Love of snowboarding fuels Steamboat Springs man’s desire to collect
November 1, 2015
Steamboat Springs — Chris Smith collects snowboards in much the same way other people collect baseball cards, stamps and coins.
For the past 30 years, Smith, who owns Powder Pursuits in Steamboat Springs, has done his best to hold onto his favorite boards. He estimates he has ridden more than a 1,000 different boards in his life and acknowledges he has had to become selective as to to the ones he can keep.
"My goal is to collect all of the snowboards that I've ever ridden through my whole life," Smith said.
Of course, he has an original snuffer, which entered the market in 1966 as a toy, signed by Sherman Poppens, as well as some of the first boards ever produced by Jake Burton and Tom Sims. He also has one of the first metal-edged boards and a choice selection of some of the major innovations in the sport since the early 1980s. Currently, his collection is somewhere in the neighborhood of 55 boards, but Smith said it is far from complete, and someday, he hopes to fill a few key holes.
Last week, Smith lined the collection up outside his business, located in the Steamboat Grand. As he placed the boards in order from earliest to latest, he passed along the stories that go with each and elaborated on how they have impacted the sport he loves.
While the collection is extensive, Smith said he likes riding far too much to dedicate all his time to finding rare boards on the Internet.
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"I enjoy being on the mountain way too much," Smith said. "The die-hard collectors have to be on their computers all the time, hoping to find that special board."
But for Smith, collecting is really just about taking a drive down memory lane, and he acknowledges the story behind each board is normally more impressive than the board itself.
"It's all about association," Smith said. "Somebody will see one of my boards and say, "That brings back memories. I remember riding that board, and it was one of the best days of my life."
Smith is still looking for a few key boards, including the Look Burton Lamar Trick Stick, the Burton Mystery Air and some of the early offerings from Lib Tech and Mervin Manufacturing.
But his collection is limited due to space and funds. While he would love to own every snowboard he has ever taken a ride on, he said finding the space to store, let alone display, all the boards he has ridden since he first started renting them in the early 1980s, shortly before arriving in Steamboat Springs, is not practical.
Viewing his collection is akin to taking a ride through the history of the sport, but it's also filled with his own, personal stories of riding each of the boards.
Still, Smith's collection looks small compared to that of Dennis Nazari, who runs the Utah Snowboard Museum out of his Salty Peaks snowboard shop in Utah. There, snowboard enthusiasts will find 1,000 snowboards on display, and Smith contends the Utah man's collection is closer to 7,000.
Smith said he met Nazari briefly a few years ago, and Nazari mentioned he might be willing to trade for the right board. Smith said he might also be willing — again, for the right board.
But for now, he said, he will keep most of his collection at his home and bring a few of the more important boards to display in his own business.
"It's a hard thing to put into words," Smith said. "But I love collecting these board and recalling all the fun I had riding them."