Usually, people think of the USA when it comes to Snowboarding. The North American culture around Snowboarding was and still is the biggest one in the world and a lot of the first actual boards were invented across the big pond.
There’s no detailed documentation around the exact dates but we do have an idea about snowboarding's history.
Let’s start with the first known moments of sliding sideways.
Austria. That’s where the first people discovered how to decent a mountain standing sideways. Believe it or not, as far as we know an Austrian man called Toni Lenhardt invented the “Monogleiter” back in the late 19th century/early 2000.
He discovered riding on a wooden plank with a rope attached to the nose works a dream when wanting to go sideways. His invention got so popular that he even organized competitions on the “Monogleiter”!
There are vague stories about people in Turkey doing the same thing around the same time as Toni discovered riding in Austria.
Monoboarding was the origin of snowboarding. A lot of different versions were made, and people started to enjoy the new technology.
In 1965 over in Colorado, a young man named Sherman Poppen invented a new toy for his two daughters. He attached two skis and invented the “Snurfer”. The Snurfer was a fun toy that he constantly kept developing, adding a rope to steer was one of the key developments.
A lot of kids in Poppen's neighbourhood wanted one, so he sold a couple!
Around the same time, another young entrepreneur, Tom Sims, developed a version of a Snowboard. He was big on skateboarding and a very good skier, his idea was to combine his two passions into one, he wanted to be able to skateboard in Winter – who can blame him for that?
His invention was the “Skiboard” – some of these are still on the market, as are SIMS boards!
Snowboarding started to be commercialized:
The wild 70ties are when it all started to blow up. The terms Snurfing and Ski-Boarding became a real thing and people loved the idea of riding sideways. It was about time for some people to make a profit from the trend and Poppens patented his invention to start selling his Snurfers – 750000 Snurfers were sold. This is the official start of Snowboarding becoming a part of the Winter industry market.
Next up was Tom Sims. He collaborated with a guy called Bob Weber and together they brought the Flying Yellow Banana Ski board onto the market – a ton of skateboarders bought this version of the first snowboards, and they managed to open shops selling their invention and that is when Snowboarding got its first high!
The most rideable Snowboard until then was built by Dimitrje Milovich, a lad from New York. He built the first boards with glass fibres and bindings (the bindings were just straps at the time but a huge step towards the bindings that we know and love today).
And last but very much not least – Jake Burton.
Yes, the Jake Burton, who invented Burton Snowboards (thank you, Jake!) Jakes's's parents gifted him a Snurfer which sparked his love and passion for sliding sideways. He moved away from the big city life and settled down in Burlington, Vermont. There were a lot of hurdles to be jumped and hard work to be put in, but with determination and a heart of gold, Jake managed to make Snowboarding a real thing. Burton was born and is still more than just alive, it’s thriving. The Snowboarding industry still evolves around Burton's craftmanship and innovations like the step on bindings.
When snowboarding got popular, they weren’t allowed to ride the same mountains as skiers, so Snowboarders ventured out into the backcountry. Most of the resorts banned Snowboarders and thought they were mainly rebels and young bucks who’d just mess around.
In the 80ties the Snowboards were pretty like the ones we ride today. Luckily, the boys and girls back then didn’t give up and stood their ground.
By 1985 around 40 resorts welcomed snowboarders and let them use the lifts too. By 1990, 476 resorts were open to Snowboarding, luckily, by that time there were already over 4 million Snowboarders in the US alone.
Over the years, Snowboards have developed into amazing pieces of art if you ask us. Lots of different shapes and sizes, cambers, and rockers. Also, the bindings and boots have improved massively – with the newest technology of split boarding there is nothing, snowboarders can’t do.
Vermont was the first place where the US Open was held, they are still a competition every competitive freestyle snowboarder aspires to be part of one day. 1985 was the premiere where 125 riders got to prove their skills and start a movement that lead to a very wholesome progressive community.
Snowboarding is official.
In 1998 history was made by having the discipline snowboard halfpipe as part of the winter Olympic games in Nagano. The young female rider Nicola Thost won the first gold medal for Germany in Snowboard Halfpipe and from then on, Snowboarding evolved into a key show for the Olympics. The following Olympics in Park City held in 2002 proved that Snowboarding is now a well-known Sport that attracts a lot of spectators, 1/3 of American households would watch them via television and 30.000 people came to see the events live.
Today, Snowboarding is a big part of the Winter Industry. It evolved from a sport for rebels, into a transport to an Olympic sport. The level has gone from insane to stratospheric and it’s still evolving. With parks, like the Superpark Planai, young riders get the chance to ride in a creative and well-shaped park in the middle of the Austrian Alps – thanks to QParks, Snowboarding (and Freestyle Skiing) had a chance to grow and progress in Austria.