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PartnerNews | New brand mr.splitboards

The essence of splitboarding

by Eliane Droemer • 10/23/2020
Simon Graf, splitboarder from the very beginning, is launching three self-developed shapes this season with his newly founded label mr.splitboards: All MNT, High MNT and Powder MNT. He draws on over 20 years of experience in the industry. Wait - splitboards already existed 20 years ago? Yes, but the beginnings were adventurous! In this interview, Simon talks about his drive and we find out more about the history of splitboarding.

Eliane Droemer: 20 years ago, around the turn of the millennium, you were already standing on a split board? Where did that come from?

Simon Graf: I went through the relatively common evolution of skier - snowboarder - ski tourer, in the absence of a functioning system for touring snowboarders. Snowshoes were not an option for me. In 1999, I was one of the first in Europe to go on tour with a 2-piece splitboard from Voilé. I was immediately convinced of the potential of this splitboard from Utah, USA, and its system: easy to use, robust, reliable. A potential that 3 or 4-piece splitboards never had in my opinion. With the two-piece, my back remains free of equipment on the ascent that I would only need for the descent. And on the descent, the two-piece gives me the most stable version of a touring snowboard that is technically possible.

And these splitboards from Voilé have brought the breakthrough?

There was still a long way to go. I became a partner in Voilé Europe, a small company that started importing the 2-piece splitboards from the USA in 1999. The first few years were hard work to convince people. Snowboarders were very skeptical about splitboards. We had to get them on the board - and that was only possible directly on the mountain. We spent many weekends in the ski resorts and offered test boards. The lack of developments from other manufacturers didn't make our work any easier.

Sounds like a dry spell...

Yes, it was hard work. But the Voilé splitboards with their robust and extremely reliable binding system worked. However, the breakthrough was a long time coming. In 2005, we were only able to sell around 150 splitboards in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. An economic disaster. My partner at Voilé Europe left, but my faith in the market success of the 2-piece splitboard remained unshaken. Voilé began to offer licenses for their binding system at low prices. A ray of hope! When Burton Snowboards finally switched its languishing splitboard division to the Voilé system, things slowly started to pick up. Now more and more manufacturers began to build splitboards. I also promoted the splitboard on challenging tours, for example on Piz Buin.

Does that mean splitboards have been fully-fledged alpine touring equipment for a few years now?

Absolutely! Spark was the first company to exclusively build splitboard bindings. This important and decisive economic breakthrough for splitboards was announced as early as 2010. From this year onwards, there were more and lighter bindings, lighter splitboards and a large selection of shapes. Today, a good lightweight splitboard is lighter than a comparable freeride touring ski - and both perform very well on and off piste. The goal has been achieved, the splitboard is easy to ride in all types of snow, fully functional on the ascent and easy to convert.

How did you ensure that splitboarding became more popular?

The test weekends in various ski resorts for Voilé Europe turned into camps lasting several days. I built a hut in the snowy Montafon back in 2004. The splitboard base of the Alps can be found at Hundreds of snowboarders have already become splitboarders here! Here they can try out different products, get rid of all their questions and experience their first tours.

Since my interest has long been in cross-brand products and Voilé Europe was dissolved in 2006, I founded the individual company Splitboards Europe in March 2007, including a store for equipment and camps. It was precisely this valuable practical testing of all material that came onto the market that led to developing into Europe's largest store for splitboard material. Only the best equipment that my team and I have intensively tested ourselves is included here.

Where do the camps take place and who can take part?

We now start with the camp in Hintertux in the fall and by spring there are over 20 splitboard camps throughout the Alps, as well as in Kyrgyzstan and the Pyrenees. Many are for beginners, but we also have DAV training camps through to the Alpine Camps to learn independent tour planning.

And then there's Climb-the-Mountain, the annual scene get-together in Europe, which we've always wanted to use to strengthen the community. In the beginning, it was just a handful of die-hards, but today around 100 splitboarders meet up every year on the Bielerhöhe in the Silvretta. Supported by leading manufacturers, brand new equipment can be tested here. Immediate feedback guaranteed!

100 splitboarders at a test event is remarkable - what has brought mr.splitboards to the peak of success, apart from your persistence?

I have simply listened a lot. I benefit from the feedback of so many enthusiastic snowboarders of all skill levels in over 20 years as a tour guide. A wealth of experience that is now bearing fruit in my own splitboard line mr.splitboards. At some point, someone said "Mr. Splitboards" to me ... and that's how it stuck. My experience made me "mr.splitboards" and that's now also the name of the registered brand.

You know so much material from so many brands - what did you miss that you are now bringing out three of your own shapes under the name mr.splitboards?

Every manufacturer has their own unique idea, which they implement consistently. As I am constantly on the mountain with each target group, I combine the features that have crystallized for the respective area of use and the respective requirements and which are most important to me.

How do the three models differ? Please characterize them with one sentence each.

mr.splitboards ALL MNT in 163 and 166: Has already been on the market for 3 years and has laid the foundation for the mr.splitboard shapes. The All Mountain is the all-rounder at an affordable price.

mr.splitboards HIGH MNT in length 165: The name says it all. Lightweight construction with maximum riding fun in harmony with the best possible ascent characteristics.

mr.splitboards POWDER MNT in length 172: Lightweight construction with 100% big turns feeling and very good ascent performance.

Where are the boards made?

The mr.splitboards are designed in Rosenheim and until now the boards have been produced in cooperation with the Canadian manufacturer PRIOR. However, I have decided that my boards don't have to fly around the world but can just as well be produced regionally and so the board tests of a promising German production will start in the fall.

You can be curious. Thanks for the insight into the history! We will soon be presenting one of the mr.splitboard shapes in a detailed test.

Shop & Camps:


Great test event:

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This article has been automatically translated by DeepL with subsequent editing. If you notice any spelling or grammatical errors or if the translation has lost its meaning, please write an e-mail to the editors.

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