From the Ground Up: the Birth of Grassroots Powdersurfing

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Jeremy Jensen in his garage, the state-of-the-art production facility where he crafts Grassroots boards.

Everyone has a different perspective on the birth of action sports, whether it was the early Tahitians riding felled trees through ocean currents or cavemen doing bonelesses over dinosaur corpses. The truth of the matter is that throughout the ages, riding whatever it may be has always served as not only a valid method of transportation but an extremely fun way to pass time. It’s through the fun factor that careers in snowboarding, skating and surfing exist, whether they be in the competitive or production aspects. Through these vessels, a new company has emerged that embraces not only action sports’ past, but also its future: Grassroots Powdersurfing Company. Created by Jeremy Jensen, Grassroots Powdersurfing is the result of over a decade of passion, research, science and, most importantly, fun.

Grassroots Powdersurfing is a company that produces bindingless snow tools. Not quite a snowboard, skateboard or surfboard, these products offer consumers an alternative that has a feel of it all. Similiar to a NoBoard or early Snurfer, these boards are used to surf the snow, but what makes these boards different is the lack of ropes or handles to help the board steer. By adding rocker and a scooped nose and tail, the board can also be skated, which opens up a whole new world of progressive freestyle. This is what Jensen had in mind when the boards were first released last year. With a film and photography background, Jensen created a website to showcase the world of powdersurfing as a sport centered around the idea of you don’t need straps to send it. “Skateboarding and surfing progression has been showing us the possibilities of bindingless riding for years. Just look at what has been going down on the mega ramp.”

Raised in Logan, Utah, Jensen remembers an early love for sports. “I played a lot of soccer, basketball and football. I would play as hard as I could until I was on the brink of passing out.” When he was 12, he discovered his first skateboard. This gave Jeremy a different perspective than previous team sports did, and skateboarding soon began to dominate his life. Due to his location, which receives an average of over 60 inches of snow per year, skateboarding became difficult or impossible to do year round. Fortunately, when he was in middle school, snowboarding had just begun to blossom. “Snowboarding was brand new back then and it looked super fun, but that option was too expensive for me to even consider at the time. So we’d take the trucks off our skateboards and ride them backwards down the hills at the University and the golf course in town. It didn’t really work that well,” says Jensen.
In 1987, with the appearance of a Winterstick Roundtail Plus, a vintage snowboard that resembles modern freestyle boards in the most rudimentary sense, Jensen stumbled upon his idea. “[The board] had these little epoxy nubbies all over the topsheet and it made for pretty good grip. So we surfed that thing bindingless and that really opened our eyes to the possibilities.” However, the board belonged to a friend of his, so Jensen ventured out to make his own. His first go was an old cut down Sims. Then, while snowboarding out with some buddies, a revelation hit. “My friend Brock [Bitton] showed up to our backcountry zone with this plywood board shaped like a wakeboard strapped to his sled. He’d made it using his old textbooks and some cinder blocks to bend it and give it some rocker. We took some short little runs and I was blown away by how good it floated.” Although the board was hard to turn at first they figured out that in order to perform correctly they needed to venture out in to steeper and deeper terrain. “After that run we were standing there looking at each other with that ‘holy shit!’ look on our faces. That’s when we realized that these boards had real potential.”

In 2007, Jensen, Bitton (whom Jensen credits as the originator of the powsurf), Craig Stevenson and Jarvis Parry began pressing boards in the garage and fine tuning shapes and constructions. “We’ve designed and tested 25 or so different shapes, sizes and builds. Many of which looked really cool, but didn’t work out so well. Since then, I’ve narrowed it down to a handful of shapes thatwork really well in a variety of snow conditions.” Once the board construction was dialed in, Jensen began to use his other talents to showcase what powdersurfing was all about. He started to film his sessions in 2007 with his friends and post edits online. Soon, feedback began to pour in from Europe and Japan, and it was then that they decided to start offering their product to the masses through brand identification and the birth of a website a year later. “We felt we had something unique and different from the other bindingless boards out there, both in the style and build of the boards, and in the direction that we wanted to push the riding. It seemed like there were a few people trying to bite what we had been doing, but we could pretty much tell by the shapes and the builds of their boards that they were way off.”

Living in Utah helped Jensen realize that this thing could potentially hit it big. With access to the best snow on earth in his backyard (with sleds of course) and some of the best snowboarders and skaters, what started out as fun film sessions turned into a realm of possibility as they began to push their limits. This season, Jensen told me that he plans on pursuing the potential that pow surfing can offer. With requests from sports enthusiasts around the world, including snowboard legend Terje Haakonsen, he plans to expand his supply and see what happens next. He informed me that he has been in contact with production factories in case this entity takes flight. With some advertising dollars and the constant release of online videos (perhaps even a series), he plans on keeping powdersurfing fresh in everyone’s mind. In addition, Grassroots plans on hosting a few demos this winter throughout the valley. Hopefully, powdersurfing will hit the mainstream, because you can’t help but support a company that is so grounded, passionate and progressive. “Powdersurfing to me is like a step backwards and a big step forward at the same time. There are so many options open for progression, and if kids take hold of it, the future could be pretty insane,” says Jensen. Check out Grassroots Powdersurfing at powsurf.com to get pumped for the upcoming winter and to support one of Utah’s most passionate companies.
 

Photos:
 Jeremy Jensen in his garage, the state-of-the-art production facility where he crafts Grassroots boards. Above: Jeremy Jensen cave ollie. Photo: Zach Shepherd   Below: Jeremy Jensen and his powder surf board on top of the Northern Wasatch Range. Photo: Jeremy Jensen