Jake Burton Carpenter, who helped propel snowboarding from hobby to a global sport over the last four decades, has died of complications from recurring cancer, his company said on Thursday. He was 65.
Carpenter, who was also known as Jake Burton, died on Wednesday surrounded by family and loved ones, his Vermont-based company, Burton Snowboards, said on a recorded phone message.
“He was our founder, the soul of snowboarding, the one who gave us the sport that we all love so much. Ride on, Jake,” the company said.
Carpenter was 14 when he received a Snurfer, a surf-type board used by snow-sport enthusiasts to rip down hills, and became fascinated by the concept of surfing on snow, according to the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame.
Carpenter launched his company in 1977 in his Londonderry, Vermont, barn where he built his first boards by hand. Burton is now a global snowboard, accessory and apparel company that has sponsored top athletes such as three-time Winter Olympic gold medallist Shaun White and international competitions.
“Burton served a pivotal role in growing snowboarding from a backyard hobby to a world-class sport,” the company said on its website about its founder.
In 2012, the Vermont Sports Hall of Fame inducted Carpenter, saying he made “many of the company’s biggest decisions from a chairlift, not a desk.”
Since taking part in the first snowboarding competition in 1981, Carpenter advocated for ski areas to open their lifts to trails to board riders.
He also helped organize the first U.S. Open Snowboarding Championship in 1982 at the Suicide Six ski area, an event that was held in Vermont for the next 30 years. Burton’s advocacy culminated in snowboarding becoming a Winter Olympics sport in 1988.