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History of Snowboarding Timeline Part 1: Before 1990

The Roots and Development of Early Snowboarding


Snowboarders at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi

Snowboarders at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi

Cameron Spencer/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images
  • Although there are earlier recorded attempts to strap a board to one's feet and slide down a snowy hill, Sherman Poppen, a chemical gasses engineer in Muskegon Michigan is widely recognized as having created the first snurfer for his daughter by binding two skis together and attaching a rope to the nose for control. The toy became very popular with Poppen's daughter's friends, so he licensed the idea to a manufacturer.
  • More than 500,000 snurfers were sold. Jake Burton, a serious skier, bought a snurfer and began entering competitions.
  • After sliding down a hill on a cafeteria tray in upstate New York, Dimitrije Milovich made the first snowboard based on the design of surfboards. Milovich would later patent his designs. Some say that Milovich's patent was valid until 1988, but he declined to enforce the patent when other companies began producing snowboards.
  • Molovich founded the first snowboard company, Winterstick.
  • Winterstick production began in Utah. An article about Milovich and Winterstick ran in the March issue of Newsweek. It was the first national story about snowboarding. Powder Magazine and Playboy ran articles as well. Milovich removed metal edges from his snowboards that year because he was riding powder so deep they were unnecessary and also developed a swallow-tail snowboard design based on the surfboard design.
  • Jake Burton moved to , Vermont, where he began building laminated hardwood prototypes for what would later become Burton snowboards and attached bindings to the top of a snurfer for the first time in history, changing the sport forever. - Mike Olson (who would later found Gnu snowboards) built his first snowboard in Jr. High School wood shop.

  • Milovich contacted Petit-Morey and Kendall Insurance and found out that snowboarders were covered by regular ski liability, proving that resorts that banned snowboarding did so because of managerial preference, rather than for insurance reasons as many claimed.

  • Bob Weber and Tom Sims create the first Skiboard under the Sims name. The Flying Yellow Banana, as it was called because of its bright yellow color, consisted of a flat skateboard-shaped piece of wood mounted on top of a hard yellow plastic shell.
  • Chuck Barfoot (who would later found Barfoot Snowboards) created a snowboard prototype made from fiberglass.
  • Jake Burton entered a snurfer contest in Michigan with one of his own snowboards. There were complaints about his non-snurfer board design and the advantage that bindings gave him. Pro snurfer Paul Graves and others argued that Burton had a right to race, resulting in the creation of an open division. Burton was the only entrant in the Open Division. Of course, he took first.

  • LaBatt Beer filmed a commercial featuring Paul Graves riding a snurfer. The commercial would run for four years in Canada and the US.

  • Mark Anolik discovered the Tahoe City Halfpipe. It would go down in history as the world's first snowboard halfpipe.
  • Burton and Winterstick further integrated ski technology into their boards by adding p-tex bases.

  • Chris Sanders (who would later found Avalanche Snowboards) bought his first snurfer and built his first snowboard.

  • Molovich left Winterstick.
  • Chuch Barfoot left Sims to found Barfoot Snowboards.

  • A small but landmark competition was held at Ski Cooper in Leadville, Colorado, marking the beginning of modern competitive snowboarding.
  • The first National Snowsurfing Championship was organized by Paul Graves and his friends. It held at the Suicide Six Ski Area in Woodstock, Vermont. Events included slalom and downhill. Jake Burton attended. Racers are said to have been clocked at speeds over 60 mph. The contest was covered by major media outlets including Sports Illustrated and NBC, raising public awareness of snowboarding. This was the last competition where snowboarders and snuffers would compete with each other.

  • Avalanche snowboards was founded by Chris Sanders and Earl Zeller in South Lake Tahoe.
  • Jake Burton organized the National Snowboarding Championships at Snow Valley, Vermont. All entrants had to hike for their turns.

  • Tom Sims organized the World Snowboarding Championships at Soda Springs Ski Bowl. It was the first competition to include a halfpipe event.

  • The first highback binding was designed by Jeff Grell. Some dispute this, though, and say that Louis Fornier had designed the binding earlier.
  • Mike Olson founded Gnu Snowboards.

  • The National Snowboarding Championship were again held at Snow Valley, but it would be the last time. Andy Coghlan won both the men's slalom and downhill.
  • Mt Baker held the first Mt. Baker Legendary Banked Slalom, which was won by Tom Sims.

  • The National Snowboarding Championships changed its name to the US Open Snowboarding Championships and moved to Stratton Mountain, where it continues to be held. Tom Sims won the men's ,a href="http://snowboarding.about.com/od/learningtosnowboard/a/typesofriding.htm">slalom and Andy Coghlan held on to his downhill title.

  • Craig Kelly had one of his first wins at a contest in Hyak, Washinton.

  • The first issue of Absolutely Radical -- the first snowboarding magazine -- was published in March. Later in the year the name was changed to the International Snowboard Magazine.

  • Metal edges were added to some models of Sims and Burton snowboards, completing the transfer of ski technology to snowboards.

  • Sims introduced the Terry Kidwell model, the first freestyle snowboard to have a rounded tail.

  • Gnu began marketing its boards as carving boards, highlighting the growing popularity of boards that carve on an edge as opposed to making sliding turns.
  • The first regional snowboarding events in Europe were held.

  • Andy Coughen won both the slalom and downhill at the US Open Snowboarding Championships.

  • The first-ever resort-organized snowboarding lessons were offered by Stratton in Vermont.

  • The World Snowboarding Championships moved from Soda Springs to Breckenridge.

  • The Burton Cruzer hit the market.

  • Burton produced the first lace-up snowboarding boot with an inner liner, which would become the standard for snowboard soft-boot design.
  • Craig Kelly won the men's slalom at the US Open Snowboarding Championships.

  • Barfoot introduced the first twin-tip freestyle snowboard.

  • The North American Snowboard Association (NASA) was formed with the aim of collaborating with the Snowboard European Association (SEA) to create a World Cup tour. NASA's acronym was later changed to NASBA because NASA, they learned, belonged to a prominent government organization.

  • The Professional Ski Instructors Association produced the first professional training and educational resources for snowboard instructors.

  • World Championships, organized independent of those held at Breckenridge, Colorado, were held in Livingno, Italy and St. Moritz, Switzerland.

  • The first issue of Transworld Snowboarding hit the stands late in the year.

  • Wrigley's chewing gum produced an iconic commercial featuring Craig Kelly doing a 540

  • Legendary ski filmmaker Greg Stump filmed several snowboarders including Craig Kelly and Bert LaMar.
1987 - 88
  • The World Cup Tour is held throughout the season with two competitions in Europe and two in the USA.
  • The United States Amateur Snowboarding Association (USASA) was established by Chuck Allen with $500 provided by Transworld SNOWbaording Magazine.

  • The halfpipe debuted at the US Open, setting the standard for all future competitive halfpipes. Craig Kelly won the 'Overall' snowboarding title.

  • Skate and Surf company G&S started making snowboard products, only to stop two years later.
  • Numerous major ski resorts including Squaw Valley, Sun Valley, Mammoth Mountain, Vail, and Snowbird lifted their bans on snowboarding.

  • Craig Kelly won both the halfpipe and downhill events at the US Open.

  • The Professional Ski Instructors Association published the Snowboard Ski Instruction Manual -- the first real snowboarding instruction manual.

  • The surf brand OP held the first OP Pro Snowboarding competition at June Mountain California.

  • Rob Morrow started Morrow Snowboards in Salem, Oregon.

  • The first National Collegiate Championships were held at Stratton Mountain.

  • The USASA put on the first trampoline snowboarding contest at Snow Valley, California.

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