Image is one thing, product another, but wisely CAPiTA have always placed as much emphasis on the latter as the former, and dived deeper down the rabbit hole with the establishment of The Mothership in 2015 – a factory/R&D facility with a minimised environmental footprint in Austria where they develop and build all their boards. And great boards they are too. For 2018 they offer perennial classics like the Black Snowboard of Death and Horrorscope alongside newer boards like the Navigator, pro models from the likes of Kazu Kokubo, Jess Kimura and Scott Stevens, and even a couple of kids boards for the next gen. Man, woman, child… if you’re on a CAPiTA you’ll happily devour everything.
Hey everyone! Welcome back to Brand Knew! We’re doing something a bit different this week. Because Capita has such a well-documented brand history, it felt like the perfect opportunity to do a bit deeper dive into that history, and how it’s affected the snowboarding industry. Don’t worry, if you just want your regular dose of neat stuff about a brand you love, that’s all here too, but you can feel free to skip the history section. On the other hand, Capita Snowboards has such an interesting history, and it’s well worth perusing how they came to be the brand we know and love today. Without further ado here’s:
Capita Snowboards was founded by Blue Montgomery in 2000, out of his actual garage. Feeling that snowboarding had gotten a little stale and was in need of a shake up, Blue founded it with the idea that Snowboarding was “ours”. What he meant by that was that snowboarding should be owned and run by actual snowboarders.
One of the challenges in Snowboarding for many snowboarders is that the very nature of manufacturing, distributing and marketing snowboards means that its an expensive, complicated process to bring a snowboard to market. That means that, unlike skateboarding where, while not exactly cheap, it’s entirely possible to make your own skateboards of reasonable quality and bring them to market. Whereas with snowboarding, that dream can be much harder to make happen, which leads to more corporate entities having the capital available to make snowboards.
What does that have to do with Capita? Well, they were founded on the idea that a brand run by snowboarders was something essential to have in the snowboarding world, and so they were started.
It wasn’t all sunshine and roses for Capita Snowboards in the early years.
Starting a small snowboard company is an extremely difficult process. As we mentioned above, it’s an expensive process, and you’re competing with companies with extensive resources. In the early going, they didn’t have the resources to truly compete on a large scale.
A Capita Black Snowboard of Death from 2001
What they did have however was a unique style, an extremely dedicated team and the willingness to do whatever it took to make the dream a reality. Right from the get-go, they we’re known for their way out there graphics. If you’ve ever seen a Capita, especially a really early one, they had some of the most unique, interesting graphics, especially when compared to the industry at the time. So much so in fact that many shops wouldn’t even carry them because the graphics were so much different from what had been ‘working’ in the industry up to that point. Graphic artist Ephraim Chui, team Rider T. J Schnieder and Blue Montgomery himself were all a big part of the art style that set Capita apart right from launch.
That lead to them being able to make the first move in a series of moves that lead to the Capita we know today. As they grew slowly but surely, they eventually found an investment group who was willing to provide that much needed cash infusion.
(Authors Note: I’ve looked high and low to find the name of the capital investment firm that provided the initial cash infusion here, but I’ve been unable to find the information and believe it may be a private group of investors. If anyone knows who they are, please shoot us an email so I can update this.)
They started making snowboards in Austria in 2013.
With the much needed cash influx from their new partners, Capita was able to finally convince a major manufacturer to produce their boards. One of the big challenges in snowboarding from a brand perspective is that because there is so much technology that goes into making a truly competitive snowboard, they are expensive to produce.
The technology that goes into making a board requires expensive machines, that need to produce large quantities before the machine itself becomes profitable. That means, for the little guys, buying one of these machines is usually not an option. And even if it was, you’d require multiple different machines, and the space to make them.
Ultimately this means that most upstart snowboard brands need to find an already existing manufacturer to take on the production of their snowboards. Of the manufacturing facilities available at the time (pre 2016) there was really only a couple that could make the high quality snowboards Capita was looking to produce. The other issue of course, was that these factories were already producing as much as they feasibly could, so getting production time was extremely challenging. Fortunately for Capita, the Elan factory opened their doors to them, and Capita moved its production to Austria.
The struggle wasn’t quite over then.
Capita Snowboards is on the up and up. They’ve got a lot going for them; new investment from their partners, solid manufacturing at one of the best factories in the world, their movie “Capita Defenders of Awesome (2011)” had a wildly successful launch, boards like the Capita Horroscope, the Capita Defenders of Awesome and Capita Outsiders we’re gaining huge popularity. Then….
Elan files for bankruptcy in 2013.
Well, they’ve been selling some snowboards, and they’ve got the cash. Their big movie Capita Defenders of Awesome released in 2011 and the brand was becoming one of the biggest in the industry (more on that later). Fortunately, with how well they were doing they were able to actually purchase the Elan factory and keep it running while they prepared for one of the most disruptive moves in Snowboarding industry history.
