Few Swiss riders have deeper roots and industry experience than David Pitschi. He was one of the first pros from western Switzerland and has stayed true to snowboarding with high profile jobs at some of the biggest brands. Since he took a new position with YES. we thought it would be a good opportunity to check in with him and see how he likes his new job. He also shared some good insights on team riders, business, movies and the current state of competitive snowboarding.
Hey David, can you introduce yourself for any of our readers who aren’t familiar with you?
I’m from Ireland/Switzerland and have been snowboarding for about 30 years, I used to ride in Switzerland a lot and then moved to Whistler with Romain De Marchi (RDM) for a few years to film with Absinthe. When my snowboarding wasn’t at the global level anymore, I moved to Hossegor and started working for Billabong as the team manager, then I moved to Salomon snowboards as their brand manager. When Romain called me up to offer a position as Brand Lead For YES I was really happy to jump on board and to get back to my roots and friends. So now I work with RDM, DCP and JP Solberg, leading the YES. snowboards brand.
How’s your season going so far?
My season so far is going pretty shit. I don’t like splitboarding, I think chairlifts are a great invention 😊 Living in France makes it a really complicated year to get on the mountain and snowboard. I’ve had a couple good days in Switzerland and in Andorra but nothing extraordinary.
Damn… I guess we’ve been pretty lucky here in Switzerland…
Which board are you riding these days?
I love the Greats UnInc 159, that Asym MidBite profile is really good for me. The board is a machine on the groomed slopes and floats great in powder too. I love the way it turns and the snap it has in and out of turns. It’s also really stable in the air.
It’s a great new tech that we want to bring to a wider range of riders. It really helps you compensate the discrepancies from toe to heel edge turning power. That means you get a really even ride from toe-to-heel edge. The MidBite edge profile is also good with the more powder prone boards. The slimmer waist allows tight turns and the wider nose and tail make for more floatation. Plus the disruption in the edge at the binding area allows you to have a better edge grip on those icy runs.
Who’s your favorite artist that you’ve gotten to work with recently for a board design?
That’s a hard one to say, they were all good in their artistic ways and brought some interesting stories to the boards. Our powder specific boards were designed by Mark Kowalchuk and they are all connected by a link in each board referring to the other one that makes for a space to earth story that I think is really cool. Also working with Kalonji who had designed Romain’s original UnInc board was very inspiring. Kalonji is now a highly regarded artist in Geneva and it was an honor working with him. In all, we focused on getting artists that had a connection with snowboarding, The New Rival board for Juliette was designed by fellow team rider Crystal Legoffe.
I guess this is a pretty challenging time for everyone. How has the pandemic affected YES.?
It is indeed, it’s been really challenging in certain countries and we are facing some complicated times for our shops and distribution. But as YES. Started in the worst possible time to start a snowboard company and prevailed, it will weather this challenge and come out of it stronger. It has forced us to looks harder at what YES. stands for and get back to the root of the brand. So in all, even if the business side will suffer, we will have a better brand to build on.
Between having you as the Brand Lead, Romain as a founder and Nidecker involved, I guess you can say that the brand has a heavy Swiss influence. What’s Nidecker’s role exactly?
The brand has the best of what Switzerland can offer, the quality with Nidecker, the excellence with Romain De Marchi and the dedication to the brand from my part. We are like the Patek Philippe of snowboarding 😉
Nidecker provides us with the crucial support in logistics and distribution, they provide us with the tools of a leading snowboard brand in the industry so we can focus in building a brand that the riders will want to ride on. We also benefit from Nidecker’s expertise in sourcing and global trade. They are a truly a key partner.
Do you also work pretty closely with the three founders?
Absolutely, we talk every week daily on pretty much all aspects of the business. The three are deeply involved in the brand identity, board line and marketing of YES. It’s a very enriching process because the three are so different and support each other greatly.
You guys all came up filming for big international productions and I know that YES. made a few movies already. What’s your feeling about full length video projects these days?
Times have changed drastically for the movie productions. Back in the days you had a crew who filmed for a year and compiled the footage during the summer to release a major production in September, and the release was the event of the season. There were a handful of productions and as many distributors. The cameramen were great riders. They had to log their heavy gear and film around the hill to find the right angle. Today, with the miniaturization of all the technology and the speed of production, the timeline has drastically changed. You can have a clip filmed and edited within a day. The way people consume footage and riding is also totally different, if something happened on Saturday and you didn’t see it by Sunday, it’s old news and not interesting anymore. The pressure put on the riders to constantly produce content daily is great. There still are some major productions but they are backed by constant feeds that dilute the impact of their release in September. I think the want/need from the snowboarders to see excellent riding footage is stronger than ever, but they want to see it as it happens. With the drones and the go-pros, the access to that footage is getting easier and easier. We’ll always be inspired by what the top riders are able to show… but we want to see it on the day they do it.
