Finally, a Uniform Worthy of the US Snowboard Team

Behold, a brief history of Burton's Olympic gear efforts

November 15, 2017 9:00 am

First things first, your correspondent — a lifelong snowboarder slash old-ass-man — would like to state on record that he is an unequivocal fan of Burton.

I’ve been riding their product longer than most of the high-flying guys n’ gals on their current roster have been alive. Boards, boots, jackets, pants, fancy snowboarding socks. Hell, I have Burton luggage.

Which is why it’s hard to admit that the emotion I experienced upon hearing they’d released their design for the 2018 Winter Olympic uniforms was … abject terror. A terror borne of the knowledge that their last two Olympic uniform efforts (created for the 2010 and 2014 games, respectively) were, to put it magnanimously, the stuff of nightmares.

Ol’ Jake & Co had a promising Olympic start back in 2006, kitting out the Torino crew in frosty white pinstripes evocative of vintage Yankees jerseys. Not a Bombers fan personally, but I dug the vibe: clean, crisp, decidedly American.

Then came the Vancouver games, when the “decidedly American” trajectory veered clear into the trailer park. I watched, horrified, as America’s best and corkscrewiest riders ascended the podium in a kit designed to look like a plaid shirt and jeans. Jeans. At the Olympics. I felt genuinely bad for that squad. I know these kids are “outstanding in the field,” but to send them out in front of the entire global community dressed as actual scarecrows because of it? Cruel.

Next came Sochi, when I was forced to conclude that Burton’s design team had taken acid at a thrift store while flipping through old photos of Emmet Kelly. I’ve read that they used the term “heirloom hippie” to describe this aesthetic. With a straight face. I promise I did not just make that up.

So then back to me, justifiably petrified at the 2018 drop: what could possibly come next? And then I saw it. And like Harry addressing Lloyd on a lonely country road in Dumb and Dumber, I whispered to myself:

“Oh Burton. Just when I thought you couldn’t possibly be any dumber, you go and do something like this … AND TOTALLY REDEEM YOURSELF!”

The PyeongChang effort is just … perfection. Fourth time’s the charm. Credit where credit is due — the NASA space suit back-catalog is not territory I’d have thought to mine for American-inspired technical outerwear. And that is just plain crazy, because space suits are hands down the most technical outerwear America has ever produced. We walked on the moon in those things!

This kit is proof positive that you don’t need to overthink things provided you think about them correctly — clean and streamlined, with subtle design cues that are minimal but super impactful: from the quilted articulation of the joints to the shoulder position of the flag patch to the awesome retro font.

Not to mention that lock stock and the spaceman lot is crafted from a proprietary aluminum-coated fabric that’s not only supremely technical from a rider’s standpoint, but also exudes that silvery “one small step for a man” feel.

And one giant leap for Burton. Congrats, you guys knocked it into orbit with this one.

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