For someone who could be credited for growing an industry from a little-known, backwoods idea, into a winter Olympic discipline, the guy was pretty low-key.
I had the opportunity to meet Jake Burton Carpenter in 2009 and 2010, when I was deeply involved in the snow-sports industry. Like many my age, I started snowboarding as a transition from skateboarding, during the golden era of growth and evolution within the sport. Burton Snowboards was always perceived to be the front-runner in the industry, with early talents from Jeff Brushie, Craig Kelly and Terje Haakonsen pushing improved product development. Burton was something of an Unobtainium brand for youth, like myself, working crappy summer jobs and doing chores to buy second-hand gear.
Traveling to Burton HQ in Burlington, Vermont was a bit like a trip to Disney for those who grew up within the sport. Seeing the internal workings of the facility, meeting the humans building and designing the products, and immersing myself in that experience was surreal. We partied with, and rode with Shaun White and Mikkel Bang, on that particular adventure. That fantastic experience culminated in meeting and speaking with Jake, who was remarkably humble and down to earth. Despite all the corporate shade that the rest of the industry throws his way, Jake was still the guy who personally handed our pies to his staff every Thanksgiving, and genuinely listened to rider input.
I’ve made up some decals that my crew and I will be repping on our snowboards this winter. I said it at the time, in person, but for every one of us that stand sideways on snow – Thank you, Jake. Much respect, and may there be endless bluebird and pow turns where you’ve gone.
Jake Burton Carpenter