Not many people know that Jake Burton Carpenter opened his first snowboard factory in the teeny tiny town of Londonderry, VT, near Stratton ski area. That’s one of the reasons why Mimi Wright, who worked with Jake that first winter, now wants to install a sculpture to honor that history. Spearheaded by the Londonderry Arts and Historical Society, the plan is to raise $1.3 million to erect the structure on some Hurricane Irene flood land, where new buildings can’t be built. the small building that was the original factory burned down a few years ago, and is now an empty lot on the side of Route 11.
Jake Burton Carpenter grew up in Long Island, and always had a bit of wild side. He was formally expelled from the Brooks school in Massachusetts, but later became the Valedictorian of his class. At CU Boulder, him and his buddies would bride the snow cat operators to tow them up the mountain at night. Speaking on the conception of Burton, Carpenter has stated, “Well, it was my attraction to athletics, to being cool, to being the guy. I don’t know, for lack of a better expression, to get laid.”
Carpenter’s initial goal was to get rich. He figured if he could make 50 boards a day, he would make a hundred grand a year. That first year, in Londonderry, he only sold 300 boards and realized that he was going to be as much a salesmen of the sport as the product itself. In the next few years, the sport took off and Burton established itself as one of the leading companies in the industry.
The sculpture was originally the idea of Jason Dreweck, an artist and snowboarder from Colorado. He reached out to Mimi Wright at the historical society, and things moved quickly. It felt like it was “meant to be,” she said. Whether or not this sculpture comes to fruition is one thing – it is very expensive – but this is a cool piece of history from one little corner or the universe. Snowboarding’s rise from the rebels to the Olympics is certainly something worth memorializing.