History of Snowboarding Part 3 - 1990s
By Lee Crane
1990--Jake Carpenter buys the patent for the "skiboard" from its designer Bob Webber. Burton's lawyers send out a letter asking for three percent of everyone's total sales, Jake makes it look like he is being squeezed by some outside force into paying the royalties as well. The industry eventually finds out that Burton is behind both letters and dares Jake to enforce the patent. Jake doesn't and claims he bought the patent to keep Brunswick from buying and ruining the industry. Nothing happens.
1990--The USASA holds their premiere national championships in February, at Snow Valley, California. The worst snow storm of the decade hits just before the event and closes all roads to Big Bear. Amateur snowboarders from all over the country are left stranded. A rescue caravan of locals led by USASA president Chuck Allen sneaks the competitors past the police barricades and gets them to the contest on time.
1990--In June, Breckenridge Ski Corp. announces plans to house the Snowboarding Hall Of Fame, with artifacts from the sport's not-so-distant past.
1990--Santa Cruz Skateboards owner Rich Novak starts producing a line of snowboards. Other skate companies like H-Street decide to test the waters with their own board and clothing designs.
1990--Vail Ski Resort tries a new approach by developing an in-bounds obstacle area called a "snowboard park." The area is intended to cater to a growing snowboard market and other resorts quickly follow suit.
1990-- The International Snowboard Federation forms after the collapse of the National Association of Professional Snowboarders. Headed by Ted Martin, Kazuo Ogura, and Christian Savioz. The idea is to be a sanctioning body for international competition.
1991--By now, the pro surfer/pro skater crossover to snowboarding is prevalent.Skaters Steve Caballero and Lance Mountain have been riding since the early 80s at least, Tony Hawk, Kevin Staab, and Joe Johnson have been riding for years. Surf standouts like Gary Elkerton, Mike Parsons, and Noah Budroe bite the snowboarding bait, and most other pro surfers ride regularly, have tried it, or at least have developed an opinion or two about it.
1991-- The 1991 Victoria World Cup Japan is held at Rusutsu Resort on Japan's north island. With over one-million dollars spent on the contest it was the richest contest so far.
1991--After a lengthy court dispute over the Sims name, Tom Sims wins back the licensing rights from Vision in February. Vision begins production under its own name and Tom resumes making a new Sims line.
1991--The Op Wintersurf contest held in February pits pro surfers and snowboarders against each other in a surf contest at Huntington Beach and a snowboard obstacle course/race at Bear Mountain. Top international pro surfer Gary Elkerton scores the win, proving it's a lot harder to learn how to surf than snowboard.
1992-- The United States Ski Association decides to finally become involved with snowboarding. With back room political help from Paul Alden the USSA tries to merge with the USASA. Negotiations fail between the two groups.
1992-- Ken Achenbach and some friends produce a baseless soft binding called "Simply Filth." Most in the industry shrug it off as another of Ken Achenbach's wild ideas.
1992--February 17. During a photo shoot at Squaw Valley, California, snowboarder Steve Graham accidentally collides with photographer Bud Fawcett resulting in nerve damage to Fawcett's left arm. This results in a court battle which no one will talk about.
1993-- January. The International Snowboard Federation holds its first official Snowboard World Championships in Ischgl, Austria. American's Kevin Delaney and Michele Taggart win the combined titles.
1993-- Snowboarding's third wave of snowboard manufacturers spring up and in the fall of 1993 there are over 50 different companies marketing snowboards to the consuming public.
1993-- One of the companies is Type A run by Plan B owner Mike Ternasky. It is seen as the first of the third wave/hardcore skateboard companies to enter the snowboard market.
1993-- Closely on Type A's heels comes Blunt, a snowboard magazine created in Vista, California by Ken Block of Droors clothing and Circus Distribution. The magazine is slick, nasty, and quickly gains the attention of the snowboarding industry for it's use of video grabs and full color graphics. Some disparagingly refer to it as "Big Brother's little bro."
1993-- The Federation Ski International (FIS), the international organizational body for skiing and Olympic skiing votes to recognize snowboarding at their June meeting. Plans for several events in 1994 and a full-fledged World Cup Tour in 1995. The snowboard industry is wary of this bureaucratic giant. Many feel this kind of organization will be bad for the sport.
