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SPECIAL ISSUE: SNOW PREVIEW | FIRST LOOK

A toast to ingenuity -- bottoms up!

November 01, 2005|Joe Robinson; Scott Doggett

Ever since humans strapped wood on feet and slid across snow, people have been trying to make better skis, snowshoes and snowboards. It would seem innovation and invention can only go so far, right? Wrong.

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Look, Ma, no wheels

Skiing in the seated position has long been an accidental technique, but the ski bike, a novel form of slope transit, is putting skiers on their sit bones on purpose. The device, which glides on skis instead of wheels, is showing up at more resorts around the country. With comfortable saddles and no unpleasant thigh burning, ski bikes appeal to nonskiers, families and aging powder fans who want to keep at it. The basic model provides six points of stability, says Roger Hollenbeck, president of Breckenridge, Colo.-based Rocky Mountain Snowbike, which represents Austria's Brenter Snowbike--"two hands, two feet and two cheeks." A ski-bike conversion kit--using an old bike frame--costs $299.95 and is available at www.winterxbike.com. The Brenter bike costs $1,200.

--Joe Robinson

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It's like five toys in one

Lane Ekberg had an idea. The 28-year-old inventor from Salt Lake City was tired of not having the right equipment for the right conditions. Why not, then, create a five-in-one product--like a Swiss Army knife--that with a snap here and a pull there can be used as crampons, skis or snowshoes? Enter the Shoeboard, a pair of stubby skis (the set weighs less than 10 pounds and is 2 1/2 feet long) that can be used for snowshoeing and climbing as well as downhill, cross country and telemark skiing. It'll list at $400 a pair, bindings included, when it hits the market in January. To preorder, visit www.shoeboard.com.

--Scott Doggett

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