Do you crave the thrill of snowboarding all year long? You’re not alone, but you might be an adrenaline junkie. When the snow melts, some adrenaline addicts trade out their snowboards for mountain boards (part skateboard, part snowboard) to participate in the little-known sport of mountain boarding. This activity is essentially snowboarding sans the snow, with athletes riding down grass, dirt, or asphalt.
History of Mountain Boarding
In the early 1990’s, a few avid snowboarders in California came to a realization we know all too well- having no snow is a giant bummer. They wanted a way to reproduce the rush they got from snowboarding during the warmer months without a flake in site, and along came mountain boarding. Jason Lee, one of the inventors of this extreme sport, helped found a company called MBS Mountain Boards in 1993. The following year, the company sold its first mountain board. The sport has caught on around the world, developing its own sports culture and following.
Known as mountain boards, dirt boards, and even “no snow boards,” these boards are rugged and built for varying terrain. After all, crashing on dirt or gravel is bound to hurt a little more than falling in snow, so riders need a sturdy board beneath their feet.
The mountain board starts with the deck. Similar to a snowboard deck, these vary in both size and construction and can fit the needs of different sizes and skill levels. Increasing length will increase stability of the board.
Next, each board will require two trucks, or instruments used to attach the wheels to the deck, as seen on a skateboard. Trucks are also essential for providing the rider with control and stability. Bindings, adapted from snowboarding, keep the rider attached to their mountain board. Velcro bindings are the most common.Of course for the board to get anywhere, it will require wheels. (four of them!) Most mountain boards are equipped with 20cm wheels, while other options exist based on rider preference.
Athletes ride mountain boards down dirt roads, grass, pavement, and bmx tracks. According to MBS Mountainboards all that’s needed is “a 5 degree slope to have enough speed in which to carve,” so the possibilities are endless for riders. The terrain will often be determined by the type of riding, sometimes including park features like jumps and half pipes. (see below)
The Riding Style
While not all mountain boarding styles fit into one of these four buckets, these riding styles are the most common and mimic the varying styles of snowboarding:
- Freeride: Freeriding shapes up to be a lot like it sounds. This style of mountain boarding is non-competitive with no terrain limits for the rider.
- Freestyle: Think park here- boxes, jumps, and rails. Freestyle mountain boarding is normally done in a competitive setting and includes slopestyle, big air, and jibbing. (which will sound very familiar to all the snowboarders out there)
- Boardercross: Boardercross refers to two to four man racing on a mountain board with a designated track, typically made of dirt.
- Downhill: In downhill mountain boarding, single riders race the clock while navigating down long, steep courses. These timed single-man descents are also often referred to as “big mountain.”
As with any extreme sport, hopping on a mountain board and heading down the hill requires ample safety precautions. While we aren’t necessarily advocating for attempting this risky hobby, we tip our hats to the boarders that just can’t get enough. Who knows, maybe simulating ripping down a pow-packed run actually cools athletes down in this hot, hot heat. Take us back to winter!