Words: Annie Fast
Photo Direction: Chris Wellhausen
Big time pros and progression personified this era with urban features and massive backcountry cheesewedges serving as the setting for freestyle trick evolution. The pages of the magazine were filled with morphed images capturing the technical tricks and keeping pace with the massive influence of video crews at the time.
1999: The first ever TransWorld Team Challenge—a competition to determine the best team in snowboarding—is held at Snow Summit in California and won by the Atlantis team. The event ran for 10 years before transforming into the Team Shoot Out, which premiered in the September 2009 issue and online.
2002: Former TWSNOW senior editor Jennifer Sherowski asks "Has video killed the magazine star?" in a feature documenting the supremacy of the powerhouse film companies including Mack Dawg Productions, Absinthe Films, Kingpin, Standard Films, and Robot Food at the peak of their influence. TWSNOW partners with film crews throughout the decade, positioning our senior staff photographers behind the scenes to fill the pages of the magazine with incredible action.
2002: A 16-year-old Shaun White makes his debut on the cover of the April 2002 issue, by the October 2009 issue he would set a new record for the most TWSNOW covers at six total. This first cover marks the beginning of his momentous career in snowboarding. In his first TWSNOW interview in the February 2002 issue, Shaun lays out his goals to "win an Olympic event…make up my own trick…[and] learn a 1080 flip in the pipe." The two-time Olympic gold medalist has accomplished all of the above.
2002: Profiled in our September 2002 "Heavy Medal" issue, the US Sweeps the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City with Ross Powers, Danny Kass and JJ Thomas taking the men's halfpipe podium. The issue also includes a feature "SLC Punks Urban Uprising" written and photographed by senior photographer Andy Wright documenting SLC as the epicenter of urban riding—winches, shovels and all.
2003: Craig Kelly's untimely passing on January 20, 2003 is documented in the September 2003 issue with a eulogy written by former TWSNOW editor in chief Eric Blehm, "The Gatekeeper: Craig Kelly." In it Blehm recounts Kelly's immense contribution to both the sport and to this magazine.
2003: The January 2003 issue features Jeff Anderson's interview, "I am snowboarding: The Jeff Anderson Interview" written by former TWSNOW senior editor Joel Muzzey. The interview captures Jeff at the peak of his career prior to his passing on February 23, 2003.
2003: TWSNOW launches the TransAM amateur contest series. Our fun-focused series features a daylong contest focused on maximizing creative features, exuding positivity and exposing local talent. Past winners include Lucas Magoon, Chas Guldemond, Gabi Viteri, and Matt Ladley to name a few. The series ran for 13 seasons.
The Editors Look Back
Nathan Yant, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, 1999 – 2001
My brief tenure at the “mag” was, well, brief, to say the least. It takes a mind of steel and balls of ice (sorry, lady editors) to hack sitting in a cubicle in Southern California writing about what’s happening in the mountains. Some of the articles the staff conceptualized during this time had little to do with snowboarding and more to do with calling people out. I wonder who would get the next Pipe Down if the column were still around today. Dave Sypniewski was senior editor at the time, and he was all about bucking the system.
Dave’s brilliance was often underestimated by the upper management, which meant he almost always got to stick it to The Man. He often joked about having a Kegerator hidden in his office. One day, Human Resources sent him home early for drinking on the job; it was his birthday, come on. There were always rumors of flings and naughty things circulating around the office, and despite the unspoken rule of “No fishing off the company pier,” I wooed my fellow editor and future wife through cubicle walls until she finally broke down and went on a sympathy date with me.
Far, far away from grocery getters sitting on 24s and collagen lip injections, the snowboard scene was evolving and digressing in unison, constantly changing yet morphing into a redundant version of its former self. Snowboarding was still done on snow, mostly, but rails and jibs were getting a lot more attention. The tricks that were getting thrown down were bigger and bigger. A lot of mediocre pros were getting broke off – injuries sorted through those who didn’t know when to give up the dream. No longer was a backside three or five a breadwinner; you better be able to do these switch and have a couple versions of sevens and nines to boot. Snowboarders were laying off the twelve-ounce curls and going to the gym. How well a pro snowboarder rode was actually becoming more important than how well they partied. Frontside boardslides were dope, as was gapping to rails in the park. Dotcom snowboard sites were popping up everywhere, luring editors and companies with empty promises and bouncing paychecks.
