Back To The Future of Snowboarding – 1989

In honour of Back To The Future 2 - I thought we would look back at snowboarding in 1989, of that neon tinted time through mirrored ray-ban sunglasses.

“Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need… roads!”

Okay, so this quote from Back To The Future Part 2 is a little off target when predicting 2015. I should know, after being stuck on the M25 in rush hour traffic this evening.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the 80’s juggernaut of a franchise, in Back To The Future Part 2, Marty McFly travels to the future of 2015. And although we do not travel by flying cars, or have weird fax machine devices churning out messages in every single room of the house, the famous Nike self-lacing trainers will, according to Nike, be a reality. Maybe, the real reason why Nike dropped out of snowboarding was to fund that project – conspiracy theorists discuss!

The cold war between the West and Russia may have been thawing, but the cold war on the slopes between the Sims and Burton brands was just heating up

With the Back To The Future (2) film being released in 1989, I thought we would look back at snowboarding from that neon tinted time through mirrored ray-ban sunglasses. Snowboarding was still in its infancy like a toddler trying to stand with wobbly legs. The cold war between the West and Russia may have been thawing, but the cold war on the slopes between the Sims and Burton brands was just heating up and reached boiling point with the ‘acquisition’ of top snowboarder Craig Kelly, when he was prised away from the Sims camp by Jake Burton right under their noses.

It may be Burton who went on to claim snowboarding world domination, but it was Sims innovations such as the first baseplate bindings, the first metal edge snowboard design and the development of the fist half pipe that helped spearhead the progression of snowboarding throughout the 80’s.

Both the Sims and Burton official promo films of 1989 make for interesting viewing with Salam and downhill still dominant in these early snowboard years. It was the Sims camp to first realise the rising popularity of half-pipe competitions with Burton playing catch-up in the early years. One quote that is pure gold from the Sims official Brand film of 1989, is that “snowboarding is the fastest growing sport above 6,000ft” – I don’t doubt it!

With the 90’s around the corner, Snowboarding was dramatically increasing in popularity and proving that it was more than just a passing fad. The few resorts that were previously reluctant to allow those who wished to slide sideways were now opening their doors (or should I say ski lifts) to snowboarding. This included Squaw Valley, Vail and Sun Valley.

the Rocker (reverse camber) profile is nothing new as it was first developed by Sims in the mid eighties!

The North Face ran their first snowboarding clothing line in 1989 (The ‘Rage’ range) and neon pink and yellow were the colours of the moment. Thank God Bonfire was established in the same year to forge the snowboarding fashion of the 90’s.

The snowboard shapes of 1989 were varied and very similar to the trend of the so called progressive and modern shapes of today. Despite what many think, the Rocker (reverse camber) profile is nothing new as it was first developed by Sims in the mid eighties!

Unfortunately, we do not have access to a time travelling DeLorean and presides, there would be no room for a snowboard bag in the boot! But, if you feel the need, you can always dress up like an extra from a Wham video and party on the slopes like it was the 80’s. You certainly wouldn’t look out of place with all the stag and hen do groups shredding the mountains in retro gear whilst still nursing hangovers!

With a surge in popularity of all things 80’s, will we be going back to the future of snowboarding?

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Mark Barber

Snowboard Editor at Snow.Guide

Firmly established within the snow sports industry, Mark Barber is Snowboard Editor of snow.guide. Mark has a solid background in snow sports and travel writing, as well as being an international published author.

Mark is also the manager of Jamie Barrow (Britain’s fastest snowboarder)

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