Live and let ride: 30 years of snowboarding at Breck
It was 1985. Snowboards were shorter, slimmer, pointed and made of wood. Wide neon headbands sat where helmets now reside and saggy :”steezy” swagger was a glimmer in the nylon one-piece snowsuit’s eye.
Highback bindings were in infant stages and the first magazine about snowboarding, Absolutely Radical (later renamed International Snowboard Magazine), was fresh off the press.
It was then, 30 years ago, that Breckenridge Ski Resort rolled out the welcome mat for snowboarders. At the time, the sport was viewed as a rebel teenage fad. Today, grandpas are picking it up and babies are tearing it up. On any given day there are just as many snowboarders as skiers shredding Breck’s terrain. Some of the sport’s top competitors have cut their teeth at the local Freeway and Park Lane terrain parks. (See: Breck Epic Pro Team.)
Then and now
A flip through snowboarding’s days of yore has Burton unveiling boards in Vermont in the late ‘70s, while skateboarder Tom Sims and surfer Chuck Barfoot took an innovative stab at equipment on the west coast. In the Rockies, Breckenridge was doing some pioneering of its own, settling in for a long love affair with snowboarding and shedding positive light on the sport through competitions like the 1986 World Snowboard Classic.
Tons of resorts began allowing boarders in 1985-86. (Today only three North American resorts don’t allow snowboarders: Alta and Deer Valley in Utah and Vermont’s Mad River Glen.)
Road to the mainstream
Snowboarders were sometimes dubbed counter culturists by more traditional skiers and it took a minute for the International Olympic Committee to recognize the sport. In fact, snowboarding didn’t make its debut at the Winter Olympics until 1998 during the Nagano, Japan games.
In 2014, six events were added to the Winter Olympic Games, including men and women’s snowboard slopestyle. In recent years, Olympic Snowboard Events racked up big viewership numbers as young athletes take it higher and wilder than ever.
Breck continues to support snowboarding’s limit-pushing progression, as seen on the resort’s sick-trick-inducing 22-foot-tall super pipe — one of the biggest in the world — and as a running host of the Dew Tour Mountain Championships.
From the invention of the Snurfer (snow + surfer = the earliest snowboard) in 1965 to Shaun White’s 2006 Rolling Stone cover, take a look back at the Top Ten Important Moments in Snowboarding History, courtesy of smithsonianmag.com.
Two planks or one, get out and celebrate the freedom to ride at Breckenridge in 2015.
— Lisa Pogue