Snowboarding and snow surfing differ in board style and design, for sure, but they also diverge when it comes to mindset, riding style, culture, and the ultimate experience of the ride. Eager for a more mature, nuanced way of riding, Elevated Surf Craft Founder Aaron Lebowitz turned away from the Thrasher skateboarding culture that has been closely associated with snowboarding in western nations, and instead pursued a surfing experience on snow that arose in Japan. Now, Aaron designs boards to offer a higher experience of surfing on snow, one where there is harmony between the terrain, the conditions, the board, and the rider. Below, he explains how others can make a transition towards this experience, where his passion for innovation stems from, and what is next for Elevated Surf Craft.
How do most riders make the transition from skateboarding on snow to surfing on snow?
Over the past 25 years, the general practice of snowboarding has been in the skateboard realm, appealing to beginners, intermediates, and some experts. This style is founded on the goal of survival, meaning getting down the mountain safely and enjoyably. Furthermore, they think that the height of performance is tricks and competition, showing off their ego and youthfulness. Many people who have ridden like this for years want to focus now on how they are riding and how cleanly they can ride, meeting the demands of the snow and the terrain. When it comes to snow surfing, a mature riding experience requires letting go of the mindset that your board should follow the commands of your will.
When a board is designed with a purpose and a unique character, the rider’s best skill is not in making the board do what the rider wants, but rather listening to what the board wants to do and working with that - Aaron Lebowitz
Instead of a rider bossing the board around, forcing the experience, they listen to the board and the way it wishes to move, like a surfer responding to a wave rolling, rising, and fading. While the GoldFish snowboard bobs and weaves on the snow the way its animal counterpart real goldfish might, the Redtail Hawk snowboard soars and dives like a true hunting bird. The boards offer different rides and experiences and are not meant to be controlled, but rather appreciated.
Where do Elevated Surf Craft’s best snowboard innovations come from?
They come from a necessity. Every time he rides, Aaron looks for issues and shortcomings, searching for ways to improve the board’s performance and ability to capture an experience. He tests out new hypotheses daily, attempting to match different boards with the varying terrain and conditions, paying attention to his emotional response as well. Through this process, he is activated while riding, focusing on artistry and determining what improvements are necessary.
Each micro innovation allows for another element of performance - Aaron Lebowitz
While many riders speed past him, racing each other and showing off tricks, Aaron is dialed in on the marriage between design and the flow of surfing on snow. Additionally, he looks towards surfboard development over the past 60 years and the changes that allowed the surfer to engage with the wave differently. Aaron’s constant pursuit of innovation heightens his experience, allowing him to be thinking and experiencing at the same time. The upshot of his unique way of riding is Elevated Surf Craft’s collection of custom designed boards and the experience each one delivers.
What’s a promising new innovation or product for Elevated Surf Craft?
Aaron’s experimenting has yielded new and necessary innovations that are soon to be released. For example, Aaron has recently noticed that there is a gap of equipment in size 12-16 boot, as it is a small demographic so big brands only give an option or two a year. However, this issue causes riders within that size boot range to drag their toes in the snow, restricting their snow surfing experience. To remove that concern for riders, Aaron created The Salmon snowboard, a wider and taller fish that is a great powder board tailored to suit the often overlooked riders with larger boots. With this board, Aaron hopes to give these riders an enhanced ride where they can feel the snow and board in harmony, undisturbed by toe drag. In the end, innovation is all about opening experiences to those ready for something beyond what they already know.
Aaron thinks the past year, with all its social distancing and restrictions from the pandemic, actually helped many people rediscover nature and the positive role outdoor activities play in human health and emotional well-being. His goal is to help as many of these new outdoor enthusiasts experience the thrill and harmony of snow surfing, an experience that has sustained him and driven him to pursue the perfect board for the perfect ride.