Who Created Snowboarding?

snowboarding history

While many of the sports we know and love today can be traced back hundreds or even thousands of years, snowboarding is one whose history is comparatively brief. It wasn't until the sixties that the first snowboard was even created, and it would be another decade before these new inventions found their way onto the slopes of ski resorts. What is certain is that snowboarding's history is full of controversy, and its integration into popular culture was not easy. Read more to learn about the founders of snowboarding and the history of the sport.


Who Created Snowboarding?

The first person to ever build a snowboard was Tom Sims in 1963. Sims was an eighth-grader in New Jersey at the time who had recently taken up skateboarding as a hobby. He wanted to be able to skateboard year-round, even when there was snow on the ground, so he got to work in his woodworking class. The result was what Sims called a "ski board": a rounded piece of pine with carpet on top for traction and aluminum covered with candle wax on the bottom to allow sliding. However, being just a middle schooler, Sims' invention didn't catch on and was mostly a hobby.

A few years later, in 1965, Sherman Poppen created what would become the first commercially-available snowboard. Frustrated with his kids staying in the house all day during the winter, Poppen bolted two children's skis together and attached some cord for balance. Pretty soon, kids from all over the neighborhood were asking Poppen for their own "Snurfer" as he called it, and within six months, Poppen patented his invention, which sold over a million units.

Growth of Snowboarding

While the Snurfer was popular, it was mainly a kids' toy. In 1972 surfer Dimitrije Milovich began to produce snowboards more similar to what we know today, shaping his boards into more recognizable shapes and adding iron edges to allow for sharper turns. People across the country began to purchase snowboards, and the sport was a huge hit. By the mid-1970s, snowboards could be found anywhere snow fell on the ground.

Controversy

While snowboarding began to boom, not everyone was happy to welcome this newfound activity into the established winter sports culture. Many ski resorts would not allow snowboarders on their slopes, claiming their insurance only covered skiers. Similar bans were imposed all over, and snowboarding was seen as a lower-class activity that took away from the more elegant and established tradition of skiing. However, in 1977, Milovich appealed to multiple major insurance firms and obtained written confirmation that they would cover all snowboarding-related incidents. While this did open the gates for snowboarders everywhere, there was still hesitancy from many ski resorts to fully accept the new phenomenon.

Evolution of the Modern Snowboard

Milovich's snowboard was innovative in that its swallow allowed the board to "float" better over the snow, but there were a number of new designs that cropped up in the late seventies. Tom Sims began to develop a fiberglass bottom and Jake Burton, another popular snowboard designer, started applying a polyethylene-based material called "ptex" to his boards to make them smoother overall.

In the early eighties, designers began to implement bootstraps to boards to hold riders in place. These, along with metal edges and turned-up noses at the front came together to form what we now know as the modern snowboard.

FAQ

Who invented snowboarding?

The first-ever snowboard was invented by Tom Sims in 1963. While Sims can take credit for the idea of snowboarding, the first snowboard to be commercially sold was the "Snurfer" created by Sherman Poppen in 1965. The Snurfer sold over a million units but was mostly seen as a toy for children rather than a widespread board for all. In 1972, surfer Dimitrije Milovich created the first iteration of the modern snowboard and founded his company, Winterstick, which still produces boards today.

Where did snowboarding originate?

Snowboarding technically originated in New Jersey, as that is where Tom Sims came up with the idea to be able to skate year-round. However, there were many different hotspots of snowboarding in its early days. Jake Burton, a famous designer, was based in Vermont, and Milovich's company was headquartered in Salt Lake City. Soon enough, practically any location that had snow and hills featured some form of snowboarding.

Who was the first snowboarder?

The first snowboarder was Tom Sims. Though he may have only been in eighth grade at the time, Sims fashioned together a wooden board designed to slide over the snow and used it during the winter months. He came up with the idea after taking up skateboarding as a hobby, as he wanted to be able to skate all year, even when there was snow on the ground.