by Snow Biz Staff

In the beginning.

It’s been ten years since a one-page mimeographed newsletter about the snowboarding industry was first published. Since then, both the sport and SNOWboarding Business have grown side by side in sophistication as the market has matured.

The first five issues of SNOWboarding Business-published from April 1989 until November-were simply one-page newsletters. In fact, the newsletters weren’t even called SNOWboarding Business back then. They were just single sheets of Transworld SNOWboarding letterhead with “Newsletter” printed across the top.

Looking back at those 1989 issues, it’s easy to get a good picture of the fast-paced development the sport was going through. Contests had been held for several years and were increasing in number, more than eight manufacturers were making boards, and apparel was beginning to take off, especially with surf brands jumping in the game. Here’s a retrospective on the big news events shaping the industry back at the dawn of SNOWboarding Business.

1989

Volume 1 Number 1: The first issue of what would become SNOWboarding Business had three short stories: the North American Snowboard Association’s (remember NASBA? It was a precursor to the PSA today) election of Kevin Duncan as president; an upcoming American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) meeting (they still meet but hardly ever decide on anything); and how Mammoth Mountain planned to allow snowboarding after a successful test at June.

The next several issues focused on corporate sponsors coming into the sport (including Coors, Suzuki at the U.S. Open, and Op and O’Neill sponsoring contests-yes, surf companies were into snowboarding that early).

By August of 1989, snowboarding was allowed at the California resorts Squaw Valley and Kirkwood, the PSIA held snowboard clinics for would-be snowboard instructors (it took them nine years to change their name), and TDK signed on as a sponsor of the World Cup at Breckenridge.

That issue also had news on Kemper moving to Southern California as a result of FunSport-a distributor of windsurfing equipment-partnering with Kemper Owners Dave Kemper and Jamie Salter (Remember, Kemper is back this year).

Volume 1 Number 6 took the new four-page, two-color format and was the first to sport the new SNOWboarding Business name and logo. The cover photo featured Tim Bluto, Noah Brandon, Mike Bluto, Steve Hall, and Jason Ford to go along with an article about the burgeoning college snowboarding clubs.

Other topics in that issue included Sims and Burton settling their suit over Craig Kelly, finally allowing him to ride boards with Burton logos after a year of black bases. This issue also featured the first article to help retailers, titled “Five Ways to Increase Snowboard Sales,” along with the first shop profile. Back then Salty Peaks in Salt Lake City was in a 2,000-square-foot location at 2933 East 3300 South. The most interesting article was about a video called Shreddin’ Vacation From Hell, which featured Salty Peaks Owner Dennis Nazari as Shred Johnson. With characters like Guru Lou, Raging Hormones, Easy, Colonel Wolfgang Von Beartrap, and Reverend Schtick, the movie was possibly the funniest snowboarding film ever. (If there are any copies floating around, we’d like to see it.)

1990

The January 1990 issue featured articles on Brad Steward becoming the marketing director at Sims, and Sims signing an agreement to have Volkl distribute its boards in Europe (this set the stage for the formation of DNR, and Sims boards later being produced at the Volkl factory).

The February issue had articles on ski companies entering the snowboard market. It mentioned Look, K2, Dynastar, Lacroix, Dynamic, Rossignol, Elan, Head, Duret, Erbacher, Fischer, Alpina, Raichle, and Koflach as likely to become more involved with the new sport (and look at who’s left). The issualso had an article about TransWorld SNOWboarding magazine running 58 commercials on MTV, VH-1, ESPN, Nick at Night, and USA Dance Party (okay, so Dance Party was a bust) during January and February of that year to help grow the circulation.

The sixteen-page March issue set the standard for all to come, and included the most in-depth coverage of the industry ever. It featured the first State Of The Industry report and a snowboard shop survey. The issue also included product previews of 55 different companies (remember Aicad, Dr. Bone Savers, Black Snow, MBoo, Nectar, and Big Dogs?) for the SIA Las Vegas show, and was the first to incorporate the oversized tabloid format that continues to this day.

This behomoth also had profiles on Quimbola Man snowboard clothing, Leggoons, and the launch of Morrow Snowboards: “I got my dad and uncle involved because of their experience in manufacturing,” said Rob Morrow in the 1990 article. “I’ve always wanted a board for the type of riding I like to do. I designed my boards with a sharper sidecut for quicker turning, a slightly larger nose for deep powder riding, and a kick-tail for getting air and going fakie.”

The first post-Vegas issue that came out in May and stated that there were 26 board manufacturers at the annual ski show, and that Alpine board sales were up dramatically. In apparel, color trends were moving away from neon.

One of the most serious articles to ever appear in SNOWboarding Business ran in this issue. It reported about the helicopter crash at the Powder 8 World Championships where three snowboarders-including Donny Le Blanc, Neil Daffern, and Patty Petrone-died.

The first comprehensive look at the Japanese market appeared in this issue. According to it, 30,000 to 40,000 people were riding in Japan, and domestic manufacturers like Moss, Ogasaka, and Aomori were enjoying growth. However, Burton dominated the market, which accounted for twenty percent of the company’s worldwide total.

The issue also had articles on Far West Industries new snowboard brand Boardheads (in 1997 it bought Concept), Barracuda, Gordini gloves, Heavy Tools, and the new 20 Tricks Video.

