Cy Twombly on a snow-covered mountain? Yeah, it doesn’t make a lot of sense at first, but Corey Smith doesn’t really care about what makes sense. His snowboards seem to defy the rules of shredding, but in the right conditions they slash the mountain harder than you can imagine.
In addition to shaping snowboards, Smith is also a multi-media artist, with paintings, photographs, sculptures, videos and a year’s worth of rock songs in his portfolio. His boards follow his all-over-the-map creativity, taking inspiration from the seemingly disparate genres of science fiction and contemporary art, and even pulling from Beetlejuice on occasion.
Smith applies more than ten years in traditional snowboard shaping to re-imagine the equipment. Here he talks with us a bit about how his boards tear up the mountain and what snowboarding is really all about.
How did you get into building your own snowboards?
I’ve been helping develop traditional snowboards for over 10 years with CAPiTA snowboards and last winter I just decided to get really experimental with some powder shapes. I realized that a traditional snowboard shape isn’t ideal for deep snow conditions and that wider larger shapes not only rode better but it was a completely different snowboarding experience. I was in Tahoe last winter and it didn’t snow for a month so I decided to try and build some primitive snowboards with experimental shapes. Fortunately we got hit with some record breaking snowfall and I was able to try out the boards in some really great snow.
What the best part about making your own boards?
Unlimited freedom to create any shape you want is great, as well as the satisfaction of riding on something you built. I’ve ridden literally hundreds if not thousands of production snowboards throughout the years and nothing compares to the feeling of gliding through open powder on a board you made with your own hands.
How do you find they perform differently then a traditional snowboard? What materials are you finding work best for you?
Well, to begin with they are strictly designed for powder riding. There are no metal edges and they have reverse camber throughout the shape and reverse side cut. The boards are tricky to ride in any kind freestyle or technical terrain aspect. They are specifically designed for ripping deep powder. They float way better because of the size and shape so they don’t bog down ever. Even on really mellow terrain they still float and go fast. The best part is creating huge slashes in the snow. Because of the size they push so much snow when you turn. I’ve thrown up the biggest slashes of my life on these boards. As far as construction I only use wood and fiberglass. I’ve experimented with a few shapes and I’ve found the pill shapes work best with either the swallow tail or the powder hole. The powder hole works just like a swallow tail in that it allows the tail of the board to sink in powder but it doesn’t wash-out at high speeds and you can wheelie up on the tail when you need to which you can’t do on a swallow tail.
As far as design, where are you pulling from for the shapes and features?
Many of my shapes come from old vintage surf board and snowboard shapes. Some of the boards are purely conceptual like the spider web swallow tail “Witch Hat” and some of the other 8′ shapes.
How many boards have you made? Which works the best?
I’ve probably made about 30 boards so far. Like I said the Pill shapes work best, derivatives of the “Beetlejuice” shape.
Where do you look for inspiration for your boards outside of the snowboard world?
It really just depends. I’ve come up with shapes from Sci-Fi movies and contemporary art as well as just talking with friends about what would be an interesting board to ride. My friend Alex Scott and I just came up with a wild shape that has powder slots around the perimeter of the edge. It’s going to look like it came out of 2020 if you lived in 1970 haha!
Are you seeing more people trying to make their own boards? Or is it something that you think will only be done by a small group of people?
It’s hard to say. I think you need to be someone who’s already explored all aspects of snowboarding to be willing to have an open mind and try something new. I’ve been actively snowboarding for over 17 years so I definitely feel like I’ve been there done that. Contemporary snowboarding is getting to a point where it’s becoming more and more like ariel acrobatic skiiing and staged skateboard tricks. I don’t think most snowboarders will be able to identify with that kind of riding. I think people will look more for snowboarding opportunities that involve fun and pleasure rather than getting gnarly all the time. I think powder boards allow you to get out in the snow and enjoy nature and hike with your friends and enjoy snowboarding in a different way. All of the snowboarding in our video we shot just off the side of the road in Tahoe with the exception of a few shots which involved day hikes. I think a lot of people will start looking for different ways to enjoy snowboarding and I think riding powder is the best thing you can do on a snowboard. You can really see a person’s style too when they’re riding powder, you have to have a little finesse rather than just landing tricks or whatever. Like I say if you’re just worried about landing tricks then you’re missing out on the best parts of riding a snowboard.
What other art forms are you involved in?
I try my hand at all types of creative mediums from photography, to painting, sculpture, and video. You can check out my artwork at www.coreysmithtimetravel.com
How does your other art translate into snowboarding and vice versa?
I grew up skateboarding and snowboarding and messing around with surfing and I’ve always felt they are a physical manifestations of creativity. Just another medium to express yourself. It can’t be judged or scored or really appreciated other than by people who are truly passionate about it. I think my snowboards are functional art. Each one is unique and hand made by me, no different than a gallery piece.