Downhill Alternatives to Skiing and Snowboarding

Downhill Alternatives to Skiing and Snowboarding
For those with no skiing or snowboarding experience, a trip to a ski resort can be a painful affair. If you're not looking forward to learning how to ski or snowboard, consider trying one of these alternative activities, some of which offer a taste of the downhill thrills without the needed skills.

Ski Bikes

While some bike snow-covered slopes and trails on real mountain bikes, ski bikes feature bike frames with skis in place of wheels. Ski bikes provide greater stability, and some models even provide a suspension for a cushier ride. Not every resort offers or allows ski bikes, so check with the resort prior to traveling to see if this is an option. Practitioners claim ski biking is easier for people to learn than either skiing or snowboarding.


Tubing (riding inflatable tubes down the mountain) is available at numerous resorts and is a great alternative for young children and others who don't plan to ski or snowboard. Many resorts provide a specially created and dedicated carved-out track for tubers. This activity is often offered at night, so it is also a fun after-ski activity. Tubing requires about as much skill as sledding, so there is no learning curve.

Ski Boards (Snowblades)

Ski boards, often called snowblades, are essentially shortened skis (generally 75 to 125 cm). Given their shorter length and wider dimensions, ski boards are easier to turn and less cumbersome than traditional alpine skis. Ski boards don't require the use of poles and are a good introduction to skiing. Ski boards are widely allowed at ski resorts and are available for purchase or rent through ski shops.


Noboarding--basically snowboarding without the bindings--is more of a backyard or back country activity, but can be done on slopes. Resorts tend to restrict devices without a means of strapping in because of liability issues, so practitioners usually head to the back country or private hills. The activity is particular popular in the back country of British Columbia, which is where it originated.
Special noboards or snowboard conversion kits include a simple bungee rope and foot grip pad. You stand on the board but are more free and fluid due to the fact that you're not strapped in, similar to the experience of surfing.


The snowskate comes closest to actually skateboarding on snow. The snowskate is a short, binding-less snowboard designed primarily for tricks and park use. While it can be used to ride downhill, its size and design makes it less ideal for extended downhill usage than the snowboard or noboard.
Some snowskates are simple decks; others are decks mounted on skis. Snowskates range from inexpensive plastic to advanced, expensive models that feature the latest performance technology.
Many resorts won't allow these on the lifts since they don't have a leash; some, such as Okemo, Vermont, offer a snowskate park. Check with individual resorts for snowskate policies and facilities.

Article Written By Joe Fletcher

Joe Fletcher has been a writer since 2002, starting his career in politics and legislation. He has written travel and outdoor recreation articles for a variety of print and online publications, including "Rocky Mountain Magazine" and "Bomb Snow." He received a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Rutgers College.

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