...Ok, so this particular Onboard writer hadn't exactly graduated to shred high-school yet, but who said you have to have lived the past to get nostalgic? How many times have you heard someone say 'I should have been born in the 70s man - those were the days!'?
People always bang on about how a certain decade was the best, or how 'things are different now' -and undoubtedly they are, but were the 90s really such a golden era for snowboarding? Well we've delved into the best of the pre-millennial years, and we've got to say they really were the shit!
[part title="Terje Haakonsen"]
Undoubtedly Terje Haakonsen transcends decades with his greatness. But you've got to give it to the man, he killed it in the 90s. From cheeky teen to serious competitor and Olympic boycotter, Terje became the formidable force he is now in that decade - and topped it off by starting the Arctic Challenge in '99.
Subjekt Haakonsen (above)(1996) has to be one of the most worn out video tapes of all time - not least because of Terje's opening part, which has been on repeat for many riders ever since...
[part title="You Had To Work For It"]
The humble terrain park was in its infancy in the early 90s. With the first 'proper' snowpark opening in Vail, Colerado in 1991 - the early years of the decade were all about DIY shaping. Snowboarding veteran Todd Richards remembers how different it was from the rock-up and ride ease of modern freestyle:
We had to work for our jumps...We would ride around on the hill with shovels. We had designated shovel days
...of course self-shaping is still a part of the modern routine with street spots and backcountry. Nowadays it looks more like the photo below, but it's nice to think of a time when everyone had to sing for their supper and help build kickers on the slopes. Nothing like a bit of manual labour to make you appreciate what you've got!
On the flip-side all the street spots were 'new' in those days - no-one was saying 'you can't do that trick here, it's been done already'...
Admittedly, computer games aren't the most productive force on the planet. But when you've got a bit of downtime with a few homies they're pretty fun - and for snowboarding, games in the 90s skyrocketed pretty quickly. In the space of just a few years snowboarding computer games went from this:
Which might not look like a vast improvement by today's standards, but these 3D characters put everyone in charge of a board - so if you actually had one and knew how to use it you could feel super smug. [part title="Shaun Palmer"]
Miserable or not this guy was entertaining as hell! Clown hair, aggressively competitive and ridiculously talented. Shaun Palmer managed to personify both the athletic winner and the anti-establishment dirtbag at the same time.
In the 90s Palmer was really getting into the swing of things, winning medals and partying his way through all the action sports going. When the X Games came into play in '97, Palmer's domination came into its own - claiming four Golds in the first three years of the competition...
He even got a USA Today World's Greatest Athlete awarded in '99 - all we know is the dude rips!
[part title="90s Movies"][splitpost intro="true"]
Believe it or not, snowboard movies used to be a well sought after commodity. Not that they aren't these days, but share-prices have definitely dropped since every rider in the country had a video camera thrown into their hands.
In the 90s, VHS was king, and these movies would be all you could see of the global scene for the whole year. Imagine that - no webisodes or anything!
Fall Line Films, Standard Films' Totally Board series, Mack Dawg Productions, The Garden, ask any wizened shred and they'll be able to reel off their favourites...
[part title="Super Baggy Skate Style"]
Dayglo might have bought snowboarding into the 90s, but the dominant theme of the decade was oversized skate style, super baggy pants and plaid shirts.
In the words of Whitelines' Chris Moran:
We ditched our neon outerwear, picked up the grunge baton, and invented the lumberjack-meets-MC Hammer look.
In fact the crossover went even further, skaters like John Cardiel (above) got involved in snowboarding, and Thrasher even threw a spot in on of their mags:
[part title="The Music"]
Say what you like about 90s punk soundtracks. Snowboarding got itself in a hip-hop video in 1995! Summer jam Feel Me Flow by Naughty By Nature to be specific... (actually we rated the other tunes too, but still...) Snowboarding was pushed to the front of urban youth culture for a short period - which was rad.
The long and short of it was that money was flowing in the industry in the 90s - which meant events had better prize money, Ballantines Whiskey was sponsoring tours, and halfpipes were on MTV!
[part title="Snowboarders Weren't Afraid To Piss People Off"]
If Illicit Snowboarding blog is correct, there's an art to pissing off the right people - but these days it's all about just doing your own thing and if douchebags get annoyed it's their own fault...
In the 90s it seems like we just did it for kicks... not that it's big or funny to shit on someones lawn, but there was less hesitancy when it came to saying 'fuck you' to the world.
Coincidentally, while we looked into this post we found this rant from online mag Flakezine from 1995. 19 years later and it's still relevant, and too good not to share:
"Believe it or not the senile power mongers at the Federation International du Ski believe they have the right to decide who will govern snowboarding on the national and international level. None of their people (including Hanno Treindl, director of snowboarding for FIS) really care one way or another what the majority of snowboarders believe or want for their sport. FIS cares only about their "system of administering sport." This is an easy fact most "snowboard journalists" continue to ignore.
The bottom line is FIS doesn't give a lump of feces for snowboarding, snowboarders, or snowboarding culture. They simply see snowboarding as another way to sell sponsorships, gain power, and control another winter sport. Anything they say to the contrary is a bald-faced lie. They are a bunch of unethical, evil, cretins set on destroying snowboarding as we know it. We're aware of this. They're aware of this. And there is very little we can do to stop them.
In mid December professional and competitive snowboarders will be faced with a dilemma. The Nagano Olympic Organizing Committee will officially announce that snowboarding is on the official schedule for the 1998 Winter Olympics in Japan. The FIS has already stated that snowboarders must be members of FIS to compete in the Olympics; meaning top American and Canadian snowboarders will have to choose whether they want to stick with the International Snowboard Federation or go to FIS for a sure shot at the Olympics.
This is not a decision any of us at flake would enjoy making. Frankly, we'd like to snowboard well enough to be forced into that kind of a decision. The Olympics means big money. Why shouldn't a professional athlete who has trained for years go to the Olympics? Why shouldn't they cash in and grab the big dollars? Why not make a fast buck and gain national attention in the process?
The choices riders make will have direct repercussions on the development of snowboarding here and around the world. (Those who think the Olympics are actually cool should remember what happened to "freestyle" skiing, which garnered the same kind of media attention in the 70s as snowboarding is enjoying presently. The mogul competitions have turned into race where the only way you can win is by looking just like everyone else. Not only that, but skiing with style and personality means a loss of points.)
We can't answer these questions for riders, and we're not going to make some kind of statement regarding ethics, because we really don't know what we would do in that situation. We will say one thing from experience: be careful how much soul you sell because the more you sell, the easier it gets. Then, before you know it you're a neurotic monkey at the end of a chain wearing a cute little red-vest and matching hat, darting about through a crowd of well-dressed businessmen with a tin cup in your hand begging for change from corporate America while your agent cranks away on a organ. This is not some hardcore stance, it's reality. The minute money changes an opinion, is the moment someone's soul has been purchased."
[part title="Ingemar's Backside Air"]
This pretty much sums it all up for us - if you couldn't be bothered to read the whole post, this'll do the job. Huuuge air on sketchy ass snow - Presidents of the United States of America on the sound-system. Crowd of homies looking on in amazement. What more could you want?