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On the Shoulders of Giants, a retrospective of Transworld Snowboarding

By Federico Mura

As colleagues, it is really difficult to talk about the voice that has walked hand in hand together with snowboarding basically since he was born, setting the example to follow for us all snowboard magazines of more recent eras.

Transworld Snowboarding has inspired hundreds of thousands of snowboarders, in an era when the only way to stay up to date on this new way to experience snow was the written and printed magazine. On March 6th, 2019 Transworld shut down its transmissions, following the sale of the TEN group to American Media Inc., with a touching post on their website that literally said “All good things, unfortunately, end. And today March 6, 2019 TransWorld SNOWboarding closes its doors. The 32nd volume of the magazine will be the last and ‘Kamikazu’ will be our last movie.”

In the end, we want to emphasize that there is no malice in this article: the title of the article is highly symbolic and hides the true intent, quoting an aphorism of Bernard of Chartres, French philosopher of the twelfth century.

“We are like dwarves sitting on the shoulders of giants, so that we can see many things far beyond them, not because of sharp eyesight or because they are taller in body, but because we are brought and lifted up by gigantic grandeur.”

Transworld Snowboarding has been our giant and this wants to be a celebration of its history.

Transworld Snowboarding was born in 1987, when snowboarding was still young and the first riders were starting to make their way through the ski lines in the resorts.

It was the second title launched alongside Transworld Skateboarding. But unlike TWSkateboarding, supported by a strong and recognized culture, TWSnow stood as a bet. No one knew if the art of surfing the snow could have a future as glorious as that of skateboarding.

And, after having seen the evolution of the 90s, and after having read on those pages entire careers of snowboarders of the last thirty years, after being spectators of snowboard movies that made us dream and after having consumed 32 volumes, we can say that for sure the mission has been accomplished. From 1987 until yesterday, Transworld was the fundamental pillar of the snowboarding world.

 

It all started with a simple question “What about a snowboard magazine?”.

In the winter releases of TransWorld Skateboarding, Larry Balma, publisher of Transworld Skateboarding, already included several pieces concerning snowboarding, in order to increase the popularity of the sport more and more. The birth of the magazine was a fundamental moment, which set the mood and the lingo of an entire generation.

If there is one thing that cannot be said, Kevin Kinnear (editor of the first issue of TW Snowboarding) was a snowboard guru. Indeed, it had nothing to do with snow at all. Given his initial distance from this world, he did a simple thing: asking questions. At the edge of a halfpipe with a pair of blue jeans on and a notebook in his hands: so he asked some riders his first questions.

The publishing strategy was as follows: “I asked the questions I wanted to know the answer to, and I shared it with the rest of the world.”

At his side was Guy Motil, accompanied by a huge curriculum of collaborations with top-level magazines, including Surfer Magazine. It is precisely that of surfing the style to follow for the first issue of Transworld.

The language had to be extremely friendly, as opposed to the one used by TW Skateboarding readers. Thrust wide-angle optics and badass photos have always been distinctive of the skate culture.

 

Guy instead used half-tele lenses. Snowboarding didn’t have to be the chic version of skateboarding. There was however an inevitable difference between skate and snowboarding, which was going to significantly distance these two worlds: the fact that in the new discipline it was necessary to have a nice big wallet to afford to ride up in the mountains. Having to pay for a ski resort full of rules and things that cannot be done has contributed to the development of a forcibly different culture. But out there the first jibbers were not lacking at all, on the contrary, riding strongly influenced by skate culture meant that any rail or picnic table was treated as a feature to be ridden, creating many problems in ski resorts and with peaceful coexistence with the skiers of the time.

“Snowboarding was born, lived, and died in the mid 1990s”

Jamie Meiselman, 1993-1995 Managing Editor says: “snowboarding was born, lived and died in the nineties. – Ok, the dead part is just to increase the dramatic effect.“ But actually it didn’t go much differently than that somehow. The snowboard movement has evolved exponentially. Gear improves, the market is created, sponsorships are born, but the most important thing is that people get passionate about it. What’s the reason? Because it’s damn funny!

 

1987 The First Issue

Aloha! Here’s how the first release of Transworld Snowboarding begins. These first pages have a strong meaning. Larry, Kevin and Guy weren’t just documenting the first steps of a fast-moving sport, but they were laying the groundwork for a common pillar. A point of reference that would have united all those who are part of the snowboarding family. And this means only one thing: culture. The snowboarding era begins.

