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The first known monoski was invented in the late 1950s by Dennis Phillips at Hyak, Washington using a single water ski and bear trap bindings and popularized in the 1970s and '80s by monoskiers like Mike Doyle, is similar to a snowboard in that both feet are attached to one wide board. Unlike snowboarders, however, monoskiers ride with their feet parallel and facing directly forward, toward the tip of the board. They use the same hard plastic boots, bindings, and poles used by skiers. Because of their width, monoskis are most commonly used for skiing in deep powder snow. While the sport was never as popular in North America as it was in Europe and experienced a decline with the rise of snowboarding in the late 1980, the monoski is in the midst of a revival within the past five years due to an infusion of new technology and new techniques such as twin tips, carvings, fat boards and monoboard, especially in Chamonix, France, and Mammoth Mountain, USA.
Monoskis for people with a disability
Another device called a monoski is used mainly by people with limited use (or absence) of the lower extremities. A monoski, also known as a sit-ski, consists of a molded seat mounted on a metal frame. A shock absorber beneath the seat eases riding on uneven terrain and helps in turning by maximizing ski-snow contact. Modern monoskis interface with a single, ordinary alpine ski by means of a "ski foot," a metal or plastic block in the shape of a boot sole that clicks into the ski's binding. A monoskier uses outriggers for stability; an outrigger resembles a forearm crutch with a short ski on the bottom. People new to mono-skiing are often surprised to see how much terrain is skiable in a monoski; advanced monoskiers can be found not only carving turns on groomed runs but also skiing moguls, terrain parks, race courses, glades and even backcountry terrain—in short, wherever stand-up skiers can go.
As alpine ski technology has advanced, so has monoski technology. In North America in the 1970s and early 1980s, early "sit-skis" took the form of fiberglass sleds with metal runners. The first downhill sit-ski in the US, the Arroya, was invented by American Peter Axelson in 1978. Dragging very long poles or "slicks" in the snow were the method in which turns were actually made harder, although not effectively. Few users became proficient enough to descend even intermediate terrain without assistance from a "tetherer." By the early '80s, Europeans were experimenting with "ski-bobs" that mounted on two small skis. In place of today's minimal bucket seats were large fiberglass or Kevlar shells, and leaf springs at first were used instead of slide absorbers. The three-ski design proved accident prone, and it was soon used for a single ski by most of manufacturers. By the middle of the decade, the technology had migrated to Canada, and on both continents the modern monoski began to emerge. In the United States, Enabling Technologies' Unique, Sunrise Medical's Shadow, and Dan Fallon's Fallonski were some of the first commercially available monoskis. In Europe, Praschberger (Austria) and Tessier (France) are the two major companies.