STOWE, Vt. (AP) — Snowboarders glided down a Vermont mountain Friday on the opening day of the season as a tribute to Jake Burton Carpenter, a pioneer in the sport who died this week.
Carpenter, who founded Burton Snowboards in Vermont, died Wednesday of cancer complications. He was 65.
In announcing his death, CEO John Lacy encouraged employees to do “what Jake would be doing” on Friday, “and that’s riding.”
And so they did, taking to the slopes at Stowe Mountain Resort in the rain. They packed onto chairlifts and met at the top for a ceremony at the stone hut, a special place for Carpenter. Then they rode back down together.
“It’s been a tough couple of days, but there’s nothing better than being together with Jake’s big family,” said Ian Warda, who works at Burlington-based Burton.
Some in the crowd shared hugs, and a few had tears in their eyes.
“It’s an emotional first day of the season,” said Stowe spokesman Jeff Wise. “Jake loved this mountain and was an impactful and inspirational leader in the Stowe community. His legacy will live on forever here.”
Carpenter brought the snowboard to the masses and helped turn the sport into a billion-dollar business. He had sent an email to staff this month telling them his cancer had returned.
Tributes have streamed in from athletes, industry officials and politicians.
Olympic halfpipe gold medalist Kelly Clark said she was deeply saddened and said Burton has been more like a family to her than a company.
“I am so grateful for the impact Jake has had on my life personally and in snowboarding,” she wrote.
Vermont Gov. Phil Scott wrote that Carpenter was able to move mountains in a single lifetime.
“From snowboarders being chased from the slopes to Olympic gold medals being placed around their necks, Jake led the way and changed winter as we know it,” said Scott in a written statement. “We are forever grateful for his contributions to Vermont and snow sports around the world.”
This story has been updated to correct the name of the resort to Stowe Mountain, instead of Snow Mountain.