The August 1990 issue led off with an article on the Professional Snowboarding Tour of America (the same guys who did the Professional Surfing Association of America-Meistrell Sports-who were the owners of Body Glove). The group held a test contest at Arapahoe Basin in May, gave away 25,000 dollars (the largest purse to date), and Kevin Delaney edged out Craig Kelly to win the pipe and take home 4,100 dollars.

The other pro tour that year was to be run by the American Professional Snowboard Federation (APSF), which replaced NASBA. The body planned sanction the Op, U.S. Open, and World Cup events in North America. Unfortunately, the APSF lasted about a week.

There were also short articles on Wave Rave clothing, Team Buttox, Snowave Boardwear, Block Enterprises, the Rocky Mountain Factory, Tsunami apparel, the Dirtboard, and the new Breckenridge Ski Hall of Fame, which had just decided to include snowboarding.

The September issue was the first to feature a paid advertisement: a half-page junior ad from Checker Pig. The lead story was about Tom Sims breaking his contract with Vision Sports, the company that was distributing and producing Sims Snowboards. The outcome-a judge ruled that Vision could produce and sell Sims Snowboards until November 1 of 1990. This led to two different lines of Sims Snowboards being sold into the market. According to the story, Tom Sims moved production of the eight-board line to Europe and estimated producing 3,000 to 5,000 boards, while Vision produced its own line and delivered on time.

The October issue was dubbed “The Tuning Issue” (the first of many theme issues to come) and featured a story on Jeff Grell joining the Ski Retailer Training Workshops to do snowboard-specific seminars during the traveling workshops. It also explained how the U.S. Snowboard Training Center developed a first draft of a halfpipe judging manual with the help of Bob Gilley, Jeff Fulton, Grell, and Dan Fink.

This SNOWboarding Business also featured the first State Of The Industry report for Canada, which predicted that twenty to 25 percent of Ontario’s ski business would soon become snowboarding business. In a market research study by the Simmons Market Research Bureau, it was revealed that 50 percent of all snowboarders were between the ages of fifteen and nineteen. More than 80 percent owned their own snowboards, while 25 percent of them bought a new board every season. More that 55 percent went snowboarding at least five days a month, and 40 percent said they went six or more times.

For the Holiday Issue of 1990, Sims and Vision continued their court battle with Vision, trying to stop Tom Sims from distributing his own boards in the U.S. (they were denied). According to court documents, the conflict divided the demand for Sims boards, with 3,000 orders filled by Tom Sims and 5,500 produced by Vision. The year before, 25,000 boards were sold by the two working together. An ASR show report also noted that there were two Sims booths at the expo, and Terry Kidwell decided not to ride for either. He left the show with a deal from start-up Apocalypse Snowboards, who had also signed Jack and Andy Coghlan.

In other related ASR news, Morrow Snowboards revamped its look, with Brad Steward and Scott Clum working on a new image, marketing strategy, and logos. Lib Tech showed for the first time, and pros Matt Cummins and Kris Jamieson worked the booth.

There were profiles on the Good ‘n Fruity Snowboard Jam Series (a precursor to the Mountain Dew Snowboard Demo Series), and the launch of Lib Tech snowboards. It was noted in the product information section that Santa Cruz would be working with DNR Sportsystem to promote a new line of snowboards (the deal remains to this day with DNR’s new owner, Marker).

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Next issue, we’ll look at the 1991 through 1993 seasons of SNOWboarding Business.ow the U.S. Snowboard Training Center developed a first draft of a halfpipe judging manual with the help of Bob Gilley, Jeff Fulton, Grell, and Dan Fink.

This SNOWboarding Business also featured the first State Of The Industry report for Canada, which predicted that twenty to 25 percent of Ontario’s ski business would soon become snowboarding business. In a market research study by the Simmons Market Research Bureau, it was revealed that 50 percent of all snowboarders were between the ages of fifteen and nineteen. More than 80 percent owned their own snowboards, while 25 percent of them bought a new board every season. More that 55 percent went snowboarding at least five days a month, and 40 percent said they went six or more times.

For the Holiday Issue of 1990, Sims and Vision continued their court battle with Vision, trying to stop Tom Sims from distributing his own boards in the U.S. (they were denied). According to court documents, the conflict divided the demand for Sims boards, with 3,000 orders filled by Tom Sims and 5,500 produced by Vision. The year before, 25,000 boards were sold by the two working together. An ASR show report also noted that there were two Sims booths at the expo, and Terry Kidwell decided not to ride for either. He left the show with a deal from start-up Apocalypse Snowboards, who had also signed Jack and Andy Coghlan.

In other related ASR news, Morrow Snowboards revamped its look, with Brad Steward and Scott Clum working on a new image, marketing strategy, and logos. Lib Tech showed for the first time, and pros Matt Cummins and Kris Jamieson worked the booth.

There were profiles on the Good ‘n Fruity Snowboard Jam Series (a precursor to the Mountain Dew Snowboard Demo Series), and the launch of Lib Tech snowboards. It was noted in the product information section that Santa Cruz would be working with DNR Sportsystem to promote a new line of snowboards (the deal remains to this day with DNR’s new owner, Marker).

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Next issue, we’ll look at the 1991 through 1993 seasons of SNOWboarding Business.