20 Year Timeline
You can imagine how we felt as we sat down as a team and sifted through thousands of archival photos, all of ‘em documenting the rise and progression of freeskiing over a 20-year stretch. The ‘90s-era photos of the New Canadian Air Force—including names like Douglas, Dorion, Cusson and Auclair—tweaking mute grabs that are nothing short of perfect. And it was difficult not to laugh as we re-lived the advent of “straight-lining” around the turn of the Millennium; making “11s” is insane and liberating all at once. The mountaineering feats of skiers like Chris Davenport left us mesmerized. Remembering the contributions of skiers like Burke, McConkey, Roner, Pierre, Coombs, Johnson, Auclair and Fransson was bittersweet. All the while, we reveled in photos of skiers launching to new heights, and then going higher, and higher, and higher still—‘cause frankly, there’s just no stopping this train.
We’re reminded of the importance of making time to celebrate and remember those who came before us; we owe much to the trailblazers who laid the groundwork for us all to build upon. The images and anecdotes below highlight just a smattering of stand-out moments from the past two decades of freeskiing. Rest assured, there’s a whole lot more where this stuff came from.
Freeskier is founded
FREESKIER magazine is born when a group of passionate skiers in their mid-20s decide the industry needs a fresh magazine to showcase the changing face of skiing. FREESKIER is to be the antivenom to the traditional magazines that target the one-piece, Bogner-wearing, corduroy-loving, hot toddy-drinking skier. The “office” is a ski-town condo basement in Steamboat Springs, on a street named Storm Mountain Court. Hence, Storm Mountain Publishing Company.
Vancouver, BC-born and Squaw Valley, CA transplant, Shane McConkey, unveils his alter ego, Saucer Boy—described as a “neon Bogner-jacketed, Jack Daniel’s-swilling, saucer-riding, ass-grabbing caricature of, well, Shane McConkey.”
Canadian Mike Douglas lands first recorded misty flip.
Jeremy Nobis skis first documented descent of Alaska’s Pyramid Mountain in TGR’s “Harvest.”
Eric Pollard begins riding for LINE Skis, a partnership that still exists to this day.
The North Face adopts a new tagline, “Never Stop Exploring,” to supersede the well-worn 1977 tagline, “Expedition Proven.”
First Issue of Freeskier Launches
First issue of FREESKIER magazine launches, with Olympic gold medalist, Jonny Moseley, and supermodel Cindy Crawford starring on the cover.
Eight U.S. ski resorts still don’t allow snowboarding. Terrain parks are almost unanimously open to skiers, though some resorts continue to bar skiers from their halfpipes; skiers are not allowed in the halfpipes at Sunday River, ME, Okemo, VT and Boyne, MI.
Salomon unveils the Teneighty ski
Salomon unveils the Teneighty ski, the first twin-tip ever created, ushering in a new era of freestyle-centric skiing.
LINE Skis creates the first 100-percent symmetrical twin tip, the 1260.
“Fat” skis on the market include the Dynastar BIG; Rossignol XXX; Volant Chubb; Atomic Powder Cruise; Hart Phatback.
Squaw Valley celebrates the grand opening of North America’s first funitel.
Jonny Moseley, of Puerto Rico, wins a gold medal in moguls at the 1998 Nagano Olympics, including a 360 mute grab in his run.
Skiercross premieres in the X Games, at Crested Butte, CO, making it the first skiing discipline to be included in the Games. Another sport contested at the X Games at the time? Super-modified shovel racing.
In the summer of ‘98, skiing is showcased at Summer X Games, on a San Francisco pier. Skiers land jumps on the equivalent of astroturf.
Canadians JF Cusson and JP Auclair dominate the U.S. Open; Cusson takes top honors in slopestyle, Auclair in big air.
K2 Skis starts the “team” trend in freeskiing. The Factory Team in 1998 includes Jonny Moseley, Darian Boyle, Brad Holmes, Jason Moore, Jimbo Morgan, Kent Kreitler and Seth Morrison.
JP Auclair launches 15-plus feet out of a hand-shaped quarterpipe in Riksgränsen, Sweden, amid the King of the Hill contest. Photographer Chris O’Connell says of the moment, he “witnessed the future of skiing. It was the first time any skier hit a halfpipe or quarterpipe with style.”
Frenchman Candide Thovex jumps over “Chad’s Gap” on his skis, a 120-foot void between two piles of defunct mine tailings in Utah’s Wasatch Range, made “jump-able” in the thick of winter. The jump is named for skier Chad Zurinskas, who first attempted the jump, though did not clear the gap.
Canadian Philou Poirier wins the U.S. Freeskiing Open big air contest with a gargantuan “switch backflip” — a stunt in which the skier travels off of a jump backwards, executes a backflip and lands backwards. It’s a revolutionary stunt at the time and exemplary of the sorts of tricks that skiers were able to perform following the advent of twin-tip skis.
The renowned film house known as Poor Boyz Productions releases the iconic film “13,” one of dozens of films released on VHS tape around the turn of the Millennium; prior to the introduction of social media, these films provided skiers with a glimpse of what skiing’s top athletes accomplish amid their winter travels.
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort opens backcountry gates for the first time, providing easy entry to lift-accessed backcountry terrain just beyond the ski resort boundaries.
Colorado’s Seth Morrison and co. push the limits of big-mountain skiing in Matchstick Productions’ “Global Storming.” The film stars Morrison, Shane McConkey, Dean Cummings, Wendy Fisher, Chris Davenport, Vincent Dorion, Mike Douglas, Jamie Burge, JP Auclair, Brad Holmes, Aaron McGovern, Shawn Nesbitt, Gordy Peifer, Richie Schley, Shane Szocs and more.
A gap jump over a railroad track on Donner Pass, in the northern Sierra Nevada, of California, becomes a popular attraction for skiers.
California’s own Charles Russell “CR” Johnson III spins a 1440 at Squaw Valley.
Kris Ostness releases “Clay Pigeons,” featuring future legends such as Candide Thovex, Jamie Pierre, Skogen Sprang and Jon Olsson.
Sessions Outerwear promotes sponsorship of JT Holmes and Shane McConkey.
Mogul Logic instructional skiing program available to skiers on CD-ROM.
Bollé Chrono goggle appears on Scot Schmidt.
Glen Plake’s Wild, Wild Hot Dog Tour makes six stops and entails a head-to-head contest on both moguls and groomers. Compulsory moves include the “slow dog noodle” in the bumps and “Royal Christie” in the flats. The Tour occurs alongside Plake’s Down Home Tour, which has run from 1991 to the present.
FREESKIER is a presenting sponsor of Camp of Champions, a summertime freestyle skills camp taught by the pros.
Kristen Ulmer profiled in FREESKIER on “being a woman in the world of extreme sports.”
First-ever Skiercross World Championships are held at Squaw Valley, CA.
The Delirium Dive freeride zone opens to the public at Sunshine Village in Banff, Alberta, Canada.
Salomon promotes its X-Scream skis.