Burton is a name synonymous with snowboarding. Founder Jake Burton is one of the most influential people in the sport’s evolution, and Burton Snowboards now controls about 40% of the market. Jake, his son Taylor and the Burton snowboarding team stayed with The Niseko Company and graciously gave Nate Matthews a quick interview. “Great! Terrific!” was Jake’s overall evaluation. “The food was excellent and the snow was fantastic. The nature of the terrain around here is great. There are lots of pillows and deep powder – it’s the kind of terrain they (the Burton team) really enjoy riding. I also thought that the lift lines moved quickly so I was able to get in lots of riding. I’ll be back again!” Jake founded the company in 1977 working from a barn and initially adapting a Snurfer, a basic toy snowboard which featured a rope to allow the rider some basic control over the board. In 1979 he began selling his more advanced snowboards, made from bentwood laminate and featuring a rigid binding that held the board firmly to the wearer’s boot.
Meanwhile, the the Red Bull snowboarding team winged its way into Niseko in spectacular fashion on February 21, headed by the sport’s superstar Shaun White. For a man who stands at 5’8.5”, the 21 year old Californian stands head and shoulders above the pack in snowboarding. White is to snowboarding what Kelly Slater is to surfing and Tiger Woods is to golf. Bursting on to the scene as a 12 year old, he’s won almost everything in snowboarding including too many X-games to count, and a 2006 Olympic gold medal in the half pipe. He’s just been named the 2008 Laureus World Action Sports-person of the Year. Not content with dominating snowboarding he is also one of the top skateboarders in the world. Shaun and pros including Heikki Sorsa, Pat Moore and Zach Leach, are on a Red Bull-sponsored trip they’re calling Big in Japan. Fuel TV is filming a documentary about it while Snowboarder Magazine is going to do a feature article in an upcoming issue. They caused a stir at Wild Bill’s on February 22 when they turned up for the Red Bull Snow Wiiings Party.