Snowboarding through the summertime: the Snowtunnel
By Loz Blain
November 19, 2009
The trouble with seasonal sports is that you've literally got to follow the seasons around the globe if you want to live your passion year-round. That, or let technology find a way to bring you your outdoor thrills indoors - like the Snowtunnel does. We've seen Dubai's lavish indoor ski slopes in the middle of the desert - now, this Aussie invention gives snowboarders the chance to cut a neverending icy edge for a fraction of the cost it takes to operate other indoor ski facilities. Sure, it'd be nothing like the feeling of dropping in, carving and jumping your way down a mountain slope, but the Snowtunnel looks like its own kind of fun.
The Snowtunnel is a fairly simple device mechanically - a corrugated steel drum that has refrigerant piped through it to cool the metal. When water is sprayed on the drum's interior, it quickly freezes. Then, a rider hops inside on a snowboard and sets the drum rotating at a speed they're comfortable with, catching an edge on the iced-over metal and riding it like a cross between a snowboarder and a tube-riding surfer.
The large-ish device is cheap and efficient to refrigerate and run, especially compared with other indoor snow sports, and offers a fairly fun looking ride - although it has to be said: snowboarding is an outdoor extreme sport, and the Snowtunnel sort of takes away the outdoor and extreme elements of it.
Then again, perhaps we're not looking at it from the right perspective - as Giz editor Noel points out, you could use it to turn curling into an extreme sport. Heck, I'd like to see that!
And here's a nice piece of trivia: the Snowtunnel's inventor, Darren Visser from Melbourne, Australia, also happens to hold the world land speed record for tractors, at 55.8mph. Nice work Darren!
Check out the video below - there's more at the New Inventors website.