Snowboarding’s History Needs Your Help!

People generally think of archives as big collections of dusty old stuff, but that’s only partially true. For starters, they’re generally kept impeccably clean so that their collections can be preserved in perpetuity. But what I was getting at is that we forget about the constant passing of time. Archives (ours included) are constantly on the hunt for artifacts and documents that will be of historical significance for future generations. Such considerations generally are not front of mind with all you non-archivists out there who are too busy living in the present.

Snowboarding is the perfect example. The profound influence that snowboarding has had on skiing (and beyond) over the last few decades is indisputable. But until recently, there were only a handful of individuals that were concerned with preserving the sport’s heritage for future generations. Thankfully, more and more individuals are showing interest in the snowboarding’s roots.

One way we are working to increase our snowboarding  content here at the Whistler Museum  is Monday’s Whistler Debates event “Has the Snowboard Industry Sold Out?” (full details available here). We’re pretty excited to hear what everyone has to say. 

Obviously it’s a pretty contentious question, even the concept of “selling out” is pretty hard to define for most. One thing that’s for sure, the debaters will have to draw on the history of snowboarding, it’s origins and where it came from, to effectively argue whether or not the industry has “sold out” and given up on its core values (however defined). Regardless of what side ends up winning the argument, we’re sure to get an entertaining and informative discussion that sheds light on the past, present and future of snowboarding.

When we were preparing for the event it became strikingly clear just how absent snowboarding is from our archives. We have an old Prior snowboard, some 2010 Olympic memorabilia (gear, uniforms, etc) donated by Sea-to-Sky athletes like Maelle Ricker, Justin Lamoureux & Tyler Mosher, and a few dozen aesthetic but non-descript photos in our archives.

Right now, according to our archives, this is the history of snowboarding. Help us fix this. Photo: Greg Griffith/WMAS

Right now, according to our archives, this is the history of snowboarding. Help us fix this. Photo: Greg Griffith/WMAS

This is clearly unsatisfactory. Even moreso because this fall we will be completely revamping out permanent exhibits here at the museum, with almost half our space being dedicated to new displays portraying the history of skiing (and snowboarding) here in Whistler.

We don’t want snowboarding to get short shrift, so here it is: Snowboarders, we want your stuff! If we want to properly represent the history of snowboarding in Whistler–and there’s no denying that snowboarding has been hugely influential on Whistler’s development, and vice versa–we need historic gear, photos, clothing, race bibs, and any other artifacts and documents that shine light on this story. Check your closets, attics, crawl spaces, or mom’s basement. We know this stuff is out there. And we promise to take better care of it than you do!

If you’ve got stuff to donate, get in touch with our Collections Manager Brad: archives[at]whistlermuseum[dot]org

For those who are interested in brushing up on their snowboarding history, thankfully there’s been a ton of great online video content produced in the last few years. Good starting points include Vice Magazine’s “Powder & Rails” series, Push.ca’s “Living Legends” series, and this video produced by Whistler-Blackcomb a few years ago, featuring local shred legends including Graham Turner, one of Monday’s debaters:

Hope to see you all on Monday, and for those of you in Whistler, have fun at the rest of the WSSF events as well!

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