5 Reasons Mountainboarding hasn’t seen exponential growth.

Every time I watch quality mountainboard footage and European kids setting down tricks with that heavy style, i ask myself how can mountainboarding be so small. There has been a lot of great video popping up on the web so i have been thinking about this a lot. This is my gripe, my opinion and if you don’t like it tough. I encourage you to tell me what you think, even if it’s a capital “F U”. Mountainboarding means a lot to me and i want to see change.

1. No well financed industry behind it
When i look at most other action sports that are thriving i see an industry behind it or decades of dedication from individuals looking to push those sports. Let me start with snowboarding, an outcast sport from the start but only an outcast to the ski industry, a thriving industry, now with annual revenues over $2 billion dollars.

It's ok to sign a deal with the devil right? Everyone else already did it.

It's ok to sign a deal with the devil right? Everyone else already did it.

Once snowboarders were allowed onto the slopes they were no longer seen as complete jokes and could legally ride good terrain. It’s a lot easier to get big cash sponsorships when you have the support of a major resort which brings 1000’s of visitors a weekend. Wakeboarding is similar in some ways, boats are a complete necessity to wakeboard without it you’re just standing on a dock. Get the support of the boat industry you are in business.

Then there are the sports driven by decades innovators and true lovers for their sports. Surfing and skateboarding both have had a long hard road of isolation and bad reputations but it was that edge and never stopping that got them to a place where they were accepted. AJ made a great point, look at all the kids you see rocking the Hollister tee shirt in the mid-west who have never seen the beach, let alone surf. So these sports created there own image and it was that image that built there industry.

2. Media exposure
Ya ya ya, Johnny Kapahala, big fucking deal…. well actually it is, expect they called mountainboarding, dirtboarding through the entire movie.

Disney's Johnny Kapahala - Back On Board

Disney's Johnny Kapahala - Back On Board

I think this movie was great for exposure but it targets a really young audience one that will effect the sport in 4-5 years but this audience isn’t spending the money and isn’t pushing the sport quite yet. Outside of the Disney movie mountainboarding has seen its fair share of regional TV coverage and highlights from the Nokia Core Tour back in 2004, 2005, but these are niche audiences and the frequency of coverage is low.

The last bit of media that mountainboarding sees spills over into my next point but it’s guaranteed to be seen in 1 in 10 bloopers videos aired on every major network. Or you get the occasional jokers like Travis Pastrana’s boys who take it out on Nitro Circus and break themselves off and to my next point.

3. Bad stigma (“way to gnarly!”)
Your friends have either never heard of mountainboarding or say “i know what that is, isn’t it really dangerous”.  All these first generation Red Bull addicts got a hold of a video camera and a mountainboard and thought they would get extreme. Then only to find out they had no balance and fell off a skateboard the last time they stood on one, now they’re shooting video of themselves crashing and they thought “Dimmu Borgir’s Black Metal” would be the perfect soundtrack. Like WTF, you really felt the need to post that on Youtube!!!

No need to get heavy metal on us, it's just mountainboarding.

No need to get heavy metal on us, it's just mountainboarding.

Now you wonder why people have no desire to try mountainboarding. We need to make it look fun and kill that bad late 90’s rep. NEW RULE FOR ALL MOUNTAINBOARDERS POSTING VIDEO ON YOUTUBE – NO METAL – NO CRASHS – ONLY FOUR WHEELS DOWN AND BUTTER!

4. Not enough technology in the boards

Let’s face it, until recently there were only 3 real mountainboard companies out there and a lot of fly by night start ups that failed. MBS hold dominance in the industry, they have spent the most time researching and testing their boards and with more than a decade of experience under there belt they have designed a board that sells. No offense to J Lee, Joel and PMC but they have been sleep on the new products and innovation and yes, innovation takes money but damn its time to risk again. In the European market Scrub and NoSno seem to be producing some high quality products which i have only heard great things about, but they have no distribution in the United States so I can’t pass fair judgment.

