Halfway between a snowboard and a BMX, the snowscoot, also known as a snow scooter, is a new winter sport that combines speed and freestyle, giving its riders the sensations of a mountain bike on the slopes. It weighs between 8 and 11 kilos, although some models designed for more intense use can weigh up to 15 kilos.
Even today, its name is little known to the general public, although it is popular with young people, and still relatively unknown to older skiers and non-skiers.
It consists of :
Frame: similar to that of a mountain bike, made of steel, aluminum and titanium.
A Board: made up of two alpine ski boards, the front one half the size of the rear one.
Leash: a rope attached to the ankle that connects the skier to the board, to avoid losing him in the snow in the event of a fall (as in snowboarding).
Handlebars: for adjusting the direction of the front skate.
Who invented the snowscoot?
The snowscoot was invented by Frenchman Franck Petoud one winter evening in 1991, when stranded in his Swiss chalet by a snowstorm, he came up with the idea of cutting the boards off his skis and attaching them to the frame of his scooter. With a patent in his pocket, he was convinced that his invention would revolutionize the world of snow sports, and that same year he created the first snowscoot and brought it to market. Discover the complete history and chronology of the snowscoot.
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. The discipline was even showcased at the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics, with a demonstration in the Bardonecchia Snow-Park. The most successful champions are : Jean-Claude Rairolle, Tibor Simaï, José Delgado, Manu Fouché, Nicolas Pillin, Ludo Guitton, Xavier Jacquemet, Charlotte Carrouée and Eric Dernoncourt.
Is snowscooting easy to master?
Yes, the advantage of a snowscoot is that it’s easy to keep your balance, because you steer it not only with your legs, but also with your arms via the handlebars. Unlike skiing and snowboarding, the equipment is not attached to your legs, so you don’t have to constantly control your upper body, which makes the snowscoot a very stable and easy-to-handle machine that you can master immediately. If you’d like to learn the basics first, we recommend our tutorial: How to ride a snowscoot.
How do I brake on a snowscoot?
It’simportant to note thatthe snowscoot has no brakes. All you have to do is start skidding by tilting the machine to one side, and the snow will scrape under the edge of the skates, bringing you to a halt.
Which snowscoot is right for you?
If you’re a beginner thinking of taking up snowscooting, you’ve probably heard the words “suspended” and “rigid“. Well, we’re talking about two styles of snowscoots with different purposes. The debate is likely to continue to animate the meetings of snowshoers. The best thing to do is make up your own mind before buying, and we’ll explain the main differences in detail here:
The Rigid Snowscoot
Made for thrill-seekers looking to freestyle, i.e. perform jumps and tricks, with more emphasis on technique than speed, they are mainly found in Snow Parks. This is the origin of the snowscoot, and until 2005 there were only rigid models on the market. And this is still the most widespread type of model, manufactured by all the brands on the market.
In terms of handling, it’s direct and straightforward, with every movement felt in the arms and legs, a communion with the piste – in short, snowscoot in its raw state. Rigid models are the lightest, weighing between 8 and 11 kilos, and, despite the arrival of XL frame models, have a lower center of gravity.
The different materials used to make the frame offer significant advantages:
Steel: the most common. They are heavier, but also quite flexible.
Aluminum: Aluminum has the advantage of being a lightweight material, but extremely stiff.
Cromo: High-quality steel alloy, a compromise between rigidity and flexibility for a high weight.
Titanium: Titanium offers an interesting stiffness/flexibility compromise for a low weight.
Carbon: Fragile but light and fast.
Freestylers can do the same trick hundreds of times until they get it right. This can be a little frustrating for a beginner, but it’s a challenge that becomes a satisfaction when achieved, and watching a rider who has mastered it this kind of trick is spectacular.
Also known as a full-suspension snowscoot, this one is designed for freeride: It’s all about speeding down snow-covered off-piste slopes and avoiding obstacles. Blackmountain invented this model in 2005. Suspended models are more comfortable and lighter, and their front and rear suspensions smooth out riding errors, dampen vibrations and mean that piste faults are felt much less during a descent. These lighter models offer unrivalled riding comfort.
The suspensions work in harmony with the boards and frame. Heavier (between 12 – 14kg), they nevertheless offer good handling despite a higher center of gravity. Less sharp and more supple, suspensions allow you to play in difficult terrain without being too shaken up, and to get the most out of it. There are several levels of suspension range, depending on the model.
Note that suspensions require special care if you want optimum performance and a normal lifespan. They also allow you to make precise adjustments to suit the terrain, the person and the type of ride, so you can be as close as possible to what you want.
The Semi-Rigid Snowscoot
The first semi-rigid appeared in 2010 with Blackmountain’s Torik model. It’s a response to those looking for a compromise between the support and sensations of a rigid model and the comfort of a suspended model. A clever blend of flexibility and stiffness.
The little roughnesses of the slopes are erased, but you can still feel them. The suspension also forgives a few minor riding errors. Taller and more massive, the Torik weighs between 11 and 12 kilos, depending on equipment.
Now that you’ve got a rough idea of the model that’s right for you, I’d like to introduce you to the main snowscoot brands and manufacturers.
The main snowscoot manufacturers are as follows:
BlackMountain (this manufacturer is credited with inventing the suspended snowscoot)
Snowbaar (a Czech manufacturer of snowscoots from A to Z)
Where to go snowscooting?
95% of ski resorts and ski lifts allow snowscooting, provided you wear a leash. We’ve put together a page for you: snowscoot rental, which lists stores near resorts that rent them out… Most ski areas today have a snowpark, a real playground where you can enjoy freestyle tricks.
With 60,000 enthusiasts worldwide, including 10,000 in France, snowscooting has become increasingly popular in recent years, making it the 3rd most popular winter sport. A French association was even created in 2005, the FFS: Fédération Française de Snowscoot (French Snowscoot Federation ), a grouping of several national associations whose aim is to promote the sport and bring together sports groups with a view to organizing competitions; on the competition page, you’ll find a list of the different disciplines.
In France, the sport is approved by the Service Technique des remontées Mécaniques (STRM), part of the Ministry of Transport, which means that skiers and snowboarders can use chairlifts, drag lifts and cable cars in the same way as monoskiers and snowboarders. All you have to do is stand on your feet, unlike the “vélo-ski”, “skibike” or “ski-bob”, its cousin requiring you to be carried and whose users are considered pedestrians.
All you have to do is sit down, hold on to the handlebars and make sure your leash and strap are securely fastened to your foot.
What equipment do I need to snowscoot?
The equipment you’ll need is pretty much the same as for downhill skiing and snowboarding: you’ll need waterproof boots, a helmet, warm clothing, goggles and gloves. We explain in detail on our snowscoot equipment page, where you’ll find all the gear you need to enjoy your snowscooting in complete peace of mind