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.

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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?

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.