A former Steamboat Springs resident who played an instrumental and pioneering role in the invention of snowboarding, passed away last week at the age of 89. Sherman R. Poppen was the inventor of an early snowboard called the “Snurfer”.
Back in 1965, Poppen had the brainwave to nail together his daughters’ skis, leading to an early version of what we know as the snowboard. Within 12-months, the snurfer was being mass-produced, and by 1968 there was a World Snurfing Competition. It was at this event that a young Jake Burton was introduced to snurfing, and from there the design evolved into the snowboards we see today.
The invention of the Snurfer is the first of 10 important moments in snowboarding history, according to smithsonianmag.com.
“He was, as far as snowboarding is concerned, a true innovator and a visionary,” said John Dakin of the Colorado Snowsports Museum. “Today’s snowboarders owe him a great debt of gratitude for the movement that he really helped to jump start.”
Poppen was inducted into the Snowboarding Hall of Fame in 1995 and was nominated to enter the National Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame in 2009 but has yet to receive that honor.
“Jake Burton wanted to buy the name Snurfer, and my Dad wouldn’t sell it to him,” Wendy Poppen said. “(He said) ‘That’s my biggest regret because then it would be called Snurfing not snowboarding.’”
His only regret was not selling the name snurfer to Jake Burton. Just imagine if he had, we’d all be snurfing USA, and nobody would know what snowboarding was.