Local business owner creates extreme sport
Published: Thursday, February 7, 2013
Updated: Thursday, February 7, 2013 13:02
New extreme sports are created every year with varying degrees of appeal. What does it take to invent one that will last? For Jeremy Jensen, CEO of Grassroots Powdersurfing, it’s about creating an original idea that is exciting, challenging and true to its roots.
“Snowboarding in powder is the best feeling,” Jensen said. “When you add the fun of skateboarding and surfing and your feet are free to move around, it makes riding powder that much better.”
Jensen grew up skateboarding and started snowboarding to get the same thrill during winter months. This love fueled his desire to create something new, which led to the formation of Grassroots Powdersurfing, a sport based on bindingless snowboarding.
“I first started taking the bindings of snowboards back in ‘99 or 2000, just playing around,” Jensen said. “We’d take a couple runs without the bindings just to see if we could do it, more or less.”
Jensen started to cut old snowboards into different shapes to see what would work. After a couple of years of trial and error, Jensen’s designs performed better and better to a point where they worked to his liking.
“I wanted to bring in real elements from surfing and from skateboarding,” he said. “I wanted to be able to ollie so I could open up the ability to flip and spin the board.”
The initial publicity Jensen got for his perfected creations, called “Powsurfers,” was from the Internet.
“Jeremy has done a really great job at marketing powdersurfing through video and graphics,” said Dave Smellie, assistant professor of graphics design.
Smellie and Jensen have been friends since middle school and first met through skateboarding and snowboarding. Smellie has helped with testing the boards and with designing the graphics for the company.
“He’s extremely capable at graphic design, marketing, and social media,” Jensen said. “He’s like a one man army.”
Jensen used his skills to jumpstart the company.
“I started making some videos, putting them on YouTube, and people could see that it was really fun and that it actually worked,” he said.
The videos generated more and more interest in the powder boards. He got feedback from people all over the world, he said.
“Some of the initial feedback I got was from people like Terje Hakonsen, who is kind of like the Michael Jordan of snowboarding,” Jensen said. “So he saw what I was doing and all of the sudden I get a Facebook friend request from Terje Hakonsen and I was like, ‘Woah.’”
He said after that, he knew there was potential.
“Anybody else who was like us, who likes skateboarding, who likes snowboarding, who likes surfing, as soon as they step on this and try this, they’ll know how much fun it is,” Jensen said. “It’s like a rebirth of snowboarding.”
Smellie said it’s a product that brings his childhood back to life in a new and exciting way.
“We’ve both been playing in the snow together for so long that this really makes it fun again,” Smellie said. “It makes you see the mountain in a new way. It’s a new challenge. You’re still out there playing in the snow, you’re just manipulating things in a different way.
Jensen decided to start making and selling boards, and despite other companies trying to copy his product, he said his boards are the originals.
“If I was to keep making these boards, I couldn’t just keep dumping all my money into it, it would have to support itself,” he said. “I’ve always had to work hard for what I have. I started this from zero. I built the original presses from scrap wood in my garage.”
He said the popularity of the product made for a quick demand of the boards that Grassroots produced.
Due to the good publicity from celebrities and the Internet, the brand has seen success throughout the globe, with boards being sold in America, Europe, Japan and Canada. The Canadian Broadcasting Company has featured Grassroots Powdersurfing in their news this year, and the company has also gotten some love from Snowboard Magazine and ESPN, Jensen said.