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Snurfer Patent (US 3378274) diagram

The Snurfer was the predecessor of the snowboard. It was a monoski, ridden like a snowboard, but like a skateboard or surfboard, it had no binding. According to the 1966 patent[1] by inventor Sherman Poppen, it was wider and shorter than a pair of skis, with an anti-skid foot rest. Like a sled, it had a lanyard attached to the front.

Poppen originally created the device on Christmas Day in 1965, for the amusement of his children. His wife, Nancy, named the invention, noting that the board allowed the rider to surf on snow.[2]

In 1966, Poppen licensed the product to the Brunswick Corporation and worked with them to develop a manufacturing technique. Brunswick marketed the snurfer as a novelty item, not sports equipment. With the help of Cee-J Wholesale Toy Company (Carl and Luella Suchovsky in Muskegon Heights, MI), the Snurfer was distributed all over the country. From 1968 through the late 1970s, snurfer racing competitions were held in Muskegon, Michigan. In 1968 more than 200 spectators watched a snurfing championship.[3] Brunswick discontinued production in 1972, but JEM Corporation continued manufacture until the early 1980s. By 1977, Jake Burton Carpenter, an avid competitive snurfer, began developing an improved model without the rope and with the addition of rigid bindings for ski boots to the board. As more resorts began allowing snowboards on their ski lifts, the popularity of the snurfer waned. Poppen took up snowboarding at the age of 67. He has been recognized by the snowboarding community as the grandfather of the sport being inducted into the Snowboarding Hall of Fame in Banff Canada in 1995.[4]

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  1. ^ "Surf-type snow ski US 3378274 A". Retrieved 14 October 2014. 
  2. ^ "Muskegon Area Hall of Fame". Retrieved 14 October 2014. 
  3. ^ "Snurfing 1968". Retrieved 14 October 2014. 
  4. ^ "Sherman Poppen Papers, 1966-2008". Archives Center, National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 17 February 2017.