The Snurfer Interview with Brew Moscarello

Credit: Snurfer
Credit: Snurfer

If you’re currently reading this and were able to join us for Stratton Weekend back in February, then there’s a 85% chance you remember the two hours our entire squad spent at the bottom of the mountain digging out a 50 yard long snurfing race track and then attempting to race each other/make it down the entire thing in one piece. It was a blast.

After the event, we caught up with Brew Moscarello—the man behind the event and the guy championing modern day snurfing—to find out a bit more about how snurfing first came to be, the sports rich history over the past 50+ years, and how one can pursue a career in the once-lost art .

Can you tell us when and how you were first introduced to snurfing?

As a kid I remember seeing an ad in the back of a magazine and immediately thinking, “This is for me.” A short while later, a buddy of mine came across a crude homemade version of an original Classic Snurfer and it became nonstop fun every time it snowed. He and I used to take turns ripping down the schoolyard hill every chance we had. Even with only the slightest dusting of snow we would be out there ’til we heard the dinner bell ringing from a mile away.

Sherman Poppen is the man that invented the snurfer by combining two skis on one Christmas Day over 50 years ago. Have you been able to meet the legend?

Although I have yet to shake the hand of the man that started it all, I am extremely proud to say he and I have a continued personal relationship that we both cherish. Given his physical travel limitations, most of our communication has been through online video chats, etc. Although Sherman was unable to attend Snurfer’s 50th anniversary party at the 2015 SIA show, we did spend time with his daughter Wendy while Sherm made a personal appearance via a live web broadcast.

At the height of its popularity back in the day, how serious was snurfing being taken? Did riders have sponsors and gear?

In talking with Sherm, as well as Paul Graves who is often considered the world’s first professional snow surfer, snurfing was really more about having fun than getting sponsors (as snowboarding often is today). He and fellow Snurf riders Mark and Jane Halseth were recruited to appear in a Labatts Blue commercial in the early 80s, but that was about the extent of the sponsorship opportunities back then.

When snowboarding experienced its boom in the 90s, snurfing was all but left behind. What led you to bringing the sport back to life nearly two decades later?

More like half a century than two decades! Basically it was my personal appreciation for products that inspire recollection of my youth combined with my desire for binding-less riding. As a snowboarder of then nearly 30 years, I yearned for something different. I wanted to experience the freedom of edgeless riding without the crowds of a ski area resort. With a lengthy history of designing and building Vew Do brand Balance Boards, it was only natural that I started experimenting with contemporary version of the old Snurfer…boards that would increase the fun factor and control while still paying homage to Sherm and his original designs.

Craziest trick you’ve ever seen someone stick on a snurfer?

That’s an interesting question. In many ways just ripping on a snurfer can be a trick in itself depending upon the snow conditions of course. When it comes to powder riding, it has to be cliff drops or tail butters—even if they were unintentional. For most of us it’s more about the freedom of expression and style while doing all you can to remain on the board while in near direct contact with the snow. In my opinion it’s a pure as it gets!

For modern-day snurfers looking to take their talent to the professional level, what type of contests exist out there right now?

Funny you should ask as we are about to host our 4th Annual Snurfer Challenge held during the Vermont Open at Stratton Mountain Resort. As far as taking one’s snurfer talents to a professional level, we don’t put too much stock into this concept as snurfing has always been about fun more than anything else. Why should it be any different now?

Most enthusiasts believe a Snurfer is best enjoyed with good friends and family, away from the crowds, even if it’s only on the smallest of hills. We do however encourage anyone who shares in the love of snurfing to contact us on our Facebook or Twitter pages so we can all share in the stoke.

If someone wanted to learn more about the sport and its history, as well as all the current happenings with Snurfer, where can we send them?

We have an extensive history section on www.snurferboards.com, which pays tribute to Sherm and all that he has done for both Snurfing and snowboarding. You can also visit the Smithsonian in Washington which I believe is still exhibiting an original snurfer. Or just get a board and enjoy the experience first hand.

To read more about the rich history of Snurfing + see the latest in equipment, check out the Snurfer website. If you’re in Stratton this weekend—maybe visiting our intern Mark at the Whalebone Stratton pop-up—you can check out the 4th Annual Snurfer Challenge being held at the Vermont Open (running on Stratton Mountain Friday through Sunday, 3/10-3/12).