At Elevated Surf Craft, Aaron Lebowitz is designing snowboards with one goal in mind, to surf the snow. This concept isn’t new, as surfing on snow was the original intention of Dimitrije Milovich of Winterstick and Tom Sims of Sims Snowboards with lineage that continued to flourish in Japan and Europe. However, over the years, this style of riding took a back seat in the US to the growing popularity of Freestyle SkateStyle.
Aaron has studied snow surfing and created a brand that perfectly encapsulates the true values of this style. Snow surfing combines the shape, style, and flow of surfing, with the rugged terrain of the mountain, but instead of just going from point A to point B, snow surfing is all about flowing with the mountain. Similar to how surfers see the ocean, this approach allows you to see the mountain as a wave, become one with the board, and take full advantage of mother nature’s glory. One aspect of surfing that has translated into snow surfing is the quiver theory and the importance of having the ideal board for the right mountain. Aaron is an expert in quiver theory and in creating unique boards that will take a riders’ quiver to the next level.
How would you define or describe quiver theory and how do you apply it to snowboarding?
In the simplest of terms, quiver theory is about having the right tool for the right job. No question, riders will get the most out of their ride using the proper vessel for their journey.
It’s about finding the balance between:
- The terrain (how steep and how shallow, obstacle maneuverability)
- The conditions (groomer or powder)
- The rider style (thrashing or making one singular turn)
To understand quiver theory in a different sense, consider a golfer and the golf clubs they have in their bag. A golfer needs different clubs for different conditions and situations. Golfers tend to use a driver when they tee off, but use putters when they need to nudge the ball into the hole. It’s the same concept here. Using boards that are built with groomers in mind won’t perform as well in fresh powder, and vice versa. It’s imperative that riders assess the conditions they are in, and choose a board that will work best. It’s all about using the right board for the right mountain.
The idea of quiver theory stems from the history of surfing. Surfers realized many years ago that one board may not be ideal for all conditions or waves they may encounter. In turn, surfers began to create and collect different types of boards to account for speed, turning, and cutting, which resulted in the development of the longboard, short board, and thruster board. This collection of different boards is what is called a quiver. The purpose of a quiver is to have boards to accommodate the specific conditions of the wave, or mountain, as well as the mood of the rider.
The original goal for surfers was to stand on a board, stay afloat, and ride all the way down the wave. This goal is still at the core of surfing and snowboarding alike, but having a fully formed quiver allows riders to truly experience that ride down the wave. Building up a quiver is something anyone can do, and is a goal that is easy to achieve. It isn’t about bringing six different boards to the mountain, but having that one board that is different from anything else. It’s about having those unique boards so when the conditions are just right, riding down that wave is truly something special.
At Elevated Surf Craft, Aaron has created a quiver of boards to match almost any type of terrain or condition. For example, The Log snowboard is a very long and flat board, based on the longboard surfboard, with the goal of gliding and pivot turns. The board is perfect in low angle terrain and fits the mood of a rider that just wants to cruise along the mountain. On the other hand, The Goldfish snowboard is all about maneuverability. This short and wide board is made for low angle float and shallow terrain, and is perfect for weaving in between trees and making quick turns. It’s all about having a selection of boards that suit the particular type of wave or mountain.
“My goal was to create a collection of different shapes so riders can express themselves in different ways.” — Aaron Lebowitz
How does your surfing mentality factor into the design process and quiver theory?
Having a quiver allows riders to choose a board that is right, at that moment. The goal of staying in the pocket, tailoring to the trim line, and carving up the wave stays the same, but the real fun comes when you use the right board for the right wave— or mountain!
Surfing and fin design are at the heart of the design process, and what makes these boards feel like a true surfing experience. According to Aaron, “It’s not about working down the mountain, it’s about working across the mountain and connecting with the forces of nature, which has been a mindset used by surfers for centuries.”
In the snowboard design process, how do you decide what terrain or rider to focus on?
