When Liz Bailey first clipped her boots into a pair of dual snowboards two months ago, she was a little skeptical. An avid snowboarder, she wasn’t quite sure how these things on her feet would change the experience of gliding down the mountain.
“I thought, ‘How am I going to do this?’” Bailey says. Like many others new to the idea of two mini boards strapped to her feet rather than one bigger one, she was worried about keeping her legs steady and about how difficult it might be to maneuver on the snow.
“It took a little bit of learning how to keep my legs together, but then I was off,” she says.
Bailey’s “first time” was not far off from those of fellow dual snowboarders Matt Chiesa and Mateo Gomez. The three Denverites work as regional directors for Dual Snowboards, the new kid on the mountain when it comes to snow sports gear. The idea behind the dual boards was hatched more than a decade ago by Californian Albert Mendoza, who envisioned individual snowboards for each foot that would utilize standard snowboard bindings. He teamed up with skateboard enthusiast and fellow Left Coaster Scott Rickett in 2009 to create the company with the same name and manufacture the product, which has been on the market since November 2011.
“I fell in love with them the first time I rode them,” Dual Snowboards CEO Rickett said via email. “It was a whole new way of riding.”
Chiesa and Gomez got their dual snowboarding start in California and they’ve brought their love of the sport here to Colorado. Skiers and snow boarders may have seen them on the slopes at Aspen, Breckenridge and Loveland, where they say they’re always a topic of conversation.
Skyler Murray | Courtesy of Dual Snowboards
“People do double takes every time we’re on the mountain,” Chiesa says. “When we’re out at Breckenridge, riding up the chair lifts, people underneath us yell at us, asking what we’re doing.”
Indeed, the biggest marketing strategy for Dual Snowboards right now in Colorado is word-of-mouth, and that entails getting out on the snow (when there is some) so people can actually see them in action.
“It’s happened several times where I’m going down the mountain and literally someone comes up in front of me, cuts me off and says, ‘Stop! What is that?’” Chiesa says.
That’s no doubt because the dual see snowboards don’t look like anything else on the slopes. They differ from a snowboard in one key way — riders are afforded the freedom to move both legs independently, without having one foot unstrapped. That’s great on the lift, for getting off the lift, for doing tricks and especially for moving on flat areas where snowboarders often get stuck and have to scoot, jump or unclip to walk to steeper terrain.
“One major advantage is that you have just strap in once,” Gomez says. “You can walk in them and create your own speed.”
Chiesa, Gomez and Bailey recently made a trip to Loveland Ski Area to show off their product to the mountain manager and events coordinator, discuss a demo day and get dual snowboards approved for use at the resort.
“I think I had heard of them before, but not much. I definitely had never seen them in person before,” says Duncan Maxwell, Loveland’s events coordinator. “I’m in the industry, so I get to see a lot of these things, but I’m sure a lot of people still don’t have a clue what they even are.”
Dual Snowboard reps Matt Chiesa, Liz Bailey and Mateo Gomez | Photo by Meredith J. Graham
During the visit, Loveland did approve the use of dual snowboards. (Other things like snow bikes and skates are not allowed at many resorts for safety reasons.) Maxwell also seized the opportunity to strap on a pair to try them out.
“It’s very different,” he said. “But it’s pretty cool for someone looking for a new challenge.”
Vail Resorts also allows dual snowboards, but they’re not being spotted on the slopes very often. Maybe they’ll catch on, and maybe they’ll flash in and out like skate skis did.
One Eldora snowboard instructor’s response was that it might be cool to get on different edges, but bottom line: creative, and maybe a little stupid.
Bailey says that when she was still learning how to ride them — and there is a learning curve because they’re so different from skiing or snowboarding — she started out holding the two boards together like a snowboard, then when she was more comfortable, she’d break one leg free to do something she couldn’t have done before.
“With a snowboard, when you’re going downhill, you’re riding on your heel side or your toe side,” Gomez explains. “With the dual snowboards, you’re not committed to heel or toe — you can lift one leg, whip around. … The only real limitation is in deep powder.”
Dual snowboards lack the surface area necessary to stay on top of the powder and they sink into it.
In addition to being a new way to get riders down a mountain, duals also offer new possibilities when it comes to tricks. A quick YouTube search will yield videos showing dual snowboarders grinding on rails and boxes and doing flips and in-the-air splits off ramps.
The boards, which took home the international sporting goods trade fair ISPO’s “Brand New” award in 2012 for best new product, are currently only available online in Colorado ($299 on both dualsnowboards.com and Chiesa’s own website, city2snow.com). They’ve been marketed mostly on the West Coast — and have become popular in Europe and South Korea — but recently made inroads in Utah and are working their way into Colorado.
“We have over 2,000 people riding Duals all over the world, and it may be a small percentage in Colorado now, but it is growing quickly,” Rickett says.
Demos are planned in the area for later this season (check for dates on their websites or Facebook).
“It’s just fun,” Gomez says. “I’ve been out 19 days this season, and I only brought my snowboard out on three.”