Tom Sims, snowboarding legend, dies

Tom Sims wowing the ladies in 1981.

Tom Sims, the snowboarding and skateboarding pioneer, has sadly passed away at the age of 62. The founder of Sims Snowboards and its sister skate company apparently suffered a cardiac arrest and died at the Cottage Hospital in Santa Barbara, near his home in California. A statement on the Sims Snowboards website said: “His constant quest for the deepest powder, the longest downhill paved road and the smoothest wave has been and will always be an inspiration to us all.”

Tom Sims with his rival Jake Burton and the best jumper in the world in 1988.

The word legend gets bandied around a lot in board sports, but there are few people who it applies to more than Sims. Individually, Tom was responsible for inventing much of modern snowboarding equipment, and alongside his team riders, he helped steer snowboarding away from racing and towards a more freestyle-orientated path in the late eighties. It’s no exaggeration to say that snowboarding would not be the sport it is today without him. In 1963, two years before Sherman Poppen built his first Snurfer, a 13-year-old Sims had made his own ‘Skiboard’ in his school wood-working class. He went on to pioneer many of the technological advances that make snowboarding possible today, producing the first board with metal edges, and inventing the first highbacks.

Tom Sims at the 1985 World Championships

Sims Snowboards and Sims Skateboards emerged from the shop Tom owned in Santa Barbara. With teams that included the likes of Stacey Peralta and Christian Hosoi on the skate side, and Terry Kidwell and Craig Kelly on snow, it was one of the biggest forces in board sports by the beginning of the 80s. Sims produced the first pro-model (for Kidwell) and it was the Sims team who first started building halfpipes and taking skate tricks to the snow, in an era when most people were still wearing skin tight lycra and slaloming between poles like skiers.

Tom himself was no slouch on a board, winning several snow and skate world championships in the late 70s and early 80s. He also made possibly the coolest cameo by any shredder ever when he stunt-doubled for Roger Moore in 1985’s A View to a Kill. His James Bond steeze in this classic clip helped take the young sport into the mainstream, attracting many more people to take it up. For all sorts of reasons, snowboarding owes Tom Sims a massive debt, and his presence will be sorely missed. Rest In Peace.

You can read our recent interview with the man himself here, or see more shots of him in action here.

Sims shows off one of his latest models (and a brilliant ‘tache) in 1988.
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