In 1977, a winter sport enthusiast named Jake Burton Carpenter was working out of a barn in Londonderry, Vermont to build a board that improved on a binding-free mono-ski called the Snurfer. The surfboard-esque toy was intended for backyard snow play, but Burton saw potential in it. He reshaped the board to make it more rideable, producing 100 prototypes before settling on the Burton Backhill and Burton Backyard (the former with foot bindings, and the latter without). Both models had a rope and handle at the front of the board to improve balance and help initiate turns.
Burton’s boards would ultimately evolve into the modern day snowboard. But more importantly, Jake Burton contributed to the birth of a lifestyle. Snowboarding is nothing without its scrappy, rebellious, adventure-hungry origins, grounded in an innovative and entrepreneurial spirit.
By the early ’80s, snowboarding as a sport was taking shape, and a mountainside subculture revolution was bubbling in small towns across Vermont.
(NOTE: The following article was first published in August 2015)