History of Snowboarding Part 2 - 1980s
By Lee Crane
1980--Burton and Winterstick both utilize a P-Tex base on their prototype boards, introducing ski technology to the industry.
1980--Chris Sanders buys a Snurfer and when it disintegrated he built his own board, which would later lead him to founding Avalanche Snowboards.
1981--After working with early developments at Sims, Chuck Barfoot leaves to form his own, self-named snowboard company.
1981--Modern competitive snowboarding begins with a small contest held in April at Ski Cooper in Leadville, Colorado.
1982--Paul Graves organizes the National Snowsurfing Championships held at Suicide Six Ski Area in Woodstock, Vermont, featuring a slalom and downhill. Racers in the downhill were allegedly clocked going speeds in excess of 60 m.p.h. This is the first time riders from all over the country compete against each other including rivals Tom Sims and Jake Burton Carpenter. Tom Sims was victorious in the downhill but fractured his thumb crashing into the hay bales at the finish line. Burton team rider Doug Bouton wins first overall. The contest also features the first amateur division. It's also the last time Snurfers and snowboards race together. The contest draws media coverage from the likes of Sports Illustrated, NBC Today, and Good Morning America.
1982--Avalanche Snowboards founded in South Lake Tahoe by Chris Sanders and Earl Zellers. They made three boards the first year and named them Huey,Dewey, Louie. The boards had Formica bases and top sheets, and a mohogany doorskin core.
1983--Jake Burton Carpenter puts on the National Snowboarding Championships in the spring at Snow Valley, Vermont. Tom Sims then goes home and holds the inaugural World Snowboarding Championships at Soda Springs Ski Bowl in the Lake Tahoe area. This is the first contest to have a halfpipe event. Jake Burton, Andy Coghlan, and the Burton team members threatened to boycott the event because they felt halfpipe had nothing to do with snowboarding and should not be considered in the overall.
1983--Jeff Grell designs a highback binding, enabling boards to be ridden effectively on hardpack. The bindings were first used on Flite snowboards, but later developed for Sims. Other's claim a highback was built earlier by Louis Fornier so Jeff's claim to the highback is up for discussion.
1985--In January, Mt. Baker hosts the first Mt. Baker Legendary Banked Slalom which becomes a competitive mainstay. Tom Sims wins.
1985--Thrasher covers the World Championships at Soda Springs, and give some of the first magazine exposure for a snowboarding contest.
1985--Absolutely Radical, the first magazine exclusively about snowboarding, appears in March. Six months later the name is changed to International Snowboard Magazine.
1985--Metal edges are introduced on Sims 1500 FE and Burton Performer models, their winter production models. This ends the era of surfing-influenced fin design once and for all as snowboards become more compatible with ski technology.
1985--Sims introduces the first signature model snowboard in their winterline, bearing Terry Kidwell's name. The Kidwell is also the first freestyle board with a rounded tail.
1985--Mike Olson Gnu boards are the first to be marketed as a carving board, where turns are made on edge rather than slided.
1986--Europeans begin to organize their own regional events, such as the Swiss Championships in St. Moritz.
1986--The Swiss winner of some of those European races, Jose Fernandes, comes to America with an asymmetrical board, the forerunner to asym production models popular in the early 90s. The board is made by his sponsor, Hooger Booger.
1986--The World Snowboarding Championships, or The World's, as it has became known, relocates from Soda Springs to Breckenridge, Colorado. The March event draws big money from Swatch and gets some of the most national recognition to date. Probably the most ground breaking is done when Fran Richards, Paul Alden and Dave Alden convince the Breckenridge management that the halfpipe is not a high-speed event.
1986--During this winter, Stratton Mountain in Vermont becomes the first resort to offer organized snowboarding instruction.
1986--Sims Snowboards is licensed by Vision in December.
1986-'87 Season--With a lace-up, ski-boot inner bladder, Burton produces what will become the standard design for soft-boot snowboarding.
1987--Chuck Barfoot and his company introduce the first twin-tip freestyle shape with an identical nose and tail. The board is designed by Canadians Neil Daffern, Ken and Dave Achenbach.
1987--Europeans host their own World Championships in January at Livigno, Italy and St. Moritz, Switzerland. This event is not to be confused with the other World Championships, held at Breckenridge, Colorado later the same year.
1987--The day after the 2nd Breckenridge World's in March, Paul Alden and a collection of riders and manufacturers form the North American Snowboard Association (N.A.S.A.) The acronym is later changed to N.A.S.B.A. because N.A.S.A is already taken. The association's main goal is to work with the Snowboard European Association (S.E.A.) to create a unified World Cup tour.
1987--A host of early snowboarders, including Dave Alden, pen the first PSIA manual for snowboard instructors.
1987--Transworld SNOWboarding Magazine publishes first issue in the fall.
1987--In September, Wrigley's chewing gum utilizes snowboarding in a national commercial. Craig Kelly, Bert LaMar, Tom Burt, and Jim Zellers appear in an aerial romp filmed by Greg Stump.
1987-'88--The first World Cup is held through out the season with two events in Europe and two in the United States. The circuit also introduces major corporate sponsorship (O'Neill, Suzuki, and Swatch) into the competitive arena.
1988--Veteran surf company Ocean Pacific warms up to snowboarding by developing their own line of winter clothing. Other surf companies soon follow and capitalize on the crossover between the two sports.
1988--Further action sport involvement comes when surf and skate manufacturer G&S enters the market. By 1990, G&S exits the snowboard market.
1988--While the two major snowboard manufacturers, Burton and Sims, battle over Craig Kelly in court, he is ordered by a federal judge not to ride any products bearing any logo other than Sims. Kelly then starts riding blackboards with no logo. The restraining order is later reversed in court and Kelly signs a long-term deal with Burton.
1988-- Former amateur surf promoter Chuck Allen incorporates the United States Amateur Snowboarding Association (USASA) in July with a $500 donation fromTransworld SNOWboarding Magazine. USASA is the first governing body exclusively for competitive amateur snowboarding.
1989--Earl A. Miller, an engineer and inventor from Utah, produces a releasable snowboard binding, but the technology has yet to hit the mainstream.
1989--Just in time for the coming winter, most of the major ski resorts that had previously resisted snowboarding succumb, such as Squaw Valley, California; Mammoth Mountain, California; Vail, Colorado; Sun Valley, Idaho; and Snowbird,Utah.
1989--OP continues to delve into the snowboarding market by expanding their popular OP Pro of Surfing to include the OP Pro of Snowboarding. The contest is held at June Mountain, California.
1989--October. Rob Morrow leaves his Sims sponsorship and with business help from his uncle starts Morrow Snowboards in Salem, Oregon.
1989--The first National Collegiate Championships are held in December at Stratton Mountain, Vermont. Soon, college teams and clubs sprout like weeds throughout the country.