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Why Do Snowboards Look Like Skateboards?

One of the crucial ingredients in the formation of a snowflake is a tiny speck of dust. Learn more about how snow forms in this episode of But Why.
Jane Lindholm
/
VPR
One of the crucial ingredients in the formation of a snowflake is a tiny speck of dust. Learn more about how snow forms in this episode of But Why.

We're marking the winter solstice with an episode all about snow! Why do snowboards look like skateboards? We get an answer from Burton Snowboards. How is snow made? Why is snow white? Why are all snowflakes different? We'll hear from Jon Nelson, author of "The Story of Snow: The Science of Winter's Wonder." Also why does snow melt? And where is the deepest snow?

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"Why do snowboards look like skateboards?" - Marcus, 6, Richmond, Vt.

"In the early days of snowboarding," explains Chris Doyle, an engineer at Burton Snowboards, "when snowboards weren't allowed at ski areas, we rode them wherever we could, backyards, golf courses, anywhere there was a slope and snow, that's where we rode. Many of the people that were developing early snowboards, like Jake Burton, were surfers. So the boards looked like surfboards, they went down the hill, they even had fins and skegs on them to help with that."

"When snowboarding became accepted at ski areas over the course of very few years in the 1980s, we got many new participants in the sport and many came from skateboarding. They came into the sport and they wanted to bring the same style of going in any direction of freeform activity just like they were doing on their skateboards. They wanted to bring that to snow. So very quickly, the snowboard went from a directional, long-nosed thing like a surfboard to this center-stanched twin-tip, go-in-any-direction, freestyle thing. Many of the iconic snowboard moves and tricks are taken from skateboard names. "

"Snowboards look like skateboards because...skateboarding!"

Read the full transcript.

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