Whistler's Prior Snowboards has long been considered an industry leader for its high-quality, handcrafted skis, snowboards and splitboards, and some recent accolades from notable publications are only helping to cement that status.
Backcountry Magazine has made Prior's Brandywine XTC one of its Editor's Choice Award winners for 2015 in the Splitboard category, while the local company's AMF Carbon splitboard has taken home a Best Freestyle nod from Splitboard Magazine.
On top of those honours, the AMF and three Prior ski models — the Harmony, Overlord and A-Star — have all been made Backcountry Magazine Gear Guide Selects for this winter.
The recognitions from Backcountry Magazine come after the publication completed its annual board testing in March.
"It means a lot," said president Chris Prior. "Every year we send stuff in and are up against the top five biggest companies in the world... but each year we seem to come out with something."
The Brandywine splitboard also collected an Editor's Choice Award from Backcountry Magazine in 2012. Prior introduced the women's only model in 2009. When unveiling the Brandywine XTC as an award-winner, the magazine noted that it provided "the perfect balance for touring, with loads of playful energy," adding that the splitboard is "just damp enough to handle frozen crust at high speed."
"Its light weight begs to leave the ground, plus helps conserve energy for that extra lap at the end of the day," the review added of the XTC carbon construction.
Chris Prior said that the splitboard community is looking for lightweight and durable equipment, and that's something his Function Junction factory is able to produce with great care.
"It's a difficult product to make properly," he said. "It's very hands-on, so if you set up in China and mass produce, there are a lot of things that can go wrong. The quality control is not nearly what we can put into it.
"Everyone here is really versed and skilled at making sure every particular aspect of the assembly is intact and finished properly."
The AMF Split is Prior's original twin design and first hit the market in 2007. It was an Editor's Choice pick three of the last four years. While labeling it as the Best Freestyle model, Splitboard Magazine noted that the AMF can "take your tricks to another level on powder days."
In the past, garnering positive reviews from strong voices within the industry has led to a boost in publicity and sales.
"If you can get selected, it definitely does affect your bottom line, particularly if you can do it over and over again," said Prior, adding that testers who have input on the selections have reached out with personal feedback, and in some cases become customers.
"The testers are always very enthusiastic about riding the product... It's nice to hear directly from them what their thoughts are."
Prior Snowboards will celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2015, and its president said being located in the Sea to Sky corridor has helped the company maintain its high acclaim within the industry over the years.
"We probably would not have been able to consistently stay on top if we were not in a valley that is so close to two huge mountains like Whistler Blackcomb," said Prior. "For testing purposes, it's unbelievable how quickly we can turn things around."
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