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The history of snowboarding has been written down, but since 1995 no one has really bothered to organize it. So, being the diligent shred journos we are, we decided to take it upon ourselves to put the modern history of snowboarding into a format the internet can understand. The following is based on such sources as company websites, wikipedia and information pulled from my own brain. Where ever possible, sources are given. Feel free to add any milestones we’ve missed, as this list is just the major moments.
1996. Snowboarding is going mainstream. CNN even endorses it as “pretty safe.”
1996. Need more proof? Snowboard Academy drops. Ernest is funny as ever.
1996. Johan Olaffson makes the Guiness book of world records by rocketing down a 50 degree, 3,000 vertical foot slope in just 35 seconds in Alaska. Bet you didn’t know or remember this, but the Smithsonian did.
1996. Four Star Distribution and Peter Line start Forum. Peter attempts to create the greatest pro team ever, “The Forum 8”, arguably the most progressive group of riders ever. The Forum 8 were: JP Walker, Jeremy Jones, Joni Malmi, Wille Yli-Luoma, Bjorn Leines, Devun Walsh, Chris Dufficy and Peter Line. Peter remains the only original member at the time of the brand’s demise.
1996. Neil Pryde introduced Flow Bindings, the first “rev0ltionary binding innovation” since high backs to stand the test of time.
1996. Snowboarder Magazine’s Superpark is begun, but it doesn’t really become a brand until some years later. These days, we’re pretty sure it’s Pat Bridges’ flesh and blood and comes complete with a mag feature and an online spectacle.
1996. The first snowboard video games, Winter Gold and Cool Boarders, are released on SNES and PlayStation game consoles. Snowboarders waste even more time.
1996. Jeff Brushie signs a 1.3 Million dollar contract with Ride Snowboards. You think it’s amazing now, imagine that sum it back then.
1997. Thanks in large part to desperation to revive the struggling ski industry, snowboarding is now accepted at almost all resorts. The final four holdouts are Deer Valley, UT, Alta, UT. Mad River Glen, VT, and Taos, NM.
1997. Ski companies have jumped on the bandwagon and a lot of people call these the “gravy days.” According to an article on Onboardmag. “There were boards made by every brand of skis and by a few hundred snowboard companies as well. Each brand needed team riders, so becoming one wasn’t that hard, even though the level of riding had picked up tremendously. Most riders on the pro tour did back-to-back 720s, which became a predictable trademark of the time in every halfpipe competition.”
1997. The world is introduced to step-in bindings. At first, not bending over sounds awesome, but as it turns out they freeze, and generally don’t work. Doesn’t stop K2 clickers from making K2 Snowboarding some loot, putting Switch on the map, and even brands like Burton from getting in on the action in the next nears.
1997. ESPN hosts the first Winter X Games. Snowboard events include: Slopestyle, Snowboarder X and halfpipe, with the halfpipe checking in at a solid 12 feet. Barrett Christy wins gold in both women’s slopestyle and big air. Shaun Palmer takes snowboarder X gold and Norway’s Daniel Frank wins gold in men’s slope and silver in halfpipe. Sweden’s Jennie Waara is the only rider to earn three podiums, a gold in snowboarder X, silver in halfpipe and bronze in slopestyle.
1997. Yobeat is born late one night on the free web space provided by our AOL accounts.
1998. The Nagano Olympics! Everyone assumes snowboarding participation will sky rocket (it grows, but not because of the Olympics) and Morrow makes way too many of Todd Richards’ pro models. In the end, Todd falls (but still notes he would have won if the judging was like it is today) and Gian Simmen wins. Nicola Thost tops women. Ross Rebagliati wins the first snowboarding gold ever in GS and has it taken away for weed. We’ll never move past that, so don’t even try.
1998. Snowboarding Online is purchased by Times Mirror and consolidated into twsnow.com. The Internet is starting to gain steam in the real world, but since most snowboarders don’t have computers, it will be years before it explodes.
1998. Fresh and Tasty ceases publication, a blow for women who liked to grab tindy everywhere.
1998. More video games, including 1080Â° Snowboarding, Downhill Snow, Cool Boarders 3, Twisted Edge Extreme Snowboarding, and ESPN X Games Pro Boarder, are released for various video game consoles.
