How to Become a Better Skier

As John Snow would say, “winter is coming.” Yes this may be an exaggeration, but with October coming to an end, ski season is upon us. For those of us looking to take their skiing to the next level, take a look at these seven helpful tips in how to improve your skiing. In this article, I highlight a variety of guidelines and strategies of how you can improve your ski game every time you hit the slopes. 

1. Buy the Correct Gear

First and foremost, understand that this is an outdoor sport. Many people either underestimate or overestimate the amount of layers they need to wear. When you are out on mountain, you want to feel as comfortable as possible. Make sure you are wearing a variety of layers. Do not make the mistake of overdoing this. Wearing too many bulky layers can oftentimes compromise your mobility.

As for equipment, this tip is tailored more for the advanced skiers out there. Start off by backwards planning which mountain you are looking to ski. Whether you are focused on skiing freestyle runs, skiing in the backcountry, or hitting kickers in the park, it is crucial you know the terrain. Having knowledge of that type of style and setting will help you with your decision in which ski equipment you want to get. If you want to learn more about ski gear, check out the link here

2. Know the Basics, Practice the Fundamentals

Unless you took an introduction class on skiing that goes over the turns, stops, and jumps, you will never be able to ski better than what you are now. Practicing these rudimentary ski skills will allow you to manipulate your game for the better. To do this, start off by pushing yourself little by little.  For example, if you have a tendency to make wide long terns, push yourself to make shorter quick turns instead. 

3. Get Fit and Increase your Strength

Skiing is an incredibly strenuous sport. While at times it can be done for leisure, the setting and muscle strength you need to perform is incredibly high. Skiing requires that you have strong legs, abs, and chest. It is therefore imperative for you to keep a good level of fitness. The main areas to work on in the gym are increasing your overall core strength, flexibility, agility, and most importantly your leg strength. 

4. Push Yourself Beyond Your Comfort Zone

Like any thing in life, if you want to master something, you need to test yourself beyond the boundaries every so often to develop your skills, confidence, and strength. One way to become a stronger skier is to follow and watch skiers who are more advanced than you. Learn from them. Ask them questions. And if possible, try and see if you can ride the slopes with them. Remember, as good as you are, you always want to adapt your style. Good skiers are able to perform at a variety of conditions and terrains. 

5. Take a Lesson

No matter how much skiing and training you have done, you can always learn something new and improve your skills. Remember, even professional skiers have coaches and trainers by their side to help them improve their game. Take a look into short private lessons or a 10 or 12-week course. You will be shocked at how much you can improve. 

6. Be realistic with your Goal

It is fantastic that you want to improve your skiing, but at the end of the day you want to be realistic of your abilities. Keep in mind how long it took you to master just going up and down the hill. Be tangible and choose goals that you can achieve. In addition, make sure they are challenging enough to push you as a skier.  

7. Be Confident and Push Yourself

When learning or improving a skill, people often find the task to be difficult and, at times, frustrating. Try not to let this bring you down. There is a strong learning curve, but it does not mean it is impossible. Do not underestimate your ability to learn. Focus on the positive aspects of your skiing and learn from the negatives. Use those negatives as opportunities for growth. And of course practice!

California Ski Destinations

California has plenty of options to offer when searching for a destination to ski. It is important to first decide what it is that you are looking for when planning a ski trip to California. Are you hoping for the big mountain feel or a small and intimate local atmosphere?

This list exemplifies just a few of the numerous locations California has to offer it’s skiing community.

Badger Pass Ski Area – California’s original ski area, Badger Pass, is located in one of California’s most beautiful national parks, Yosemite. Badger Pass is a full-service ski resort who offers ski and snowboard instruction, rental equipment, childcare, and even a cafeteria/lounge. If you are a beginner skier or just not yet as comfortable on the slopes as you would like to be, then Badger Pass is the place for you, with 85 percent of its’ slopes devoted to beginner and intermediate levels. They also offer a course for mini skiers ages 4-6 called Badger Pups, making Badger Pass a great destination to travel with the whole family.

