Mini-Masochist: The $249 Sled

With all this snow, how are we supposed to maintain our girlish figure on weekends when the gym is 42 miles away and the sidewalks are buried under a foot of snow? We could have sat on the couch all day doing biceps curls with our fork, but thanks to a B-mag assignment, we layered up, headed outdoors, and went sledding.

We were working on a story to find the best sled money can buy. The near blizzard conditions were perfect for testing out the the $249 Airboard. It’s basically an inflatable sled (not unlike an air mattress), shaped like an arrowhead, which allows you to steer and carve turns on a slope by shifting your body weight from left to right. Just the shape and the softness of it made us want to curl up on it and snooze, but we had a job to do (poor us).

We joined dozens of youngsters at the local golf course, who were lining up to descend the face of a manmade icy platform. Every kid had a different type of sled; saucers, inflatable snow tubes, cheap hard plastic ones, and even Snow Boogies, but no one had anything quite like The Airboard. Bystanders commented on its unique silhouette, and patiently waited to see if it could perform as well as it looked.

We took a running start at the hill’s summit. Holding the Airboard out in front of us, we leaped onto it, face-first, and slid over the ledge. The tricked out sled picked up greater speed the further we glided downward. Then we were able to direct it away from other kids and trees by shifting all of our weight onto one side. We carved a nice C-note in the grade as we passed other sleds, which came to an abrupt stop about 60-feet before ours finally halted.

Could it be the newlywed nine we’re carrying that took us the distance? No. We let a nine-year-old, 60-pounder test it out, and he slid so fast and so far, he vanished from view, down the second small hill that rolled after the big one. We had to run after him to make sure he was Ok (The boy was unharmed, and thrilled with the ride, but that’s the last time we let a child borrow our big grown-up sled).

While the Airboard definitely lived up to its high-performance claim, the drawback is obviously the price.

Said one father, “I liked it until you told me how much it cost.”

Don’t even think about asking daddy for one, kid.

For an even cooler, less expensive sled, and six great local hills to try, check out the February issue of Boston magazine, on newsstands on January 27. You can also take an Airboard lesson at Smuggler’s Notch in Vermont for $25 (and yes, you can take it on the ski slopes–luckily, you can take the lifts, too).