With a growing focus on powder and backcountry riding, some of the snowboard designs that have come out over the past few seasons look more like original designs from the 60s and 70s than modern day equipment. They have swallowtails, pointy noses and odd profiles. Some - like the Rome Hammerhead - just look downright strange and otherworldly. With the launch of its new experimental division known as Shape Shack, Colorado-based Venture Snowboards plans to take this trend a step further in designing all kinds of Franken-boards. It may just come up with odd yet functional board designs that big companies just aren't developing.

Launching this month, the focus of the Shape Shack division is on conceptualizing and building new, funky-shaped boards. The division is led by company founder and design engineer Klemens Brenner, and big mountain snowboarder and Venture collaborator Johan Olofsson will provide input on board designs.

"The idea is to take a bit of a mad scientist kind of approach, experimenting with designs that might normally be considered too wacky, and then testing those concepts by offering small batch releases to the public," Brenner explains. "We have the freedom to produce pretty much anything that we can dream up, and then we can walk out the front door and ride it right here in our backyard."

Venture is located in Silverton, Colorado, home to some of the state's steepest, most challenging lift-served and backcountry terrain. In addition to doing its own testing, Venture will offer some of its designs in small, limited edition batches to see how customers like them.

Venture has two of its first experimental shapes ready for launch. The Euphoria marks the return of a model that's been absent for two years. This new incarnation of the board is much more powder-specific and drastically shaped than the last version. The board is designed for powder surfing and can be ridden with or without bindings. It features a split-tailed shape, rocker and reverse sidecut, and Venture says that it was made to excel when surfed without bindings. The 162-cm (63.8-inch) board will be available as a solid or splitboard. More sizes will be available next year.

Venture's second board doesn't look quite as funky. The Zelix is a combination of two Venture staples: the Helix and Zephyr. It's a directional twin that Venture will offer in 158-, 162- and 163-cm (62.2-, 63.8- and 64.2-inch) sizes, as a solid boards only.

Both boards are available through Venture's website now. The company anticipates a fast sell-out due to the limited production numbers. The Euphoria and Zelix solids retail for US$585 and the Euphoria split for $895. Expect more boards to spring from the Shape Shack as Venture thinks them up.

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