A blanket of snow will soon cover the ground in Rexburg. Airboarding is one attraction for BYU-Idaho students this winter. The Outdoor Resource Center has these winter toys available for rent at $11 a day.
According to airboarding.com, an airboard is similar to a snowboard. The rider lies flat on the stomach, grasps the board’s handles and uses his or her body weight to steer.
The board is made of reinforced nylon and urethane. Underside runner rails provide tracking ribs to aid turning and stopping.
Evens Thoussaint, a senior studying construction management, said he became a volunteer for the Student Activities Committee as a result of his first outdoor activity with BYU-I. He said volunteering has greatly enriched his college experience.
Thoussaint, a native of Haiti, said he had never seen a jacket before he came to the U.S. at the age of 15.
“I may have seen a jacket on MTV or something, but Haitian temperatures range in the 80s and 90s,” he said.
Thoussaint said he lived in Chicago before starting at BYU-I in Winter 2011.
“When I lived in Chicago, I never went outside in the winter,” Thoussaint said. “I avoided it unless I absolutely needed to leave my house. It was cold, and I didn’t know of any winter sports except for skating.”
Thoussaint said one day he saw an advertisement on the BYU-I website for a school-sponsored airboarding trip to Kelly Canyon.
He said he watched a YouTube video about it out of curiosity and then signed for the trip.
“I didn’t know anybody,” Thoussaint said. “I felt a little nervous and out of place. I didn’t know what to expect but it was for airboarding.”
Thoussaint said that once everybody got in the van, there was good conversation and he quickly felt at ease.
“We had to walk the mountain in 3 feet of snow,” Thoussaint said. “It takes 10 minutes to walk to the top of the mountain and, like, one to get down. It was fun, interesting and very different. It was cold, but the adrenaline of sliding down at that speed makes it worth it.”
Thoussaint said airboarding can be scary but it does not hurt in Idaho’s powdery snow.
“It was awesome,” Thoussaint said. “Airboarding can be described as extreme sledding. It’s great for those with little coordination and others who would feel trapped in a snowboard because your feet are strapped in.”
Thoussaint said an exciting part of the trip was building jumps to board over.
“You lay on your stomach on a tube,” Thoussaint said. “You can catch air. You may fall off—I even hit a tree—but it’s so much fun that it’s worth it and you have to do it again.”
Thoussaint said the perfect time to go airboarding is when the snow is fresh, the sun is out and it is not too cold.
Thoussaint said he became a volunteer for BYU-I Outdoor Activities because he had such a great time on his first trip.
He said he has been able to learn about new sports, make new friends and many fun memories.
“I actually volunteer for them now,” Thoussaint said. “It gives me the opportunity to lead. You get to be around new people all the time and have a lot of fun.”
According to airboard.com, an adult model airboard is 48 inches long, weighs 5.5 pounds and costs $269.
A child’s version is 32 inches, 3 pounds and $149.
According the school website, the ORC has all the equipment necessary for anyone who is looking to enjoy an airboard expedition. It requires an airboard with a helmet, appropriate winter clothing, gloves, knee protection and sturdy shoes.