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Burton Snowboards' Founder, Who Championed the Sport, Passes Away at 65

Ski and Snow News
by Tim Wenger Nov 22, 2019

Snowboarding is about exploration. It’s about adventure. And it’s about creating memories. For riders both young and old, their first memories of the sport typically involve trying to glide their way down a sheet of crusty snow without numbing their butt or watching the stars of the sport chuck themselves off cliffs and up the walls of pipes in videos or in a broadcast of the X-Games. Regardless of how one was introduced to the sport of snowboarding, one name has undoubtedly been a part of their experience: Burton.

Jake Burton Carpenter passed away on November 20 due to complications from cancer. He founded Burton Snowboards, now known simply as Burton, in 1977 to improve on the “snurfer” concept invented by Sherman Poppen in the 1960s. He crafted his first boards by hand in Vermont, testing and improving the boards and their accompanying equipment constantly as the sport evolved. When snowboarding hit the mainstream in the 1990s, the name “Burton” was on the bottom of boards around the world and the fronts of the ballcaps, beanies, and baggy clothes worn by those that rode them. His efforts helped change the image of snowboarding as a reckless side sport into a mainstream cultural phenomenon and were explicitly tied to snowboarding’s eventual debut in the 1998 Olympics.

Both Burton Carpenter and his brand have stood as the pinnacle of snowboarding success, introducing millions of people to the sport and helping to innovate snowboarding equipment from the hacks of cut plywood used in the ’60s and ’70s to the modern carbon boards seen on the mountains now. Burton designed the uniforms worn by the US Snowboard Team in the 2018 and 2014 Winter Olympics, and has been a leader in bringing environmentally sustainable production and business practices to the forefront of the ski industry.

In an email sent to Burton staff, CEO John Lacy referred to Burton Carpenter as “our founder, the soul of snowboarding, the one who gave us the sport we love so much.”

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