With Spring in the air, the sea being it its coldest, and winter making one last stand, here's what you could have been doing over the winter period: Snow Skimming!
We first tried snow skimming at the start of last year and found it to be great fun, I know what you thinking isn't it just the same as snowboarding? Well the answers simple, no way! The dynamics and riding style are total different, where snowboarding is best on loose powder snow, skimming is best suited to packed icy snow. One major difference of course is that your feet aren't strapped to the board!
There is very little control from the rails of your board skimming on snow similar to skimming on wet sand, but on snow you can gain more speed and distance. Much of your directional control skimming on snow comes from twisting your body, using your hands and pure luck. Tricks like shove-its and spinning are easier on snow because your don't lose as much momentum compared to skimming on sand or water, I pulled off my first 720 this year!
My favourite snow skimming spot is right outside my front door, I live at the bottom of a 1 in 6 hill on a dead end road meaning we don't get any through traffic and they don't salt the road when it snows. The best conditions come after a heavy snow fall and freezing conditions during the night, so when everybody goes off to work in the morning their cars driving over the snow pack it down leaving us with 200metres of silky smooth skimming fun! The camber of the road is a major factor it tends determine the direction of your run and eventually you end up in the kerb, but riding up and down kerbs and board sliding along them just adds to the fun! If you manage to stay in the middle of the road you end up on a super fast long ride all the way to the bottom of the road.
This year myself and a couple friends ventured out to the local sledging hill, a 50metre (around 150ft) hill with a 1 in 2 gradient. We got there pretty late in the evening so most of the snow had been churned up by people sledging during the day but the ground was frozen solid and seemed slippery enough to ride.
I was first to try it, after 5 metres or so I realised it was going to be a fast run so I tucked down low, prayed and went clattering down the icy hill at warp speed. I managed to make it to the bottom with help from my trailing hand for balance and that fine injection of adrenaline. It was the fastest most exhilarating ride I have ever had on a skimboard or any board for that matter, the ultimate ride? After an hour or so we were all suffering from minor injuries and banged heads but it had been worth it, we spent another half an hour towing each other behind the car before heading home. Not something I would recommend most of your weight is centred across the front of your board making it more likely that you will face plant into ice and concrete!
On the drive home someone commented that seeing me coming down on that first run had reminded them of seeing a skimboarder riding a big wave, tucked low going fast and bouncing around across the face of the wave, it certainly felt like that and was probably as close to the sensation as you can get. I was just disappointed that the camera batteries had run out earlier in the day!
So next time it snows, give up that caffeine stained keyboard put your monkey down and go skim.
Thanks to Tim from Skimting for submitting this article