Hundreds of Burton Snowboards employees gathered in the pouring rain Friday to honor the company's late founder, Jake Burton Carpenter.
Standing in the slushy snow on the shoulder of Mount Mansfield, they watched and cheered as Stowe Mountain Resort unveiled a new name for one of its trails: Jake's Ride. Formerly known as Lullaby Lane, the green trail — meaning it's on the easier end of the spectrum — was Carpenter's favorite on the entire mountain, "although he wouldn't always admit it," his wife, Donna Carpenter, told the crowd.
"On more than one occasion, after an amazing run, he'd say to me, 'That's the one. That's the one, Donna, I want named after me when I'm gone," Carpenter recalled.
Donna Carpenter (center) with her sons Taylor (left) and Timi (right)
Jake Burton Carpenter died last November at the age of 65 after a recurrence of cancer that first cropped up in 2011. He founded Burton Snowboards in Vermont in 1977 and opened its world headquarters in Burlington, where it remains today.
Donna Carpenter served as company CEO, a title she shared for 18 months with John Lacy. She gave up the role in February to become chair of the Burton board of directors, a position previously held by Jake.
The company's Burlington office and its stores closed Friday in honor of the late founder, and most employees headed for the hill.
"Jake had a lot of good sayings, and one of them was, 'If your favorite mountain isn't your home mountain, you should probably consider moving,'" Donna said.
After a moment of silence, the assembled gaggle of snowboarders strapped in and took off down Jake's Ride. Carpenter joked that her late husband had sent the very-Vermont March weather: 37 degrees and rainy, conditions that softened the snow and did little to dampen the boarders' enthusiasm.
Friday's event wasn't the only honoring the man who pioneered the sport of snowboarding. Thirteen resorts around the world, including ones in Switzerland, Austria and Japan, offered free lift tickets to snowboarders who signed up in advance. Vermonters could take advantage of the deal at Stratton Mountain.
"What an impactful human being," Jeff Wise, the communications director for Stowe Mountain Resort, said of Carpenter. "Goodbye, Lullaby Lane. Hello, Jake's Ride."