Michigan’s Snurfer & the roots of Snowboarding

1969 snurfing competitors courtesy Tracy Tebeau Kirksey

1969 snurfing competitors courtesy Tracy Tebeau Kirksey

The Freshwater Reporter has an interesting story by Stewart McFerrin on the Michigan-invented Snurfer and the roots of snowboarding that says (in part):

Snowboarding has become a worldwide phenomenon. The big air tricks of mega stars, such as Shaun White in the Olympic Half Pipe, rival the traditional Nordic pursuit of Alpine skiing. You may be surprised to know it all began in the dunes of West Michigan, where my friends and I pursued the sport of snurfing, a.k.a. snow surfing.

…The Snurfer was invented by a man with ties to the Brunswick Corporation. Brunswick produced bowling equipment and flooring at its headquarters in Muskegon, Mich. Sherman “Sherm” Poppen created the Snurfer, a shorter and wider version of a ski, and talked his kids into trying his invention on the “Sugar Bowl” at the Muskegon State Park. Friends of friends joined in and rode the deep powder on Snurfer boards all the way to the bottom, in a style and stance that would later become snowboarding. After obtaining a patent, Poppen licensed Brunswick to make the Snurfers.

This all happened in the late sixties and seventies when, after a long afternoon of snurfing, I recall my “bell bottoms,” frozen and encrusted with snow, ringing out as they brushed together during a trick performed from the edge of a steep dune. Lake Michigan loomed large as the lake-effect powder snow piled up to cushion my falls off the Snurfer.

Read on at the Freshwater Reporter for much more!

The photo is courtesy Tracy Tebeau Kirksey & shows Snurfer inventor Sherman “Sherm” Poppen (R) with the 1969 snurfing competitors and their Snurfer boards. From left: Rick Tebeau, Tom Metzdorf, James T., and champion Ted Slater. There are two types of Snurfers. The wooden ones had a metal skeg (similar to a boat’s keel fin) at the rear, to facilitate turns on hard-packed snow or ice. 

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One thought on “Michigan’s Snurfer & the roots of Snowboarding

  1. Thanks again for your fine pictures and articles. We are looking forward to summer. You all take care and have a good day.

    Like

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