The Burton Blog

Digging Through The Archives: Iconic Burton Boards

When you start from a place of rider-driven innovation and partner with the sport’s most legendary personalities, the results are bound to make a lasting place in history.

Since 1977, countless Iconic boards have been produced at Burton HQ. To honor some of our favorites, we are re-releasing a select few boards in the new "Icons Collection". Before these boards make a return to the mountains, we decided to revisit the original decks and what they represented.

We remember boards for many reasons, the riders connected to them, the video parts filmed on them, the artwork and so much more. Aside from what we visually remember, many of these boards represented where snowboarding was and what it needed at the time of its release.


Join us, as we dig through the archives and explore some of Burton's most iconic snowboards.

1987 Elite: Growth of the Sport

Stripped blue or black, the ’87 Elite is seared in the consciousness of many early-generation snowboarders.

As snowboarding grew, we needed a board that would support smaller riders learning the sport. The Elite was designed for lightweight riders who wanted to progress— this is a high-performance snowboard built for a variety of snowboard conditions with the intention of improving
– Lesley Betts, Senior Hardgoods Strategy Product Line Manager.

Among the first boards with a flex and stance geared toward learning, the Elite was the first-wave go-to for getting people out on the hill and pushing their skills. The Elite was the jump-off for going beyond linking turns to exploring the skateboard flair that’d brought so many folks on snow in the 80s.

“This board took me out of beginner mode and was the shred vehicle I learned 360's on,” says Rob Sprague, VP of Global Product Development, “and it laid the foundation for the rest of my snowboarding days.”

1995 Kelly Air: Freeride Progression

When 4-time World Champion, 4-time US Open Winner, and 3-time Mt Baker Banked Slalom winner Craig Kelly segued from podiums to backcountry, Burton supported his career switch.

This board is from another time, when a legend within our sport built a board for going fast and riding big panels. It was about big freeride terrain with a narrow waist width, but it resonates so deeply today. With a lot in the marketplace for snowboards that are soft and floaty and maneuverable, the 1995 Kelly Air is built for strong riders with the fervor to go fast and ride smooth while exerting minimal pressure to the slope.
– Danny Davis

A soul rider with the eye of an engineer, Craig saw another path in snowboarding that wasn't happening in the industry. Already deeply involved in product development, we listened to Craig’s input on designs that would take him there.

Graceful and powerful all-mountain performance became Craig’s hallmark, and this board became an icon of his legacy as a freerider who paved the way for generations of riders to come.

“The scary tree artwork is by artist Douglas Smith, known for his scratchboard artwork where you create an image in reverse by removing the dark to reveal the light background.” - Lesley Betts

1996 Dolphin: Women’s Performance

When ground-breaking rider Shannon Dunn Downing joined Burton, she demanded the best performance possible for her and other women.

I’m proud of the mark this board has made for women not only in snowboarding, but in the world at large— the Smithsonian will feature this board for its inventive contribution to women’s sports. The Dolphin was truly ahead of its time because it remains a cutting-edge freestyle snowboard board to this day.
– Shannon Dunn Downing

The Dolphin was Burton’s first women’s pro model, developed in close collaboration with the product team. It was tested through numerous prototypes, and refined for a softer flex and feel, while elevating the freestyle prowess that Shannon would continue to push in her own career for years to come.

2011 Nug: Irreverent Fun

Before shuffling board volume and shaping became the “it” thing, the Nug arrived on the scene, defying all the snowboarding norms of the time.


Combining long effective edge and a poppy nose and tail in a tiny package that you rode 8-10cm’s shorter than regular, it made perfect sense to pair this disruptive design with a stoney, irreverent look.

With a loose, fast-turning, freestyle focus that turned every bump on the mountain into a playground, plenty of riders were downsizing in glee. No wonder the tagline was “One hit and you’re totally hooked.”

If you've never ridden a Nug, you are missing out. It was fun, nothing else.
– Lesley Betts, Senior Global Product Line Manager, Hard Goods.

Listening to riders, leading with change, and disruption for the sake of fun— it all leads to a history of creating iconic boards. We’re excited to share this four-pack of re-releases from the Burton archives, each one an icon of its era - Launching May 2, 2023.