[Under 18 and want to be part of the Futureheads program? Submit your info and sponsor-me tape here!]
It’s an often-repeated cliché in life, but children are our gift to the future and in snowboarding this is no different. To ensure that our sport continues to bloom, it’s essential that kids are consistently introduced to the sideways sliding club and, most importantly, realise snowboarding is one of the funnest things a person can do with their spare time. Without a constant influx of fresh-faced young rippers and their ideas, the sport would just be littered with washed up silverbacks moaning about how everything was better in 1990.
At the end of the 2017 winter, Head Snowboards decided they wanted to become more involved with helping snowboarding’s next generation flourish, so they set up their Futureheads program - one of the only kid-specific snowboard teams in the game. The guys at Head have been producing quality hardware for young guns since before the company even existed - the brand’s forerunner, Generics, introduced their first youth board in 1993 - and since the inception of Head Snowboards in 2001 they’ve understood the youth market to be one of the most important area for a sustainable growth of the sport. “We have the ambition to build and design products that ensure our customer the best riding experience, no matter which riding level, age or gender," says Head’s Katharina Acham. “Our youth line fulfils all the requirements the kids have at this age and riding stage: Playful, forgiving and easy riding equipment, which helps them to progress their riding and experience the maximum fun when starting to snowboard."
It’s a no-brainer, really: having quality, youth-specific product means groms will have a better time on the hill, more fun, and will therefore be more likely to want to continue doing it. To deepen their commitment to youth snowboarding further, at the end of last winter the brand put the shoutout for kids to apply to become part of what would be known as their Futureheads program, where a select few talented groms would be showered with product and given an introduction to what life as a pro snowboarder entails.
“Enabling kids to be on snow – and also spreading the word – is one way of promoting snowboarding and the fun behind it from early days on snow," says Katharina. Via their social networks and flyers at resort events, Head prompted a raft of kids submit their details and sponsor-me tapes online which were then narrowed down to the best five riders “regarding their riding skills, but also in view of their existing activity and presence on social media" who were offered the coveted spots on the Futureheads team. This crew of under-18s is currently comprised of Philippa Steeg, Mona Danuser, Roope Patronen, Till Strohmeyer and Nooa Kervinen.
"It’s a no-brainer: having quality, youth-specific product means groms will have a better time on the hill, more fun, and are therefore more likely to want to continue doing it"
These guys have been reaping the rewards of the program, such as trips and shoots with the crew and and mentoring from the brand’s pro team. A recent trip to the Boarders Playground Junior Jam in Westendorf also gave the current crop of Futureheads a taste of the realities of a pro career, which tallies with another goal of the program which is, as Katharina says, “to convey the kids how to establish themselves in the snowboarding scene in the long run."
“A material deal is one thing, but a professional snowboarding career is a completely different one," she continues. “To provide the kids first-hand information we also took Thomas Kigle, one of our national team riders, as experienced partner and supervisor in our team". And as the Futureheads have benefitted from these experiences, likewise Head have been reaping the rewards from their valuable feedback on the product - these kids ride every spare moment they have - which in turn trickles down to enabling Head to fine-tune their product, which is beneficial for all grommets.
"We want to expand the Futureheads program and our junior team in the future, as we received continuously positive feedback from our current Futureheads"
Of course, time waits for no man, woman, or child, and once a rider has rolled into adulthood more spots for new Futureheads open up. With a couple of the current crop turning 18 shortly (quite possibly continuing their relationship with Head but on an adult level), there will be more spots opening up on the Futureheads team shortly, and so once again they are putting out the call for riders under 18 to submit their info and sponsor-me tapes on www.head.com/futureheads. Here, groms will find all relevant information about the program as well as how to apply.
“Our goal is to implement a sustainable program, addressing the future of snowboarding," concludes Katharina. “Therefore we want to expand the Futureheads program and our junior team in the future, as we received continuously positive feedback from our current Futureheads as well as from other sources like national snowboard trainers for example in the past. We know that we are on the right track, and keep on working on the program and its implementation to perfectly adjust it to the needs of the groms."
It's certainly a rad program to support and encourage the next generation of rippers, and we'll definitely be keeping our eye on the current crop's progression into the next phase of their careers - not to mention being pumped to check out the new wave of Futureheads who will be dropping in next winter.