I still have clear memories of the first time I ever put on a pair of skis. I was on a very shallow nursery slope with an instructor on hand to help me and I still felt totally out of control and vulnerable. Just gently sliding down that small incline was pretty terrifying and that was nothing to what it felt like when I tried a proper run for the first time. Don’t get me wrong I like speed. I love roller coasters and racing cars but they have brakes! Skis and snowboards do not and yet are capable of propelling you at immense speeds so it is hard to imagine the need for more acceleration but for some people gravity just isn’t enough!
Snow boarder Jamie Barrow has used jet thrusters to break a world record for snowboarding on level ground. He reached the record 80.6 kph with the device in St Moritz and it doesn’t have to be used solely on the flat. Barrow was contacted by Adam Contoret from Staffordshire based company DreamScience. He had invented the thruster after becoming dissatisfied with the engine he had to strap to his back when paramotoring (powered paragliding)
The new hand-held device was made possible by advances in lithium polymer battery technology. The fan blades can turn at the rate of 30,000 rpm on the hand-held device which can have either a thumb or bite controlled throttle. The electric jet engine can also be used by skiers and windsurfers and could even propel them uphill. Using the thruster is apparently like traversing a runway in an aeroplane. At first you seem to be building up speed quite slowly and then you find you are really moving like a rocket.
The thruster isn’t currently for sale but DreamScience hope that it will soon be a must have item for extreme sports enthusiasts and project that it will eventually be available for $5000 to $10,000. This might sound like a high price tag for sporting equipment but is within the reach of many dedicated speed junkies especially when you consider the amount of cash that skiers already throw at their hobby. Skiing equipment and clothing can be extremely costly as can time on the pistes but that doesn’t seem to be stopping anybody.
Speaking from my limited experience I can only hope that if these devices become available on the open market that they are not allowed anywhere near the slopes when the public are at large. It is hard enough to keep yourself away from unfortunate collisions as it is without adding jet propelled skiers and boarders into the mix. At the speed I am prepared to travel people are already flying past me in what seems like indecent haste on busy pistes. Using a thruster could result in some very bad incidents.
The Need for Brakes
I won’t be spending $10,000 on a thruster but I know someone who would love to get their hand on one. I think my outlay on skis, poles, helmet and jacket is quite enough but if someone were to invent a braking system I might well change my mind!
- License: Creative Commons image source
Sally Stacey is a keen writer and enthusiastic if incompetent skier who does not require a thruster!