Jake Burton

Jake Burton Shop Appearance in Tokyo
Jun Sato/Contributor/WireImage/Getty Images

Jake Burton's Personal Info:

Born: April 29th, 1954 (Age 48)
Hometown: Cedarhurst, NY
Currently Resides: Stowe, VT
Years Riding: 40 years
Home Mountain:Stowe Mountain Resort

Jake Burton's Early Life:

Born Jake Burton Carpenter (he took his middle name as his last after college) was born on April 29[supth, 1954 in New York City. Growing up the youngest of four children on Long Island, he enjoyed skiing, but longed for a winter sport that didn't involve uncomfortable plastic boots and ski poles.

After graduating from high school in 1972, Carpenter headed off to the University of Colorado with plans to try out for the ski team. With that plan derailed by a broken collar bone (the result of a car accident), he left school after a short while and moved back east.

The Beginnings of Burton Snowboards:

Burton had received a Snurfer, the precursor to the modern snowboard, for Christmas in 1968. According to his bio from the Burton Snowboards website, he "immediately identified with the concept [of riding] in comfortable footwear this time and not holding onto ski poles." After graduating from NYU with a degree in economics, Burton moved to Londonderry, Vermont in 1977 to start Burton Snowboards. The company sold 300 boards (designed around a modified Snurfer with bindings) the first year - not nearly enough to pay the bills. One year later, having sold a total of 1,000 boards, he had exhausted his $100,000 inheritance.

Growing the Company - and the Sport:

Burton realized he needed to convince ski resorts to let snowboarders on their slopes in order to grow his business. His major break came when Stratton Mountain Resort agreed to allow snowboarders on its slopes. With sales increasing, Burton and his future wife Donna flew to Europe to find a ski factor to produce his snowboards.

"The dollar was incredibly strong at the time, so it was very cheap to get stuff made over there," Burton said, referring to Austria.1 In 1983, Burton held the first National Snowboarding Championships at Snow Valley, Vermont, an event that would eventually come to be known as the U.S. Open.

Jake Burton Today:

With the sport of snowboarding having gained mainstream acceptance and a spot in the Winter Olympics, Burton today spends over 100 days on snow each season. Burton Snowboards remains a privately held company, with Burton himself acting as the driving force. He also plays an influential role in Chill the company's charitable foundation that teaches at-risk youth to snowboard. He can frequently be found walking amongst the crowd at the U.S. Open of Snowboarding - an average guy with anything but an average legacy.