By ANDY NELSON-ZALESKI
Journal Staff Writer
MARQUETTE - Most people would think skateboarding ends for the season when the snow begins to pile up and the ice takes over the sidewalks. And many would think that the natural transition for skateboarders would be to snowboarding.
But for a small minority, snowskating is their sport of choice.
Andy Jones, owner of Casualties Skate Snow Surf in Marquette, said ther up-and-coming sport is exactly what it sounds like, "It is a skateboard that is made for snow."
Snowskates are skateboards without the trucks and wheels, but they aren't like snowboards that have bindings you strap to your feet.
"They are about the same size of an average skateboard, maybe a little bit bigger because they have to have a little more surface area to glide over the snow with," he said.
Most snowskates are made from a seven-ply board that has a special plastic base coat on the underside, that gives it its glide. A foam top with special rubber-coated metal stud grip tape gives a snowskater traction to ride and to do tricks.
"Snowskates are designed for kids who are into skateboarding, who can't really get their fix in the wintertime, especially in the Upper Peninsula because we don't really have any indoor (skate) parks. It is also a perfect sport for them to keep their skateboard skills sharp during the winter," Jones said.
For Escanaba resident Neil Berg the sport is all that and then some.
The 17-year-old was in Marquette with a group of fellow riders recently during their "Midwestern Loggin' Extravaganza" tour of the midwest. The group of five snowskaters, sponsored by a company called Icon Snowskates, stopped to grab some video clips of the quintet doing tricks off a set of stairs at the Firemen's Memorial at Lower Harbor Park.
Berg, who was sponsored by Icon last February, said he has been snowskating for five years.
He said that the transition from skateboarding during the spring, summer and fall to snowskating in the winter is really easy.
"I don't have a problem going from one to the other because they are pretty much the same," Berg said. "I also found that snowskating is cheaper. I don't have to spend money driving to a mountain and then drop more money on a lift ticket (to go snowboarding). It is something that I can do in my backyard if I wanted."
Jones said, the style of riding a snowskate is similar to skateboarding.
"You see guys ollieing off stairs with them, hitting rails, boxes, all kinds of things," he said.
"It is all pretty much the same kind of terrain they would normally skateboard just with snow."
Snowskating has been around for longer than most people think.
"It has probably been around for about 15 years or so," Jones said.
It has definitely progressed and grown, even in the local area, he said.
"We will sell on average of upwards of about 50 (snowskates) a year," he said.
"There are kids that are really good at it and with as much winter and snow as we have here, it is only natural that kids are going only get better at it," he said.
Andy Nelson-Zaleski can be reached at 906-228-2500 ext. 256. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.