History of the Snurfer
The Birth of a Sport
Snurfing 1965

Nearly a foot of new snow fell on that Christmas Eve, blanketing the Lake Michigan dunes along the eastern shore. The festivities of Christmas morning had played out to perfection. All the presents had been opened and the anticipation and excitement of the day was now being gloriously vocalized by sisters Wendy and Laurie Poppen.

Nancy Poppen, eminently pregnant with her third daughter, made a request to her husband.

“Sherm, you’ve got to get those noisy kids out of the house.”

“Everybody outside!” shouted Sherm, “Mom needs a little rest.”

With that, the stage was set for the birth of an Olympic sport.


With the call of fresh snow, Wendy, age 9, and her sister Laurie, age 4, wanted to go sledding. Legend has it their dad, Sherm, couldn’t find a sled. Or maybe it was that the sled was cutting through the snow and simply wouldn’t perform as desired. Time blurs this part of the story.

Either way, something inspired Sherm to head back to his workshop to improvise. Grabbing a pair of peach-colored kids skis purchased from the local Kresge, he lashed them together into a makeshift toy for his daughters. The girls took turns on the contraption, sliding down the sand dune behind the family’s Beach Street home.

“The next thing I know the kids aren’t sitting on it, they’re standing on it,” Sherm Poppen recalled some 15 years later, “and I wanted to stand on it. And it was a real good time.”

 --- Ron Pesch
Sherm Poppen and the birth of Snowboarding.
The first Snurfer, shown to the right, now resides in the Smithsonian collection
The Turning Point - a sculpture by Jason Dreweck and Teresa Hansen in downtown Muskegon, Michigan.  The bronze honors Sherm Poppen, his creation of the Snurfer, and the city of Muskegon as the birthplace of the sport today known as Snowboarding.

Photo by Sean Mullally
Muskegon, Michigan - The Birthplace of Snowboarding
History of the Snurfer and the Snowboard
An Online Exhibit
1965 - Sherm Poppen and the birth of Snowboarding
1966 - A Ride That Could Become The Nation's Newest Outdoor Craze
1967 - How Bobby Became King of the Snow
1968 - Ted Slater and Sally Waite win first 'World' Snurfing Champions
1969 - Second Annual Snurfing Championships
1970 - Snurfing Test Attracts 600 to Muskegon State Park
1971 - Brunswick advertising - The Snurfing Bug
1972 - Snow Flake Snurfing Contest
1973 - Snurfer is here!
1974 - Snurf's Up - The Word Spreads
1975 - Snurfing Goes National
1976 - Winter Wonderland
1977 - Winter Blast to Start Semester
1978 - The Great Blizzard of 1978
1979 - Jake comes to town
1980 - Championships leave Muskegon and gain national exposure
1981 - Snurfin' U.S.A. - 15 years later.
1982 - Snow Surfing Championships expand with event in Woodstock, Vt.
1983 - Weather cancels National Snurfing Championships at Pando
1984 - Novak crowned National Champion
1985 - The end of the National Snurfing Championships
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