Originally published in issue 20.1 of Snowboard Mag.
Having the chance to put your name on a board you designed sits right up there beside winning a gold medal or getting the last part in a video. And there’s something special about riding the exact board as your idols: the wish that some of their style would be transferred into your own riding. With graphics ranging from wooden swords, clowns, assault rifles, and long-nosed ponies, pro models were the boards that snowboarders wanted to both ride and hang up on our walls.
This year there’s a new pro model in the Rome Snowboards line up called the Rene-Gade, designed by the one-and-only Rene Rinnekangas. From street rails to massive jumps and all types of transitions, Rene rides everything with precision and style. His admiration for snowboarding’s past along with his love for his home country influenced his first pro model. Getting your first board can be daunting, and when asked about it he said, “It’s been a dream for me for sure. I feel like it came pretty quickly. When Rome said, ‘You’re going to have your board. Let’s start designing some stuff.’ I was like, Oh my god. I don’t want to make my first board something weird or something I don’t like in ten years. I’m very stoked on it and I’m just grateful to Rome for everything. It still feels unreal.”
Rene’s love for old school snowboards inspired the Rene-Gade. The board is directional with good old traditional camber. Carbon Omega Hotrods provide power and response, while the Twin Flex Walls extend outward from the inserts and provide a freestyle flex with maximum ollie power. The board uses Rome’s Sintered Speed Base, which means that speed will never be an issue. If you look closely, you can also see something unique: a set of extra inserts on the inside. The narrow inserts are “just for carving,” explains Rene. “I put on old school angles—like 24 in the front and 14 in the back—and it’s so fun to just carve. I’m a big fan of small stances for carving. It’s a board that you can do everything on. I find so many different ways to snowboard when I change my stance and I hope that people find it that way, too.”
Recently there’s been a shift in board design with old school shapes coming back, and it’s hard to find a brand that doesn’t have a square-tailed board in their line. “I wanted something simple,” Rene says. “I’m a big fan of old school snowboards. I was looking on the internet at the shapes of old snowboards. People have been doing a lot of different shapes, like a flat tail and sharp nose, and I felt like I wanted something different but still old school. We started with a circle nose, and the tail is the same except it has a bit more transition. I fell in love with the shape and how it looks under my feet. It has a lot of setback, and that was one of things I really wanted in a directional board.”
With a signature board you have to take into account the rider’s individual graphic preference, as well as the fact that the board needs to sell. This balance can be difficult to create and there have been some questionable pro model graphics in the past. This is certainly not the case with the Rene-Gade. “When we started deciding on the graphics, Rome asked me what I wanted and I was like, ‘Damn I wish I knew the answer for you guys.,’” Rene explains. “But then I started thinking. I’m from Finland and there are not many pro riders from Finland who get the chance to design a board, so I wanted something Finnish to be a part of it. The colors of white and blue are for the Finnish flag and actually, the blue in the middle is the exact same color used on the flag. The idea for the water and the sun we got from the tradition of the sauna, and I have a similar photo painted on my sauna above the rocks. The water is also there because we call Finland the land of 1,000 lakes, and the swan on the tail is also the national bird of Finland. The board is very Finnish.” For the base, Rene said it was the first part that was designed. “On videos and photos, you always see the base. I wanted to have it as a directional graphic, and on the base less is more. That logo on the base is pretty much the same as the first Rome logo they used. Then we added the stars on the nose to make the board look more directional and similar to the bases of older boards.”
When it came down to the final graphic touch, Rene took a different approach to putting his name on his board. He explains, “Rome was asking if I wanted my signature on it or something else. I was fixing my motorcycle last summer and I was thinking that I didn’t want my signature on the board, I wanted some other way to do it. I had a lot of motor oil on my hands from fixing my bike and I got the idea that I wanted to put my fingerprint on it. I sent the idea to the Rome guys and they were stoked. Me and Paddock [creative director at Rome] talked about what I had been doing lately—fixing my bike and my hands were so dirty—and decided to use my fingerprint.”
If you’re looking for a do-it-all snowboard you can’t go wrong with the Rene-Gade. You can never go wrong with a board that mixes old school looks and killer graphics with true camber and technology that just works. And if you’re lucky maybe, just maybe, a little bit of Rene’s style will transfer from the board to you, and you will be the master of your local resort this winter.