First Descent

[Announcer On P.A. ]
Anybodyknow his name?
Shaun White coming home with the gold.

If he thought he was famous now,
just wait till the Olympics.

[ Narrator]
Despite growing acceptance,
snowboarding was still underground.

In the mid-'80s, early contests
brought together snowboarders
from all over the world,

triggering the sport's
rapid evolution.

The U.S. Open was huge for us
on the East Coast.

That's where we went to watch
the other guys that were top in the sport
show us what they had.

And it was our chance
to show them what we had.

I started snowboarding
up in Tahoe.

And not until the first time I went to
my first world championships contest
in Breckenridge...

did I realize that snowboarding
existed anywhere except Tahoe.

There's European snowboarders
and there's the East Coast Burton guys.

And there's now
bigger hard-core guys.

It was just a bunch of people
stoked to see that there were
other people out there doing it.

[ Narrator]
As contests evolved, freestyle
and free-riding became the focus.

These creative, more expressive
styles of riding would become
the driving forces...

that would
shape snowboarding's future.

The whole birth of
freestyle snowboarding came from us
being able to ride half-pipes.

Back in the day,
it was dominated by racing.

Racing became so serious
andyou didn't like the people
you were racing against,

and there was all these rivalries.
[ Richards ]
Half-pipe gave it a chance
for kids to just be kids.

[ Farmer] The tallest half-pipe
was probably- if it was six feet tall,
that was a pretty damn big half-pipe.

And it was really just a mess.
It was really just,
you know, kind of a mess.

[Man ] Now you go onto these pipes
and they're, like, 20-foot walls,

pefrectly cut by a pipe dragon.