Ok i got a bit off track there, the technologies haven’t changed much over the past 5 years but the way kids ride the boards have. Since the release of MBS’s Matrix truck we haven’t seen anything to progressive that can compete. Ground Industries tried the cube and it seems to work at low speeds but I’ve watched Kody Stewart blow up half a dozen sets when riding sizable jumps. In my opinion lighter wider trucks would allow for a more stable ride and allow riders to travel a much higher speeds and maintain complete control.

I think about snowboarding and skateboarding, both industries have boards that are designed for a specific type of riding and technology that supports it. The highest end mountainboards have a few options on legnth and the variation on width only happens between brands. My point is boards need to be customized all riders can not fit into this cookie cutter shape that the companies have designed the boards around.

5. Followers not innovators
My final point for this post is we all have our own ideas about what mountainboarding should and shouldn’t be. Unfortunately we have a lot of similar board sports that have taken some of the creativity out of it for us. Whether your roots are in snowboarding, skateboarding, wakeboarding, biking or even gymnastics you will find similarity in the tricks which you can do. I know there are other elements of mountainboarding, it’s not all freestyle, but lets face it how many boarder cross races or grass hill runs can you watch before you get bored. In the end i think it comes down to our creativity, it’s time to dig deeper and find those unique elements that can’t be imitated by every other board sport and at the same time keep it fun.

I love mountainboarding for the feeling i get when i land a trick, for the hard slashes and the feeling of my tire taring through the dirt, most of all i love the community, the people. I’m not the only one that feels this, i think it’s important to relay that this is something we all have in common, we all do this for fun, this is no million dollar contract at the end of a season, only a couple of beers with your friends and the memories of some great event.

Let’s not be the next flat ground BMX, and just fade away. In the words of the Allman Brothers “I’m gonna keep on keepin on.”


J.J. Gittes Aka Evan Carlson

Creator, designer, developer, vagabond & slayer of all boardsports. Mountainboarding is the most fun of all the board sport, so I started The Dirt so I could share it with the world.

56 Comments

  1. Holy crap. This is (dare I say it ?) retarded !
    Good thing I read this at work, and not in my precious spare time lol

  2. read through article got what you are after…

    You want mountain boarding to be RESPECTED in the eyes of regular pedestrians as seen in the other prominent radical board sports.

    That kind of respect and visibility takes time.

    My point is this… stop worrying just enjoy the what you are doing.

    If you track the progression of mountain boarding you will see the parabolic arc of popularity is way steeper than all of the other sports….

    Surfing didnt become a full on mega industry until the 70s-80s… thats about 70-years of development…

    skating took 30 years if you go back to the mid 60s -90s….

    snowboarding took 15 years from late 70s to early 90s

    how old is mountain boarding???10 years and its in the X games already…

    its just a matter of time.

  3. I’ve been involved in mountainboarding since 1997. Since that time I have read and have written many articles like this and made the same five points plus many more.

    To review your points –

    1. Well financed industry – that is the cart before the horse. What industry is going to finance a product with a market that can barely absorb the boards being manufactured now?
    2. Media exposure – Johnny Kapahala did some good in spreading the word to kids but that benefit won’t be seen for some time to come, if ever. You are right though. Ground Industries, because they thought that if they use the word “mountainboard” that it was going to promote MBS, just confused the market identity of the sport. This is an example of selfishness that hurt the sport.
    3. Bad stigma – I couldn’t agree more. Mountainboarding can’t afford to promote itself with the same punk attitude as does skateboarding. It is stupid to take a fringe sport and make it more fringe by adapting skateboardings lawlessness. I’ve bitched about this since my first post on a web site 12 years ago and nothing has changed. MBS is the worst offender. Wouldn’t that prove to most people that something is wrong?
    4. Board Technology – I disagree with this one. MBS has done quite a bit. There are incremental changes every year. Sure there are some failures (MBS carve boards, the Atom and MBS longboards) but you have to have some failures or you just aren’t trying.
    5. Followers not innovators – I can’t say I agree with this one either. Just look at the events that have part of the past seasons’ competitions. It seems that more events are being created that are specific to mountainboarding than ever before. Time to bring back the high jump.

    So, with all of these points being discussed and debated over twelve years time why haven’t things gotten better? Look at the UK and the answer is clear. The UK has mountainboarding centres all over the country.

