TransWorld SNOWboarding’s first editor created an institution one rider at a time.
Twenty years ago, during the spring of 1987, a handful of people-all publishers, none of them snowboarders-set their minds on the creation of TransWorld SNOWboarding magazine. It was a bold proposition.
“Larry popped the question at the Horseshoe II,” remembers Kevin Kinnear, founding editor of TransWorld SNOWboarding. At the time, Kevin was the editorial director of TransWorld’s first magazine, TransWorld SKATEboarding, and he and Larry Balma (who owned TransWorld along with Peggy Cozens) were in Denver on a press check.
Larry had been paving the way for a new title by running snowboarding shots in TransWorld SKATEboarding each winter, and at the Horseshoe II, a cafà‡ in Denver, Larry asked Kevin if he’d make a snowboarding magazine. The first issue would come out that fall.
Kevin knew exactly what he’d do: model SNOWboarding after a surf magazine. “I wanted the spirit to be really friendly. I didn’t want it to be elitist-skateboarding was kind of that way,” he remembers thinking.
With the aloha spirit he’d learned as a surfer, Kevin-along with Photo Editor Guy Motil-took to the slopes, starting at the “Worlds” in Breckenridge, Colorado. Wearing a Sears parka and blue jeans, Kevin planted himself on the side of the 200-foot-long, six-foot-deep halfpipe. As riders hiked up, he introduced himself and asked the question: What was your first time snowboarding like?
“That’s the approach I took for the first few years,” Kevin says. “I asked the questions I wanted to know (the answers to) and shared them with the rest of the world.”
Without knowing it, Kevin and Guy stepped into one of the most critical moments of snowboarding’s early history. The Worlds were TransWorld’s introduction to a sport that was about to blow up-for better or worse.
It was at Breck that Ken Achenbach-a veteran snowboarder and shop owner from Calgary-came into the picture. He invited Kevin and Guy to the North American Championships in Banff, and a month later, the TransWorld “staff” was in Canada for a final chance to create material before the end of the season.
“To think we were going to start a snowboarding magazine in the spring was nuts, especially for two guys who’d never been in the snow,” Kevin says.
Just as the Worlds had, the North Americans proved productive-those two contests are how SNOWboarding got off the ground.
“A lot of it was because Ken was so damn friendly,” Kevin says. “Without those guys, it wouldn’t have happened. I wouldn’t have known enough to really pull it off.”
On the publishing front, Kevin continued to run SKATEboarding as the first issue of SNOWboarding was put together. David Carson, SKATEboarding’s art director, was recruited for the layout, and pro skater Jim Gray helped with marketing and advertising sales.
Times were tough, financially, just as they were for the pioneers of the sport back then.
“We were ahead of the market. But somebody had to create the market. Luckily, Larry took the risk,” Kevin says. “It was a lot of work. It was a lot of fun. It was the greatest thing that ever happened to me.”-K.H.