The First Time: here is the claim of the first issue, focused on the first experiences of the pro-riders of the time. Fourteen quotations including those by Craig Kelly and Damien Sanders, tell their first bruises because of riding a board, and in a family still not as extensive as that one at that time, these words generated by such a simple question, were able to spring a sense of empathy, curiosity and above all a sense of community, laying the foundations of the years to come.

1989 The first Interview to a Pro

If we talk about first timers, we cannot fail to mention the interview with Craig Kelly. The first ever interview in the world of snowboarding was published in November 1989. From that moment on, the interview becomes the goal to reach, a must for every pro snowboarder to complete a career.

And we can say that a better start could not have been. Craig Kelly was The most inspirational rider. His style of riding having been called just perfect, as he brought the level of snowboarding higher and higher until his tragic death.

 

1991 The First Reader’S Poll

The magazine is successful, and in 1991 the first Reader’s Poll is delivered. That year, unlike the most recent Awards, the jury was solely composed of the readers of the magazine. After completing and submitting the voting page featured in a previous issue of TransWorld, March 20 at the Shark Club in Las Vegas, the very first winners of this award were: Craig Kelly, Tara Eberhard, Peter Bauer, Tina Basich, Damian Sanders and Bonnie Leary. The award then evolved into Rider’s Poll, where a jury of over 100 pros identifies the best riders of the year. The popular vote remained in the Reader’s Choice category.

Rider’s Poll is not a prize like any other, for the reason that it is not based on simple competition. Very different factors are evaluated in addition to the technical gesture; factors that cannot be taken and placed on a table to be calculated. Style, the Only thing that matters [cover quote]. This is what makes this award so fascinating.

 

1993 The First Transworld Video Magazine

1993 was the year of the TransWorld SNOW Video Magazine. The collaboration with the filmer Mike McEntire meant that four episodes came out that year. Transworld has always been at the forefront of the media. And it also masterfully exploited the video as a media, adding a new character to snowboarding: the filmer.

1994 Transworld Landing in Japan

In 1994 the Japanese twin of Transworld snowboarding was born, which was also the first ever Japanese snowboard magazine.

 

1999 The first Transworld Team Challenge

The first TransWorld Team Challenge, an event organized by the magazine to establish the best snowboarding team, was held in 1999 at Snow Summit in California and was won by the legendary Atlantis team, a short-lived company that included Daniel Franks and Ingemar Backman on the roster. The event went on for 10 years, then was renamed Team Shoot Out.

 

2003 The First Twsnow Transam

In 2003 Transworld debuted with an interesting new format dedicated not to professionals, but to amateurs: the TransAM amateur contest series. A format that rewarded the creativity and personality of the riders, aimed at discovering new talents. Among the historical winners of the contest are Lucas Magoon, Chas Guldemond, Gabi Viteri, and Matt Ladley to name a few. The TransAm went on for 13 editions.

2007 Twsnow Productions

Transworld returns to produce videos, with Joe Carlino in charge. No longer in video magazine format, but real full length videos like These Days, Get Real, In Color, Nation, Origins, Insights, Arcadia and the final Kamikazu chapter, in 2019.

 

2008 The first “Sunday In The Park”

A webisode series up to the last few years. Transworld has always managed to adapt to new media. And it did it very well with Sunday in the Park, riding the wave of the newborn Youtube. Definitely the most successful web series in the world of snowboarding, created in collaboration with the freestyle mecca and the most famous American snowpack of the Big Bear era.

In the first episode of Sunday in the Park were present Johnny Miller, Nima Jalali, Darrel Mathes, Joe Mertes, Zak Hale, and Meyer.

 

2015 The first “Eddie Wall Series”

In 2015, Eddie Wall, a former pro and excellent anchorman, began to edit a web column that provides for greater interaction with the public, with direct and opportunities for the public to interact with guests and Eddie himself. Details of The Fourth Phase were unveiled during one of these live shows, which should have been kept secret until its presentation.

 

2018 The Last Issue

The last issue of Transworld arrives at newsstands and in subscriber boxes. In cover, a photo of Dustin Craven, taken by Darcy Bacha. It’s the end of an era.

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