Enter The Mothership.
Capita, looking ahead at the snowboard industry, saw a few things. This might be complete conjecture but it sure feels like they saw 3 key things.
- The snowboarding industry and consumers in general were becoming more environmentally conscious.
- There were numerous brands that needed high quality manufacturing that were unable to get it.
- The Capita brand was ready to grow but had outstripped the manufacturing capabilities of the old Elan factory.
With these things in mind, construction began on what is now known as “The Mothership.” Snowboarding’s first factory powered by 100% clean energy, the factory was purposely built near a river that they could harness the power of in order to manufacture all of their boards, as well as the boards of other brands in the industry.
This factory boasts some seriously impressive feats:
- It’s the only factory in the snowboarding world that uses 100% renewable energy.
- It’s within a 5 hour drive of 98% of the materials they use.
- It has some of the most cutting edge manufacturing technology, including the fascinating sublimation process that capita use for it’s (in)famously gorgeous graphics.
- It emits zero Co2
- On site snowboard testing slope.
Check it out:
And that’s a bit of the story of how Capita got to where it is today. From Blue Montgomery’s garage, to a snowboarding mega-factory in the border region of Austria.
As your local Edmonton Snowboard Shop and Leduc Snowboard shop, we’re always trying to add in some interesting stuff you might not know!
Now here’s 7 things you might not have known about Capita Snowboards.
1. Capita’s Defenders of Awesome movie was something else.
Releasing in 2011, Capita Defenders of Awesome could have been in a bit of a pickle. Just a month before it’s October release, a little movie called Art of Flight dropped. Despite the competition from Redbull, Defenders of Awesome burst onto the scene.
The cover art of Defenders of Awesome (2011)
If you haven’t seen it, stop what you’re doing and go watch it. Right off the bat Scott Stevens drops one of the best, most talked about parts in snowboarding history. That might seem like a claim, but honestly, there was almost no one out there who rides quite like Scott, especially at the time. He had one-footed tricks, tricks like the pole jam boneless kickflip (if you cant picture what that looks like on a snowboard, just go watch his part it’s seriously insane) and to cap it off Chris Grenier said it best, “SCOTTY STEVES, ONE FOOT, BACK BOARD, THAT’S WHATS UP!”
From there, Dan Brisse (one of many, many talented Canadian riders in this movie) throws down an insanely heavy part, Jess Kimura launches herself into the spotlight, and it all caps off with Phil Jaques throwing down a heavy two song ender for the ages. There’s so much talent in this movie it’s insane. Also a quick shoutout to TJ Schnieder who’s from just down south of us here in Edmonton, in Red Deer, Alberta!
There are so so many good parts in this movie, the soundtrack is amazing, and it’s cemented itself in the annals of snowboarding history.
2. Defenders of Awesome isn’t just a movie, it’s an industry changing snowboard too
The Capita Defenders of Awesome snowboard is easily one of the most popular, best riding snowboards in the industry. Since it’s inception it’s stood out with outstanding graphics and a construction that has made it the favourite of Capita team riders, local legends and riders of all abilities.
A big part of that comes from it’s construction and shape. At a time where the industry as aa whole was experimenting with all kinds of new shapes, Capita launched the DOA with it’s Resort V1 Profile. Regular camber between the feet (just past the inserts) for strong edge hold, which then goes to flat camber outside the feet, and a bit of reverse camber at the tips. This shape gives ultimate board control, with enough flex and float that it can really do everything. From smashing massive jumps, to techy rail tricks and blasting off side hits the DOA, it’s camber profile and flex became THE board.
As it gained notoriety and fame in snowboarding, nearly every brand has brought a board into it’s lineup mimicking it’s iconic shape. You’ll see that across the industry a camber to flat camber profile is seemingly everywhere.
3. The DOA wasn’t the only Iconic board from the early 2010’s.
While it had been in the lineup for a while by this point, the Capita Horroscope was another board that was taking the industry by storm. With its ultra-soft, flat and reverse camber profile, the capita horoscope was and is, one of the most sought-after jibbing boards of its time.
A graphic some of us remember from when Capita was really starting to blow up
At a time where street snowboarding was really coming into its own, the horoscope was a board that resonated with many street riders at the time. Its reverse camber shape was something that had already been done in the industry, but with its extra soft flex, extremely affordable price tag and always fascinating graphics, including the iconic party panda, it quickly became a street favourite.
4. Capita built one of the most innovative manufacturing facilities in the industry - The Mothership
Capita’s mega factory has been a major part of their brand story since the very first production snowboard rolled off the line. First of all, this factory creates 100% of its own energy. Ok, ok, creates isn’t quite the right word. They harness the power of the river they built the factory next to run literally everything in the factory, from the coffee maker to the board presses.
This was, and still is an incredible feat of engineering and forethought. They made so many decisions that pull double duty, as both major environmental wins, but also in helping make their boards less expensive to manufacture. This means they are often able to provide better quality product at competitive prices.
