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End of an Era? | Snowboard Brand 686 Breaks With Tradition by Signing a Skier

Freeskier Parker White has become the first two-planker to represent the Californian brand

For anyone who’s actually serious about snowsports, the skier vs. snowboarder ‘wars’ have long been a thing of the past.

There’s nothing wrong with a bit of friendly piss-taking of course, but the days when skiers were all lycra-clad racing machines and snowboarders baggy-trousered park rats are long gone. Most people accept that the cross-pollination between the sports – in terms of tricks, lines, street spots and culture has made both richer.

If anyone was still in any doubt, then the latest news from Californian clothing brand 686 should help settle it – they’ve just signed freeskier Parker White to their pro team. On the surface the move marks a departure for the brand, which has been proudly “snowboard only” since it was founded in 1992. But it actually makes perfect sense.

“For anyone who’s actually serious about snowsports, the skier vs. snowboarder ‘wars’ have long been a thing of the past.”

As freeskiing and snowboarding have got closer, riders have increasingly stopped bothering about whether a brand was technically for skiers or snowboarders and bought the gear that they liked regardless. By signing Parker, 686 are just reflecting the trends on the hill and in winter sports shops.

Parker White in his new 686 clobber. Photo: 686

Brent Sandor from 686 explained: “Historically, skiers have already bought our product, but we have never been a real part of the community or conversation.” Not only was it time they got involved in skiing, but 686 reckon Parker White was the perfect skier to sign. Michael West, the company’s founder said: “The moment I met Parker, I knew he would fit into the 686 family. For us it comes down to personality and swagger more than anything they put on their feet.”

In a sense Parker was part of the 686 family already – he’s a childhood friend of Forest Bailey, long one of their highest profile snowboarders. For his part, Parker sounds pretty happy with the hook-up. He said: “I know it’s only good things to come from here on out. F*ckin’ stoked.”

Parker White shredding in Mammoth. Photo: Logan

Whether this move marks the start of a wider movement for snowboard only brands remains to be seen. But if a core company like 686 feels like signing a skier is the way to go, then might we see the likes of Burton or Ride following suit? Watch this space.

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Airs to the Throne | How a New Generation of Freestylers Saved British Skiing From Itself

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