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Powder’s 20th Anniversary

Holy cow. Twenty years. Twenty years of the Powder revolution. Powder to the people.

Powder Magazine was born of the turmoil and new ways of thinking that came out of the maelstrom of the ’60s and early ’70s. America was reshaping itself, and so was skiing. The telemark turn was making a resurgence in certain isolated pockets. Long skis were battling short skis. Untouched powder skiing, which was being abandoned by resorts in the rush for faster, smoother grooming, was embraced by a group of purists who saw themselves as the last bastion of believers.

Powder embodied the soul of skiing and the spirit of those fighting commercialism and searching for lost ideals. To understand its impact in 1972, you have to understand what came before: not much. Other ski magazines were boring and bland—Establishment publications that mirrored the mainstream and painted the world in black and white. Powder ripped the lid off. All of a sudden there was a world in Technicolor, a world of backcountry lunacy, of powder so deep you choked, of speeds so fast you could die. It was a world alive, a world that existed in the acts of madmen and idiots, a world that seethed and surged and finally found legitimacy in a weird little publication from Sun Valley.

Skiing has changed a lot in 20 years, as has the world, and, of course, Powder Magazine. It’s tempting to use this space to talk about those changes, but Powder’s always been the sort of magazine that provokes people to think for themselves. You’re smart: You can figure out for yourself what’s changed. What’s more important to talk about is what hasn’t changed.

Freedom. At the core of Powder is the idea of freedom through powder skiing. It is a concept so simple and pure, and so strong that each of us has centered our lives around capturing and recapturing the feeling of flying through deep powder snow.

Freedom is, inherently, about boundaries, and knocking down boundaries. Powder took the narrow, constraining limits of mainstream thinking and skiing and pushed them back beyond the horizon. It showed the world that skiing doesn’t end at the edge of the trail, or the edge of the resort, or at the edge of the mountain. Skiing only ends where the imagination ends, and after putting 20 years of Powder in this issue, one thing is shiningly clear: With all these incredible voices and visions of powder skiing, there is no end to the imagination.

First published in Powder Magazine, issue 20.5, January 1992. Copyright Steve Casimiro 2001. All rights reserved.

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