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: John Cardiel
While not as prolific or influential on a snowboard as he was on his skate, to say that Thrasher 1992 Skater Of The Year John Cardiel's time spent in the mountains was merely moonlighting would be a supreme understatement. Growing up in Grass Valley, California, in the shadow of the Sierra gave Cardiel easy access to the slopes of Tahoe. Mike "The Joker" Jacoby of J-Tear Air fame introduced Cardiel to snowboarding. With his feet attached to the board, John was quickly able to take his launch ramp tendencies to the next level, even landing a backflip on his first day on snow.
If one were to point to a single moment as having cemented Cardiel's place in the snowboarding canon it would be at ASI on Donner Summit during a session for Fall Line Films 1992 release Riders On The Storm. With Dave Seoane holding the camera and Steve Graham sharing the spotlight, Cardiel rode his Santa Cruz board into the history books with an onslaught of backcountry booter NBDs including a shifty late frontside 180, shifty late backside 180, late frontside 180 japan, late backside 180 japan, late frontside 180 method—you get the idea. Of course these moves were just an appetizer for the main course: a frontside 360 backflip, i.e. Rippey Flip or single cork.
By the mid-nineties, Cardiel sightings on snow became few and far between. This exodus was partly due to John's disdain for snowboarding being a pastime for the privileged but primarily due to his place in skating reaching next-level status. While considered one of the greats on snow, when it comes to the 'crete John is worshiped as a demigod. With a lip full of Copenhagen, Cardiel always skated in sixth gear, relying upon a fearlessness that lent itself to the biggest gaps, burliest tranny, and most consequential lines. In 2003, during a month-long tour of Australia filming for Anti-Hero's Tent City Cardiel was run over by a trailer resulting in a debilitating spine injury. With his prospects for walking—let alone skating or snowboarding—grim, Cardiel applied his uncommon determination to rehabbing, which led to fixed gear cycling and his faculties steadily improving. This past winter, Cardiel strapped in, linked turns, and was feeling it again for the first time in over a decade. All hail Cardiel!