Jake Burton Carpenter, the “Godfather of Snowboarding,” Dead at 65

Carpenter is credited with pioneering the sport

Chairman of Burton Snowboards Jake Carpenter attends 2018 Olympic U.S. Snowboard Team Uniform Unveil on November 1, 2017 in New York City.  (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images)
Chairman of Burton Snowboards Jake Carpenter attends 2018 Olympic U.S. Snowboard Team Uniform Unveil on November 1, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images)
By Bonnie Stiernberg / November 21, 2019 12:47 pm

Snowboard pioneer Jake Burton Carpenter, who helped bring the sport to the mainstream through his company Burton, has passed away at the age of 65.

Carpenter, who quit his job in 1977 to found the company and advance the rudimentary snowboard — then called a “Snurfer” — was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2011. As the Associated Press reports, he sent an email to his staff this month saying, “You will not believe this, but my cancer has come back.”

Carpenter is credited with helping shape the sport of snowboarding. “I had a vision there was a sport there, that it was more than just a sledding thing, which is all it was then,” he said in a 2010 interview. “We’re doing something that’s going to last here. It’s not like just hitting the lottery one day.”

“He was our founder, the soul of snowboarding, the one who gave us the sport we all love so much,” Burton co-CEO John Lacy said in a company-wide email. He noted that details about a celebration of Carpenter’s life will be forthcoming, but that in the meantime, “I’d encourage everyone to do what Jake would be doing tomorrow, and that’s riding. It’s opening day at Stowe, so consider taking some turns together, in celebration of Jake.”

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