Reto Kestenholz On Shapes and Sponsors

In Whiteout 42 we gave Kesti an open mic to talk about his passion for wide snowboards. In short, he’s stoked on more float, less slams and avoiding toe and heel drags. It turns out he had a lot more to say, so we gave him carte blanche to share his thoughts on shapes and sponsors here….

Fight for your ride  Let’s go über-wide!
Riders should decide what shapes need to be built and not greedy businessmen who only care about the money!

While there are a few Pros, who really can choose their favorite shapes, there are also plenty of guys like me who invested countless hours to push simple ideas, that just didn’t fit with the strategies of big brands and their business plans…

I tried to present my arguments for wide boards in so many ways. For example:

  • Why are so many of the models in a product line so similar? Boot sizes often vary by 3 to 4 centimeters, so why wouldn’t board widths do the same? Why not give real wide snowboards and special customers a chance!
  • Just look at the variety of shapes in surf and skate. There are completely different toys for every single kind of conditions and riding styles! Not even to mention of that snow is much more diverse in it’s consistence than water – or concrete, for that matter.
  • Look at the development of freeride skis. They really did a damn good job innovating in the past few years while the snowboard industry was preoccupied with weird rocker shapes, graphics and rockstars…
  • Don’t be afraid to open your mind, take your time and check out new stuff! Obviously some customers have some fear of trying something completely different. But in my opinion, that’s just influenced way too much by marketing, ads and resellers.

While a few of the shapers were interested in my ideas, nothing ever changed, so when the big brand that I rode for finally kicked out my favorite boards, (the widest and longest) I knew it was time to move on. Now I want to prove that there is enough space in the market and a desire from customers for new shit and I’ve been fortunate to find the perfect partner to help me make it happen.


Natural McTwist in Meiringen-Hasliberg, where there’s no need to shape quarters... © David Birri

So let me tell you a bit more about how my relationship began with a small family business with from the Czech Republic. 7 years ago, I visited LTB Snowboards in Prague after a guy in a local shop showed me an older P-Team model that matched a lot of the ideas I had for how a board should be made. At the time, I’d been bugging my sponsors constantly with my idea for über-wide boards. So seeing the P-Team in action confirmed my feeling that significantly wider boards could perform exactly how I’d hoped.


The biggest park twin on the market in action in Grindelwald. Air to fakie © David Birri

The thing that really struck me in Prague is that LTB Snowboards are handmade in that family factory for 30 years now! A 30 year history is huge and EU production means short transportation routes with the added benefit that I actually know the guy who builds my boards. That way, “corporate social responsibility” isn’t just another marketing tool or empty term.

Finally, my personal Dream board came to life in the last days of the 2014 season when I convinced the LTB boss, Lukas Schröder, to come to Grindelwald to test the first prototypes. For that board, LTB only uses wood that’s milled within a radius of 1000 km of the factory. They use thin and elaborately treated veneers to replace plastic top sheets and other material used in the construction are recycled wherever possible. The result is an eco-friendly, unique, freaking wide snowboard made nearby with carefully picked resources… A dream come true for me!


My Dream model: 32 waist width, 178 long – an unbeatable backcountry freestyle twin!

Today I’m super happy to be part of the crew. I love the Czech people that I’ve met along the way ( especially the beer that they drink ;-) I also really appreciate how they approach new challenges and it’s always good to have one more reason to visit Prague once or twice a year!

So I want to take the opportunity to say thank you LTB, Lukas & the whole Schröder family, the guys who are building these great snowboards and to you open minded riders out there who are always welcome to try new things and give honest feedback.

Here at Whiteout we’re always happy to give riders more of a voice when they’ve got something on their minds. We’re stoked that a guy like Reto is still so passionate about snowboarding after all of these years! If you want to go deeper, you can always check out more of his thoughts on all things über-wide here.


Classic topless method by Reto in Grindelwald. © Alain Eberhart