Airboarding is one of the many new board sports to have gained attention in the last decade or so. It’s a fun, interesting, and unique way to tackle the slopes and if you’re looking for an experience like no other, it could be perfect.
But what is airboarding, when was it invented, who invented it, and what do you need to maximize the airboarding experience?
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What is Airboarding?
Airboarding is a winter sport/snow sport that blends bodyboarding and snowboarding. Participants use an inflatable board to ride down snowy slopes and they are always just a few inches from the surface.
Although Airboards are designed to race over snow, they are ridden like bodyboards. You lie down on your stomach, grip the board, and then shift your weight when you want to turn.
History of Airboarding
The history of Airboarding began in the 1990s, when Joe Steiner created an inflatable sled for use as a bodyboard.
In 2001, many years after first experimenting with the board, the Switzerland-based Steiner launched Fun Care AG. He trademarked the Airboard name and launched this new winter sport.
In the proceeding decade, the brand sold thousands of Airboards and was nominated for numerous awards. By 2010, the boards were being sold in 20 countries around the world and Fun-Care AG followed this with a new inflatable SUP product, expanding the range.
Today, over 150,000 Airboards have been sold all over the world, with the majority going to customers in Switzerland.
How to Choose An Airboard
Airboard is a brand as opposed to a type of board. In that sense, it’s more like a Boogie Board than a snowboard.
The best option, therefore, is to go straight to the source. At the time of writing, Airboard.com does not ship to the United States or Canada, but there are a couple of North American partners selling these boards, including Tube Pro. The official Airboard website also points US/CA customers to Mec.ca, but they seem to have stopped selling the boards.
There are a few different options to choose from and they range from around $350 to $550.
Airboarding Moves and Tricks
Turning is one of the first things that you need to learn when you’re Airboarding. If you want to turn right, simply push down with your left hand; if you want to turn left, push down with your right.
Swap the water for snow, and it’s really not that different from bodyboarding.
Slowing and stopping is also important, and you do this by digging your feet into the snow. If you’re racing down the mountain at high speeds, you can stop by sliding the board to the side, creating drag, and losing that momentum.
Although you typically ride Airboards in a prone position or while lying on your belly, you can also just sit on the board. If you’re new to the sport and have very limited experience with board sports, sitting may help you to adjust quicker.
There are handles on either side of the board, so you don’t need to grip the rails like you do with a bodyboard.
Where to Airboard
Some of the best places to go Airboarding are in and around the Alps, including in parts of southern France and Germany, as well Switzerland, the home of the Airboard’s inventor.
There are options in Norway and Sweden, as well.
As Airboards become more popular in North America, the options for rentals, lessons, and runs are becoming more common. One of the best places for Airboarding in the US is at Smugglers’ Notch in Vermont, but there are others.
There’s also nothing stopping you from buying a board and then hitting the mountain slopes yourself!
Is Airboarding Easy?
You can learn the basics of Airboarding with relatively little practice and it’s generally thought to be much easier than snowboarding and skiing. As with anything else, it really all comes down to whether you’re a quick learner or not and how much time you invest into practicing.
If you wipe out, just get back on the board and prepare for the next run. As long as you keep racing down that mountain and practicing those techniques, you will get there eventually.
What Do I Need to Go Airboarding?
If you’re preparing for a skiing or snowboarding trip, you’ll need to spend up to $1,000 on boots, gloves, goggles, a jacket, and a few other accessories, and that’s before you even before the skis or the snowboard. They are expensive sports, and that can deter a lot of novice riders.
With Airboarding, there are no such issues. All you need is an Airboard (around $450 on average) and a helmet. You should also take some lessons if you can, and don’t forget to wear your warmest jacket, as you’ll be racing over cold snow.