30 years later it’s called snowboarding
Summit County Correspondent
Vail, CO Colorado
BRECKENRIDGE, Colorado” Back in 1978, a reporter and photographer from the Rocky Mountain News made a pilgrimage to the snowy mountains of Breckenridge to find out more about a new, relatively unheard of sport called snurfing.
They had caught word that a local bartender named Bob “Bubba” Haught was surfing down snow, and apparently causing quite the scene in the small mountain community.
“Apparently they didn’t think it was a real sport so they were all excited when they found me,” Haught said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if I was the first person to get interviewed about snowboarding west of the Mississippi.”
Haught came through Summit County in 1975 while he was headed west to surf San Diego with a few friends. After witnessing the serene beauty of Breckenridge and the surrounding mountain ranges, Haught knew he had found his new home.
“I fell in love with the valley like I got hit by a lightning bolt,” Haught recalls. “I continued with my trip to San Diego but ended up coming right back here and swallowed the anchor in 1976.”
Back in his home state of Rhode Island Haught discovered snurfing while looking for something to do between surfing seasons, and it was only natural that he continued to perfect his snurfing skills in the snowy mountains of Colorado.
The original snurfboard Haught brought with him to Breckenridge was 4 feet long by 6 inches wide and had a leash attached to the front for steering. Needless to say, the name of the sport and design of the boards has changed a bit over the years.
“I remember my buddy used to tow me behind his truck down Baldy Mountain,” Haught said. “I would ride up the snow banks on the side of the road and slap the pine trees before sliding back down. I was doing halfpipe stuff before halfpipes were even invented.”
The original article published by the Rocky Mountain News on March 9, 1978, was titled, “Snow surfer a curiosity in mountain community,” and in it Haught talks about how snurfing could have a big future in the West if local resorts chose to embrace it.
Fast forward 30 years and Breckenridge is still a Mecca for snowboarders. It has five parks and four pipes.
Haught doesn’t snurf or snowboard anymore, but says skiers and snowboarders have very different needs.
“I think that there should be two peaks, one for snowboarders and one for skiers with a combined terrain park in the middle,” Haught said. “The two sports are completely different, and I don’t see why this hasn’t been done in the past.”
Advances in snowboarding technology quickly made snurfing a thing of the past in the mid 1980s, and in 1988 Haught retired his snurfboard to take up skiing.
A self-admitted high speed addict, Haught thrived on bombing down the mountain as a two-planker until a ski accident last year forced him to hang up his boots for a while.
“It took ’em 54 years to knock me out of the game, but I got a strong feeling I’ll be back,” Haught said.
Today you can find Haught manning the Fireside Lounge Bar at the River Mountain Lodge in Breckenridge. With a long shaggy beard and bright blue Hawaiian shirt, Haught is hard to miss behind the bar, and almost every single person that bellies up for a drink knows him by name.
In 1998 Haught won the title of Best Bartender in Summit County.
“I’ve watched Breckenridge grow from a population of 600 to 60,000 with visitors on any given day,” Haught said. “Not many people can say they have seen their community grow 100 percent.”
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