You’ve got your boots and you’ve got your hat. You’ve got cocoa mix and marshmallows in the pantry. You’ve got a hill in mind. Only one question remains: How are you going to get down that hill as fast as possible?
“One of the things you can do to make a sled go faster is to wax the bottom,” with a wax that’s typically made for cross-country skis, says five-time Olympic luger and Ann Arbor native Mark Grimmette. Having medaled in men’s doubles in both the 1998 and 2002 Olympics and won the World Cup championship three times, Grimmette knows how to get downhill quickly. And just as with luge, Grimmette says speed depends on two factors: streamlining and weight distribution.
“If you get in the luge position, you’ve got to keep your head down and your feet pointed,” he says. “And you want to make sure that the weight you have on your sled isn’t too much in the front and not too much in the back. If it’s too much in the front, you’ll get into a snowplow situation. If it’s too much in the back, you’ll be doing a wheelie-type thing.”
You won’t reach the speeds Grimmette has hit, even if you wanted to go down your neighborhood slope at 90 miles an hour. But everyone, regardless of age, can find a sled that’s just right for spending a few hours in the snow and really earning that hot chocolate.
For the Parent Who Needs a Workout
Did all that sourdough bread make you put on the COVID 19? The retro-looking Tandem Pull Sled will introduce you to a new kind of exercise that involves dragging through the snow a 16-pound sled and two children (weights will vary) who are squirming in their snowsuits and are suddenly insisting they have to pee, so you’d better make it home fast — and the deeper the snow, the better the workout. ($249; llbean.com)
For Those Ready to Get Down and Snowy
Make sure those snow pants are securely fastened, because if they’re not, the Zipfly sled is going to make sure snow gets everywhere snow shouldn’t be. Built for speed, Zipfly (available in both classic and junior sizes) has riders sit down, legs thrust in front. Though you can beeline down a hill in a straight, terrifyingly fast line, the Zipfly is made to make tight, fast curves using the weight of the rider’s body. Congratulations: You just turned your neighborhood hill into a slalom course. ($50; zipfy.com)
For the Classicist
No flashy colors. No steering mechanism. No brakes. Flexible Flyer’s 6-foot toboggan takes riders back to the old days when careening down a hill was a simpler, more out-of-control experience. Made of Northern Hardrock Maple, it’s a sled that will last. There’s an optional polyester pad, which would probably be a good idea — it’s not like this ride has any shock absorbers. ($200; amazon.com)
For the Fashionista
Sick of dragging your sled back up the hill? The Daredevil Body Sled solves that problem. Strap on the five separate pieces — one for your bottom and one for each hand and foot — sit down, and you’re a human toboggan. The hand and foot pieces are for steering; the brake is the rider rolling over. No more lugging the sled. AND you kind of look like a robot. That’s a winning ride. ($17, homedepot.com)
For Those Whose Butts Have Had Enough
Other than your mother and common sense, who says you have to sit to sled? The Airhead Scoot Snow Scooter is similar to a beginner’s snowboard; the rider stands on it, but there’s a handle (which folds down flat for storage) to help with steering and balance. Those unused to balancing while hurtling should start out on smaller hills; experienced riders will fly down large hills at terrifyingly fun speeds. ($28; airhead.com)