Since 2017, the Hillside Project Series has been one of Salomon’s most-anticipated releases every season. Evolving from the bespoke board creations of Wolfgang Nyvelt, the HPS collection is defined by a dedication to craftsmanship and consideration devoted to the simple art of the perfect turn. Each hand-shaped board in the line is fine-tuned to excel in powder, but imbues the aesthetics of individual team riders and the locations they love to ride in—deep turns in Whistler are different than bounding down the topography of Niseko. All together, the Hillside Project reflects the freestyle ethos of Louif Paradis, the improvisational versatility of Takaharu Nakai, the hard-charging of Annie Boulanger—all combined with Wolle’s perspective, high quality materials, and minimalist aesthetic. The end result is a collection that takes aim at the entire mountain, anywhere in the world.
“Ever since I was drawn to shaping boards as a pro rider, and with developing Äsmo’s boards, my full-on shaper dream finally materialized in creating the Hillside quiver with Salomon roughly 10 years ago.” – Wolfgang Nyvelt
The most notable aspect of all of the HPS snowboards is their character. They are humble, but powerful, with playful bamboo cores that store lots of energy, ready for release. Ample pop only requires a gentle request, and then it’s right under foot. That said, these boards aren’t at all stiff. They are incredibly easy to manage. Nimble. Playful. Graceful. Powerful.
Across the entire Hillside Project line, energy is derived from a multitude of factors, all of which are in the way the boards’ natural bamboo elements are arranged. Bamboo is widely known not only for being eco-friendly, but also for its resilience. Compared to typical wood core materials, bamboo offers a similar pop, which is easier to load energy into, but also has natural dampening characteristics, especially when paired with cork sidewall inlays in each HPS board. The core, once combined with bamboo sidewalls and a bamboo veneer topsheet, is laminated and finished into custom shapes, which have been finely tuned as a collaboration between master shaper Wolle Nyvelt, and their namesake professional rider.
“The main focus for me when creating shapes with riders is purely listening to them in what they want. Riton [Henri Rancon] and myself try to decipher whatever inputs and feelings they share into a unique board which hopefully enhances their riding styles. So when you look at our quiver, at least to me, their styles shine in their shapes. One thing they have in common though, at least what we try to do is that they all feel familiar if you step from one to the other, so in a lot of parts they do share the same DNA, which is a high-performance board with a friendly riding feel.” – Wolfgang Nyvelt
Each board in the collection shares a commonality; they’re all humble, precise, fun. From the Wolle Fish, which, thanks to its tapered shape and swallow tail, carves up groomers unlike any other board and offers an equal experience in any powder application, especially in tighter trees. Taka’s two shapes are born from a long lineage of Japanese mountain surfing, with the E.P. version’s longer-running length and more relaxed sidecut ideal for the faster, open bowls of the deep backcountry. The regular Takaharu Nakai is a dream for those who love a directional freeride board and live for powder days.
As you’d guess, Annie Boulanger’s HPS model is an incredible all-around board, with slight early rise in the nose for effective float in powder, positive camber in the tail for just the right amount of pop, and exciting drive out of turns as you rip down piste, but again, the immediately notable aspect to it is its approachable, unwavering personality.
Personally, I am torn between the Wolle and Louif models as personal favorites. Wolle’s board offers unmatched fun all over the resort, provided I’m not looking to tear through the park. That’s where Louif’s shape steps in. While the whole series is fun, Louif’s slightly set back directional twin is right at home freeriding your local mountain.
The Hillside Project Series is magical, and the care that Wolle and crew have put into each board doesn’t go unnoticed, especially visually, with the collection’s clean, minimalist aesthetic. If you’re looking for a meticulously crafted snowboard that encapsulates pure mountain surfing, to say we’d highly recommend checking out a Salomon HPS board is a massive understatement.