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Craig Kelly

Hall of Fame Class of 2012

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Craig Kelly was the most significant snowboard athlete of his time. His four World Championships in the 1980’s and 1990’s were impressive, but most importantly, through his work with Jake Burton Carpenter and others, he managed to help open most of the ski areas in North America to snowboarding. He was an emissary -and pioneer- for the sport at its most critical time. His intelligence (he was an honors Chemical Engineering student at the University of Washington), friendliness and exceptional skill, drove the sport of snowboarding to international prominence.

Kelly was killed in an avalanche in 2003 at the young age of 36. He was seeking to become the first full certified snowboarder guide by the Canada Avalanche Association. He helped found both Island Lake and Baldface Lodges in British Colombia. At the time, he achieved the highest level of certification by the CAA of any snowboarder. He was featured prominently in ski and snowboard films for more than 20 years, including Warren Miller’s “Journey” and Greg Stump’s “Ptex, Lies & Duct Tape.” Craig Kelly was the first true professional snowboarder.

Most of Kelly’s victories took place prior to the FIS taking over the ISF snowboard world cup. During that era, he won four World Championships (1988-91) and three U.S. Open Championships (1987-89). He was honored with Transworld Snowboarding’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2002. He is the third snowboarder to be elected into the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame.

It is hard to quantify Kelly’s contribution in terms of contest wins, movies, etc.- at the time, he was snowboarding’s brightest star. He won everything and appeared in every significant movie, but his greatest contribution was simply elevating the boarder culture to a respected winter sport.

Career Highlights:

-1988-’91: 4x World Snowboard Champion
-1987-’89: 3x U.S. Open Champion
-1993: Founded Craig Kelly World Snowboard Camp, first of its kind in Blackcomb, B.C.
-1983-’95: Along with Jake Burton Carpenter and Paul Alden, they helped open nearly every North American resort to snowboarding
-1997: Founder & Board member of Island Lake Lodge; selected as judge for World Extreme Snowboard Championships in Valdez, Alaska
-2002: Received Transworld Snowboarding’s Lifetime Achievement Award

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Hall of Fame Tribute Video


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