If you, like me, have lived in an area where you get more than 6 months of winter each year, you may have found yourself looking for something new. You’ve snowboarded. You’ve skied, both Alpine and Cross Country. You’ve tried randonée skiing or telemarking. You alpine snowboarded. You’ve tele-boarded. You’ve mono-skied. You’ve snowshoed. In the mid 90′s you even rocked a pair of skiblades, although you won’t admit this to your friends. Is there anything else you can do that involves snow and speed without resorting to a snowmobile? You may think not, but you’d be wrong.
A decade ago, only a handful of speed freaks had thought to mountain bike down black diamond ski trails in the wintertime. While those trails were fair game in the summer, to tackle these trails in the winter you had to go all Dr. Frankenstein with your bike, fitting your tires with homemade studs made from nuts and bolts. These days major tire manufacturers are offering pre-studded tires, and several bike manufacturers like Salsa and Surly are releasing fat-tire bikes like the Moonlander, which offer a whopping 4.7″ width for control and float in the slushy stuff, and 45North has released the first studded fat tire for the winter market. So what’s keeping you off the slopes?
Don’t smirk. Sledding may be a kid’s activity reserved for snow days and your local farmer’s hill where you come from, but where I come from in the little state of Vermont, a dedicated group of people are working hard to change that image. Two products, specifically, the Mad River Rocket and the Hammerhead Sled are changing the face of sledding. The Mad River Rocket is a trick sled that you kneel on, and includes a lap strap so you can carve the sled through tight New England trees at high speeds, or even work on your backflip. A dedicated group of people is pushing the limits of what this sled can do, including 720s, rodeo flips, railslides, and more. The Hammerhead sled is the Ferrari of sleds. While the Rocket is good for tights and trees, the Hammerhead is meant for speed and carving. I’ve personally been over 50mph while straighlining trails post-season on corn snow at Burke Mountain, but they also work in tight, winding trails as well. Sledding will never be the same!
By employing a large parafoil kite, maneuverable controls, and a body harness, kite skiing allows you to ski faster than the wind, even uphill! An excellent option for people stuck in flat areas of the world or on your local lake, this gives you the ability to carve, race, or even jump up to 30 feet in the air with the right thermal lift. If you have a big lake nearby, you owe it to yourself to try this out. People have taken these kites all around the world, from the flats of Fargo, to the Andes, to the Himalayas, and both poles. You can turn any 2d landscape into a 3d playground. You can go FAST. Seriously, the only thing more fun than this, is…
The first time I heard of speed riding or speed flying, I was giggling with glee. It is the most fun looking activity I’ve ever seen in my entire life. It’s like skiing with the “Moon Gravity” setting from a video game turned on. Combine a controllable parachuting parafoil with your ski set up, and you’ve got the recipe for skiing the steepest, most cliff-strewn, and most dangerous slopes in the world with greater control and safety. What exactly is it? Check out this amazing video of people skiing down the North Face of the Eiger. Yes, skiing. Down. The fucking Eiger. Oh my god. Not for beginners or the faint of heart. Different from kite skiing, in that you’re basically parachuting at all times, this is easily the fastest and safest way down the very steepest of terrain. Well, at least, it’s the fastest.