Washington State snowboarding history is directly related to its skiing and equipment manufacturing heritage.
History of Washington’s Snow Sport Culture
The majestic mountains of Washington State have enticed snow sport enthusiasts since the 19th century. These adventurers would later influence Washington State snowboarding history. Early mountain explorers did not have the benefit and chair lifts and ski lodges. As such, wintertime attempts to reach the mountain summit were rarely successful. For example, according to the Alpenglow ski history website, Mt. Rainier National Park was established in 1899. Three attempted ascents in the 1920s were abandoned.
History of Snoqualmie Pass
Within the same time frame, a hearty group of skiers and ski jumpers enjoyed skiing on the Snoqualmie Pass. These ski jumpers may have set a precedent for the snowboarders who enjoy the award-winning terrain parks at the Summit at Snoqualmie. In fact, the ski jump built by the Seattle Ski Club in the 1930s may have inspired the snowboard jumps featured at the modern terrain park. The Snoqualmie Summit ski area opened as an official resort in 1937. A rope tow was installed, making skiing accessible to the general public. The Summit East area of Snoqualmie first opened in 1959. It was one of the first Washington State ski areas to allow snowboarding.
Years later, Snoqualmie, now called Summit at Snoqualmie became the premiere snowboarding destination of Washington State. The resort boasts more than 65 jibs, which include boxes, rails, wallrides, towers, tanks and tubes. It is also home to Washington State’s largest superpipe. The resort is located just one hour from Seattle, and the terrain park is open seven nights a week for night riding.
History of Mount Baker
Meanwhile, a ski lodge was being built in the Mount Baker area of Washington State. Years later, in 1985, the resort became host to the Mt. Baker Legendary Banked Slalom race, also known as the LBS. This famous snowboarding contest took place at a time when most North American ski areas were not allowing snowboarding. The prestigious event is considered to be the predecessor to the boarder cross. It has been won by some of the top competitors in snowboarding history. Winners receive a duct tape trophy. Duct tape is an inside joke in snowboarding culture. When riders can’t afford to buy new pants or jackets, they repair their clothing with duct tape.
Gear Manufacturers Influence Washington State Snowboarding History
While Jake Burton of Vermont is often credited with the creation and development of the snowboard, it’s interesting to note that Washington State is home to three major snowboard manufacturers. Their presence has enhanced the snowboard culture in the state, which has been in existence since the 1980s.
K2 Snowboards: Vashon Island Washington
K2, the world-famous ski and snowboard manufacturer, had a profound influence on Washington State snowboarding history. The company was founded on Vashon Island in Washington State. It was first called Kirschner Manufacturing. The family-run business manufactured fiberglass. Bill Kirschner took the ski industry by storm when he manufactured the first fiberglass skis. In 1988, the company began manufacturing snowboards. Then, in 1995, they introduced the step-in snowboard binding known as “the clicker.”
Ride Snowboards: Preston, Washington
K2 is just one of the manufacturing companies that influenced Washington snowboarding history. Ride Snowboards was established in Washington in 1992. The company’s founders, Roger Madison, James Salter, and Tim Pogue recruited world-class snowboarders to help develop their product.
Mervin Snowboards: Carlsborg, Washington
Snowboarders Mike Olson and Pete Saari founded Mervin Manufacturers in 1977. The company is famous for their innovative snowboard design, which features deep side cut suitable for carving.
Washington State is famous for its spirit of exploration. As such, it is not surprising that it has never had a resort that prohibits snowboarding.