As I stepped out of my cab at the Bataleon Lodge in Flachau, Austria, I was immediately impressed by my surroundings. Nestled in the Eastern Valley of the Alps, Flachaus surrounding peaks are staggering–even considering that they are small by Austrian standards. That said, it was my first time visiting the area and after two full days of travel, the expansive peaks and fog filled valleys speckled with chalets were enough to stop me in my tracks.
We had gathered in this mystical land for none other than Low Pressure Studios 2018 sales summit. Low Pressure Studio (LPS)–historically comprised of Bataleon Snowboards, Switchback Bindings, and Lobster Snowboards–had recently acquired Vermonts Rome Snowboards as part of a secondary transaction in which Nidecker Snowboards acquired LPS. The now significantly more diverse brand portfolio had gathered in full–along with a handful of each team’s pro riders, including Stale Sandbech, Len Jorgensen, Alek Oestreng, Halldor Helgason, Eiki Helgason, Fridge, Ethan Morgan, Tyler Chorlton and Klaudia Medlova–to discuss the coming year and structural changesor lack thereofthat would follow.
Snowboarders as a whole have always been wary of conglomerate entities. We have rooted ourselves deep in the counterculture. We like to be free-spirited and with the ability to roam the mountains as we please–detached from the corporate giants that threaten our individuality. So, it came as no surprise when many peoples first response to the Rome acquisitionas well as LPSwas one of fear. What would happen to the rebel rousing independent spirit that has been the Rome Snowboard Design Syndicate since their onset, and how would LPS change now that they lived under the Nidecker name?
The short answer is there are only very minimal changes being made. Rome Snowboards will still be based and operated out of sleepy Waterbury, Vermontjust down the road from Sugarbush Resort and Stowe Mountainand LPS will retain all autonomy on everything under their brand umbrella. So then, what actually is going to change, and whats the cause for acquisition? The slightly longer answer is that with Rome now part of LPS, and LPS under Nidecker, the entire group will now be substantially more well rounded and include an increasingly diverse group of brandseach working together to better the snowboarding industry. After all, LPS, Nidecker, and Rome, have all been snowboarder owned and operated since their start.
So while many were quick to side with panic, the reality is far easier to receive. Each brand will now benefit from the others knowledge and resources. Production will now be improved substantially by allowing each brand to benefit from the others insight and processes. The bottom line here is that your favorite board brand will still be your favorite board brand, just with considerably more resources.
Given this news, I quickly realized that the trip wasnt going to be a heavy series of meetings with each brand lamenting over their individuality. Instead, it was going to be a raucous adventure, one complete with 2020 board testing, Stiegl drinking, and of course, inter-brand relationship building. I immediately put my notebook and pen away, reached for an oversized Stiegl, and dove straight into the ensuing experience. All in all, the best descriptor for what unfolded over the next 72 hours was that of a celebration. I can write with confidence that every brand present is in the business of snowboarding for the right reasons. They all love to strap in for a day of sliding on snow. So, with riding snowboards as our primary intentionand eating Wienerschnitzel as our second–we went and got after it.
When the week had come to a close, we found ourselves collected as a single group at one of Absolut Parks mid-mountain lodges. The sun had set, but the mood and moon had both risen. With headlamps fastened tightly, we made our way down the mountain under complete darkness, except that for which beamed from our lamps and cut through the heavy fog that rolls through Austrias famed Alps. After reuniting together at the base, we celebrated once more, reminiscing on the terrifying yet delightful visit we had received from the local Krampus gang, and the sales meeting that had unfolded seemingly in the blink of an eye.
As I began my extended journey back stateside, I pledged to return again. For not only was the LPS sales summit one of the more enjoyable trips I have had the pleasure of embarking on, but it was also a healthy and substantive reminder that snowboarding is in good hands. Fear not board world, for Rome, Bataleon, Switchback, and Lobster are all looking to the future with a renewed energy that will surely translate to better product design and strengthened brands–two things that ultimately translate to a better time for you on your board in the mountains.