Collect more than 600 used snowboards (as well as nearly 400 skateboards) and you could be called an obsessive nutcase. Collect ’em and put ’em on display as a museum; well, now you’re a curator.
Twenty-year snowboard vet and Salty Peaks snowboard shop founder Dennis Nazari doesn’t screw around when it comes to his beloved sport. When snowboarding was banned at Utah resorts in the early ’80s (yes, there was a time), he and the Southwestern Surf Skiers Association worked to implement safety certification classes, which eventually led to boards being accepted at resorts. In 1987, he founded Salty Peaks, which became one of the first establishments in the country to have a shop team, the original “Salty 8.” The store’s name is practically synonymous with boarding in Utah and—perhaps the ultimate sign of success—if there’s a fast-food drive-through window unadorned with a Salty Peaks sticker in the valley, good luck finding it.
Still, 600 used snowboards?
“I’ve focused my own time and money collecting boards with the intent to document and preserve the early history of snowboarding,” Nazari says, then admits, “I’ve wanted to find a better place to put it—many of the boards that can’t be seen easily in the rafters. There are people who’ve been coming here for years and never noticed what’s going on above their heads.”
The timeline of Nazari’s Snowboard Museum begins on the shop’s east wall, winding all the way around to the north, with many more floating in those aforementioned rafters above a virtual flying army of suspended vintage skateboards—remember that crappy Nash you (or your dad) rode in the ’70s? It’s up there, along with myriad other plastic and wood boards that inspired someone along the way to rip the wheels off and take it to the slopes. As weird as some skateboard models were, the snowboards tended to be even more out-there.
“The Webber Flying Banana,” Nazari replies instantly when asked which is the strangest ride in the collection. “But there are all kinds of oddities, like the Swingbo Surfer, the Snowster, the Hyarc. Then there’s the Snowskate, which has been newly redesigned by several companies and it’s the hot item for Christmas. It rides amazingly well and you can do many of the same tricks you can do with your skateboard, and you don’t need a lift ticket—when it snows you just go to your favorite skate spot.”
Salty Peaks claims this Snowboard Museum is possibly the largest in the world—so far, no one has stepped up to say otherwise. “None that I know of, and no one who’s seen the display in the store has ever acknowledged a collection to rival it,” Nazari says. “I’ve never seen anyone else with more than 100 boards. The oldest I have is probably the Skiboggen from the ’40s, then Snurfers of the ’60s and ’70s. But early ‘real boards’ started in the late ’70s and early ’80s, when the sport saw a lot of evolution.”
There’s no “blue book” in existence to estimate the museum’s worth and, with a space-consuming stockpile this extensive, it was only a matter of time before one of Nazari’s own sticks made its way back to him. Though he didn’t recognize it at first, he once bought a $20 snowboard at Deseret Industries and eventually realized it was the very same one he’d sold off in the ’80s.
“And I’m still looking for my white-with-gold-stripes Terry Kidwell board that someone in this town still has—it has a Sessions sticker on the nose and I’ll pay a tidy sum to get it back,” he adds. “And, can you put a subtle—or not-so-subtle—plug that I buy old snowboards, skateboards, magazines, catalogs, photos, posters, boots, clothing, anything to do with old snowboarding? Call me at 273-7340.”
Done, but where is he going to put it all? “I’d love to move it all into a separate room but, unfortunately, neither I nor Salty Peaks are in the position to do it on our own,” he says. “I’d like to tie in with the ski museum in Park City for the Olympics.”
Or even open his own Hard Rock Cafe-style snowboard-theme restaurant. “Sure, why not? That was one of my inspirations in doing what I’m doing—that and Las Vegas in general,” Nazari says. “I dream of someday having the rad boards under glass in a lighted display case with a brass info plaque, and outfits from the different eras on mannequins to portray the early snowboard pioneers, like the unknown rock stars that they are.”
The virtual Snowboard Museum tour is available at www.SaltyPeaks.com, and the real thing is at 3055 E. 3300 South in Salt Lake City—just walk in and look up. If you want a Terry Kidwell BLT, however, you’ll have to wait.