April 12th, 2017. I show up to the ski repair shop in Mammoth Mountain’s Main Lodge at 7:30am, a half hour before the lifts open, just like my dad always taught me to. I want to make sure the board I received in the mail from a new company, Signal Snowboards, is waxed and sharpened. When I hand the board over to Blake, the snowboard tech (who, by the way, is incredibly friendly at 7:30am), he says, “Rad board. Signal. Aren’t they, like, the Netflix of snowboards?”
I’m impressed. This guy sees a lot boards coming through from all over the world, and he recognized Signal, a company that’s only just begun. They must be doing something right, I think. Only one way to find out…
In the gondola, I pull out my phone to check the Signal Snowboards website again. It’s a snowboard subscription service, like a Netflix for snowboarders, indeed. Instead of saving all your pennies for a big snowboard purchase, you simply sign up for $35 to $55-per-month, pick your board, and they send it to you within 2 to 4 business days. And you get a new board EVERY YEAR. Subscribers also get to demo two Signal boards each year (1 week per board) at no cost. If you break, chip, or scratch your board, Signal will repair or replace it for free, so long as you are subscriber.
Strapping in to the Disruptor 2 ($45 per month) at the summit of an 11,053′ mountain that received 600″ of snow this winter, I can’t deny that the badass skull graphics between my boots are adding to the stoke. I opt for the Cornice Bowl, drop in, and make my first turn. The board comes around nice and easy, it feels light, and the radial side-cut and mid-wide waist width covers my large(ish) feet with no worries of catching a toe or heel. My more more critical top turns give way to long carves and the board feels like a natural extension of my legs. It’s with me. Opening up for speed, I notice there’s something, well, cool, about the diamond-shaped nose, like it’s more aerodynamic. I’ve been riding surfboards with unconventional nose shapes for years now, so the diamond nose and tail of the Disruptor 2 makes sense to me; a functional way to shave off weight, but not performance.
After a bunch of top-to-bottom runs, it’s time for a beer. Over a Mammoth Brewery IPA, I check out Signal’s website again. The factory is in Huntington Beach, California, and they do everything on-site, from base-cutting, graphic design, core-profiling, lay-up, and finishing. I take a sip and contemplate the universe. Pretty cool that the board I just rode from the top of California was also made in California, only 300 miles away. I think about the jobs they are creating in my home state. I think about how Signal is slightly reducing the carbon footprint by only making boards-to-order instead of mass-producing. I wonder if they have plans to further reduce this footprint by, perhaps, using solar and gravity presses at their factory? After finishing my beer, I walk to the gondola station and head back up the mountain. Later that night, sore and stoked, I check out Netflix to choose the exact show I want to watch. Not the show that just happens to be on, but the one I feel like watching at that moment. Power to the people.