Set aside your Burton, Arbor or other big-name brand board; Moonchild Snowboards offer experimental designs that push boundaries for a better ride. Two symmetrical black peaks intertwined by a small diamond rests over the brand name. TMS sat down with co-founder Jure Sodja to learn more about the mission behind these unique snowboards.
Slovenia-born Jure Sodja fell in love with snowboarding in the mid-90s, but it wasn’t until 2017 that he founded Moonchild Snowboards with fellow board-builder Marcus Montgomery. Though Sodja and Montgomery knew each other online through snowboard building forums, they officially met on a bluebird day in the Austrian alps in 2017. They joined forces to produce high-quality, unique boards in an eco-friendly grassroots setting.
Moonchild’s Instagram bursts with clean shots of shredded snow and colorful boards, often featuring riders like the pink-clad Sanni Oksanen. As a result, it’s difficult to choose a standout design. From the flat rocker Spatula, shaped like its kitchen utensil namesake, to the directional all-mountain Popsicle modeled after the melting dessert, Moonchild’s repertoire features a production series, a one-of-a-kind series and a custom series.
They’ve even designed a split board in collaboration with Swedish snowboarding luminary Johan Olofsson. Whether you’re a pro or a recreational snowboarder, Moonchild’s boards offer a fun and easy ride suited for various terrain. But unlike a conventional snowboard, the experience will surprise you.
The beginnings of Moonchild
Educated as an aviation engineer and heavy machinery designer, Sodja used his knowledge to pursue his passion.
“After several years at my regular job, I started asking myself what would I do if money were no object,” says Sodja. “The obvious answer was something involving snowboarding. Some months later, I got a job at Elan Snowboards in the R&D department.
“I thought it would be my dream job, but I quit after one month. Building snowboards for others like they wanted wasn’t freedom for me, and I wasn’t happy. Right afterward, I started reading online literature on how to make a snowboard at home with simple tools. I finished my first handmade board in December 2015.”
Why support small brands?
As a rule, small brands need your support. They don’t have the funding or the following that established, bigger names in the industry do. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth the extra time to find.
Small brands are often sustainable shopping alternatives, and they are usually a bit more engaged with their customers. Often owned by snowboarders who want to share their passion, smaller snowboard brands produce boards that showcase their love of the sport. You’re more likely to get your money’s worth when you invest in up-and-coming brands that are still producing and designing on a smaller scale.
“The smaller brands have more space to explore,” says Sodja. “Bigger brands have to stay on the safe side and produce what sells, as they are producing snowboards in bigger quantities. Smaller brands usually come out with something completely new and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. If it doesn’t work, there is not a big infrastructure and a lot of people involved behind it, and the damage is not so big. But when it works, progress in the industry can be made.”
The design process
If you scroll through Moonchild’s website or Instagram, you’ll likely find boards that make you smile and think. Why an ice cream cone? How does it ride in comparison to other boards? How would it perform well in powder? How did they come up with that idea? Are they beginner-friendly boards?
“Inspiration to design a new board usually comes from the outside world,” says Sodja. “If you want to create something different, you shouldn’t watch products from your branch too much. I can get inspiration from a song, airplane, dream, suggestion… At first, it looks silly, but then you start thinking that it would be possible to make a unique and functional snowboard. When I have a new shape in my mind, I make a 3D model on the computer and adjust it until it looks good to me. Of course, it has to be functional too.
“I compare the shape to my previous shapes, and I can predict how the board will ride before starting building it,” explains Sodja. “Then I start building it with simple tools in my prototype workshop. It takes quite a lot of time. Shapes that ride the best and are most wanted by our audience we build in an OEM factory as production snowboards.”
Sodja’s favorite board design is the snowboard shaped like an ice cream cone pictured above (far left), an idea suggested by his 8-year-old niece.
“I thought it was a silly idea, but it ended up being my favorite board. It is really wide in the front and narrow in the back, so it floats amazingly in pow. It is also very quick from edge to edge on hardpack … I am building a newer version with some adjustments at the moment. I believe it can become a game-changer.”
If you’re not sold on the more experimental boards, smaller riders of every skill level should check out the production series Popsicle board, which sticks with the ice cream theme. Its original design doesn’t deviate from convention as much as the other prototypes.
Maintaining eco-friendly practices
“Maintaining eco-friendly practices in the industry is not easy,” says Sodja. “There is a lot of marketing about eco-friendly materials, like eco resins, top sheets… In the end, nothing is eco.”
Sodja advocates buying fewer products, which means those products must be timeless and high-quality. “You don’t need to buy a new snowboard every season just because there is a new graphics design,” argues Sodja.
“We don’t change graphics on boards every season. We don’t want to give out the message to the people that if you have an old snowboard, you don’t fit in anymore. Newer snowboard brands are usually doing the same as we do – keeping one graphic design for several years. It is a common practice in skateboarding as well. They don’t have seasonal graphics. Why [is it the] snowboarding industry shouldn’t follow?”
Moonchild Snowboards in the future
“At the moment, we are still at the beginning of our path,” says Sodja. “We are officially only two snowboard builders behind the company, but there are so many other people all over the world who are stoked about what we are doing. They are helping us with building, demos, logistics, suggestions, test rides, promotions.
“We are really grateful to have them … Snowboarding is [all about] connecting creative people who like recreation in beautiful nature.”
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