MiniSkis - The Next Type of Snowriding?
By Pelle Sjogren Published in Hyperski
Editor's note: The shaped ski phenomenon has made people realize that the tried and true 190cm ski was an encumbrance to many. Now get set to see adults on skis ranging down to 40 cm. This piece is to describe the smallest of the bunch : "miniskis".
These could put a major dent in the income of ski instructors. These are the easiest form of downhill snow travel to master. These enhance freedom for every skier willing to try something new.These are skiboards. Also known as "snowblades", "microskis", "bigfoots","snow skates" and "figgles". Until there is an industry standard, my editors are referring to them as "mini-skis". Mini-skis are between 40 and 90 cm and clamp onto your regular ski boot in either releasable or non-release bindings. No need for poles; no worries about crossing skis; no need for a week of lessons. Anyone who has reached an intermediate level of skiing should be able to ride the same terrain on mini-skis within a day.
I tried a pair of "skiboards" manufactured by Canon Industries. Named in part because they mesh aspects of snowboarding and skiing, this version had the width of a heli ski and the sidecut of a parabolic ski (14 cm tip and tail, 11 cm waist). The result is an exceptionally easy to maneuver ski that allows for deep angle carving, the way snowboarders can do.
What the mini-ski rider can do even more readily than a snowboarder is ride among tight trees. Have you ever wished your home ski area was twice the size? Well, a venturesome rider on mini-skis can get to places that are unmarked on trail maps.
Yes, the mini-skis negotiate moguls just fine. Indeed, if you are in trouble on a turn the mini-ski affords the luxury of simply stepping out wider to regain balance. On long skis, stepping out can be done without crossing skis only if your skis are parallel (in which case the skier has no need to recover anyhow).
Yes, the mini-skis work through powder as well. The only problem I encountered came in boring through alternately light and heavy powder. Whereas the long ski can blast through the sudden thick stuff, the mini-ski is more likely to slow up. Solution is to lean back and not worry about a face-plant (in soft snow, who cares).
Yes, you can use poles with mini-skis. But there is no need to since unweighting comes easily.
Speeds attainable on mini-skis are lower. However, without long boards sticking out in front of you, you feel like you are moving very fast. And without poles as well, the mini-ski rider may feel a bit naked the first few times out. If you want a high-speed mini-ski, choose one with a lot of surface area, be it length or width. Canon's Boxter, Atomic's Figl, and Line's Skiboard have surface areas large enough to allow riders to keep up with their speedy friends on long skis.
To me, speed is less important than freedom. Whether you are a skier, snowboarder, or in-line skater, a few runs with skiboards on your feet and no poles in your hands should make you feel less encumbered than ever. If only they'd fit on my Sorels I'd feel completely free.
Pelle Sjogren is a regular contributor to Hyperski. He is currently in Japan and expects to be our correspondent for the Olympics in Nagano.