Talent Meets Talons

If you've followed Travis Rice's career at all, you've likely noticed that the products and projects he puts his name on display an originality and intensity that's rare. In keeping with this tradition, his 2010 board line from Lib Tech is emblazoned with custom depictions of, well, rare or endangered raptors, with partial proceeds heading to The Peregrine Fund, a non-profit devoted to saving wild birds of prey.

Knowing how Rice rolls, we figured there was more to these boards than just "killer graphics," so we hit the man up for the inside line on his new and very tech-sounding Travis Rice C2 Power Banana:

ESPN: So what inspired the idea to run a bird of prey theme in the graphics and donate some of the proceeds to The Peregrine Fund?

Travis Rice: Well, plain and simple, birds of prey are BAD ASS. They rule the skies and show proof on just how efficiently evolution can sculpt a precision creature. I grew up surrounded by avian appreciation and ended up apprenticing under a master falconer for half a year when I was like 14. Somewhere along the way, I learned of the Peregrine Falcon's plight in the 60s when faced with the DDT crisis, i.e. a pesticide that concentrated itself in top food chain predators (kind of like the mercury found in tuna) and made the eggs so brittle they were breaking. An organization rose around these endangered raptors and ended up being fundamental in banning DDT and literally saving the Peregrine among many other species from extinction. Since then, [The Peregrine Fund] has expanded and now deal on a global level. They have a lot of great programs and, through this board, I wanted to bring further awareness to their cause and help out with a small amount of funding towards future projects.

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The flight fantasy probably plagues us all, at least a little bit... And when looking at a bird's ability to fly, if the songbird was comparable to a Cessna, then the bird of prey is like an F-22!

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-- Travis Rice

Tell us a bit about the two birds depicted on the boards... Are they real birds or mythical?

The birds that are featured on my board are the Harpy Eagle and the Icelandic Gyrfalcon. The Harpy is this huge eagle that rules the Amazonian rain forests, picking monkeys out of trees. [It] has an insane plume of feathers on its head that it can erect straight up in the back... Due to deforestation and other environmental conditions its numbers have greatly dwindled and it is considered endangered.

[Ed. For an idea of its utter bad-ass-ness, check this video of a Harpy Eagle picking a sloth out of a tree for lunch.]

The Icelandic Gyr has been moving steadily north in recent years as temperature and prey habits change, and is a potentially threatened species. The PF has new projects based around both of these birds and that is why they are featured, frozen in Ryan Bahlman's artwork. Being able to work with Ryan, tag name Ryno, was a real treat. I love what he does.

Do raptors occupy any special place in your admiration or imagination? If so, why would you say that is?

A wild animal that can be trapped and then let fly free three days later and that comes back and actually becomes a hunting partner...then can be released back into the wild and have no adaption issues?! And, I mean, come on: the flight fantasy probably plagues us all, at least a little bit... And when looking at a bird's ability to fly, if the songbird was comparable to a Cessna, then the bird of prey is like an F-22!

Technically-speaking, what's special about these boards and/or the new C2?

Well, C2 is the next step in the Banana technology that we've developed at Lib over the past couple of years, and the beauty of it is [that] the technology combines the best of both worlds! Under your feet, the board has rocker (Banana) and Magnetraction (our serrated edge system) which makes the board incredibly fast edge-to-edge on hardpack and the soft stuff. In pow, the majority of your weight is centered over your 'nana which keeps you floating on top without having to stand on your back foot to keep the nose up. The Banana gives the miraculous ability (and Banana's best trait) of landing in powder and riding away from seemingly impossible situations.

The second part of the board is there is camber that extends from your feet to the nose and tail. This gives you the ability to truly snap an ollie with more force driven from the leverage of added camber to the tail and nose, and makes the board more stable at high speeds. The camber on tip and tail helps you catch landings quicker and soften impacts, and with a little camber in the front you are able to drive forward into your turns harder and gain added speed. Banana Technology is the future but there is no denying the few added benefits of our age-old friend: camber. And that's why C2 isn't a choice but THE choice! Yeah, I love it...

For more on C2, the tech that won an "Innovation of the Year" from SIA Snowpress in '09, please see this info page at Mervin Mfg. And for a BBC video of the very bird that inspired The Peregrine Fund hitting 180 mph(!) as she schools some free-falling skydivers, click here.