A shot of the outside of the Capita Snowboards Mothership. Photo from: Capita Snowboards
A great example of this is the location they chose. By building their factory in the southern border region of Austria, they’re located within 5 hours from 98% of the materials they need to produce their product. This means less emissions in transportation to be sure, but it also means that the cost to transport those materials is lower as well.
Add in that Austria has amazing snowboarding, and the factory has its own dedicated slope for product testing, and you’ve got one of the most (if not the most) innovative, environmentally conscious, phenomenal snowboard manufacturing facilities in the world.
5. Holy crap their team is so incredible.
Capita Snowboards, well known for their amazing product and factory and movies has been backed up by one of the most progressive, innovative and stylish teams on the market for quite some time. While listing them all and writing how much they’ve done for snowboarding is probably worth its own anthology book, I figured I’d go over a couple of the OG’s, and a couple of the newer members that are fascinating.
This man is a legend. No two ways about it, his part in DOA (2011) inspired so many riders to change the way that they look at spots, and the way they think about trick selection. Best known for his one-foot tricks, insanely impressive presses and blunts and a fun and unique style, it’s safe to say he’s going to be sticking around for a while. He also is one of the few Capita Snowboards team riders to tout his own pro model. The Scott Stevens Pro board is a flat camber between the feet, reverse camber outside the feet board that is built for pressing and blunting and just all-around park and street hi-jinks.
SCOTTY STEVES! ONE FOOT BACK BOARD! THATS WHATS UP. Photo from snowboarder magazine.
One of the most prolific, intense and talented women’s street riders to have ever made it in snowboarding. She’s made ESPN’s top 50 most influential people in action sports and has her own pro model for Capita. She’s just one of those riders that watching her part will get you so stoked to go shred. Awesome trick and spot selection, and of course great style. She’ won basically every award that she possibly could have and has been instrumental in building both grass roots and mainstream support for women’s snowboarding. We’re big fans.
Kazu (Kazuhiro) Kokubo
Hailing from the deep snow of Japan, Kazu is an absolute beast when it comes to back country snowboarding. Winning freestyle contests from a young age, and shredding powder in Nippon where he’s from lead to a snowboarder who has the trick selection and back country know how to put together some of the best back country parts ever made. When his time at the big B was over, he went to Capita Snowboards. For many riders, ridding for the Big B is where they stay for life as they are one of the companies with enough resources to pay riders quite well, but Kazu moving to Capita Snowboards instead highlights just how far the image that they’ve created goes in attracting talent like Kazu.
Kazu Kokubo shredding. Photo from: Snowboarder Magazine
J.O.C (Johnny O’Connor)
Young J.O.C is as far as I can tell on of the first Capita riders to go from flow to the AM team, and then onto the pro team for Capita. His strong riding style, ability to find and hit massive spots and trick selection were no doubt major parts of the decision to turn this talented young rider pro.
6. Their graphics aren't just gorgeous, their technically astounding.
Ever wondered why capita boards look so damn good? How they get so much depth into the graphics, and how no other brand on the market can quite match the way their boards look? Well, it turns out they’ve dug deeper into graphics technology than most brands have ever dreamed. There’s a few different tech highlights as to how they do it, but to me, there’s two that stand out.
As they put it “Sublimation is an exact science for an inexact process. In sublimation, ink is pushed through a substrate into base material using pressure and heat.” Which, if you aren’t a massive tech nerd like we are, might not mean much. But basically, the way most bottom graphics are made, is they are either die cut (multiple different pieces are cut out of differently coloured base material and then pressed together with a clear layer of the base material (P-tex)) or they are printed and then have the base material layered over top. A capita board has the graphic ‘infused’ (my words not theirs) into the ptex itself, which gives it a more dynamic look like a die cut, but with vastly more graphical options and extra durability.
DEEPSPACE™ DESIGN THEORY
Capita utilizes their new age technology to take advantage of the depth and multiple microscopic layers of the top sheet of a snowboard. They do this in order to create graphics that have both graphical and physical depth to them, creating a more dynamic, eye catching, interesting to look at graphic.
Go take a look at any board made by Capita post The Mothership and you’ll see what I mean.
7. Spring Break Snowboards
We could honestly probably make a whole post on spring break snowboards. Born out of a backyard art project, and growing into the Capita Mother Ship, these boards are something radically different. They have wild shapes, different flexes and utilize the graphical capabilities of the mothership to create boards with graphics and shapes that stand out on the hill, in the lift line and on people’s walls as collectors’ items.
The 2021 / 2022 Slush Slasher
I also want to give a big shout out to https://onboardmag.com/videos/crew-edits/history-capita-snowboards.html where a lot of this information was pulled from for the article.
We also used resources from https://capitasnowboarding.com/ and https://www.snowboarder.com/. Go check them out!