You might already be aware that snow skating is bigger than ever right now, but did you know that the snowskate you ride and the type of snowskate people ride all around the world was designed, conceived and produced right here in Quebec.
That’s right, Ambition Snowskates was created in Sherbrooke almost two decades ago by none other than our friend Alex Blais, the most passionate snow skater we met! We spoke with the creator to dive deeper into the history of snow skating, the tech behind the brand, the team, the videos and what it takes to improve his snow skating skills.
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Sup Alex! Before getting into Ambition, how long have you been snow skating? I’ve been snow skating for more than 20 years now! I saw my first snow skating video in the Summer of 2001 and it just clicked. I loved skateboarding and snowboarding and we have a lot of snow over the Winter, so it just made sense that I was going to try it the next Winter. What kind of snow skate did you ride at that time? I bought a Premier single deck plastic snow skate and started to ride it in my backyard a bunch, some friends started to do it too and a few people around the world were also taking it seriously. It was still very new at that time, but we formed a community of people who loved snow skating and felt like we were really pushing the sport. We were being the first ones to do a lot of tricks and were pushing the boundaries of what’s possible. We kept pushing and pushing until we realized the product we were using wasn’t allowing us to reach a certain level we knew we could reach. We wanted to do more tricks like we do in skating.
Is that the reason why you decided to start Ambition? We could say that, yes. At first Ambition was an accessory brand that I started in 2004. We were making grip tapes for snow skates, tees, beanies, etc. We actually wanted to complement Premier, but at some point, I knew that the most important aspect that needed to be changed in snow skating was the board. Premier was made in China, the boards were breaking all the time and didn’t really work for a lot of tricks so in 2006, I pressed my first snow skate prototype in my parent’s garage. What were your main goals when you first started to design the board? I worked for a year doing research and development with the help of skate and snowboard brands so I could figure out a way to make better snow skate decks. The first thing I wanted to improve was durability. Those things are thrown in water, snow, salt, etc, they need to be tough as nails! What we had at the time was cheap and wouldn’t last, so I wanted something better on that level. I wanted the board to be faster, so I used a snowboard base as the bottom layer of my first prototype. It worked! I still deal with snowboard manufacturers for my bases today! I also wanted to offer more control so riders can do actual tricks, so I tried to recreate the shape of a real skateboard as much as possible and added sharp grooves on the base to help on the control level. That was basically what I wanted at first: to be able to do more tricks, to go faster and to have a board that would last longer.
Fast forward 15 years later, how did Ambition Snowskate decks evolve? The new snow skates are built on the same principles, with the same passion and by the same people than when it started, right here at home in Canada! All of our products are manufactured at the Control Skateboards Factory in Quebec. On the other hand, I can tell you our decks are way better than what they used to be. We added different types of grip, added some concave in the foam for more control. We changed the shapes so it’s smoother, we have different types of base grooves for different types of ride, we have sicker graphics and all that while keeping an affordable price. And still no one in the whole world is doing snow skates as good as Ambition! A lot of people tried to copy our product or make bootlegs, but there’s no other brand that has created a product that works like ours, no. Investors who have money to throw in a new business like snow skating unfortunately don't have the knowledge of what a deck actually goes through in the field and therefore, they were never really able to make a product that's as good as ours. A few tried, but I guess it never really worked. I feel like Ambition is still leading the movement as of now.
You guys have a dope team and have been putting out insane videos for a long time. When did you put out Ambition’s first video? When we started selling snow skates in 2007-2008, we realized the potential of what we could do and we thought that the best way to make people understand our vision is through videos. At that point, snow skating was still small, but we knew people who were good all-around North America, so I decided to fly them over here to film for our first video, True Color. That was in 2008. It was like a dream idea that became a reality and it really put us on the map as the skateboarding world and snowboarding world both got interested. More than 15 years later, we’re still putting videos out every year.
What’s your motivation to keep on showcasing snow skating to the world year after year? We want to be accepted in the snow/skateboarding businesses and take our place as a brand that works like a skate or snowboarding brand. We want to showcase our team, we want to work on videos and we want to share our passion with the world and show them how anyone can have fun with a bit of snow and a snow skate.
For the snow skating enthusiasts out there, can you give us a few tips to improve our skills on the board? Snowskating is hard and like skateboarding, takes some practice, but there are things you can do to make it easier. Before anything, I’d like to say that snow skating can be done anywhere as long as there’s snow. That being said, if you want to push it further and take your tricks from the backyard to the streets or the skatepark, you'll need to know a few things. First, an Xtreme grip is the best way to take your snowskating to a new level. It’s possible to ride straight on the foam, but if you’re looking to improve your skills, the grip is of the utmost importance. The Weather must be under -5 degrees celcius. Above that, the snow won’t be as good as you want it to be for better tricks. The type of snow is also important to observe if you're trying to skate street. You’ll want a fresh and crunchy snow rather than a wet type of snow. Again, all types of snow work, but if you want to take it further, that’s one thing you need to evaluate. What about the gear? What shoes are the best for snowskating? Snowskating is better done with regular skate shoes. To avoid freezing your feet in the snow, you have two options: get the warmest socks you can find OR get your hands on a pair of winterized shoes. The Vans MTE collection is a great example of shoes that have the properties of boots, but offer the feel of a regular shoe. Click here to Shop our Vans MTE winterized shoes selection → And on the apparel side of things? Since snowskating is better when it’s cold, a technical base layer under your jacket and pants is key for a great session. Gloves are also mandatory. Click here to Shop our base layers → Where do you see snow skating in 5 years? I'd love to see more people getting involved. The hype is growing in the skateboard world and I'd like to see it grow more. Guys like John Shanahan shredding in New York or Karsten Kleppan over in Norway, I want to see more of that in 5 years.