Swiss snowboarder Nicolas Müller is regarded by many as one of the all time greats in our standing sideways world, dominating any terrain with his silky smooth style and true 10/10 method. He’s a true snowboarding legend who had his own pro model lines with Gnu snowboards, 32 boots and 32 outerwear, plus various deals with Oakley, Nixon, Etnies and others.
Cue June 2020 and all that came crashing to a very abrupt halt!
If you’re unfamiliar with what happened, then Stan Leveille sums up the events quite nicely in a ‘Pros And Conspiracy Edition’ of his ‘Last Resort’ YouTube show below.
The short version is that in spring 2020 (amid global pandemic lockdown and BLM events) Nico’s Instagram stories took more of a ‘5G, Bill Gates, conspiracy theory’ style flavour, which obviously attracted mixed feelings about the suitability of the messages he was sharing and even saw skier Jake Cohn publicly call on Nico’s sponsors to take action in a post. While everyone is certainly welcome to an individual opinion and free speech, I don’t think anyone was surprised to see all of Nico’s sponsors promptly part ways with him around mid June. The in’s and out’s of those events or the bigger discussion is one for another time.
But that got me thinking… what are GNU going to do with all those 2021 Mullair snowboards??
For companies with Nico’s signature lines and models, like 32 and GNU, the timing of this departure is an interesting one as normally by June the manufacturing process for 2020-2021 seasons kit will have been well underway. So what would they do with all that kit if it had already been produced with all the Mullair branding? Southern hemisphere retailers usually get a good spattering of next season’s kit during their winter, but none carried active listings for any of the 32 or GNU pro models.
We can all agree that the covid-19 pandemic has swept in zero positives, however it would appear that with manufactures and supply chains grinding to halt during the lockdown this granted GNU a bit more time to make some changes to the Mullair’s graphic ready for release this winter under a new name.
While Mervin Manufacturing are still yet to make an official announcement regarding the board, it appears the Mullair has now morphed into something called the ‘Essential Service’.
At the time of writing the Essential Service was not listed on the main GNU site, and it was only with a bit of Sherlock Holmes style detective work that I found a few online retailer’s original listings for the Mullair now showing the new board. Some just had the name and image, while some still had the old Mullair blurb but with the new photo and name.
Basically the Essential Service is the Mullair, so rejoice away if this is the board you had your heart set on for next season. Construction unchanged, base graphic the same, heck even the top half of the top sheet graphic is pretty much identical. The only thing to change is the bottom half of the top sheet graphic, where in Back To The Future fashion all trace of Nico has been erased from existence!
I’ve also heard on the grapevine that Mervin will be donating a portion of profits from sales of this board to Stateside charities, so if you were bothered by the whole Nico-Insta thing you can buy knowing that your getting a great board while supporting some amazing initiatives.
Boards are likely to start arriving at your local GNU dealer over the coming weeks, so keep your eyes peeled for more details and remember to support your local bricks and mortar snowboard store.