Ski artifacts: Tom Sims’ original snowboard, Heidi Kloser’s Olympic uniform
and Hall of Fame
Special to the Daily
• Tom Sims created one of the world’s first snowboards in December 1963 in his seventh-grade woodshop class at Central School in Haddonfield, New Jersey. This board will be displayed in the new Colorado Snowsports Museum when it reopens in December.
• Designed by Ralph Lauren, Team USA’s uniforms featured a patchwork cardigan emblazoned with stars, stripes and the Olympic rings, with all of the pieces produced in the United States. For a hint of nostalgia, the cardigan was paired with a cream turtleneck sweater, white fleece athletic pants and black leather boots with red laces.
Editor’s note: The following is part of a series of articles compiled by the Colorado Snowsports Museum and Hall of Fame that will take a closer look at some of the artifacts and stories contained in the museum’s archives. The Colorado Snowsports Museum, located in the Vail Transportation Center, is currently undergoing a $2.4 million privately funded transformation that will refurbish the 24-year-old facility, add new exhibit space and modernize exhibits with interactive technology.
Skiing and the 10th Mountain Division are the cornerstones of Vail’s history and success, which the museum preserves and celebrates year-round. The museum has been a favorite family-friendly visitor attraction in Vail for 41 years and, with these improvements, will become the most comprehensive ski museum in the world.
VAIL — Conventional wisdom tells us that there are not many people who can say they invented a new piece of sporting equipment in middle school. Tom Sims could.
Sims created one of the world’s first snowboards in December 1963 in his seventh-grade woodshop class at Central School in Haddonfield, New Jersey. This board will be displayed in the new Colorado Snowsports Museum when it reopens in December.
Sims’ shop teacher had given the class an assignment to build anything they chose out of wood for their final project, which was due prior to the start of the Christmas break. For Sims, a skier and skateboarder who was already building his own skateboards at age 13, creating the “skiboard” came naturally.
The design was inspired by another school project that involved crafting a 2-foot-long sailboat, glued together with pieces of pinewood and shaped with a hand plane. The scoop on the front of the boat reportedly gave Sims the idea for the nose of the snowboard.
Made of a 3-foot piece of wood, aluminum sheeting, a carpeted top and simple bindings, the skiboard allowed the rider to essentially skateboard while on snow. Sims rode his new creation after the first winter storm of the season, receiving an A-plus on the project.
A friend, Don MacKay, who was also in the woodshop class, tried the board, as well. The duo would ride the small hill in front of Sims’ home, as well as various other locations throughout the neighborhood. They finally graduated to bombing down a hill at the Tavistock Golf Course.
Several years later, with Sherman Poppen’s creation of the Snurfer, Sims suspected that someone had seen the boys at Tavistock and pirated his idea, since two photographers had asked them if the boys minded if they took pictures of them riding during the winter of 1964-65.
An athlete, inventor and entrepreneur, Sims went on to become a World Champion skateboarder in 1975, while also claiming the World Snowboarding Championship in 1983. He founded Sims Snowboards and Sims Skateboards, living in California from 1971 until his death in 2012.
While there will most likely never be a way to firmly establish the exact date that snowboarding began, Tom Sims probably has one of the better claims to being the original shredder.
Kloser’s Olympic uniform
Heidi Kloser’s Olympic dream most definitely did not turn out the way the then-21-year-old from Vail had hoped. But a broken leg and torn knee ligaments were not enough to keep the gritty U.S. freestyle moguls skier from marching in the Opening Ceremonies of the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
Kloser joined her American teammates in the parade, albeit hobbling along on crutches, in front of 40,000 fans. Tweeting out a photo of herself prior to the start of the festivities in her Olympic Opening Ceremonies garb, Kloser wrote, “Excited that I still get to walk!” Kloser’s Sochi Opening Ceremonies uniform will be on display in the new museum when it reopens in December, following a major renovation.
Designed by Ralph Lauren, Team USA’s uniforms featured a patchwork cardigan emblazoned with stars, stripes and the Olympic rings, with all of the pieces produced in the United States. For a hint of nostalgia, the cardigan was paired with a cream turtleneck sweater, white fleece athletic pants and black leather boots with red laces.
The day before the Opening Ceremonies, Kloser’s Sochi Olympic dream came crashing down, both literally and figuratively, when she fell in a moguls training run and had to withdraw from the event, just prior to the start of the qualifying round. At the time, she was ranked fourth in the world.
Her father, internationally renowned adventure racer Mike Kloser, posted a heart-wrenching account of the incident on his Facebook page shortly after the family returned from the emergency room in the Olympic Village.
“She was in a lot of pain when we got to see her in the medical room at the base of the course,” he wrote. “They loaded her in an ambulance and took her up to the ER for X-rays and an MRI. The news isn’t good, though.”
As would be expected, the incident was a tough pill to swallow for Kloser, but she remained strong through it all. However, there was still one very important question to be answered.
“When she was in the ambulance,” wrote her father, “she asked her mother, Emily, and me if she was still an Olympian. … We said, ‘Of course she is!’”
It would be really hard to spark a wildfire anywhere near Vail Mountain or Beaver Creek right now. Still, unattended campfires will always draw attention.