[Opening photo of Taylor, Donna and Timi Carpenter, photo by Jesse Dawson/Burton)
Friday, March 13 dawned rainy and cold in Vermont and somehow that was the most fitting type of weather to inaugurate A Day for Jake and to celebrate #RideForJake.
It was just the type of weather you’d find Jake Carpenter Burton riding in. In fact, one of the few runs I did with him and Donna Carpenter, his wife and business partner and “CE-Ho”of Burton, as he called her, it was drizzling in Stowe. “Want to reschedule?” I asked. “Hell no, it’s a great day to ride,” Jake said.
Every day was a great day to ride and Jake would try to pack in 100 days on snow a season, something he accomplished right up until his last last season, 2018/19, before he passed away from complications due to cancer on November 20, 2019.
The day we rode (ok, I skied), Jake steered us toward what Donna said was his “favorite trail.” I half expected it to be one of the woods runs he would slash and slither his way through like a woodland creature. Even though he was still recovering then from a year battling Miller Fisher syndrome, he rode with a grace that only the godfather of snowboarding could exhibit. [See The 7th Life of Jake Burton Carpenter]
No, it was Lullaby Lane — you can guess the terrain by the name. At first I thought they were goofing on me. The run meanders along the outskirts of the resort, linking some of the easier terrain. It was mellow and peaceful and nearly empty.
On Friday March 13, it was packed as hundreds of snowboarders, skiers and friends arrived to honor Jake at a ceremony to rename the run “Jake’s Ride.” The event was part of A Day for Jake, where Burton had worked with 13 ski areas around North America to create a day of free snowboarding in celebration of Jake.
Jake’s wife Donna, sons George, Timi and Taylor were there along with what felt like most of Burton’s Burlington employees, friends and others. They raised their boards to honor the man who made them famous, and their middle fingers in the salute that the Burton clan use as, as Donna has said “a sign of love.”
And then, with the sign up and a House Resolution was read, they took off down the trail.
Somehow, it seemed fitting that Jake Burton Carpenter — the man who left Wall Street to build snowboards in a barn in Vermont, the thought leader who launched not only snowboarding but a lifestyle, the successful businessman whose favorite place to spend the night was the simple Stone Hut cabin at the top of Stowe, the gracious neighbor who always had time to talk to anyone, no matter who they were or where they came from, the leader who helped start the Chill Foundation to provide access to action sports to kids who wouldn’t otherwise have that—would choose a trail that is accessible to all.
Perhaps this trail has been “Jake’s” all along.