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Matthew Gibson

Paying Homage to the Giants

By July 31, 2013

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snowboarderThis month, in the peak of summer, I have decided to research and write about the history of snowboarding. Being one of the early adopters, I feel a personal connection with the pioneers of our beloved sport.

I started snowboarding at the age of twelve. As soon as I made my first turns, I was hooked. I quite ski racing (I had started skiing at 3) and by the end of my first season I'd learned to carve, stop, ollie, and ride fakie.

Around that time, huge advancements were being made in the sport -- advancements that I didn't even learn about until I began researching the snowboarding history timelines that I wrote this month.

For example, I had never before heard of Johan Olofsson's epic run in the movie TB5, in which he sets a world record by descending 3000 vertical feet down a 50-degree chute in Alaska in 35 seconds (watch it at the end of this video).

Amazing.

I'd never heard of the 2005 ICE AIR event, in which the steepest hills in San Francisco were covered in snow for a big air competition, which sounds as apiece as any competition could possibly be.

Of course, not all of the advancements were had to do with physical achievements. The people who worked year after year to improve the the design and technology behind snowboards had just as much to do with the sport's progression -- or perhaps even more -- than the athletes.

Of course, there was the Godfather of Snowboarding, Jake Burton, who founded Burton Snowboards.  He has done more for this sport than every athlete combined. Don't get me wrong.  Other companies, like Sims, Ride, and K2, have made their share of technical advances, but Mr. Burton did the vast majority of the work that turned what was essentially a fat ski with a rope tied to the end into the technical air-grabbing powder-shredding tool that it is today.

So, I'd like to take a moment to honour the greats, like Johan Olofsson, (the late) Craig Kelly, Terje Haakonson, Shaun White, Tom Sims, and the creator of it all, Jake Burton.

To them, we owe all that we have.

I hope you'll take minute to look through my latest series, a timeline of the history of snowboarding in five parts, and learn a bit about how the sport that we all love came to be.

 

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