Remembering Tom Sims

Tom Sims Photo: James Cassimus

Tom Sims Timeline

1950 Born in Los Angeles, December 6.

1952 Moves to the East Coast. Family settles in Haddonfield, New Jersey.

1960 Starts skating after seeing skateboarders on a family trip back to LA.

1963 Builds a prototype snowboard he calls a “ski board” in wood shop class because he can’t skate in winter.

 1970 Builds his first longboards out of water skis, roller-skate wheels, and surfboard resin with sand thrown on it for grip.

 1971 Drives across the country to Santa Barbara where he makes his new home.

 1974/75 Starts Sims Skateboards.

 1976 Makes the first snowboard under the Sims name, a plastic ski-board licensed from Bob Webber with Skyhook bungee-cord bindings.

 1978 Tom designs a board with a foam core and fiberglass bottom and top that is built by Chuck Barfoot.

 1980 Tom and Chuck hire San Diego-based Ken Watson to build a custom snowboard press. These boards are made of maple, fiberglass, and epoxy, and are the first pressed in a skateboard-style sandwich construction. Max length is 140 centimeters.

 1980 Tom and Chuck split their first ad in Action Now magazine for Sims Ski-Boards/Barfoot Snoboards.

Tom Sims Action Now Cover 1981 TransWorld SNOWboarding
Tom on the Action Now cover in 1981.

1981 Tom licenses Sims Skateboards to Brad Dorfman of Vision Skateboards so he can focus on growing snowboarding.

1981 Rocky Mountain Slalom Champion.

1982 National Downhill Champion.

1983 Four-inch-wide rolls of P-tex are bought from a ski material factory and patched together to make a base.

1983 Rides a Tahoe City dump quarterpipe session with Mike Chantry and Terry Kidwell.

1983 Builds first halfpipe at Soda Springs, California, and hosts first halfpipe competition fueling freestyle competitions. This is the start of the World Snowboard Championships.

 1983 Riding on groomed runs for the first time forces Tom and his team to rethink board design. Fins on the base for turning in powder are removed, and the search begins for a new binding system.

 1983 World and National Champion.

1984 Edges are removed from skis and screwed onto snowboards. This year Sims has the only board at World Snowboard Championships with metal edges.

 1984 Prototype boards with full wood cores, molded inserts, and pre-bent steel edges are made in a cross-country ski press in Quebec, Canada, with Louis Fournier. These boards become the Blade, Switch Blade, and Pocket Knife.

1984/85 This Is Snowboarding With Team Sims video is released.

1984/85 The distribution and manufacturing rights for Sims Snowboards are licensed to Brad Dorfman.

 1985 Pulling from designs and prototypes done by Jeff Grell and Louis Fournier, Sims brings to market the first highback, folding binding.

 1985 Appears as a stunt double in the James Bond film A View To Kill.

Tom in a View To Kill.

1985 The world’s first pro model snowboard, the Terry Kidwell.

1992/93 Sims is licensed to Umbro North America distribution.

1994 The first women-specific board design.

2006 Sims is licensed to Collective Licensing.

2007–2012 Tom works with Louis Fournier on an E-Board prototype, a board with embedded canting.

Thanks to Chuck Barfoot, Mike Chantry, and Louis Fournier for their help in researching this story.

Read more about Tom here