1998. Mt Baker breaks the world snowfall record, receiving nearly 1200 inches of snow in one season. The record still stands today.
1999. Mike Michaelchuck shows up to halfpipe contests with double flips, referred to as “Michaelchucks” (convenient, right.)
1999. On the East Coast, it was the year of the Blue Lodge. The snowboard frat at Plymouth state houses some the likes of Preston Strout, Shane Flood, and more, and also hosts the best parties.
1999. After being bought (and hopefully saved) by Larry Flynt productions, Blunt is shuttered after 5 short years.
1999. Snowboarding was huge world wide. Died people Die at the Air and Style Challenge in Innsbruck, while trying to leave an overfilled stadium. Stefan Gimpl wins the contest.
2000. Jason Brown and Blue Montgomery join forces to create CAPiTA. The crew is still keeping snowboarding badass.
2000. Wood cores gain popularity and snowboards are lighter than ever.
2001. Mack Dawg and the Forum eight continue their reign and release True Life. Yep, they’ve still got it.
2001. Matt and Danny Kass and a band of merry rabblerousers form Grenade gloves. The company grows exponentially until reaching a critical mass around 2007. Though still in business, the original “we must exploit” ethos are a bit more corporate these days.
2001. Rome Snowboards is founded by Josh Reid with former staffers from Burton and Original Sin.
2001. Marco Siffredi, a legendary French snowboarder and climber, became the first person to snowboard down Mt. Everest. He rode the mountain via the Norton Couloir gorge on the north face
2001. Shaun Palmer earned recognition as arguably the most dominant snowboarder in the industry and awarded the ESPY Award for Action Sports Athlete of the Year in February. He also has a video game from Activision.
2002. Lots of snowboarders go on talk shows. We’re really hitting the big time, but thus far no clear spokesmodel has emerged.
2002. David Benedek and Travis Parker c0-found Robotfood, and put out Afterbang, a movie that managed to show the entire range of snowboarding that an average kid could do – from building kickers to moving out west and shredding pow. It made everything seem incredible impressive, but attainable.
2002. The Ticket to Ride, later the World Snowboard Tour, is created under the leadership of Terje Haakonsen. The goal is to connect the must successful and competitive snowboarders with events around the globe and grow a real competitive governing body that is more snowboard-oriented than the FIS.
2002. Lib Tech comes up with Magnetraction. Since they’re still doing it, it must actually work.
2002. Kingpin releases Happy Hour, a sick movie with an even sicker with a second disc that is nothing but fucked up Big Brother-style antics.
2003. Neoproto launches, ushering in a new crop of video talent that gets weird in the streets, listens to something other than pop punk, and shows a whole new style of snowboarding.
2003. The Abominable Snow Jam happens at Mt. Hood and solidify Travis Rice’s spot on the map when he stomps a memorably huge front flip to fakie on the quarterpipe.
2003. Craig Kelly dies in an avalanche. Jeff Anderson dies in Japan. Jeff’s family continues his legacy with events and other special features at Mammoth Mountain and snowboarding will never forget Craig.
2004. It was an excellent year for snowboarding with 6.6 million participants.
2004. Mikey Leblanc and and all-star crew basically change rail riding as we know it when they team up as KidsKnow and release Love/Hate and later Burning Bridges.
2004. Burton buys Forum Snowboards, Special Blend, Foursquare and Jeenyus aka “The Program.”
2004. Mark Sullivan launches Snowboard Mag.
2005. The ICER AIR event was held on Fillmore Street in San Francisco. Twelve-thousand cubic feet of snow and 20 of the top professional snowboarders were brought in to compete in a big-air competition held on the steepest streets in the city. The still owe people money.
2005. The Finnish invasion. Names like Autti Autti, Risto Mattila, Marco Koski and Heiki Sorsa start easily rolling off the tongue.
And… not much else happened in 2005, but we’re only a little more than halfway done. Check back soon for the shocking conclusion of this list, but certainly not the history of snowboarding.