Terrain Parks

ski terrain parkSince snowboarding has become a widely accepted winter sport, more and more winter resorts have tried to make their resorts more appealing to riders by adding terrain parks. Terrain parks feature jumps, boxes, rails and other obstacles for freestyle snowboarders and skiers to practice and showcase their skills.

Navigating a terrain park for the first time can seem a bit intimidating even for experienced riders. Riders should always line up behind the feature to make sure that the feature and the immediate surrounding area is clear. Before starting a run, a rider will typically raise their hand to signal intent to go next. If by chance a rider falls while attempting a trick it is critical that he/she clear the area as soon as safely possible to avoid becoming an unexpected and dangerous obstacle to other riders and themselves.

Jumps are usually marked with visible spray paint so that riders can easily line up their tricks and jump at the right moment. The most important thing to for riders to keep in mind is their individual skill level and to build up their skill level before attempting more difficult maneuvers. In order to keep the terrain park an enjoyable and safe place for riders of all skill levels, it’s important that riders use the proper safety equipment and follow all posted signs and placards.

Avalanche Safety Tips

avalanche safetyFor any big-time skier or snowboarder it is imperative to know at least the basics in avalanche safety, but it is even more important for backcountry enthusiasts. It is important to know which areas are the most dangerous and how keep yourself safe. Most avalanches occur in the backcountry, so here are the areas to avoid and tips to help keep you safe:

•    The largest percent of avalanches occur on slopes of 30 degrees or greater.
•    Stay away from leeward slopes during strong winds.
•    Avoid going skiing or snowboarding during or shortly after heavy snowstorms.
•    Be aware of melting snow – this happens mostly after periods of cold weather followed by warm weather. Watch out for these conditions in the spring.
•    Stay out of gullies and natural pathways for snow to follow.
•    If possible do not go alone. If you do then let someone know where you are going.
•    Check the weather and avalanche reports.
•    Bring avalanche equipment with you and know how to use it.
•    Take an avalanche safety source.

The best time to avoid the danger of avalanches when skiing or snowboarding is to go the morning after a cold, clear night. This way the snow has time to freeze and is less likely to break away, causing an avalanche. Be smart, educate yourself and be prepared before you adventure into the wonderful, snowy world of the backcountry.

Mountain Condo Vacations

mountain town condoFor some, it’s a dream vacation to rent a condo in the mountains.  But, there are many variations on that ideal vacation.  To some it could be a place to strap on your skis right outside the door and take off. To others it might be a summer escape from the heat.  Or some may be looking for action an packed get away.

Colorado is a top ski destination and for good reason.  The mountains of Colorado receive a generous amount of light fluffy snow and are known for their beautiful sunny winter days.  Due to high the altitude the ski resorts open in November and some are open as late as June. People from all over the world come to the Rocky Mountains to ski.  The most popular resorts are Vail, Aspen, and Breckenridge.  But, there are many other great places to rent a condo and ski. Steamboat, Cooper, Keystone, and Beaver Creek condos are excellent choices as well.  Ski-in/Ski-out condos are great because you don’t have to deal with driving or taking the bus with all your ski gear.  And of course, nothing feels better after a day of skiing than soaking in a hot tub, so be sure to keep that in mind as you search for your ski condo.

The Rocky Mountains can be a great summer destination as well.  The temperature decreases about 3.5 degrees per every thousand feet, so heading to the mountains can be a refreshing treat to many.  For example, in Aspen summer highs are typically just in the mid-70s.   With beautiful mountains and fields of wildflowers, hiking in the summer is absolutely stunning. You can challenge yourself to a hike and experience the beauty of a high mountain lake.  After a long day, it’s great to retreat to the balcony of your condo and watch a beautiful sunset.

In the summer, ski resorts often offer activities as well.  At many resorts you can take your mountain bike up the ski lift and have an exhilarating ride down.  There are also plenty of trails that are not quite as steep available too.  For kids, and kids at heart, many resorts also have alpine slides.  To really get into the backcountry, horseback rides in the mountains are popular as well.    With all the snow melt the mountains experience in the spring and summer, white water rafting is also quite popular.  There are plenty of activities available to have an action packed get away.

So, as you can see there are plenty of reasons and seasons to rent a mountain condo.  With all you can do all day, it’s nice to have a comfortable retreat at the end of the day.  A condo gives you a sense of a home away from home – instead of just sitting on a bed in your hotel room.  You have the ability to cook your own meals and gather in the living room.  For families or groups traveling together you can get the convenience of separate private bedrooms while sharing the social areas of the condo.

