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Sledding is one of the most popular outdoor activities in areas where winter snow is abundant. Anyone can enjoy sledding - young and old alike. In fact, nothing will make you feel more like a kid again as speeding down a snowy hill on a sled. Sledding is a generic term that refers to sliding down any sort of slippery decline, such as ice or snow. One usually sits on a flat, plastic disk or wooden flats with metal runners. No one really knows how far back sledding goes, but was probably a recreational activity in the far, distant past. In fact, using a sled, sleigh or sledge is far easier to motivate in ice and snow than wheeled vehicles. Wheels simply pile up snow in front of themselves in the direction of travel and create a great deal of rolling friction which must be overcome to move a load of firewood or fodder for the cattle. So, it’s likely that sleds were used as work vehicles long ago. Modern sledding began in the early 1870s, when runners were added to the old fashioned flat bottomed toboggans used in those days. Soon, the Bobsled, Luge and Skeleton were developed.

There are four types of sleds commonly used today: disks, toboggans, tubes and runner sleds. Each type has advantages in getting the most out of a particular slope. The first run down a hill on a sled is the most important, but often the most difficult, as it determines the path of the sled for further trips down the hill. One can steer the sled straight down the hill, or perhaps add twists and turns to make the run faster and more exciting. Other techniques to improve the ride include turning around, lying on the stomach, or closing both eyes. “Flopping” is a technique where one runs up to a sled and jumps onto it, creating additional momentum and speed. With each trip down the hill, the sled's path through the snow can become more icy. Sleds with a greater surface area (disks, toboggans and tubes) are able to make the first runs a great deal easier than the variety of sleds with metal runners. Runner sleds are typically faster once the snow has compacted or turned icy.

Snowboarding differs from sledding in that an actual snowboard is attached to a participant’s feet using a special boot set into a mounted binding. Snowboarding was actually inspired by surfing and skateboarding, rather than sledding, and is a relatively new sport. In contrast, dog sledding dates back hundreds of years. A dog sled is pulled by one or more sled dogs over ice and through snow. Various different types of sleds are used, depending on their function. Sledding locations can found anywhere and can literally be any surface covered in snow and/or ice - from a small backyard hill to a ski resort. However, backcountry sledding involves four important elements in combination: a great amount of directional control, flotation, a binding system and padding. Backcountry sleds are made of strong plastic material, with the snow-side surface possessing various grooves and chines for directional control. Second, the plastic construction, with a large amount of snow-side surface area, keeps the sled afloat in deeper snow conditions. Third, modern backcountry sleds have a binding system, which usually consists of a simple belt strap that attaches to the sides of the sled. Last, backcountry sleds have foam pads, which are used for shock absorption.


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