Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Illicit's Fully Interactive Snowboarding History Timeline Machine

This week something different. We've scoured the origins of snowboarding history to find some of the key moments, then we've stuck all that info into a shiny interactive timeline machine. Enjoy...

There are quite a few sites with shared lists of the history of snowboarding and a lot of that information is pretty sketchy. It's been very difficult to get accurate information and we have tried our best to use well sourced events. If there is anything we need to change or add please let us know.

For those of you who enjoy old fashioned lists. Here are the details so far.

He'eholua practiced in Hawaii
2000 years ago
He'ehölua (over 2,000 years old) is similar to surfing a wave except it is done on a rock or snow foundation on a sled that is usually 12 feet long, 6 inches wide, and 4 inches in depth, and weighing approximately 30 - 60 pounds; capable of reach speeds of 50 mph+. William Ellis toured Hawaii and witnessed the sport in 1823

Snowboarding appears in Turkey
150 years ago
Jeremy Jones visited a village in Turkey where people started standing sideways on boards and gliding down hills over 150 years ago.

illicit snowboarding Established
Aug 26, 1896
It all started on the tiny island of Zanzibar, off the coast of Africa on the 26th August 1896. Today this organisation of former Zanzibarian rebels is the true power behind snowboarding around the globe.

Wooden snowboard

circa 1920s
Forms of snowboards have appeared briefly throughout the 20th century. These instances were small scale and they went unrecorded so the reliability is questionable. There are stories of US soldiers snowboarding in Europe in WW2, M.J. "Jack" Burchett is reputed to have snowboarded in 1929, and this board is thought to be from the mid 20's.

Vern Wicklund patents a standing sled
Gunnar E. Burgeson, Harvey W. Burgeson, and Vern C. Wicklund received U.S. Patent 2,181,391 for a device they called a sled. Unlike a sled, their device had foot straps and, prefiguring the Snurfer, a control rope. The text of their application made it clear that the person using their sled would be standing up, not sitting down.

Tom Sims builds his first snowboard at school
In 1963, while at school Tom Sims made what he called a the 'skiboard', an early version of the snowboard. He was one of the pioneers of the sport and started producing 'Sims Skiboards' in 1977 with Chuck Barfoot. In 2006 SimsSnowboards was bought out, and Tom Sims is no longer the owner.

Sherman Poppen invents the Snurfer
Dec 25, 1965
The Snurfer was created in 1965 by Sherman Poppen. Poppen was inspired on Christmas day, when his 11 year old rode down the hill, standing on her sled. It led him to invent the Snurfer which he licensed to the Brunswick Corporation. The Snurfer's retail price was $10-$30. Poppen sold about a million Snurfers between 1966-1976

Dimitrije Milovich inventor of the Winterstick builds his first 'sticks'
The Winterstick story began in 1970 when Winterstick founder Dimitrije Milovich met up with New Jersey surfboard shaper, Wayne Stoveken. Stoveken (who Milovich believes to be the first snowboarder) had started making snow-surfboard designs and showed Milovich a few construction ideas. Inspired by Stoveken's designs, Milovich started making his own snowboards. In 1972, Milovich dropped out of college and moved to Utah to work full time on developing his new designs and later that year, he patented the first modern snowboard, the "Swallowtail". In 1974, Milovich began making snowboards out of his garage for friends and people who had read about them in articles in Newsweek and Playboy Magazines. Responding to the interest generated by the articles, Winterstick-brand snowboards was founded in 1976. By 1982 Winterstick has gone into bankruptcy and Milovich left the sport. In 1994 the Winterstick brand was resurrected under different ownership.

Bob Weber invents the Skiboard

Bob Weber collaborated with Tom Sims to create the Skiboard.  His patent #US3900204 was applied for in 1972/3 and granted in 1975. He later sold the patent to Jake Burton in 1990.

Jake Burton starts Burton Snowboards
Jake Burton had received a Snurfer for Christmas in 1968. After graduating Burton moved to Londonderry, Vermont in 1977 to start Burton Snowboards. The company sold 300 boards (designed around a modified Snurfer with bindings) the first year. During that year Burton was sent a letter by Sherman Poppen preventing him from using the work Snurf as any part of his business. As a result the sport is now know as snowboarding. Today Burton is the largest snowboard manufacturer in the world.

Chuck Barfoot produces the Flying Yellow Banana
Chuck Barfoot was a surfboard and skateboard fabricator had been working with Tom Sims for several years. In 1977 he took a Sims skate deck and attached it to one of Bob Weber's designs to produce the Flying Yellow Banana. By 1981 Barfoot and Sim's relationship fell apart. Chuck Barfoot continued to produce snowboards although he was badly affected by two failed business ventures. Today a version of the Barfoot company still exists and it starting to produce snowboards again.