First Run Kind of Snow – Fresh Powder

Imagine walking outside into the crisp morning air as your foot crunches on fresh fallen snow from the night before. Suddenly you know you have to get up to the mountain today! You cancel your obligations for the day, call a companion, grab your equipment and head up to the mountain to get the first run of the day in! Does this scenario seem familiar? Maybe not. But any serious skier or snowboarder knows that fresh powder snow is one of the most coveted luxuries in the winter sports’ world. Winter athletes will clear an entire day’s schedule just to feel the pillowy softness under them as they sore down untouched slopes.

Fresh powdered snow is like Christmas morning to a ski or snowboarder. It allows for smooth runs without having to worry about bumps, holes or cuts in the snow made by other riders. The properties of used slopes can break a riders’ stance or concentration. Fresh powder makes it easier to balance, to carve and get height for tricks. Powder creates even and level runs which help the rider gain speed as glide down the slopes.

There is no better feeling than the mix of adrenaline and serenity as you float down the side of a mountain in billowy clouds of white powder. So give yourself a break and take a day to experience the thrill of fresh powder snow. You won’t regret it!

How To Snow Ski Better And Enjoy Your Vacation

snow skiAs we approach the cold, winter months, now is the time to embrace the cold and pack your bags for a fantastic winter vacation! Although some may shun the snow and the cold in favor for comfort and days spent in front of the fire, others thrive on the chance to speed down the slopes.

Previously, those who wish to learn how to snow ski had only a few instructors to choose from if they want to start beginner snow ski classes as they often leave it until they reach their vacation destination to start the learning process. However, nowadays, we are open up to a number of learning possibilities which will not only help make you a more confident beginner skier, but will also make you a better skier, helping to make your vacation all the more enjoyable. Alongside your snow skiing lessons, there are a number of different skiing techniques you can adopt, such as below to help you swish down those slopes in quick speed!

Firstly, you need to learn how to successfully and effectively shift your body weight from one leg to another, which is key in order to become a quick and proficient skier. A skier who is unable to shift their weight correctly will often find that they ski slowly, or may even find they fumble once or twice on the snow. In order to practice shifting your weight, it is beneficial to try snow skiing without your poles which will eliminate the help you are provided with whilst skiing, thus forcing you to shift your weight unaided. The more effectively you are able to shift your weight, the quicker you will become, therefore, the better skier you will be in time. Whilst learning how to shift your weight, you should also learn to bend your ankles when skiing down a slope. Whilst traveling down a slope, you should always keep your knees ahead of your feet in order to help eliminate any crashes or fumbled stops. Always try to maintain good posture when skiing also, which will help keep your feet in the correct position and will also help your movement be more fluid.

Wherever possible, always take the time to learn from a professional snow ski instructor. Although it may seem quicker and easier to learn from a friend who skis, a professional snow ski instructor can provide you with the guidance and support you need which one cannot always gain from personal teachings. You will also find that a professional instructor will have more patience and will teach you in a step by step, trial and error manner, rather than simply throw you onto the slopes as it were. If you are not equipped enough to handle the slopes, you simply will not enjoy skiing or your vacation. You should also always take skiing lessons from the beginner’s level as you will learn the fundamentals of skiing along with body conditioning which is a must for all levels of skiing but may not be covered at higher level of lessons. Learning to stretch correctly, etc before skiing is important in order to keep your muscles limber and help eliminate any strains or serious injuries.

Snow skiing is a fantastic, exhilarating and extremely fun winter sport to partake in, but is more so when you allow yourself to learn the basics. By researching into different lessons that are available at your vacation destination and applying for a beginner course before your vacation also (many leisure centers have dry slopes), you will not only enjoy yourself more, but will soon see yourself whizzing past your friends and loved ones in a flash!

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Essential Ski Gear

Your ski gear and equipment have a strong impact on your skiing experience, so it’s important that you are prepared with all the essentials before your day on the mountain. Dressing appropriately is the key to being comfortable while you ski. Here are some suggestions that will help you stay warm and dry in the wet snow:
•    Thermals –long thermals make a good bottom layer because they cover your whole body and they are easy to tuck into socks.
•    Thick socks – thick socks will help keep your feet and toes warm throughout the day. Pull them up over the bottom of your thermals. Bringing an extra pair of socks (keep them in a coat pocket) is a good idea in case your first pair of socks get too wet for comfort.
•    Snow pants – snow pants are waterproof pants that help keep you padded and dry all day, even if you fall a lot. Put your snow pants over your layer of thermals.
•    Snow coat – your snow coat should be waterproof and wind-stopping. If you don’t think your coat will keep you warm enough then add a sweater or jacket underneath for extra warmth. You can always remove a layer if you get too hot.
•    Gloves – getting a good pair of gloves is vital. If your hands feel frozen then it will make skiing very difficult. Get thick, waterproof gloves that tighten at the opening. This will prevent snow from getting up your coat sleeve.
•    Ski hat – get something to cover your ears from the cold wind. Beanies, ski helmets and headbands are some of your options.
•    Goggles – goggles will help keep snow out of your face and the strong winds out of your eyes, allowing you to see clearer and easier.

