Snowboarding visionary Jake Burton Carpenter dies at 65
By: Eddie Pells, Associated Press and Dan D'Ambrosio, Burlington Free Press
Whether you had a gold medal hanging from your neck, were just learning how to stand on a snowboard, or were one of those flustered skiers wondering where all the kids in the baggy pants were coming from, you knew the name “Burton.”
Jake Burton Carpenter, the man who changed the game on the mountain by fulfilling a grand vision of what a snowboard could be, died Wednesday night of complications stemming from a relapse of testicular cancer. He was 65.
In an email sent to the staff at Burton, CEO John Lacy called Burton “our founder, the soul of snowboarding, the one who gave us the sport we love so much.”
For years, Burton’s snowboards were largely snubbed at resorts — its dimensions too untested, its riders too unrefined, its danger all too real — and many wouldn’t allow them to share the slopes with the cultured ski elite in Colorado or California or, heaven forbid, the Swiss Alps.
But those riders were a force of nature. And for all their risk-taking, rule-breaking, sidewinding trips down the mountain, they spent money, too. Throughout the last decade, snowboarders have accounted for more than 25 percent of visitors to mountain resorts in the United States. They have bankrolled a business worth more than $1 billion annually — a big chunk of which is spent on Burton gear.
“People take it for granted now,” said Pat Bridges, a longtime writer for Snowboarding Magazine, who has followed the industry for decades. “They don’t even realize that the name ‘Burton’ isn’t a company. It’s a person. Obviously, it’s the biggest brand in snowboarding. The man himself is even bigger.”In 1998, and with Carpenter’s tacit blessing, the Olympics got in on the act, in hopes of injecting some youth into an older-skewing program filled with ski jumpers, bobsledders, figure skaters and hockey players.
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