Full Moonchild: Slovenia’s Mad Scientist of Snowboard Design

A snowboard shaped like a kitchen spatula? An ice cream cone? Batman? Up in Slovenia's Julian Alps, a mad scientist is building unique shapes, and the snowboarding world is taking note.

Moonchild Snowboards. Testing experimental snowboard.
Testing experimental snowboard. Photo: Petra Sodja

In the basement workshop of his family home in northwest Slovenia, Jure Sodja – a forty-something Slovene – is building some of the most bizarrely shaped snowboards ever seen. “I want to make art from snowboards.” He says. “But with my unique shapes, not graphics.”

And unique they are. Sodja has designed over 70 decks and personally built 45, including the weird and wonderful ‘Batman,’ ‘Viking,’ ‘Space Racer,’ ‘Rocket’ and perhaps most strange of all, the ‘Spatula,’ a snowboard shaped like a kitchen utensil.

He then tests-rides each one. Living in the Tromeja – Triple Border – region, the mountainous intersection of Slovenia, Austria, and Italy, Sodja has no shortage of slopes on which to try his creations. “By riding each one, I learn how design affects the sensations of snowboarding.” He adds.

A Moonchild is Born

Educated as an aviation engineer and heavy machinery designer, Sodja previously worked at Elan, one of Slovenia’s greatest business success stories; they invented the sidecut carving ski that is now the world standard. But despite their visionary redesign of the ski – when it came to creative snowboard shapes – Elan didn’t go far enough for Sodja. So, in 2015, he left Elan to start his own snowboard company, Moonchild.

Sodja’s artistic, unusual designs are not just flights of fancy. He builds handmade one-off boards for riders around the world and has shipped to Japan, the US, and Canada. But by experimenting with so many shapes, Sodja has also been able to develop lines of production snowboards made in small batches at a price point suitable for the mass market. These have attracted attention from some of snowboarding’s most influential media.

In 2023, The Moonchild Malibu – a fat-nosed, wide ride with a tapering tail – was selected for a spot in the coveted ‘Whitelines 100 Best Snowboarding Products’, one of only 45 boards to earn a place. “In powder, it’s an absolute dream, and on piste … it carves with ease. It’s a real head-turner,” gushed Whitelines.

A Powder Pioneer

For such a small company to earn respect amongst the million-dollar snow sports corporates is reason enough to take note of Moonchild. But perhaps even more so is Sodja’s ongoing innovation. Amongst other projects in progress – including virtual snowboards available as NFTs – Sodja is working on an entirely new snow-riding concept; with interchangeable 3D printed bindings, he’s developing the ‘world’s first snowboard-pow-surf hybrid.’ Named after his son, the ‘Atlas’ will go from prototype to production in winter 2023/24.

Sodja is truly one of snowboarding’s mad scientists. And with his excellence in design, he’s continuing Slovenia’s tradition of punching well above its weight on the world stage.

Sam Baldwin

is the author of For Fukui’s Sake; Two years in rural Japan, and founder of BregDesign.com – Slovenia-inspired designs. He has written for The Guardian, The Times, Men's Health, and numerous guidebooks and websites. He currently lives in Austria’s Deep South.

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