Getting Started

A few months after the death of her husband, Joan accepted an invita - tion from her son to celebrate her 68th birthday at Steamboat Springs in the towering Colorado Rockies where he was a certified ski instructor. Yielding to his urgings, she finally spent one day in a class for beginning seniors.

I first

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Skiing togetherTo some, the thought of hurtling down perilous mountains on skis, always on the edge of danger, may be the reason for taking up the sport. To others, living on the edge of danger through skiing may be a fascinating concept, but in reality it’s the very reason they don’t head for the slopes.

Even a casual discussion with your nonskiing friends or mine about why they don’t take up the sport

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A reason adults often cite for why they’re not involved with the challenge, thrills, and pleasure of skiing is that they “hate the cold.”

I, too, hate being cold. But I know, as every skier from granddaughter to grandma knows, that if you eat and dress appropriately for the cold - and this may come as a surprise - you really can be comfortable on a winter

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Skiing is a challenging sport. The vital reality, however, is that it’s a sport in which you set your own level of challenge. You’re not part of a
team battling another team. You don’t compete with anyone else. Skiing is a sport with only one winner - you. And you win by skiing

• on your own terms,

• at your own pace,

• at the level you choose

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Nonskiers often attribute their lack of interest in skiing to the cost.

There’s no ignoring the fact that, like any sport - have you played a round of golf lately? bought a new fishing pole? rented a mountain bike for a weekend of mountain climbing? or even leased a cabin on the shore of a lake for a relaxing week doing nothing? - alpine skiing can chew up dollar

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To some of us, a ski-in, ski-out condo at the base of the mountain, with a heated outdoor swimming pool and a private jacuzzi, is what skiing is all about. Others may choose an elegant hotel, a cheerful singles-only chalet, or an inexpensive house with four bedrooms that can sleep as many as are able to crowd into the beds and on the floor.

Virtually every ski resort has its own housing

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For those intrigued by the excitement of learning how to ski, it’s also necessary to know the basic terminology of the sport. After all, it might be a
little disconcerting for an awkward novice to be told to “follow the fall line” when falling is precisely what she’s attempting not to do.

The fall

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Here’s a glossary of a few tidbits of ski language really designed to:

• Help you move from reading about skiing to actually skiing, and/or

• Convince those around you (when you happen to drop the terms lightly into a conversation) that you’re

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Levels of Difficulty

Ski areas throughout the world post color codes on the runs to indicate their degree of difficulty. The basic American system is:

Green Circle - easy or beginner terrain.

Blue Square - moderately steep slopes for intermediate skiers.

Black Diamond - steep runs for advanced intermediates

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Though once frowned upon among the grim “ski-it-like-it-is” Europeans, grooming is now becoming as widely and expertly practiced at most Alpine resorts as on the slopes of New England or the Rockies.

Trail Maps. These show all the regular runs at a resort. The trails are usually depicted in color to indicate whether they’re easy, intermediate, or rough and tough. Maps come in two sizes:

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Ski lifts are the answer to generations of skiers’ prayers for an easier way to get to the top of a mountain to enjoy a wild run down than trudging up on foot, carrying skis, or sweating blood skiing uphill with skins attached to the bottoms of the skis so they wouldn’t slip backward.

Lifts

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Gondolas. More popular in Europe than the United States, these large cable cars haul anywhere from a couple dozen to a hundred or more passengers at a time. There are two gondolas on an endless cable. The cars come to a full halt simultaneously, one at the base and the other at the sum-

mit,

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National Ski Patrol

These are the skiers in the distinctive outfits with the large red cross on the back who cruise the mountains to lend a helping hand when trouble arises. They’re trained in emergency lifesaving and perilous rescue techniques.

Courtesy Patrol

Many ski areas have courtesy patrols whose members also

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When a ski area with an average winter snowfall of 300 inches has a year whose total snowfall is 30 inches, it can still keep its slopes open for skiing through that miracle of winter, man-made snow. With the discovery that a fine mist sprayed under pressure into air at or below the freezing mark would turn into snowy crystals, dependable skiing from Thanksgiving to mid-April became a reality.

Until a few years ago there

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Snow conditions are widely published in newspapers, and broadcast on both radio and television stations, and reported on the Internet. Are the reports believable? Absolutely! However, be aware that conditions may change abruptly because of swiftly shifting weather patterns or exceptionally heavy trail use.

(Of course, every skier has arrived at a resort with bare spots showing only to hear others saying: “Oh, man. You should

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WETGR - Wet Granular. Loose or frozen granular snow that becomes wet after rain or high temperatures.

ICE - Icy. An icy, hard, glazed surface caused by freezing rain, groundwater seeping into the snow, or the rapid freezing of saturated snow. The surface ice will chip. It won’t support a ski pole.

VC - Variable Conditions. This term is used

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Clothing

You may feel more glamorous with a neat ski outfit on, but you really don’t have to spend the money on one to get started. For that first trip, just dress as warmly as you would on any cold winter day. You’ll obviously need a short down or man-made

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Boots

Once you’re bitten by the urge to own, the first item on your list should be boots. No rental pair is ever as comfortable. At the same time, a boot that fits properly for your skiing ability - whether a rear-entry model or the kind with front buckles - will give you better control over

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Ski design constantly undergoes changes in the endless effort of manufacturers to produce a better ski for every skier’s objective on the slopes. Skis are specifically designed for a variety of users. There are skis for racers, extreme skiers, recreational skiers, novices, and powder hounds.

The newest

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However, whether you pick a traditional design or an hourglass model, choose the ski that’s best suited to your style and skill level on the mountains.

My firm recommendation is to not only review the annual buyers’ guides but also actually try the ski or skis of your choice on the runs. In other words, don’t put out the bucks for new skis

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Modem skiing actually began with the development of bindings that locked a boot onto a ski. The binding had two important functions. First, it enabled skiers to control the way a ski moved, thus permitting them to develop edging and turning. Second, it released the boot from the ski in a hard fall - a rather important function, because if the binding didn’t release when the ski turned left

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Disabled Competitions

Ski competitions for both standing and sitting skiers are held throughout the country and in Europe. Both Aspen Highlands and Mount Hood Meadows ski resorts…

Mountain Manners

in Kids
However, the fact that they did spend time in various ski schools did not eliminate what I feel keenly is the responsibility of all parents of kids on the…

Nonskiing Necessities

in Kids
Apres-ski boots: These are an important adjunct on a ski trip. The best are those that slip on quickly and are both warm and tolerably lightweight. Laceup…

CROSS-COUNTRY

The ancient grandfather of alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, is alive, healthy, and more popular than at any time in his 4,000-year history. True, no longer…

Whistler/Blackcomb - Part 1

Put two great ski mountains side by side, each with more than 5,000 feet of vertical - the most in North America - and you’ve got the first hint of what it’s…

Who Pays the Piper?

If a skier runs into serious difficulty skiing beyond an area’s boundaries, someone will be along to help him. In the United States, this task usually falls to…