Mike Olsen & Pete Saari build their first snowboards
Mervin Manufacturing was founded by Mike Olson and Pete Saari in 1977. They started out building just a few handmade snowboards and by 1984 Olson dropped out of university after less than a week to build snowboards full time. Mervin Manufacturing are the makers of Gnu and Lib Tech snowboards

The first World Snurfing Championship
In 1979 the first ever "World Snurfing Championship" was held at Pando Ski Lodge near Grand Rapids, Michigan. Jake Burton, came from Vermont to compete with a snowboard of his own manufacture. There were many protests from the competitors about Jake entering with a non-snurfer board. Paul Graves, the top snurfer at the time, and others, advocated that Jake be allowed to race. A modified division was created and won by Jake as the sole entrant. That race was considered the first competition for snowboards and is the birth of what has now become competitive snowboarding. Paul Graves, who won the main event, wowed the crowd by performing four 360s on the ground before dismounting from his board with a front flip.

First halfpipe
At this time resorts in California’s Lake Tahoe basin had so far refused to allow snowboards on their mountains. Because of this, snowboarders spent most of their free time searching for good spots to ride.  Mark Anolik was hiking around Tahoe City in 1979 when he discovered the perfect hit on land owned by the Tahoe-Truckee Sanitation Company, the city dump. Word ofthe pipe spread and within a few days Mark, Bob Klein, Allen Arnbrister,and Terry Kidwell were beginning to session the spot. They named it the Tahoe City Pipe.

The First Snowboarding Competition

In 1981, the first ever snowboarding contest was held. Since snowboarding was seen as a joke and an invitation for trouble, the contest was shunned from virtually every mountain in Colorado. Finally, a small ski area in Leadville Colorado called Ski Cooper accepted this event and became the first to allow snowboarders on their slopes. The contest was named "King of the Mountain," and included some of the most influential people in the sport such as Jake Burton and Tom Sims.

Longest running snowboarding competition starts

Paul Graves organizes the National Snowsurfing Championships at Suicide Six in Woodstock, Vermont, featuring a slalom and downhill. Tom Sims was victorious in the downhill but fractured his thumb crashing into the hay bales at the finish line. Burton team rider Doug Bouton wins first overall. The contest was the last time Snurfers and snowboards race together. The following year the contest was organised by Burton. It was held Snow Valley, Vermont and it was renamed the National Snowboarding Championships. The event has evolved a lot since then and is now known as the Burton US Open Snowboarding Championships.

First resort allows snowboarding
As snowboarding became popular, many skiers viewed snowboarders as punks who had no place on the more refined slopes. Most ski resorts banned snowboarding.
In 1982, Suicide Six Ski Resort in Vermont set a precedent by becoming the first ski resort to open up its slopes to snowboarders. By the 1990s, most ski resorts realized that they were going to lose major revenue by not allowing snowboarding. Aspen Mountain in Colorado was one of the last skiers' holdouts, refusing to open its trails to snowboarders until 2001. Today, only a handful of ski areas allow snowboarding.

Jeff Grell invents the highback binding
Jeff Grell started snowboarding on a Snurfer in 1968 and is widely recognized for his invention of a boot cuff/strap device in the early 80s called Hibaks that were a prototype for modern bindings.

The first halfpipe contest

In 1983, after Burton produced that year's National Snowboarding Championships, Tom Sims held the inaugural World Snowboarding Championships at Soda Springs Ski Bowl, Lake Tahoe. This is the first contest to have a halfpipe event. Jake Burton, Andy Coghlan, and the Burton team members threatened to boycott the event because they felt halfpipe had nothing to do with snowboarding and should not be considered in the overall.

Regis Roland and Apocalypse Snow
Regis Rolland, a French snowboarder, stars in Apocalypse Snow, a bonkers movie that is credited with popularising snowboarding to Europe. The movie also introducing rafting on snow, flaming mono-skiing and mountain yaughting, all of which strangely didn't catch on to the same extent.

The First Mt Baker Banked Slalom
Mt. Baker Banked Slalom, has been held annually at Mt. Baker Ski Area, in Washington State, United States, since 1985 when the first winner was Tom Sims. The event is regarded as the predecessor to the boardercross, and has been won by some of the biggest names in the history of snowboarding. Snowboarding legend Terje Håkonsen has won the men's event 6 times, equaling Karleen Jeffery's record in the women's event. The winner receives a Duct Tape trophy and an embroidered Carhartt jacket.

First snowboard magazine
Mar, 1985
Originally known as Absolutely Radical in March 1985, International Snowboard Magazine was the first seasonal snowboarding magazine. Brainchild of Tom Hsieh, Jr. of San Francisco it was proclaimed the “last word” until 1991 when it discontinued publication.

Snowboarding hits Hollywood
May 23, 1985
Snowboarding was given its mainstream film outing in the James Bond movie 'A View to a Kill'

Sims - Terry Kidwell. The first signature snowboard
Sims introduces the first signature model snowboard in their winter line, bearing Terry Kidwell's name. The Kidwell is also the first freestyle board with a rounded tail.