Heavenly – Heavenly Ski Resort is located on the California-Nevada border in South Lake Tahoe. Heavenly is one of the world’s largest ski resorts, set on Tahoe Lake’s south shore. With its’ spectacular views, the resort has the largest snowmaking and grooming fleet on the West Coast. It features multiple terrain parks, 94 trails and a 3,500-foot vertical drop.

Mammoth – Mammoth is located in Eastern California along the east side of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. It features 1,000’s of acres of terrain and an altitude that keeps things white into summer making it one of the longest ski seasons in North America. Mammoth has about 300 days of sunshine a year, so don’t forget the sunscreen as a part of your ski gear.

Sugar Bowl – Sugar Bowl is located in Norden, California. If you are particularly fond of backcountry skiing, then Sugar Bowl is the place for you. Sugar Bowl’s backcountry tours are professionally guided and give people the chance to participate in educational seminars, snowshoe hikes, and much more.

Boreal Mountain Resort – If you are looking for a smaller more intimate skiing experience, you must go to Boreal Mountain. Located just 80 miles from Sacramento, Boreal Mountain provides its’ skiers with night lighting and a sound system on the mountain to enhance your skiing experience. How cool is that?!

Top 5 Skiing Resorts in Switzerland

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Are you an experienced or expert skier looking for your next, new ski resort to hit this winter? Travel to Switzerland to experience the beauty of the country while enjoying some of the best and most beautiful slopes in the world. Here is a countdown of five of the country’s resorts to visit this winter if you’re still deciding your vacation (most are on the more expensive side, but they’re worth the price.):

1. Verbier

Though particularly popular with its French-speaking clientele, all are still welcomed to Verbier with its network of cable cars and gondolas giving you convenient access to more resorts including Veysonnaz and La Tzoumaz. After you day skiing, you can relax and enjoy some of the most creative and delicious cuisine. If you’re also a food connoisseur then this is your resort as the others serve simple and typical ski resort menus.

2. St. Moritz

Jack Ryger nycHaving more of an Austrian influence compared to the other resorts on this list, St. Mortiz showcases authentic medieval architecture including folkloric fixtures, hand-carved paneling, and local granite throughout. There are slopes for all levels here. The Corvigilia, located just above St. Moritz is the most suitable for new or beginner skiers. If you’re looking for more of a challenge then head over to Sils Maria (Corvatsh) or Pontresina (Diavolezza). Both feature difficult slopes that you will challenge you all day long. Intermediate-level skiers should take the one cable-care connection to Piz Corvatsch and ski all the way back to St. Moritz’s lake.

3. Arosa

Relatively new to the scene amongst the ski resorts, Arosa is one of the most isolated and quiet vacations spots you’ll find. If you’re a nature lover then escape here as you head in on the one the road that leads to town. Lined with alpine meadows as far as your eye can see, Arosa couldn’t been any more serene.

4. Zermatt

In the Southwest region of Switzerland, Zermatt is located on a high-altitude plateau. It’s known for its slopes just as much as its party scene with beer-drinking heading into the early hours of the morning. Primarily tailored to intermediate skiers, it also feature a difficult course with a drop of (3,280ft) from start to finish.

5. Gstaad

Located in Saaneland, Gstaad is a cool option with plenty of action off the slopes as much as there is on them. During your downtime, you can attend music festivals, shop till you drop, and people-watch. You can people watch there for hours or enjoy the view as the sun goes down.

Brighton Mountain Ski Resort

Brighton Mountain in Utah is a favorite amongst skiiers of all ages. With an average of 500 inches of light, fluffy snow each winter, the mountain is a lot like heaven for those who love to ski. Since Brighton is located in a pathway of winter storms and sits at the top of Big Cottonwood Canyon, the snowfall is great and plenty for all to enjoy.

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Brighton Resort is a great place to stay if you want to plan a ski trip on the mountain. The resort has access to 100% of Brighton’s terrain by five high speed quads. Along with 1,875 vertical feet dedicated to the wonders of Utah skiing, Brighton Resort also has 1,050 acre of trip and magic carpet service. You can also find day lodges, rentals, a ski and snowboarding school, lockers, cafeterias, a pub, and bus transportation to the downtown Salt Lake City area as part of the resort’s amenities.

