Traditionally the domain of small children celebrating a snow day, sledding is slowly working its way up to a serious snow sport akin to skiing. About a month ago, we covered the US$3,000 Snolo Stealth-X carbon fiber sled, and now we have another high-tech sled built for serious downhillers. The Snowbull is an Austrian-designed sled that uses high-tech components for a sharp, fast ride.
The Snowbull lies somewhere between traditional sled, luge and sit-down ski. The device engages with the snow with a pair of actual skis – Atomic carving skis in the version that we see here. As a result, it offers some of the speed and carving advantages of actual skis.
Instead of standing on the skis with a set of boots and bindings, the pilot lies down on them via Snowbull's patented sled-style interface. By holding onto the two handles they can carve left or right thanks to the tilting action, which allows the ski edges to grab the snow like they would during traditional alpine skiing. A pair of footholds and a turning action actuate more powerful carves.
While we'd think that you could carve into a stop like you would on skis, the Snowbull also has a separate braking system. The driver cushion tilts backwards, causing a metal brake to dig into the snow and slow the sled to a stop.
Because you lie down on the Snowbull, it shouldn't have the same impact on the knees and joints. It appears to be a good option for skiers and snowboarders that have long- or short-term knee issues or other physical impairments.
The unit is also designed to be easy to store and transport, breaking down into components with a few simple steps.
The Snowbull has been around for several years, and a new model will hit the market during the Northern Hemisphere winter of 2012/13. It will start around €150 (US$195), which doesn't include the actual skis. A Snowbull rep told us that the latest model uses a new ski adapter designed to work with skis of all types. It also has a larger, more powerful braking mechanism. There will also be an lightweight carbon fiber model.
The older version of the Snowbull is currently available on eBay for €150. Our gallery contains renderings of the new model along with photos of the original. You can also watch some Snowbull action in the video below.