As a seasoned rider himself, Aaron has encountered a plethora of different terrains and conditions on a number of different mountains. However, when it comes to designing boards, Aaron goes beyond his personal desire and researches the entirety of the spectrum. His ideas come out of necessity. To Aaron, it’s imperative to consider:
- Obstacle maneuverability
- Speed control
- Angle of float
- Groomer or Powder
And more importantly, focusing on a performance driven rider with:
- More experience
- An appreciation for attention to detail
- Goes out 30+ times a year
“It’s all about maximizing the purpose of the board, with no sacrifices, to achieve the ride of your life.” — Aaron Lebowitz
Why is quiver theory important in snowboarding?
Traditionally, beginner or intermediate riders use a one-size fits all board, called the all-mountain board. These are suitable for all conditions and places, however, when it comes to experienced riders that want a special ride, these boards tend to come up short.
The all-mountain boards are made with the idea of performing with all conditions in mind. They work well in a variety of different places, and for a variety of people. They can perform in fresh powder or on steep terrain, but there is still something missing. These boards tend to have a lot of drag, don’t perform as well in deep snow, and just don't have the crispness of a well-designed board with a particular condition in mind. In this case, one-size-fits-all isn’t the way to go.
Experienced riders shouldn’t have to settle for an average board, which is why quiver theory is so important. The board you choose to ride on should excel in whatever condition it’s being used in, not just do an average job. Quiver theory was created to enhance the riders experience down the wave, or mountain, and maximise the conditions the mountain presents to the rider.
“They do a lot of things right, but they don’t do one thing really well”. — Aaron Lebowitz
Although having an all mountain snowboard is an important part of a riders’ quiver, it doesn’t come without sacrifice. This shortcoming in all-mountain snowboards is where Elevated Surf Craft thrives, and quiver theory truly comes into play. Elevated Surf Craft embraces the unique aspects of mountains, and people, and creates snowboards that offer riders a complete ride. Having a fully realized quiver allows riders not only to have the proper vessel for their journey, but to also have a truly intimate experience with the mountain. When the snowboard perfectly fits the conditions and mood of the rider, the feeling is indescribable.
What is BioMimicry and how can it be applied to board design?
Biomimicry is the application of biological evolution of natural entities to human based design. Every animal and plant has developed to be best suited to a particular style of interaction with its environment to maximize survival. Elevated Surf Craft boards are shaped after creatures that are found in our natural environment, such as the red tail hawk snowboard or goldfish snowboard. With biomimicry in mind, Aaron uses their fin or wing dynamics to perfect the ability for riders to cutback, turn, pivot, and control the speed of the board. The rider “becomes the goldfish of the mountain”, flowing effortlessly through the snow.
Every snowboarder rides differently, so creating, and adding to a quiver, allows riders to truly express themselves on the mountain. Elevated Surf Craft considers different riding styles, and moods, when it comes to creating and recommending boards to add to your quiver. Aaron has boards for when riders want a chill ride, to just cruise down the mountain, for which he recommends the log snowboard. But, he also has boards for when riders have a need for speed, which is where he would recommend the MegaFish snowboard. Having boards that fit the mindset and style of the particular rider is a hugely important factor in quiver theory because it isn’t always about racing down the mountain. Sometimes riders want to take their time to connect with nature as they cascade down the mountain, and they should have the right equipment to do so.
The right tool for the Job.
Having a well-designed snowboard quiver is the perfect way to make a fresh powder day or hitting the park feel like a whole new experience. Riders aren’t expected to have a board for every single terrain in their quiver, but having a unique board, such as the ones created at Elevate Surf Craft, will bring their experience, on whatever terrain they choose, to the next level.
Perfecting a quiver is at the core of the ultimate snow-surfing experience, because no matter where you may go in the world, you’ll have the right vessel for the journey. By finding the balance between terrain, condition, and mood, Elevated Surf Craft boards allow riders to fully immerse themselves in the organic forces of nature, and have a truly unique experience that will have them looking for the next perfect mountain.