Ever wanted to surf, but you’ve got no waves, or glide, but you’ve got no snow?
By Adam Kveton
Well, an Ottawa-area inventor was thinking along those lines when he came up with Hill Glider – a wheeled board that can take you down a grassy slope as if you’re on snow or water.
Just now launching a company to sell the Hill Glider, its inventor, Billy Sullivan, is hoping to tap into the skateboarding, snowboarding and active-health markets and create a sports sensation.
Sullivan has been inventing for several years, often with the help of his pal, Mike Sorokowsky. But the idea for the glider had been kicking around in Sullivan’s head for about 10 years before he finally put his hands to material and created a prototype.
The resulting board sat on his workbench for about a year until one of Sullivan’s nephews took it out for a ride.
After a doubtful first few pushes on the contraption, the board’s first test pilot soon found his way successfully to the bottom of the hill, and he was hooked, said Sullivan.
“‘Uncle Billy, this is effin’ awesome!’” he recalls the boy saying. Sullivan’s wife and others agreed that he was onto something and encouraged him to work on the board.
That was the end of last summer. Just over a year later, Sullivan and Sorokowsky have put together a product they say is a ton of fun, and which they hope to start selling.
The 106 centimetre-long wooden board is dominated by a 30-centimetre wheel at its centre, like a miniature bicycle wheel. Also like a bicycle, it’s got a hand brake. At the front corners of the board are two in-line wheels like you have on rollerblades, with one more at the tail.
The large wheel at the centre allows the rider to balance on a single point, letting the rider make smooth are sharp turns while going down a hill. The smaller wheels keep you moving without requiring perfect balance.
The experience is something like both surfing and snowboarding, said Sullivan and Sorokowsky, who grew up doing action sports. One of the benefits of their design is that it lets people learn slowly and get comfortable while still being able to glide. Nonetheless, they recommend wearing a helmet.
Now, after many test rides, which, they both confess, is their favourite part of their business enterprise, they have products to sell.
They will be showing off the board for the first time at the Ottawa Ski, Snowboard and Travel Show Oct. 22-23 at the E.Y. Centre.
Getting the board in the hands of the public is “really exciting for us,” said Sullivan.
The base model will be sold for about $200 – a price-point that Sullivan worked to keep low when compared to motorized boards and other products.
After reaching out to the skateboarding community, Sullivan and Sorokowsky say they’ve had positive feedback, though they know their product will have to create a culture and following of its own. In an effort to begin that, Sullivan is working on an app that will let Hill Glider users share the hills they go to, how long they can glide for and at what speed.
So far, they say Mooney’s Bay and the Arboretum are two prime spots.
This story originally appeared in Metro News.