Letters From The Editors: The Evolution of Snowboarding, Rob Campbell

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A comprehensive retrospective from the former Editors of SNOWBOARDER Magazine, originally published in the 30th Anniversary Issue of SNOWBOARDER Magazine, pick up your copy now!


Words by Rob Campbell, former editor of SNOWBOARDER Magazine.

The idea of what it meant to be a "snowboarder" was changing in the late '90s. There was an evolution beyond that typical flannel-wearing, bong-toting bro thanks to new factions of riders who embraced competitive and urban influences. The typical jaded locals and those averse to phrases like "corporate" and "mainstream" still had their place (as they always will), but they were being joined by new crews unafraid of the contest spotlight, downtown rails, or a little bit of commerce.

Rob Campbell unafraid of the spotlight. p: Justin Hostynek

The choice of SNOWBOARDER's Guest Editors during that time says a lot about the era. Peter Line (January, 1999) commanded respect as one of the most progressive and stylish riders of the day. But Peter was far from the stereotypical snowboarder in appearance and behavior. Rather than condemn the commercial exploits of "The Man," he took the entrepreneurial route by becoming a founding partner of Forum Snowboards. Instead of projecting attitude, Peter never took himself too seriously and leveraged his self-deprecating sense of humor to focus on fun. Mark Frank Montoya (January, 2000) provided a sobering slap of inner-city influence thanks to a smooth-but-edgy style that mobilized a deep crew of disciples who identified with "the streets"…even if they were the streets of Aspen in some cases. Mark was the first concrete example that snowboarding could appeal to new demographics and draw significant influence from non-alpine areas.

Pure evolution. p: George Covalla

As the snowboarding community expanded and diversified, SNOWBOARDER focused on a more pro-active creative approach. There was an effort to push beyond the standard formula of, "Hey, we went to this really cool place with a few pro snowboarders and a bunch of awesome stuff happened." Events like Superpark (November, 1998) provided a platform for riders to collaborate and progress, while also delivering a new type of unique perspective to set the title apart. "Straight Outta Jackson Hole," (January, 1998), revealed an authentic look at one of the sport's most iconic destinations by integrating local riders into the production process. The Van Tour concept (Vantasia, October 1999) was a tribute to the classic snowboarding road trip that involved almost every staff member and contributor over two months and 15,000 miles. All of these initiatives were intended to better showcase the real-time evolution of the sport and share it with riders everywhere.

Of course, no matter how the specific direction of SNOWBOARDER has been tweaked over time, photography has always remained a creative focal point. "Stop-and-stare-in-awe" level images delivered by the world's best shooters. That has been one true constant throughout all the years and new mediums, a way to connect and be inspired that translates from peer to peer, generation to generation.

-Rob Campbell

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