Did You Know One of Winter’s Most Popular Sports Was Invented in Michigan?
Winter is in full swing, and across most of the country, that means snow. Michiganders are hitting the slopes and the trails to indulge in all of their favorite winter activities, but many many may not realize that one of those winter sports they're enjoying was actually invented right here in Michigan.
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Snowboarding, now on of the most popular parts of the Winter Olympics, was actually invented Muskegon. On Christmas Day in 1965 by a man named Sherman Poppen was working his garage to invent a new, fun toy for his daughters. He fastened two Kmart skies together and used a rope to control himself as he "surfed" down the hill. The new toy was dubbed the Snurfer ( snow + surfing)
“When I saw how much fun the kids had Christmas Day,” Poppen told Skiing Heritage, “I spent the next week in Goodwill and everywhere else buying up every water ski I could find.”
Poppen, knew he had a hit on his hands and licensed the idea to a manufacturer, Brunswick Corporation, that sold about a million snurfers over the next decade. Poppen went on to be known as the "Grandfather of Snowboarding" passed away in 2019 at the age of 89. As the snurfer evolved, others tinkered with changes and modifications which included adding bindings, something that wasn't part of the very first snowboards.
In addition to Michigan being the state where snowboarding was born, it was also the site of some of the very first competitions in the sport starting in 1978 with the National Snurfing Championship, held in Muskegon, Michigan. Snowboarding is now one of the biggest draws at the 1998 Winter Games after making its Olympic debut in Nagano, Japan.
Today you can head to any ski resort, any local ski hill, anywhere in the world, and you will see future Shaun Whites and Chloe Kims racing down the hill on a "toy" that was invented right here in the Mitten State on a Christmas day.
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