Yossune I. Hernandez Perez Universidad Anahuac 21/10/2009
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It is hard to say who actually "invented" the first snowboard.
People would have always figured out how to slide down a hill on some sled, thus it would be unfair to point out one specific person, who came up with "the first" snowboard. There were some people, though, who built snowboard like sleds before. One of them was M.J. "Jack" Burchett. He cut out a plank of plywood in 1929 and tried to secure his feet with some clothesline and horse reins. Burchett came up with on of the first "snowboards". Before the next step for the snowboard was taken, it had to wait over 30 years until 1965. In this year Sherman Poppen, a chemical gases engineer in Muskegon, invented "The Snurfer" (his wife came up with the name) as a toy for his daughter. He made the Snurfer by bounding two skis together and putting a rope at the nose, so the rider could hold it and keep it more stable. Many of his daughters friends wanted one of those new Snurfers, and soon Poppen lincensed his new idea to a manufacturer. The Snurfer was sold over half a million times in 1966, but was only seen as a toy for kids, even though 3
Poppen organized competitions with this new board. Jake Burton took part in those competitions and became really interested in the snurfer. For him it was a cool thing to do, not having the oppurtunity to go surfing (his parents would
not buy him a board). But Burton was really seriuos about skiing. After breaking his collarbone in a car accident, he was not able to take part in skiing competitoins anymore. While Burton was into riding the Snurfer, Dimitrije Milovich started making snowboards in 1969. After sliding down some hills on a cafeteria plate in College, he came up with the idea. His boards were based on surfboards combined with the way skiis work.
In 1972 Milovich started a new company called "Winterstick". He produced several boards, and even got articles in the "Newsweek", "Playboy" and "Powder" which helped to make snowboarding better known. Even though Milovich left the snowboarding business in 1980, he is still recognized as a very important pioneer of the sport. In 1977 Jake Burton, who now finished NYU, moved to Londonderry, Vermont to make some money by building different versions of the Snurfer, which he still remembered. His first boards were made of laminated hardwood. Burton shocked all the Snurfer riders by winning a Snurfer competition with his own board, which had the first binding. This first binding made a big difference fro handling the board, and thus made it easier for him to beat the other riders. After that, in 1979, Poppen stopped producing the Snurfer and went back to his old profession. He was out of the business, and never came back. Parallel to Burton, Tom Sims produced his first snowboards in 1977. Beeing obsessed with skateboarding, Sims tried to go out in the snow and slide down the hill with a
"snowboard" he built in a junior high shop-class. He just glued some carpet to the top of a piece of wood, and put an aluminium sheeting on the bottom. After he focussed on producing skateboards in his garage, with the help of his friend and employee Chuck
Barfoot, he started making snowboards in 1977. Barfoot, who actaully made the snowboards, came up with the "Flying Yellow Bannana". It was just a skateboard deck on top of a plastic shell with skegs.Oficially the first real ski technology for snowboards was introduced by Burton 1980 (it is said Winterstick already used a P-Tex base in 1974). The new prototype had a P-tex base and combined more of the ski technology into snowboards with that. In the same year Sims signed a skate- and snowboarding deal with a big mainstream company (Vision Sports), which helped him solving his financial problems. Barfoot was left out, and tried to built his own firm. He did not succeed against the big competitors Sims and Burton. In 1982 the first National 6
Snowboard race was held in Suicide Six, outside Woodstock, Vermont. The goal of the race apeared mostly to be "survival", because the race consists of a steep icy kamiaze downhill run, called "The Face". In 1985 still only 39, of the approximatly 600 ski areas allow snowboards.
The same year one of the first (there was another one in 1981, called "Snowboarder") Snowboarding magazin came out. It's name was "Absolutely Radical". Later on the name is changed into "International Snowboarding Magazine". In 1986 Regis Rolland, a French snowboarder, stars in "Apocalypse Snow". His staring launches a new European Snowboarding generation of fans who organize their own regional events, such as the Swiss championship in St. Moritz. Snowboarding is becoming a more and more popular sport. In 1964 a young surf freak called Sherman Poppen was dreaming about surfing the magic winter landscape of the
Rockies. As a consequence, he built a surfboard for the snow.
