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Your Guide To The Mountains of Maryland, Pennsylvania & West Virginia.


Mountain Toys Provide
Thrills 'Year Round

A breathtaking of adrenaline-producing winter and summer toys has debuted on the slopes in recent years, making skiing and snowboarding just two of the many forms of fun to be had at America's mountain resorts

According to SnowSports Industries America (SIA), the nonprofit trade association representing ski, snowboard and other winter outdoor companies, that array includes snowbikes, which look much like bicycles with seats and handlebars but have runners instead of wheels and no pedals; mountain sleds with wheels that can tackle virtually any terrain no matter how steep and mountainboards, which have gained worldwide recognition through the annual summertime Gravity Games.

And for next winter, the field will include products from K2, heretofore known for its skis, snowboards, inline skates and bikes. The Washington State manufacturer is unveiling the Belly Bomber Sledboard and the Snowcycle, the first products in its “Gravity Tools” collection.

Consumer safety is a high priority for manufacturers of these winter alternative and warm-weather products. All of the companies’ designers have focused on braking systems and mechanical control. Most of these companies have been testing their products for years, and many have introduced their products through pilot programs with mountain resorts.

As with all speed sports, accessories that enhance safety are strongly recommended for riders. Those products include helmets, kneepads, elbow pads, wrist guards and gloves. Some companies also sell safety accessories.

While some of the summer toys are better suited to terrain parks, single-track biking trails or specially designed terrain, others can be used on any of the slopes a ski resort offers.

During the summer of 2000, Diggler’s Original Mountain Scooter and Cement Mixxer models, which combine aspects of snowboarding, mountain biking and skateboarding, made quite a splash in the mountains. They were offered as rental gear and for retail sale in mountain bike programs at about two dozen resorts, including Vail, Snowmass, Winter Park, Mammoth and Park City. The scooters also were available for free, on-site demos by attendees at ESPN’s X-Games and NBC’s Gravity Games.

Resembling a short mountain bike with a skateboard in the middle, the Original Mountain Scooter is designed to negotiate long, steep trails. Featuring a cro-moly frame, it uses linear-pull mountain bike brakes and upright handlebars combined with a pair of BMX wheels and wide, knobby tires.

The standing surface, positioned below the wheels’ axles, is said to provide “unmatched balance and stability.” The Diggler Jib Plate, molded to the underside of the frame, allows riders to perform slides and grinds. The Cement Mixxer is a lightweight freestyle model geared to urban environments and skate parks.

New from Diggler for 2001-2002 is the Dirt-Dawg model for “tweens and teens,” according to the company.

K2’s new “Gravity Control Devices” are the Belly Bomber Sledboard and Snowcycle. “K2 is committed to helping more people experience the sensation of sliding on snow,” said Tim Petrick, the company’s Vice President and General Manager. “It’s all about the elemental joy of gliding down snow-covered mountains, and we believe these new Gravity Tools are a great way to introduce people to the experience.”

“These products offer the rider the opportunity to make controlled descents by making turns down the slope,” Petrick said. Unlike tubes, saucers or traditional sleds, K2 Gravity Tools are true ‘directional control’ devices that put the participant in the driver’s seat. Like skiing or snowboarding, there are basic skills you need to learn, yet riding the Belly Bomber or the Snowcycle is very intuitive for most people.”

The Bomber Sledboard has patents pending on its runners, steering and shape. Its steering system features aircraft-grade aluminum runners that bend into a smooth curve along their entire length, as well as a braking system controlled by the rider’s legs. The body of the sledboard is made of cross-linked, high-density polyethylene. The Belly Bomber comes in adult ($450 suggested retail) and junior ($425) models.

“The Belly Bomber brings to mind the passion we all had for the ‘Flexible Flyer’,” said David Levy, the designer who worked with K2 engineers to bring this new product to market. “We have taken the experience to a new level by incorporating modern technology.”

The Snowcycle 1.0, invented by Luke von Maldegen, is a modern version of the original “Ski Bob,” a steerable snow scooter. K2 says it's the first snow bike to use shaped skis, providing superior control and easier turning and carving. K2 engineers utilized suspension technology from K2 mountain bikes, providing a smoother, more comfortable ride in variable terrain. Snowcycle models in adult and junior sizes will be available in the fall for a suggested retail of $850.

Due to limited manufacturing capacity initially, K2’s new products will be allocated primarily to resort rental operations in the fall for use on-mountain during winter 2001-02.

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Your Guide To The Mountains of Maryland, Pennsylvania & West Virginia.


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