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That between Nidecker and Thierry Kunz has been a deep and well-established collaboration. Previously rider and shaper, Thierry is now the brand manager of the legendary Swiss company. Since his return in 2015, he has started an important rebranding through the rediscovery of the roots of the company and, more in general, of European snowboarding. We met Mr. Kunz at the Rock on Snow Pro in La Clusaz and we took the chance to talk with him about his most ambitious project: the snow surfing quiver by TK.

Hello Thierry, please introduce yourself and tell us about your history with Nidecker

Hello! So, my name is Thierry Kunz. I was born in Geneva and I’m 47 years old. My first experience on a snowboard was in 1982 and I’ve never stopped riding. It became this crazy passion for me and I’m still addicted to that incredible feeling we all know.
In 1987 I started to ride for a shop in Geneva which lead to me joining the Nidecker team in 1988, competing and doing my studies at the same time. After finishing business school in ‘91 I started my professional career on the ISF tour, riding halfpipe contests – it was a crazy period with a lot of energy! In 1995 I decided to stop competing because I knew that I would never be a world champ, but I really wanted to develop products that I liked, so with the help of Nidecker I started my own Brand called Donuts. In 2001 Nidecker asked me to take care of marketing, and in 2004 we decided to merge the two brands to create NDK as the freestyle arm of Nidecker. In 2006 I left the company to work for Quiksilver, my other sponsor during my riding career, marketing for DC shoes Europe and after Global Wintersports Marketing for Quiksilver, Roxy and DC. In 2015 the Nidecker brothers asked me to rejoin the company to take care or the development of the group, specifically the Nidecker brand. It’s been an amazing challenge culminating in bringing Flow into the fold last season.

Text: Matteo Rossato
Photos: Jimmy Chin

“In 2015 the Nidecker brothers asked me to rejoin the company to take care or the development of the group, specifically the Nidecker brand.”

What is the Shape By TK line? Is it a new brand or does it have a deeper meaning for you?

It’s not a brand in itself, but when I designed boards for Donuts I always signed them with my initials, so when we started making the snowsurf capsule it made sense to carry on the tradition in this way, similar to surf shapers.

Why? After spending nine years by the ocean surfing I wanted to bring in some new shapes made for people like me who love to carve and turn in all snow conditions, driving off the back foot on some cool retro shapes. I also think it’s important for people to see the names behind a product and to know that they’re made with passion and love.

What are the key features of the Nidecker Snow Surf quiver

We reworked not just the shapes of the boards for 2019/20, we also came up with a whole new production technique. I wanted to have a real surfy feeling, which comes from putting extra power on the rails, so we developed a beveled construction that lets the core and laminates sit over the sidewall and edge. The topsheet now curves really nicely towards the board’s centre, giving it more of a surfboard look. They’re finished with a tinted resin finish to make each one unique, and every board will come with its own surf sock to transport it in. All in all, the capsule is sick!

Can you explain the unique features of each shape and what kind of riding they’re best for?

I wanted to have three models to use like a surfboard quiver: one for short carves and reacting like crazy (the Mosquito), one to cruise all day and hold longer turns (the Smoke) and one for pure charging and long, fast turns (The Gun).

Is shaping a science or an art? How does the design process work? From the idea to the final prototype.

Shaping is the result of years of riding and analyzing that feeling you’re always chasing… So I wouldn’t say it’s an art but rather the translation of passion, but you need to bring some science into it to try to reach the ultimate goal.

All our boards are designed by hand, then after cutting and shaping pieces of wood we redesign them on the computer to build the first molds. After this we do a lot of prototyping with different flexes and materials to try to find the best combination before we settle on the final design.

Sometimes it can be really fast between an idea and the final execution, but as we always try to push further it takes a lot of time, especially with the new edge construction.

You’ve been a pro rider, shaper and now brand manager. How do you see snowboarding evolving in the close future?

I see a great future for snowboarding and snow surfing. I can feel that people are coming back to snowboarding and seeing the diversity of brands and all the people who share our same passion makes me very happy. Snowboarding is not just about freestyle anymore, now other disciplines like splitboarding and carving are here in a big way. The pure joy and chance to express yourself are as important as performance.

It’s not just the new generation that is into it… the older ones like me are coming back to it. I would like to thank all the people who always believed in our passion and continue to push the sport forward. Nidecker is definitively one of these companies.

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