Ahead of the Carve
The innovation, influence, and altruism of Jay Moore.
How many people do you know who’ve legitimately built a community from the ground up? That rare individual who has stayed true to his earliest calling, on-point with his passions, and given back selflessly for decades. Well, I can think of one, and his name is Jay Moore.
If Jay’s name isn’t familiar, I’ll take it you’re not a snowboarder or skater from southwest Montana (or snowboarding industry intelligentsia). Which is fine and cool; nevertheless, you should comb this story and get to know a bit about this: ambassador of shred, analog entrepreneur, banked-slalom schralper, guerilla marketeer, World Cup/US Open/X-Games judge, mentor to many, first snowboard instructor at Bridger Bowl, godfather of Montana skateparks, perennial joker, devoted father and husband, believer, giver, and genuine good guy. As such, Jay Moore has brought together a disparate group of urethane wheel grinding, p-tex-based-single-plankers into one harmonious, Gallatin Valley tribe. We’ll call it a community, of sorts.
BITD (Back in the Day)
Whether cobbling his first skateboard from steel wheels borrowed from his sister’s roller-skates, or cobbling his first skateboard ramp—which he would later share with luminaries like Christian Hosoi, Tony Hawk, and Lance Mountain—or cobbling a “lifestyle” business long before said lifestyle was understood or deemed viable, Jay is nothing if not a cobbler. He built the fixtures for his fledgling retail store, World Boards, and buzzed snowboards down the center to offer splitboards for aspiring backcountry riders long before the industry began building them as a stock option, meaning he also isn’t afraid of power tools or getting his hands dirty.
Known as “Stoker” in his grom years, Jay’s nickname morphed to “Red” as his hormones started ramping. Growing up in north L.A., Jay and his brother James were early adopters of skateboarding. Living just far enough from the Pacific—beyond easy striking distance to the ocean (and surfing)—they chose, instead, to push their skating to the coping and beyond. You don’t have to dig deep into Moore’s archive to find photos of him, his brother, and some of the best skaters of that era, flying up and over their gargantuan 32-foot Eagle Rock Ramp, the culmination of eight prototype ramps built in the Moore family back yard. As Jay describes it, “[their] house was the everyone-comes-over house. My parents were patient and rad!” For students of skateboarding’s history, Jay and his OG crew were right there making it happen back in the late 1970s.
Movin’ to Montana (yippie-yi-yo-ki-yay)
Though Jay never aspired to be a dental-floss tycoon (nod to Frank Zappa), he nevertheless felt the draw of Montana after a test-drive vacation in the mid ‘80s. Having sampled the Bridger Bowl goods on that visit—on a newfangled snowboard, no less—he and his ginger bride, Lori, decided in 1987 it was time to flee the slam-dance-cosmopolis of southern California and make a leap-of-faith move to Big Sky Country. Once a resident of our humble burg, his passion for snowboarding grew faster than a buttered bullet.
By the early ‘90s, Jay’s froth-meter was redlining. He convinced the ski-school director at Bridger Bowl to let him become the area’s first official snowboarding instructor, declaring, “It’s going to go off.” He then trekked down to Colorado to become one of the inaugural riders certified by the PSIA (Professional Ski Instructors of America) to teach snowboarding. After three seasons of teaching new converts and riding six or seven days a week, he and his friend, Ian Ford, decided to take another leap of faith and open a snow-and-skate specialty shop at 601 W. Main St. in downtown Bozeman.
World Boards – the Nexus of Stoke
In its nascent years, snowboarding had a rebellious reputation and angsty underbelly—but not at World Boards. From day one, Jay and his carefully chosen staff were beacons of positivity, serving up friendly, inclusive customer service to all who walked across their threshold. Defying the grumpy, too-cool-for-school air of most snowboard shops of that era, Jay and the WB crew chose to create light where there was dark… shakas where there were middle fingers. And in doing so, he began to build a local community, as well as a respected reputation in the soon-to-be-booming snowboarding industry.