His first prototype was an about 1,20 m long plastic plank: two kids' skis bolted together. It was a present for his daughter Wendy which soon was a winner in the neighbourhood. One year later, in 1965, his idea was put into production: Carried out together with a bowling-ball manufacturer, the now called "snurfer" (=snow-surfer) found its way through toystores under the Christmas trees. For the unbeatable price of 8
$15, one million snurfers were sold in the 10 years following, and Mr. Poppen soon began to establish a competition series But the snurfer as a mass phenomenon disappeared as quickly as he had emerged from the white surf of the Rockies. Nothing else but the vague memory of an uncontrollable toy stayed in most people's minds. It was close to be the end of a fantastic idea - surfing the winter mountains -if there wouldn't have been blokes like Dimitrije Milovich or Jake Burton Carpenter.
In 1970, Milovich, an east coast surfer, had an idea while he was sliding around on cafeteria trays in the snow of upstate New York. He started to develop snowboards following the example of the new short surf boards. He even used
rudimentary steel edges - an idea he soon gave up because he only rode in deepest powder anyway. He experimented with laminating glass and gravel on the board and also used nylon straps. His company "Winterstick" is to be considered as the first snowboard company ever. In 1975, they were mentioned in American magazines like Newsweek and Playboy, and already in 1976, he threw a swallow tail board on the nearly not existing market. In 1980, the company was broke. Jake Burton, a 23-year-old student back then, was completely into snurfing and kept on improving the toy, in order to develop it into a real sporting good. Foottraps for better control, fins for more stability... Jake was always looking for new details to improve his riding. In 1977, he decided to found his own company in Vermont. Starting with a small edition of "snowboards" - flexible wooden planks with water ski bindings - the small turnover due to the "high" price of $38 didn't look like this might be one of the biggest winter sport revolutions on our slopes, and the base for the biggest snowboard company today. Exactly in the same time, mentioned former skateboard champion Tom Sims, addicted to snurfing as well, started to produce snowboards. Bob Webber developed the famous "yellow banana" board in 1977, made of polyethylene. Chuck Barfoot invented fiberglass in the snowboard production in the following year. Most of the first Boards didn't have any bindings and were featuring a control-leash instead. Still not allowed on the public slopes in ski resorts, the first boarders had to come in at night, walk up the trails, 10
and ride down secretly in order to avoid any penalty. In 1979, at the annual Snurfer contest held in Michigan, pro snurfer Paul Graves performed a freestyle demo and made the crowd scream by showing four sliding 360s, dropping down on one knee for part of the course, and dismounting off his board at the finish with a front flip. At the same event, Jake Burton Carpenter tried to enter on his own equipment. There were protests about his non-Snurfer snowboard design. Paul Graves and others stood up for Jake's right to race and an open division was created which only Jake entered. He won. In the same year, Mark Anolik discovered the Tahoe City Halfpipe while nosing around behind the Tahoe City dump. Bingo - this became known as the world's first snowboard halfpipe and not only attracted aces like Terry Kidwell or Keith Kimmel but also photographers from the skateboard mags. In the early eighties, even in Europe the first prototypes were glued together. But more and more fans tried to import the US cult boards. One of the first was later president of the ISF, Jose Fernandes from Switzerland, who ordered a board from the USA in 1982 after working on own planks for several time. Later, in 1985, he would also be the first European to got to America for a contest - he got third in the North American Championships in Calgary. Other European pioneers were Tommy Delago from Oberammergau and Petra "Milka" Mossig from Konstanz, Germany, also a later world champion. Ski technology materials improved the gliding abilities of the boards, and later on, the first high-back bindings were 11
produced by snowboard pioneers Flite, founded in 1974. More and more riders took off the fins, and slowly but surely, the "snurfer" turned into a controllable "snowboard" and an accepted sporting good. Already in 1981, Ski Cooper in Leadville, Colorado, saw the first snowboard contest. One year later, the first National Snowboard Championships were held in Suicide Six near Woodstock, Vermont. Downhill racers were timed at 60 mph. In 1985, "Absolutely Radical" came out - fanfare for the first snowboard mag ever, later rebaptized "International Snowboard Magazine". Also this year, models like Sims 1500 FE and Burton Performer finally brought the comeback of the steel edge! European board manufacturers like Nidecker and Hooger Booger quickly had made up their technical delay and in 1987, Jose Fernandes won the Giant Slalom of the "American" world championships of this year in Breckenridge, CO, with one of the first asymmetrical boards - a sign that the European snowboard industry didn't need to fear comparisons with the Americans anymore. German ace Peter Bauer and French guy Jean Nerva were also about to celebrate big successes with asymmetrical boards. In 1987, the first "European" snowboard world championships took place in Livigno and St. Moritz - and this event brought up a great brotherhood of snowboarders from all over the world. A new sport was born. Snowboarding was newer, fresher, younger than anything else on the slope. Snowboarding was a revolution, a tribute to liberty, a new religion for young people. The year after, the international World cup tour was born, won by Peter Bauer just like in the year after. The evolution became faster and faster: rounded tails, hard boots, plate bindings... powder boards, race boards, free style 12
boards... asymmetrical, twin-tip, carving... new disciplines like half pipe, modules and downhill... 1990 saw the foundation of the ISF, and nowadays the speed record for snowboarders is set to some mediocre 201,907 km/h, run by Aussie Darren Powell in Les Arcs in 1999.