There was one goofy-ass, tall sports agent representing all of snowboarding (now he’s a billionaire, but still tall and goofy). Whitey was still putting out snowboarding movies via Kingpin productions with awesome names like Destroyer. Justin Hoystenek was still a photographer and hadn’t started Absinthe Films yet. Standard was up to TB9, and Robot Food was merely food for robots. Forum had one of the most talented teams ever put together with JP Walker, big rail Jeremy Jones, Devun Walsh, Joni Malmi, Bjorn Leines, and Peter Line. MOP made The Resistance. Burton was getting tons of coverage in the mag as usual, and there were accusations that the photo editor was getting paid off. Sure, Shem Roose was from Vermont, but that didn’t mean he was for sale. Jimi Scott was still winning halfpipe contests. Palmer competed in Boarder X, Snocross, Biker X, and Skier X at the ’99 X Games. Kevin Jones could spin 900s all ways except for Cab and was one of the most consistent riders ever. There were new personalities in the sport, but only a few could compare with the legends of old.
Tara Dakides was backflipping her way into the hearts of teenage boys everywhere. Ian Ruhter shot a giant green water tower at Mammoth that to this day has probably been used in more ads and editorials than any object from a single photo shoot ever has. Jeff Anderson’s future was so bright. Salt Lake City was a pro haven, as that scene with all its talent became a different kind of Mecca than it had some 152 years earlier. Oh yeah, and men didn’t wear women’s pants back then.
Andy Blumberg, MANAGING EDITOR, 2001 –2003
The future of snowboarding is now. Never before at one time had there been a higher concentration of hungry upstarts and humble superstars. An accelerated progression of technical freestyle trickery was proving to be limitless. Keenly skilled and style conscious, well-rounded or singly disciplined, riders with switch aptitudes and creative control took it to urban setups and wooded wilds.
While the business of snowboarding was serious, seriously-you were only as good as your last video part-there came a balance, a renewal, a return to fun stuff. This good-times agenda became evident with the inaugural Arctic Challenge. An event organized by longtime friends Terje Haakonsen and Daniel Franck. The fresh release of Robot Food and Afterbang with David Benedek, Travis Parker, Bobby Meeks, and Jussi Oksanen further set an inspiring ideal.
For the magazine, smartly staffed with almost all new, all-time talent: editorial, photo, and design departments aligned. With a focused intent to freeze sport and spotlight characters, we richly did that-past, current then, and rising. Emerging each issue was a stunning sense of what we belong to as snowboarders in whole, as in parts. We introduced sections to the magazine to find a place for action, portraits, play toys, themes, history, and industry insights: Forward, Surplus, Dumped & Kitted, MIA, Timeless, and Daily Ops. Eddie Wall and Andreas Wiig debuted. Danny Kass and Shaun White arrived. Jeffy Anderson “is” snowboarding. JP Walker in true-life form. Mikey LeBlanc was punch-drunk. Louie Fountain expressed an articulate faith. Marc Frank Montoya was forildo. Devun Walsh smoothly unwound. Wille Vii-Luoma was ruthless and toothless. On and on … Scanners 3/4. SLC Punks. Wildcats. ManAms. All the crews. Just like you and your buddies. Olympic U.S. sweeping. From these, our efforts, creative content in multitude and multiform of independent and collective voices, riders, writers, roll film guys, and readers dropped into the mix. The reward for me is lasting in effect.
Kurt Hoy, EDITOR IN CHIEF, 2003 – 2007
My first assignment as the editor of TransWorld SNOWboarding was to tell the world that Craig Kelly was dead. I wrote, “Snowboarding died today.” I honestly felt it had. I kept thinking about the last time I saw him: he tossed me the keys to my truck. I can’t remember why he’d needed to borrow it.
Ken Achenbach wrote about keys. Damn keys. It was the TransWorld story that made the biggest impression on me when I was at an age when something still could make a big impression on me. I have three on a ring and a plastic key in my wallet. The plastic one isn’t so much a key, but a key card. It’s what I use to get into the TransWorld building at night and on weekends, and on the days when I get in before the receptionist or leave after seven.
I was never going to work in an office. Damn office. Kevin Kinnear hired me. I was a snowboarder and that, apparently, was enough. He said, “What you know, nobody can learn. I’ll teach you the rest.”
Any good snowboarding editor should have a love/hate relationship with 353 Airport Road—it’s a two-hour drive from the nearest “mountains.” If you weren’t at odds with the geography of the place; if your heart didn’t break while your legs withered; and if you didn’t regularly consider one less plastic “key,” well, then you weren’t meant to work at TransWorld.
Snowboarding is equally conflicted. The independent spirit that shaped its culture has given way to professional riders who consider themselves brands and aren’t embarrassed to say it. Snowboarders talk about “getting the shot” and “getting shit done” as if “work” were their sole purpose for riding.
But the soul of snowboarding is immune to occasional indiscretions. Its history is being written by riders like Danny Kass, Nate Bozung, and even a reluctant Scotty Wittlake.
Nicolas Muller and others like him will carry the weight of snowboarding’s legacy. They’ve inherited it. And when the time comes, someone at TransWorld will be there to remind them that the legacy is not one of preservation, but of progress. The only constant is change.