Tom Sims, Pioneering Skateboarder and Snowboarder, R.I.P.

By Colin Bane |

Tom Sims, pioneering skateboarder and snowboarder, died from cardiac arrest Wednesday night at Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital, near his home in California, according to a statement released by Sims Snowboards on Thursday.

Sims is frequently credited with inventing the first modern snowboard. He built his “Skiboard” prototype in wood shop class in seventh grade in 1963, and followed with several skateboard and snowboard industry firsts, including the first snowboard with metal edges, the first pro-model and women’s-specific snowboard. He was also the first to incorporate some of the earliest high-back binding systems.

Sims ran a skateshop and founded Sims Skateboards in Santa Barbara in 1976 and won the Skateboard World Championships that same year. He was featured, alongside Stacy Peralta, in the 1976 skate film “Freewheelin.'” Christian Hosoi and the late Jeff Phillips both turned pro for Sims shortly thereafter.

In addition to topping many snow and skate podiums throughout his career, including winning the slalom event at the U.S. Open of Snowboarding in 1985, Sims was a snowboarding stunt double for Roger Moore in the 1985 James Bond film “A View to a Kill.”

Tom Sims, Photo by: Bud Fawcett

Tom Sims, Photo by: Bud Fawcett

Memories and support poured out across the skate and snow communities Thursday.

“Thank you for your immense contributions to skateboarding and snowboarding, Tom. RIP,” stated legendary skateboard photographer Grant Brittain via Facebook.

“He was definitely the innovator of what snowboarding is today, and his legacy and contributions will be forever remembered and widely embraced,” Steve Fisher, a former Sims Snowboards team rider and two-time Winter X Games SuperPipe gold medalist, told “What he stood for and what he did for the culture of action sports is so great that it should never go unrecognized or forgotten. He’s a true pioneer.”

Here are a few of the milestones that Tom Sims brought to life as we know it.

1. He created the first metal edged snowboard
2. He created the first snowboarding Half Pipe
3. He created the first freestyle snowboard
4. He created the first pro-model snowboard
5. He created the world’s first longboards for skateboarding in 1975.

Sims also helped introduce some of the sport’s first halfpipe and freestyle competitions, and was the first to sponsor riders like Craig Kelly who would go on to bring the sport to new heights and mainstream attention.

Sims is survived by his wife Hilary, sister Margie Sims Klinger of Santa Barbara, sons Tommy and Shane, daughter Sarah and stepdaughters Alexa and Kylie Wagner.

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