Recently, talented photographer Cole Barash had the opportunity to visit Wolfgang Nyvelt in Austria and get an inside look at Äsmo Powsurfers, the creative noboards that Wolle and Stefan Gruber make by hand in Wolle’s garage. Read along as Wolle explains his love of surfy, binding-less boards and enjoy checking out the workshop through Cole’s photos.
words and photos: Cole Barash
COLE BARASH: How did Äsmo begin?
WOLLE NYVELT: It began with a slow start to the winter season in 2006. I was on the Salomon Powder Snake for a couple years and was fooling around with concrete molds to make my own top decks for these boards. During this process those thoughts came together of building binding-less single decks which are inspired by the surf culture. The design of the Fish is in the center of this concept which were very present in the early days of snowboarding. Milovich pushed this very far and I thought we could give it our own twist. The other main influence was hydrodynamic planing hulls from Richard Kenvin who I got in touch with through Scott Sullivan who’s been a history mentor in a lot of ways. I just thought by mixing a few different principles of our sideways sports we can come up with something fun to do and at that point in time kill some time waiting for the snow. I explained this to my homie Steve Gruber and that I wanted to convert my little garage in a mini workshop and he was down so there we were, having a good time.
I was pretty blown away by your new factory space for Äsmo. It must feel good to have a large space to dedicate to creativity and experimenting, let alone all the production. Looking back at David Benedek’s book today, Current State: Snowboarding, I could really see all the different shapes you have made. What do you think the next few years will bring in terms of shapes and certain details?
It’s awesome, it’s a dream. It’s all we wanted. To have our space and fool around with boards to slide down hills, feels a little bit like a surf shaper and like in the early days of snowboarding with a creative freedom, no rules attached, no one to satisfy; just a blank [piece of] paper. The whole process to get there was a real interesting journey and we learned a lot. We started shaping templates for all kind of boards and it was such a creative, irrational process, it was just to have fun and do some weird shapes. Over time it got real tech and we started to really focus on shapes that work and tie it all together. We worked on all sorts of channels and that’s pretty much where we are at now. Rather short planning hulls for powder which are made by hands and machines. Now, we still do templates but then measure them and draw them out on AutoCAD and make a lot of parts on the CNC machine which makes for a precise process. What’s rad is that Salomon is really supporting me on that quest and I take a lot of ideas and inspirations and draw up boards for them. What the future will bring, we will see but I hope we can keep it alive. The main goal will be to make the boards cheaper.
Also, I just peeped your new part in the Absinthe movie which included quite a few bangers on a noboard. Would you like to keep mixing that in for future parts? Do you have any specific flip tricks or lines or anything that you’re after in the near future?
I’m stoked Justin is down to show this kind of stuff. There were no plans really, it just happened that some sessions were filmed. I do have some tricks in mind that I would like to try. It just depends on finding the right spots for them. To bring it to AK again would be real sick. The best would be to have a whole crew in the heli, that would be insane. I took the board out a few times up there which is an all-time feeling for sure. One part of the puzzle is the magnet setup. It enables you to do a lot of those tricks and catch big air and you can be loose for tricks like one foots and all that. It’s something we put our heads to a lot to see if there is anything better.
How do you think your surfing has contributed to the development and furthering design? What kind of surf stick would you say is comparable? Like a 5’5” fish or something larger?
To me, surfing is about having a quiver of boards. You choose a board for certain types of waves and also the kind of feeling you want to get from them. It’s a little time travel you can put your mind in by stepping on a Mini Simmons, for example, and I think it’s a beautiful history we have being tied in with these sideways sports. Snowboarding might be quite young but our roots go deep, so for that the inspiration has been huge. We studied all kinds of people and their craftsmanship from surfing. Steve Lis and Greenough, Richard Kenvin, Tomo, Burch, Derek Hynd, there are so many. What is rad is that you can come back after a day of riding and trip out what you would change on a board and get at it right away. there is no year-long delay in production.
How does having Äsmo as a creative outlet for something to focus on other than straight filming feel? I think its rad how you’re giving back to snowboarding in the way of progression of creating and dedicating time to some other way to shred pow. How you have invested time and cash back into it is something you don’t see that often.
It feels good for sure. We have a lot of fun with it and it keeps us thinking about snowboarding in the summer so it’s a good thing. It’s rewarding to put your mind and hands into something and see when people do like it and have a smile on their face.
Alright, last question: If one was to want to order one, how would they go about it?
Drop me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read the full A look at Asmo Powsurfers with Wolle Nyvelt article on Snowboarder Magazine.