Archive

October 2014

‘Voodoo’ wins Backcountry magazine’s Editors’ Choice award

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Cold Smoke Splitboards of Gunnison, Colo., recently received a highly coveted
Editors’ Choice award in Backcountry magazine’s 2015 Gear Guide for the
company’s flagship “Voodoo” splitboard.
Cold Smoke owner Kyle Jones hails the honor as a major achievement, given
that the Voodoo is just in its second year of production.
“This is a huge honor for a company that was built on offering the best in
backcountry snowboards,” Jones says. “People who love the backcountry hold
Backcountry magazine’s annual gear review in an extremely high light. Testers
rode and reviewed dozens of boards. To think that ours rose to the top as one of
the best is a testament to the craftsmanship Cold Smoke prides itself on.”
Cold Smoke released the Voodoo, its first factory splitboard, last year. A
partnership with renowned boutique ski manufacturer Romp Skis, of Crested
Butte, the Voodoo is built to impress. A directional, big-mountain slayer that
doesn’t sacrifice durability, the Voodoo was deemed an “everyday, go-to” and
“do-it-all” deck by Backcountry testers in the board’s first year.
This year, Backcountry called the Voodoo “an ideally flexed board built for all
speeds on any mountain.” “Good platform for cliffs, pillows and steeps. Easy to
climb on slick slabs,” one tester said. “Inspires confidence at high speeds,”
another added. Backcountry reports that the Voodoo netted the greatest number
of “all-star” reviews at the magazine’s testing session this past spring in Crested
Butte.
Unlike many splitboards on the market today, the Voodoo was designed not only
for responsive riding — offering fast and agile descents. But also, its design
lends itself to superior climbing and traversing. Each board is made by hand with
the utmost care and craftsmanship in Romp Skis’ small factory in Crested Butte.

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The Voodoo’s “camber bubble” — a section of camber placed behind the rider’s
rear foot — provides traction while skinning and boosts ollie-power with a springlike
effect. This technology from Cold Smoke makes both the uphill and downhill
more efficient by minimizing the effort required to climb and by maximizing the
amount of “pop” a rider gets out of the board. Carbon stringers in the deck also
add pop in the tail section, which boasts 12 cm of rise. Early rise on the nose —
slightly wider than the tail — aids in flotation when slicing through powder and
crud alike. The Voodoo — “Made in the Elk Mountains of Colorado,” as the
topsheet indicates — is built of remarkably strong, lightweight, sustainably
selected poplar, which withstands pressure and provides better rebound. A black,
sintered base is your ticket to one of the strongest, toughest and longest-lasting
boards on the market today. This base material will withstand abuse, absorbs
wax well and is lightning-fast.
Incredibly strong and impact-resistant polyethylene sidewalls offer flex — even in
the coldest conditions, when other materials suffer from a decrease in response
time. Each board gets a stone-grind finish — not common with other factory
splitboards — increasing speed and performance on the snow. To top it off, Cold
Smoke uses an environmentally friendly wax on each deck. And the board’s topsheep
graphics are unique — exhibiting a scene of popular peaks up the Slate
River Valley, north of Crested Butte, that Cold Smoke’s riders are known to
frequent.
“Probably the most beautiful topsheep I’ve seen,” said one Backcountry tester.

Cold Smoke formed in a garage in Gunnison in 2010 — shortly after owner Kyle
Jones graduated from Western State Colorado University. In an entrepreneurship
class at Western, the idea for Cold Smoke was born. Prior to the launch of the
Voodoo last year, Cold Smoke’s business was based solely on converting
existing, solid decks into “custom” splitboards — snowboards that have been
crafted into a durable, backcountry rig from their original, solid form.
The Voodoo — retailing for $850 — comes in two lengths: 158 cm and and 163
cm. The waist on both decks is 26 cm, and at 7 pounds, 6 ounces (158), the
Voodoo finds itself in the middle of the pack among other factory decks in terms
of weight. For more information and to find out how the board can be purchased,
visit www.coldsmokesplitboards.com. The company can also be reached at
719.850.0091.

Jaime Van Lanen

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Jaime Van Lanen built his first custom splitboard in the year 2000. Living in North Lake Tahoe at the time, he’d watched lift lines on powder days increase to the point that the only way to gain a solid day of riding was to get in line at 6 a.m. with his MSR Whisperlite stove in his backpack so he could eat breakfast and drink coffee while waiting three-plus hours for the chairs to open.

Well, a lot has changed over the last decade and a half. These days, Jaime makes his home in Bear Valley, Alaska, working for the Alaskan state government on research and management of hunting and fishing for wild food.

A backcountry snowboarder through and through, today, Jaime is pushing the envelope as far as it will go in terms of what’s possible on a splitboard. He’s racked up countless descents on six continents and in 16 countries and has taken — with success — to hunting caribou from his splitboard — a practice that he views as helping to ensure that splitboarding plays a role in ecological and economic sustainability.

Born and raised in Lakewood, Colo., from a young age, Jaime’s father began taking him and brother Ryan to St. Mary’s Glacier, Loveland and Berthoud passes to hike for turns. The fire was ignited.

By the mid-‘90s, Jamie’s drive to arrive at the precipice of snowboarding had landed him as a professional rider, competing in freestyle. In 1999, he won the U.S. National Championship in Slopestyle and Overall Freestyle.

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However, during his time as a sponsored freestyle rider, Jaime became disillusioned with the direction the ski scene was heading. Ski resorts were becoming more concerned with selling real estate than with fostering a deep connection between skiers/riders and the snow. And, in turn, skiers and riders were more concerned with their products and images on the mountain than with the mountains themselves. He didn’t retreat completely from the world of snow, however. In Jaime’s words, he simply “tuned in, turned on and dropped out.”

After moving to Alaska in 2008, splitboard mountaineering became a driving passion. Yet, with the inevitable close calls and loss of friends, these days Jaime is content with a good tour, some exploration, great snow and long, flowy, aesthetic lines. That said, when the snow is stable, you can find Jaime still trying to check off some of Alaska’s biggest, steepest and scariest routes.

Ryan Van Lanen

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Ryan Van Lanen picked up his first snowboard in the late-‘80s, and immediately began riding all over the I-70 corridor. Born and raised in Lakewood, Colo., Ryan spent most of his high school years at Vail. By the early 2000s, attention turned to Steamboat, then Crested Butte for a handful of seasons.

These days, Ryan’s winters are spent in Jackson Hole — learning to love the sport more each year and racking up numerous 100-plus day seasons.

Ryan rode the pro circuit for five-plus years, part of the Option Snowboards team from the late-‘90s to early 2000s. A master of the pipe, it wasn’t long before Ryan’s focus turned to backcountry filming. Today, Ryan continues to be sponsored by DaKine, Avalon 7, Illuminati Snowboards, Storm Snow Studios and Cold Smoke Splitboards.

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Ryan acquired his first splitboard a decade ago, but anticipates backcountry riding on his split to account for the bulk of his turns from here forward. When he’s not snowboarding, he works as a fishing guide in Colorado — making his summer home at the tiny angling community of Sapinero, west of Gunnison — and serving as a big game hunting guide in New Mexico during the fall.

The younger brother of Jaime Van Lanen, Ryan cut his teeth in the backcountry amid mountains west of Denver at a young age.

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