Enhancing access to outdoor recreation for people of all abilities and means.
SnoYak™ creator, Rob Thompson’s, love affair with winter sports began when he was four. Throughout his youth, he spent winter weekends either ski racing or training to race.
According to Rob:
I rode my first snowboard in high school during the 80s. Within a few years, it became clear that it was the force of the carve—the clean and powerful change in direction on either skis or snowboards—that really got my adrenaline pumping.
A few years ago, at a crossroads, I decided to ditch my desk job for a change of pace.
My inspiration for SnoYak™ soon followed while sitting on a couch watching a video of people kayaking on snow (click here or on the bottom right). It looked fun but reckless; they had limited ability to turn, control their speed, or stop.
My first thought was,
‘Wouldn’t it be fun to hop on a snowboard and ride it like a whitewater kayak?’
My second thought:
‘How tough could that be?
Attempting to build a suitable platform would be a fun and simple weekend diversion.’
Wow, was I mistaken.
What followed was a pursuit that produced hundreds of iterations and more embarrassing failures than I can count – weekends turned to weeks, then months.
Finally, I built a version that really worked,
and SnoYak™ was born.
It’s a little different, but more importantly, it’s a lot of fun.
And the SnoYak™ story continues . . .
As I became comfortable riding SnoYak™, I started to push its capabilities — faster speeds, steeper trails…even moguls. It didn’t take long for me to yearn for a product that more than merely just worked. The basics were there, but I knew it could be improved.
How can I make it smoother?
The faster speeds accentuated even the smallest bumps and trail irregularities. The bumps would often throw me off course or start the board to chatter and even worse, broken seat posts were becoming common. The time had come to add a shock absorber!
How can I make it easier to turn?
Getting the board on edge and holding it through the full arc of a turn took far more energy than I felt reasonable. I needed some sort of mechanical advantage or leverage…wait — leverage?!!
While I long understood the concept of levers, I never considered the fact that skiing, snowboarding, and SnoYak™ are all forms of levers!
I quickly applied the laws of levers to enhance its performance: increasing my distance from the board, widening my knee stance, and finally reducing the width of the snowboard by switching to a mono-ski.
And just like that—regardless of speed or steepness of trail—turning became almost effortless.
Shock absorber and leverage.
The shock absorber and new-found leverage dramatically increased my control, stability, and power. Less kayak-on-snow, SnoYak™ has evolved into a high-performance sit-ski! As I realized my goal of making a sit-ski for able body people, I suddenly realized that I had also inadvertently created a new high-performance adaptive sit-ski as well!
What’s next? Please follow me on my journey as the SnoYak™ evolution continues!