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Meet The 1st Women’s-Specific Splitboard Brand – Split Personality

"Measure once, cut twice." Palace Snowboards photo.

Palace Snowboards, the industry’s first female-specific powder board and splitboard company, breaks ground this season. Founder Stephanie Nitsch designs and hand-builds every board in a Salt Lake City shop shared with Palace’s sister company, Chimera.

Like most gear innovations, Palace developed out of necessity.

“Selfishly speaking, a lot of the design elements we incorporate are based on my frustrations with womens' boards and, informally, conversations with my girlfriends who ride aggressively,” Nitsch explains.

“There are plenty of of great snowboards for women to ride,” she says, “but for high-intermediate to expert riders, there’s very few board options out there.”

"I don’t think we should have to compromise, and ride a men’s board if we don’t need to,” Nitsch adds. “That’s what we have to choose from when we want to ride aggressively on variable terrain, because only a few women’s boards respond on that kind of terrain.”

Size Matters, And So Does Shape

This directional, pintail splitboard–the Zeitgeist–comes in relatively larger sizes at 152 and 158 cm.  Lindsay Daniels photo. 

Palace’s unique design elements include early rise and more flex in the nose of their powder boards, which help female riders shift their center of gravity towards the board’s tail and make riding powder more efficient.

Nitsch also experiments with different nose and tail shapes. For example, Palace’s all-mountain deck, the Zeitgeist, features a spoon nose with a tapered, pintail-shaped tail. The company’s more freestyle-focused board, the twin-tipped Hedonist, has a blunt tip and tail, which effectively provides more surface area.

Going against the grain, Nitsch’s design philosophy focuses on producing larger boards. The smallest models of the Hedonist and Zeitgeist are 151 cm and 152 cm, respectively.

“We have been taught to ride shorter boards, and therefore, women haven’t been sized properly,” Nitsch explains.

Steph Nitsch demonstrates how a powder deck should float during a prototype test in Selkirks, BC. Abby Dell photo.

“With backcountry boards and splitboards, you want to ride something a little bigger,” she says. “When you are out there skinning, you need more surface area. With extra weight of backcountry gear, you need a bigger board to making floating more efficient.”

For Women, By Women

Founder Stephanie Nitsch on a solo shred. Palace Snowboards photo.

“We’re giving women a platform to express their creativity and talents, literally and metaphorically platform,” says Nitsch, adding, “It just so happens to be a snowboard.”

The goal with Palace is to make a company sustained and supported by women, from the board-building to marketing to graphic design. Hand-building boards is a cool way to give attention to women in male-dominated industries, Nitsch points out, the same way a distiller in whiskey industry or car mechanic might.

The Palace (wo)man cave. Palace Snowboards photo.

“Every board we touch is produced to the best standards we can make, and that quality control applies to every damn detail we put towards Palace,” Nitsch says. She adds, “I want those details to be thoughtful, and a lot of topsheets I see don’t have meaning.”

Not a big proponent of pink, girly graphics, Nitsch explains that she sought to blend feminine and masculine qualities on her boards’ topsheets.

“Lo and behold, my favorite graphic had some pink, flowers, deers, and peacock feathers, but it’s juxtaposed with bones, mushrooms, and a big ol’ elk on the topsheet,” she says.

More Backcountry Knowledge, Less Intimidation

Nitsch tests the Zeitgeist splitboard in the Wasatch backcountry. Palace Snowboards photo.

In addition to building boards, Palace seeks to facilitate backcountry education and splitboard skill improvement through strategic brand alliances.

Palace will collaborate with the Splitboard Education Collective this season, and offer women’s splitboarding lessons that teach riders how to set skin tracks, dress for backcountry travel, assess risk tolerance, and examine avalanche terrain. Nitsch explains that she’s also interested in working with The outdoor education non-profit aims to break down intimidation factors for women in the backcountry.

Currently Palace Snowboards aren’t available in retail stores. Instead, the Salt Lake City company has a direct-to-consumer sales program, which includes a creative demo program. Interested riders can contact the company and test boards, and then make an informed decision about the size and model they’d like to buy.

Nitsch calls Palace a labor of love--and experimentation. Palace Snowboards photo.

Nitsch hopes this consumer involvement will gain the company exposure, and feedback. She says that having potential customers actually ride a board is a more comprehensible experience than referring customers to a web page with board specs and reviews. For the average snowboarder, she says, explaining running length and sidecut doesn’t mean much.

“Our demo program offers a more personal interaction between women and snowboards,” Nitsch explains. “There’s a lot of value in being real with another women and not alienating her with techy gear-speak, or alienating her with really aggressive objectives in the mountains. We’re about really about being approachable, welcoming and friendly.” 

