Snowboarding appears to have become a popular sport all across the globe. But, where did it begin? What led to the notoriety of this new found sport? It is hard to say who really invented the snowboard; sleds have been used for a long period of time and they have been used in several different ways. However, in 1964, a young surfer by the name of Sherman Poppen, dreamed of surfing more than waves on the ocean blue. He dreamed of surfing the white winter landscape on the Rocky Mountains and he built a type of surfboard for the snow. The first board was made of plastic and was around 1.20 meters in length, and he bolted two kids' ski together on the bottom. In 1965, he put his idea into production with a bowling ball manufacturing company and called the product the "snurfer" (meaning snow surfer). These boards were sold in toy stores and one million of them were purchased in the following ten years after their release to the public.
Unfortunately, the snurfer fad died out fairly quickly. They left the impression of an uncontrollable toy in everybody's minds. If Dimitrije Milovich or Jake Burton Carpenter hadn't gotten involved with the dream of surfing the winter landscapes, snowboarding would have never became an actual reality. In 1970, Milovich started to develop snowboards following the example of short surfboards. He experimented with laminating glass and gravel on the board and also used nylon straps. His company, Winterstick, was considered the very first snowboad ever to exist. By the year 1975, the company was mentioned in magazines like Newsweek and Playboy, and by 1980 the company went broke.
Jake Burton realized that in order to make this toy develop into a real sporting item, foot traps needed to be installed for better control, and fins for more stability. In 1977, he founded his own business in Vermont, beginning with a small amount of "snowboards" that were now flexible wooden planks with water ski bindings. But, due to their higher pricing of $38 per board, it didn't appear as though the new sport would emerge into society as a big hit, nor did it seem like the company would become one of the biggest snowboarding companies today. Other people began making their own versions of snowboards. As the technology for the boards advanced, the very first European snowboarding world championship was created. In 1987, the competition took place in Livigno and St. Moritz. The event seemed to tie snowboarders together from all over the world and this brought snowboarding into a revolution.
More than six million snowboarders are "shredding" down mountains nowadays, and the sport continues to grow more and more. The sport made it into the Olympics with a big lobby that, sadly, sat divided. Instead of banning the sport in 1985, ski resorts began to build half pipes and organize contests and events. New hardware and clothing industries were created to bring forth a new style for this new sport. Snowboarding has now become a huge sport, and now has a global Pro-Tour that can be viewed on television. Big events attract thousands of people each year, and the interest in the sport only seems to be growing more and more as the years pass.
It took time for Sherman Poppen's dream to become a reality, and it took even longer for the dream to become a success. But, with the interest this sport has generated, it appears as though it will stick around for many, many years to come.