The Beginning Of Snowboarding

Find out more about the first snowboards and the people who built them. Jump to a year:




















It is hard to say who actually "invented" the first snowboard. People would have always figured out how to slide down a hill on some sled, thus it would be unfair to point out one specific person, who came up with "the first" snowboard.

There were some people, though, who built snowboard like sleds before. One of them was M.J. "Jack" Burchett. He cut out a plank of plywood in 1929 and tried to secure his feet with some clothesline and horse reins. Burchett came up with on of the first "snowboards". Before the next step for the snowboard was taken, it had to wait over 30 years until 1965. In this year Sherman Poppen, a chemical gases engineer in Muskegon, invented "The Snurfer" (his wife came up with the name) as a toy for his daughter. He made the Snurfer by bounding two skis together and putting a rope at the nose, so the rider could hold it and keep it more stable. Many of his daughters friends wanted one of those new Snurfers, and soon Poppen lincensed his new idea to a manufacturer. The Snurfer was sold over half a million times in 1966, but was only seen as a toy for kids, even though Poppen organized competitions with this new board. Jake Burton took part in those competitions and became really interested in the snurfer. For him it was a cool thing to do, not having the oppurtunity to go surfing (his parents would not buy him a board). But Burton was really seriuos about skiing. After breaking his collarbone in a car accident, he was not able to take part in skiing competitoins anymore. While Burton was into riding the Snurfer, Dimitrije Milovich started making snowboards in 1969. After sliding down some hills on a cafeteria plate in College, he came up with the idea. His boards were based on surfboards combined with the way skiis work. In 1972 Milovich started a new company called "Winterstick". He produced several boards, and even got articles in the "Newsweek", "Playboy" and "Powder" which helped to make snowboarding better known. Even though Milovich left the snowboarding business in 1980, he is still recognized as a very important pioneer of the sport. In 1977 Jake Burton, who now finished NYU, moved to Londonderry, Vermont to make some money by building different versions of the Snurfer, which he still remembered. His first boards were made of laminated hardwood. Burton shocked all the Snurfer riders by winning a Snurfer competition with his own board, which had the first binding. This first binding made a big difference fro handling the board, and thus made it easier for him to beat the other riders. After that, in 1979, Poppen stopped producing the Snurfer and went back to his old profession. He was out of the business, and never came back. Parallel to Burton, Tom Sims produced his first snowboards in 1977. Beeing obsessed with skateboarding, Sims tried to go out in the snow and slide down the hill with a "snowboard" he built in a junior high shop-class. He just glued some carpet to the top of a piece of wood, and put an aluminium sheeting on the bottom. After he focussed on producing skateboards in his garage, with the help of his friend and employee Chuck Barfoot, he started making snowboards in 1977. Barfoot, who actaully made the snowboards, came up with the "Flying Yellow Bannana". It was just a skateboard deck on top of a plastic shell with skegs.Oficially the first real ski technology for snowboards was introduced by Burton 1980 (it is said Winterstick already used a P-Tex base in 1974). The new prototype had a P-tex base and combined more of the ski technology into snowboards with that. In the same year Sims signed a skate- and snowboarding deal with a big mainstream company (Vision Sports), which helped him solving his financial problems. Barfoot was left out, and tried to built his own firm. He did not succeed against the big competitors Sims and Burton. In 1982 the first National Snowboard race was held in Suicide Six, outside Woodstock, Vermont. The goal of the race apeared mostly to be "survival", because the race consists of a steep  icy kamiaze downhill run, called "The Face". In 1985 still only 39, of the approximatly 600 ski areas allow snowboards. The same year one of the first (there was another one in 1981, called "Snowboarder") Snowboarding magazin came out. It's name was "Absolutely Radical". Later on the name is changed into "International Snowboarding Magazine". In 1986 Regis Rolland, a French snowboarder, stars in "Apocalypse Snow". His staring launches a new European Snowboarding generation of fans who organize their own regional events, such as the Swiss championship in St. Moritz. Snowboarding is becoming a more and more popular sport.








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 created by Julian Voje