In order to maintain safety precautions and offer its guests the best quality ski and snowboard trails, Bright Resort’s grooming is consistently top quality. Beginner, intermediate, and expert trails are all groomed as needed and if you’re ever wondering how your trail looks for the day, a grooming report is posted daily, which details the conditions of each trail.

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Jack Ryger skiing on Brighton Mountain in Utah

In addition, Brighton Resort has terrain parks, which are great for those who enjoy freestyle riding and skiing. There are four terrain parks available for every ability level, and with a supreme terrain park crew, the parks’ features move and improve as often as possible.

Brighton Resort offers hours of operation all seven days of the week from the middle of November through mid-April. In addition to the daily hours of operation for 9 am to 4pm, the resort offers night skiing from 4pm until 9pm every day except for sunday from December until March. So if you want to get the most out of your ski vacation, Brighton Resort is undoubtedly the place for you.

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For more information about Brighton Resort and the Brighton Mountain, please visit their website here. Happy skiing!

Mountain Biking at Ski Resorts

As the snow melts and the sun stays out longer, many ski resorts from all of the nation open trails dedicated to summer mountain biking and hiking. Either taking a summer vacation to one of your favorite ski resorts or checking out a local ski resort that has hiking and mountain biking trails is a great way to spend some quality time in nature this summer.

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Mountain biking in particular is a very popular summer activity that ski resorts have increasingly been accommodating towards. Many ski resorts have been building and maintaining certain lift-accessed mountain biking trails throughout the summer, which is great news for skiers who crave the feeling of skiing all year long. Although there may not be any snow and you probably don’t have your skis strapped in, being outside and on the mountain is very satisfying.

In fact, downhill mountain biking is very similar to skiing. Not only do you get to start your day in a base area trying on different equipment that is best for your body type and skill level, but you also get to: hop on a chairlift or gondola, adjust your helmet and gloves, warm-up on a blue trail, experience nature through trees, meadows, and wildflowers, feel a cool mountain breeze against your cheeks, enjoy beautiful mountain views, and end your day back in the base area village with a satisfied smile stretched across your face. Sounds a lot like skiing, doesn’t it?

If you’re not sure where to find a mountain bike park, make sure you look online at various ski resort websites, especially if you’re fond of a particular resort. But, if you’re in the Northeast, Killington Mountain Bike Park in Vermont is a great New England resort to check out this summer. Not only is it surrounded by lush mountains, but the Park hosts several professional-level downhill races and provides lessons up until October.

If you’re out west, California’s Northstar Bike Park offers cross-country bikers and downhill mountain biking in Lake Tahoe. The instructors there are extremely friendly and offer two-hour beginner classes. Mt. Bachelor in Oregon is another mountain to think about visiting if you want to head west, equipped with a breath-taking bike park featuring both smooth turns and fun features. Plus, they just ordered a new shipment of Norco all-mountain and downhill rental bikes for you to enjoy.

For more information about mountain biking at ski resorts, and a more detailed list of resorts to visit this summer, check out Ski.com’s article here.

Ski Anytime of the Year

Yes, yes, it is time for the weather to hang its wintry cloak in the closet and don the springtime suit. But before those skis get stored for a whole summer, take a look into some great spots for summer skiing on this side of the globe. Whether in the southern hemisphere or in the more polar of northerly locations, there is always a place for the avid skier. Lose not all hope of getting back out on the slopes and feeling the rush of the wind against your goggled eyes. Here’s to five more months of winter!

The Andes of South America are quite a good choice as they offer the longest mountain range in the world, and some of the highest slopes. Throughout Argentina and Chile, there are more socially-oriented, family-friendly ski resorts, and more secluded backcountry zones. The qualities of snow are a mix of compact and dry powdery snow. The Ski Portillo resort remains an uncrowded favorite due to a visitor cap they set at 450. It is also the oldest ski spot in South America.

