January 22, 2008 The winter sports market is proving a little conservative it would seem. Inventors looking to push beyond skis and snowboards in search of new ways to enjoy the ski slopes aren't getting much enthusiasm from major companies – but those that have the vision and means to bring their own ideas to the market are coming up with some very interesting results. We recently covered Venomsnow's Switchboard, essentially a snowboard with a suspended steering bar – and now there's the Snowter, which looks something like a seatless BMX with two mini skis replacing the wheels. You split your feet between the front and rear pedals as you like, then steer it with the handlebars at slow speeds, and dig the rear in to carve turns or drift it like you're power-sliding once you've got some pace up.
If your options on today's ski slopes seem limited, it's not because there's a lack of innovators coming up with new and interesting ways to enjoy the powder. The German designers of the Snowter took the idea to several major manufacturers but found them to be quite conservative and risk-adverse in their thinking – so decided to go into production for themselves.
The device is something like a snow-bike, using a triangular BMX-style frame, with four standing pedals to give you a few different balance options. In place of wheels, there's two skis, and you can steer the front one using the BMX-style handlebars. You don't need any special boots or other equipment to ride it, and it's light and easy enough to carry up a chairlift. Naturally enough, it folds up to take up very little room in your car.
Moving slowly down a slope, you steer the Snowter using the handlebars, but once you get some pace up it's a different ballgame – you pitch your weight into the corners, dig the rear ski's edge into the snow and carve it like a snowboard. And if you unload the rear edge in a turn, you can get the back end to drift out, and steer the Snowter on opposite-lock like you're power-sliding a motorcycle.
Several models are available, the key differences between them being the choice between lightweight materials for improved speed and agility, and sturdier versions intended to withstand the punishment of being used as rental units. The company is working on the soon-to-be-released racing version, and another is in the pipeline that will feature a full suspension system.
Snowter is seeking interested dealers and hire organizations worldwide who are willing to take a chance on an interesting new product. Meanwhile, units can be purchased directly through the Snowter website.
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