Is ski season over? Summer Skiing post.

Is ski season over, you ask? I’m afraid it is long gone here in the U.S.

Now you may be asking, “What do I do now?”

Good news, the official What Do I Do Now List is here.

1. You could try sliding down the stairs in your house.

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Photo: corbisimages.com

No? Okay.

2. Apparently grass skiing and boarding is a thing now.

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Now I have to say that as someone who would not change a thing about snow sports, I was a little bit skeptical that this seemed to claim to match up to its winter counterpart. I was also skeptical that this entire activity isn’t the most terrifying, face-breaking thing in existence.

All my doubts faded when I saw that you can get a lesson, lift ticket, skis/board rentals, pads, and a helmet all for 30 dollars or less. Hey, I don’t mind risking my life if it’s a good deal.

All kidding aside, I’m sure it’s relatively safe and at least hilarious. Plus, there’s a place you can go close-by in Virginia called Bryce Mountain Resort.

3. When the snow melts some ski resorts turn into mountain biking resorts.

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At Whitetail you can get a beginner lesson for 10 dollars. They have a wide variety of terrain for both beginners and experts. It’s really useful to have ranked trails so you know what you’re getting into and can improve your skills slowly. It’s also a fantastic and exciting source for exercise without being stuck in a crowded and humid gym. Mountain bike rentals are expensive though so look into prices beforehand and see if there’s any shops that will rent cheaper.

5. Indoor skiing exists in several countries.

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Indoor skiing in Dubai

Unfortunately, the United States is not one of them. However in 2014, the construction of the first indoor ski slope in the U.S. will be finished in American Dream Meadowlands, an entertainment complex in East Rutherford, New Jersey. This 250,000 sq ft indoor ski/snowboard slope will be open year round and feature equipment rentals, a working chairlift, ski lessons, and a ski bar.

6. Skiing and boarding is very much alive in the southern hemisphere. I once met a snowboard instructor who would travel to Australia every year once the season ended and many others do the same. I personally would like to go to Perisher Valley in Australia because it is massive.

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Perisher Valley trail map

Other countries good for ski trips in the southern hemisphere are Argentina, Chile, and New Zealand.

What do you think you’d be most likely to try?

Favorite experience or memory? A Snowshoe Mountain post.

I feel as though this would not be a ski blog without a place to share everyone’s best experiences. I would like to make a post encouraging just that.

  1. What’s your favorite trip you’ve ever been on?
  2. What made it the best?
  3. What did you do?
  4. What was your favorite moment?

I’ll start by sharing mine.

1. The winter before this one my family (including an aunt, uncle, and a friend) went to place called Snowshoe Mountain for a week.

2. Now, this is no Top-tier nationally known resort, but to me, that isn’t what makes a good ski trip. There’s three things that make a ski trip for me: weather, atmosphere, and timing.

  • The weather on Snowshoe Mountain was absolutely perfect. Due to the high altitude it never got above freezing when I was there so it never got icy. Nothing ever really melts until Spring. This was apparent with the trees that basically turned into snowmen.

Not only that but there was about an inch of fresh powder every single morning from overnight snowfall.

  • The atmosphere at Snowshoe was fantastic. I was staying in a room looking right over Snowshoe Village. Snowshoe village, unlike some resorts, is located directly on top of the mountain you ski and snowboard on. This allows you to basically ski down your backyard. The setup gives the entire place a really secluded and close-knit feel. It also makes all the surrounding scenery gorgeous. Here are some panoramic pictures I made from the trip:

  • It was by complete accident but we ended up going during their lowest capacity of the season. For a crowd that a ski resort usually has, the place might as well have been deserted.

This was because it wasn’t during a weekend and there had just been a lot of snowfall deterring others from making the trip. I love to go when places are at low capacity. There are no lines, it’s really peaceful, and everyone just seems to be a lot nicer.

3. Snowshoe mountain offers snow tubing, sleigh rides, snow cat tours, snowmobiling, along with a lot of slopes. We did all but the snowmobiling. Also there is a great bar scene and outdoor hot tubs.

4. My favorite moment was the first night there when it was the most deserted. I skied and boarded at night while snow was falling on the slopes at Silver Creek. Thinking back to that night and is like instant meditation. Then later, meeting up at the bar and playing pool. Does an entire night count as a moment? It does on my blog.