Meanwhile, more than 6 million snowboarders are shredding down the mountains, and they are getting more and more. The "white rush" developed into an Olympic sport with a big but unfortunately divided lobby. Instead of banning snowboarders from the slope (in 1985, only 7% of the American resorts had permitted snowboarding!), ski resorts now are building half pipes and organizing contests and events. A creative hardware and clothing industry is setting new trends in aesthetics and function. Snowboard now is a mass sports. And a worldwide Pro-Tour with great performance can now be seen on TV every weekend.
Snowboarders like Terje Haakonsen, Shaun Palmer, Daniel Franck, Martin Freinamedetz, Nicola Thost and, last but not least, the unforgotten Olympic champion of Nagano, Ross Rebagliati, are world stars today. Mega events like Innsbruck's Air&Style attract 40,000 and more people, and snowboarding has set the determining trends of the last years in music and clothing style. Snowboarding is the youth-culture of the nineties ! More than 80% of the kids who practise winter sports choose snowboarding - no wonder snowboards still are the number one Christmas present. And for sure, one day the kids will ask the older generation: "Excuse me granny, but why did you cut your snowboard in two pieces when you were young?"
In 1994 Snowboarding was declared as an Olympic Sport. Now it finally became accepted as a real competetive sport, not only a new trend which would disapear again. In the 1998 Olympics it was the first time ever that
Snowboarding was accepted as an olympic sport. The new sport snowboarding was a huge success. But still people could find some of their prejudices about Snowboarders beeing affirmed: When the canadian boarder Ross Rebagliati ( second picture on the left) won the gold medal in the giant slalom he had to submit an urine sample. This sample showed that he was positive for marijuana with 17.8 nanograms per milliliter. Rebagliati said he did not smoke marijuana since April 1997. Instead the boarder stated he probably ihaled smoke on one of his friend's parties in Canada. His gold medal got taken away on the first day, but he got it back afterwards. The International Olympic Committee, lacking an agreement with the International Ski Federation on marijuana use, could not strip Rebagliati of his medal. This event had negative effects for all snowboarders, because it showed them in a very bad light. Many people now thought that Snowboarders constantly smoke Marijuana and saw their prejudices affirmed. Two years before, in 1996, Mike Hatchett released a new video, called TB5, featuring riders like Noak Salasneck and Johan Olofson. The riders did incredible stunts and tricks. Filmed in Alaska with its awesome footage the film is state of the art. In 1998, snowboarding contributes almost 50% to all winter activity. Most of the ski resorts now accept skiers and
snowboarders. Snowboarding is finally accepted by everyone ! Some snowboarding basics which could be helpful: So you just got yourself a new snowboard, boots, and bindings. You've even made all the way to the ski hill. But then it hits you, you don't know how to ride. Well here are some simple things to keep in mind while you try to figure it out: First of all make sure that your snowboard is right for you. Not too long, not too short. Also not too wide or narrow. Any one of these will make snowboarding more
difficult then it has to be.
Okay lets get started. Here are the fundamentals of snowboarding. Well before we begin lets start off by clearing up a little myth. Snowboarding contrary to popular belife is very simmalar to skiing. As much as we snowboarders don't want to admit it, it's true. Simmalar body movements, the shape of the equipment, trust me on this one they are very close. And if you've skied before you get on a snowboard you'll know what I'm talking about. You'll probably pick up snowboarding quicker then your bad ass skateboarding friend. Getting back to what we are here for, learning how to ride. You have got to stay relaxed. When you tense up bad things happen. An easy way to stay loose is to keep your knees slightly bent. This will also help you to absord the bumps that are in the snow, kinda like shock absorbers. Okay now that we are at ease lets try going somewhere. Start off by playing 17
around with your board on one foot. (your front foot) So if you ride regular that would be your left foot. And if you are goofy, you guessed it smarty, it's your right foot. Try skating across the hill for a while before you start down it. Once you are comfortable doing that, strap your other foot in. Now we are ready to head down the hill. Remember to use your front foot to stear your board. (regular,left - goofy,right) To make a toe-side turn lift your heel up, press your toe down and move your knee over top of your foot. Your back foot will follow, you don't have to worry about it. A toe-side turn is the same as walking forward. So that means that a heel-side turn will be follow the same movements you make when you walk backwards. You will lift your toe up, press your heel down and roll your hips backward. Look at that you are snowboarding. Now that you are moving you may want to learn how to stop yourself. To do that all you have to do is turn more. If you turn yourself so that you are heading up the hill you aren't going to get far and will stop. Remember these are only the basics. And the very basic of the basics at that. There is a lot more to snowboarding then I have given you in this little article. It's a good idea to take a lesson your first time out, and you may want to continue taking lessons as your instructor can teach you a lot of cool stuff. Things like jumps, spins, bumps, steeps, the half pipe, and of course the ever important jibbing.
