The Inertia Contributing Writer
Snowboarding's origins are not what you think. Photo: Outside Online

Snowboarding’s origins are not what you think. Photo: Outside Online

The Inertia

We all know that the first crude snowboards were basically invented in the 60s and later catapulted into the mainstream by Tom Sims…Right? Think again, says pro snowboarder Alex Yoder, who has just produced a film, “Foothills,” that will have you questioning that famous narrative.

In the film, Yoder travels to the foothills of the Kaçkar Mountains in eastern Turkey, near the Georgian border, to a village called Petran. The village’s residents can make a strong claim to inventing the first snowboards 300 years ago.

Today — just as in the 1700s, if Yoder is right — the villagers ride simple wooden planks with a rope fixed to the nose, and hold a stick in their trailing hand that they dig into the snow, like a rudder. With the aid of steam, a few nails, and cow fat rubbed on the bottom (as we use wax today) the boards can be made in hours.


“Could this be the original snowboard?” Yoder asks.

If you feel like you’ve seen images of Petranboarding, as Yoder calls it, before, you probably have, in the film “12.”

To a groovy soundtrack, Yoder and friends drink tea with locals and try their hand (well, as you’d imagine) at Petranboarding. And to satisfy those who want to see the boys shred on modern splitboards, they managed to scare up a janky snowcat, test it’s ability to penetrate the backcountry, and rip some Turkish pow.

Is Yoder correct about the unsung inventors of our beloved sport? Hard to say. But it doesn’t matter much because he’s got some compelling evidence that’s really fun to watch.


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