Snowscoot : all you need to know about this winter sport
The Snowscoot is a winter sport that is practiced on a kind of snow scooter, halfway between the bike and the snowboard. The machine is composed of two independent boards, a fork, a frame (steel, aluminum, titanium or carbon) and handlebars. It is therefore practiced on snowy slopes and is maneuvered with the handlebars. The rear board, narrower than the front, is attached to the frame, itself attached to the fork. A rope (or leash, it looks like this) to attach to the ankle allows not to lose the snowscoot in case of fall. The snowscoot differs from the ski bike: unlike the ski bike, the rider remains upright during the ride.
Which snowscoot to choose?
If you’re new to the world of snowscooting and are thinking of getting into it, you’ve probably heard the words « rigid » and « suspended ». Well, these are two styles of snowscoot with different purposes. The debate is likely to continue to animate the meetings of the practitioners. It’s best to make up your own mind by trying them out before you buy. We’ll explain the main differences in detail here:
The rigid snowscoot is made for freestyle, it is intended for thrill seekers who are looking to perform jumps and tricks, being more access on technique than speed, it is practiced mainly in Snow Park. This is the origin of the snowscoot and until 2005 there were only rigid models on the market. And it is still today the most widespread type of model and manufactured by all the brands on the market.
In terms of behavior, it’s direct and straightforward, every movement of the terrain is felt whether in the arms or legs, a communion with the piste, in short, the snowscoot in its raw state. Rigid snowscoots are the lightest models between 8 and 11 kilos, and are lower despite the arrival of XL frame models. The center of gravity is also lower, because the frame is very close to the boards. Here is an example of a rigid snowscoot par excellence :
The different materials used to make the frame provide notable advantage
Steel: The most common. These are the heaviest models, but also quite flexible.
- Aluminum: Aluminum has the advantage of being a light material, but extremely stiff.
- Cromo : Steel alloy of superior quality, compromise rigidity/flexibility for a significant weight.
- Titanium : Titanium brings an interesting compromise between rigidity and flexibility for a low weight.
- Carbon : Fragile but light and fast.
Someone who freestyle snowscoot can do the same trick hundreds of times until he manages to place it. This can be a bit frustrating for a beginner, bus it’s a challenge that becomes a satisfaction when achieved and watching a rider who has mastered it is spectacular.
Full Suspension Snowscoot
The full-suspension snowscoot, also known as a freeride snowscoot, is designed for off-piste riding. The sensation sought is speed. It is a matter of riding quickly down the slopes and avoiding obstacles. The suspended models are more comfortable, lighter, and their front and rear suspensions erase riding errors, dampen vibrations and make the slopes’ defects much less noticeable. These lighter models offer a comfortable ride on any type of track
The suspensions work in harmony with the boards and the frame.
Heavier (between 12 – 14kg) they offer nevertheless a good handling despite a higher center of gravity. Less sharp and more supple, the suspensions allow you to play in difficult terrain without being too shaken up. There are several levels of suspension ranges depending on the model.
Note that suspensions require special maintenance if you want an optimal performance and a normal life span. They also allow for the most fastidious to make precise adjustments according to the terrain, the person and the type of ride to be as close as possible to the desires of each person.
The first semi-rigid snowscoot appeared in 2010 with the Torik model from Blackmountain. It is an answer to people who are looking for a compromise between the support and the sensations of the rigid snowscoot and the comfort of the suspended snowscoot. A clever mix of flexibility and stiffness.
The small roughness of the slopes are erased, but you still feel the slope. The suspensions also make it possible to forgive some small errors of piloting.
Taller, more massive, the Torik weighs between 11 and 12 kilos depending on the equipment.
Who invented the snowscoot?
Frank Petoud, a BMX professional, imagined this sliding machine in 1991. He wanted to find the sensations of BMX on a snowy terrain. He is the one who registered the patent and the name « snowscoot » in most of the world. He organized the first French championships in Avoriaz, France in 1995. The first European championships took place in Murren, Switzerland in 1997 and the first world championships in 2002 in Les Diablerets, Switzerland. Since then, the sport has been democratized and was even presented at the Winter Olympic Games in Turin in 2006.
In 1991, Franck Petoud filed a patent and launched the manufacturing and marketing of his invention.
In 1992, the first SnowScoots were produced under license from the « Sunn » bicycle brand, headed by its leader Max Commençal.
- In 1993, the SnowScoot was awarded an honorary diploma at the Lépine competition.
- Since 1994, Franck works to try to make known this new discipline of gliding throughout the world.
- In 1995 in Avoriaz, he organized the first French SnowScoot Championships.
- In 1996 SnowScoot was exported to Japan and the USA.
- In 1997 in Murren, Switzerland, he organized the first European SnowScoot Championships.
- In 1999, following the receivership of the Sunn Company, Franck Petoud took over the rights to exploit the product under the brand name
under the brand name « Insane Toys » by creating his own company in Switzerland.
In 2002 in Les Diablerets, Switzerland, he organized the first SnowScoot World Championships,
Nowadays most of these events are organized and supervised by sports associations dedicated to this discipline.
Today, Snowscoot is exported to some fifteen countries around the world.
