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Specialized surfing event, popular in the 1990s and '00s, where competitors are judged solely on aerial maneuvers; conceived and developed in 1996 by Surfing magazine senior editor Skip Snead, with help from aerialist Shawn "Barney" Barron of Santa Cruz.

Surfing aerials—first attempted in the late '70s, then given a boost in popularity in the early '90s by Christian Fletcher and Kelly Slater, among others—were inspired by airborne moves performed by skateboarders. Aerials were long thought o...