First Friday: Gigi Rüf & the story behind SLASH

Comments by Kelli Lynn Hargrove/

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Simply put, Gigi Rüf is a legend. For his talent, absolutely, but more so for the way in which he wields that talent, the fact that watching Gigi Rüf snowboard is unlike watching any other rider; it’s an experience, a lesson in grace and technique. Since his early days on the scene, Rüf has been a stand out for his smooth, effortless riding, taking on the boldest backcountry lines and making them look like a breeze.

A few years ago, Rüf walked away from his long time board sponsor in order to begin crafting his own boards. The fact that Rüf himself needs a board that can withstand even the most brutal sessions season over season inspires confidence in the quality of the boards he creates.

In tune with Gigi’s distinct style on snow, the SLASH by Gigi line features some of the most unique graphics around, one board in his premiere line even boasting artwork from artist Fabiana Arruda, who lives in the remote Atlantic rainforest of Itacaré, that in turn set the tone for his own series of pro boards. The same individuality that has made Rüf a vital part of the past and present of snowboarding can be found in the snowboards he crafts. Because, as Gigi notes,

“Style is a message.”

Where do most of your board graphics come from?
Most come from Lance Violette, but for my freeride board I have been working with Fabiana Arruda  from the beginning. And not to forget Gu, who stands tall behind the branding that complements everything.

Which graphic is your favorite, and why?
I have prioritized my team riders to provide the best outlet for their ideas. Always enjoyed how Johnnie Paxson’s board graphic came together.

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SLASH 2014: Happy Place | Paxson | Straight | ATV

Which graphic has the most interesting story behind it?
Since Slash’s “take off” last year it’s been my ATV board that has set the tone for our visual story each year. The personal story behind the Straight graphic from Fabiana Arruda is much more interesting because she lives in the Atlantic rainforest of Itacaré away from all civilization. I saw her art in a magazine and wrote the gallery that got mentioned in the article of the magazine (www.galeria195.com). They were collecting all the information and I sent them an outline of the board shape. The Gallery passed this on to her and told me she would work on it. The first graphic she drew for me she sent the original line drawing by post because neither a scanner or an internet-connection allowed otherwise. It was really exciting because I didn’t know what I get.

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Slash by Gigi ad, created by Jerome Tanon

Are you an artist yourself? Have you created any of the SLASH graphics?
I created the graphic for my first ATV, which is the board I ride, using super 8mm film. Not an artist really, just driven to make things happen.

Film, photography, music— each of these genres has become a big part of snowboarding… does their presence influence the way you ride?
Yeah. It all needs talent and finding that makes you independent. Filming video parts lets me try harder at snowboarding and connects me with the scene, exploring the world and bringing home photos, the camaraderie is part of the good time all along.

People say that snowboarding is not a sport, but an art. What is it about snowboarding, do you think, that sets it apart from other sports?
Board sports are more rooted to a lifestyle because the person needs to have the background of whichever element one chooses to move with. I go as far as calling it a session and not a discipline. It just sounds too static.

“The SLASH has a natural presence in snowboarding. It is elementary to a skillful approach. It is to navigate with power and style.”

I’ve heard you talk about snowboarding as personal expression— do you see your board graphics as another medium for expressing yourself?
For sure, and everyone is welcome! I wish I could worry less about the deadlines that the business end sets up.

What has been the most rewarding part of creating your own boards?
My active creation of the ingredients and shapes transpire into creative action for a better snowboarding experience.

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The drawing board, literally. | P: Gigi Ruf