By Jennifer Sherowski
Pro riders may come and go, and brands may live and die, but the impact on snowboarding of true icons like Peter Line stick around forever. Six-time Winter X Games medalist, co-founder of Forum and Foursquare, and part-owner of Electric Eyewear, Peter Line has brought us a decade and a half of cool new tricks and door-blowing video parts. Over the course of his career, he’s used his influence as a high-profile pro and company owner to keep that dream alive.
Line and snowboarding first encountered each other in the late 80s on the slopes of Washington resorts like Crystal Mountain and Snoqualmie. By 1993, he’d hooked up his first board sponsor, Division 23, and was offered a pro model shortly thereafter. It’s these days of being a fired-up rookie that he remembers most fondly. “Everything was so innocent-all I cared about was snowboarding every day. Of course, I was younger and just having fun, but that’s what it is-like the saying, ‘It’s about the journey, not the destination.’ Those were the good ol’ days.”
In 1996, Four Star Distribution and Special Blend owner Raul Reis contacted Line about starting an offshoot clothing company. Reis brought on Scandinavian pro rider Ingemar Backman as well, and together they started Foursquare. A year later, Division 23 president Gregg Dileo left D23 with Line to join Mike “Mack Dawg” McEntire in starting Forum Snowboards, also under the Four Star umbrella. “We brought on all the young amazing riders at the time-BJ Leines, JP Walker, Joni Malmi, Chris Dufficy, Jeremy Jones, Devun Walsh, and Wille Yli-Luoma,” says Line.
While pros investing in companies might seem commonplace these days, very few riders in the mid 90s had the foresight to put some of their newfound dough back into the sport. Line says, “We had an opportunity to start something different, with Mack Dawg as one of the owners and team videos as our focus. No other snowboard company at the time was doing what we did, so it became our little baby that we were so proud of. And of course it was an investment thing-even though at the time I could’ve ridden for someone else for way more money, this was something that meant a lot more to be a part of.”
With Line’s input, the team videos and other depictions of Forum’s original crew, the “Forum Eight,” were larger than life-all about the image and lifestyle of being a snowboarder. Over the years, he’s striven to help keep it that way-to do something with an impact and prevent snowboarding from becoming a dull, product-driven thing that’s “just another sport.”
“I think my responsibility to snowboarding is to give back to the sport what it gave me as a rider. I started snowboarding because it was the underground, cool thing that not many people were into at the time, and throughout my career, I’ve always voiced my opinion as snowboarding grew and drifted away from that. I’ve tried to do my part to keep it a core, cool sport that others can grow up loving, too.”
These days Line is still a sponsored pro and still getting hyped to ride, although he admits to, “checking out the retirement side.” Forum and Foursquare are now part of the Burton empire, but Line still influences everything going on with the brands, from the team, marketing, and video stuff to product design (he actually designs a few pieces for Foursquare every year). Plus, Forum’s doing a new video this coming year, and he’s focusing on filming a part for that. “It’s been a while since I’ve been so excited to snowboard and film again,” he says.
When it comes down to it, Peter Line represents something bigger than his career as a pro snowboarder-and even bigger than the companies he helped start. He represents the longevity of snowboarding as cool, creative, exciting, and maybe even an outlet for people who don’t fit in. He cares, and at the end of the day, that’s what matters. “When I first started, aa big air in the halfpipe was maybe five feet out, and the most rotation was a 540 by accident. Watching the progression of such a young sport from the start, and actually being a person who has helped it grow is huge for me. To help shape a sport I love is an amazing feeling.”
Photo: Cole Barash