A Quick History of Board Sports

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In the past, the dangerous nature combined with the property damage caused by these activities had led them to be marginalized by the greater community of sports. Today, there rules and regulations are enforced for safety, and there has been an ever-increasing popularity in these activities, with almost 11 million participants in the U.S. in 2014. These activities are board sports.

What are Board sports?
Board sports are sports whose primary equipment is some type of board, and they take place on a variety of terrain — surfing, skateboarding/longboarding, snowboarding, and skiing are among the most common board sports, but there are many more that exist, usually being some type of subcategory of those aforementioned sports.

Surfing: The First Board Sport
Surfing was the very first board sport. It originated in Polynesian culture, the surfboards being simple planks and single canoe hulls. In 1907, however, George Freeth, a man of partial Hawaiian descent, shaped and popularized modern surfing with both his skills and his creation of the ‘Long board’ surfboards (boards that were cut down from the massive 16-foot hardwood boards that people had been using as surfboards until that point).

In modern-day, nearly 2 million Americans report surfing at least once a year.

Skateboarding was invented around the 1940s by surfers who wished to ‘surf’ on land during their downtime. The first skateboards began as wooden boxes or crates with skate wheels attached to the bottom, and then later, were pared down to just a single flat board with skate wheels attached.

Today, about 11 million people enjoy skateboarding on a regular basis.

Skiing started in Scandinavia, with the word “ski” itself being derived from an Old Norse word meaning “split piece of wood or firewood”. Early skis were asymmetrical, with one ski designed for gliding and one ski designed for kicking. Early skiers also only utilized one pole/spear. Modern skis were not developed until the early 1800s.

Snowboarding was inspired by and developed as a result of skateboarding and skiing. In 1965, an American engineer named Sherman Poppen created the “snurfer” (portmanteau of “snow” and “surfer”), a board made of two skis fastened together with a rope attached at the end to steer/control the board as one slid down a snowy hill. He licensed the idea to Brunswick corporation, and throughout the rest of the 60s a million snurfers were sold.

Later, a teenage skateboarder named Tom Sims refined the design by taking a single skateboard-sized board and adding aluminum sheeting to the bottom. This led to the modern snowboard as known today.


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