The Most Influential Gear of All Time: Snurfer


A patent diagram for Poppen’s Snurfer

A patent diagram for Poppen’s Snurfer     Photo: United States Patent and Trademark Office

The Snurfer was the first iteration of the snowboard, conceived and built in 1965 by Sherman Poppen in Muskegon, Michigan. Poppen watched his 11-year-old daughter sled down a hill standing up and the proverbial lightbulb went off. In his shop, Poppen bound two skis together and tied a string to the nose of the board so the rider could have control. His wife coined it the Snurfer, and soon all of Poppen’s daughters' friends wanted one of their own. By 1976 he had sold more than a million Snurfers at $10-$30 a piece. As the toy’s popularity grew, so did a small series of competitions, the first of which was called the “World Snurfing Classic,” held in 1968. The event caught the eye of a young Jake Burton. After finishing school, Burton modified the Snurfer into the snowboard, founding a company that bears his last name.

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