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Airboarding - A New Winter Sport

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Airboarding - A New Winter Sport
Photo © Canaan Valley Resort

What is Airboarding?

Airboarding is a high-tech twist on traditional winter sledding. Riding an Airboard is similar to riding a bodyboard in the ocean. The Airboard is inflatable and has grooves on the underside that allow riders to make sharp turns and stop quickly in the snow. Unlike snowboarding, airboarding doesn’t require a lot of equipment and it’s very easy to learn. Only weighing 6 pounds, the Airboard is easy to carry. Riders have been known to reach speeds of more than 80 mph.

Where is Airboarding Available?

Airboarding originally started in Europe and has taken off at several European ski resorts. In the United States it is being tested and is currently available at the following locations:
  • Aspen, Colorado
  • Canaan Valley, West Virginia
  • Hoodoo, Oregon
  • Schweitzer Mountain, Idaho
  • Smugglers Notch Resort, Vermont
  • Sugar Bowl Resort, California
As of 2007, Canaan Valley Resort in Davis West, Virginia is the only ski resort offering Airboarding in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. Canaan Valley is the first resort in the country to create a dedicated sledding area and terrain park for Airboards. Canaan Valley separates airboarders from skiers and snowboarders with snow fencing, providing acres of terrain – from the mid-station down. The terrain park – a truly unique addition to the sport of Airboarding – has low-to-the-ground features such as jumps and burms.

How easy can you learn to Airboard?

Kids and adults can become proficient in Airboarding within an hour of trying it. The ski areas require you to take a one-hour lesson on the Airboard before setting off solo on the slopes.

My Review of Airboarding – January 2007

I had the chance to try airboarding at the Canaan Valley Resort early this season. The weather was a balmy 45 degrees and the region was lacking natural snow. The conditions were not ideal for skiing, so my husband and I and our two daughters (ages 10 and 13) decided to try airboarding. It was a blast! We easily learned how to control the board after a brief session with an instructor. After the lesson we had a lot of fun racing each other down the mountain. The terrain park was not yet open because of lack of snow, so we stayed on the beginner hills. It did feel strange lying face down on the airboard and competing for space among the skiers and snowboarders at their boot level. The mountain was not at all crowded so it was fine, but there were times that the snowboarders got in our way. I’m not sure how safe this sport would be on a crowded slope and at higher speeds. We also enjoyed the warm spring-like conditions on hard packed trails. Since you are lying down head first on the board you would probably get a face full of snow in powder conditions.
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