Historians and archaeologists believe that the origins of skiing date back to more
than 5,000 years ago in areas of Scandinavia and Finland. With the wintry
conditions proving to be quite an obstacle to mobility,
skis were developed as a convenient and fast means of travel
by allowing individuals to float and slide over the surface of the
The history of snowboarding, however, tells the story of how
the sport was evolved from a completely different human need
i.e. the need to have fun. Lots of fun!
Legend of The Snurfer
On Christmas Day in 1965, an inventor from Michigan called Sherman
Poppen created a new surfboard-like contraption for his daughter
by nailing a platform on top of two children's skis. This new
device would soon be dubbed the 'snurfer' and over the next
decade hundreds of thousands of snurfers would be manufactured and marketed
through sporting goods and toy stores while a snurfer competition
would be held annually at the Pando Ski Area in Rockford, Michigan.
Due to the nature of the snurfer, racing would involve
very little turning. You would pretty much just point the board
downhill and hang on via a rope or strap connected to the nose
of the board. At the end of the run, a snurfer would often
have little choice but to stop by crashing crudely (or spectacularly
if you prefer to put a positive spin to it).
Enter the Snowboard
In the late 1970s, a surfer from Long Island called Jake Burton
Carpenter (who founded Burton Snowboards) developed a prototype board
with huge rubberbands to secure his feet to the board.
Future competitions over the next few years in the early 1980s
saw further experimentation with various snowboard designs
allowing their designers to exchange and compare ideas leading
to the evolution of the snowboard as we know it today.
In the mid-1980s, snowboarding was primarily used in the
backcountry where the snow was sometimes of the ice and hard
variety. Because of this, many snowboards were built like
Alpine skis instead of surf- or skateboards to cope with
During this time, snowboarding was still considered to be
a somewhat non-conventional sport and thus there was considerable
resistance on the part of ski areas to allow riders onto their
slopes because of safety reasons and partly due to the image
of snowboard riders as overly rebellious and boisterous.
In 1987, the Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA)
published the first snowboard instructor's manual to
standardize effective methods for teaching snowboarding to
would-be riders. Interest in the sport began to grow as
the skill-level of snowboarders increased and before
long, ski areas recognized snowboarding as a new market
with a huge potential for growth.
Snowboarding, since its inception just decades ago, has enjoyed
immense growth as was predicted in the late 1980s.
From the amateur snurfer built in 1965, snowboarding has now
become an official winter Olympic sport.
of snowboarding enthusiasts worldwide now number in the millions
encompassing all walks of society including small children,
adolescents and adults, both male and female to further
attest to its fast growing popularity.