The History of snowboarding



As long as any one has strapped their feet onto a board there have been snowboarders. The first snowboard in recorded history, however, was not even called a snowboard, but a snurf board. The snurf board was invented by Sherman Poppen, who bolted a pair of skis together so that his daughter could ‘surf’ the snowy hills near their home in Michigan. In 1966 the first snurf boards went into production, and were seen as mostly a toy for children. Poppen began to organize snurf board competitions where one of the earliest competitors, Jake Burton, became interested in making his own brand of snowboard. Burton is one of the leading manufacturers of snowboard products to this day and a common household name. In 1972 the first ‘snowboard’ went into production. Dimitrije Milovich started his company Winterstick which produced unidirectional boards that had a ‘fish tail’ design that was conducive to riding in powder conditions. Winterstick gained exposure in ‘Powder’ magazine and ‘Newsweek,’ and although no longer in production, the Winterstick board is viewed by many enthusiasts and a collector’s item. Tom Sims, who was an avid skateboarder, read the articles on Winterstick and became obsessed with snowboarding. He made his first snowboard in shop class by gluing plywood together and putting carpeting on top for traction. Sims is also one of the biggest manufacturers of snowboard and skateboard gear around.


Gaining momentum

In 1981, the first publication called ‘Snowboarder’ went into production. 1982 saw the first National Snowboard race in Suicide Six, Vermont. The race was held on a steep, icy downhill run, called ‘The Face’. In 1985 only 39, of the approximately 600 ski areas allow snowboards. The same year one another magazine called ‘Absolutely Radical’ came on the scene.

Ross Rebagliati

Ross Rebagliati, 1998


Snowboarding in the Olympics

Snowboarding was finally allowed as a legitimate competition in the 1998 Olympics for the first time. The sport brought a new life and vitality to the age old tradition. However, when Canadian snowboarder Ross Rebagliati failed a urine analysis showing that he was positive for marijuana, the International Olympic Committee revoked his Gold Medal. Rebagliati claimed that he had not smoked any marijuana, and since there was no clear stance on the use of marijuana in the competition, his medal was reinstated. However, for many people their suspicions were confirmed, now that snowboarders were a bunch of pot-heads and troublemakers. Two years earlier Mike Hatchett releases his video ‘TB5.’ The film features riders Noah Salasneck and Johan Olofson, who performed the most advanced tricks at that time. Filmed in Alaska, ‘TB5’ remains a snowboarding classic. In 1998, snowboarding contributes almost 50% to all winter activity, and most of the ski resorts now accept skiers and snowboarders. The sport is at its peak in popularity to this day and remains to be a growing and promising industry.

Do you want to join in on the fun? Then you need to have the proper equipment.