Which Decade Was the Best For Snowboarding?

THE 80's, 90's, 00's AND 10's GO HEAD-TO-HEAD


A grabbed powder carve. why aren’t we all still doing them?! Mike Ranquet goes crazy in ’88. Photo – Bud Fawcett

“It was acceptable in the 80s” sang someone I couldn’t be arsed googling recently, and lo and behold that mysterious songwriter turns out to be a Nostrodamus-style prophet because yes, snowboarding was acceptable: some ski areas FINALLY allowed riders onto their slopes. You’d like to think our charm had eventually swayed them, but when you look at how many were going bankrupt after a harsh recession in the late 1970s, it’s probably more truthful to say that they were desperate to get our cash. Not that any snowboarder had any at all. Even Jake Burton was skint.


Basically, back then all snowboard kit was a must-have, though in truth, the vast majority of it was gash. You know that advert where two butch men dress up as housewives and test the absorption ability of kitchen roll? Supplement the bad stuff they use with 1980s outerwear and the Bounty kitchen roll would still be tougher. And because there was so little of it around, having anything made by a snowboard brand was essentially like opening a packet of crisps in a primary school: hands came in from every direction until there was nothing left.

Empty slopes?

Yes – if you were riding in the 80s, you had the run of the place. And off-piste? Oh my god. The only people in the backcountry were hip-wiggling skiers doing those ludicrous powder-eight tight turns criss-crossing each other. What utter tools. Being a seasonaire meant being on your own.

Park life?

Forget it. If you wanted to ride park, it was a weekend with a shovel for you, because compared to today’s precision-cut pipes, 1980s halfpipes were virtually non-existent. The few that did exist looked like a clay bowl fashioned by Demi Moore from Ghost if Patrick Swayze had been slapping her with his cock throughout.

If you were riding in the 80s, you had the run of the place. And off-piste? Oh my god.

If you could do a 360…

You got a pro model. The upshot is that you’d only sell four of them, but if you’d had the foresight to stash the remaining boards in a garage, they’d be worth a fortune by now…

 pro of the decade?

A Tahoe man named Terry Kidwell who singlehandedly made snowboarding Roots Manoeouvre-style Cooler than Cool. Saying that, he retired on collective earnings of about 56-pence (or the dollar equivalent) but what he lost out on in cash, he’s more than made up for in collective high fives since. He is da man.

Tweeting meant…

In the 1980s, tweeting meant staring at some tits through a pair of binoculars from the safety of a shed.

Film of the decade?

Apart from any of the John Cusack teen flicks (classics, every one), when Sims snowboards released Snow Daze in 1987, it was pretty revolutionary, featuring Santana-esque guitar solos layered over people riding fakie and pulling wheelies on the nose of their boards. And yes, these were the hottest riders on the planet, and those tricks were not done with irony.

The 80’s: When snowboarders were snowboarders and men wore tight lemon trousers. Craig Kelly, en route to legend status. Photo – Bud Fawcett

Graphic of the decade?

Any board by Crazy Banana. It featured a banana, going crazy. Same with Chequered Pig. Graphic artists back then were essentially following Cathphrase’s ‘say what you see’ ethos.

If you had a time machine and could go back to one moment…

How about the day that Terry Kidwell threw down the first ever snowboarding McTwist in December of 1985? You’d be in California with a group of legendary riders, it’d be a right laugh. And given that Back To The Future has literally just been released, they might not be too freaked out to see a flaming DeLorean coming straight through the space-time continuum. Just don’t pull out a rocker board, they’ll think you’re from 1982.


Newsletter Terms & Conditions

Please enter your email so we can keep you updated with news, features and the latest offers. If you are not interested you can unsubscribe at any time. We will never sell your data and you'll only get messages from us and our partners whose products and services we think you'll enjoy.

Read our full Privacy Policy as well as Terms & Conditions.