Sad Week in the Outdoor Community

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Tom Sims ripping.

This week, the outdoors community lost two of its own in untimely fashion: one doing what he loved, and the other by what could be called bad luck.

Tom Sims is widely credited with inventing the snowboard in his 7th grade woodshop class in 1963. Along with Jake Burton, he is one of the original pioneers of snowboarding and snowboard technology. Growing up a skateboarder in California, Sims was a World Champion in the 1970s before founding Sims Skateboards and later Sims Snowboards. Among industry firsts, Sims is credited with the first metal edges on a snowboard, the first high-back binding systems, the first pro-model, and – looking out for the ladies – the first women’s specific model. More than that, he was the first to start “pro teams” and sponsor riders, which obviously became the model for every snowboard and ski company ever. A lion of the industry, Sims died of cardiac arrest near his home in Santa Barbara Wednesday, September 12th. He was 62. As a lifelong snowboarder, this one hits home for me. Read more and view a cool photo gallery of Sims’ life at

While Sims’ life was cut short for medical reasons, kayaker Jeff West parished doing what he loved the most, kayaking. West was attempting to solo run the Grand Canyon of the Stikine River in British Columbia, when his body was found floating in an eddy Tuesday, September 11. West was well known in the paddling community, paddled for Jackson Kayaks, and had made it to the U.S. team finals twice. The circumstances surrounding his death are unclear, but the 42-mile, Class V-IV stretch of the Stikine is regarded as one of the toughest runs in the world, though West had navigated the canyon in 2010. West owned the Ace Kayaking School in Chattanooga, Tenn. He was 42. Read more at

Both these men were well respected and loved in their respective sport’s communities and will be missed.

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