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Snowboard Club UK (SCUK) FAQs (frequently-asked questions)
Category: Main -> Snowboarding -> Snowboarding History
Snowboarding History - How it came to being
Snowboarding mostly resembles surfing, skiing and skateboarding and it is not surprising that Snowboarding's true origins lie in these sports. It is hard to say who really started snowboarding first. It is known however that there were a few surf and skate enthusiasts who used self-made boards to take their skills to new terrain: snow during the 1950s. These contraptions often resulted in lots of broken boards and a lot of bruises.
Back in the Day – The Early Years
Shermin Poppin: The Snurfer
The Do-It-Yourself Years
The Snurfer was meant only as a toy, but it’s obvious possibilities for fun and recreating the feel of surfing on snow inspired creative young surfers, skaters and skiers to create their own early versions of the snowboard. Through the 1970s, pioneers such as Dimitrije Milovich, Tom Sims (Sims), Mike Olsen (GNU), Chuck Barfoot and Jake Burton Carpenter (Burton) were busy inventing their own boards and creating their own companies to manufacture them. Thanks to these maverick and inspired individuals, the development and of ideas and equipment was rapid and the snowboarding industry grew very quickly. The visionary efforts of these frontrunners still inspire snowboarders today.
Jake Burton: The Father of Snowboarding?
The influence of Jake Burton Carpenter (b. New York, 29 April 1954) on the development of snowboarding has been huge and sometimes controversial. Jake received a Snurfer aged 14 and soon began to make his own versions of the toy. In 1977 he moved to Vermont and set up Burton Snowboards, often working single-handedly to establish the company and implement his own ideas for improving snowboarding technology. Many of these combined ski industry techniques (now standard features such as metal edges, p-tex bases and high-backs first appeared on the Burton Performer in the early 80s) with his own insights into the sport of snowboarding. Burton was instrumental in having snowboarding accepted as a ‘sport’ and forcing ski areas to recognise it’s legitimacy. Since then, Burton Snowboards has been at the forefront of the snowboarding industry and today enjoys a reputation as the most successful snowboard company in the world. This success is often put down to Jake’s willingness to listen to the opinions of riders and the fact that he himself still rides over 100 days a year.Back to top
A View to a Kill
Snowboarding was almost completely unheard of outside the winter sports world until it was featured in the 1984 James Bond film ‘A View To A Kill’. In the film, Bond is seen outrunning his skiing adversaries on an early snowboard. The stunts were actually carried out by Tom Sims, and this classic scene is still considered to be one of snowboarding’s definitive early moments.
Primitive Boards and Prototypes
Early examples of snowboard technology show the evolution of board technology from the primitive Snurfer to the high-tech boards we ride today. Yesteryear’s boards were of a primitive overall shape with a lack of metal edges, and were fitted with water-ski type foot-straps as opposed to today’s highly evolved bindings and boards.
Back in the Day - Evolution
The Early Lake Tahoe Scene
Europe: Regis Rolland and Apocalypse Snow
Meanwhile, in Europe, a similarly crazed group of individuals were kick-starting the scene, this time based around the French resort of Les Arcs. According to legend, a pair of US pro riders visited the resort in 1981 and sold a board to local Regis Rolland. Soon, he began to film the exploits of himself and his friends and the results were the ground-breaking and hilarious Apocalypse Snow videos. These films were noted for outrageous plots and incredible scenes that saw Regis outrunning avalanches. At around the same time, he had begun to design his own boards and formed his own company, A-Boards (recently re-invented as APO Boards). He is also still a breathtaking free rider.
Grabs are the basis of freestyle snowboarding. While they are used to give the rider increased stability in the air, they are also a true barometer of a snowboarder’s style and board control. Almost every grab was originally invented on a skateboard and was adopted by snowboarders. Here are some of the most popular ones:
‘Food’ Names and Style
Stalefish, Chicken Salad, Roast Beef – no-one is really sure why some skating and snowboarding grabs have such strange names. The riders who invent the trick name them and one explanation is that food related names were fashionable. It’s true that some grabs (such as the Taipan, the Crail and the Seatbelt) are not so popular today, but certain tricks such as the Indy and the Mute have timeless appeal. It’s because they naturally look good when performed well and are linked to one of the most elusive yet important of all snowboarding qualities: style.
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