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For those located in the United States and wishing to stay within borders, the Pacific Northwest offers a wide range of locations along the Cascade Mountains, which span from Oregon and Washington to British Columbia. The Timberline Ski resort features Mt. Hood, the highest elevation in Oregon, the most reputable site in the state for high-speed downhill skiing. It is also the only site in the country open and offering lift service year-round. Fun fact, the Timberline Ski lodge is a national landmark and the locale featured in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. For one of the largest skiing areas in the state, visit Mount Bachelor’s ski resort with peak heights of 2600 feet.

 

Just North of the Pacific states is the Blackcomb slope in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada. With surprisingly warm temperatures and some of the steepest slopes it remains a trusted resort for the skilled skier. Elevations soar up to 7,500 feet where panoramic views of the valleys below are something to marvel at.

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Among the Swiss Alps stand some of the historically most impressive (and intimidating) mountains, and the highest ski resort in all of Europe, including that of the Matterhorn in Zermatt. Even during the summer months, while most of Europe is down by the Mediterranean, the Alps stay open for the keen skiers with the highest snow certainty in the continent. One can also visit idyllic mountainside villages and lakes along the grassier knolls of Switzerland for a break in the all-white scenery.

Become a Better Skier Your First Week on the Slopes

With winter approaching rapidly, now is the time to get ready for a season of skiing. Whether you ski for pleasure or for competition, there are always ways to improve how well you handle the slopes.  Many people only have a limited amount of time on the mountains, so here are a few tips towards becoming a better skier in just five days:

First, keep in mind that skiing is a cardio-intensive sport – this means it’s time to get fit.  Before you begin your skiing adventures, take the opportunity to set aside a certain amount of time per week to get a strategic workout in.  You should preferably create an even balance between cardio and weight-lifting so that you don’t over-push your body the first few days you start your workouts (pulling a muscle is not fun).  Skiing is all about endurance, so working your way towards running long-distance will greatly improve how well you end up skiing, or at least how long you last on the slopes.  Setting aside a one-month crash course that is designed to strengthen the areas you use most while skiing, like your legs and core, will help your muscles be prepared for the first day you ski.

Rosenkratz mountain

Winter is coming! Lets review some skiing tips so you’re ready to take on the stark cold of the slopes.

Second, make sure your equipment is updated.  Most skiing injuries result from overused skis.  If you’ve had your equipment for over six years, perhaps it’s time to freshen up.  Be sure your boots fit properly as well, because you’ll be on your feet for hours at a time and you want to make sure you’re as comfortable as possible.

Another tip would be to drink plenty of water.  You may be on vacation, but try to hold back on your alcohol intake.  Remember, you’re at a high altitude, so it’s easy to overdo it the first night.  Water will help your body replenish after hours on the mountain, and it will give you the energy you need to last the day – alcohol will do just the opposite.  A better idea would be to hold the champagne until after your week of skiing, celebrate your success at the end of your time on the slopes, you’ll feel way better about yourself.  Besides, you don’t want to pull a muscle, which is much easier to do when your body is dehydrated from drinking alcohol.

Lastly, conservation is key.  Don’t overwhelm yourself the first day of skiing, back off if you’re feeling tired.  One of the most important things an athlete can do is listen to his or her body, this includes recognizing signs of fatigue and muscle strain.  Rotate between pushing yourself for an hour and then taking a long break.  The worst thing you could do is get an injury the first day of skiing because you were over-amped about nailing that jump – easing into it is the way to go.

Following these simple tricks will help improve your skiing abilities for your first week on the mountain.  Remember, this is a time to have fun, so don’t push yourself past your limits.  Slow it down to fully enjoy the beauty of the mountains, make every breath worthwhile.

 

For more in depth details and tips, check out: http://www.outsideonline.com/fitness/skiing/The-Top-10-Tips-for-Becoming-a-Better-Skier-in-5-Days.html

Personal Skiing Updates

Hi everyone! I know I post a lot about skiing, but it’s been a while since I shared some news about my own skiing life. And so… Some short time ago, I met Ariel Quiros, the new owner of Jay Peak. Guess What? He invited me to come up and see the new Jay Peak. The last time I skied there was in 2007, and I can’t wait to see what’s changed.

