Friday, May 08, 2015

Ski Trip Reflections: 5 Common Myths About Skiing

During your ski trip, you might have overheard from fellow skiers a few bits of misinformation that you may have initially believed. Today, we will demystify 5 common myths that we hear about skiing.

Powder skiing without fat skis? Impossible!
Many skiers are quite dependent on thicker skis and can't imagine skiing deep powder with skis less than 100 mm underfoot. Believe it or not, thicker skis were not always the trend and straight skis were manageable for powder skiing using different techniques.

Moreover, some would agree that fat skis have taken the special quality out of really deep-powder days. Floating on top of 6 inches of powder with fat skis feels like on the top of 20 inches.

Moguls prevent skiing smoothly
The fear of moguls push ski resorts to spend millions each year just to flatten those bumps. However, with little knowledge and techniques, skiers can use bumps to their advantage… The rounded backs of moguls are perfect for making turns. A curving sideslip around the mogul can be used to scrub speed. The back of a big bump can even be used to slowdown while continuing down the slope.

Wear helmets for invincibility
Ski helmets are made for safety. Unfortunately, cases of skiing fatalities have not significantly dropped despite the use of helmets. Still, the use of helmet on your ski vacation is highly recommended to reduce or mitigate the severity of some head injuries.

The thicker the socks, the warmer it gets
It’s a classic mistake to double up on socks (especially cotton ones). Sweat caused by doubling your socks leads to cold feet. Thus, in your ski vacation, a pair of thin and breathable socks would be a better choice. Thick socks make ski boots too tight, reducing circulation.

You'll break your leg
Leg fractures were the typical ski injury a long time ago. However, changing technology in skis and bindings minimized the possibility of getting leg-bone injury. Unfortunately, cases of tears of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in the knee have become dominant. So during your ski vacation, stay safe.

Do you agree with this list? What other common myths of skiing have you heard or were told on a recent ski trip? Let us know by posting on the comment section below.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

What happens with ski vacation destinations during the summer?

So what happens to ski vacation destinations when the summer sun starts melting the snow up?  Closing may be an option for some resorts, but for others, summer’s an opportunity to welcome another type of crowd – the nature loving ones. 

Many ski destinations have expanded their summer offerings to lure nature enthusiasts and those who’d like to skip the cookie cutter beach vacations.  Here are some things you can expect at a ski resorts on warmer days:

Mountain bike trails
As the cold season makes way for warmer days ahead, snow melts to reveal breathtaking drops, terrains and gardens that will make fat-tire happy mountain bike enthusiasts happy.  Many resorts offer bike trails with a scenic view of the mountain and lots of fresh air, once the ski season ends and the ice has melted.  You can bring your own bike, or you can rent from one of the resorts’ shops.

Zip lines
If you’re craving an adrenaline rush, a thrilling ride from the snow-less mountain down to the bottom of the mountain via a zipline can be an exhilarating experience.  Many resorts are taking on this thrill activity, offering not only heart pumping action, but also exceptional views along the way.  

Scenic tour via chair lift or gondolas
If ziplining is not your cup of tea, but you would still appreciate an eagle’s eye view of breathtaking mountain scenery, a chair lift or gondola tour can be a more fitting choice.  Yes, the mountains look just as good without the fresh coat of snow most ski enthusiasts would greatly appreciate.  Some resorts will even welcome guests with a lunch al fresco at the end of the tour. 

Hiking trails
Many ski resorts allow people to take advantage of what the area has to offer, more naturally - venture their trails without the snowsuits needed!  Lots of opportunities for hiking give picturesque views along the way.  In ski/snowboard season, stopping to take in those views, much less take a picture of them, can be rather difficult... Summer makes the perfect time for that. Just like the slopes themselves, the hiking trails can be used by beginners to more advanced hikers with steep climbs and rocky terrains.

White water rafting   
Nothing says sweet-summertime more than a thrilling white water rafting adventure with your family and friends. Ski resorts, such as those in Vail offer many rafting trip options, from full or half day to short trips from beginners and intermediate rafters. Just call the resort operator to make your reservations or visit their main website.

Cultural events and activities
Ski resorts, host many cultural activities that involve arts, crafts, and a good deal of food and wine that can bring out some new experiences you would have never tried otherwise.  Beaver Creek in Colorado plays host to a non-stop array of festivals, from art and music to BBQ’s.  Watch out for the Thursday Night Rodeo series, where one can get a taste of calf scramble and bronco riding.  

For many ski vacation destinations, the fun never really ends even when winter is long gone. But that doesn't mean you can't start looking into plans for your next ski vacation this upcoming season - it's never too early!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

How to store your gear after the ski season

Summer has finally arrived, and your next ski trip won’t be for a decent amount of months (unless you plan on taking a ski trip to South America this summer!). But there’s something you need to do before you finally embrace the warmer weather and everything it offers: cleaning and storing your gear properly.

Sure, it’s a downer on your to-do list, but you’ll thank yourself later on for finally getting it over with now. And we it gets back to that time of the year, you'll be thankful it was done the right way. A hefty chunk of your paycheck has been invested in your gear so let's not let that go to waste.

Here are a few things you can do to add some years of life to your ski equipment:

Avoid washing too much. Over washing your winter apparel like jackets and jackets will compromise its Durable Water Repellant (DWR) treatment. This will make your apparel less waterproof and defeat the purpose of it as a ski jacket.