A few thousand SnowScoots are manufactured each year, the largest production being that of the brand « Jykk Japan ».
Since 2005, many other brands have been created, bringing variations to the initial concept,
for example with the brand Black Mountain which launches a patent on machines of type « all suspended »,
or the Slopecycle company which innovates with a more direct connection of the frame on the boards and removes at the same time the foot holds,
the Crighton brand which adds a mini-saddle and specific boards to the SnowScoot,
The development continues and is also oriented on the boards which see their design and their quality strongly improved thanks to the use of new, more « modern » materials such as carbon and titanium.
The practice of SnowScoot quickly became a state of mind and mixed several cultures, including BMX and Snowboard.
Quite easy to access at the beginning, SnowScoot attracts various riders from BMX, ATV, motocross, personal watercraft or snowboard.
The popularity of snowscoot is still not very important, it is a so-called « niche » sport that only comes out of anonymity thanks to the competitions that are regularly organized. These competitions allow to gather enthusiasts and to make the practice of snowscooting known to the media.
The discipline is authorized in most of the winter sports resorts but does not meet the full unanimity
and is still today rejected by some large resorts that remain reluctant.
It is undoubtedly one of the easiest snow sports to approach but it is also one of the most spectacular.
Is a snowscoot easy to master?
To get the hang of it and learn the basics of snowscooting, 2 hours of lessons are enough. As for the price, count on about 45€ per session. Even those who are not great sportsmen can easily learn to slide and have fun with the snowscoot. It is for everyone, from the youngest (from primary school) to the oldest, men or women. It is best to be in good physical condition because the whole body is involved: arms, legs and back in particular.
The first advantage is that the snowscoot is maneuvered with handlebars, which ensures a better balance for the upper body. With skiing or snowboarding, the feet do not move because the boots are attached to the ski, so the rider must constantly control his action by synchronizing the movement of the upper body and the movement of the legs. With the snowscoot, on the other hand, the rider moves the machine with the handlebars, leaning to one side or the other, which allows him to control both the upper and lower body and, thus, to maintain his balance.
Another advantage is that you can push one foot out of the machine and push with it, like a scooter, to regain speed, for example when going uphill. You can also use the foot to correct an edge error.
Of course, having already practiced the rudiments of sliding is a plus, but once you have your wrists on the handlebars, standing on the back skate and one foot slipped under the strap, it is easy to keep your balance without having to think about the upper and lower body sequence.
Is there any snowscoot competitions?
The different disciplines of snowscoot in competition are the following:
- Also known as Scooter Cross, Boarder X, Scooter X, this is the Queen event in which 4 to 6 riders compete.
- The Boarder Cross is practiced on a course strewn with bumps, double bumps, turns, woops, tables, etc. … .
- The event has 3 qualifying rounds during which points are awarded according to the places at the finish.
- The 16 best pilots are selected for the quarter finals, knowing that this number is increased to 24 in the case of Boarder X to 6.
- From the finals, half of the riders are qualified for the next final phase.
- All Riders ride on the same course.
- Each participant makes 2 runs and keeps the best of the two times.
- The course can be done on a natural sector and/or with added modules and gates.
– The Freestyle is practiced on a huge bump towards which the Riders run one after the other to realize style tricks.
– Each competitor performs 3 runs during which the style, amplitude and difficulty of the tricks performed are noted.
– The Rider who has the most points after the 3 passes wins the event.
– The event is carried out on a course imposed or not.
– Riders ride the course all at the same time.
– On the starting line, the competitors have a knee on the ground 5 meters from their SnowScoot.
– The start is given at the explosion of the firecracker, the first to cross the finish line at the bottom of the track wins the event.
The Kilometre Run or Kl
- The Kl is practiced on a straight track specially prepared.
- Competitors race down the slope one after the other with the sole objective of
- to pass the timing cell as quickly as possible.
- The official Snowscoot world speed record of 168.382 km/h was set in Vars Chabrières
- in Vars Chabrières (74) by the Frenchman Corentin Desbois in 2017.
- The Dual Slalom is practiced as a duel on two parallel courses.
- A blue course and a red course, both strewn with pegs and jumps easy to execute.
- The two riders compete successively once in the blue course and once in the red course.
- The best of the two faces the next competitor while the worst is eliminated.
- The winner of the event is the one who is not eliminated.
The Bunny Up
- Each competitor must jump with little momentum over a horizontal bar.
- The elimination is direct on the fall of the bar.
- When all the competitors have passed, the height of the bar is raised and so on.
- The last to drop the bar wins the event.
- It is the discipline of freedom par excellence.
- It is mainly practiced off-piste on a powdery snow cover.
- There are no limits other than the rider’s, no lines, a great fluidity for an intense communion with the mountain.
- Freeride is mainly practiced outside of competition.
- It is mandatory to wear a beacon like an ARVA.
Franck Petoud organized the first championships in Avoriaz, France in 1995, the European championships in Murren, Switzerland in 1997 and the first world championships in Diablerets, Switzerland in 2002. This discipline was even presented at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin. The most successful champions of this discipline are : Jean-Claude Rairolle, Tibor Simaï, José Delgado, Manu Fouché, Nicolas Pillin, Ludo Guitton, Xavier Jacquemet, Charlotte Carrouée and Eric Dernoncourt.
