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Snowboarding History Essay Samples

History of the Snowboard What sport borrows from skateboarding, surfing, and skiing but is quite different from each of them? Snowboarding. Snowboards might be compared to an oversized skateboard without wheels, a surfboard that rides frozen waves, or a fat ski without a partner, but a snowboard is unique unto itself. Snowboarding is a relatively new sport. It s ancestor was first created in the mid - 1960s when an American surfer named Sherman Poppen designed the Snurfer (Brimner 5). He sold his idea to the Brunswick Sporting Goods Company, which sold more than a million Snurfers at about fifteen dollars each. Resembling a small, plywood surfboard with a rope leash to help the rider balance, the snurfer tended to hurtle down slopes in any direction it chose, and the rider had little control over the snurfer s speed. Riding one was a fun experience for many, and paved the way for today s snowboards. At about the same time that Poppen was designing the snurfer, Tom Sims, a New Jersey teenager, had an idea. Frustrated because the winter s icy streets kept him from skateboarding, he modified the basic skateboard design in his junior high school wood shop class to create a skateboard for the ice (Galbraith 82). Sims first designs were not successful, but he kept experimenting. Finally, in 1969, he came across the right combination of shape, materials, and bindings. The sport of snowboarding was born, and Sims, who was living in California by then, began production of Sims Snowboards. Poppen and Sims were not alone though. A Vermont Snurfer named Jake Burton Carpenter began altering the basic designs of his snurfer in a quest to conquer the winter world of sports (Eubanks 22). Carpenter attached rubber straps to it and Turner 2achieved better control. This led to the founding of Burton Snowboards. Both Burton and Sims Snowboards are commonly seen on the snowy mountain slopes. It is from these primitive beginnings that snowboards have evolved. But the journey from Snurfer to an accepted sport has been quite bumpy. Plagued in the early years by the Snurfer s reputation for unpredictability, snowboarding was outlawed at most ski resorts. Because a snowboard was not seen as a directional device like skis, insurance companies refused to write liability policies for resorts allowing snowboards. Resort operators did not want to be held responsible if a mishap occurred, so they had little choice but to deny snowboarders access to their slopes.


Snowboarding was not met with a great amount of joy. The reputation of those who were the first to enthusiastically take up the new sport were young surfers and skateboarders. Whether deserved or not, surfers and skateboarders were perceived as a rebellious group sure to break the rules under which ski resorts must operate. Discrimination against them brought friction and, for a time, and the future of snowboarding was in jeopardy. To promote American acceptance of the sport, Jake Burton Carpenter sponsored touring demonstration teams and local instruction programs (Eubanks 25). A certification program was begun that encouraged safety, proper technique, and slope etiquette. As a result, snowboarding slowly gained respectability, and snowboarders gained the right to ride their snowboards at almost Turner 3any and every snow-covered mountain or ski resort in the United States and Canada as well as worldwide. No longer is snowboarding only a sport for surfers and skaters. With respectability came acceptance and broad-based appeal. Several people ranging from beginner to expert and young to old participate in the sport and many will continue coming as knowledge of the sport increases. Television station such as ESPN are covering many competitive event as the World Cup, and even found their own competitions such as the ESPN Extreme Games which invites many of the worlds greatest riders to compete against each other in several events. These events and contests have lured sponsors and advertisers to take the sport as seriously as they would major league baseball or football. One reason for Snowboarding s success is its pared-down simplicity (Eubanks 8). Unlike skiing, there is no need for special boots or poles. The basic piece of equipment is your snowboard. Today s snowboards have come a long way from the Snurfer design by Sherman Poppen. No longer made of plywood and rope, snowboards are designed to enhance safety and performance. They are constructed of laminated wood or fiberglass over foam cores and have steel edges to assist turning, or carving. They are faster, safer, and easier to handle than their forerunners. Today s snowboarders may be white-collar or no-collar; they may be single or an entire family (Brimner 10). The sports appeal crosses age and gender lines. Even die-hard skiers are Turner 4racking their skis and taking up winter s once outlaw sport (Kerig 45). It is not surprising, then, that snowboarding is the world s fastest-growing alpine sport (Galbraith 83).

Snowboarding is a new sport that is very challenging and is attracting new fans all around the world. Snowboarding has really changed since it was first invented. It has become one of the fastest growing sports in America and the world. People everywhere including me are waiting for the snow to get a chance to go snowboarding. Snowboarding is the cross between surfing and skateboarding.

