Jake Burton Carpenter Dead, Snowboard Pioneer Loses Cancer Battle At Age 65

Jake Burton talks to media before the Snowboard Men's Halfpipe Finals on day four of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.
Cameron Spencer / Getty Images

Jake Burton Carpenter, the professional snowboarder who helped grow the sport into the international phenomenon it is today, has passed away at the age of 65, according to a report by Boston.com. The winter sports star’s death can be attributed to testicular cancer, with an email from his company, Burton, saying that the disease Carpenter had previously defeated in 2011 had returned before his death on Wednesday night in Burlington, Vermont.

In an email to Burton staff, co-CEO John Lacy wrote, “He was our founder, the soul of snowboarding, the one who gave us the sport we all love so much.”

Carpenter is survived by his wife Donna and their son Timi. Carpenter has two other sons, George and Taylor, from a previous relationship.

In 1977, Carpenter and the world around him changed forever. He quit his job in New York City to launch Burton, just 12 years after the snowboard, then referred to as a “Snurfer,” was invented by Sherman Poppen. His goal was to use the company to push the new device nationwide. Carpenter found success beyond what he could have ever imagined, as snowboards are now found across the globe at ski resorts and competitive snowboarding has captured global attention at the Winter Olympics.

The Burton brand has seen a similar rise in ubiquity alongside the sport it represents, with boards and jackets bearing the company’s name a fixture on the mountains during the winter months. Part of Burton’s growth can be attributed to wise decision-making when deciding who to sponsor, with Shaun White, Kelly Clark, and Chloe Kim all sporting the brand on their way to Olympic gold.

At the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, 20 years after the sport appeared at the Games for the first time, Carpenter was a constant presence as Kim won gold in the women’s snowboard halfpipe at only 17 years old. Carpenter was at ease among the throngs of snowboarders and fans that surrounded him, with Burton just as popular in South Korea as it is in Londonderry, Vermont, where the company was founded in Carpenter’s basement.

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Carpenter was always vocal in his pride at how snowboarding has grown and maintained an optimistic outlook on the future of the sport he played a major role in spreading.

In a 2010 interview, Carpenter said, “I had a vision there was a sport there, that it was more than just a sledding thing, which is all it was then. We’re doing something that’s going to last here. It’s not like just hitting the lottery one day.”

No details have been released as of publishing about Carpenter’s funeral, but Lacy did offer one way fans could pay tribute to the late pioneer, saying, “I’d encourage everyone to do what Jake would be doing tomorrow, and that’s riding. It’s opening day at Stowe, so consider taking some turns together, in celebration of Jake.”