Check out Palace Snowboards' website and be sure to follow founder Stephanie Nitsch's profile in the TGR Stash–she's a regular contributor for both winter and mountain bike content.

From The Column: Split Personality

These look like some sick boards for ladies, thanks for the heads up Mackenzie.

Yeah Steph!

Thanks for the support, Olaus and Ryan! Just tryin’ to keep it fresh and stylish. :)

It is so great to see that someone is helping to get women onto the right boards to shred hard! A few years ago when I bought my first split I decided to go from a 156 to a 162. Yes it was a lot heavier and yes the first two weeks it rode me, but by the end of that season I was shredding harder than I ever had. I have so much more float, I never ‘get stuck’ anymore and I have so much more stability at high speeds. I never would have said this until I tried a new size, but my old board was holding me back. Everyone tried to talk me out of that purchase, at the store they would not shut up about it being ‘way too big’ for me, Now that I have given it a go I’ll never look back.

I have only one critique… If these boards are really meant for intermiedate to expert riders than not having techy specs on the website is alienating. Just because I am a lady doesn’t mean I am not interested in sidecut radius, and width of the nose, tail, underfoot etc… In fact I really want to know, because I have been riding ‘guys’ boards and I want to see how yours is different and if its actually different In the ways I am looking for. If it is I want to be one of the first in line for one of your sweet splits, but I am certainly never going to get to demo one where I live. I understand that those techy things may not be super useful to a beginner, but not all women are beginners. It sounds like you’re all about education so why not put the specs out there for those who want them and write some really great blog posts about what they mean and why you chose the ones you did?

I am super stoked to see a company like this! women certainly need more of a voice in product design!

Also could not find your contact us button on the website

Great boards!

    Thanks for sharing your experience “sizing up.” The fear of going bigger is a common story I’ve heard, but it’s great to see some positive success with longer decks.

    And by no means is our lack of specs any disrespect to women. We just haven’t gotten them up online! Whoops. Still working out a few kinks to the website. But you can be sure we’ll have specs up soon! Also noticed the missing contact us page earlier today and fixed that. If you ever wanna reach out to me personally, drop me a line at Happy to email you our specs.

    Truly appreciate the support and encouragement!

I originally twigged onto Palace when an Australian artist (Gemma Davis) whose work I follow posted some of her work being made into a topsheet on one of their ‘boards- Love the graphics and am eagerly awaiting seeing one in person north of the border; My girlfriend is always dubious of women’s specific ‘boards, but getting her to read the article and pick up on he design points Steph emphasizes has her keen, too. Nice work!

I think this is awesome! Especially the more flex part. I am rather petite and often when I demo boards they try to put me on a 132-136cm. As someone who loves to ride powder and rarely enters a park where the shorter board may be more useful, I have been on a 146cm RIDE Solace for 6 yrs. I am wondering how you think a board should be fit? I am an instructor and size all my students (male/female) the same way based on height, weight, and ability. I have been told by a few local board making shops that their boards are non-gender specific, but I strongly disagree. I am only 5ft (152cm) tall and weigh at the peak of my season around 125lbs. I simply can’t flex a “guys” board. I love seeing the women’s companies pop up, and I still feel I’m too short to be on most of them, but these are the shortest I’ve seen and that gives me some hope. I’ve been getting into backcountry a lot more the last couple years and have been debating jumping to a 150-152. It does seem weird to ride a board that’s as big as me and the same length as my skis, and I’ve had a lot of people tell me not to as a lot think my board is already too big (it’s not).. but.. the vibe I’m getting is maybe I should just go for it?

    Thanks for the compliment!
    The thing with sizing snowboards is that it really comes down to a personal preference. Shop employees and gear manufacturers are good for giving guidelines for narrowing down your options, and that’s great when you have no idea what to look for. But like all skills and hobbies, you learn what you like/don’t like in equipment and tailor your choices from there. 

    If you’re curious about what a 150-152 rides like, definitely look into demo’ing a board. You won’t know how it rides until you actually do. We’ll be starting our program up soon, but this is the prime time of the season when resorts start to host demo days. Granted, resort demos are more about solid snowboards than splitboards… But if you’re on the fence, demo’ing a board will really help answer that question.

Great read! Stephanie, love what you’re doing for the ladies. THANK YOU! I am really interested in your collaboration with Splitboard Education Collective and SheJumps. I checked out SEC’s website for course offerings. No cost information is currently available. I’ll keep an eye out for info on your partnership with SEC. Definitely want to take part.

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