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Snowboarding History

Recent History

Recent History

An Olympic sport is born in Vermont

Snowboarding's history shows many influences, such as surfing, skateboarding, snurfing, and skiing. It's roots may even be traced back to the early 1920's. Then children built what would now be considered makeshift snowboards out of barrel staves and rode them sideways down a snowy hill. That was the beginning.

Vermont played a large part in the early days of snowboarding. It was the state in which the snurfer (snow-surfer) became the snowboard with the help of Jake Burton Carpenter and his garage workshop in Manchester, Vermont. Jake had a vision: to bring snowboarding to the world. He began shaping snowboards in the mid 70's out of wood, and fixing rubber straps on them for bindings. This vision apparently succeeded, for he is now the owner of Burton Snowboards , a forerunner in the snowboard industry. He has deeply influenced what snowboarding has become today.

Vermont was home to the first established snowboard competitions in the late 70's and early 80's: the National Races at Suicide Six in Pomfret, Vermont. Interest in this new sport later spawned The U.S. Open first held at Magic Mountain, the first renowned snowboard competition. The U.S. Open is now possibly the most well known snowboard event in the world, and is now held at Stratton Mountain Resort.

Vermont was also the first state in the nation to host a what is now known as a Snowboard Park. In the early 1980's the tiny Sonnenburg Ski Hill, in Barnard, Vermont, opened its arms to snowboarders, letting them have free reign over trails to build jumps and supplied them with a steady supply of hay bails and picnic tables to jump. This was during an era when few ski resorts accepted snowboarders, and was definitely a ground breaking move. Now Snowboard Parks are commonplace at most resorts worldwide.

The Growth of Snowboarding spurred ski area improvements Snowboarding makes up about 25 percent of business at ski resorts, and in 1997 alone, more than 3.5 million snowboarders were introduced to the slopes. Now that snowboarding has it made it to the Olympics, it is accepted worldwide into the mainstream populous. Vermont was well represented at the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan, as several natives competed in the games.

Today, Vermont is still home to Burton Snowboards, which manufactures two-thirds more snowboards than any other company in the world, and produce the most innovative technology available.

Many Vermont ski resorts are planning major improvements and building new snowboarding areas designed to meet the need of today's snowboarder.


  1. 1929 - M.J. "Jack" Burchett cut out a plank of plywood and secured his feet to it with some clothesline and horse reins.
  2. 1963 - Eighth grader Tom Sims constructed a "ski board" for his class project.
  3. 1965 - Sherman Poppen, from Muskegon, Michigan, invented the "Snurfer" as a toy for his children. The Snurfer was created by bolting two skis together. Poppen's later licensed the idea to Brunswick. Over 1 million Snurfers were produced and sold. Poppen also organized Snurfer competitions.
  4. 1970 - Dimitrije Milovich decided it would be fun to slide on cafeteria trays. Milovich, an east-coast surfer, started to develop snowboards.
  5. 1975 - The March edition of Newsweek did a 2 page writeup on Milovich and his snowboard, which he called "Winterstick."
  6. 1977 - Jake Burton Carpenter moved up to Londonderry, Vermont. There, he started making and riding his first boards. Jake created the first snowboarding factory. In 1978, Burton moved into a farmhouse in Manchester. A crew of 4 to 5 people worked throughout the house to create, sell, and repair Burton snowboards. Jake hounded local resorts to open their lifts to snowboarders. In the 80's, many resorts agreed. Stratton, Jay Peak, Stowe, Sugarbush, and Killington opened their resorts to snowboarders.
  7. 1977 - Mike Olsen built his first snowboard in a high school wood shop. He experimented with many different types of snowboards, and decided to quit college in 1984. Mike opened his own snowboarding corporation known as Gnu.
  8. 1982 - The first international snowboard race was held at Suicide Six, just outside of Woodstock. The race took place on a steep and icy run named "The Face."
  9. 1985 - Only 39 of over 600 ski resorts were open to snowboarders. In the same year, Tom Hsieh published the first snowboarding magazine, Absolute Radical. Six months later, Absolute Radical changed the magazine name to International Snowboarding Magazine.
  10. 1986 - French snowboarder Regis Rolland starred in the movie "Apocalypse Snow." This later launched a new European snowboarding generation.
  11. 1987 - TransWorld SNOWboarding Magazine and Snowboarder Magazine were created.
  12. 1994 - Snowboarding was declared an Olympic sport.
  13. 1996 - Mike Hatchett released the snowboard movie TB5, which featured riders such as Noah Salsaneck and Johan Olofson. Footage covered a great deal of Alaska.
  14. 1998 - For the first time ever, snowboarding was in the Olympics.

©StEvEnRoSeBeRrY, 2001
Last Updated: August 15, 2001

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