Pioneering snowboard designer

Sat, Sep 22, 2012, 01:00

TOM SIMS: TOM SIMS was credited with inventing one of the earliest snowboards and, as a world-champion competitor and manufacturer, with helping to further snowboarding’s widespread acceptance in the sporting world.

He died at the age of 61 on September 12th at a hospital near his home in Santa Barbara, California.

Sims was an avid skateboarder in 1963 when he built a crude “ski board” in his seventh-grade wood shop class in Haddonfield, New Jersey, so he could continue to ride during the winter.

“That’s what led me to build the first snowboard: not being able to skateboard on an icy street,” said Sims in a video posted on Transworld Skateboarding’s website.

His boyhood invention did not work very well, but it inspired him to refine the design. At the same time, he began building a career as a designer of skateboards. In the mid-1970s, when Sims was riding boards he had made in professional competitions, he founded Sims Skateboards in Whittier, California, to manufacture and market them. Soon the company was sponsoring such skateboarding luminaries as Christian Hosoi and Craig Kelly and expanding to manufacture snowboards as well.

By the 1980s, many ski resorts still looked at snowboarding as a fad, if they allowed it at all. The sport was nevertheless growing, and riders had started organising competitions. Most of the early contests involved slalom races, as in alpine skiing. Sims brought his aggressive skateboarding style to the sport and helped introduce freestyle snowboarding, using natural and artificial obstacles on the hill to perform tricks.

Sims Snowboards broke new ground in the industry. The company is often credited as the first to design boards with metal edges, making for a smoother and more stable ride and the first to design boards for women.

Sims became a world-champion snowboarder in 1983 and was Roger Moore’s stunt double during a snowboard sequence in the 1985 James Bond film A View to a Kill.

Sims is survived by his sister; wife Hilary; two sons, Thomas jnr and Shane; a daughter, Sarah M Sims; and two stepdaughters, Alexa and Kylie Wagner.

Tom Sims: born December 6th, 1950; died September 12th, 2012