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Snowboard pioneer Tom Sims dies in Calif.

Sept. 15, 2012 at 12:28 PM

SANTA BARBARA, Calif., Sept. 15 (UPI) -- Tom Sims, a pioneer in the growth of snowboarding in the United States, died in a California hospital this week, his family said. He was 61.

Margie Sims Klinger told the Los Angeles Times her brother died in Santa Barbara Wednesday after being stricken with cardiac arrest.

Sims, the founder of Sims Skateboards and Sims Snowboards, campaigned to bring snowboarding to major U.S. ski resorts in the 1980s. He was a proficient skateboarder and was among the first to make use of 4-foot "longboards" on hillside streets.

He adopted snowboarding in the 1980s and began a campaign to allow the fledgling sport to find room on slopes, which had been the exclusive realm of skiers. The Times said Sims was behind the construction of the first snowboarding half-pipe at Lake Tahoe.

"He not only championed this activity, he really changed people's perceptions of the fledgling sport, one resort at a time," said Pat Bridges, editor of Snowboarder Magazine.

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