Born on December 28, 1969, in Worcester, Massachusetts, Todd Richards dropped out of college to become a pro snowboarder. One of the sport's best-known faces following its surge in popularity, he competed at the 1998 Winter Olympics and won seven X Games medals. Richards has since embarked on a broadcasting career, co-founded a snowboard company and created a website for reviewing athletic gear.
Brandt Todd Richards was born on December 28, 1969, in Worcester, Massachusetts. The only child of Ken, a leather-goods salesman, and Patricia, a hair stylist, Richards indulged his active imagination by watching horror movies and playing with action figures.
Never one for team sports, Richards became interested in skateboarding as a freshman at Wachusett Regional High School. He picked up a snowboard for the first time the following winter, developing an affinity for the little-known sport after buying an improved board that made turning and stopping easier.
Richards enrolled at New Hampshire Vocational Technical College in 1987, but dropped out to pursue a career on the burgeoning snowboarding circuit.
Known for his signature "wet cat" move, in which he would plant his front hand and rotate 900 degrees into the landing, Richards developed a reputation as one of the premier practitioners of his craft. After winning the halfpipe at the 1994 U.S. Championships, he was at the forefront of the cultural shift that transformed snowboarding from a fringe activity to a mainstream sport that attracted major sponsors and television coverage.
Competing at the 1997 Winter X Games, an event created by the cable sports network ESPN, Richards lived up to his reputation by winning the men's halfpipe event. He also won his second U.S. Open title that year, as well as a silver medal at the Snowboard Halfpipe World Championships.
Considered a gold medal favorite for snowboarding's Olympic debut at the 1998 Winter Games, Richards finished a disappointing 16th in the halfpipe. However, he went on to enjoy more success at the X Games, branching out from his signature event to earn medals in the slopestyle and big air events. Even after winning his seventh and final X Games medal in 2002, he continued to hold his own in events against significantly younger competition.
Off the Hill
Forced to take a break from the action after suffering a broken arm in 2003, Richards began work on his biography with TransWorld Snowboarding Magazine editor Eric Blehm. His book, P3: Pipes, Parks and Powder, was published that November.
The time off also provided Richards with the opportunity to offer analysis for ESPN's coverage of the X Games. His insight led to a recurring gig with the network, and he also served as an analyst for NBC's coverage of the 2006 Winter Games in Turin, Italy.
In addition to his work in front of a camera, Richards co-founded O-Matic Snowboards and AWSM, a website devoted to reviewing snowboarding, skating and surfing gear. In 2009, he was the subject of the documentary Me, Myself and I.
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