1993-- Snowboarder TV goes on the air of ESPN with host G.T. (Greg Tomlinson).The show features great riding, music and very little talking. It is well received.
1993-- Following on the success of 411 a skateboard video magazine produced by Paul Schmitt, TransWorld Publications creates TransWorld Snowboarding Video Magazine by Mike McIntire (Mack Dawg).
1994--At the Lillihammer, Norway Olympics it is hoped that snowboarding would be performed as a "cultural exhibition," by the host country Norway. The FIS gets wind of the performance and forces it's cancellation. Many believe it will not be until 1998 that the Olympics give medals for snowboarding.
1994-- January. At a national Burton Sales meeting at Sugarbush, Vermont Jake Burton Carpenter collides with a skier and breaks his tibia and fibulaand is forced to walk about in a cast and brace for several months.
1994-- The first Amateur World Championships are held in Slovenia.
1994-- At the SIA Trade Show in Las Vegas, Nevada every one of the big snowboard companies introduces a baseless binding and touts it as the newest thing to hit snowboarding. At the same show Burton and Snow Pro display step in hardboot bindings to slightly less fanfare.
1994-- Spring. Two organizations hold amateur national championships. The USSA holds theirs at June Mountain, California. And the USASA holds theirs at Sierra at Tahoe, California. Both claim to have the "official" national team.
1994--Matt Goodwill wins the King of the Hill competition in Valdez, Alaska.It is his second extreme world championship title. Julie Zell was crowned Queen of the Hill.
1994-- May, 6. Ride Snowboards becomes the first snowboard company to go public on the NASDAQ stock exchange. They sell out the original 500,000 units in the first two weeks and another 75,000 units are released. In the sale Ride offers one unit (two shares and one warrant) for US$10. By the middle of June 1995 the share price reached $28, or six times it's original worth.
1994--Spring. Volant Skis enters the snowboard market by purchasing the financially floundering company Aggression from owner Ron Romaine.
1994--June. At their national congress in Rio De Janeiro, the FIS membership votes to include snowboarding as a discipline in their jurisdiction. The ISF is not happy.
1994--July. ISF President Ted Martin writes a letter asking the IOC to recognize the ISF as the governing body of international snowboarding. In a three sentence reply, the ISF is told to talk to the FIS about getting ISF athletes in the Olympics because "FIS governs that discipline."
1994-- August 1, Kemper Snowboards is purchased by California Pro in-line skates for US$1 million. The new owners move the headquarters to Greenville, South Carolina.
1994--August. Burton Snowboards releases the first CD-ROM interactive catalog. Taking snowboarding into the computer age.
1994--September. Avalanche Snowboards sells 80 percent of it's 15 year old company to businessman Robert Edwards for an undisclosed amount. Edwards worked previously with Anthony Industries, the parent corporation of K2 Skis.
1994--September. Molson, the Canadian beer, uses stock snowboarding footage shot by FLF in it's beer ad which premiers during Monday Night Football. Riders Damian Sanders, Dave Seoane, and other get small fee.
1995--January. The Sacramento, California-based Heckler Magazine becomes first snowboard magazine to publish on the Internet's World Wide Web(http://www.heckler.com/). No one knows if this means anything.
1995--March. Five different manufacturers including Burton and Airwalk show step-in soft bindings. With product from Switch, Device, and T-Bone, many in the industry rush to call step-in softbindings snowboarding's next big thing.
1995--Rob Morrow steps down as president of Morrow Snowboards fueling rumors of Morrow's going public or being sold to a larger corporation. Dennis Shelton, previously of Scott and Schwinn, takes over as president.
1995--December. Morrow Snowboards becomes second snowboard company when Smith-Barney takes them public. Shares open at a price of US$11.
1996-- April 26. Ride Inc., announces that its Preston Binding Company subsidiary, together with Mark A. Raines and Gregory A. Deeney, has sued Switch Manufacturing Company for patent infringement claiming that Switches Autolock binding is too similar to the Raines binding because it attaches side to side.
1996--October 1. Tom Sims ends relationship with DNR/Sportsystem and files a suit in the Santa Barbara County Court for a restraining order to stop DNR from using the Sims brand name.
This story originally appeared in TransWorld Snowboarding Magazine.Special thanks to Billy Miller and John Stouffer for compiling most of this timeline.