Photo Credit (+Cover): Burton Snowboards

Back in 1977, Jake Burton Carpenter emerged from his barn/workshop in Londonderry, Vermont with a hand-crafted snowboard in tow. It was the first of millions he’d help produce during his revolutionary, 42 year-long career. Last night, that storied career came to an end as Jake succumbed to cancer after a long battle that started back in 2011. He was surrounded by family and friends at his home in Burlington.

Here at, we’re taking time today to reflect on Jake and how his passion for snowboarding was a gift to skiing and winter sports in general. In fact, skiing will forever owe Jake for his countless innovations and we think it’s high time the man got the credit he deserves.

Besides inventing the snowboard binding in 1979, Jake’s insight into board construction, marketing, and riding itself breathed life into a flailing, winter sports industry that was ham stringed by a lack of creativity related to skiing.

An inventor and tinkerer by nature, Jake and his creativity would force the ski industry to break from its antiquated shackles and compete with this newfound sport. With Burton’s invention, the ski industry was, all of sudden, no longer the ski industry. It was the ‘winter sports industry’ and snowboarding’s prominent future was set in stone thanks to Jake Burton Carpenter.

Fat skis, side cut, rocker, and perhaps most important of all, aerial style were all derived in some way from Burton’s snowboarding vision. In the process of realizing that dream, Jake captured America’s collective conscious and gave birth to a new, national pastime.

What snowboarding inspired in people was something that skiing had forgotten about during the days preceding the hot dog movement, freedom. Before snowboarding, the best skiers spent their time fenced between race gates. Not snowboarders.

With snowboarding came freestyle, hand-cut half pipes, and all of a sudden, skiers were rethinking their sport. No longer was skiing restricted to disciplines such as Giant Slalom, Slalom, and Downhill, but instead, skiers were working to translate that ‘free’ attitude onto their skis.

And when it comes down to it, that’s what Jake Burton Carpenter will be remembered for most: creating a new avenue for humans to let their free spirits soar. For that, we thank Jake Burton for reminding us skiers why we love snow and sliding down the mountains.

Rest in peace.