The Burton Blog

From Craig’s to Craig – Unveiling the 2018 Family Tree at Baldface Lodge

Countless riders have helped progress board design at Burton, but one rider’s influence went deeper than most.

Craig Kelly was more than a snowboard icon and world champion, he was one of the driving forces behind Burton’s product innovations in the early 1990s. So much that when we opened our in-house R&D lab at Burton HQ back in 2011, we named it Craig’s Prototype Facility.

The Family Tree is our quiver of innovative freeride designs, where we experiment with new shapes, technologies, and sustainable solutions. If our designers have a cool idea, or hear folks asking for something specific for their riding style, they take it to the Tree. To put it simply: The Family Tree is what Craig’s legacy, and Craig’s Prototype Facility are all about.

Crazy new board shapes for women? You bet. A badass freeride board for kids? Got it! Not to mention the lightest, most insane version of the infamous Burton Fish, but we’ll get to that…

Craig was always a sort of unofficial ambassador for British Columbia’s legendary Baldface Lodge, and there are plenty of stories about his time there. After he passed, they raised a cross for him up on the ridge. The place is a physical reminder of his spirit, and the joy of full-bore freeriding with your friends.

So, when Danny Davis and a bunch of his favorite riders converged on the lodge for a powtastic gathering, we saw it as the perfect opportunity to bust out the 2018 Family Tree and have a ball.

Sam Tuff grabbing method with the Family Tree Stick Shift board
The Stick Shift looks good when Sam Tuff's at the wheel.
Sam Tuff above a line
Burton ambassador Sam Tuff, ready to throw it into gear.
Danny Davis setting up his splitboard
Danny Davis knows there's only one way to skin a board.
There's no playbook for designing the Family Tree. Every year is a different beast. It starts with listening: to our team riders, our testers, and our customers. There's no shortage of opinion... The hope is always to move our sport and our culture towards the future.
– Scott Seward, Board Engineer
  • Danny eyeing up his prey, locked and loaded with the Family Tree Stun Gun.

    Danny eyeing up his prey, locked and loaded with the Family Tree Stun Gun.

  • And there's the classic Danny Davis method we've all been waiting for.

    And there's the classic Danny Davis method we've all been waiting for.

  • Mikkel Bang has longer legs than most, and he knows how to put 'em to work.

    Mikkel Bang has longer legs than most, and he knows how to put 'em to work.

  • The payoff for a good line-finder: deep turns.

    The payoff for a good line-finder: deep turns.

  • Sam Tuff ollies both under trees and over heads.

    Sam Tuff ollies both under trees and over heads.

  • Mikkel's routine: go fast, blast, grab, poke, repeat.

    Mikkel's routine: go fast, blast, grab, poke, repeat.

  • Sam Tuff + powder = pure party boarding.

    Sam Tuff + powder = pure party boarding.

Meet the Family

Check out the boards in this year’s Family Tree, with introductions courtesy of our Senior Product Manager Lesley Betts, and Board Engineer Scott Seward.

The Stick Shift

Lesley came to me and said, “Make me a short, fun, surfy women’s freeride shape.” So, we made this board with a really short effective edge and running length, which gives it a really quick maneuverable feel, and counteracts the super wide width (it’s wider than a lot of men’s boards that are 10 to 15cms longer). So it has all the maneuverability of a short board with all the float of a longer board. It's an ideal tree-riding board for a lot of women that’s comfortable and confident, even on groomers.

– Scott Seward

The Bottom Feeder

Alex Andrews regularly sends me emails, texts, and DMs saying we need wider boards! So, we took our widest board, and made one even wider. It's all about getting the most volume in the smallest package.

– Lesley Betts

I think it’s the widest board we’ve ever made. We wanted to continue the evolution of short surfy wide boards. Getting one of these things in the woods on a deep day is unbelievable, because you have all the float you need, but all of the agility and nimbleness you need for weaving through the trees.

– Scott Seward

The Role Model

It’s the Family Tree, so the whole family should be invited, right? We’re seeing more and more kids looking for high performance boards, and wanted to make an all-mountain freeride shape based off the Flight Attendant for those young riders. There are so many kids who rip out there, so why shouldn’t they be able to ride alongside their parents on their own freeride board?

We have plenty of options for kids starting as soon as they can walk. They build up from the Riglet to the Feelgood Smalls or the Custom Smalls which are a little more serious, and now this is the same full-on directional camber found in adult boards, with a shape that can ride the whole mountain. So we’re really happy that kids can grow up with a board for every step of progression along the way.

