Get air on Montage Mountain
First Posted: 1/14/2015
The beauty Montage Mountain isn’t reserved just for skiers and snowboarders anymore. Make way for the new sport of winter: airboarding.
“We just started offering airboarding last ski season,” said Sarah Farrell, Director of Sales and Marketing. “We are the only mountain in the tri-state area to offer the sport and there are only seven other places in the country who have airboarding. The closest to us is Smugglers’ Notch in Vermont.”
The airboarding season is open an those wishing to give it a try can do so from 4 to 9 p.m. Sundays and Tuesdays. A Sunday night session is $29 and a Tuesday night ride is $25. It includes the airboarding equipment rental and a night lift ticket. If you are a skier or snowboarder and are already on the mountain, you can add a two hour session to your night lift ticket or season pass for only $10.
An airboard is an inflatable sled or “board” made of light and durable high-quality plastic covered textiles. Riders must be at least 10 years old and 4-feet tall. There is a weight limit, no more than 280 pounds. Proper equipment is required.
“We give riders the airboard, a helmet and knee pads,” Farrell said. “We recommend snow pants, boots and goggles. If you don’t have boots, we will rent you snowboarding boots with no extra charge.”
Airboarders ride on three designated trails: Easy Street, Mainline and Highball, which are dedicated exclusively to airboarders during the specified times. Don’t worry if you have never airboarded, first time air boarders are required to complete a skills seminar during their first session and no experience in any winter sport is required.
“I am not a skier or a boarder, said Terry Holmes, director of information technology. “I was terrified at first!” But once I got to the top of the mountain, I had to go down and it was amazing. I would have never got a view from the top of the mountain had it not been for airboarding.”
“It helps people get out on the slopes,” Farrell said. “It shows them how fun it is to get out on the mountain.”
The staff stumbled upon airboarding when they were looking for new snow tubes. They simply Googled “snow tubes with more control” and stumbled across the airboards. The activity then took flight and snowballed from there.
“We only ordered seven boards at first,”Holmes said. “We needed to see if it was safe as well as fun. Because if we weren’t having fun doing it, then why would we introduce it to the mountain.”
Airboarding is a safer alternative to skiing and snowboarding. It is pretty easy and only requires the board and a body. Airboarders turn by shifting their weight and brake by just turning the airboard at a 90 degree angle to the desired downhill direction. The rider always has control over the board and you are already on the snow, so there isn’t a long way to fall if you stumble.
A crash on an airboard is much less abrasive than one on skies.
“It is great because you can control your speed at all times,” Holmes said. “You can drag your feet and knees if you want to slow yourself down or hop all the way up on the board and speed down the mountain. You can go from 55 miles per hour to zero, just like that! It definitely is a rush.”