How do you feel about competitive snowboarding? Did you watch the Natural Selection?
I watched every minute of it. It’s an interesting point, the week before the X-games where on… Without the crowds and the way it was formatted made for a very dull and flat viewing experience. The tricks were amazing and the riders skills are the best, but the viewing experience was boring. You could also see the criteria of judging was all about performance in rotation and not rider identity and that’s a major point in snowboarding – who the rider is and his style. Even the knuckle huck that was a cool thing the year before became stale and formatted.
Then I watched Natural Selection and I was gripped to the screen watching the riders find their lines and express their way of riding. You could really see each style and skill. The level of snowboarding was insane and the production of the event made it so good to watch. It was really showing the skill of the rider in all riding aspects. I think we witnessed a new era in competitive snowboarding. Pretty much bringing what inspires all snowboarders into a competitive format that shows true snowboarding.
I would’ve loved to see RDM on that course…
I guess, you’ve known each other for a long time since you both grew up in Geneva and filmed for Absinthe together. That guy’s one of a kind…. Any good stories to tell?
We would need to write a book if we wanted to tell all of the stories, from when he stormed Les Diablerets park to when he mastered Chad’s gap or jumped the Stratton pipe. There are so many that you can tell and even more that are best left in our memories 😉
I mean, for me, Romain is one of the corner stones of modern snowboarding. He is also the reason I stopped filming, because I saw him and Gigi come to the backcountry and land tricks on first tries… landing them further and better than ever. I think we don’t know enough about Romain, we know what he lets you see, but Romain is driven, focused and dedicated, he always gives 110% and expects the same from you. He pushes you be as good as him. He is loyal and will drop everything for a friend in need. In all, he is a great human that pushed himself to the limit in all aspects, and doing that pushed snowboarding into what it is today.
Has he calmed down a bit these days or is he still going full speed?
He has not calmed down in his riding, he still charges, he still goes 110% and gives 110% to his family and riding.
It’s cool to see that Uninc has grown to be such a big part of YES. Can you explain a bit of the philosophy behind that?
The Uninc state of mind is really within the 3 founders. They brought that with them when they started YES. It still runs through their veins. The idea behind the Uninc Line is to bring that raw, cheeky energy back into snowboarding. To remind everyone that snowboarding is fun and not that serious, and to show that a board is all you need to express your style when you’re a snowboarder. It really is the base of why we ride. We want to do it on our own terms. It’s remembering our drive and keeping us in check when we get too caught up in life’s details.
Are there some other interesting lessons that you have learned after all of your years in the snow business?
YES. Snowboarding is our life, but it’s snowboarding, we need to remember why we started and what our driving force to get into snowboarding was. The business is just like any other business. You make a product, say it’s the best and hope to sell truckloads of it. But snowboarding is snowboarding and that is what’s unique. Business will come and go. Those wanting to make money will too. Snowboarding is a passion and that will stay and therefore there will always be business. It’s cool to see the industry so full of passionate people about snowboarding. I mean how many Colgate brand managers post themselves brushing their teeth on the weekend? But every snowboard brand employee is snowboarding on the days he can. That’s the difference.
It seems like a lot of brands are scrambling to sign more women and minorities to their pro teams. What do you think about that?
I think it’s good to be as inclusive as possible, snowboarding can only benefit from more people riding and if brands feel that there are opportunities in certain demographics then good on them to go there. We saw that our women’s offer was not strong enough so we are bringing a true park board for women into our line because we feel it will help get more women on boards.
I’d love to see another young Swiss rider on the team. What are you looking for in a team rider?
Talent : ) We would also love to get a young Swiss rider, it’s hard because we are small and the riders we have on the team are close to YES. and love the boards, but we don’t have much budget, so the riders tend to leave for the paycheck. But we are building from the ground up and have eyes on the mountain. We don’t want formatted riders. That means we want the rider to be a snowboarder in all ways.
Thanks for your time David! Anything else you’d like to add?
All good, I guess now that I’m part of the old guard and I’m that dude sitting on the chairlift looking down at the park jumps with my heart saying “go do a backside rodeo, you know you can” and my head saying “don’t be stupid, you are 44 and you didn’t take your helmet” I have a full view on snowboarding and the joy it brings to anyone who lets it in. There is not a bad day snowboarding. I just want to thank snowboarding for saving my life, for making my life and for being the reason I wake up in the morning for the past 30 years. If it wasn’t for snowboarding, I would have a very dull life. In these challenging times it has become even more visible to me how important it is to get out there and slide.
Thank you for your time and questions, I hope we can ride together soon 😊
YES please! Also a big thanks to all of the photographers who contributed to this story. Be sure to check out more of their work here: Eric Bergeri, Phil Tifo, Tyler Thompson, Russell Dalby, Tony Harrington and Patrick Armbruster.