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From outcasts to mainstream, B.C. museum showcases the evolution of snowboarding

Click to play video: 'This is BC: Vancouver Island man opens museum celebrating evolution of snowboarding'
This is BC: Vancouver Island man opens museum celebrating evolution of snowboarding
Qualicum Beach may seem an odd place to find a snowboarding museum but that's where a Vancouver Island made decided to open one. This Is BC's Jay Durant checked in on a place where you can see the evolution of the sport and the challenges it faced – Nov 29, 2022

A Qualicum Beach, B.C., man has created a museum that celebrates the sport of snowboarding, from the early “skateboards for snow prototypes” to the first designs that helped launch a new winter sport.

“I don’t know where they came from but there’s an early board called the Snurfer,” Peter Ducommun told Global’s This is BC while giving a tour of the display in his Skull Skates store.

The museum documents the evolution of what is now one of the world’s most popular winter sports.

“Skiers didn’t like us too much in the beginning,” laughed Ducommun. “They really didn’t like us.”

In the early 1980s, Ducommun and others were continually denied access at B.C. ski hills.

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“Nine out of 10 people we called said, ‘Yeah because you guys suck.’ We said, ‘Ok I guess that’s a reason,’” Ducommun said.

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“It was that skateboard stigma all over again, like these are weird, bad guys or something.”

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Without lift tickets, most of those early snowboarders’ days were spent working to get back up the mountain. That changed in 1983 when they found a way to get around an insurance issue at Hemlock Valley.

“Our insurance states that you have to load and unload with skis. We said, ‘Well, if we did that with skis and rode our snowboards down would that be acceptable?” said Ducommun. “They said, ‘Sure, we’ll sell you a ticket.’”

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He and his friends used the old Super Slider Sno-skates to get around that technicality, and threw them in their backpacks before snowboarding down.

“They were just glorified plastic slippers,” Ducommun said, pointing to a couple of pairs hanging on the wall.

By the late 1980s, B.C. resorts were allowing snowboarders. The museum showcases some of the early contraptions that plowed the way for future generations that fell in love with the sport, and ultimately harmony on the hill.

“Eventually snowboarders and skiers started to get along, because, what are you going to do?” Ducommun said.

“You can’t keep fighting forever.”

To contact Jay Durant with a story idea for This is BC, email him details and contact information at thisisbc@globalnews.ca

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