History of Snowboarding

Snowboarding originated and grew up in America in around the 1960s and 1970s, but there are a number of theories about how it first started. It is thought that, in 1929, M.J. Jack Burchett built the first board that resembled in some way the types of snowboards used today. Supposedly the invention he built was made from a plank of plywood which he then secured to this feet with a clothesline and horse reigns. Although this did not lead onto the invention of the sport, it is an example of how people were starting to adopt this method of boarding.

It was not until over thirty years later that the first board was created which was to have some influence over the introduction of the sport. In 1963, an eight graduate student named Tom Sims built a board for a class project, which he called the ski board. Two years later Sherman Poppen furthered this idea by attaching two skis together so that his daughter could use them to “surf” down a snow covered hill. He called his invention the snurfer as he saw it as surfing on the snow, and went on to produce this board commercially. He has been accredited as being the inventor of the first ever board that was built for snowboarding purposes.

However, the real impetus came seven years after this when Dimitirije Milovich, who was an east coast surfer, had the idea of sliding down snow-covered hills on cafeteria trays. Using his knowledge of surfboards, he started to produce snowboard designs. In 1972 he founded his own company called Winterstick, in reference to what he called his boards. The designs of these wintersticks were based on surfboards, but he adapted them so that they worked in the same way that skis do.

Inspired by Milovich’s work, Jake Burton began to make his own snowboards. These were more advanced, being made from steam bent wood and fibreglass. His company is still the largest producer of snowboards in the world today.

In 1977 Mike Olsen also began building a snowboard for his own use. It was so successful that he dropped out of college in 1984 to begin his own company, Gnu. The names are all synonymous with the sport for all those who take part it in at a professional level, and the unique part is that the main founders of this sport are still alive today. Something which cannot be said about any other sport.

After its introduction, the evolution of the sport took off with enormous speed. In the 1980s the craze of snowboarding really began to take off and the development of snowboards began, with Burton and Milovich developing the ski technology and producing prototypes with a P-tex base.

In 1982 the first ever snowboard competition was held in Suicide Six, which is situated outside of Woodstock, Vermont. Snowboarding was still relatively new, and the fact only 39 ski resorts in the world would allow snowboards meant that it was hard to practice, especially for those who lived outside America. However, that fact that the first World Cup of snowboarding was held in Austria in 1985 shows the speed at which the sport developed. Although in this first competition most of the boarders were American, later competitions have showed that this is a sport that is practised and enjoyed all over the world. In the same year the first snowboarding magazine was produced, called Absolutely Radical which was later renamed the International Snowboarding Magazine.

In 1990 the International Snowboard Association (ISA) was formed, well and truly placing snowboarding on the extreme sports map. On request of the International Ski Federation (FIS) National Ski Associations, in 1994 Snowboarding was made a FIS discipline.