What Is Mountain Boarding?

New to the sport? Wondering… “What is mountain boarding?

Mountain boarding is an extreme sport that allows people to “ride” diverse terrains.

The outdoor activity is similar to surfing, skateboarding, and snowboarding. But – there’s no need for killer waves, black diamond slopes or concrete to test your boarding skills.

What was once thought of as a “wacky looking skateboard with oversize tires” has become an adventure sport for people of all ages who want to improve their other boarding skills and/or want an option that is available year-round, from anywhere in the world.

Where Did Mountain Boarding Originate?

What is mountain boarding?

While some credit James Stanley for crafting the first all-terrain board for use while visiting a snow-free Matterhorn (circa early 1900s), Jason Lee and Patrick McConnell get credit for the first commercial off-road board design and manufacturing efforts.

The mountain boarding industry was birthed by these two California friends who wanted a boarding solution with the slopes closed each summer due to lack of snow.

The pair moved to Colorado with three board prototypes to launch their adventure sporting business. The first year, (1994) the company only made 35 boards. By its 10-year anniversary, the company (MBS) was known for its innovative products and MBS board owners consistently dominated competitive events around the globe.

Where Are The Most Popular Hot Spots For Mountain Boarding?

Like those free-spirited bowl-skiers that flock to Breckenridge, Colorado to overwinter on a friend’s couch, chair or floor, many unattached, mountain boarders find their sweet spots anywhere there is a welcoming community with space to spare.

Some snowboarders rank Copper Mountain, Colorado as one of the best resorts with all three of the top one-plank paradise features – parks, pipes and extreme terrain variances.

MB enthusiasts, on the other hand, consider Mother Earth their private boarding park. Constantly evolving. Constantly growing. Constantly new, even if you hit the same spot within just a year or two between visits.

Who Is The Typical Fan Of This Sport?

People who teach classes for this sport say from eight to eighty, everyone can learn to become a thrasher.

While many adventure sports – skiing, boarding and surfing – require specific temperatures, weather conditions and terrain, mountain boarding is available 24/7/365, anywhere, any time the mood moves you.

The most popular places you’ll find these athletes fine-tuning their skills and building new ones are parks, trails, mountain boarding centers on ski-resort grounds after the snow season ends and participating in competitions around the world.

In short, anywhere one can drive, ride or walk is considered open terrain for this group of athletes.

How Is Mountain Boarding Different From Other Boarding Sports?

Mountain boarding is a niche extreme sporting category.

While you’ll find indoor riding opportunities in cities like Denver, these spaces are limited.

Years ago (2007), Denver, Colorado hosted an indoor mountain boarding competition. Several ski resorts offer year-round board training and riding now. But, the reality is that extreme riding has not become mainstream.

Unlike snow skiing, which has thousands of acres of groomed and ungroomed land dedicated to the sport, mountain boarding enthusiasts often turn to the wild or other destination resorts that offer varied terrain to practice their craft.

For example, Deer Valley, Utah has amazing bike paths perfect for downhill riding.

Here are some other major differences between mountain boarding and other boarding sports.

  • Snow skiers typically use poles to help them navigate sharp turns and increase speed.
  • Surfboards do not have wheels or brakes.
  • Paddle boards use paddles to propel riders from point A to point B.
  • Longboards usually have smaller, harder tires than mountain boards, which have eight-inch to ten-inch inflatable tires and shock absorbers. [See more: longboards vs mountainboards]
  • Kiteboarding is typically categorized as a sailing sport. Sailors (kiters) are pulled along by a kite as they move across land, snow or water. Kiting can be combined with snowboarding and mountain boarding.

Is Mountainboarding Growing As A Sport?

Solo mountain boarding

It is hard to tell definitely if this sport is growing, or simply being woven into the broader web of boarding options. For several years, the sport maintained steady growth patterns, based on product iterations and increased sales.

What once promised to be a thriving sport in the UK, seems to have suffered from a decline in interest. For example, The National Governing Body for Mountainboarding in the UK (ATBA-UK), hasn’t updated it’s website in years. Once touted as a non-profit fully engaged in promoting the sport via competitions and exhibitions, it looks like the non-profit has shuttered their doors.

On the flip side, online retailers, like Amazon.com, Mountainboard Supply Co. and others, are still promoting mountainboards and related gear, although supply chain issues have reduced availability for some products.

Are There Different Styles of Mountain Boarding?

Riding in this sport has a couple of distinct styles – freestyle and downhill. But, the style of riding depends on the wheel size. Typically, smaller wheels are best for jumping and freestyle rides. Bigger wheels allow riders to increase speed without compromising stability.

Downhill boarders gravitate to mountain bike courses and ski resort centers during summer months. Competitive events include slalom racing and boarder cross, which features berms and jumps (similar to BMX).

Some people say that freestyle mountain riding is the more entertaining and more adventurous style of the two. Riders develop a variety of skills and tricks, from ramp jumping and board grabs to one foot and inverted tricks.

Seasoned veterans of freestyling riding may use a power kite (larger is preferred) and smaller boards to boost airtime while performing tricks.

Looking To Start Mountain Boarding?

If you are considering buying a mountain board, there are several similar styles.

And, while many people use the terms all terrain, off-road and modified skateboard interchangeably, each of these boards has unique features and capabilities.

A few people, like unscrupulous sales people and others who want you to buy their products or services, falsely claim street luge street boards and mountain boards are exactly the same animal and that they work exactly the same way.

Not true, although they share some common features and capabilities.

Some board designs are awesome on anything you throw at it – sand, mud, chunky dirt.

Others, like the all-terrain long-board, are more suitable for cutting across a grassy perimeter than hurdling over off-road jumps in the wild.

A luge street board is crafted to let you scream down a curvy hill while lying on your back with your toes pointed skyward. (the luge street board, by the way, like many downhill mountain boards, has a wider truck and larger wheels that enhance both stability and speed)

Bottom line: Be sure your chosen cruiser has the capabilities you need, and matches your personal capabilities and skill-level before buying.

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