Monday, February 21, 2011

Action Sports Spin-Offs

Posted By on Mon, Feb 21, 2011 at 12:01 PM


We've seen them at garage sales and pawn shops throughout the Treasure Valley after spring cleaning: the remains of well intended spin-off ideas that were meant to be the next big thing in action sports. Imagine a bunch of dudes sitting in the basement chugging Mountain Dew, one-upping each other on how they will spend the fortune that they will surely make off of a new game-changing contraption.

Sadly, most new technologies come and go as readily as the seasons, leaving us to wonder when we'll see another shenanigan maker with some staying power. Until that day, here is a fun short list of piggybacked action sports technologies, some that made it into the mainstream and some that have yet to get their 15 seconds of gnar-bro love.

Mountain Boarding: Snowboarding's warm weather cousin, mountain boarding has yet to enjoy the popularity of its wintertime relative. Originally developed in the late 1980s, mountain boarding is just like it sounds: riding down a hill on grass or dirt trails on a board with large grippy tires. Mountain boards are typically outfitted with a braking system and bindings to keep you and the board in the same vicinity.

Snow Skateboarding: Arguably the predecessor to snowboarding, snow skating has many iterations. Modern snow skates can be either bi-deck—stacked with two decks layered on top of each other—or single-deck, which is similar to a regular skateboard. Snow skating is meant to be an alternative to snowboarding that allows riders to do more technical tricks without their feet bound to the board. You probably won't ever see this little jib muffin in the backcountry, but you should find it in more ample quantities at the terrain park.

Wake Surfing: A popular summertime alternative to wake boarding, wake surfing is really just surfing on the back of a manmade wave created by the drag/wake from a "trunk heavy" boat. Talented surfers can drink a beer while carving up a wave.

Riverboarding: The stepchild of surfing, riverboarding has been subject to countless spin-offs and variations over the years, and the mechanics of the sport differ depending on the style and type of river and rider. Some folks are content just trying to ride waves by lying on the board belly-down. Others stand up, and still yet others have pushed the sport with fleeting technologies including the Banshee River Board (developed here in Idaho), which incorporates an elastic bungee chord to propel the rider up the river using drag and release principles. Think catapult.

Snowblades (A.K.A. Skiboards): Perhaps where the endearing term "hot dogger" came from, snowblades didn't last much past 1999. Essentially short snow skis with very limited utility, these cute little buggers are strictly useful for novelty park and groomer applications.

Sandboarding/Sandskiing: Still alive and well today, year-round thrill junkies can get their carving fix in July on a sandboard or sand skis. Some folks utilize regular snowboard or alpine ski gear for steeper applications, but custom formica, wood and fiberglass technologies also exist specifically for dune uses. Sandboarding is thought to be most popular in Namibia.

If you're feeling like messing with your adrenaline fix routine, consider one of these oddities for a little perspective on where your sport is going—or perhaps where its already been.

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