Snowboarding has evolved into a great new sport but when it was first invented in the early 1900’s it was thought to be a child’s toy. Since that time it has changed from a child’s sport to a new competitive sport that features men and woman. Now days there are many competitions for snowboarding.

Some people saw snowboarding as an alternative to surfing, skiing, and skateboarding. People who couldn’t buy surfing boards like Jake Burton used snowboarding as an alternative. It was a new sport and cheap to buy a snowboard. People who liked skateboarding saw snowboarding as a new sport that they could make their mark on.

Nobody knows who invented the snowboard but in 1929 M.J. “Jack” Burchett invented one of the first snowboards. He cut out a piece of plywood and tried to secure his feet with some clothesline and horse reins. Thirty years later the next step in snowboarding was taken when Sherman Poppen, a chemical gases engineer invented “The Snurfer” as a toy for his daughter. Poppen made the “Snurfer” by bounding two skis together and putting a rope at the nose, so that the rider could hold it and keep it stable. Soon many of his daughter’s friends wanted a “Snurfer” too. So Poppen licensed his idea to a manufacturer and in 1966 “The Snurfer” sold over half a million times. In 1979 Poppen left the snowboarding business after Burton came up with the bindings and went back to his old profession.

Another inventor was Jake Burton who became interested in snowboarding after taking part in Poppen’s “Snurfer” competitions that Poppen organized. His parents wouldn’t buy him a surfboard so riding the “Snurfer” was a new cool thing to do. In 1977 after he finished college Burton moved to Londonderry, Vermont to make money building different types of the Snurfer. He made his first boards out of laminated hardwood. While at a Snurfer competition in 1979 Burton shocked everyone by using his new board which had the first binding. The new binding made a big difference for handling the board and the binding made it easier for him to beat the other riders.

In 1969 Dimitrije Milovich started making snowboards after he got the idea from sliding down a hill on a cafeteria plate in college. His snowboards were based on surfboards combined with the way skis work. In 1972 Dimitrije started a new company called “Winterstick”. He produced lots of snowboards and even got articles in magazines like “News Week”, “Playboy”, and “Power” which gave snowboarding lots of notoriety. In 1980 Milovich left the snowboarding business. He was still known as a very important pioneer of the sport.

At the same time that Jake Burton was producing his snowboards Tom Sims produced his first snowboards in 1977. Sims was an avid skateboarder who made a “snowboard” in a junior high school shop class. He made his out of carpet wood and aluminum. He glued some carpet to the top of a piece of wood and put an aluminum sheeting on the bottom. He started making snowboards in 1977 in his garage with his friend and employee Chuck Barfoot. Barfoot actually made the boards and came up with the “Flying Yellow Banana”. It was a skateboard deck on top of a plastic shell with skegs. During 1980 Sims signed a skate-snowboarding deal with a big company Vision Sports. Signing the deal helped Sims get out of his financial problems but his friend Barfoot was left out and tried to go into business for himself but couldn’t compete with big competitors like Sims and Burton.

The first modern competitive snowboarding contest took place in Leadville, Colorado in 1981. Then snowboarding competition took off from there and became world wide. In 1982 the first national snowboarding race was held in Suicide Six, outside of Woodstock, Vermont. Because of the conditions of the hill the goal of the race appeared to be mostly just surviving the race. The race was on a steep icy downhill run called “The Face”. Paul Graves put it on and Tom Simms and Jake Burton competed. Doug Bouton wins first place overall. This race marked the last time that snowboards and snurfer’s raced together.

In 1983 Jake Burton puts on the national snowboarding championships in Snow Valley. A couple of months later Tom Sims holds the inaugural World Snowboarding Championships at Soda Springs Ski Bowl in Lake Tahoe. That contest featured the first contest with a half pipe. In 1986 the World Snowboarding Championships move from Soda Springs to Colorado.

In 1986 a new European snowboarding generation is launched. Then the Europeans began to organize their own regional events like the Swiss Championships in St. Moritz. In 1987 a group of riders and manufacturers form N.A.S.B.A. who’s main goal is to create a unified World Cup tour with the Europeans. In 1988 N.A.S.B.A. got its wish and the first world cup was held in both Europe and the United States. On a interesting note one million dollars is spent on the Victoria World Cup in Japan. It was the most expensive snowboarding contest ever.

In 1994 everybody was happy because snowboarding was declared a Winter Olympic sport. It was finally accepted as a real competitive sport. In the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan it was the first time ever that snowboarding was in the Olympics.

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