By 2002, World Boards was chosen by Transworld Snowboarding Business (the industry trade authority) as the best snowboard specialty shop in the entire U.S. of A. “Best” is a serious level of props and recognition for a small-town Montana shred shop, yet it was conferred upon WB by all the sales managers and sales reps from the industry’s biggest and best brands. Jay and his staff’s passion for offering a highly curated product selection, as well as earnestly educating customers, was just part of why World Boards got the nod.
But Jay would never take credit for such a commendation without spreading the love amongst his loyal, long-haul employees. Over the years he’s had many retail minions go on to do great things in the snowboarding industry and beyond. Former WB retail lackeys include the head of northwest-region sales for Oakley, a kingpin Burton sales rep, and a cinematographer for Brain Farm (The Art of Flight, etc.) and Red Bull. One WB team member went on to be the first female editor-in-chief of a national snowboarding magazine. Others flew the WB coop do IT work that would bend Bill Gate’s mind, and another who now owns a folksy and hip fly-fishing specialty shop in Minnesota. Jay, and his micro-enterprise have combined to create highly effective compost for helping other, young rippers grow their own success.
Since 1993, when World Boards first opened, there’s not a single aspect of our local snowboarding and skate community to which Jay has not brought his full-bore enthusiasm, knowledge, philanthropy, and sweat equity. Here are a few Moore examples:
For a state with barely a million residents, Montana is flush with over a dozen five-star concrete skateparks. Jay helped get the ball rolling by overseeing the fundraising and design of Montana’s first concrete park, at Kirk Park, back in ‘99. Deftly handling the perpetual uphill battles that go along with finding resources and support for skateboarding, Jay carried the banner and then some. During this period he and two other World Boards collaborators also co-founded and wrote the curriculum for the first ever 4-H skateboard club in the U.S. Jay helped to get it done and Montana has since become a destination state for skaters seeking buttery transition.
Pulling together successful, sustainable events takes commitment and hard work. Over the years, Jay has spearhead dozens of raucous, well-orchestrated gatherings at events like Bridger Bowl’s Shred O’ Fest or the Sluice Box Banked Slalom.
Moore embodies the maxim, “It’s better to give than to receive.” In my years as a board member for the Friends of the Gallatin National Forest Avalanche Center, I’d always hit up Jay for a donation to our annual Powder Blast, silent-auction fundraiser; Jay always gave generously. Backcountry snowboarding had not yet come into vogue; he simply saw the worth of avy awareness and education, long before it made his cash register burp.
Similarly, Jay has been there for grassroots groups like Big Sky Youth Empowerment Project, helping support disadvantaged area youth who might otherwise never get the chance to rail a turn or hit a booter—to say nothing of the centering and purpose that can result from mentoring and exposure to outdoor passions.
Over the decades, Moore has additionally spearheaded his own direct-mentoring program through the World Boards’s team. Whether keeping his loyal, athlete riders in fresh skate shoes or chaperoning young, up-and-coming rippers to distant half-pipe (snow ditch?) events, Jay’s generosity and work ethic has influenced many.
The Future Is Local
Scratching from the ground up—with dirt, snow, and concrete under his fingernails—Jay Moore and World Boards are still on Main Street, but they’re not on easy street. With quantum changes in the retail landscape over the past ten years, now so dominated by internet and big box, shrines to shred like World Boards could easily go the way of the dodo bird. So, when you need that blown-out edge fixed, immediately, or that random high-back part on your five-year-old bindings replaced ASAP (so you don’t miss out on today’s mega dump), you know who’s got your back. Maybe you just want to roll downtown and put some fingerprints on the latest decks, try on some Vans, or shoot the breeze with a real person about your El Niño weather predictions. If there’s one take-away from all of this, here it is: BUY LOCAL… be a brick-and-mortar supporter. Support your local shred shop (and hardware store, and bike shops, and grocery stores). Sure, McCheapWhatever.com is an easy out and particularly appealing to the demographic shopping skateboards, snowboards, and related shred accessories. But, if soulful service with a smile means anything to you, do the right thing. And, if saving a few ducats is your highest motivator, know that the crew down at World Boards will always match price.
Whether you knew it or not, Jay Moore is a legend living in our town and his humble Main Street enterprise is a gift to our community, one that’s been spreading the stoke and giving back for almost a quarter century. He’s in it for all the right reasons.