Don't forget to tip your snowboard instructor, and have fun out there. The feel of cold air rushing by your face. The silence of a mountaintop, broken only by the sound of crushing snow. Sun so bright that the reflection momentarily blinds you as you turn the corner on a downhill run.
The above description is only words. To experience it in person, one must be an avid snowboarder. But if you can't get to the mountain, then today's FamSite is will have to do in the meantime. Called Snowboarding Online, it is an Internet site that is a clearinghouse for all sorts of information about this unique sport. Here you can find out about the business side of the sport (Rossignal Board Sales Up 17.5%), as well as
subscribe to magazines (Snowboard or SNOWboarding), or check up on the latest conditions from the popular resorts as well as winning some free stuff in online contests. This is an interesting sport, one that has increased in
popularity over the past several years. If you know of anyone interested in this sport, be sure to tell him or her about this page.
Take a passion for surfing, skateboarding and skiing, mix it with the force of gravity, bring it to the mountains and Voila! You have the birth of snowboarding. In the 1960's and 70's, early boarders called themselves 20
'Snurfers" (Snow + Surfer) and would hurl themselves down mountains with no foot straps and no control, on boards that were little more than two skis strapped together. Much like the antiquated surfboards of the 1960's, the first snurf boards were unreasonably long and cumbersome. In the early 1970's, not only did the size of surfboards decrease to a more modern and manageable size, the snurf boards did as well. It was at this point that Jake Burton Carpenter began developing safe and manageable snowboards in earnest. Working out of his garage in Manchester, VT, Burton had a vision of bringing snowboarding to the world. In the mid-70's he began shaping snowboards out of wood and attaching rubber foot straps to them as primitive bindings. This vision apparently succeeded, because Burton Snowboards has been one of the leading forerunners in the snowboard industry for the last 30 years.
The vision of Jake Burton in the 1970's has directly influenced today's modern sport of snowboarding. In the late 1970's and early 1980's, Vermont was home to the first established snowboard competition in the world - the National Races at Suicide Six in Pomfrey, VT. A concentrated interest in this sport eventually spawned the US Open, the world's first renowned snowboard competition. Originally held at Magic Mountain, the US Open eventually moved to Stratton Mountain Resort, where it continues to be held today. Vermont was also the first state in America to offer terrain parks at its ski resorts. In the early 1980's, the tiny Sonnenburg Ski Hill near Barnard, VT was one of the first to open its arms to snowboarders. Not only did 22
Sonnenburg give those early boarders free reign to build their own jumps on one trail, they also provided an endless supply of hay bales and picnic tables for jumping as well. Because the vast majority of ski resorts would not allow snowboarding on their trails at the time, what Sonnenburg did was truly groundbreaking. Because of Sonnenburg's willingness to open their doors to boarders, terrain parks are now a commonplace sight at most American ski resorts and countless other international resorts as well.
Thanks to the innovative visions of a handful of Vermonters, 23
snowboarding is now an internationally accepted sport worldwide. In 1988, the US Amateur Snowboarder Association was formed. By 1990, it had grown to become the International Snowboarding Federation. Finally, in 1998, snowboarding made it big. People started realizing it wasn't a fad that would fade as quickly as it seemed to have appeared. No longer considered just an 'extreme' sport, snowboarding had at last become a recognized Olympic sport. Vermont was well represented at the Olympics in Nagano, Japan that year, with several native Vermonters competing in two different competitions; the Halfpipe
and the Slalom.
Today, Vermont resorts continually improve their boarding services, with newer and more innovative terrain opening each season. Vermont is still home to Burton Snowboards, which manufactures two-thirds
more snowboards than any other manufacturing company in the US. Thanks to Vermont, 98% of all ski resorts not only allow snowboarding on their trails, they develop challenging slopes geared specifically for the boarders as well.