Surfing the Mountains

Did you know that you can surf on the mountains in Switzerland?

A Swiss friend of mine spends his winters teaching skiing and snowboarding in Switzerland, and the rest of the time he lives here in Bangor in north Wales. When talking about teaching snowboarding in French, he says “j’enseigne le surf (“I teach the surf / surfing”), which confuses me a bit, even though I know what he means. Is this a common way to refer to snowboarding in Swiss French, or French in general?


According to Wikipedia, French words for snowboard(ing) include snowboard, surf des neiges, plance à/de neige, and snowboarders are nivoplanchistes or snowboardeurs in France, and planchistes in Quebec.

Apparently the first snowboards were developed in 1965 when Sherman Poppen, an engineer in Muskegon, Michigan, invented a toy for his daughters by fastening two skis together. He called this invention the snurfer (a combination of snow and surfer).

Other names that have been used for snowboards include Skiboard and the the Lonnie Toft flying banana. The name snowboard was possibly first used by Jake Burton Carpenter, who founded a company to make them in Londonderry, Vermont in 1977.

What are snowboards and snowboarding called in other languages?

Are you a snowboarder or skier?

I’ve never tried either. I used to do a lot of inline skating in Brighton, but since I moved to Bangor, I’ve kind of given up due to the lack of suitable places round here to skate. I used to go ice skating occasionally as well, but the last time I did that, I broke my ankle and decided to give that up too.

Incidentally, to surf (on water) is faire du surf in French, and to surf (the internet) is surfer sur Internet [source].

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