Have you Tried out Hangboarding?

April 2, 2008 by  
Filed under features

In a quest for added thrills on the snow skiing slopes, a group of innovative snow sport enthusiasts have drawn fundamentals from three popular sports – snowboarding, mountain biking and hang gliding – and blended them into a new sport which, after much development, testing and refining, they are calling “hangboarding“.

There is no doubt that hangboarding is unlike anything else to hit the snow skiing slopes. Hangboarders are suspended horizontally above a snowboard by a harness, with handles to grip and rudders behind the board which are foot-controlled for direction and braking. Hangboarding has similarities to snow skiing or snowboarding in that the hangboard rider needs to know the mountain and the lines, as well as how to use the shifting of bodyweight to his advantage.

One of the first questions that most people may ask is: “Is it safe?” The hangboard rider has brakes that are easy to use and are instantly available. Also, being close to the snow, the rider has less distance to fall if this should happen. The hangboarding rig offers a measure of protection and the wearing of a helmet is obligatory. So, while any snow sport comes with an element of risk, the designers have continually given safety top priority during the design and testing of the hangboard and have had no serious injuries during two full seasons of hangboarding, therefore concluding that it is no riskier than snowboarding or snow skiing.

Most people who have tried their hand at hangboarding pick up the techniques fairly quickly. Hangboarding does require a fair measure of upper body strength, but if you are lacking in this, it is something which will be developed as you go along. There are a number of ways to start your hangboarding ride and each hangboarder develops his or her own style. Options are to push off using your hands, push off with one or both feet and swing into the rudders, or drop-in from a crouching position. Stopping the hangboard can be done by applying both rudders simultaneously which will slow you down to a stop. Alternatively stop in the same way as you would on a snowboard or skis, by sliding up on one edge and cutting against the slope.

Many snow skiing enthusiasts have a need for speed, so the question of “How fast can this thing go?” seems to be logical. Hangboarders can build speed and carry it as fast as most skiers. The aerodynamics of being low and close to the snow counts in the hangboarder’s favor. In testing the hangboard, the team found that this unusual riding position distorts the rider’s perception of speed and, although you may not actually be going faster than skiers, you will certainly feel as though you are.

As with many new snow sport innovations, hangboarding has met with some resistance at snow skiing slopes. In an effort to overcome objections, the designers of the hangboard are focusing attention on ensuring that the hangboard complies with all mountain safety regulations, as well as working closely with industry partners and mountain administrations to gain access to slopes all over the world. Hangboarding is already gaining a following and time will tell as to how popular this unusual sport will become.