    THERE IS NO PLACE TO RIDE MOUNTAINBOARDS IN MOST OF AMERICA

    There. Sounds simple, right? We just open up some centres and the rest will follow. There will be safe places to ride, advanced riders can show off their skills to entice new riders. Media opportunities can be provided in a convenient spot and stores can open to sell boards and concessions. The most important thing is that riders won’t have to hunt and poach to find places to ride.

    I spent about eight year’s mountainboarding. During that time I did all I could do to promote it in my area. I started a club. I got press. I sold boards myself and got local shops to carry them. I had one weak but legal place to ride. Then I gave it up.

    Why? I was still having fun and staying shape and hadn’t hurt myself too bad. But, the place I had to ride was weak and I couldn’t find any place any better. Not that there aren’t places. They are all over. But, they are on private property and no one is going to take the risk of losing everything to allow a guy to ride a dangerous board down their hill.

    Nothing short of national tort reform is going to change this situation. That is just not going to happen while liberal democrats are in power in this country. In the UK, the types of reforms we need are in place and any farmer can open a centre without fear of losing the farm if someone gets hurt or killed.

    Liberal democrat politicians are in the pockets of trial lawyers in the US so the status quo will remain. Think about that next time you vote for “hope and change”.

    My solution to the problem of mountainboarding’s lack of venues came as a coincidence with the opening of my local skatepark at the same time as Carveboard started selling their CarveStik. The CarveStik truck is a scaled down channel truck.

    I played around with different deck sizes and designs and figured out how to strengthen and modify the Stik truck. What I intended to do was make a mountainboard skateboard/hybrid and that is what I did.

    I have solved many of the problems that mountainboarding has and hope to solve the rest soon

    Now, I can go ride any time at my skatepark and go to any skatepark in the country and ride. No more searching or trespassing or hiking for miles. My Skateboard rides like a mountainboard in a skatepark.

    I have a patent pending on my board and I’m hoping to find an interested investor to help me launch the product.

    As I said, my skateboard solves the biggest problem with mountainboards – you can ride it anywhere you can ride skateboards.

    It is a technology that any company that manufactures and distributes skateboards and/or longboards can add to their product line with very little retooling.

    It is capable of receiving a lot of media exposure as something new that can be seen at any skatepark, paved road, side walk or college campus.

    It is safer than skateboarding and mountainboarding. It is more stable than both boards and is ridden on paved surfaces. A brake will be offered on cruiser boards.

    It can appeal to many different markets. Young people can get extreme and older people can cruise. Girls can look good without busting their asses. It is not intended to be a fringe sport or a punk sport. I would like to sell my boards in WalMart and in skate shops.
    .

    So there you go. All of the problems with mountainboarding are solved in this one product. Before anyone says, “Well you just ripped off MBS” or “That is just a mountainboard with skate wheels on it”, please read the specification and claims from my patent application. It will be up to the US patent office to decide if my board deserves patent protection.

    To see my skateboard go to http://maiskateboard.blogspot.com. Please feel free to send me an email at doctor_esperanto@yahoo.com

    SPECIFIC-TERRAIN SKATEBOARD

    Abstract:

    A skateboard with unique stability, steering, jumping and adjustment capabilities for riding on paved and other constructed surfaces utilizing the athletic skills required to control traditional skateboards, snowboards and mountainboards.

    Claim:

    What is claimed:

