The weather is getting colder and soon it will be time to hit the slopes. There is no doubt that skiing and snowboarding are fun. The excitement of hurtling down the side of a mountain on skis or snowboard is exhilarating, but keeping safe is priority number one. It is a skill that has to be learned. If you have never skied before, there are many things you can do before hitting the slopes.
Outdoor activities like snowboarding and cross-country or downhill skiing are physically taxing. Ski runs are long and require a great deal of muscle tone to manage. Dynamic, active skiing or boarding demands a combination of technique and muscle strength, flexibility to keep balance and stability. The use of arms and legs during skiing is significant; you can prepare for the winter sport by running and cycling in the off-season which uses the same leg and arm muscles.
Special workouts like wall sits and box jumps that strengthen thighs and glutes allow you to stay on skis longer without getting tired.
Nutrition is key. A diet with protein, healthy fats and fruits and vegetables fuels your body for the exercise. Staying hydrated is key to better performance.
Clothing. Skiing is a cold weather sport so covering up is key. A bib or ski pants that are waterproof are mandatory. Denim jeans will not cut it on the slopes, especially for a beginner, when you may take a lot of spills in the snow. Ski jackets are useful and typically have a hood, but if you don’t care to wear hoods, you can use a sock cap. Turtlenecks are extremely useful to keep your neck warm; however, if you can not handle anything tight around your neck, you can use a neck warmer to cover your neck and mouth.
Waterproof mittens are the preferred covering for your hands, especially for a beginner. The ability to have your fingers together to keep warm in a mitten is usually better than a glove. As the temperature decreases, base layer undergarments are welcome to keep your body warm, especially when standing on the ski line or riding on the chair lift. Ski socks are made of materials that keep your feet warm and dry, even if you fall often.
Equipment Ski Boots
When learning how to ski, the ski boot is not like a regular boot—the boot makes you lean forward. When walking make sure the boot is loosely buckled and walk heel-to-toe. Snowboarders have softer boots that are more flexible in the bindings.
All skiers should wear helmets. The biggest cause of death on the slopes is head trauma. If you sign up for a ski lesson program, packages should include equipment. This way you will be outfitted with everything you need prior to your lesson.
Goggles are something you should buy, not rent. They protect your eyes from the glare of the sun and the snow. They are tailored to be secure against your face and worn with your ski helmet for maximum protection for skiers and snowboarders.
Most ski rentals include skis, bindings and poles. Snowboards include the board and bindings. The binding tightness is based on your level as well as your weight—so don’t be shy when giving out information. You can choose from beginner to performance skis. Special packages are available for junior skiers.
The most expeditious way to get ready for the slopes is to rent your equipment in advance. Rentals are for the season, monthly or daily. One advantage to renting locally is that you can pick up your equipment ahead of time and avoid waiting in a line at the resort ski shop. You can also rent ski equipment online and have it delivered to your hotel or condo.
Free Skiing And Snowboarding For Kids
In New York State, there is a program for children to learn how to ski starting in the third or fourth grade. The Learn to Ski or Ride Passport program offers one beginner lift ticket, one beginner ski or snowboard lesson and rental at more than 20 participating ski area. New York State has 52 ski resorts; go to www.iskiny.com for a map of them.
The Free For Kids Passport offers three lift tickets per family at participating ski areas. When an adult ticket purchase is made, the child will receive a lift ticket for free. For more information visit www.iskiny.com. As you gain confidence in your ability to ski or snowboard, there are more challenging slopes in New England, Canada and the West.