Interview: Nicholas Wolken of Korua Shapes

One of the exciting new snowboard makers coming out of Europe, Korua Shapes offers a not-so-typical board lineup. With the current wave of interest in the get-back-to-carving trend in the snowboard world, Korua’s carving powder shapes are perfectly poised to make a splash. We had a chance to sit down with Korua Shapes Co-Founder, Nicholas Wolken last week and fired off some questions.

Nicholas Wolken at Happo Banks

Nicholas looking for some low interest rates in Happo Banks

With the low snow levels this year, how has this Japan trip been compared to past trips?

We were lucky since Hokkaido was great as always. I was pretty amazed to see so little snow on the main Island, and also some rain in the north for this time of year. It’s sad to see. But anyways, we got a bunch of good footage for our next Yearning for Turning edit that will drop sometime next autumn. Especially the week we spent with Antti Autti, Neil Hartmann and Shinya Nakagawa was very productive and it was cool to see some new zones around Hokkaido. The first week of the trip Aaron [Schwartz] and I stayed with our friend, Korua Ambassador Atsufumi Mizuno in his camper. The snow was crazy deep and it was nice to wake up right next to the zone we would hike in. It was just pure inspiration to see so much snow after the miserable winter in Europe! Thanks Atsu for taking us and thanks to his dogs too!

You recently did the Snowboard Japan trade show (SBJ) in Yokohama. How were Korua boards received?

Same as in Europe and in the States there was a lot of interest, I have the feeling it went pretty well, and that this snowsurf movement is growing. Next season we should have more shops carrying our boards so we are excited about getting the boards out there for people to check out.

Designer/photographer Aaron Schwartz was drawing on the boards at SBJ. Is that a future graphic idea, or will you stick with plain white topsheets?

The drawings are one-off pieces only so far but they will be available for sale in our webshop soon. We are not sure if we will put a fixed price on them or auction them off. But the plan is to give some of the proceeds to POW or a similar organization.

 

After spending most of your trip in Hokkaido, what brings you to Hakuba?

I had a great time here last year shredding Happo Banks, and the backcountry. It’s the funnest park I have ever ridden. Big up for Hide and the guys! Also I wanted to see my friends Mari Mizukami and Yasu from Lodge Tabi-tabi.

Let’s talk about Korua Shapes. How would you define your boards? Are they powder boards? Are they quiver boards or quiver-killers?

In a way I think they might be quiver killers. Many of our customers and friends got a KORUA as a “second” board for deep days, but now it’s all they ride. On the other hand there are definitely different shapes in the line that allow you to build a diverse quiver.

In the past year, Japanese powder shapes have started showing up in shops and media in the west and are really hot right now. How do your boards differ from Japanese powder board design?

We probably work with more camber in general, since it’s important for us that the boards carve well. Also the boards might not be as soft as the Japanese ones.

Looking at the prices of the boards in the Korua lineup, they cost a lot less than comparable powder boards on the market today. How can this be? Are you cutting any corners anywhere?

Not at all! We’re definitely not making compromises on quality. We make boards that can be afforded by anyone and that can be shredded without a constant fear of hitting a rock. Since we don’t work with distributors and only directly with shops and end consumers, we can offer a better price for a board of equal or better quality than any out there.

Do you ride all the boards in the Korua line or do you mainly stick with one? What generally happens with all the ambassadors?
I definitely switch up my ride every now and then, it’s fun and keeps things interesting. Also it makes sense to bring a board that complements the current conditions. Most ambassadors order different boards each time.
Nicholas Wolken Spray

Nicholas lights up this otherwise greybird day

 

What can we expect from next year’s lineup?

Smaller sizes of current boards, and there will be some new shapes, of course. After feedback from smaller lighter riders, mainly women and Japanese,  we decided to make some smaller versions of some of the current models that are narrower and a bit softer in flex.

What new shapes next year are you particularly excited about?

I’m pretty stoked on the Cafe Racer and the Trenchdigger, with these boards the focus lies more on riding groomers. With a longer camber zone and less taper they complement each other; the 56 Cafe Racer has a Fighter Radius for quick tight turns, and the Trenchdigger is designed to ride with a lot of speed for longer open turns. They are true softboot carving boards! They are also what we plan to use for the upcoming banked slalom contests. Speaking of which, the new base material (PTX 2000 Sintered) will help us shave off some extra seconds.

Korua Caferacer Trenchdigger

*taken from the preseason dealer catalogue – may be subject to change.

How will we be able to buy a board in Japan? How about in North America and the rest of the world?

We are setting up our network of shops around the world as we speak. Our focus is on Europe, Japan and North America, but you can also order directly from our own webshop: koruashapes.bigcartel.com.
Actually the webshop is completely sold out at the moment, but we should have the new boards in around the end of march! If you can’t wait, send us a message at koruashapes.com and we will track down a deck closest to you.

Sounds great! Thanks for taking the time to talk to us.

No problem, thanks again for all your help and the good company!

Nicholas Wolken phone

Get more info at the official Korua Shapes site, and check out their last Yearning for Turning edit here.