When Did Snowboarding Become Popular?

Published by Harry Sowers on

Snowboarding is an unbelievably popular sport. It is practiced over the globe and on every single continent. If a mountain gets snowfall every year, there is a snowboarder on that mountain searching for fresh pow. And there is a wide and varied community of snowboarders all over the Internet that find they’re home among other fellow snowboarders. The many types of people who snowboard love to come together and trade information, tips, secret places to go, and the best equipment to buy within a certain price range. But how did snowboarding become popular, and why did snowboarding become popular?

A Quick History Of Snowboarding

Before we find out why snowboarding became so popular, let’s find out a little bit about the history of snowboarding. Snowboarding is an extremely recent invention. In the 1960s, An American named Sherman Poppen Wanted to create a brand new winter sport, and so he looked to the sports of skiing and surfing for inspiration. He wanted to create a winter sport that his daughters could practice since they’re having trouble balancing on their skis. The earliest version of a snowboard was called a Snurfer, and his daughters took to it. Soon they began to show off their new snurfer boards to their friends, and their popularity grew all around the neighborhood. That was in 1965, and by the end of the year, the patent for the snurfer was sold to a large winter sports company. By the end of 1966, half a million boards were sold. 

Ever since then, the amount of people participating in snowboarding has risen into the millions. 

The Animosity Between Skiers And Snowboarders

Since snowboarding was such a recent invention, all of the winter sports resorts and hotels were made for skiers. One would think that as snowboarding grew in popularity, resorts, and hotels that cater to skiers would also make a place for snowboarders and accommodate their needs. Well, you would be wrong. For a long time, two decades, skiers saw snowboarders as intruders on their mountains, and snowboarders had to take a special test to use chairlifts in certain areas. Skiers did not have to take this test. Over the 1980s, a massive rift between snowboarders and skiers developed. Many skiers saw snowboarders as unskilled fools who wanted to ruin the mountains and slopes where they practiced. The modern version of skiing is around 140 years old as of 2020. This means the age of skiing was about a hundred years old in the 1980s, so it was much more distinguished and well-regarded around the world. But the anger and scorn that they received from skiers did not stop the snowboarders. They continued to carve through snow and take up space wherever they went.

A true genuine divide developed, and there was very much a “skiers vs. snowboarders” mentality. A skier could not hang out with a snowboarder, or they would lose the respect of the skiers in their group. However, this way of thinking died around the late 2000s, and now you can find people practicing both skiing and snowboarding.

When Did Snowboarding Become Popular?

when did snowboarding start

Even though popularity kept climbing for the three and a half decades since the invention of the snowboard, it didn’t truly Peak until later. Now several factors led to this unbelievably high rise in snowboarding. First of all, compared to skiing, snowboarding is much easier for beginners to break into. And depending on the snowboarding style you favor, it is easier to master than skiing in the same field. 

Second, in 1995, snowboarding was one of the many extreme games that made up the schedule of the X Games, which was hosted by ESPN. The X Games was looking for more fun and extreme sports to draw in younger crowds, and snowboarding had one of the youngest crowds in the world of winter sports.

Third, the construction of the snowboard became more advanced, and the boards also got cheaper if you compare the features of the latest no war to the earliest model. One of the biggest setbacks when snowboarding first began to go around the world was the board’s cost. It was extremely expensive compared to skiing. But as snowboard manufacturers thought to improve the construction of the snowboard, the cost went down, and there were more features, and they were created with more professional features.

But during what decade did snowboarding become popular? Snowboarding truly peaked during the 2010s. There were millions and millions of snowboarders across the globe, and each country where still boarding was popular had its own community of snowboarders. Early on in 1998, the Nagano Olympics had the very first snowboarding event as one of the main Olympic winter sports. And snowboarding would stay on for the 2004 Olympics as well. And now, whenever there is a winter sporting Olympic event, you will definitely find snowboarding events on the schedule.

But the true Peak of snowboarding happened in 2007. Millions of young, excited snowboarders looking to conquer mountains, slopes, and trails, and the variety of snowboarding equipment had increased4 exponentially. Unfortunately, in 2008 and 2009, the worldwide Global recession hit, and snowboarding sales took a dive as many people were now doing their best to conserve their money for essentials. Sales in skiing equipment also dived, but they recovered faster and snowboarding. 

As of now, snowboarding has been on the decline. In 2013, the total number of snowboarders dropped 28% when compared to 2003, but there were still at least 5 million snowboarders in the United States. 

There are still many communities around the world that promote snowboarding, just like skiing communities worldwide.


No matter what you love to do, skiing or snowboarding, as long as it captures your heart and your soul, then keep on doing what you’re doing. It is great that the terrible rivalry between skiers and snowboarders has now changed to a friendly game of comeuppance. Snowboarders are just as welcome as scares on the slopes and trails around the world.

Categories: Snowboard


Harry Sowers

Harry grew up outside of Denver Colorado and has been skiing and snowboarding since he was 3. He is most passionate about skiing and when he was in college at UC Boulder he even participated in the olympic trials for the USA Olympic Downhill Ski team.