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Jake & Donna Burton Carpenter

Hall of Fame Class of 2007

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Jake and Donna’s vision, determination and business savvy brought snowboarding out of the backyards to the world’s resort slopes and ultimately to the Olympic Games. Their unwavering commitment to making snowboarding a legitimate sport has had a tremendous impact on the snow sports industry as they appealed to a new youth demographic that was not skiing. The founders of the Burton Snowboards, which claims 50% of the industry’s share of business, are the first from snowboarding to be elected as Honored Members of the Hall of Fame.

Jake was first captivated by “surfing on snow” when, at the age of 14, he received a Snurfer board, an invention of Michigan businessman, Sherman Poppen. The concept became a burning passion as he worked to perfect the board into a product that could become more than a backyard hobby. In 1977 he produced his first board, the Backhill, which he distributed from his station wagon for $88 each.

On New Year’s Eve in 1981, Jake met Donna in a bar at Stratton Mountain Resort. They got married, bought a house in Manchester and built boards in the barn. Donna held a multitude of roles at Burton over the years. In the early days, she helped Jake dip wood snowboards into a vat of polyurethane, took down orders in the middle of the night when the phone rang in their bedroom, expanded Burton’s market to Europe, held the CFO position, oversaw HR and started her own gourmet food business in her hometown of Stowe, Vermont. Currently, Donna is the founder and director of Burton’s women’s initiatives, overseeing all efforts to ensure that Burton is the employer of choice and the brand of choice for women. Through Donna’s leadership, Burton established new women’s marketing, product and creative departments to drive the women’s business and created internal committees, which focus on retaining and promoting women. She is very involved with her local community, running an after-school snowboard program and serving on the board of Vermont Public Radio.

It was Jake and Donna’s unwavering commitment to making snowboarding a legitimate sport that had such a tremendous impact on the snow sports industry. Jake fueled the growth of snowboarding worldwide by convincing resorts to allow snowboarders on their lifts and organizing events like the US Open Snowboarding Championships, which just celebrated its 25th Anniversary in 2007. Burton is also responsible for sponsoring a global athlete roster that included many of the world’s most influential snowboarders, including four Olympic gold medalists. Burton’s commitment to riders begins at a young age with its “Smalls Team,” which includes girls and boys as young as four. The impact of these nurturing relationships and long-term commitment to developing riders is evident by the company’s 13-year relationship with professional snowboarder and recent Olympian Shaun White.

It is generally recognized that the snowboarders put the snow sports industry back on a growth pattern after several years of stagnancy. Snowboarding brought kids back to the slopes, giving them a sport and a culture they could relate to, and Jake & Donna were a driving force behind the sport for over 30 years.

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