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Thursday, December 27, 2012
Snowboarding's Year in Review

By Melissa Larsen
ESPN.com

World Snowboarding Championships
Though it won't happen until 2013, having the X Games join snowboarding's marquee 6Star events on the World Snowboard Tour is the result of a movement that came together in 2012.

What were the biggest, most impactful events in snowboarding in 2012? The answer to that question depends on where you're sitting.

It could be that some line at your home mountain, or high-consequence rail in your hometown, got ridden for the first time, or in a way no one had ever thought to do it before. Maybe you just learned how to ride this year, or have finally gotten back to snowboarding after a long road back to recovery from an injury. All of those are more important moments than anything we could possibly list here.

But we see some interesting things here in this pulled-back view from a chair that is placed somewhere in between "core" snowboarding and an audience of football lovers who think of this thing we do as a televised sport that some dude with red hair seems to be really good at. Looking at this life we love from that particular perspective tends to give you a long-range view of things, and so it is from that place that this list has been created. There were some big moments in snowboarding in 2012, but really it seems that two significant movements started "trending," as they say, this year.

The first is a series of events that have heralded the end of an era, or the closing of the first volume in what will hopefully be a long edition of The History Of Snowboarding. One of our forefathers, Tom Sims, the man responsible for introducing skateboarding ethos into our sweater and hot toddy culture, passed away. The snowboard brand that gave rise to the first, often-emulated but never reproduced, personality-based über team, the "Forum 8" shut down. And the announcement was made that the U.S. Open is moving from the birthplace of snowboarding to a new location out west.

At the same time, old movements and concepts about snowboarders reclaiming control of snowboarding have risen from the ashes, and taken on a new life. As contests -- and who wins them and why -- have become more prominent on the world stage, the possibility of having a legitimate World Tour that is run by passionate snowboarders working together to crown champions who truly represent progression that is defined by us, and not some ski organization with a 100-page manual filled with outdated rules, is finally starting to become an actual reality.

As we move into 2013, the importance of "style" in snowboarding is also starting to become a community debate again -- one that will, hopefully, engage the kids who are setting the pace right now and take us full circle back to our roots, to the place where creativity is rewarded over precision and winning is less important than how much fun you had along the way. One can dream anyway. It is almost the New Year, which is a time for wishes after all.