The origin of snowboarding: Vermont's hand in winter Olympic sports

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While many Vermonters have become Olympic athletes, another Vermonter has made a name for himself creating a winter sport in which they compete to earn international recognition.

This year, the 2022 Winter Olympics is set to begin Feb. 4 in Beijing, and among the seasonal sports will be snowboarding, invented by Vermont's own Jake Burton Carpenter in Londonderry.

According to a personal timeline he made of his life in the months preceding his death, Carpenter was "hooked on snow and the mountains," after his first ski trip with family in 1961. Seven years later, Carpenter bought a Snurfer that would foster his passion for the sport we know today.

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Jake Burton Carpenter snowboards in this file photo from 1998.
Jake Burton Carpenter snowboards in this file photo from 1998.

The Snurfer was a board shorter and wider than a traditional ski with with a rope attached for steering— an invention created and made popular by Sherman Poppen in 1965 after he bound two skis together for his kids to play with on a snowy Christmas day, according to the Snurfer website.

Carpenter said he knew in the back of his mind that surfing on snow could become a sport.

"So I bailed on my New York job, moved to Londonderry, Vermont and started ‘Burton Boards’ out of a barn in a house where I was the live-in caretaker and tending the two horses," he said. "By night, I bartended at the Birkenhaus Inn. By day, I built makeshift snowboard prototypes and tested them in the back hills of southern Vermont."

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Despite Carpenter's prototypes being developed in the late 70s and the invention of the Snurfer prior, snowboarding was not recognized by the International Olympic Committee as a sport until 1994.

This year, Vermont natives Alex Deibold and Lindsey Jacobellis will both be competing in snowboarding events at the 2022 Winter Olympics.

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Summer Sorg is a reporter for the Burlington Free Press. Contact her at ssorg@freepressmedia.com.

This article originally appeared on Burlington Free Press: Vermonter invents snowboarding, shapes Winter Olympics as we know it

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