Hailed as the grandfather of the multi-billion dollar snowboard industry, Sherm Poppen died recently at 89.
One of the earliest originators of the snowboard, Poppen designed a product called the Snurfer in the late 1960s. Created by connecting his young daughter’s two skis together with cross bars of wood, his prototype Snurfer was designed to surf the snow-covered sand dunes near their home in Muskegon, Michigan.
The Snurfer was such a hit with his daughters and their friends, Poppen worked on an improved design that he patented in 1968. Shortly thereafter, he sold to the Brunswick Corporation.
Several of Poppen’s prototypes and boards are on display in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. The Smithsonian magazine cites Poppen’s invention as the most important event in snowboarding history.
One of the first customers who purchased a Snurfer was Jake Burton Carpenter, in the late 60’s. Carpenter improved the design, transforming it from a recreational toy to serious sporting equipment. He founded Burton Snowboards, which grew to become the largest snowboard manufacturer in the world.
“Sherman Poppen definitely didn’t feed off anything else. It was his own imagination and creativity that made the Snurfer.” —Jake Burton Carpenter