Muskegon native, ‘father of snowboarding’ dies at 89

Muskegon County

MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — The Muskegon native credited with creating the first version of a snowboard has died.

Sherman Poppen, known as the father of snowboarding, died in Griffin, Georgia on Wednesday, according to the Muskegon Area Sports Hall of Fame.

Poppen was best known for inventing the “snurfer,” which is a wide single ski that’s ridden like a snowboard, but doesn’t have bindings. The snurfer is controlled by a rope a the front of the board.

The Muskegon Area Sports Hall of Fame says Poppen came up with the idea in 1965 to get his daughters out of their Muskegon home on Christmas Day. He bolted together a pair of kid’s skis for the girls to ride down the Lake Michigan dunes in his back yard, the organization says.

The invention was such a hit, Poppen fashioned a better version for snow in his workshop, which his wife named a snurfer. Brunswick Corp. eventually signed on, distributing the snurfer nationwide before the snowboard rose to fame.

Poppen was 89 years old.

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