You may not know the name, but Sherman Poppen played a huge part in why you slide on snow sideways. Sadly, he passed away on Thursday, August 1st. Check out a bit of his story below. Our condolences to his friends and family, and may he rest in peace.
On Christmas in 1995, Sherman Poppen was looking for something to amuse his children. They were likely cooped up inside, bugging him as he attempted to enjoy himself on one of his few vacation days—if you grew up in a place where December weather is less than enjoyable (like Muskegon, Michigan, where Poppen lived), then you likely know this feeling. So, what did he do? He created a new sport for them. Binding two pairs of children’s skis together, Poppen built the first ever Snurfer.
He described the new snow sport as one “which incorporates features of certain summer pastimes, namely surfboarding, skateboarding, and slalom water skiing.” His wife, amused with the idea, coined the term Snurfer, and within a year, Snurfers were flying off the shelves in time for Christmas of 1966.
Beginning in the late 1960’s snurfer racing competitions began to take place, and in 1968 over 200 spectators descended on Poppen’s hometown to watch the snurfing championships—not bad for an invention made on Christmas day. Eventually, the modern day snowboard would be developed based off of the original design of the Snurfer.
While the debates will continue to swirl around who invented the modern-day snowboard, there is no debate around who was the first to invent the Snurfer, our modern-day inspiration for sliding sideways on snow. Thank you, Sherman Poppen.—ML