The History of Snowboarding in America

Published August 20, 2023

Snowboarding, a sport now loved by millions worldwide, has its roots deeply embedded in American culture. This exciting winter activity is more than just a pastime—it represents a countercultural movement, the convergence of surf and ski cultures, and the story of visionaries who believed in an alternative to traditional skiing. Let’s glide down memory lane and uncover the history of snowboarding in America.

1. The Early Beginnings (1960s):

Snowboarding traces its origins back to the 1960s. A man named Sherman Poppen, often referred to as the “grandfather of snowboarding,” created the “Snurfer” (a combination of snow and surfer) in 1965. It was a simple wooden board with a rope at the front end for control. Primarily marketed as a toy for children, the Snurfer became an instant sensation.

2. The Evolution (1970s):

The 1970s witnessed the snowboard’s development into something more sophisticated than the Snurfer. Jake Burton Carpenter (founder of Burton Snowboards) and Tom Sims (founder of Sims Snowboards) were pioneers in enhancing the design, adding bindings and improving the board’s shape for better control and stability.

3. Facing the Skeptics (1980s):

Despite its rising popularity, snowboarding faced resistance from traditional skiers. Most ski resorts in America banned snowboarding, viewing it as a fad and considering snowboarders as reckless. However, as snowboarding’s popularity grew, thanks to events and competitions like the National Snowsurfing Championship, resorts began to notice its commercial potential. By the end of the 1980s, snowboarding bans were lifted at many ski locations.

4. Mainstream Recognition (1990s):

The 90s was the golden era for snowboarding in America. The sport exploded in popularity, with snowboarding gear becoming more advanced and accessible. Its countercultural ethos, combined with thrilling competitions and daring athletes, made it appealing to the younger generation. In 1998, snowboarding made its debut at the Nagano Winter Olympics, sealing its status as a legitimate sport.

5. The 21st Century and Beyond:

In the 2000s, snowboarding’s influence could be seen in pop culture, fashion, and even music. Snowboarding video games, films, and documentaries proliferated, shedding light on the sport’s intricacies and the lifestyle of professional snowboarders. The sport continued to evolve with different styles like freestyle, halfpipe, and big air capturing audiences worldwide.


From its humble beginnings as a child’s toy to its stature as an Olympic sport, snowboarding’s journey in America is a testament to the spirit of innovation and the persistence of its passionate community. This sport has not only carved its niche in the winter sports arena but has also greatly influenced American youth culture and the broader global landscape of extreme sports. As we look forward, snowboarding, with its rebellious roots and fervent following, is sure to evolve, adapt, and continue to enchant generations of thrill-seekers. Don’t forget to check out Detour Sunglasses for the best ski goggles.

CDN Newswire