– Lesley Betts

The Story Board

I went out to Legendary Banked Slalom, and there were 12 women racing in my category, and every single one was riding a men’s Flight Attendant. They needed the stiffness, but you could see in their turns that it was way too wide for them.

I sat down and talked to all of them, and even the tiny ones were saying, “I need more board.” So, we agreed that we needed to create something more aggressive, something that’s all mountain, but that dabbles in freeride and powder riding. We also wanted the shape to feel unique and fun.

– Lesley Betts

The Stun Gun

This board has two different personalities: on hardpack or groomers it’s a super aggressive trench digging carver, but as soon as you roll off into deep snow it has as much if not more float than any other board in the line. It has a super high-volume nose that pulls it right on top of the snow.

We got a lot of really good feedback on boards that reduced the effective edge, making for a more nimble board on groomers, but that doesn’t always translate to float in deep snow. So the idea here was to take that running length and sidecut that rides really well on groomers, and then tailor the shape so that it would also perform great in deep snow.

– Scott Seward

The Mystery Fish

The Fish is one of our highest performance deep powder shapes, and we said, why not combine that with our highest performance, lightest weight construction possible? This one was a full in-house development project at Craig’s. It’s more than just slapping new materials on the Fish.

It’s gonna save your body, because it’s a lighter board to maneuver. It’s going to be more fun to ride because there’s less effort involved in getting turn-to-turn. And it’s just going to feel like you’re floating, and that you’re not battling the board beneath your feet because of all the weight saved.

– Scott Seward

The Flight Attendant X Split

This is answering the concern of backcountry riders needing lighter gear to get them easier and more efficient access to stashes of deep snow. So, we took a lot of what we know from developing Mystery construction over the years, and combined it with the go-everywhere, do-everything performance of our most well-rounded freeride shape, the Flight Attendant. The result is a super light and snappy board with one of the most trusted shapes in the line.

– Scott Seward

The Anti-Social Split

We were pretty quick to be like, if we’re going all-in on men’s splits that we need to develop one for women. The one thing that's new that happened this year, and this is new to all of our boards, but we used a lighter weave of triax. That was based off of feedback that it was performing up to where it should without over performing. Triax™ Fiberglass. And then we're considering women's bodies and shape, and how women's feet are much smaller, assessing how that board should feel for a rider of that stature.

– Lesley Betts

You spend 70% to 90% of your time splitboarding going uphill, so you want that energy feedback, that springback, from the skis. The development work for the Anti-Social Split really came from the work we did with Kimmy Fasani on the first women’s Family Tree board, the Day Trader. It’s a really comfortable, confidence-inspiring women’s backcountry shape.

– Scott Seward

The Trick Pilot

This is Mark Sollors and Mikey Rencz’s pick. These guys are hitting big backcountry booters, but still want a twin because of the amount of spinning they’re doing. They’re not looking for a directional shape. They’re looking for camber where it’s needed, but also float for riding in deep pow. Not all pow boards, let alone Family Tree boards, need to be directional with swallow tail shapes. You can ride all kinds of terrain on a badass twin like this if that’s what you’re looking for.

– Lesley Betts

The nose shape is geared around not only float, but also landing in deep snow, because those guys are coming down from 50 to 70 feet in the air to land in pow. They need both a nose and a tail that offers support in pow to stick that landing.

– Scott Seward

The Speed Date (and Speed Date Wide)

The intent of this project was to make the best-riding banked slalom board that we could. So, to do that, we reached out to our best banked slalom rider… well, actually, the best banked slalom rider out there (hint: Terje Haakonsen). We honed in on what Terje was looking for in terms of shape, side cut, waist width*, and taper.

We landed on a construction that’s pretty novel. We changed the torsional flex (side to side, rather than tip to tail), so it’s super rigid around the contact points outside the feet, and then it’s super soft between the bindings. That allows for a lot of foot-steer and maneuverability, so you can change the radius of the turn easily while also getting the rigidity that you need to stay on a line.

Even if you’re not riding a banked slalom course, the shape of this board is super aggressive. This is a board I would not take up if I were super hungover, or just trying to fool around. You gotta be on it, because as soon as you roll it into a corner it wants to grab the rail and go.

– Scott Seward

*Fun Fact: The Speed Date is also the first Family Tree board to be available in a Wide model. Check out the Speed Date Wide.

All the boards listed above are made with FSC™ Certified wood (FSC-C124994), meaning they use wood that’s been harvested in alignment with the Forest Stewardship Council’s™ mission to promote responsible management of the world’s forest. They’re also made with Super Sap® Epoxy, which uses bio-based materials to reduce the carbon footprint of the manufacturing process.

Want to see behind the scenes at Craig's Prototype Facility? Schedule a tour today.