Originally published in the 30th Anniversary Issue of SNOWBOARDER Magazine, Mountain GOATS celebrates the most influential snowboarders of the last thirty years (1987-2017), otherwise known as the Greatest Of All Time list. With over 70 men and women riding into the ranks of the Mountain GOATS, check back as we release their bios and celebrated accolades over the course of the next few weeks!
Mountain Goat: Kazuhiro Kokubo
In 2003, a miniature and soft-spoken amateur pipe rider from Japan stood atop the US Open halfpipe in Stratton, Vermont. He looked out of place, mostly due to his stature, but also because no one had ever heard his name before. That name was Kazuhiro Kokubo, and as soon as his run was over, he got his first major international podium—2nd place—and never looked back. From there, Kazu exploded onto the pro pipe circuit, and events like the X Games, Dew Tour, Grand Prix and others never saw it coming 'til it hit 'em.
While Danny Kass dominated the halfpipe circuit, Kazu was in hot pursuit, and as he aged, he came into his own and realized the influence he had through innovative tricks and a seemingly deliberate controversial ideology that snowboard fans embraced. Be it flipping off the judges at the Winter X Games or his Vancouver Olympic uniform controversy in 2010 in which he was spotted at Narita International airport, dreadlocks and all, tie loosened, shirt untucked, and trousers sagging, Kazu's anti-authority attitude made him an icon. When broached about the "scandal" during a press conference, he apologized but then the microphone caught him murmuring "Shut up," and he was officially labeled by the mainstream media as a rebellious snowboarder who didn't respect the rules. And that's exactly what the snowboarding culture loved about him. But the most impressive part of Kazu's resumé to the core came from his video parts with Burton, CAPiTA, and most recently, Union's STRONGER, in which he snagged the opener with his exploits and won himself TransWorld Snowboarding's coveted Video Part of the Year honors.
Kazuhiro Kokubo transformed the idea of what a "pipe rider" can become when they hang up the bib and step into a new realm, all while doing things his way, and that is precisely why Kazu is one of the all-time greats in snowboarding history. Plainly put, Kazu is one of the baddest motherfuckers that snowboarding has ever seen, and we love him for it.