Hit the slopes during winter break
Published: Saturday, December 5, 2009
Updated: Saturday, December 5, 2009 04:12
Many New Yorkers hate winter. It brings cold weather and sometimes snow.
This winter, realize that snow has other uses besides helping you get your money's worth out of a new shovel. Strap on a pair of skis and head north or west for ski country, where snowflake accumulation is met with smiles instead of frowns.
Unfortunately, New York City is not a prime skiing location. In order to find a slope that is more mountain-like than hill-like, you will have to probably travel for at least an hour.
Located three hours away is Belleayre Mountain. Often, the terrain can be choppy, but it features many advanced trails off the top of the mountain, and intermediate trails can be found halfway up. The ski-lift lines move quickly and if you think of the rough conditions as a challenge, it makes for a great skiing experience. The price of a lift ticket is inexpensive, coming to $44 per day for college students. Be sure to watch your step in the base lodge, though, as the floor can be very slippery.
Another option not far from Belleayre is Hunter Mountain. You may find that Hunter has better conditions than its neighbor due to the massive amount of manmade snow they make.
"In the average season, Hunter turns about a half billion gallons of water into snow," the website boasts.
However, the mountain is a bit more crowded. The lift-ticket price is also a bit steeper at $63 per day.
Windham, between three and four hours outside of the city, also offers another great option. The snow conditions are fairly good and the terrain fairly challenging. You don't spend much time waiting in a lift-line, but the price for a lift ticket is $65.
If you are looking for even better conditions and terrain within driving distance head farther up north to Vermont. Mount Snow, five hours away from Manhattan, hosted the Dew Tour last year. It has a massive terrain park and slopes of varying difficulty.
If you have the means, head another hour north to Stowe Vermont, home of the Vermont's tallest mountain, Mount Mansfield. Tall enough to fit three and a half Empire State buildings, even the savviest New Yorkers will look up and stare.
Now that you know some great skiing options within a few hours of New York, all you need is a warm jacket, waterproof pants, ski socks, ski boots and of course, skis. If you are going on one of your first ski trips, chances are you do not have any of these. The skis and boots are the most important parts of skiing equipment. Fortunately, almost every mountain has a rental shop at the base. You will be fitted with boots, based on your shoe size, and skis of a particular length based not on your height, but on your weight. You will also be given a pair of poles.
However, before you go up the mountain you must have a ski jacket, ski pants, ski socks, a hat and goggles. Brands such as Spyder, Obermeyer, Karbon, Marmot and North Face are stylish and durable attire, but it's important to remember that you want the warmest clothing and not just what looks good.
Many companies make goggles, but after trying out brands from Smith to Scott to Giro, Oakley's goggles stand out. They are slow to fog up and maintain a high level of visibility. When you ski it is important to see the skiers and riders as well as the man-made and natural obstacles around you; therefore, having the right goggles is essential.
Now that you know where to ski and how to look like a skier, all that's left to do is to actually hit the slopes. In brief, you ski by making a series of turns down the mountain. This is done by rhythmically shifting your weight from side to side. The timing of this shift is aided by planting your pole as you switch weight from left to right or vice versa. It's important to always keep your weight over your skis, although it may feel unnatural and seem as though you are about to fall. You also must keep both your knees bent and your shins pressed against the front of your ski boots. In addition, your upper body should remain largely motionless and always facing down the fall line of the mountain.
Although skiing is a fun winter sport that can be done with friends and family, it can be potentially dangerous. The ability to ski properly is a skill that takes many years to acquire. If it is one of your first times on the mountain, consider taking a lesson from one of the ski instructors. Learning how to ski properly will help keep you, and other skiers, safe.