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Category: Cool Stuff.

Here at Spark, when we aren’t making kick ass splitboard bindings, we are very fortunate to work with and support a number of great organizations. Recently I had the opportunity to correspond with someone over at the Splitboard Education Company. This crew is doing their part to push our sport and educate splitboarders. Good on them! Spark is proud to support these guys and we expect great things in the future.

Read some info about SEC here:

Background Information:  I came to Utah in 1999, and rode at Snowbird for a few years.  In 2002, I took an avalanche class, and Brett Kobernik, aka Cowboy, was one of my instructors.  I was the only snowboarder in the class, and Cowboy offered a splitboard for me to use.  I bought a used Voile Split Decision after the class, and the rest is history.  I eventually moved into the backcountry full-time, and started guiding and teaching about splitboards in winter 2005/2006.

SEC Headquarters

SEC Headquarters

Present Situation:  Since then, I have been fortunate enough to work in several different capacities in outdoor education.  During the winter, I do whatever I can to be on my splitboard, which has included the following jobs and experiences:

  • Guide/avalanche instructor for Utah Mountain Adentures
    • Daily and overnight trips teaching about splitboards and avalanches
  • Course leader for the National Outdoor Leadership School
    • Expedition-style splitboard courses up to 10 days in length, teaching about splitboards and avalanches
  • Professional observer for the Utah Avalanche Center
    • Daily snow and avalanche observations on a splitboard
  • Various other instruction for Westminster College, the University of Utah, and Realms of Inquiry Charter School.

Reason for the Splitboard Education Company:  Throughout my different experiences working in various winter programs, I always found that, although there was some splitboarding offered, all these programs were run and operated by skiers.  There is nothing inherently wrong with that, but it seemed to limit what I could do, teach, and advocate for on my splitboard.  Plus, I had generated all sorts of good contacts within the industry.  I kept thinking that there needs to be some sort of splitboard-specific education out there.  Finally, I started thinking that I should be the one to do it.  After having the idea for a couple years, I told my friend Ethan about it, sort of in a way to commit myself to going through with starting the company.  I put some money into a website, and got things rolling.

SEC Drinks Coffee. Spark loves coffee!

SEC Drinks Coffee. Spark loves coffee!

Current Status of SEC:  I began operating in September 2010, and had a relatively successful winter.  For one thing, I think that the simple existence of SEC supports and complements everything else that I’m already doing with splitboards.  As an example, I can use the curriculum that I’ve created for the company when I go to work a course for NOLS.  Outside of this, I have also been able to attract my own clients, apart from my other jobs.  I’m looking forward to another good winter, and continue to work to refine my website and business model.

Some simple ‘nuts and bolts’ about the company.

Introduction:  The Splitboard Education Company (SEC) is an organization designed to provide education and instruction about splitboards, following a curriculum model outlined in a previous paper (written for graduate admission to the University of Utah Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Department).  Background information about splitboarding and an argument for splitboard education was included in this article, where I also proposed the creation of SEC.

SEC Posse

SEC Posse

 Mission:  To be the leading source of splitboard education by providing complete and comprehensive splitboard curriculum.

Vision:  Accomplish stated mission by doing the following:

  • Stay abreast of developments within splitboarding and avalanche education through contact with Backcountry Magazine, splitboarding.com, the Avalanche Review, etc.
  • Work with these and others in the industry to continue the evolution of splitboarding
  • Draw on experience working for NOLS and UMA to provide a high quality educational experience
  • Utilize available resources in and near Salt Lake City (Voile/Black Diamond/local splitboarders)
  • Continue to educate myself through lots of splitboarding!

Target Client:  Intermediate through expert snowboarders who are interested in getting out in the backcountry and checking out splitboards.

Operating space:  My wife and I recently remodeled our garage, which we rebuilt and insulated into a space that is used as the office and shop for SEC.

 Curriculum:  SEC will follow my proposed curriculum model of splitboard education, split into ‘Classroom Workshops’ and ‘Field Clinics’.  The workshops and clinics thoroughly cover this three-part model, with individual classes targeted towards specific topics.  Classroom time will be an interactive mix of education and instruction regarding the parts, functions, and setup of splitboards and other associated equipment.   Time in the field will focus on the use and practice of different splitboard techniques.  Other educational topics from the curriculum model (for both the classroom and the field) including an introduction to backcountry touring, as well as avalanche hazard evaluation, which includes the potential to earn an Avalanche Awareness certificate.

The fun part

The fun part

Location of services:  SEC will offer services in the ‘classroom’ and in the ‘field’.  The classroom space will vary.  It could be the SEC shop, or the curriculum can be delivered in a gym, a garage, or any other open space where clients/students would have enough room to spread out and work with splitboards.  The field sessions will take place primarily in the Wasatch Mountains (under the UMA special use permit).