So, skiing. We all know skiing: Hop on a pair of greased strips of semi-rigid material and cruise down a slope covered in…sand? That’s right, folks. Sand skiing is a thing. And it looks damn fun. Put away your bucket and pail and educate yourself about this adventure sport.
Sandboarding, comparable to, you know, snowboarding, has been around for a while, tracing its origins to the 1970s. Sand skiing, however, is a more recent phenomenon that’s growing in popularity from the United States, to Africa, to Dubai, to Peru.
Downhill sand skiers travel to the tops of dunes via dune buggy or laborious trek, snap into their bindings, and ski down. Cross country sand skiing, which seems 10 times more difficult than the alpine variety, involves shuffling along a flat, sandy expanse. All in all, it looks pretty similar to the alpine varieties, with a bit more effort and bit less gliding.
As sand is much more abrasive than snow, skiers generally use older, cheaper, more beat up skis to take on the surface. Glasses/goggles are a must too. As you can see from the video below, sand skiing creates a mini sand storm.
Obviously, sand skiers seek out dry sand—you’re not going anywhere in pasty, wet “the tide just went out” stuff. Both coarse and fine sand are suitable for carving up. Apparently, there’s a whole continuum that ranges from “fast sand” to “slow sand,” which enthusiasts would be much more suited to elaborate on.
Sandboards have evolved into formica or latex with base materials suited for the sand (special waxes too). We can assume a cottage industry of sand-specific skis will crop up accordingly. So, if you’ve been looking to flex your entrepreneurial muscle, now may be the time to get into the sand ski business.
This GoPro video of Jesper Tjäder and Emma Dahlström is absolutely insane. It looks more like they’re racing down sand-colored snow than sand (save for the ponchos and decidedly not winter apparel).
In the U.S. popular sandboarding locations include Sand Master Park in Florence, Oregon. We can only assume sand skiers will flock there as well. Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado is another popular destination.
Namibia, a dune-covered country in Southern Africa, is one of the best sand skiing destinations in the world. The desert dunes near Swakopmund and Walvis Bay have a magnetic pull for enthusiasts.
This video was filmed there in July of 2011.
If you’re wondering, German Henrik May, pioneer of the sport, holds the Guinness World Record for sand skiing speed. On June 6, 2010, he reached a speed of 57 mile per hour. For reference, the fastest alpine skier was clocked at 158.24 mph. Good news though for those aspiring to hit the sandy slopes: A quick Google search reveals the aforementioned Mr. May gives lessons in Namibia. So, if you’re an extreme sports enthusiast with ample disposable income, hop a flight to the Rainbow Land and learn the recent art of sand skiing.
And be sure to send us the video.