Athletes & Explorers

Nov 22, 2019

Reaction: Burton Snowboards Founder, Jake Burton Carpenter, dies at age 65

Jake Burton Carpenter, a pioneer in the snowboarding industry, who alchemized a fringe fad into an Olympic sport, has died due to complications from cancer. The world has started to pay tribute.


The Outdoor Journal

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Jake Burton Carpenter, the founder of Burton Snowboards, has died at age 65 as a result of complications from recurring cancer, according to a statement by the company.

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A post shared by Burton (@burton)

Working out of a borrowed barn in Londonderry, Vermont, Burton pioneered the snowboarding industry in 1977. 20 years later, snowboarding became recognized as an Olympic sport in the 1998 Winter Games in Nagano, Japan. Although he had no manufacturing experience, Burton was inspired to bring his innovative ideas into production by his experience as a teenager with a “snurfer,” a plank-like board with a curved tip and a rope to hold on to. He developed a binding system to attach riders to their boards and offer more control than a rope. Although his boards were initially outlawed at ski resorts throughout the country, Burton persisted through countless rejection to turn a fringe fad into an indelible winter pastime and powerhouse Olympic sport. Burton’s boards resonated with the youth culture by representing a rebellious, anti-establishment sentiment and lifestyle. Snowboarding changed from an unwanted sport that was deemed too unsafe to share the slopes with skiers into the mainstream, thanks to Burton.

The company (more like a three-man team) only sold 300 boards in the first year; however, Burton’s perseverance, innovative spirit, and passion for snowboarding transformed his nascent company into a billion-dollar industry.

Reaction From Around The World.

The world of snowboarding, and the wider outdoor industry has begun to respond to the hashtag created by Burton #RideOnJake. A selected few can be seen below.


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The first time I stepped on a snowboard in 1982 it was a Burton and most likely shaped by Jake himself. The first time I rode a chairlift was 1987 in Vermont and most likely Jake was behind making that happen in one way or another. The last few years I had gotten to know Jake personally through his wife @donnacarpenter who is on the board of @protectourwinters . We hit it off right away and always had the best conversations. I am so grateful I got to know Jake personally and see his stoke and passion for snowboarding first hand. I know I am not alone when I say his work changed my life. It is sad to see him go, but it was a life well lived. Thoughts and prayers to his family. Tomorrow afternoon the @jonessnowboards staff will celebrate his life by going snowboarding. If you are in the area come join the celebration at Alpine Meadows, 2pm. #rideonjake @jakeburton77

A post shared by Jeremy Jones (@jeremyjones) on

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My heart goes out to Donna and the entire Burton family on Jake’s passing. He’s the father of snowboarding, an incredible man and I’m honored to call him my friend… Words cannot capture how grateful I am to Jake. He’s been such an instrumental figure in my life and career. He believed in me at a very early age, and put so much of himself along with the Burton brand behind me. Jake supported me in every way possible. We shared a lot of incredible moments, but one moment at the last winter Olympics meant the world to me … Jake embraced me and told me how proud he was of me and my career, and I’ll never forget that. I will do what I can to help carry his legacy forward. Jake helped pave the way for snowboarders across the world to pursue their dreams, and his impact on snowboarding will live on in all of us. Ride on Jake 🙏🏻❤️#snowboarding

A post shared by Shaun White (@shaunwhite) on


The cover photo is taken from the homepage on the day of Jake’s death.