Jake Burton: From Snurfer to Snowboarding Mega-Brand

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Snowboarding Banned in Some Places

While it seems that snowboarding has won the hearts of winter athletes, the sport still has not won over all critics. At least three ski resorts in the United States still ban snowboarding. Others consider the sport still too dangerous.

Several reports said 12 snowboarders have died over the past month in the western United States alone. Many of them either slid into towers or trees, others were buried in snow after going off-trail.

That feeling of invincibility brought people such as professional snowboarder Craig Kelly, one of Burton's closest friends, into the snowboarding world.

Burton said Kelly was hailed as an innovator, an acrobat and the heart and soul of snowboarding. Eight years ago, he was killed after an avalanche trapped him and six others on a mountain in British Columbia.

"It was just a very tragic winter," Burton said. "That's part of mother nature. I think that when you're out there in the elements, there's gonna be some element of that."

Today, Kelly's memory is preserved at Burton -- the company's new snowboard R&D prototype center has been named in his honor. The new space is simply called Craig's.

The R&D facility also hosts a museum about Kelly's life and the sport he helped trail blaze. Burton said Kelly will remain the muse for the dozens of new snowboards designed, cut and laid out here.

Burton said he believed the legacy of snowboarding will only grow.

"I think the sport is in a very good place right now," Burton said. "It's not about having the latest goof rack on your BMW or how good the food is at the hotel you're staying at. It's about just getting out and shredding and having fun with your friends and as long as that remains at the core of the sport, it'll continue to do well."

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