffs with its full diamond tail.
Tell us a bit more about the Escalator, your splitboard specific shape.
It’s my personal favorite Splitboard due to its light weight and versatility. I like the fact that it’s easy to control and efficient on the way up, but it still performs in powder & hard pack snow on the way down.
Are you developing any new splitboard shapes?
We have some new stuff in the works, but it’s just a bit too early to talk about.
After Yearning For Turning’s great success, will we be able to enjoy a splitboard video series at some point? From splitboardmag, we would like to encourage you to start asap!
We are splitboarding a lot this season so chances are you will be seeing more Splitboard content from us!
That’s great to hear! We are already excited to check out new content. Thanks a lot for your time Nicholas, and let’s pray for a splitboarding season full of sweet turns and adventure.
More info at www.koruashapes.com