Backcountry Skiing

backcountry skiingSkiing the land few others venture out to. Is it out of the way? Yes. Is some hiking involved? Most likely. But will you get the same thrill at the ski hill? Probably not. You will be skiing on snow that has not been carved, finding your way through hills and valleys; watching out for trees, rocks, and wild animals, while experiencing the true adventure of what is termed backcountry skiing. You will have to drive or hitchhike up the mountain pass. If you have a car then park road-side and continue to hike up the peak of the mountain. From there you will start heading down the unmarked mountain.

There are a few things to know when it comes to backcountry skiing safety. First, go in a group and always make sure someone not in your group knows where you are going. Second, bring a first aid kit, water and snacks along. Be aware of exhaustion and take a break when needed. Third, it is not all downhill all the time, be prepared to walk in deep powder or be ready for some cross country skiing when in a low area. Fourth, and most important, learn avalanche safety; you do not want to be the next news report.

Live to Ski

live to ski“Live to ski” sounds like a bumper sticker, but it could be a reality. In a town such as Jackson Hole, WY you will run into locals disguised as tour guides, waiters, ranch hands, retail workers, even some lawyers, engineers, and architects. But ask them what they do and they will tell you they ski. Their job is just that, a job, their love for the snow, outdoors and winter sports is what defines them.  Some might call them ski bums, but no matter what you call them it’s their carefree attitude that most people envy.

If you are considering this path, you don’t need to be a professional skier or snowboarder to enjoy the benefits of endless days of skiing. Many local employers will offer special rates for season or day passes.  If they don’t, ask the resort about a locals’ discount, but be ready to show ID. Even if you are just living there for the ski season sometimes a library card will count as ID.  Another tip is to make friends.  In small ski towns, like Jackson Hole, everybody knows everybody and everyone has a different connection, be it for skiing, horseback riding, restaurants, golfing, rafting… (the list goes on). There are endless possibilities that let you be easy on your pocketbook, yet still live the high life.

Working at a Ski Resort

ski resortWorking at a ski resort can be a well paying summer job or an ideal way to perfect your snowboarding or skiing skills. Many mountain ski resorts are open all year long, with each season bringing new and exciting things to do.  And being an employee (usually) gets you a significant discount, if not a free pass, to many of the resorts activities.

Ski resorts need ski and snowboard instructors, slope maintenance workers, retail shop staff, cooks, waiters…and the list goes on. You are sure to find something you enjoy. If you have a special skill or a love for the outdoors then look into working for a resort. You may not think your skill set could apply to a ski resort, but “don’t knock it before you try it”, or in this case apply for it before you discount it. For example, if waiting is one of your skills or something you are interested in then consider applying to a ski resort. Many times resorts will have banquette halls where they host a number of different parties and banquettes, from small to large, and these types of events pay quite well. You may have to work late hours, but you can work a few days a week and still pay the bills. Plus, you will have abundant spare time to play on the mountain.

Working at a ski resort can be fun and it definitely has its benefits. You’re sure to meet people from all over the country, if not world, and making friends will be easy. The best part is you can work during all the different seasons, and spend your free time doing the things you love throughout your favorite season.

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Rocky Mountain West Ski Towns Thankful For Mother Nature’s Last Blast!

It’s that easy to create sincere ecstatic joy throughout ski resort areas that had surrendered to the fact that this ski season came and went without the best in snow. Expect the unexpected.

Mountain Living

That is the nice thing about living in the mountains, things can change fast and furiously and lately it’s been all about incredible late season snow. There have been a few ski resorts out there that have even extended their ski ski seasons such as Park City and Grand Targhee. Ear to ear grins are rampant as the end of the season festivities become a lot more festive. Park City, Jackson Hole, Vail, Aspen, they have been having a great time. You can feel the excitement as the ski “tweets” have been going something like this …

”Ski Resorts Enjoying Epic Spring Conditions”

_”Vail expands late-season terrain: VAIL – With the biggest single-day snowfall accumulation on Vail Mountain …http://bit.ly/c8rOkt

_”Big Storms Confirm Spring Ski Season in Utah http://ow.ly/1710wX

Vail expands late-season terrain. 4 feet of snow means portions of bowls and Blue Sky stay open thru closing day

”Nearly 2 Ft of Champagne Powder snow in 24hrs & 4 Ft in past week at #Steamboat. Powderhounds Abound!”

”If you missed today @Grand_Targhee . . . you pick the WRONG day to miss! Bluebird and deeeep powder! GOOD NEWS, tomorrow’s another day!”

”7ft of snow in 7 days, you got to love Utah.”

Nothing trivial about the positive health benefits of getting outside and having fun. Feeds the mind and body, fires up the soul.