After catching the snowboarding craze in the 90s, Steen Strand wanted to bring his passion for carving the snow-covered hills to the sunny streets of San Francisco.
So he created a board that would do it. “It wasn’t the idea of inventing a new sport that interested me – it was the design challenge of bringing the snowboard ride to pavement that drew me in,” says Steen, a long-time skateboarder and longboarder who is the mastermind behind Freebord, the rider owned and run company. Following four years of developing prototypes in his garage, Steen’s Freebord delivers as promised. “What we hear consistently from our riders is ‘Thank you guys so much. You just made the reason why I live my life, available to me 365 days a year,’” says Bayard Winthrup of Freebord.
The Freebord looks like a large skateboard with wheels that extend beyond the board, which let riders carve down a hill with the same weightlessness and edging sensation as snowboarding. What makes it unique is the ability for riders to slide in any direction gaining more control over speed and navigation with the addition of two wheels under the deck that rotate 360 degrees. Speeding down a hill is the Freebord’s selling point, but veterans can still do it in style spinning surface 360s, floating 360 airs, riding fakie or completing railslides and stair drops.
Jon Goldfarb was blown away when he first saw a kid tearing up the streets of San Francisco, so he and Jesse Bleeman launched Freebord Canada to bring it north. “When the winter ends, everyone’s disappointed they can’t snowboard all summer. So I was just stoked on the idea of the Freebord,” says Jon. And who can resist a sport that takes away the hassle of driving to a mountain, buying a lift ticket, waiting in line and dealing with bad conditions, says Bayard. “Now people can just walk out their house and that hill that’s four blocks away that’s got nice pavement and a nice steep hill, it’s like your own private black diamond run.”
And it has with their core riders between the ages of 16-21 spreading the word over the past five years. But in the last eight months, sales and awareness sky rocketed, selling more than a thousand Freebords a year across the US, Europe, Australia and Asia. In Canada, Freebords are snatched up online and in board shops in Vancouver, Calgary and Halifax. Bayard’s psyched by the attention Freebord’s getting, but he doesn’t care if the mainstream catches on. “If a thousand core snowboarders love the Freebord or 150, 000 snowboarders or 1.5 million core snowboarders, it doesn’t really matter to me as much as having the satisfaction of delivering a product that really opens up riding and snowboarding to people all year long.”
Watch the pros spin their wheels freebording on camera at Freebord’s channel on Youtube
Written by Faze intern, Sydnia Yu