Hall of Fame locations are seemingly strange decisions; rock-and-rollers have Cleveland, Ohio, while basketball players have Springfield, Mass. With the induction of Jake and Donna Carpenter to Stowe's Vermont Ski and Snowboard Museum (VSSM) Hall of Fame, shredders can now lay claim to occupying the Green Mountain State, arguably the heart of winter sports on the East Coast.
Jake Burton Carpenter and his wife Donna Carpenter, who share ownership of Burton Snowboards, accepted their induction Thursday night, generating loud applause from a crowd that included pro riders Kelly Clark, Mikkel Bang and Jeremy Jones. The induction event, coinciding with the year-long "One-Track Mind" exhibit of memorabilia from the Burton Snowboards archive, also marks the sport's major debut since the second "S" was added to the Vermont institution's title.
"Donna and I are proud to be here and part of the ski and snowboard museum," said Jake Carpenter. "We've had an interesting relationship with the ski industry over the years. Still, we're incredibly appreciative of what the industry has done -- steel edges for instance. But I think we've given back ... wide fat skis, sidecut, and comfortable clothes. It's a two way street, as I think it should be."
On display was a deep collection of original prototype boards, neon-tinged outerwear, binding experiments and memorabilia from the Burton archives -- along with more significant hardware like a 25-foot pipe dragon that took 40 people to wrangle through the museum's relatively small doorway. Co-curators Lance Viollete of Lance Violette Design and Todd Kohlman, Burton's Archivist, pulled out some never-before-seen items to showcase Burton's pivotal roll in the development of snowboarding's early history.
"It's the process of thinking and experimenting with new things," Violette said about the spirit of the exhibit. "If you think about what a snurfer originally was, we've got boards from that period, where Jake was down in Stratton trying to better it. Then we go all the way through the history to having Craig Kelly's signature boards all lined up."
Violette and Kohlman both sit on the "board" for the VSSM, and wanted to come strong with the institution's debut snowboard exhibit.
"It was super important to us to show the museum's commitment to snowboarding. This exhibit will be up for at least a year, and that pipe dragon will stay up for forever," Violette said.
Violette points out that with the close proximity to Burton, they were able to secure several items that had to be hand carried to the museum, and never would have been shipped elsewhere in the country. No doubt having Burton in Vermont takes the state's Hall of Fame shred cache through the roof, but as Donna Carpenter addressed the crowd, it became clear that Vermont has had just as much influence on Burton.
"This is like seeing the last 30 years of your life as a museum exhibit," joked Donna Carpenter. "It's been an amazing journey. Vermont was a big part of it, and I think that it really shaped who we became as a brand, and maybe what we became as a sport -- I know it shaped who we became personally. Vermont has played a big role, and we're humbled to be part of the museum history."