Matt Biolos is known for his performance elevating surf shapes that allow pros to reach their potential and elevate the performance of the average recreational surfer a bit closer to his or her dreams. When Lib Tech first began working with Matt on surf shapes, we were psyched but we didn’t quite understand what we were getting into. We loved all of his sick shapes, surf legends, the 90s Lost videos’ perfect blend of insanity, reality, talent, and progressive surfing. What we didn’t understand is that Matt has a cabin at Mammoth and spends much of his winter shredding with his family, the crew at Wave Rave, and manages to sneak in a couple extended pow trips, too. Turns out Matt is a real f…ing snowboarder. His enthusiasm and perspective on the snow side has been a refreshing injection of creative energy into our snowboard design team and process.The qualities that make Matt a leader in surf also transfer directly into snow. He has an amazing trained eye for design function and aesthetics, knowledge of history, quick read of trends, ability to communicate with athletes, personal hands on experience, and relentless drive to create performance boards that work for both pros and Joes. Combine all of this with his salty shit talking Lost Dysfunction, and we have had some fun and created some great snowboards with more toys in the works. We sent him a few questions to put a bit more light on the frozen side of Matt Biolos. ~ Pete Saari
When did you first get into snowboarding?
I built my first snowboard in the winter of ‘82/83. Garage style. We did car laps, and some hiking around Mt Baldy and near the now defunct, Ski Sunrise. I was 13, but my buddy was 16 and had his license. We ran into Chuck Barfoot on our first ever day snowboarding. I rode some of my buddies’ “Burton back-hill” boards in high school, then made some boards in winter ‘87, when they started opening resorts to boards.
You are up at Mammoth a lot during the winter… What is it that gets you fired up about snowboarding?
The camaraderie. It’s so much more inclusive than surfing, it’s not so up tight. It’s my release and my escape. I think it’s the best family thing in the world. I love simple things like drawing lines in groomers, the 3D sensation of riding powder. I love “the search” for good snow, wether on a storm day, a crowded resort day, or out spilt boarding the back country. I just love being up in the mountains.
You seem like you are in a pretty sweet spot in your career right now, where you are able to shape boards for the world’s best surfers and then apply your shaping and personal surfing/testing experience into designs that work really well for the everyday surfer. How does your surf design experience translate into your snow designs?
I think it’s pretty similar. You know what you want to do, and how you want the board to feel under foot, and the challenge is to translate that into a design. Like with Surfboards, I rely on input from riders that push and operate at a higher level than myself, but at the same time, I feel that in both surf and snow I’m a pretty good barometer of the motivated and dedicated every day surfer/snowboarder who we are really designing for.
When your are on snow are you trying to design and find surf feelings in your snowboarding or maybe snowboard sensations in a surfboard?
I think both apply. I remember you and I surfing those perfect lefts in Indo for a couple of days last year. When I was repeatedly bottom turning, sometimes 4-6 times per wave on those solid over head days, I was really focusing on translating my heel side snowboard carve to my back side bottom turn. Rotating and dropping the front arm, driving off my front foot. The geometry that you can practice over and over on the snow, consciously helped my surfing during those sessions. The same goes for snowboarding. Honestly, I feel that surfers really bring great technique to the mountain. You can spot some one who is a a “surfer that snowboards”… The hands and arms are different than a “snowboarder who surfs”.
It’s unfair, but I must say that’s it’s easier for a good surfer to cross over into snow, than good snowboarders cross over to surfing.
You have two main models you work on with Lib Tech. Can you give us a little insight into some of the subtle design differences between the Rocket and the RNF?
My boards, like Surfing, are both directional. 6 years ago when we started this project, you didn’t see many directional boards on the hill. Even though 95% of snowboarders ride one direction 95% of the time, everyone was riding peanut shaped twin tile. People really tripped out here in Mammoth when they would see me in line on my boards. It was the exception then. Now it’s the norm! It’s been a bit of a revolution/trend, back to directional “shaped” snowboards. I like to think that surf-minded designers like myself, Chris Christenson, and the surfers that run Lib, championed this movement. The Rocket is more of a traditional “purest” design, built around a camber bottom. I like the way a single arcing camber reacts under foot, especially on firm snow. Entering a turn with pressure predominantly on the front foot, then gradually engaging the entire rail and pushing through the turn on the rear foot. One clean arc. The RNF is also directional, but is built around Lib’s trademarked Rocket profile, with soft cambers under each foot. The Rocket profile, that Lib pioneered, really made snowboarding more forgiving. Much easier for average everyday guys to ride. They are amazing in choppy cut up snow, and make riding powder easier, as well. I feel the biggest positive with rocker base snowboards is the lack of fatigue you feel as the day goes on. They don’t wear you out. Camber boards require more engagement to ride properly, and for the guy who rides less often, that can hammer you.
You always have your finger on the pulse of what is going on in surf. Are you seeing anything interesting coming down the pipe on the snow side? What’s next in snow for you?
I’m into refinement. Working with the design team at Lib to really design the best all-around, surf-inspired directional snowboards. I’m really feeling an exaggerated directional camber. Cambers that are forgiving like rocker dominate boards, but also feature the power and precision of a pure camber board. Also exploring deeper, more powerful secondary cambers inside of rocker dominate boards. I’m fortunate to talk regularly with Lib’s riders like Travis, Blair and E Jack, as well as, ride with the best “mature” free riders here in Mammoth, and they all give me inspiring insight on pushing our side of snowboard progression. I believe that free-riding is really what defines the snow board experience, and making that experience better for the average Joe is the goal here.