When somebody mentions winter sports you probably think first of all of skiing or snowboarding. Difficult to learn, boring because of the time needed to attain perfection and then the expensive equipment. But there is another possibility – airboarding!
At the first glance an airboard or – as it’s also known – air-cushion sled or snow bodyboard, looks like a cross between a rubber dinghy and an air mattress. The airboard as tested by TÜV (German technical inspection authority) consists mainly of extremely hard-wearing PVC, which underneath has additional strengthening and is finished off with sliding grooves. Two stable handles are fixed on the top, with a specially formed recess for you, the “airborder”. When airboarding you normally lie on your stomach, facing downhill. You probably know this position from using traditional wooden sleds. The same applies for the Olympic event tobogganing, for which the ”tobogganer” guides the toboggan head first down the ice channel. The airboard looks like a piece of Swiss cheese. Relatively wide at the back, it gets gradually narrower towards the front. This shape improves the handling characteristics.
STRESS FREE TO THE SLOPES
Let’s take for comparison another look at skiers and snowboarders. You just can’t help laughing! It’s the same palaver every morning. Putting on the freezing cold and tight boots, using force to do up the buckles and then slogging it out with all the bulky equipment to the lift. Surely the airboard is to be preferred to all that! On average it weighs 3 kg and once it is inflated is just 80 to 120 cm long. In addition to your winter-proof equipment and airboard you will need a rucksack as well as a helmet and protective gear. As a rule, the pump for inflating the air board is supplied with the airboard and can be stowed away without problems in the rucksack. And if you look at the price tag you will see that the airboards are much less expensive than skis or snowboards. As a starter you can get a model for around € 50. On the other hand, for high quality and long-lasting top models you should invest around € 300.
Actually, you don’t need prior knowledge for airboarding. On the other hand, a short introduction from an expert can be useful. In the beginners’ course the instructor tells you all you need to know for traveling with the lift, maneuvering on the slopes and of course how to stop. The airboard can be controlled in every situation. It’s guided by shifting your weight as necessary. Braking is carried out by digging your shoes into the snow behind the board. At high speeds, experts keep the airboards at an angle of 90° to the slope. And you can achieve high speeds sooner than you expect. 100 km/h are no exception on the right slopes. Please note that many ski resorts don’t allow sleds or airboards on the skiing or snowboarding slopes. However, as a rule special airboard slopes are provided, where you can really pull out the stops.