New snow toys makes non-skiers and too-little-to-ski-ers enjoy their day on the mountain just as much as everyone else.
With every season, we become aware of new snow toys and snow fun options waiting to challenge kids and anyone else who’s fit and young at heart. During the 90s, when mountain resorts turned their attention to attracting those in the family who would not ski or snowboard, we witnessed the growth of snowshoeing (a wide variety of types and sizes is now available to accommodate all snow conditions and all ages), snowmobiling (guided and self-guided day trips available) and snow tubing (rent inner tubes to race down groomed terrain in enclosed parks). In fact, Vermont’s Mt. Snow has just expanded and redesigned its already popular tubing runs and now operates two daytime and an evening session on weekend nights.
At New Mexico’s Angel Fire Resort, general manager Jon Mahanna explains, “The day of blowing up an old inner tube, trudging up the hill and having to hot-foot it back up after your ride down, are over.” Angel Fire’s three-lane, 1,000-foot-long tubing hill opened in January 2005 with a 600-foot-long Sunkid Moving Carpet, a type of conveyor belt to transport tubers back to the top once they’ve bottomed out. Additionally, each of the tubing lanes has been groomed to vary in pitch and terrain, just to keep everyone over 42″ interested in going again. And again.
And there are many other options. Since the millennium, we’ve encountered snowscoots (snow bikes with handlebars and a seat above two short skis) at Buttermilk; snowblades a.k.a. skiblades (less-than-one-meter, fast skis akin to Rollerblades) almost everywhere; and snowskates (skateboard deck without footholds with metal-edged lower layer) in New York’s Central Park. Now, courtesy of Vermont’s Burton Company, we have snowdecks (skateboard decks mounted on shocks above a metal-edged slalom ski).
The Booth Creek Resorts in New Hampshire, California and Washington state are also using other snow toys as learning tools: ski boards (very short skis used to teach kids) and Ski Foxes (handlebars and seat above two mini-snowboards, mini-skis on feet for brakes) and have them available for rent to ages 10 and up.
Airboards, an inflatable body board for snow, has made its way to American Ski Resorts. Seen in Europe for the past three years, the airboard is made of urethane-coated nylon that riders lie face-down on. With helmet on and a water-tight grip, airboard riders carve through the slopes using forearm pressure and torso weight rather than legs. Among the ski resorts that make airboards available are Keystone in Colorado, Loon Mountain in New Hampshire, Schweitzer Mountain in Idaho, Hoodoo in Oregon and Sugar Bowl in California.
Feeling exhausted? At Colorado’s Breckenridge, famed for its extreme snowboarding terrain parks, couples and families are cozying up under blankets for a guided, horse-drawn sleigh ride to their evening meal. At Deer Valley, Utah they’re going two better–with a lavish dinner following either a horse-drawn sleigh ride–or a moonlit snowshoe trek–or a guided cross-country ski tour.
To top it off, at California’s Squaw Valley Resort, families can board a scenic Lake Tahoe cruise to reach the slopes, receive a day’s lift ticket, then wind down by apres-ski cruising around the Lake and enjoying a relaxing meal.
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