The timed downhill
The snowscoot was demonstrated at the Bardonnechia Snow Park during the 2006 Olympic Games in Turin,
It was also requested every winter by organizations of multi-sport events such as the « Playstation Airgames
or the « Bluewin Fly sessions » during which, Xavier Jacquemet and Ludo Guitton,
the best specialists of the discipline during the first ten years, performed in front of thousands of spectators
in spectacular freestyle shows, not forgetting Nicolas Pillin who later took over from the pioneers,
to continue the evolution of freestyle.
How to stop with a snowscoot?
The snowscoot has no brakes, so you don’t have to be afraid of speed! Like skiers and snowboarders, snowscoot riders turn and stop by tilting the outside of the ski and standing perpendicular to the trail. Snowscooters, like skis, have edges (metal part on the sole) that cut into the snow when turning.
What about the ski lifts?
Snowscoot riders don’t have to do anything special when they arrive at a ski lift, whether it’s a butt shot, a chairlift or a cable car. They can sit on the chairlift while keeping their hands on the snowscoot and one foot securely in the rear skate strap or « foot strap ». Moreover, the snow scoot is not particularly heavy: it is not difficult for women, for example, to take a chairlift with a snowscoot.
Where to go snowscooting in Canada?
Most of the ski areas and resorts in Canda accept snowscoot and even offer to rent them. We have put at your disposal a page that lists all the resorts where snowscooting is allowed. Most resorts today have a snowpark, a real playground where you can have fun doing freestyle tricks.
What equipment do I need to snowscoot?
The equipment needed for snowscooting is similar to that needed for skiing and snowboarding, you will need waterproof shoes, a helmet, winter clothes, glasses and gloves, you can find on this page No special equipment is needed for snowscooting. If you snowboard or ski, you can enjoy it immediately with the same clothes. Today, we explain what equipment you need to wear and what you need to watch out for when you go snowscooting!
What shoes to wear?
You can wear any kind of winter boots, such as snowboard boots, après-ski or even hiking boots that are sufficiently waterproof. As for the wetsuit, the same outfit as for skiing or snowboarding will do perfectly. As for safety, it is better to wear a helmet and knee pads, because the speed and the freestyle aspect of the machine can lead to heavy falls.
Well-equipped snowscooter rider
Snowscooter rider with helmet
Which snowscoot should I choose? Rigid or suspended?
Rigid snowscoot, faithful to the original snowscoot, are the most common models at the moment. Almost all snowscoot brands sell them. The frames can be made of aluminum, CroMo, steel or titanium. They are intended for « freestyle » type riding. Their weight varies from 8 to 11 kg. The disadvantage is that the center of gravity of these machines is low and that the « body to body » contact with the slope amplifies the aches and pains at the end of the day, whether in the back, arms or legs.
Like many winter sports, snowscooting can cause head injuries if you are injured. We therefore recommend that you wear one for safety reasons. In recent years, it has become mandatory to wear a snowscoot helmet on the ski slopes. There are many fashionable, stylish, lightweight and comfortable helmets to choose from.
The majority of ski resorts allow snowscooting on the condition that you wear a leash, which is mandatory for snowscooting on the slopes and for using the ski lifts. Always wear a leash on your feet when you use your snowscoot for safety reasons and to stay in good standing.
The leash wears out and gets damaged over time, so we recommend that you change it regularly each season.
You can wear whatever you want under your clothes, but choosing an effective inner layer adapted to winter sports will make your snowscoot experience even more comfortable.
The first layer is the most important, the one that is in direct contact with your skin. For the first layer, we recommend using a fabric such as wool or polyester that absorbs perspiration and dries easily. Cotton fabric has the advantage of absorbing water well, but it is difficult to dry and can cool your body, so be careful.
As with snowboarding and skiing, gloves are required for all winter sports. Snowscooting puts more strain on the hands and therefore the gloves than other snow sports because of the handlebars. It is preferable to use well-sewn, non-slip gloves that do not slip and whose shape allows a good grip on the handlebars.
Wear a mask or goggles at all times, not just when it snows. It protects your eyes from wind and dust during your skiing sessions, and depending on the color of the lens, it also clarifies your vision. We advise you to wear your mask all the time, not only when it snows.
Falls on a snowscoot are dangerous for your knees and shins, as you can hit them against the frame. For your safety and to enjoy snowscooting to the fullest, we strongly advise you to wear knee pads to protect your knees, and shin guards. Protective gear for other parts of the body should also be worn whenever possible.
The snowscoot carrying case
The ideal way to transport your snowscoot is to buy a carrying bag. Some bags have wheels that are attached to the bag, which allows you to move around easily without having to carry your bag. If your trunk is not big enough, a bike carrier will do the trick.
More and more slopes are open to snowscooters
Many snow sports enthusiasts think that snowscooting is not allowed in ski resorts. This is not true! More and more ski resorts are offering this activity every year (95% of the resorts). You will find here a complete and updated map of the places where it is allowed.