Tom Sims (1950-2012) – Forever Missed, Forever Loved and Forever a Legend

September 12, 2012, as we all now know, was a heavy day. Tom Sims passed away at far too young of an age. It was an immense loss to snowboarding and skateboarding and to all who knew him. Lucky for us, Tom left behind a legacy and his accomplishments speak for themselves. A true pioneer, Tom brought forward thinking concepts and innovations

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that forever changed the landscape of the snow and skate industry. He essentially shaped both of these sideways standing disciplines as we know them today.

His constant quest for the deepest powder, the longest downhill paved road and the smoothest wave has been and always will be an inspiration to us all.

Below we’ve compiled some of our favorite images of Tom throughout the years and gathered quotes from major figures in the industry. Tom Sims, a true legend:

  • World's First Snowboard hand crafted by Tom in his 7th Grade woodshop class in Haddonfield, New Jersey, 1963.

  • Tom, Haddonfield, NJ, 1964.

  • Tom, early street shredding on Greenmount Road, Haddonfield, New Jersey, 1965.

  • Tom ripping on a custom SIMS surfboard, New Hampshire Lake, 1969.

  • Tom with custom SIMS surfboard, early 70's.

  • Tom at SoCal Skateboard Contest, early 70's.

  • Tom, World Skateboard Champion, 1976.

  • Tom filming 'Surf Movie', 1976.

  • Tom during the filming of 'Freewheelin' movie, 1976.

  • Tom with custom SIMS surfboard Kauai, late 70's.

  • Chuck Barfoot (seated), Terry English and Tom at Mt. Pinos, as featured in Snowboard Journal, 1981. Photo: James Cassimus.

  • Tom airing at Tahoe City, 1982.

  • SIMS Team including Keith Kimmel, Eric Moynier, Tom, Scott Clum and Allen Arnbruster at Snow Valley, VT, 1983. Photo: George Potter.

  • Tom ripping and winning the slalom, Burton Nationals, Snow Valley, VT, 1983. Photo: Scott Clum.

  • Tom as the 007 James Bond Stunt Double in 'A View to a Kill', 1984.

  • SIMS Snowboard Handbook, 1984/1985.

  • Terry Kidwell, Bob Klein and Tom (1st Place) at the First Baker Banked Slalom January 20, 1985. Photo: Bud Fawcett.

  • Tom and the SIMS Team on a tear, Transworld back cover, 1985. Photo: James Cassimus.

  • Tom busted and flipping the bird, mid 80's.

  • SIMS is number 1 at Breckenridge, 1986.

  • Tom, St. Moritz, Switzerland, early 90's.

  • Tom surfing off Brad Pitt's beach.

  • Tom, British Columbia, mid 90's.

  • Tom ripping it up at Steamboat, 1999. Photo: Scott Rouse.

  • Tom blasting through the Utah Backcountry, 2001.

  • Tom ripping Wolf Creek, as featured in SBC, 2002.

  • Tom in the Utah Backcountry, 2002. Photo: James Cassimus.

  • Tom skateboarding in Malibu, 2006.

  • Tom, filming Craig Kelly's Movie, 'Let It Ride', 2007.

  • Tom slashing some deep pow at Silverton, CO, April 2009. Photo: Aaron Dodds.

  • Tom in the bird with Colin Langlois and Steve Fisher. Silverton, CO, April 2009. Photo: Aaron Dodds.

  • More pow for Tom at Silverton, CO, April 2009. Photo: Aaron Dodds.

  • Colin Langlois, Tom, Gaetan Chanut, Steve Fisher, Marc Vitelli. Silverton, CO, April 2009. Photo: Aaron Dodds.

  • Seth Hill, Aaron Dodds, Colin Langlois, Gaetan Chanut, Tom, Erich Dummer and Gabe Re. Telluride, CO, April 2009. Photo: Marc Vitelli.

An industry reacts to the passing of a legend:

Bob Klein
“The definition of a pioneer could be described in different ways. Tom transcended any definition of the word. He was the passionate visionary who saw the need for a World Championship and immediately made history by adding the First Halfpipe Contest. He took the raw aggression of skateboarding and complimented it with the First Pro-Model. So many Firsts, so many impressions made. Tom Sims made the world a much better place and I’ll miss him a lot.”

Scott Clum, Former SIMS Art Director and Original Pro Team Rider
“’Innovation’. That was Tom. He was extremely dedicated and passionate about the development of his brand. For over 25 years we progressed SIMS with so many projects, we always wanted to keep that spirit alive with everything we worked on together, we really brought out the best in each other and believed deeply in that commitment.”

Pat Bridges, Editor of Snowboard Magazine
“Tom Sims not only pioneered snowboarding, but he also popularized what has come to be known as the action-sports lifestyle. He had a different modus for having a good time standing sideways, depending on the season.”

Kevin Kinnear, Founding Editor at TransWorld SNOWboarding
“I’m suffering from a double-barrel blast of despair—losing you as a friend as well as the true story of your legendary life so the rest of the world can fully comprehend just how vital you were to the creation of snowboarding. Most of all, I’ll miss sharing your incredibly dynamic and creative personality that inspired so many of us to follow in your tracks.”