Hot Snowboards introduce the parabolic sidecut
Serge Dupraz of Hot Snowboards introduced the 'One Sixty' a snowboard that included a parabolic sidecut. The 6m sidecut radius allowed the board to carve through the snow. This was a key turning point for both the snowboarding and skiing industries.

Barfoot introduce first twin tip snowboard
Inspired by a design hatched by Summerland snowboarder and surfer Matt Donovan, Canadian snowboard legends Ken and Dave Achenbach helped develop the revolutionary Barfoot Twin-Tip. The double-ended board was the first of its kind and has become the industry standard shape in the years since. Without the symmetry of a twin-tip none of the freestyle style that snowboarding is famous for, including the basic 180-degree spin, would not even be  possible.

First terrain park
The first terrain park was the "Snowboard Park" built in 1990 at Vail.

Boardercross invented
The first ever Boardercross event was held in the Spring of 1991 at Blackcomb Mt. BC. Steve Rechtschaffner and Greg Stump staged the event for the final episode of "Greg Stump's World of Extremes" TV show for FOX TV. The idea for the event, the format and rules came from Rechtschaffner, along with the designing and building of the course. Stump's business manager John Graham coined the term "Boarder Cross", which everyone adopted. Rechtschaffner then went on to help build courses for people across N. America for the next few years, helping to grow the event. Later on, Erik Kalacis staged the first professional Boardercross series, called The Kokanee Cross, in Canada. Much later on, Rechtschaffner took inspiration from Boardercross to create the multi million selling hit series of SSX video games for Electronic Arts.

Ride Snowboards becomes first publicly listed company
May 6, 1994
In September 1992, Roger Madison, James Salter, and Tim Pogue had joined forces to found Ride Snowboards. Despite the energetic growth of the snowboard industry and despite Ride's initial success, the company was in dire need of capital. By the beginning of 1994, the founders had tapped their family and friends for $2.5 million, but their persuasive pleas for cash had reached an end. Financial institutions were not interested in lending any money, so that left the company with two choices: private placement or conversion to public ownership. The Ride executives chose to go public, and in so doing became the first pure snowboard stock on the market. In May 1994 the company made its debut on the NASDAQ Exchange, raising nearly $6 million from the IPO. Ride is now the second largest snowboarding company in the World.

Shannon Dunn - First woman's signature snowboard
Shannon Dunn gets the first woman’s pro model board from Burton. Dunn was also the first woman to perform many tricks in halfpipe events such as: frontside 540 in 1991, backside 540 in 1994, mctwist in 1994, frontside 720 in 1995, and frontside rodeo 720 in 2001. She won a bronze medal in the halfpipe in the Nagano Olympics

First Winter X Games
Jan 30, 1997
The Winter X Games run by ESPN, is the largest winter action sports competition. The Games were first held in 1997 at Snow Summit Mountain Resort in Big Bear Lake, California.

Snowboarding debuts in the Olympics
Feb 7, 1998
Snowboarding appeared for the first time at the Olympics with a slalom and a half-pipe competition. It caused controversy in the snowboarding community as a number of high profile snowboarders including Terje Haakonsen refused to take part. During the games snowboarders lived up to their reputation when the first gold medal winner Ross Rebagliati was temporarily stripped of his medal for testing positive for marijuana.

World Record speed set on a snowboard
Darren Powell sets a speed of 201.9 kph (126.4 mph) to set the current World Record in Les Arcs, France.

First snowboarding descents of Mt Everest
May 22, 2001
Dr Stephan Gatt was the first person to snowboard down Everest. Gatt summited Everest on 22nd May 2001 after climbing without oxygen or sherpas and he then snowboarded down some of the mountain but he walked down about 1,000 feet of the trickier stuff.

Craig Kelly dies in an avalanche
Jan 20, 2003
Craig Kelly was a legend of the early years of snowboarding winning 4 World Championships and 3 US Championships along the way. He shocked the snowboard industry by walking away from multi-million dollar deals at the height of his fame to pursue his passion for freeriding, at the time an unheard of strategy for a pro snowboarder. He died on 20 January 2003 near Revelstoke, British Columbia, Canada in an avalanche which trapped 8 people and killed 6 others.

illicit snowboarding website created
Oct 24, 2008

Ulrik Badertscher lands the first 1620
Norwegian Ulrik Badertscher lands the first 1620 in the Factor Films movie 'They Came From'


  1. Missing events, or corrections.

    1982: Avalanche Snowboards founded in South Lake Tahoe, CA by Chris Sanders and Earl Zeller.

    1989: First snowboard park (not Vail) opened in Bear Valley, CA (not Big Bear).
    Wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terrain_park

    Documented in ISM and Thrasher magazines.

    International SNowboard Magazine (1988?) should make your timeline, too.

  2. Nevermind about ISM... I see it on the timeline now. :)

  3. you missed the first commercial for Labatts beer using the snurfer - snowboarding - with Paul Graves, mark & Jane halseth riding. The first paid professional snurfers in 1980. Video is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-k7Zqq-iPF8


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