In 1977, Jake Burton Carpenter quit his investment banking job in Manhattan and moved to Vermont. He bartended at night and during the day built snowboards in his barn, he would test his inventions himself on the hills of Southern Vermont.
The first national competition took place in 1982 at Suicide Six, the only mountain that would allow snowboarders at the time. Jake and his crew boarded at the event on Burton equipment. The event later became known as the U.S. Open Snowboarding Championships, and recently finished its 32nd annual competition, hosted by… (you guessed it) Burton.
Shaun White has been showing off his Burton pride since 1997, when he appeared in their catalog to promote kids gear. The picture (left) is from page 21 of Burton’s 1997 catalog, and yes, that little boy catching big air is the flying tomato himself.
How much is a 1983 Burton Performer Team Issue board worth? This “Black Widow” board, constructed, ridden and signed by Bob Novak sold for $11,730.32. The person selling it on Ebay said it was one of only seven produced and that Novak won a downhill competition on it in 1984. The board is pictured left.
An even older board, with less historical notoriety, sold for $11,211, also on Ebay in 2012. The board, a BB1 Londonderry, was made between 1978 and 1979.
“Employees at Burton’s global headquarters receive a free pass to a local mountain for unlimited riding. If it snows more than two feet in one day, our offices are closed—everyone must go snowboarding!”
And they get to bring their dogs to work.
Burton has gotten creative with sustainability. On a mission to make winter last, they partnered with Mountain Dew to make The Green Mountain Project a reality. The project utilizes the plastic from recycled Dew bottles, turning the plastic into pellets and then spinning it into yarn. The yarn is made into outerwear, pants, sweatshirts and even hats. Snowboarder Danny Davis is the face of the campaign and says the plastic makes the garments more durable.
If you caught Olympic Snowboarding coverage from Sochi you know that Burton made riders look amazing and oh so proud to be American. What you may not know is that the jacket is a tribute to American history, specifically the trying times and determined American spirit. The inspirational vintage flag used in the design was actually found at an antique fair in the U.S. but sadly (and predictably) much of the uniform’s production was outsourced.
Burton’s president and co-owner, Donna Carpenter, is in the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame. Married to Jake Burton Carpenter, she has three children, manages the “company’s global human resources,” heads the non-profit Chill Foundation, has taken up an initiative to get more women into the company and boarding… and she still finds time to snowboard—so we should really be able to get out there more.
Burton has established a women-only sub-site that features content on travel, health and beauty tips, culture, photography and other art—and, of course, snowboarding. The site, Burton Girls, also features plenty of Burton gear.
Pictured left is one example of the self-mutilation boards that sparked in-person protests at Burton’s headquarters. We elected not to show the other boards that were also the subject of these protests, as they were graphic playboy spreads. Burton was unapologetic in the face of protests, claiming free expression relieved them of responsibility. The line was discontinued in 2012.
Craig’s is a Burton prototype facility (and a whole lot more), named to honor the late boarder Craig Kelly. The facility’s entrance, symbolically shielded by an avalanche fence, is the passageway to boarding innovation. Once inside you’ll find more advanced board-building equipment than you can wrap your mind around, allowing engineers to turn an idea into reality within 24 hours. The site also features a “Warranty Window,” for customer service and public tours on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Outside of the main building you’ll find a barn, just like where it all began, that commemorates and celebrates Burton’s (and Craig's) journey in snowboarding history.