Gaetan Chanut, SIMS Team Rider
“Tom’s story is a great inspiration for a lot of us. He gave me the opportunity to be where I am today and I am grateful for it. He made a huge impact all around the world and his passion will live on for as long as people have the need to shred. Thanks Tom!”

Brad Steward, Salomon/Bonfire Founder & Marketing Director
“I say we all pause today and put a name to that first Pioneer, that first burst of energy that made us think, ‘There might be something to do here, something to grow here.’ The name of that Pioneer is Tom Sims. I will never believe Tom Sims invented snowboarding, I will always believe that he invented the Snowboarder.”

Terry Kidwell, Former SIMS Rider
“Tom’s passion for board sports influenced so many people’s lives. Thank you for everything

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you did to make modern snowboarding and skateboarding what they are today. Riding for SIMS in the eighties was an incredible time in my life. Tom Sims, Snowboarding and Skateboarding legend will live in our hearts forever.”

Louis ‘LOFO’ Fournier, Developer of the SIMS E-Board Technology
“Tom was the first passionate skater, snowboarder and businessman to have the vision to produce the most important game changing product innovations of the board sports culture. Even in the early days, with all the risk involved, using his own personal finances, years before other players, he confidently progressed into uncharted territory. This progression came from Tom’s strong dedication, focus and vision for developing these new disciplines.”

Jeff Galbraith, Publisher of Frequency: The Snowboarder’s Journal
“Tom was an idiosyncratic and iconic dude. He was the coolest cat around when snowboarding was the coolest thing ever. To see him swooping the lines and powder at Mt. Baker in the most garish one-piece suits was a thing of beauty. When he entered the lodge, the music seemed to stop and everyone took note. For all the aura he gave off at those early races, it was clear he was a gentle soul who deeply loved snowboarding, as well as his friends and family.”

Todd Richards, Former SIMS Rider
“Thanks Tom for giving me my start in snowboarding. I owe a lot to you, we all do.”

Bud Fawcett, SIMS Skateboards Employee in the 70’s
“Tom is the original action sports hero and a legendary character to all that knew him.”

Christian Hosoi, Former SIMS Pro Skateboarder
“RIP Tom Sims… I turned pro riding for SIMS in 1982. My heart and prayers and deepest condolences go out to the whole SIMS family and friends.”

Trent Bush, David Alden, Kurt Olesek Colorado Snowboard Archive and Colorado Ski and Snowboard Museum
“With the passing of Tom Sims, the world lost a true pioneer in snowboard and skateboard culture that goes so much further than his impact in the products that carried the SIMS name. Tom’s vision and relentless drive helped shape the identity of an entire generation who discovered a lifestyle that he helped create. Anyone fortunate enough to have stepped on a snowboard or skateboard in the last few decades owes a huge debt of gratitude to Tom Sims, and the work we did with Tom to create the Colorado Snowboard Archive in the Colorado Ski and Snowboard Museum in Vail has taken on even more importance as a way to preserve his legacy. We join the entire snowboard and skateboard world in our best wishes for Tom’s family, and Tom, while you’ve moved on to deeper powder and smoother streets, you will never be forgotten.”

Bryan Iguchi, Pro Snowboarder
“Tom is the greatest contributor in the evolution of board-sports. As a surfer, skater and snowboarder, he created and defined the lifestyle of what snowboarding has become by living and breathing it. I probably wouldn’t have started snowboarding without Tom’s influence on the sport and his vision of progression.”

Vince Sanders, Board Room and Never Summer Product Development
“I can’t express into words how Tom shaped my world and every snowboarder really. I was a kid with no direction in life and he gave me one.”

Seth Hill, SIMS Team Rider
“I am honored to have met, ridden with and gotten to know Tom Sims. Not only is he the father of the snowboarding world, but I know I would not be where I am today without the influence he has had on the industry. He truly loved everything about the industry and you could see his eyes light up about it. Tom will be truly missed, never forgotten and always a legend in my eyes and the eyes of snowboarding.”

Al Clark, Former SIMS Rider
“Rest in peace Tom, snowboarding will always treasure the memory of your dedication and life. Tom is snowboarding, he is an endless source of stoke and energy for so many…. we love ya Tom…. and we will never forget what you did for all of us…. thanks for such an amazing ride.”

Michael Brooke, Publisher of Concrete Wave Magazine
“Tom was the true first pioneer of what’s called longboarding — riding a skateboard over 4 feet in length. He’d ride enormous longboards and cruise down the hills. He was doing this way before anybody else. He liked taking this surf kind of feeling and putting it out there on skateboards.”

David Alden, Colorado Snowboard Archive and Colorado Ski and Snowboard Museum | Former SIMS Team Rider
“Tom changed the world. More than any other single person, Tom gave us the gift of modern snowboarding, and in the process made the world a better place to live. He showed us what was possible on a board, and gave us the tools and inspiration to discover our own style. An innovator of the highest order and a genuinely nice guy. Thank you Tom….thank you.”

Steve Fisher, Former SIMS Rider and Two Time Winter X Games SuperPipe Gold Medalist
“Tom was definitely the innovator of what snowboarding is today, and his legacy and contributions will be forever remembered and widely embraced.”

Annie Fast, Former Editor In Chief at TransWorld SNOWboarding
“An epic life well lived right to the end.”