Alan Gerlach has been snowskating since about 2001, just a few years after the invention of the snowskate, which looks like a hybrid between a skateboard and snowboard.
Gerlach, a Minneapolis native, had been getting bored with snowboarding on the small hills you find in Minnesota.
"It was great when I'd go up to the mountains, but at home I was looking for something that's more of a challenge on the smaller stuff," he said.
Ads in snowboarding magazines inspired him to make a rough DIY snowskate out of a piece of wood. It didn't work great, but he saw the potential for fun. He's been snowskating ever since.
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Single deck snowskates have a grooved plastic base underneath the board and are used more for street-style riding and tricks. Bideck snowskates have a ski under the board that helps carve a path through deeper snow.
"You can ride all types of features that snowboarders ride, so anything from big mountains to street handrails to little backyard setups," Gerlach said. "It was just more appealing to be free from the straps to be able to do other types of tricks, more skateboard-style stuff."
Gerlach has been skateboarding since he was about 7-years-old. Snowskaters can ride hills like snowboarders or do tricks and ollies like skateboarders. But they also contend with unpredictable snow and ice conditions.
"With skateboarding you always know you're going to get the same pop, the same feel off of your board because you're always on concrete or some hard material," Gerlach said. "With snowskating you have to really read the snow because you're going to get a different feeling, a different pop, every time you get out."
Another difference is the affordability of snowskating.
"You don't need to buy a lift ticket to have a great time, you don't have to buy a $500 snowboard setup," Gerlach said. "For $100 you can get a board that works just great -- wear regular skate shoes and just jeans and a jacket -- and you're ready to go."
Snowskaters compete in regional competitions like the and the best riders are sponsored by snowskate companies. Gerlach is sponsored by a number of companies including Ambition Snowskates, which produces two snowskate models under his name.
But it's the excitement of the sport, and the thrill of pulling off tricks, that keeps Gerlach going out into the cold.
"It's kind of incomparable," Gerlach. "It's one of the best feelings you can have if it's something new for you."