Updated: Dec 9, 2019
The skiing and snowboarding community lost Jake Burton Carpenter, founder of Burton Snowboards, this past week. He was an icon in the snowboarding world essentially creating the sport we see today by they way he shaped and produced his snowboards. The thing most people don't realize is that snowboarding saved skiing. Without Jake and Burton, skiing wouldn't be what it is today.
In the mid-1990s, the New Canadian Air Force (JP Auclair, Mike Douglas, Vincent Dorion, Shane Szocs, Phil Larose, Phil Belanger, Phil Dion, and others) started following snowboarders into the "snowboard parks" at ski resorts at started mimicking what they were doing. Grabs, skiing switch, hitting rails, 3's and 5's, all of which were not typically seen outside the mogul scene or aerials for skiing. Snowboarders didn't care that skiers were following them, and that's what some people have been missing when they go to the mountain. Chris Benchetler and Eric Pollard were also following snowboarders and started to gain influence on how to design their skis to allow for a more "surfy" feel, more of what snowboarders were doing. JP Aurclair and Mike Douglas both worked with Salomon to produce the "1080", one of the first true park skis. JP went on to found Armada, Chris Benchetler has the Atomic Bentchetler, Eric Pollard has been the mind behind numerous Line Skis, and Mike Douglas has continued to improve Salomon's line of skis along with the other pros on the Salomon team. All of these guys skied with snowboarders and have all referred to how riding with snowboarders has influenced how they see and ride the mountain.
I was up at Stratton Mountain Resort today where there was a gathering to remember Jake and what he did for the skiing and snowboarding community as a whole. What I experienced was a bunch of people who just wanted to be out on the mountain having fun sliding on snow. It was windy, cold, but nobody cared. We all enjoyed every second of being on that deck outside the Hubert Haus together talking about skiing and snowboarding. Whether it was your favorite board that Jake designed, that one time you and him took shots together after riding, or the first time you met him, there was a buzz with every person there. Everybody was genuinely interested in what each person had to say and what their reason for being there was. That sense of community is something I haven't found in recent years.
This group was stoked!
This afternoon at Stratton, it didn't matter whether you were a skier, snowboarder, or neither. All that mattered is that you were there. Multiple times, from different people, "this is what Jake would have wanted, all of us here" was said. And it was meant.
Jake was a huge influence on this community and will continue to influence this community for years to come.