Everyone knows about skiing and snowboarding, and many millions have chosen to take up one of these extreme sports. Some aficionados even learn both so that they can have the choice on any given day. But what if you fancy doing something different, so that you can stand out from the crowd?
Well monoskiing is a cool alternative that relatively few people have considered. Originally invented in the late 1950’s it was eventually overshadowed a decade or so later by snowboarding which offered skateboarders the opportunity to break off their wheels, don some bright pants and carve up those skiers. Snowboarding has obviously grown into a well regarded sport in its own right. However, more recently people have been looking at alternatives for the next big thing. Here marks the reheralding of the monoski, fully redeveloped for the 21st century.
We chatted to Nick Clemons from Monoskis UK to find out a bit more.
When did you first get into Monoskiing and what was it that drew you to it?
It was in Chamonix, France in 1993. I already skied but saw a few people effortlessly monoskiing and thought I just had to give it a go. It proved to be relatively easy to get to a decent level quite quickly and as you cannot pull your feet apart you can’t really fail to look cool whilst doing it.
What are the main differences between Monoskiing and Snowboarding? (other than the fact that you have poles!)
On a monoski you have your feet together and facing forwards as opposed to a snowboard where they are some distance apart and at an angle. This has the advantage of allowing your feet to work together much more easily to do the same thing. As a result it is very easy to turn on a monoski and your ski poles help you to switch your balance easier when turning at faster speeds.
Is it easy to learn to Monoski? Where can you get lessons?
The first hour on a monoski feels a little strange, particularly if you are used to skiing as you obviously can’t move your feet apart. However, the improvement curve is much greater on a monoski than on skis or a snowboard. Jean-Phillipe Thevenod of Duret Monoskis says that he can get new monoskiers to tackle red runs within a couple of hours.
We are currently in the process of contacting ski centres in the UK with a view to hiring monoskis or even giving lessons. You can also get in touch with monoskis.co.uk to enquire as to where you can try it out when you are on holiday. The French resorts are the most likely place to be able to have a go.
Some may argue that it looks pretty difficult to control your speed – what’s your take on that?
It’s nowhere near as easy to get out of control on a monoski as it is with skis. Skiers, when they are uncomfortable with the speed they are going tend to put their skis further apart in order to compensate for going too fast. This only makes it more likely that they’ll stay on their feet whilst picking up speed for longer instead of falling over; which if you feel you’re going too fast is what you really should be doing. With monoskiing you can’t put your feet apart and therefore if you feel you’re going too fast people just fall over way before they get out of control.
What about the equipment, is it expensive? And where can you buy Monoskis from?
The equipment is comparable with a pair of skis or a snowboard. Obviously you can spend a lot of money on a monoski but for a beginner there is no need to do so. We sell a Duret monoski pack at monoskis.co.uk for less than £400 that includes the ski, bindings, fixing plates and a monoski strap for safety. There are lots of different models available depending on what you want a monoski for. All ours are made in France and are excellent quality.
Can you use your regular ski boots for Monoskiing?
Yes the bindings on a monoski are designed to fit ski boots. When you buy a ski we provide instructions as to how to measure certain dimensions of your ski boots to ensure the bindings are set exactly right for you. You can’t however wear snowboarding boots on a monoski.
Are there particular resorts that Monoskiers head for? And where is the best place to meet other Monoskiers?
Many of the large French resorts are the best places to try monoskiing. The Portes de Soleil (Morzine, Avoriaz etc), Tignes, Val D’Isere, Trois Vallees (Meribel, Val Thorens etc) are usually where you’ll find a few monoskiers. If you want to try it and meet other monoskiers there is an annual monoski festival, The Mondial de Monoski, which this season is being held in Tignes between 28th February and 7th March 2015. On our website you can see some of the videos of this event to get an idea of what it’s like.
Finally, what would you say to someone who is thinking about giving it a go for the first time?
The first hour will feel weird when you can’t move your legs apart. After that you’ll be hooked when you realize how good you look with relatively little effort. I’m yet to meet a skier or boarder who doesn’t like to look good on the slopes!