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Legends of the Fall


By: Mike Akira West
September 14, 2012

Most of you already know the story on how I started 686 twenty years ago in Big Bear while going to school in LA. However, only a few know the back story on how I actually got into snowboarding from skateboarding in the late 80’s. To make a long story short, I learned how to snowboard in the winter of 1986 at Snow Summit in Big Bear, CA. Coming from street skating, I thought it was silly to try and skate on the snow. I vividly remember the first day on the beginner hill trying to get my toe edge furiously kick turning, while leaning back. It was all wrong and I became severely frustrated. While on my knees about to give up, I recall this one guy in a bright one piece outfit with a fresh mustache who said “Take it easy-don’t try so hard. Just lead forward and move your upper body”. I said to myself, ok I’ll give it a try and it somehow started to click. I asked the lift operator who that dude was and he said it was “Tom Sims.”

There are only a few legends in my book that contributed more to the sport and to the industry than heads will ever know- Tom was definitely one of those dudes. Tom Sims passed away from cardiac arrest yesterday. Without legends like Tom, Snowboarding, Skateboarding and even something as small as 686 would be vastly different (nor might not be here at all) Thanks Tom for being you. God Bless and Rest in Peace