Snowboarding and skateboarding pioneer Tom Sims suffered a heart attack and passed away on Sept. 12 near his home in Santa Barbara, California, according to a statement released by Sims Snowboards. He was 61.
Sims is undeniably the Godfather of snowboarding and is widely regarded as the inventor of the modern snowboard. In 1963, at age 13, Sims crafted the first “skiboard” in his middle school woodshop class. The board was made of wood with a plastic shell on top and didn’t include bindings or real edges. This board was introduced to the public during the 1978-1979 season. Following this, Sims continued work on his ‘skiboard’ designs and crafted numerous prototypes. In the 1980s, he created his own snowboard company, Sims Snowboards, and introduced medal edges, foldable highback bindings, and toe and heel cups on bindings. He continually changed board designs and always sought out new technology to implement into his boards.
Sims is also credited with creating the longboard skateboard and founded skateboard company Sims Skateboards along with Sims Snowboards.
Along with his inventions and business ventures, Sims also podiumed at numerous snowboard competitions, was a world champion skateboarder and snowboarder, introduced the first snowboard halfpipe and freestyle contests, and sponsored many legendary riders and skaters, including Craig Kelly, Christian Hosoi, and Tony Hawk.
On Thursday, a memorial message on SimSnow.com stated:
Forever missed, forever loved, and forever a legend.
Tom’s accomplishments speak for themselves. A true pioneer, Tom brought forward-thinking concepts and innovations that forever changed the landscape of the snow and skate industry. His constant quest for the deepest powder, the longest downhill paved road, and the smoothest wave has been and always will be an inspiration to us all.
As the news of Sims’ passing reverberated through the snowboarding and skateboarding communities, many pro snowboarders, skateboarders, and industry elites took to Twitter to voice their condolences and remembrances of the fallen pioneer. Here’s a sampling of what they said:
Todd Richards: @btoddrichards
Holy shit, Tom Sims too…. This is a devastating week. Thanks Tom for giving me my start in Snowboarding. I owe a lot to you, we all do.
Christian Hosoi: @christianhosoi:
RIP Tom Sims. I turned pro riding for Sims in ’82. My heart & prayers and deepest condolences
Louie Vito: @louievito
RIP TOM SIMS!!!! #Legend #SnowboardingGodfather #Neverforgotten
Seth Hill: @Sethdreidelhill
RIP #TomSims @SIMSSnowboards you will be truly missed and never forgotten. you have inspired so many! #foreveralegend
Annie Fast: @anniefast
Such sad and unexpected news about Tom Sims passing. An epic life well lived right to the end.
Tricia Byrnes: @tbyrnes
Sad day for the world of shred. Tom Sims passes. Thanks for the switchblade.
Linn Haug: @LinnHaug
Rest in peace Tom Sims. A true legend and a huge loss for the snowboarding industry
Vince LaVecchia: @vincelavecchia
This is a shock. Sorry to hear. Respected Tom. RT @TWSNOW: RIP Tom Sims. Condolences go out to his family and friends.
The snowboard and skateboard worlds have lost a true pioneer today. RIP Tom Sims. Your influence is immeasurable.
Snowstoked mag: @snowstoked
RIP Tom Sims. Thanks for everything Tom, snowboarding wouldn’t have been as fun without you
Snowboarder mag: @Snowboardermag
Yesterday we lost a legend of a snowboarder. RIP #Tomsims
Snowboard Colorado: @sbcomag
#RIP #TomSims #Thankyou for sharing ur #passion for #snowboarding w us all u r & will forever be a true #LEGEND
Rest In Peace Tom Sims. You are one of the reasons many of us started snowboarding
Circe Wallace: @CirceSnow
Thanks Tom. Sims fe 1500 was my first board and I fell in love with one of the great joys of my life. Thanks
Here is a biographical video from Vice Magazine chronicling Tom’s life and accomplishments.
Photo: James Cassimus courtesy Snowboarder magazine