Read How Snowboarding and Snowboards Were Created in Michigan
"Let's go snurfin' now,
Everybody's learnin' how..."
Snurfin' - or snowboarding – is one of Michigan's favorite wintertime sports. Not only that, but the sport itself was created in Michigan. There's even a sculpture that commemorates the genesis of that concept.
Backtracking to 1965 – December of that year to be exact – in was on Christmas Day when Muskegon resident Sherman Poppen took his daughters out for some fun in the snow. They went over to the dunes on nearby Lake Michigan for some sledding. The dunes were all covered in snow and they looked perfect for a day of sledding...but such was not the case. Sledding down the dune, the runners (blades) on the sled kept burrowing into the sand that was just inches underneath the snow. Naturally, this squelched the fun, because the girls could only travel a few feet before getting stuck. That stinks.
So what did dad do? Not wanting to disappoint his daughters, he took the time to take a pair of old skis and fasten 'em together in a manner where they could surf – or 'snurf' – down the dune without getting stuck. That was the genesis of today's snowboarding.
Not long afterward, in 1966, Sherm designed a snowboard and achieved a patent for it, thus starting “Snurfin' USA” across the country. He got together with the Brunswick company (the same company who made bowling balls) that also happened to be located in Muskegon, and snowboards - “snurfers” - began being mass-produced and sold nationwide. The sport still stands, more popular than ever, even used as an Olympic sport.
In honor of this achievement, the city of Muskegon erected a monument in 2012 to immortalize this invention for all time. The monument is called “The Turning Point” and is located at the corner of 4th Street and W. Western Avenue. The monument looks like a big ribbon (symbolizing a hill) and someone at the top getting ready to snurf. The person at the top is none other than Sherm's daughter, Wendy, the first person to try snurfin' and Michigan's original “snurfer girl”.
Next time you visit, make sure to stop at the Muskegon Heritage Museum for plenty of artifacts, displays of original Snurfers, and more cool stuff!
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