SNOWBOARDING spread into BC from Calgary and Mt BAKER in the early 1980s, and the province soon became one of the sport's hotbeds. Snowboards were invented by American skateboarding fanatics in the late 1970s but pioneering BC snowboarders, such as Vancouver's Dave "Raiden" Ewens, concocted homemade boards with planks of plywood and water-ski bindings and took to the local mountains in the winter of 1983–84. The next season, Ewens, Steve Edmundson, Steve Suttie, Cory Campbell and Reggie O'Connor formed the International Snowboarding Assoc to organize the sport in BC. However, snowboarders were limited to hiking up mountains or sneaking onto chairlifts because snowboards were banned on most local ski hills. In 1985, Cypress Bowl (see CYPRESS PROVINCIAL PARK) and Hemlock Valley lifted their ban, followed by VERNON's Big White in 1987, WHISTLER in 1988 and Blackcomb in 1989. To assure administrators of the sport's safety, the ISA focussed on instruction and certification, becoming the Instructors' Snowboard Assoc of Canada in 1986 (later the Canadian Assoc of Snowboarding Instructors). Between 1985 and 1990, about 5 organized snowboarding events were held annually in the province, starting with racing but gradually developing halfpipe, moguls, "big air" and bank slalom categories. The BC Snowboard Assoc was established in 1991 to administer competition under the Canadian Snowboard Federation. Shirley Hills, president of the BCSNA 1992–98, and Whistler and Blackcomb Snowboard Coordinator Stu Osborne were instrumental in developing the sport in BC during its rise to popularity in the 1990s. British Columbian Bill Smith made a groundbreaking international contribution to the sport by devising the official world snowboard ranking list over the Internet. The Westbeach Classic, BC's most celebrated annual snowboarding event, was first held in 1993, and Whistler later hosted major international meets such as the 1999 Kokanee Summer Surfout and the Sims Invitational World Cup in 2000. Whistler's Ross REBAGLIATI became the biggest name in snowboarding internationally after winning the sport's first Olympic medal in 1998. In the spirit of skateboarding, snowboarding began as a subculture with its own vocabulary and clothing styles, but it has become a mainstream sport in BC.
by Silas White