Updated: 4 days ago
One of the greatest people in the snowboarding history
The Winterstick Custom Snowboards story began in the late ’60s when Winterstick founder Dimitrije Milovich met up with New Jersey surfboard shaper, Wayne Stoveken. Stoveken, whom Milovich believed to be the first snowboarder, had started making snow-surfboard designs, and he showed Milovich a few construction ideas. Inspired by Stoveken’s designs and also by the now-famous surf film Five Summer Stories, Milovich started making his own snowboards. In 1972, Milovich dropped out of college and moved to Utah to work full time on developing his new designs in the Wasatch backcountry. Later that year, he patented the first modern snowboard, the Swallowtail.
In 1974, Milovich began making snowboards out of his garage for friends, and for people who had read about them in articles in Newsweek and Playboy magazines. Based on interest generated by those articles, Milovich founded Winterstick in 1976. The company produced a total of 1500 boards in two different models, the Roundtail and the Swallowtail. Exhibited at the SIA and NSGA tradeshows, the boards drew little interest from retailers. But despite industry disinterest, snowboarding as a sport grew steadily. Winterstick grew with it, as did Burton, Sims, and Barfoot.
In 1981, a couple of Winterstick team riders went to France at the invitation of Alain Gaimard, marketing director at Les Arcs. There, Regis Rolland watched the riders surf the French powder and bought a board. After being featured in a Les Arcs publicity film, Rolland went on to star in the Apocalypse Snow movies that introduced Europe to the sport of snowboarding.
Although the sport was growing in both the U.S. and Europe, it wasn’t growing fast enough to maintain a self-capitalized business against growing competition from established snow sport firms. In 1986 Milovich moved on to launch the now thriving Radius Engineering, a business that creates high performance composite parts for aerospace, sporting goods and automotive clients.
Winterstick was given fresh breath in 1994 when a Utah sports retailer who had worked with Milovich resurrected the company. Winterstick Snowboard Co., based in Salt Lake City, produced a full line of modern-design snowboards and revived the now-legendary Swallowtail. The new company focused on the backcountry heritage that the original Winterstick had cultivated. Winterstick Snowboards grew gradually from 1995 to 1999. Through intelligent design Winterstick had solidified its position as the “First Name in Backcountry.”
Once again in 1999 the industry’s shift towards overseas production and high marketing costs had Winterstick up against a wall. Luckily for Winterstick, a fanatical snowboarder from Maine named Eric Tietje rallied a group of fellow Mainers to form Bigelow Mountain Partners which pulled the company out of bankruptcy. BMP continues to manage the company today. The path from 1999 to the present has been riddled with numerous near death crevices ranging from the bankruptcy of their manufacturer Focus Manufacturing to a warehouse flood that ruined 50% of the company’s inventory. By stepping in when needed, BMP’s owners invested more cash to keep the brand alive, produce great snowboards and stayed committed to protecting the legacy Dimitrije started.
In 2007, the company reemphasized its grassroots sensibility through a manufacturing partnership with the Wagner Custom factory in Placerville, Colo., using precision hand-crafted manufacturing techniques in a solar- and wind-powered factory. BMP gave their legendary team rider, Tom Burt, ownership in the company and Tom and Wagner set the company on a stable path. With no marketing budget and limited outreach Winterstick has been building finely crafted boards for those who know and love the brand.
In 2014 with the economy finally on stable footing the crew at BMP recognized it was time to invest in the next chapter in the legend of Winterstick. Once again, BMP tapped another Mainer to join the company. With two Olympic Gold Medals under his belt and and eye toward a 3rd gold, Seth Wescott decided he wanted to be more than a rider. He wanted to design and help build the boards he was taking into the backcountry and on the race course. The 2014/2015 board line represents a renewed vigor for design and Dimitrije’s legacy. As an avid surfer and snowboarding history buff, Seth has a passion for Winterstick’s surfing heritage and the pioneering designs that Dimitrije introduced to the world. Seth and Tom have created a new line for 2014 that reflects Winterstick’s commitment to big mountain, backcountry riding and boards that are designed to expand your quiver.
For the past 14 years the crew at Bigelow Mountain Partners has had one goal; keep the brand alive by building great boards. They are self-described “custodians of the original snowboarding company”. Winterstick has lasted the test of time because Dimitrije created something larger than himself and larger than any one person or business. He created a sport and he created a legacy.