Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Vail Trent Bush has spent almost all his life around snowboards. Now he’s a prime mover in putting the sport’s history on display in Vail.
Bush and other volunteers are in the process of setting up an expanded display of snowboarding heritage at the Colorado Ski and Snowboard Museum. The display — scheduled to open Dec. 8 — is in the area formerly dedicated to the museum’s hall of fame, which has been moved to another section of the space.
“This will be the most significant snowboard gallery in the world, and that’s appropriate — this is really a U.S. invention,” Museum Director Susie Tjossem said.
The exhibit will include a lot of boards, of course. But it also will include plenty of other displays and information explaining the evolution of the sport.
One of those items is a 1939 vintage prototype of an early snowboard, along with a rejection letter from the Wilson sporting-goods company explaining why the company didn’t think the public would go for riding on one board.
There also are early boards from Burton, Sims and other pioneering companies, as well as a few pieces that show how early boards were made and painted.
Bush has collected many of the things going into the exhibit. A Boulder native now in his early 40s, Bush was first drawn to boarding in the early 1980s. Much of that riding came on local hills, not ski areas — “mostly as an alternative to sledding,” he said.
Bush’s history with snowboards means he’s seen the sport go from a faddish niche to a sort of outlaw movement to the mainstream. Bush also has spent his entire professional life in the business, from working at ski shops as a young man to running a couple of companies, Technine and Nomis.
Bush said he’s been waiting since about the late 1990s for someone to do something to document how snowboarding has come to its present status. No one ever did, so Bush decided he’d be the one to lead the charge.
“There’s so much snowboarding has gone through to be legitimate,” Bush said.
And while the museum had snowboarding displays, there was little in the way of historical context for what people saw.
Getting the space in the museum took some time, but Bush said it’s the logical place for the new displays.
“To do a snowboard-only museum would have been difficult,” Bush said. “This is a functioning museum, so this is a good place for it.”
And Tjossem said she’s thrilled to have the new exhibit, even in a small space. But while Bush and other volunteers are putting together the snowboarding exhibit, Tjossem said the museum itself needs to make a change.
“We don’t have ‘snowboard’ on our sign on the outside,” Tjossem said. “We’ve got to change that.”