The sport of Freebording, a thrilling hybrid that combines the essence of snowboarding with the freedom of skateboarding, is not just a modern phenomenon. It’s a sport with a rich and intriguing history that dates back several decades. In this article, we’ll embark on a journey through time to explore the captivating history of Freebording.
The Early Years: Prototypes and Innovation by Steen Strand
Freebording owes its existence to the creative genius of Steen Strand, a California native with a passion for snowboarding. In the early 1990s, Strand found himself yearning for the exhilaration of carving and sliding down hills when there was no snow to be found. It was this desire that led him to develop the first Freebord prototype in 1996.
Steen Strand’s initial design was a revelation in the world of board sports. His invention consisted of six wheels, with two central wheels acting as the pivot points, mimicking the edge control of a snowboard. This innovative design allowed riders to carve and slide on pavement in a way that had never been possible before.
The Company Freebord was started in 1996 by Steen Strand in Palo Alto, CA, while studying for his master’s in product design at Stanford University.
“After one of our riders drifted into fakie and caught a fat edge, I began designing a center wheel that could rotate 360 degrees”,
“Once the test setup worked, I built two cam center wheels and mounted them on a test deck that I had already used for earlier prototypes (it probably had a hundred holes drilled into it from trying different things). I tried many different deck shapes and sizes but eventually learned that width, stiffness, and concavity improved the ride.”
The Alpha 112cm was our first production model Freebord, with a twin tip construction and sidecut much like a trimmed down snowboard. Also made in an 110cm model, the Alphas rode well but were heavy and hard to control on the increasingly steep roads on which riders were taking them. Steen released the two models under the Freebord brand in 1998; the FB-112 and the FB-110. The company patented designs relating to the Freebord brand freeboards. Though other companies have since developed their own freeboards and marketed them under alternate brand names, Freebord remains one of the largest producers of freeboards in the world.
By 2000, the company had sold 4000 boards. In 2005, the company signed deals to have their product distributed to snowboarding enthusiasts in Europe. The company continues to produce and market freeboards under the Freebord trademark.
So in 2001, we began to produce the smaller, lighter and more maneuverable Xponent decks in 80cm. Also included on these boards were Skyhook S1 bindings that kept the rider’s foot in place and allowed for much more leverage when carving and sliding downhill. These bindings have since evolved into the S2s, which features more foot coverage and added adjustability. In response to growing demand and rider feedback for a more aggressive setup, we introduced in 2008 the G3 trucks, with improvements in durability and strength as well as a wider footprint for added responsiveness.
In 2015, we released the G3-R trucks. The G3-Rs featured angled hangars that increased stopping power and allowed the rider much more rocker. The center wheel bracket was redesigned to improve strength and adjustability. Check out all the improvements here.
The Freebord team continued to refine the design, making improvements to the trucks, deck shape, and wheel technology. These innovations paved the way for a more dynamic and responsive riding experience.
The Rise of the Freebord Community
As the sport evolved, so did its community. Enthusiasts from various backgrounds came together to form the Freebord community. The sport’s inclusivity and unique blend of snowboarding and skateboarding elements attracted riders who were eager to push the limits and carve their own paths.
With a growing community came a natural desire to showcase skills and creativity. Freebording competitions and events began to emerge, providing riders with opportunities to test their abilities and bond with fellow enthusiasts. These events range from downhill races to style competitions, reflecting the diverse skill set required for Freebording.
Around 2005, Freebord Mfg started hosting the Freebord Rider Awards every year in the USA. It used to be a big party with different video contests & categories. 10 years later, Lausanne in Switzerland started having the same kind of event with their Lausanne Slopestyle. It was the idea of our Pro rider Pierre Linckenheld.
In 2021 after the covid, Freebord Europe launched an annual Tour where people can contact, join each other to ride in many areas. It was only in Europe the first year, and it go worldwide in 2022.
The Future of Freebording: Innovation and Exploration
The 21st century brought significant advancements to Freebording. The sport expanded beyond its Californian roots and gained recognition on a global scale. Riders from Europe to Asia embraced the thrill of Freebording, forming their own communities and contributing to the sport’s growth.
Today, Freebording continues to evolve. Riders are constantly pushing the boundaries, performing jaw-dropping tricks and exploring new terrains. Innovations in technology and materials have led to even more responsive and versatile Freebord setups.
With its rich history and passionate community, Freebording remains a sport that captures the essence of adventure, camaraderie, and individuality. Whether you’re a seasoned rider or someone intrigued by the idea of carving through city streets and mountain roads, the history of Freebording serves as a testament to the enduring spirit of exploration and creativity.
As Freebord enthusiasts continue to carve their own paths, the sport’s history is still being written, promising a future filled with exciting innovations and breathtaking rides. So, grab your board, hit the pavement, and become a part of the ever-evolving history of Freebording. 🤙