Here’s a video I made showing the trip in action:

Be sure to let me know about your favorite memory or experience!

Headphones for skiing and snowboarding

For most skiers and snowboarders music is a big part of snow sports. Just as in a lot of exercise-based activities, it can boost your enthusiasm, confidence, and concentration. In fact, It’s common for professional skiers to have a specific song that they always race to. Personally, after I tried it once I haven’t gone without my iPod since.

photo: espn.go.com

Such a change got me noticing how terrible some of my headphones were for the slopes. For example, every time I bring the standard Apple headphones for any rough expedition they’ve broken. Durability isn’t the only thing that I look for in headphones for skiing, though. There’s also a definite need for:

Price

I’m putting this first because I’m not willing to pay more than 30 dollars for headphones. I lean towards a price around 20 normally. If you’re willing to pay over a hundred dollars for a pair of top of the line headphones then these recommendations may not be very useful to you.

In-line Remote control

There’s nothing more irritating than having to dig through your coat pockets looking for your mp3 player to change the song while wearing debilitating gloves. If you’re anything like me you’ll go to rediculous lengths to avoid such feats, including jumping up and down trying to activate shake-to-shuffle, consequently launching yourself face first into the snow. (true story)

Sony headphones, while I find to not be the most comfortable brand, do have a remote control great for skiing.

The Sony EX earbuds have on-wire controls for volume, fast forward, rewind, play, and pause.

Comfort

Comfort is a huge deciding factor when it comes to headphones to ski with. Headphones that are normally comfortable feel awful when pressed up to your ear by a hat or helmet. JVC is a great brand for comfort as they make some ear buds completely encased in silicon.

The JVC air cushion headphones have a silicon air cushion that pretty much makes them comfortable no matter what. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to have ones with in-line controls. The JVC marshmallow headphones are almost as comfortable though and have a remote.

If you don’t like the way ear buds feel at all there are a lot of winter hats that have headphones built into them.

I have one from American Eagle with play/pause controls that I like using.

Sound Isolation

Of course you want your music to sound clear. When I’m skiing I also don’t want my music to be heard by anyone else but me. Nothing worse than the moment on a ski lift when you know the hipster sitting next to you can hear the Ke$ha blasting in your ears (We R Who We R has a great beat for my turning pace, don’t judge haha).

The MeElectronics M9P headphones have really good sound isolation and in-line controls for an affordable price.

Do you have any preferences? Also, feel free to share your favorite skiing or exercise song.

Skiing for Charity

Posted On March 3, 2012

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Skiing for charity. There’s something you may not have ever heard of. Well neither had I until I blindly showed up at Whitetail on February 13th. The event being hosted was called the 100k Vertical Challenge. The participant gets pledges of money based on how far they can ski in one day, up to 100 kilometers (about 62 miles). This distance amounts to 107 runs down the mountain!

100k challenge participant. Photo credit: User robertandrewmueller (youtube.com)

This event is held to raise money for the Two Top Mountain Adaptive Sports Foundation. The Two Top Mountain Adaptive Sports Foundation is a non-profit that teaches sports to mentally and physically challenged children and adults to help build self-confidence. They teach all sorts of people adaptive sports. From the visually impaired, to amputees, to wheelchair bound athletes. They have winter programs at Whitetail for disabled skiers and snowboarders as well as summer programs like kayaking, fly fishing, cycling, and golf. They also have an ongoing “Wounded Warrior Project” for injured military personnel returning from war. A good video that gives more in-depth look into how an adaptive sports foundation works can be found here.

An adaptive skiing lesson. Photo credit: Robert Mueller (crowdrise.com)

The event started at 8 a.m. with 22 participants and lasted until dark. There was a concessions stand below the mountain so they could eat as they go. I talked to two participants on the lift. The first one was a snowboarder whom was about 40 runs in. He was really determined and said he was doing extra runs for people that knew they wouldn’t be able to finish. As soon as we were off the lift he just about straight-lined down the mountain without missing a beat! He said he was trying to get as much done before the sun set and the snow got icy. The second man I talked to was a veteran who had a spinal injury. He told me about two other disabled participants. He said one of them was definitely headed for the Paralympics. Just watching these guys and gals made me exhausted. One person there had raised 1,000 dollars! This event was definitely something unexpected and incredible to see and I would have loved to try it.

