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Throw away your tea tray—airboards are here!

By Liz White, UT staffAirboards are the latest craze on the ski-slopes. And the devices-similar in shape and size to the body boards used in surfing-are inflatables, made of nylon coated with thermoplastic polyurethane. No fussing around in airports with excess or oversize baggage, or hanging around loading rigid boards onto roof racks-simply deflate the 3 kg, 120-cm long board and stuff it in your rucksack.Devotees of airboarding use the TPU-coated boars to toboggan headfirst downhill at speed-protective headgear is essential for this winter sport. And, as with snowboarding, the thrill seekers are not content to just lie on their boards, they are jumping, flipping and doing stunts on them (see pic). Airboarding is fast-speeds of up to 60 km/h have been clocked-and exhilarating. “You take every curve as if you’re flying, supplier Fun Care AG of Zug in Switzerland claims. A ribbed underside on the board allows steering “mainly by shifting your weight. Braking is done by shifting the airboard sideways,” the firm explains.The boards-costing Euros 249-have hand grips, built-in runners, and use what the designers call “fabric reinforced I-Beam technology. Together with the “super-durable urethane-coated nylon material, this creates a firm, stable chassis,” says Fun Care. Designer Joe Steiner from Zug in Switzerland spent ten years developing an airboard meeting “his stringent requirements” in comfort and security, Fun Care said. Durable urethane is needed to handle rough terrain including rocky surfaces with comfort: the flexible air cushion “compensates for ground irregularities,” according to Fun Care. “Lying chest down on the Airboard, riders carve turns by shifting their weight and pressing down on the hand grips, driving the underside profile runners into the snow. They stop like skiers by turning 90 degrees into the slope,” according to US distributors Emo Gear llc of Berkeley, California. The company adds that the Airboard is “the first sled to provide riders with comfort, stopping ability and control at speed.” This means it is possible “to snow-surf the same terrain,” used by skiers and snowboarders, the firm claims. The boards offer “unparalleled turning capability,” with the pneumatic design adding integral shock absorption for “a comfortable ride,” says Emo Gear. Photo-Flying not obligatory with airboards (Bernard van Dierendonck, copyright Fun Care). “

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