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Looking around the ISPO tradeshow earlier this year there was one thing we really noticed about the range of snowboards being released for the 2013/14 season: the shapes are getting weirder.
Over the past few years, we'd noticed some brands having their own little 'bit on the side' and messing about with experimental shapes, taper, cutouts, swallowtail, width. But this year, the sheer number of strange shapes was remarkable.
As a glance our Top 40 Snowboards of 2013-14 will show you, it's now official: Weirdly shaped boards are no longer a niche - they are part of the mainstream.
Here are 11 of the strangest shapes we saw at ISPO this year...
[part title="Bataleon Camel Toe"]
Bataleon have designed the Camel Toe (pictured right) to tear it up in the powder. Built with their trademark TBT, this has the highest and broadest TBT of any Bataleon board and this means massive float.
What makes this board different, however, is the tapered shape, with a cutout tail and a huge nose making it almost a surfboard on snow. A setback stance puts the weight over your back foot, keeping the nose nice and high and giving your turns a gas pedal effect.
My favourite feature, however, is the free Camel Toe T-shirt you get when order online - a sure conversation starter at the bar.
[part title="Burton Trick Pony"]
This is a brand new Burton model this year and although the graphics aren't going to set the world alight, the shape is definitely noteworthy. There's theory behind the madness too. Taking the pointed tip and tail from a freeride board and boshing it on a freestyle-orientated board results in freeride-style float even when you're riding switch. Park and pow, all in one board.
What that means is that if you're a park rider who likes to tear it through the backcountry like John Jackson as well, you can't go far wrong with one of these strapped to your feet.
[part title="Capita Ultrafear"]
The angular tip and tail of the Capita Ultrafear will strike fear into other riders. It's aggressive and straight-edged and pointy and this all adds up to inevitable doom. Scary, huh? They've even put their merchant of Death base graphic on their to scare people when you're airborne.
Whilst it might not be as whacky as some of the others out there, the angular tip and tail means that you'll be arcing like a pro on those wide turns through powder. Phil Jacques rides one, and he's a devil on the slopes!
Dupraz have been making 'surfboards for snow' since 1984, so it's only right we feature one of these pioneer boards in the collection.
The 6'3 Every D is a Happy D pictured above is for your trademark big powder days. Each board is handmade, stiff but with lightening acceleration, making this the go-to board for those looking for straight lines and steep faces.
We reckon this board wouldn't look out of place bobbing off the coast of Hawaii.
[part title="Endeavor Archetype"]
The Archetype is Endeavor's lightest board, reserved for those monumental pow days when it dumps and dumps and you need something that will be all-conquering, all day. The sawllowtail on this is what sets it apart from the rest of the gang.
The swallowtail allows the rear of the board to sink into soft powder, allowing the nose to lift with ultra-floatation and to cut down on the dreaded back-leg burn.
The advantages of having a sinked tail is having the capability for tight, controlled turns, so those tree-lined powder runs will never be the same again after blasting around on one of these.
[part title="Fawcett Woodies"]
The Surf-Num (left) and the Trad-Pow (right) are Fawcett's input into the strange shape game. These short boards are pretty much skateboards on snow. Designed to be ridden with or without bindings, you have the potential for kickflips and varials in the morning, and huge methods in the afternoon.
Massively tapered to keep you on top of the snow, the relatively short design allows for easy turns but most importantly, great fun on the soft stuff.
[part title="Head Evil-I"]
Head are one company that are making their debut in the experimental shapes market. They've gone for a tip and tail cutout they've fittingly named the Hammerhead (very clever, Head). It's a similar idea to the Slash series Gigi Ruf has put his name to. The main aim of the design is to do away with unnecessary weight. Who needs a full tip and tail when riding rails?
The result is an ultra-light jib-stick, perfect for hitting rails. It's also got a sick graphic from Head's very own rail slider Alex Tank.
[part title="Lobster Nosejob"]
You might be forgiven for looking at the Lobster Nosejob and expecting to find it sold in a joke shop somewhere. But whilst this board presents you with the pretty appealing opportunity to cut your own shape into the tip and tail, it also performs pretty rad too.
Packed with Bataleon's TBT (it's built in the same factory), you get a super soft (Flex rating of 2) jib-tastic customisable board. What else do you want in life?
Eiki Helgason (pictured here with the board) and his brother Halldor have even chucked in a few templates for you to consider, notably a pair of boobs, bum cheeks or a penis. The choice is yours, nd if you want to get creative and put in your own design like Eiki here then that's all good too!
[part title="Nitro Quiver"]
The Nitro Quiver, pictured centre, is a massively tapered swallowtail board that is responsive and quick, just like the Endeavor Archetype, meaning that it's perfect for getting the most out of the trees. It comes in at 154 so it's typically shorter than your regular powder boards but this only adds to the control and manoeuvrability when you're in a tight spot.
And just look at that design, sleek and stylish in all-white, very tidy indeed.
[part title="Slash Happy Place"]
It's a freestyle board with the ability to perform on every part of the mountain. With a cutout tip and tail like the Evil-I, it's light but due to its "snap, crackle and pop" core, it's also mega-sturdy, allowing for maximum pop. You really can slash the whole mountain on this thing.
[part title="YES 420"]
This board is nothing short of revolutionary. it comes in a one-size-fits-all model, sitting at a teeny-weeny 148.
148 FOR A GROWN MAN? I hear you say. Yes, you heard right. Yes, 148 for a grown man. And Yes, it's pretty awesome.
Remember the Endeavor Archetype? That was a relatively short board. made for tight turns. This is even shorter, meaning even tighter turns and uber-manoeuvrability.
The guys at Yes Snowboards got the inspiration from a 'fish' surfboard - a super-thick, super-wide, super-short board with a huge tail and a rounded nose, designed to catch smaller waves that other, longer boards wouldn't.
Take all of those characteristics and put them in a snowboard and the 420 is what you get. Short, wide and thick and designed to be the most fun thing going in the deep stuff.