“ Salomon's 'skiboard'. „
2002-2003 will be my fourth season on blades and I can honestly say that I have never come down a mountain on anything better and I can’t see myself EVER skiing or boarding again on a regular basis! I have a pair of Salomon Minimax 99.9’s and an older pair of 90cm Decathlon own brand [a complete bargain at £60 in an end of season sale]. Both perform brilliantly on-piste, with the 99.9’s having the edge for stability at speed. These things are excellent on groomed runs, allowing you to carve big turns with your palm on the snow and even do full 360° carved turns [well, occasionally anyway]. Even the most timid skier will soon get up enough confidence to try jumping, going backwards or do pirouettes on blades. Even my dear old Pa [60+ years old] can't get enough of them! Blades are also excellent in mogul fields, as it’s a doddle to dance your way down the slope like only the best skiers can. Really steep mogul fields are even more fun as you just rest your hand on top of the moguls for stability as you snake your way down. On a practical note, blades’ short length, light weight and lack of poles make them brilliant for lugging around a resort [no more aching shoulders from having to carry my skis…and the wife’s] they also fit in my suitcase - so no more thieving ski supplements on aircraft. A word or two of warning though. Off-piste is pretty much a no-no, a bit like snow-shoeing without snow-shoes. It is possible to blade off-piste, but you’ve got to be going fast, weight the back of the blades and expect to take a tumble [or eight!]. Similarly, stodgy wet snow can slow you to a virtual crawl. Also, busy lift queues with a slight slope can make you get fairly intimate with people around you as you’ve got no poles to wedge yourself in position. So when you’re on the slopes this winter, keep your eyes open for a pack of snowbladers, you wont be ab
le to miss them, they’ll be the ones enjoying themselves the most! As my sister-in-law said on her first day on blades “It’s cold…and my teeth hurt from grinning so much!”
Ski boarding is a new and upcoming extreme sport. I rate it almost as good as snowboarding, and snowboarding is amazing! It helps if you've skied before when trying to learn it, and it also helps if you've skated before. I hadn't skied before and I picked it up within two hours on a dry ski slope. It's really fun and easy to learn but also a tad expensive. At the dry slope centre near me, it's £10 a night, and I get about 2 hours. That includes hire of the boots, and ski boards. Then the cost of the actual ski boards ranges from £60, which are most likely to be terrible, to around £250. The best at the moment seem to be Line Skiboards, especially the Jedi 90's and the Mike Nick range. Mike Nick is the best Skiboarder around. Ski blades are shorter than ski's and are tipped at both ends enabling you to go backwards. They are designed to be light and easy to control, and are really for doing jumps, tricks and grinding. It's Well worth giving it a go if you like extreme sports, flying through the air, pulling sick tricks etc. There are some good dry or artificial slopes in England, the best being The Sheffield Ski Village, and the Tamwort Snowdome. Both have recently undergone developments. Dooyoo now has a british resorts section, and I have written a full lenght review on the Sheffield Ski Village. Another place to look out for if you live in the Gloucestershire area is the Matson Ski & Snowboard centre. It's not up to much at the moment, but they're under construction and are planning for development of a fun park with box jumps, ramps etc. They also have a quatre pipe.
Having seen the evolution of the Saloman Snowblade over the last few years I finally donned a pair last Christmas... and I have never had such fun!!! At first I found the blade slightly hard to control due to its length (varies from 60-120 centimetres) but soon was having a whale of a time. Instead of traditional ski bindings, the blade features a clip-in, clip-out binding. The boot is placed on a rubber reinforcement in the centre of the ski. The back is then clipped in (fits over the same binding clip as a normal ski would) then a toe clip holds the front of the boot. The blade will fit size 12 (childs) to size 14 boots. Changing the size is easy. Ruts under the rubber padd hold the bottom bars attached to the clips. These are slid into the appropriate rut for the required size. There is also a leash which is strapped around the boot or lower leg. Unfortunately the bindings are not quick release and it takes a great deal of pressure to force them off in an accident. It's essential the user learns how to fall and stop safely before going out onto the slopes. The blades are excellent quality - as with all Saloman products! They now come in a variety of colours too. Stunts are much easier to perform due to the shorter length. Whether it be a grab, 360 or an eagle, you will have a much greater range of movement without the added worry of getting your skis in a good position for landing. Although you will have less surface area meaning that it is essential your body weight is leaning foward upon landing. It is a lot easier to perform parallel or stem-christie turns than on skis of conventional length. I would recommend these to a beginner for these reasons. The decreased length increases the speed of the turn but decreases the speed when traversing. A perfect combination for anyone new to the slopes or even an intermediate wishing to improve on their technique. The edges tend to be a lot s
harper (will need sharpening overtime as you would expect) than normal skis, and the reduced lenght increases grip. Now we can all ski like pros! If wished, the snowblade is very handy for increasing the emphasis of the transfer of weight which is a vital component of a good ski-ing style. Having tried the snowblade some may wish to progress to a slightly longer ski. Their experience with the snowblade will both increases their performance and confidence and generally make it easier to transfer. Others may wish to settle for the fun of the Snowblade. I certainly did! A must for all on the slopes!