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A few years ago, Kevin Sansalone started selling snowboards out of his garage in Whistler. Fast forward a few years and he has global distribution and Whitegold is starting to gain steam. With unique shapes and high quality construction, it’s not just another board brand, but a pet project with nothing but passion behind it. Read on to learn a little more about the brand.
You’ve worn many hats in snowboarding over the years, in case our readers aren’t aware, wanna start with a little bit of your history?
I started snowboarding at Mount Seymour in North Vancouver BC. I think it was 1987 and I was 12 years old… don’t do the math We had a great crew there and we all rode everyday cause we had night riding so we could go after school and all day long on weekends. We progressed and pushed each other and had so much fun snowboarding. I rode pro for a long time and had some really great sponsors support me over the years. I’ve done contests all over the world and filmed and traveled to some incredible places, snowboarding has been really good to me. I got hurt one spring and couldn’t ride so I starting filming my friends riding and parties and all of us causing trouble. I edited a fun little movie called Skids, short for Seymour Kids. Those movies did really well and we kept it going. We made 4 movies under the name Skids and 7 movies under the Sandbox name. I started making helmets when Whistler brought in the rule that you had to wear a helmet in the snowboard park. All the kids wanted something cooler looking, smaller and more low profile than what was on the market at the time. We made some really great helmets under the Sandbox name and it’s taken off for us. We now have world wide distribution, we are breaking into other categories like goggles and starting a summer line as well. I’m also making some boards under the name Whitegold. I live in the neighbourhood of White Gold in Whistler and I started by just selling them out of my garage so the name seemed fitting. Now I’m taking the boards to a little bit wider distribution platform with my friends at Low Pressure Studios who do Bataleon Snowboards, Switchback Bindings and Lobster Snowboards. They also distribute the Sandbox helmets for us in the US so it’s a really cool family vibe there. So yeah I guess you could say I wear a lot of hats and there’s never a dull moment these days that’s for sure.
What’s happening with Sandbox?
Sandbox is doing really well and keeping me busy. We are launching a small goggle line to compliment the helmets. They work really well and fit perfectly with the helmets. The goggles are nice and simple, priced well and look great with or without a helmet. We are also launching a summer line for 2014 with skate, bike and wake helmets.
Why branch into boards? What’s your role in the project?
I’ve always loved board design since my days having a pro model at Option Snowboards. We had a factory in Vancouver and I would go in a few times a week and learn so much about boards. We’d build all kinds of cool prototypes and test them on the local hills or up at Whistler it became a huge passion of mine. I left Option a couple years before they tanked and I had a connection with a great factory in Austria so I made some really nice boards and sold them out of my garage and online. I kept it really simple for a few years.
The new partnership with Low Pressure Studios is great. I get involved with a little bit of everything but I mostly focus on board design and marketing. They will take care of the production and sales. They have a great team there and everyone is really into it and they all ride it’s great to have that kind of a crew behind you. It also allows me to keep riding which is really important to me. The decision to take Whitegold to that next level was truly about having their team behind me so I could ride more.
How did you end up teaming up with Bataleon? Is Whitegold a standalone brand, or a branch on the Austrian’s tree?
I met the guys at Bataleon through a mutual friend of ours and we just hit it off. They started distributing the Sandbox helmets for me in the US and the relationship grew. Now we travel together and ride as much as we can together. It’s pretty crazy with the ease of communication these days I can work with these guys who are over in Amsterdam and we talk almost everyday.
Why TBT? Can you explain the tech behind that and why it works?
It’s best to show you how it works in person with a board in front of you but basically the boards have full camber tip to tail and just the side contact points of the board in front of your foot towards the nose and towards the tail are tilted up slightly. This give you the pop and power of camber with the forgiving looseness in the contact points on the nose and tail like a rocker board. Most people love it when they give it a try.
What makes Whitegold unique?
Along with the TBT shapes we use really high end materials in all of the boards; a super light hybrid core, high end base material, carbon, cork, bamboo and many other high performance materials. We have split friendly features like edge gaps in the nose and tail and a bamboo stringer running down the center on two of the boards. Back Seat inserts allow you to slam your bindings way back on those super deep pow days.The graphics are also subtle but very unique.
Are the boards available globally?
Yes, we have distributors world wide and if you can’t find one locally we will ship anywhere in the world from the online store.
It hasn’t been snowing, snowboarding is too expensive for most people to do, and there’s a lot of talk about “where do we go from here?” As someone who’s been in the game for a long time, what’s your take on the state of things in snowboarding?
I think we are in a really cool time for snowboarding. People are expanding their minds and wanting to try all kinds of boards and shapes and explore new types of riding and go on adventures and just break out of the norm. It’s a good time for smaller brands to take advantage of this and get new ideas out there. Yes, we’ve had some bad snow years and money is tight for sure but the people that really love snowboarding will find a way to to do it and hopefully they will keep supporting the brands they love and not just the cheapest board or the most advertised products.
Why do you think the world needs (or maybe wants is the right word) another snowboard company right now?
We don’t ‘need’ another brand but like I said it’s a good time to try something new. We aren’t totally re-inventing the snowboard but we are giving people something a little different, unique and high quality. We aren’t making a million cheap, crappy boards and flooding the market. Whitegold is coming from a solid background of people who are passionate about snowboarding and building snowboards.