What about you? Do you think you could take on 107 runs for charity?

Blog Goals (week 5 post)

Posted On February 27, 2012

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Photo credit: aottevanger.tumblr.com

The goal with my portfolio blog is to write something that I personally would enjoy reading. As people often say, “when you do something that you truly like, then others often like it as well.” As I say in my About Me, skiing is my number one passion and if I can translate the passion I have for the sport into passion for writing about it then I will be extremely proud of what I’ve done.

My audience consists of skiers, possibly snowboarders. Part of what makes skiing a great experience is the conversations that you have about it afterwards. Skiing blogs are a great tool to stimulate conversation about personal experience. Skiers want to hear stories and that is what I hope to continue with. From Google I’ve seen that most highly searched categories are locations and tips. I plan to branch out to advice-giving on certain topics and continue with describing resorts and telling stories.

One thing I took away from the lecture last class was the importance of pictures. The pictures I took during my trip were just something I put in just to make it look more flashy to me. I never really thought I was employing a strategy at the time. A strategy that I would like to use would be to ask semi-rhetorical questions after certain posts. This relates back to the point I made earlier, how I think discussion is what ski blogs thrive on. Asking and possibly responding to what input other skiers may have not only enhances the post itself but makes readers feel as though I value what they have to say. Besides, I love to talk with the skiing community, they’re a fantastic group of people.

Ski Instructing on Whitetail Mountain

Posted On February 22, 2012

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Whitetail Resort

Just last Monday I went up to Whitetail Mountain to enjoy one of the very few cold spells of this season with my dad. Whitetail resort is small and the marginal temperatures can sometimes give the slopes some pretty challenging conditions but it’s convenient since it’s close by. It also has a great atmosphere and is full of friendly employees. I had heard about the ski instructor course they were hosting in March and was interested in finding out more about it. Not really knowing what skills were expected at a class such as this I asked about having lesson with someone who knew about the class. This is where I ended up meeting Andrew. Andrew is the ski school director at Whitetail whom offered to show me how lessons of every skill level are conducted. Along the way I was interviewing him.

How long have you been doing this?

“I have been skiing for about 50 years and teaching for about 15.”

Are you full time? What do you do in the summer?

“Yes, I am full time but only work 7 months of the year. In the summer I do home improvement and construction.”

What does someone need to teach skiing here?

“The biggest thing we look for is teaching ability. Secondly, making the guests feel welcome; you have to be personable and encouraging. Also you have to have a moderate skiing ability but that’s not as important as you might think. We have events for instructors constantly to improve skiing ability so that someone who teaches beginner lessons can improve to teach advanced lessons. The school here is certified by the PSIA (Professional Ski Instructors of America) which allows us to hold tests so that you can get certified. We hire all kinds of people. There’s actually a family of 5 that works here, the three kids and the wife and husband are all instructors. You typically fit the profile of someone we’d hire.” 

How exactly does the certification process go?

“You demonstrate your knowledge of teaching terms through an indoor session, your teaching ability with mock teaching (teaching without an actual student present) on the slopes, and your skiing ability. You eventually have to obtain PSIA membership. This requires paying dues and getting a certain amount of credits from events. Whitetail helps by hosting all the events needed.”

How is it this season?

“Well, due to this winter not being very cold, we are down about 40% in number of lessons compared to other years. The weeks around Christmas we actually had to close because in order to make snow it has to be below freezing, and there just wasn’t enough time. Last weekend was pretty busy though, we got 500 lessons in.”

What do you have to do to be able to teach well?

“There are two types of learners in a sport like this. One is the visual learner. This person wants to watch you doing the lesson and imitate you because that is the way they understand things. The other type of learner is the feeler. This person wants to feel the correct way to ski. Helping this type of person includes things like adjusting their form. Understanding what type of learner someone is greatly affects teaching technique. Teaching 4 to 7 year olds is another story though as it is as much babysitting as it is teaching. But that’s why teaching that age group pays an extra dollar an hour.”

I also found out Whitetail offers free lift tickets to anyone who works at the resort as well as their family. You must have your own equipment and you must also commit to teaching a minimum number of hours. This was a fun and informative experience and whether you’re in it for the free skiing or you are looking for a winter job, nothing beats having the slopes as your office.

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