SNOW SURFING SINCE 1965
Christmas Day, 1965. The presents were unwrapped, the carols were sung, and Sherman Poppen's two daughters were getting restless. In a stroke of genius, he took two kids skis and bound them together, then gave the surfboard-like contraption to his girls to try. Next thing he knew, they were standing on the board, zooming down the snowy hills near their Muskegon, Michigan, home. Soon, Sherman was tinkering with the design, coming up with a single-piece board that was shorter and wider than a traditional ski and equipped with a rope for steering. The neighborhood kids clamored for the amazingly fun new invention and, in 1966, Sherman patented his idea as a Surf-Type Snow Ski. His wife suggested combining the words "snow" and "surf" and the iconic Snurfer was born.
Working with the Brunswick Corporation, Sherman brought his idea to life by creating a board made from the same laminated wood used for bowling lanes. The Snurfer quickly made the leap from novelty item to winter-sports wonder. Soon defining a whole new category of winter-sports equipment.
From the start, the Snurfer was more than just a toy. From 1968 through the late 70s, the local college in Muskegon hosted a National Snow Surfing Competition and riders of all ages came from across the country to compete in front of hundreds of spectators. As snow surfing became more and more popular, people started to replicate the original Snurfer, adding new features and customizations. These Snurfer-inspired boards eventually led to the birth of an entirely new sport: snowboarding.
Snowboarding's boom in the 1980s and 90s brought incredible innovations in technology. Still, the industry never forgot its humble roots in a Michigan backyard, and Sherman Poppen is widely recognized as the grandfather of modern snowboarding.
The origin of U.S. snowboarding is the subject of debate depending on who you ask. There is no doubt that Sherman Poppen's original Snurfer was the first commercially available snow surfer. His contributions alone are invaluable. We respect all the pioneers and snow surfers involved in the progression of the sport- including the new ones building in their garage right now.
Shermans awesome invention, which has spawned decades of winter fun and incredible on-snow accomplishments, is seen as such an important step in the sports development that Sherman has been recognized through multiple inductions, rewards and honors.
TO HIGHLIGHT A FEW
1995- Transworld SNOWboarding magazine- Business "Tranny" Lifetime Achievement Award. Inducted at the Riders Poll in Banff, Canada. Sherman takes up snowboarding.
1998- Nagano, Japan - Snowboarding becomes a Winter Olympic Sport for the first time. Celebrated as the founder of snowboarding, 33 years after the Snurfer invention. Modern snowboarding as we know it began with Snurfer.
2001- Muskegon Area Sports Hall of Fame inductee- Sherman Poppen.
2010- Smithsonian Magazine names Sherman Poppen #1 in their Top 10 Most Important Moments in Snowboarding History list.
March 5th, 2022- Sherman Poppen (Class of 2019) "Grandfather of Snowboarding" earns induction into the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame. Watch the full ceremony here - Intro, video and Shermans daughters accept @ 1:19:52.
ORIGINAL SNURFER BOARDS AND ARTIFACTS ON DISPLAY
Smithsonian National Museum of American History, Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention & Innovation, Washington, DC...Original Snurfer Board
Colorado Snowsports Museum Hall of Fame, Vail, CO- Multiple Artifacts List.