Grand Marnier and two glasses

Raffle prize from Hunter Mountain’s Bartender’s Bash.

A Bit on Grass Skiing

Grass skiing began as an alternative training program for winter skiers in the warm summer months. In Germany in the 1960s, downhill snow ski racers devised an adaptation for the sport that would allow them to engage in outdoor training during the summer. From there, the sport was introduced to sporting crowds in Europe and immigrated to the eastern United States. By the 1970s, the sport had reached the San Francisco Bay Area.

The sport uses specific grass skis for the task, which have short runners with wheeled, well oiled, tank-like treads strapped to standard downhill ski boots. The alternative to skiing to occupy the summer months had just started to gain attention, when a segment of a television show entitled “That’s Incredible” depicted the sport and all who engage in it as extremists, purposely crashing and embarking on risky maneuvers. From there, the sport gained notoriety for drawing in excessive risk takers.

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Grass Skier Hannes Angerer at the Austrian Grasski Championships

An article recently from the Great Falls Tribune chronicled the discovery and investment of one man to the sport, and his attempt to eliminate this negative perception.In 1979, Brian McKay discovered grass skiing as it made its way across the country. In 1983, he embarked on a trip to Australia to serve as part of the United States Grass Skiing Team.  He met his future wife during the trip, and eventually made his home there. Recently, he returned home to Medford, Oregon to care for an aging parent.

Since his return, he has struggled to find grass skiing partners.  With this misguided perception of risky behavior in mind, many struggle to not only understand the activity  as a sport, but to have a desire to engage it.  Often, when McKay approaches a perspective skier, many laugh in his face at the ridiculousness of it.  However, some have proven to be committed, as McKay offers a test drive on his grass skis for those willing to have an open mind about the sport.

The Adaptation of Tracy Ross

This is a recap of a much longer read, concerning the skiing exploits and adaptation of writer and skier Tracy Ross, presented in a news-like style.

 

According to an article published in Ski Magazine, one skier struggled in the transition needed to meet her goal of becoming a ski racer, as opposed to standard skiing practices. Specifically, she had chosen her debut event as the Summer Fun Nationals, as she knew the average age of competitors was nearly twice her age and should, therefore, present less of a challenge for her novice status. However, the conversion proved to be more challenging than she had originally anticipated, resulting in her need to nearly relearn the art of skiing all over again.

Several key aspects presented a challenge to the author of the article. Racers don’t just ski; they are experts at angulation, which allows them to take gates at a quicker and smoother rate. Involved in this is an ability to carve a turn, not skid through it. Average recreational skiers skid turns, as it is easier to master. However, racers need to carve through turns, using the edges on their skis to get the most speed for their output of energy.

A Ski Racer whipping the powder

Ski Racing can pose several physical challenges to new comers

On her first racing run with a trainer, the author was informed that her form was completely off to adapt her methods for a racing pursuit. The trainer informed her that her form was overly rigid, her turns were skidded and that she rotated her torso too much across the full line. For the next few months prior to the Summer Fun Nationals, the author worked to improve all of these facets of her form. She struggled most with the practice of carving, not skidding her turns. Eventually, a trainer introduced a series of drills involving the use of two poles to reprogram her body to carve through the turns as opposed to her default setting of skidding.

Regardless of her months of practice, she still felt unprepared on the morning of the race. Through her run, she felt positive things were going well; she experienced the feeling of her body moving in two parts that comes with angulation and managed to edge the turns and tuck in to the finish. However, despite the positive feeling she had during the run, she was surprised to discover that she finished fourth from last, finishing behind so many other skiers that were nearly twice her age. After feeling the temporary pull of disappointment, she realized that she had experienced a bright adrenaline rush and that the compulsion to live to race another day still lived within her; that was, in her opinion, far more important and valuable than the success of a fast finish time.