Winter 2019 - Inside Outdoor Magazine

Inside Outdoor | WINTER 2019 22 T he outdoor industry, as a whole, is becom- ing lighter and slimmer with each passing year. Products are coming to market that make it easier for users to move around freely, from packs and jackets that can be condensed to the size of a bur- rito to rafts that you can carry around on your back. It’s easy to forget how bulky and rigid gear was in the not- too-distant past. Snowsports are no exception. Ski blades, for instance, were created as shorter, lighter alternatives to skis that make it easier to stop and turn. Then, snowboards shrunk to more closely resemble skateboards. Both iterations also made it easier to transport gear to and from the mountain. Now, a new evolution has emerged that makes it possible to go down a mountain as if you are skating over ice. In October Sled Dogs Snowskates launched in North America, introducing an alterna- tive — and highly accessible — alpine sport to the market. Snowskates do not require any formal lessons or training, and are also reasonably priced. Sled Dogs’ products, for instance, range from $330 to $500 retail. What you get with Sled Dogs is a product that resembles a traditional ski boot but with a small embedded ski on the bottom. Sled Dogs’ proprietary Hardflex system provides comfort, flex- ibility and strong ankle support for rid- ers. They also contain built-in liners for protection from the elements. Sled Dogs, it should be noted, isn’t the only company operating in this space. The company now has direct competition from Snowfeet, which takes a slightly different approach to the sport. Snowfeet offers a similar but cheaper model that can attach to any winter shoe or boot. Both companies are now actively trying to get funded on Indiegogo. It’s still far too early to tell how the North American market will respond to snowskates and whether this will be a lasting fad or have staying power. The response from consumers, however, has so far been en- couraging. According to Sled Dogs, the company is not looking to pull customers away from snowboarding or skiing. Rather, the company is looking to bring experience of alpine snow sports to a new market. For many new or novice consumers, the idea of strapping into a traditional snowboard or ski is terrifying. The hope is that snowskates can help ease this type of consumer in. There is also reason to believe that snowskates will catch on with experi- enced skiers and snowboarders who are looking for new activity. Pro ski and snowboard coach Lorne Milne sees Sled Dogs, for in- stance, as a complement to other types of snowsports. “As an instructor I see the benefits of using Sled Dogs for both beginners and experienced,” Milne stated. “Expe- rienced skiers can use Sled Dogs as a training tool to improve their balance point on skis and also improve the carving technique. The beginners will build confidence on snow much faster with Sled Dogs than with starting on ski or snowboard. It is great as a sport itself and also as a complementary to ski and snowboard.” What’s not clear at the moment is how traditional alpine and cross coun- try ski resorts will respond to this grow- ing trend. m Snowskates Slide into the North American Market by Gerald Baldino Sled Dogs’ full selection of models Start ‘emUp