Did you know Muskegon, Michigan is the birthplace of the snowboard?
Originally called the “Snurfer” it was invented in 1968 by Sherm Poppen and manufactured by Brunswick - both right here in Muskegon!
History of the Snurfer and Snowboard
On Christmas Day in 1965, Muskegon resident Sherm Poppen took his daughters to the snow-covered dunes of Lake Michigan for a day of winter fun. They first tried sledding down the dune, but the sled blades dug into the sand and stuck. The determined Dad took two older snow skis, bolted them together and created a stand-up style board. The girls could stand on this invention and "surf" down the snowy dunes. The "Snurfer" (snow surfer) was born - and would become the first mass produced snowboard!
In 1966 Mr. Poppen obtained a patent for the Snurfer and partnered with Brunswick Corp (also located in Muskegon, MI) to commercially manufacture his creation. These first boards were originally made from the same laminated wood Brunswick used for bowling lanes.
Muskegon Community College hosted the very first “World” Snow Surfing Competition a few years later in 1968. Winter sport enthusiasts came from across the country to compete on the hill located at the Blockhouse. Over 300 competitors and spectators cheered on as Sally Waite and Ted Slater were named the world’s first Snowboarding champions.
The competition changed it's name to “National Snurfing Contest" in 1975. The last championship event was held on January 26, 1985 at the Pando Ski Area in Rockford, MI. In 1998, Snowboarding became an official sport at the Winter Olympic Games in Nagano, Japan.
We are Pretty Proud of That!
In 2012 "The Turning Point" sculpture was dedicated to Sherm Poppen's creation - and contribution to the popular winter-sport. The 10 ft. tall sculpture was created by Colorado artist Jason Dreweck. A female figure graces the top, attired in 1960's apparel, representing Sherm's daughter Wendy. A modern boarder cruises off the bottom. Both figures at each end of the ribbon illustrate the evolution of snowboarding. The statue is located in Downtown Muskegon at the intersection of Western Ave and Fourth St.
Visit the Muskegon Heritage Museum of Business & Industry for their display of original Snurfers manufactured by Brunswick. There are three floors filled with great exhibits, artifacts and photos.
A short film "Made in the Mitten" by Zep Zeerip was released in the winter of 2020. The movie celebrates Muskegon as the birthplace of snowboarding, is filled with never seen before footage and explores the development of the sport by Jake Burton Carpenter. The film is available to view on Vimeo Click Here to Watch
Snowboarding and Sledding Hills:
Grab your board and Visit Muskegon for the snow-covered dunes rising along 26 miles of Lake Michigan Shoreline. Cruise the trails at PJ Hoffmaster State Park, Beachwood Park, or any snow hill…Muskegon County has plenty!
Click HERE to see the Top Five Sledding Hills of Muskegon County (and more local favorites!)
In 2012 "The Turning Point" was dedicated to celebrate Sherm Poppen's creation and contribution to the popular winter-sport. The 10 ft. tall sculpture was created by Colorado artist Jason Dreweck. A female figure graces the top, attired in 1960's apparel, representing Sherm's daughter Wendy. A modern boarder cruises off the bottom. Both figures at each end of the ribbon illustrate the evolution of snowboarding. The statue is located in Downtown Muskegon at the intersection of Western Ave and Fourth St.