Washing it right. Unless your coat’s DWR treatment is already compromised, wash your ski coat in cool water. It's also common practice to use powdered detergent only. Put your coat through two rinse cycles to make sure all that soap residue is gone. Once it’s dry, go over your coat with a cool iron and then it is safe to store away.

The final cleaning before storage. After multiple runs on the slopes, your coat will probably be dirty and drenched in sweat. Washing and drying your gear before it is put away for months at a time will ensure that you won’t be wearing a smelly coat on that first getaway of the season.

Special emphasis for those ski boots. It's pretty common sense that boots are likely to be the most odor-absorbent of all the equipment skiers own. Just because they "seem ok now" doesn't mean they can be tossed into the bin that easily. If you haven't already, loosed those laces and wash out the sweat from in there. Some may even suggest applying an odor eliminating powder or spray, which should also sit in the boots a few hours before putting away.

Don't have to wait to get your skis tuned. Ski shops have all the time in the world come summertime to get your skis sharpened and tuned in time for your next trip. Waiting until the week before you need them makes for an unnecessary hassle.

Wax those skis. Applying a layer of summer wax on your skis can save them from rust that eats through the skis’ edges. Once this happens, there's no way to reverse the damage. Don't let it happen to yours!

Where to store your gear. The basement is probably not the best place to store skis and other equipment. Humidity can cause rusting and mildew build-up. The last thing you’d want is to see your skis rust away before the next season or a new ski jacket with mold stains. Strap your skis together base-to-base and store them somewhere cool, dry and away from the sun. You can place the apparel and accessory items in a bin to keep them dry, also in a cool place out of the sun.

Ski gear doesn't come cheap. And if you don’t plan on buying new equipment every year for your annual ski trip, great care must be taken when cleaning and storing for the off-season. Avoiding these mistakes can ensure use for another season.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Ski Trip Values: Prudence for Safety

Were your plans for ski trip ever been bogged down by news of ski-related fatalities? If so, you might have asked yourself “what’s the deal with skiing and deadly accidents?” You’ve got two simple answers based on the two Shakespearean queries - To Ski, or Not to Ski? 

Truth is, skiing can be dangerous... especially if you're not prepared. Yes, skiing is an extreme sport so if you decide to accept the challenge, be smart about it.

False Bravado

The only conceivable reason for one to show off his or her skill is to gain positive approval. Before the enthusiastic audience, this positive approval is accomplished through pulling off spectacular flips and bounds. Unfortunately, Father Gravity and Mother Nature do not often approve that demonstration (and they can be very physical and ruthless with their negative feedback). Without undergoing intense long-term practice, novice skiers have a high chance of getting seriously injured. Bravado does nothing but increase that risk spurred by the willingness to gain momentary stardom (mostly unrealistic and oftentimes resulting to permanent regret).

Split-second Consequence

Let’s say for instance that you have been doing this extreme sport for 5+ years. Does that permit you an extra measure of carelessness? This is a trick question for masters to test (or mess around) with the minds of their excelling students. Better to receive an admonishment from instructors than (as always) a mean feedback from Father Gravity and Mother Nature. No amount of excellent ski vacation package can recompense over fractured bones and a lifetime of traumatic memory. That catastrophic misfortune is can occur in a so-called trivial split-second decision of letting your guard down. Staying vigilant on the ski trail is still (surprisingly) fun, despite the constant avoidance of imitating these really cool stunt experts featured in flashy tourism ads.

Stick to the Basic Stunts

If you value your own safety over popular opinion, then you being a boring skier will be so much better than you being an instant patient on the stretcher. In fact, if careful skiers can even suffer from fits of “involuntary somersaults” then being less prudent will be a worse decision. Accidents rarely announce themselves. Even when they do so, the “unpleasant” outcome would be pretty much the same (or even worse since you saw it coming before lights out). Being a boring skier is the best way to go with your ski trip, since you can always try other things (like ski flying) to sate your adrenaline hunger.

Friday, April 03, 2015

Ski Trip Values: The Pillars of Skill Development

Before you set out on your next ski trip, you may want to consider whether you have the adequate fitness level to handle skiing for multiple days in a row. Realistic factors for determining how physically prepared you are can come in many forms. Here are just a few of the most recommended things to focus on pre-ski trip:

Muscle endurance
From constant bending of knees and curdling your back, up to the rigorous steering of the poles during sharp swerves - all of this requires decent muscle endurance. You don’t need to have a physique resembling Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime. It’s not about the muscles that show, but more of the muscles and how they actually work for you.

Another key element that determines your ski ability learning curve is balance. Like most sports, having a good sense of balance is fundamental. Being able to land on your feet on slanted terrain after getting launched from a ramp doesn't come naturally to all people. Balance helps prevent you from getting painful injuries (as well as painful embarrassment).  

Immune system
Skiing is often in frosted, high-altitude terrain. It goes without saying that this type of extreme sport is more of a test to your endurance to the harsh climate than anything else. The mountain top air is thin, which can cause some light-headedness and nausea. You need to be tough in multiple aspects in order to be a good skier. A healthy immune system allows you to have a smoother acclimatization transition, especially during extended ski trips.