Naked ladies hit the slopes

This fall, Burton Snowboards announced the release of two new limited edition snowboard lines: Love and Primo. The release of these lines was followed by controversy and protest from people ranging from angry moms to men against domestic violence to the Girl Scouts. With Burton’s headquarters residing in the University of Vermont’s home of Burlington, students are being bombarded with the large number of protests and the media frenzy these boards are sparking up. Other than a few short statements, Burton has kept quiet in the midst of the controversy. The Primo line features graphics of self-mutilation by means of scissors, a box cutter and even a vicious dog. The Love line features scantily clad, if clad at all, vintage Playboy models on the top of the boards. The collaboration with Playboy was at the request of two of Burton’s young, male team members, 19-year-old Mikkel Bang, and 18-year-old Keegan Valaika, according to an official statement made by Burton on Oct 22. “Burton supports freedom of artistic expression, board graphics are artwork, and art can be offensive to some and inspiring to others. Snowboarding is a sport and a lifestyle where boundaries are pushed in terms of artwork, similar to the world of music, video games and movies,” Burton CEO Laurent Potdevin said in the statement. Both snowboard lines are part of Burton’s limited edition Coalition line, so seeing them on the slopes will be a rather rare occurrence. About 1,000 of the Love boards will be manufactured and even fewer of the Primo boards. Also in the statement, Potdevin said that Burton is not breaking any laws by manufacturing these boards and will continue to manufacture them, despite requests from protestors. “Both Burton and Playboy were founded on principles of individual freedom and the collaboration has resulted in boards that reflect this attitude … The imagery on the boards is tastefully done, and we believe that they will be collector’s items” the statement said. Critics of the boards do not agree with the “tastefulness” of the naked Playboy models. Kelly Vance, editor of Shred Betties, an online magazine for female snowboarders, posted a letter concerning the boards on the magazine’s Web page. “I imagined a throwdown in the lift line, as a family unwittingly gets paired up with some dude and his porny snowboard,” Vance wrote in a response to Burton’s statement. “Fortunately, the tits and ass will be “tastefully” covered up, partly because the dude is standing on them,” Vance said. The boards will be fully wrapped with an “18-year-old plus” disclaimer on them, according to Burton’s official statement. Online, however, Burton’s description of the boards is anything but modest. The description of the Love snowboards, located on Burton’s Web site, states: “Hi. My name is Love? and I’m on the market for someone who’s looking to score serious action, no matter where they like to stick it. I enjoy laps through the park; long, hard grinds on my meaty park edges followed by a good, hot waxing. Whether you’re hitting it from the front or the back, my mid wide shape, supple flex and twin tips like it kinky. Keegan and Mikkel love riding me, I hope you will too.” The snowboards spurred positive and negative reactions from University of Vermont students. “I would ride one, yeah,” freshman Phil Gregory, who works at a ski and snowboard shop in his hometown of Westford, Massachusetts, said. “Next time they [the Burton Love boards] should be more graphic though.” Two opposing Facebook groups have been created, (one in support of Burton’s decision not to pull the snowboard line and one for pulling it), by a UVM student, concerning the controversy. UVM student Dale Parker created “I support Burton and the Love Generation,” as a Facebook group, which now consists of 325 other members. The group’s Web page features pictures of the protest that occurred on Oct. 23, with mocking comments posted by members. Most comments made by UVM students were relatively neutral. The boards may not affect them personally, but in the family setting of a ski area, the protesters’ concerns can be understood. John Abbott, Assistant Director of Student Life Outdoor Programs drafted multiple e-mails on the controversy: one containing various media links, the other a forwarded message about the protest on Oct. 23 from Lezlee Sprenger, who spearheaded the protest in the Burlington area. Smuggler’s Notch Resort announced at its new employee orientation for this season, that while representing the resort, employees will be forbidden to use the boards, according to The Burlington Free Press. Smuggs is just one of many resorts putting this sort of ban into place. Whether or not you’re up for some primo-lovin’, Burton’s boards have certainly caused quite a flurry.