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 History of Snowboarding

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Unlike surfing and skiing, snowboarding is a relatively new sport.  It was influenced by surfing, skateboarding and skiing.  It is difficult to determine the pioneer of snowboarding. It is believed to originally have begun around 1950 by a few surf and ski enthusiasts.  They decided to take their skills to a new level and new terrain -- snow. 

Snowboarding Timeline

1950

 

Surf/ski enthusiasts create self made boards -- results many injuries.

 

1960's  

In 1963 a young man, Tom Sims, made a snowboard out of plywood in his eighth grade  shop class. He called his new invention a ski board. He later formed his own snowboard company, Sims Snowboards, which  had a big impact on the world of snowboarding in the early years.  

The first real board is known as the Snurfer and it hit the market in 1965. It's creator was Sherman Poppen.  It was a combination of a  a plywood sled and a skateboard deck. He bolted two skis together and attached a rope to the front tip of the snurfer to give the  rider some control, help with balance and steer.  In addition,  steel tacks were put on the upper deck  to hold  the rider's feet in place.


 

During this time, Snowboarding  was not even allowed on regular slopes and was widely frowned upon by the majority of skiers.  It really appealed to a small group of surfers, skateboarders, and backcountry  enthusiasts.

1970's


In the mid 70's, as snowboarding became more popular, snowboarding pioneers such as Dimitrije Milovich, an East Coast surfer, and Jake Burton, a carpenter from Manchester, Vermont, came up with new board designs, materials and machineries. 

1970--Inspired by sliding on cafeteria trays in upstate New York,  Dimitrije Milovich starts developing snowboards. His board was based on the design and feel of a surfboard, but worked the same way as skis

1971--According to Milovich, he is granted a patent for his snowboard design so he could sell the idea to ski companies. The patent didn't expire until1988 and Milovich declines from enforcing the patent with other companies.

In 1972, Milovich, started a company called the Winterstick.

1975--Milovich and Winterstick are written up in the March issue of Newsweek and have a two-page photo spread in Powder, giving snowboarding some early national exposure.

 Initially, Burton began shaping snowboards out of wood and fixing rubber strips on them for bindings to help control the board.  Eventually he started making his snowboards out of fiberglass.  Burton's 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 very instrumental in the development of this sport.  The first established national Snowboard races were in Vermont, in the late 70's and early 80's.  This eventually led to the US Open in Vermont which is now possibly the most well known snowboard event in the world.

1980's

 

In the 1980's they started adding steel edges to the sides of the snowboard. It was also during this time that bindings with high backs, to help control when snowboarding on hard packed snow, was invented. In 1983 less that 10 percent of the ski areas in the United States allowed Snowboarding.

In 1983, the first World Championship halfpipe competition was held at Soda Springs, California.

This gave the emerging stars of this new sport the chance to show off their skills. Freestyle riding on the slopes and in the new halfpipe events created a buzz worldwide.

Vermont was  the first state in the nation to host a Snowboard Park. At a time when few ski areas accepted snowboarders, the Sonnenburg Ski Hill, in Barnard Vermont allowed snowboarders, to have free reign of a trail to build jumps and supplied them with a steady supply of hay bails and a few picnic tables to jump. This was definitely a ground breaking move. Today these parks are commonplace at most resorts worldwide.

In 1985, the first World Cup was held in Zürs, Austria.  The first magazine exclusively about snowboarding, known as Absolutely Radical,  appears in March. Six months later the name is changed to International Snowboard Magazine.

In 1988, Ocean Pacific an veteran surf company, develops their own line of winter clothing. Other surf companies soon follow and capitalize on the crossover between the two sports.

 

1990s - 2000s  

Breckenridge Ski Corp. in 1990, announces plans to house the Snowboarding Hall Of Fame.

In 1994 the International Snowboard Association (ISA) was founded to provide universal contest regulations.

In 1995 ESPN introduced the X-Games, which showcased extreme sports.  In 1997 the Winter X Games debuted in Big Bear Lake, California.

Today, snowboarding is as accepted as skiing in most  ski resorts around the world.  It's popularity and fan base is growing dramatically.  The number of snowboarders has increased by 77%, making it the fastest growing winter sport in the US.  In 1996, there were about two million snowboarders. Today, more than 3.4 million people snowboard, which comprises about 20% of the visitors to US ski resorts.

High profile snowboarding events such as  the Olympics, Winter X-Games, and the US Open are broadcasted worldwide.  Suddenly, snowboarding had a more extensive audience and commercial appeal.