Decades ago, a few individuals looked at what skiers were doing on snow and thought, "Why can't I do that on a board?" Thus, the sport of snowboarding was born, and it eventually exploded in popularity. On the water, the opposite is happening. The sport of paddleboarding has been growing in popularity and some folks are thinking, "Why can't I do that on skis?" With the Slovenian-designed ABH20 skis, you can. Strap a pair on and you can walk on water.
A quick scan of YouTube reveals that ABH20 skis aren't the first attempt at cross country water skis. But that video shows a barely-balanced guy lurching forward with paddles without using his legs – not exactly Nordic skiing on water.
The ABH20 "cross-water walking skis" appear a bit more evolved, and the technique is more akin to actual cross country skiing, leg movement and all. They still look like thick, cumbersome boards from the sides, but they are tapered a bit at the top and carved out underneath with each ski having a foot cutout to keep the "skier" secured.
Founder Bostjan Antoncic promises that the skis are designed to remain stable on top of the water and won't flip over, but we're pretty sure uninitiated riders will spend some time flipping, slipping, splitting and dunking into the water below. Helping the user stay balanced is a pair of poles, which appear to be used as much for balance and form as forward momentum – which can only be described as slow at best.
So, the burning question: Why would you abandon tried and true paddleboards to get behind a previously unknown entity hawking cross country water skis?
We're not sure you would, but the skis do offer some advantages. Unlike in paddleboarding, where your legs remain fairly stable, ABH20 skis fully engage your legs, getting more of your body involved. While not necessarily a perfect replication of cross country skiing, Antoncic says that the motion is similar, so it could seemingly serve as an off-season training method for Nordic skiers.
Another advantage is size. Solid-bodied paddleboards can measure well over 11 ft (3.35 m) in length, whereas ABH20 skis measure 6.5 ft (1.98 m). The design is still under development, but Antoncic mentions that the final design will allow the skis to break down into several segments, making them even easier to transport. Instead of needing a rack or trailer, you should be able to carry them inside a car trunk or cabin. At 23 lb (10.5 kg) a ski, they might prove a bit cumbersome to carry from car to water, but the same can be said of a paddleboard.
Antoncic is trying to raise US$80,000 to finish development and tooling via indiegogo. He hopes to get the first deliveries underway in April, 2014. Pledges of $650 purchase a pair of ABH20 skis and poles with free shipping. The regular retail price is listed at $795, shipping not included.
Things aren't looking promising so far, as the skis are off to a glacially slow start of $31 after a few days, but the campaign still has almost two months to go.
Antoncic's indiegogo video isn't the best we've seen, but it does show the skis in action. You can check it out below.