Modern snowboarding began in 1965 when Sherman Poppen, an engineer in Muskegon, Michigan, invented a toy for his daughter by fastening two skis together and attaching a rope to one end so she would have some control as she stood on the board and glided downhill. He named it “snurfer” (combining snow and surfer), the toy proved so popular among his daughter’s friends that Poppen licensed the ideato a manufacturer that sold about a million snurfers over the next decade. And, in 1966 alone over half a million snurfers were sold.
In the early 1970s, Poppen organized snurfing competitions at a Michigan ski resort that attracted enthusiasts from all over the country. One of those early pioneers was Tom Sims, a devotee of skateboarding (a sport born in the 1950s when kids attached roller skatewheels to small boards that they steered by shifting their weight).
Also during this same period, in 1977, Jake Burton Carpenter, a Vermont native who had enjoyed snurfing since the age of 14, impressed the crowd at a Michigan snurfing competition with bindings he had designed to secure his feet to the board. That same year, he founded Burton Snowboards in Londonderry, Vermont. The “snowboards”were made of wooden planks that were flexible and had water ski foot traps. Very few people picked up snowboarding because the price of the board was considered too high at $38, but eventually Burton would become the biggest snowboarding company in the business.
In 1979 the first ever World Snurfing Championship was held at Pando Winter Sports Park near Grand Rapids, Michigan. Jake BurtonCarpenter, came from Vermont to compete with a snowboard of his own design. There were many protests from the competitors about Jake entering with a non-snurfer board. Paul Graves, the top snurfer at the time, and others, advocated that Jake be allowed to race. A “modified” division was created and won by Jake as the sole entrant. That race was considered the first competition for snowboards and is thestart of what has now become competitive snowboarding.
During the 1970s & 1980s snowboarding became more popular, pioneers such as Jake Burton Carpenter(founder of Burton Snowboards from Londonderry, Vermont), Tom Sims(founder of Sims Snowboards), Chuck Barfoot (founder of Barfoot Snowboards), etc. came up with new designs for boards and mechanisms that slowly developed into the snowboardsand other related equipment that we know today.
In 1982 the first National Snowboard race was held near Woodstock, Vermont, at Suicide Six. The race was won by Burton's first team rider Doug Bouton. In 1983 the first World Championship halfpipe competition was held at Soda Springs, California. Tom Sims, founder of Sims Snowboards, organized the event with the help of Mike Chantry, a snowboardinstructor at Soda Springs.
Snowboarding's growing popularity is reflected in its recognition as an official sport: in 1985, the first World Cup was held in Zürs, Austria. Today, high-profile snowboarding events like the Olympic Games, Winter X-Games, US Open, and other events are broadcast worldwide. An excellent year for snowboarding was 2004 with 6.6 million participants. Now, entering the seconddecade of the 2000s, snowboarding continues to increase in popularity among all demographic regimes regardless of age, sex, or ability levels.
Though snowboarding is only a few decades old, it already has its share of legends. Here are a few of the notable names who've made their mark in the sport:
Shannon Dunn -- Shannon Dunn is a force to be reckoned with on the slopes. She's been snowboardingsince 1979 and was the first American to win a snowboarding medal at the 1998 Olympics, where she took the bronze medal in the halfpipe competition.
Terje Haakenson -- He's been alternately called the "Michael Jordan" and "the god" of snowboarding for his unbelievable tricks. Haakenson has won countless competitions and the ultimate respect of many snowboarding fans.
Craig Kelly -- He was one...
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