By: Jake DesRoches
February 13, 2013
With each year that passes, the opportunity for seeing, meeting, and speaking with a snowboarding legend diminishes. The passing of Tom Sims last September is a stark reminder of this. The ranks of the original riders, the guys who took what we would consider simple wooden or fiberglass planks to the snow, are fading fast. On Friday February 1st at the SIA Snow Show, I was fortunate enough to come across one of the original riders. I was lucky enough to meet Chuck Barfoot.
After speaking to Chuck and his board-building partner Ernie Delost, I was nearly at a loss of words. I had never met a stranger who had lived through so much snowboarding history, let alone helped to create it. I knew I needed to learn more about this man. Before he parted to meet with old friends on the snow show floor, I asked if he would be willing to do a brief interview with me the next day.
Being simply a down to earth guy, he agreed to come back the next morning and speak with me for fifteen minutes. This fifteen-minute meeting turned into a thirteen-minute interview plus another twenty minutes of great conversation, just talking, laughing, and enjoying the snow show vibe.
Chuck Barfoot is a humble, inspiring, and truly good man. We should be thankful he loves snowboarding so much, because without him we might still be riding wooden boards with black grip tape and skyhooks for bindings (ok, it probably wouldn’t be that bad).
This is Chuck’s story.
The Old Days
Chuck Barfoot started surfing in Beach Haven, New Jersey in 1961. Nine years later, in 1970, he moved to Santa Barbara, California and was living with Tom Sims. Chuck was well positioned to help craft the snowboarding industry that we know today, but he didn’t know it.
It was 1977; he was working for Tom Sims, building prototypes and doing research and development on the classic skateboards and surfboards that Sims produced. At this point, he had never even touched his feet on a board and placed that board on the snow. He was a surfer and a skater. He had no idea how much his life would change.
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