Happy birthday Craig Kelly

“While Snowboarding I feel like I’m aligning myself with the universe.”

Craig Kelly
Craig Kelly about to align himself with the universe

Craig Kelly was, is, and always will be the man.  The most influential snowboarder of our time, Burton would not be where it is today had Craig never ridden for them and given his input on the product.  Even Terje refers to him as the best snowboarder to ever live.  Before the pro snowboarding scene became a scene – back when we were still more make blog than Perez Hilton – Craig was evolving his game, kicking ass and taking names.  And he took a lot of names on his way to influencing a lot of future names.

Craig Kelly cranks a turn
Craig Kelly represents the MBHC at the US Open

Baker Banked?  Yup.  In fact won the first one ever.
US Open?   Yup.  He won the slalom event.   Oh, and the halfpipe.  Oh yeah, and the overall title. In multiple years.
World Championships?  Yup, seven of ’em.

After tiring of the contest scene Craig evolved his game by going back to riding’s roots and spent most of his time riding backcountry powder, and using his acquired knowledge to continue to move the industry forward.

“Snowboarding is something that I think should be done on your own terms as much as possible.  Society is full of rules and I use the time I spend in the mountain as an opportunity to free myself of all constraints.  During the past winter I decided that competing on the World Tour restricted the freedom that I found from snowboarding in the first place, so I decided to try a year with very little competing.  Now that I have recaptured the feeling that made snowboarding special to me, I am not about to give it up.  This is not retirement. I am simply revolving my snowboarding professionalism around freeriding rather competing.  It sure feels right.”

Sadly a piece of snowboarding’s conscience and soul was taken from us in a large avalanche near Revelstoke on January 20, 2003.

Obviously a nobody snowboarder writing a nobody blog can’t do Craig Kelly’s legacy justice.  But hopefully by bringing a little bit of awareness to him on this day, what would have been his 43rd birthday, some kid will stumble across this and Google his name and learn there’s a bit more to snowboarding than what they are force fed every day.

Happy birthday Craig Kelly, and RIP.

Craig Kelly was killin it the first time Oakleys were cool
Craig Kelly was killin' it the first time Oakleys were cool

8 Replies to “Happy birthday Craig Kelly”

  1. Excellent piece. Happy birthday CK. We owe you so much.

  2. Happy Birthday Craig Kelly

  3. Very well written – I didn’t know much about Craig’s career until this season when I read a few articles on-line and in mags and decided to check out ‘Let it Ride’ – a great movie. Happy Birthday Craig, I dedicated my turns to you that day.


  5. Gizzie the Gizard says: Reply


  6. […] it’s Craig Kelly’s birthday today. Learn yourself young’ens. var addthis_language = 'en'; March 31st, 2010 | Tags: […]

  7. Craig was a good snowmobiling buddy of mine. Once he called me on Easter and said lets take our snowmobiles up Bear paw Mnt. and get some backcountry turns in and camp out. I quickly accepted the offer. We took turns snowboarding down and giving each other rides to the top. After a long day we threw our sleeping bags down on a tarp and slept under the stars. I remember he was very curious about my christian faith and we talked long about that. I respected him for his willingness to want to know what I believe. Craig taught me how to snowboard well and how to ride a sled (snowmobile) in the backcountry.
    Happy Birthday Craig, See you in Heaven!

    1. Whoa, cool story Randy! I think having an open mind and desire to understand things/viewpoints you don’t necessarily understand or believe is a sign of intelligence. I’ve been slacking a bit lately otherwise would have featured that bday post front and center yesterday.

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