Snowboard pioneer Jake Burton Carpenter dies

Los Angeles (AFP) –


Snowboard pioneer Jake Burton Carpenter, who helped propel the sport into the mainstream and, eventually, the Olympic Games, has died of complications related to cancer at the age of 65.

The company he founded, Burton Snowboards, confirmed his death in a statement posted on Twitter on Thursday.

"It is with a heavy heart that we share that Burton founder Jake Burton Carpenter passed away peacefully last night surrounded by loved ones as a result of complications from recurring cancer," the company said.

"He was the soul of snowboarding, the one who gave us the sport we love. #RideonJake"

Burton founded his company in Vermont in 1977, building on the invention that Sherman Poppen had come up with just over a decade earlier.

The popularity of snowboarding owed a lot to the charismatic entrepreneur's efforts to have the sport accepted at ski resorts, where it was long viewed with suspicion.

Snowboarding made its Olympic debut at the 1998 Nagano Winter Games, and the small company that Burton founded, selling just 300 boards in its first year, blossomed into a multi-million-dollar brand.

"He's like the cool dad of the sport," Olympic snowboarder Shaun White told The New York Times of Burton in 2015.

That was the year Burton revealed he had been diagnosed with the nervous system disorder Miller Fisher syndrome, which left him paralyzed for several weeks.

Four years earlier he had been diagnosed with testicular cancer, and on November 9 he sent an email to company employees that said he was again fighting cancer.

"You will not believe this, but my cancer has come back," he wrote.

Burton Snowboards, where Burton's wife Donna Carpenter has served as chief executive officer since 2015, encouraged employees to spend Friday on the slopes in Vermont in honor of the firm's founder.

"It's opening day at Stowe, so consider taking some turns together, in celebration of Jake," the company said.