Snowboarding History

Exact details vary depending on what book you read, but its seems that the humble snowboard first appeared in 1929 when a man named M.J. "Jack" Burchett cut out a plank of plywood and secured it to his feet with a length of clothesline. It was not until the mid sixties however that the modern snowboard began to take shape.

In 1965 Sherman Poppen designed a toy for his young daughter which was to become the "Snurfer," a mixture of "snow” and “surfer," This early board was more or less a skateboard without wheels. The "Snurfer" consisted of 2-skis fastened together with a rope at the front of the skis to hold on to. The idea caught on fast, partly due to the Snurfer competitions Poppen organised and by 1966 Sherman Poppen had sold half a million Snurfers at the price of $15 each. Snow boarding was here to stay.

During the 1970’s the snowboard underwent a number of refinements as pioneers like Tom Sims, Demetrije Milovich and Jake Burton developed and new board designs as the popularity of snowboarding grew.

Demetrije Milovich an east coast surfer had the idea of sliding on cafeteria trays upstate New York. From this he started developing his snowboards designs and in 1972 he started a company called the Winterstick. By 1975 The Winterstick was getting mentioned in Newsweek magazine. The winterstick was based on the design and feel of a surfboard but worked the same way as skis.

In 1977 Jake Burton a carpenter, after completing university moved to Vermont and needing to make earn money started to produce snowboards made with steam bent wood laminated wood and fiberglass. He later surprised everyone by winning a Snurfer competition on his own board. Today Burton Snowboards is a major player in the snowboard industry.

At around the same time, former skateboard champion Tom Sims, started to produce snowboards. The same year Bob Webber was also developing his "yellow banana" board made of polyethylene. This was followed the next year by Chuck Barfoot who developed a fiberglass in the snowboard.

By the early 80's a growing number of snowboard brands were arriving on the market, such as Burton, Winterstick, Sims, Barfoot, Avalanche and Gnu.

Many of the early snowboards were very difficult to control and they were banned from many ski areas. 1985 saw only 39, of approximately 600 ski resorts giving access to snowboards. However, equipment and skill levels improved so did access to ski areas. By the early 1990’s most of the major ski areas had separate slopes for snowboarders.

During the mid-eighties, snowboarding acquired a bit of a "bad boy" image. This rebel attitude still lingers today even though snowboarding has a much wider audience profile, crossing gender and age.

In 1998, snowboarding debuted at the Olympics in Nagano, Japan. The event had a giant slalom and halfpipe competition. Rebagliati, a Canadian from Whistler BC, won the gold medal that year, unfortunately he tested positive for trace amounts of marijuana and was stripped of his gold medal. Snowboarding will be part of the 2008 Olympics in Torino, Italy with the addition of snowboard cross event.

In the year 2000, snowboarding was the fastest-growing sport in the United States. Today, more than 3.5 million people snowboard and by 2015 it is predicted that more people will snowboard than ski.

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