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: Terje Haakonsen, The Greatest of All Time
There are 70 riders featured in SNOWBOARDER's Greatest Of All Time tally, with each icon being recognized in the context of where they peaked during their career, either in terms of skill, accomplishment and influence within the thirty years of our magazine's existence. Ultimately though there is one iconoclast whose superlative riding ability and seemingly hyperbolic exploits have made him transcendent for the three decades of our existence. Therefore, SNOWBOARDER is hardly being subjective in recognizing Terje Haakonsen as the Greatest Of All Time.
From the moment Terje landed on American shores as a 15 year-old halfpipe prodigy in 1990 he immediately injected himself among our sport's elite by placing 5th at the US Open in Stratton, Vermont and 5th at the World Championships in Breckenridge, Colorado. Though his english was still a work in progress, his natural ability and snowboarding instincts informed all that he was well on his way to being a fully formed freestyle phenomena. In an era before agents and coaches and other opportunistic Svengalis, Terje was molded by an older cadre of soon-to-be legends. Craig Kelly's technical approach, conscience and desire for self-governance undoubtedly left an indelible mark, as did Palmer's big air acumen, brash showmanship and anti-authoritarian attitude. Noah Salasnek, Jeff Brushie and Chris Roach can take much of the credit for Haakon's style doctrine while Tom Burt's fast and flowing approach to freeriding is still evident whenever he makes a big mountain descent. Despite earning three ISF world titles, seven Mt. Baker Banked Slalom wins, three US Open halfpipe victories and besting the Innsbruck Air & Style field in 1995, perhaps Terje's most consequential contest was the 1998 Olympics, where he didn't compete at all.
Having grown jaded by the machinations of the International Federation de Ski, (i.e. the FIS), and other outside influences, Terje abstained from participating in snowboarding's debut at the Nagano Olympics, which by all accounts was his event to lose. This altruistic stance against the corrupt and self-serving International Olympic Committee and FIS two decades ago continues to inform the conversation about how much control snowboarders should have over the destiny of our sport. In a further effort to lead by example, Terje went on to create The Arctic Challenge contest in 2000, which led to the formation of the Ticket To Ride World Tour in 2002. It was at the former event in 2007 that Terje set the world record for the highest air ever on a quarterpipe by launching 9.8 meters above the deck.
Meanwhile, Terje has continued to this day to be a regular contender in whichever showdown he deems worthy of entering, with recent highlights including a victory at the 2012 Mt. Baker Banked Slalom, a 4th place finish at Travis Rice's Ultra Natural in 2013 and a win at the 2017 Drink Water Rat Race. If ever there was an IMDB of shred cinema Terje's page would be unmatched, with dozens of movie appearances beginning with Mack Dawg Productions' Pocahontas in 1991 where he unveiled his namesake move, the Haakon Flip, up until Absinthe's current 2017 release TurboDojo. In 1996, Volcom partnered with Dave Seoane to produce the seminal Subjekt Haakonsen: The Life And Times Of A Sprocking Cat which continues to set the standard by which all other snowboarding biopics are measured. Whether the cause is environmental, nutritional or ideological, Terje has never shied away from speaking his mind in order to affect change. His abilities have earned him this platform and he has strived to be heard, oftentimes putting his Krone where his mouth is. Others may have more wins, but no one has ever been a bigger champion of snowboarding for longer than The Sprocking Cat, which is why SNOWBOARDER is unwavering in our declaration that Terje Haakonsen is The Greatest Of All Time.