The program’s success relies on a piece of technology called the Hover Cover, which is essentially a felt encasement that wraps around the base of kid-sized snowboards. It allows the board to slide effortlessly across gym floors, giving students the opportunity to practice the fundamentals of the sport without having to go outside in the snow.
A concept of Burton’s vice president of global resorts, Jeff Boliba, he created the Hover Cover after his son complained his school wouldn’t let him try snowboarding in an after-school ski program. Boliba began approaching school administrators and Physical Education teachers to try an introduce a new program. However, they all told him that getting children outside and onto the snow presented too many logistical barriers. Undeterred, Biloba next turned to ski resorts around his home of Burlington, Vermont. He managed to develop a small-scale crash course for kids that gave them basic instruction in 30-minute progression stations. He called it the Burton Riglet Program.
Students responded with such overwhelming enthusiasm that he set forth on a mission to find a way to make it possible to bring it indoors. While installing astroturf or artificial Snowflex would be too complicated heavy for teachers to carry around, Biloba created the Hover Cover. Once he’d developed a prototype, Boliba added a dual-pull handle to the front of the boards so students could pull each other around the gym to practice basic balance and maneuvering skills.
“This made it so that the gym teachers didn’t have to pull every single kid, and made it feasible to be a part of physical education curriculum,” Biloba told GrindTV.
He launched a pilot program in Vermont and soon after, word began spreading like wildfire. Biloba wrote a manual for P.E. teachers to show them how to run the program and recruited a couple of pro snowboarders to participate in an instructional video about how to integrate it into their curriculums.
The program now exists in schools in Vermont, New York, New Jersey and Colorado — and continues to grow every day. Next, Biloba says he wants to take it outside the United States.
“The big thing here is to break down barriers and make snowboarding more accessible and affordable for kids to to get a taste of,” Biloba said. “It’s amazing that we’ve been able to do that so far.”
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