Nike: The Brand that Hijacked Snowboarding

Travis Gneiting News

Nike Snowboarding at

Nike. As iconic and All-American as apple pie.  What you might now know, is the heart and sole of this billion dollar brand was inspired AND created, by a waffle maker. Literally. The first high traction Nike shoe began when co-founder Bill Bowerman stole a waffle iron from his wife’s kitchen to cook up some rubber for the now iconic high traction shoes.  The shoe makers were struggling to find a material and design that would provide enough traction, and would be light weight enough for an array of sports.  Thank you, Betty Crocker.

Original Waffle Iron use to create First Nike Shoe Sole

Nike Shoe Sole Waffle Iron

2013 – Nike’s are a Top Selling Snowboard Boot:

Nike Zoom Ites Snowboard Boots

Fast forward 40+ years and Nike is one of the most recognized brands in the world and owns the shoe industry, hands down. Nike is the authority for athletic sportswear, with the worlds most famous sponsors from Micheal Jordan to Tiger Woods. From soccer cleats to skateboarding shoes, Nike is #1. But down do business, in 2011 Nike entered new territory: Snowboarding.

Nike Zoom Force 1 Mercer

While Nike is a heavy weight in every other sport, but when it comes to renegade snowboarders they are rookies. Competing with veterans like Burton, Lib Tech, GNU, Ride, K2, Salomon.  Comparatively speaking, snowboarding is generally is a new sport – finally allowed into the Olympics in the early 90’s. Believe it or not, the rivalry between skiers and boarders is still hot and heavy. As of 2013 there are still 4 resorts that don’t allow snowboarding. In 2007 Burton launched a short film contest, encouraging maverick boarding to invade these resorts and whoever submitted the most riveting rocking film would be awarded $5,000. Up to $20,000 possible.

Riders aren’t the easiest crowd to win over.  There is a longstanding loyalty to brands like Burton – which dominates the snowboarding arena. Riders who rely on the best equipment to hold up through the abuse aren’t easily exploited by big name brands who don’t know the terrain.
Half Pipe  John Lemieux

Especially by big box commercial brands that cater to “games”. Nike isn’t exactly known in the extreme sport arena. Even companies like Rossignol – who are #1 in the Ski industry – have struggled to establish themselves in the snowboarding arena.  Yet perhaps, that is because of the Skier versus Boarder rivalry.

Ski vs. Snow RIvalry

From apparel to shoes, boarders are finicky connoisseur.  Once established brands can quickly go out of business (like Forum). So don’t rest on your laurels – you’ve got to keep innovating and stay on your toes.

Yet despite all of the speculation, hats off to you Nike – over the past 2 years you have gained a following and marketshare by leaps and bounds. Nike Snowboarding Boots have become some of the most recommended boots for gear reviews, buyers guides and industry choice awards for years in a row. There’s a reason why Nike is the most recognized brand in the world. They know how to execute, and they know feet. Nike revolutionized commercial advertising, airing some of the best snowboarding ads we’ve seen – big air, great sound tracks, awesome lighting, and better tricks than you’d see at the X-Games. Check out what we mean:

With deep pockets like that, you would expect the best marketing campaigns and the top of the line commercials. You would also expect that they could afford to sponsor the best athletes and rockstar riders to make. But fact is – Nike knows feet.  Better than the rest.

Transworld Post AlexNo other snowboarding company can hold a candle to Nike when it comes to fitting a foot – and the consumers recognized that.  The heavens opened – and Nike introduced their line of snowboard boots –  Zoom Force 1, Vapen, Zoom DK, Zoom Kaiju and Zoom Ites. We do have a soft spot for the nostalgic Zoom Force 1. When Nike introduced the Zoom Force 1 – we all loved the iconic swoosh – but what we didn’t know, was how well they would fit and hold up. The quality is nothing less than you’d expect.

With the success of the Nike Snowboard boots,  the flood gates opened with a full line of Nike Snowboard apparel and snowboard equipment from boards to bindings to boots.   Since 2011 the Nike swoosh has taken the mountain by storm.  We are seeing their jackets, pants and boards all over the backcountry terrain.  With fresh styles, innovative functionality and material and construction more durable than other brands, and a brand with years behind it.  So, it’ll be interesting to see which brand the crowds will follow – but either way, we know everyone’s chasing the powder.


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