    1. A skateboard invented for riding on paved and other constructed surfaces utilizing the athletic skills required to control skateboards, snowboards and mountainboards, comprising:
    a. an elongated deck with an intermediate portion parallel to the riding surface that tilts along its central axis to control steering;
    b. end sections extending from the intermediate portion of the elongated deck at an angle to provide mounting surfaces for truck and wheel assemblies;
    c. removable foot bindings and/or gripping surface attached to said deck;
    d. truck and wheel assembly mounting pads and shims attached to said deck;
    e. truck and wheel assemblies;
    f. a truck designed and manufactured specifically for the invention described herein.
    2. A skateboard according to claim 1. wherein said deck is flat or chambered along its intermediate portion longitudinal section and/or is flat or concave along its intermediate portion cross section.
    3. A skateboard according to claim 1. wherein said deck is composed of wood or composite laminates.
    4. A skateboard according to claim 1. wherein said foot bindings are one or more clips or straps overlapping or covering portions of each foot to fully or partially bind the riders feet to the elongated deck.
    5. A skateboard according to claim 1. wherein said deck has no foot bindings.
    6. A skateboard according to claim 1. wherein said deck has truck mounting hole patterns configured to allow mounting of various skateboard and channel truck type truck and wheel assemblies.
    7. A skateboard according to claim 1. wherein said truck and wheel assembly axles are of sufficient width as to provide stability in straight line and turning maneuvers and prevent contact between the deck edge and wheels and the deck edge and the riding surface.
    8. A skateboard according to claim 1. wherein said truck and wheels assemblies are mounted on various pads and shims designed to adjust the steering suspension characteristics of the truck assemblies.
    9. A skateboard according to claim 1. wherein said wheels are solid or pneumatic and of varying diameter and hardness.
    10. A skateboard according to claim 1. wherein said truck is designed and manufactured to respond to the unique structural and performance demands of the skateboard.

    Description:

    This invention is a new form of skateboard developed to respond to the growing need for an increased stability skateboard for use on paved and other constructed surfaces.

    This invention is more stable and maneuverable than traditional skateboards and more suitably scaled than mountainboards for use on paved and constructed surfaces including roadways sidewalks and skateparks. The methods to control this Specific-terrain Skateboard (STS) demand athletic skills similar to those required of conventional skateboard, surfboard, snowboard and mountainboard riding while requiring new skills applicable to the unique properties of the invention.

    Conventional skateboards were developed by taking the trucks from roller skates and mounting them beneath a wood deck to simulate the feel and maneuvers of surfboard riding on paved surfaces. Changes to the initial design of skateboards have been minimal since their invention and the handling characteristics and steering mechanisms remain largely unchanged. Many devices have been proposed to address the inherent instability of skateboards, but none has overcome the high center-of-gravity and limited steering capabilities that contribute to that instability. Skateboard riders are mainly younger people who have the resilience to withstand the injuries that are a part of falling from unstable skateboards.

    Mountainboard, also known as All-Terrain Boards (ATBs) and Dirtboards, prior art demonstrates the high deck ground clearance, large pneumatic tires and foot binding attachments that are used to enable the rider to stay engaged with the board over rough surfaces. Mountainboards have been developed as a means to ride off-road on unpaved and unconstructed surfaces. Their size, high ground clearance and large pneumatic tires are all designed to roll over the uneven surfaces and absorb the shocks encountered when riding unpaved off-road surfaces.

    The skateboard and mountainboard prior art does not illustrate the advantage of the combination of a lowered deck for stability, foot bindings for aerial maneuvers and wheel size and construction for riding paved surfaces. Mountainboard prior art does not illustrate the unique truck mechanism with the geometry and range of adjustment capabilities for the purpose of achieving stability and to withstand the impact of landing from heights on paved and constructed surfaces generally used by skateboard riders.

    Skateboard athletic disciplines have evolved into main divisions that include transportation, downhill racing and skatepark riding. Mountainboard riding is confined mainly to the off-road unpaved and unprepared surfaces the equipment was designed to travel.

    Although skateboards are intended for paved surfaces some versions have been ridden off-road but are rarely used for that purpose due their increased instability compounded by soft and irregular surfaces. Skateboard riding disciplines have developed over the years of general use and competitions. The largest current skateboard disciplines are street trick riding, skatepark riding, transportation, downhill carving, slalom racing and downhill speedboarding. Although mountainboards have been used for skatepark riding, their size and weight make pushing the board impractical and trick execution much more difficult than with skateboards and the present invention.

    The Specific-Terrain Skateboard (STS) combines more stable physical characteristics of mountainboards, including a lowered center-of-gravity and lessened ground clearance, with the light weight and wheel design of skateboards to create a unique skateboard with attributes new to and different from skateboards and mountainboards while conforming to the current riding disciplines of skateboarding.

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