The History of Snowboarding

The history of snowboarding is the story of a sport that has evolved from a completely different human need. Though snowboarding is a very fast growing sport, it had a rocky beginning. It is difficult to tell who actually invented the sport of snowboarding because people have always loved to slide down snow covered hills. There is a school of though that credits Jack Burchette with the beginnings of the history of snowboarding way back in 1929. He is said to have invented the first snowboard out of a plank of plywood. The work of Jack Burchette has deeply influenced what snowboarding has become today.

In the early years many people didn't like snowboarding as it was associated with mostly teenage males who were crazy on their boards. This created a prejudice among people that snowboarding is not a decent sport and that snowboarders were drug addicts. This resulted in discrimination against snowboarders, and for a time the future of snowboarding was in jeopardy. Also in these early years the ski industry was vigilant about tight pants and skier safety, and snowboarding would not meet either of these criteria.

In 1964, Sherman Poppen, a young surf freak, while dreaming about surfing the magic winter landscape of the Rockies, built a surfboard for the snow. The first prototype was made of two kids' skis bolted together. It was a plastic plank about 1.20 m long. He gave it to his daughter as a present and it quickly became a winner in the neighborhood. In 1965, Sherman Poppen’s idea was put into production. It was called snurfer, from snow and surfer, and was marketed and distributed through toy stores under the Christmas trees. About one million snurfers were sold in the following 10 years, and Sherman Poppen set about establishing a snowboard competition series. However, plagued by the Snurfers reputation for unpredictability, snowboarding was outlawed at most ski resorts, and the snurfer as a mass phenomenon disappeared.

In 1970, Dimitrije Milovich, an east coast surfer, started to develop snowboards following the example of the new short surf boards. He experimented with laminating gravel and glass on the board and used nylon straps. Dimitrije Milovich’s company known as Winterstick is considered as the first snowboard company ever. In 1975, Dimitrije Milovich’s snowboards were featured in American magazines such as Playboy and Newsweek. However, the company went broke in 1980.

In 1979, at the annual Snurfer contest was held in Michigan, and in the same year, Mark Anolik discovered the Tahoe City Half pipe which became known as the world's first snowboard half pipe. It attracted major snowboarding stars and photographers from the skateboard magazines.

In 1980, Jake Burton, advanced the history of snowboarding by developing the first real ski technology for snowboards. Jake Burton produced several boards, and was featured in the American magazines Newsweek, Playboy and Powder. This helped to publicize snowboarding and make it popular. Jake Burton also invented bindings with high backs that helped in control when snowboarding on hard packed snow. In 1981, the first snowboard contest was held Ski Cooper in Leadville, Colorado. In 1982, the first US National Snowboard Championships were held in Suicide Six near Woodstock, Vermont. In the championship downhill racers were timed at 60 mph. Jake Burton held the first national snowboarding championships in 1983.

In the early 1980’s, the first snowboard prototypes were being developed in America and in Europe. However, most snowboarding fans in Europe imported the American cult boards. Among these was Jose Fernandes from Switzerland, who later became the president of the International Snowboarders Federation.

In 1985, the first snowboard magazine called the Absolutely Radical, was published, and it was later renamed the International Snowboard Magazine. In 1987, Jose Fernandes won the Giant Slalom of the American world snowboard championships held in Breckenridge, CO, with one of the first European asymmetrical boards. This signaled that the European snowboard industry had come of age and didn't need to fear comparisons with the Americans anymore.

In 1987, the first European world snowboard championships were held in Livigno and St. Moritz. The championship attracted snowboarders from all over the world, and a new sport was born. Snowboarding was a revolution, and a tribute to liberty. It became a new religion for young people. In 1988, the international snowboarding World cup tour was born, and was won by Peter Bauer for two consecutive years. The evolution gathered momentum and various equipment’s were introduced such as free style boards ,race boards, powder boards, rounded tails, plate bindings, hard boots, asymmetrical, twin-tip, carving and new snowboarding disciplines like half pipe, modules and downhill.

In 1990, the ISF was founded. Over the years, many snowboard manufacturers have come up, and the sport of snowboarding has changed the lives of people everywhere. In 1996, a collection of snowboarding stunts and tricks was released on video which has spanned the globe, spreading the message of snowboarding. Currently, there are more than 8 million snowboarders in the world and the numbers are rising.

Snowboarding developed into an Olympic sport with a big lobby. Olympic and world wide snowboarding events are among the most popular of winter sports. The competition to be the best in these events is usually fierce, and they are watched and followed by very many people worldwide. In the beginning Olympic snowboarding was divided into four competitions with two categories: men's and women's half pipe and men's and women's giant slalom. Today, there are more events for snowboarding such as racing, slalom, boarder cross, big air, and half pipe.

With snowboarding as an Olympics sport, it is now been accepted worldwide into the mainstream masses. Snowboard now is a mass sports. Ski resorts are now building half pipes and organizing contests and events, and the creative clothing and hardware industries are setting new trends in aesthetics and function. Sports channels on TV cover the worldwide Pro-Tour, and snowboarder aces and Olympic champions are now stars.

Snowboarding is among the fastest growing industries and sports. It has gained popularity and approval, and now sections of some mountains are dedicated exclusively to snowboarders. Today, 80% of the kids who take up winter sport, choose snowboarding and snowboards are among the most popular Christmas presents. In the short history of snowboarding, it has endeared itself into the hearts and minds of enthusiasts all over the world.

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