|ESPN.com: Snowboarding||[Print without images]|
|"This is my first picture of Tom, taken at a motel in Bennington, Vermont in 1985." --Graves|
None of us would be here today reading about snowboarding on ESPN.com or watching it on television if it weren't for your influence, Tom. Know that.
A few years later I actually met Tom on the hill in Boulder. He was in town selling his Sims 1500 snowboards -- new and now with p-tex, but not yet with edges. He was also helping Richard Christensen to build the first Colorado contests. Tom's stoke was infectious and his confidence was supreme and, at that time, his swallowtail, rocker-concave 'ski-board' designs were well ahead of the design and performance curve.
I was an early 'flow' snow team rider for Sims in 1983. He inspired me to fearlessly follow my love of the sport by getting out there and riding and spreading the stoke -- by selling snowboards and getting the contest scene together. Tom was all about fun and figuring out how to make more advanced stuff that created even more fun. He was much more stoked on the sport than the business per se. It was his naive yet pioneering spirit that made us fired up to get out and ride and change the world...
I'll miss you Tom, and I will always thank you for your humble stoke and desire to share snowboarding and skateboarding with me, and ultimately the rest of the world.
Lucky for us that he didn't listen to my opinion... Tom is the original action sports hero and a legendary character to all that knew him.
|Tom Sims races Ken Achenbach at the 1986 Worlds in St. Moritz. Switzerland.|
Tom was a man of his word, lifestyle, and beliefs. Not too many individuals still passionately preserve the stoke and energy that Tom did their whole lifespan for snowboarding and skateboarding.
Tom was like family, a team captain, and an inspiration for all who believe you must pass up your passion for money or respect. He taught me many values I will always uphold: Passion, hard work, respect -- and comedy. Peace Tom. And thank you.
As an enterprising person he had the strength and courage to muscle through high-risk and criticism to pioneer the fledgling industry that became snowboarding. The battles between he and Jake Burton are legendary. That friction was necessary to spark fire into the sport.
Tom Sims introduced me to ... Tom Hsieh of "Absolutely Radical" Magazine [who] made me the East Coast correspondent for the mag. ... Before I knew it, I was a photo journalist sharing the excitement of snowboarding with the world. The old cliche goes: it's not what you know, it's who you know. I feel blessed to have known Tom Sims. RIP.
Even when the rest of the industry grasped at every dorky straw and tangent out there in an effort to find an identity, Sims never questioned it. Kidwell, Kimmel, Kelly, Palmer, Salasnek... Sims made us cooler than we were ready for, or probably deserved.
When he tried to make it a business, banks thought it was a joke! They just thought [snowboarding] was a passing fad, like anything else. But he just stuck to it, kept doing it. Then, when I went to interview him, like, thirty-some years later, he has his own ranch up in Santa Barbara, with famous actors [as neighbors]. The bank guy probably thought he was some surf bum but he ended up doing better than the guy at the bank did!
|Tom Sims slashes at Mt. Bachelor, circa 1992.|
When I shifted to photography, Sims became one of my first clients and I was lucky enough to spend time shooting a pretty amazing era of the team. At Mt. Bachelor in 1992 I even managed to snap a shot of the man himself backside slashing a crappy bank. It's not a great photo but I never trashed it because it was the only photo I had of Tom Sims snowboarding.
I feel like Tom is the part of snowboarding that we lost when we sold our soul, and he never really fit into corporate snowboarding. He was the underdog and the evangelist and anyone who slides sideways owes him an un-payable debt.