Skizee pushes skiers across the snow
By Ben Coxworth
January 20, 2011
As winter continues its icy grip on the northern reaches of the planet, cabin fever may cause some of us to rethink our policy of staying indoors until spring. If you don’t live near the mountains, however, many of the winter outdoor activities available to you might seem kind of ... tame. Some people buy snowmobiles, although such vehicles require a truck or trailer for transportation, can be expensive, and are generally “more machine” than a lot of people want. Such individuals might instead be interested in the Skizee – a powered tread that pushes skiers across the snow at speeds of up to 35 kph (22 mph).
At first glance, the Skizee might not seem all that different from the Mattracks powerboard, which is a similar-sized device that users stand on top of and ride like a powered snowboard. Unlike with the powerboard, however, Skizee users stand on their own skis in front of the unit, letting it push them forward with a bar that rests against their butt. Handles that extend forward from either side of that bar allow users to balance themselves, and control the throttle.
It’s essentially the opposite of the idea behind the Boto – a small unmanned jet boat that pulls water skiers, while they pilot it via tow handle-mounted controls.
The aluminum-bodied Skizee fits in the trunk of a car, which is facilitated by the push bar’s ability to fold up against the main device. It’s powered by a 10.5 hp 4-stroke combustion engine, and features an electric start, along with a power core for charging electronic items in the field. It has an estimated range of 35-40 kilometers (22-25 miles) per one-US gallon (3.8 L) tank of gas, depending on use.
If the thought of your local serene cross-country ski trails being invaded by noisy-motored Skizees worries you, it’s hopefully something that’s not all that likely to happen. Skizee inventor Jim Maidment and his business partner Tim Park see their product being used more for taking users deep into the backcountry, essentially taking the place of a snowmobile. Should you want one, however, you’re going to have to wait – Park informed us that they are in the final stages of setting up manufacturing, and that “it will be still a short time until the general public can have one.”
Once the Skizee is available, expect to pay about US$2,500.