I love being outside. If you follow my blog, you will know I write about the outdoors frequently. Being in nature lifts my soul and increases my creativity. It also makes me happy, and I have made some wonderful friends spending time outside.
The new sport that I am falling in love with is skate skiing. It's an amazing workout and fantastic way to spend time outside, this winter sport can be found at many ski hills.
To find out how to start skate skiing, I spoke with Michael Thomas, Nordic operations manager at Cypress Mountain. Michael shared all the top tips on how you can start skate skiing.
What is skate skiing?
Skate skiing is a relatively new technique that evolved in the early 1980s that completely revolutionized the sport of cross country skiing. In essence, it was discovered that ski racers could generate more power and propel themselves with more acceleration and velocity by employing a skate movement similar to ice skating.
An American skier, Bill Koch, used the technique to win the World Cup title in 1982. The resultant controversy lead to the development of an entirely new category of cross country ski racing termed "freestyle" with the traditional technique being termed "classic."
How is skate skiing different from classic skiing?
Classic skiing involves body mechanics that approximate walking down the street. That is the arms and legs move in equal and opposite directions and the skis slide parallel along tracks in the snow.
Power is generated through "kick and glide" phases. In skate skiing power is generated through alternate lateral (out to side) leg pushes. The motion approximates ice skating but there are some subtle differences. Both techniques employ the use of poling action to generate additional power via the core and arms.
What are the best tips to start?
Although there are some folks who are self-taught it is highly recommended that new entrants to the sport take lessons so they can be introduced to proper technique from the start and to avoid the development of bad habits.
Skate skiing efficiently involves the use of a variety of maneuvers best suited to the type of terrain and snow encountered.
Do you have to be in great shape to skate ski?
Like all sports it is recommended that new participants be reasonably fit in order to learn and actively participate. If someone is reasonably active and does not live a sedentary lifestyle he/she should be fine to start. Pre-existing injuries to ankles, knees, hips or shoulders could pose problems as well.
Ultimately, it is up to the participant to determine the limits of what he/she can reasonably endure. Skate skiing is very popular as a cross training activity, especially for cyclists and kayakers.
Any other tips?
Everyone has a different learning curve and athleticism and fitness are no guarantees if immediate success. Like for any sport it is essential to be patient and to not get too frustrated early. If possible it is best to register for a series of lessons that allow for progressive development and the opportunity for practice and feedback.
There are a variety of skate clinics throughout the winter season. Suitable clothing (running or cycling attire usually works unless it is very cold in which case appropriate layers should be worn) is essential as well as proper hydration and snacks such as energy bars for longer outings.
To find out the best tips on staying warm and comfortable skiing, I spoke with Michael Connor, MEC Toronto store staff. Michael provided his top tips:
What to wear when skiing?
Layers are important.
Investing in great "next to skin" base layers is important. This layer, whether knit from merino wool yarns or synthetics, does most of the heavy lifting in keeping us comfortable. This layer manages our micro climate by moving moisture away from our skin keeping us dry and comfortable.
We can use the same base layer garments across a wide spectrum of activities and temperatures.
When cotton gets damp it loses all of its insulation value and takes a very long time to dry. Avoid cotton clothing if you're going to be active in cold weather.
Top Tips To Keep Your Hands Warm!
Warren Springer, MEC in-store expert shared some of his knowledge about how to keep hands warm.
How to choose the best gloves for Nordic skiing?
Fit is important for Nordic ski gloves. Make sure you have a snug fit that moves with you. This is why we recommend trying a glove with the pole you intend on using.
When choosing a glove you should ask yourself what kind of weather you're prepared to ski in. If you're a fair-weather skier you needn't worry about having protection from snow and rain and focus your concerns on breathability and wind protection.
How to care for gloves?
Dirt and oils can negatively affect a glove's breathability, as grime can interfere with the microscopic pores that allow the glove to breathe. We suggest washing them by hand in warm water and mild soap.
What you're wearing on your body can also affect your hands. Make sure you're head and core is warm because once your core temperature drops, the body will constrict the blood from limbs and focus on warming the core, which means cold hands.
I am going to use these amazing tips when I am out on the slopes!
Let's have the best winter ever!
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Cheapflights.com kicks off it search for the thrill of the slopes in Washington. If you believe more snow equals more fun (and what skier doesn’t?), then Mount Baker should be on your to-do list. Reports of annual snowfall of more than 640 inches and a record-setting 1,140-inch winter back in 1998-1999 make this resort at the northern end of the Cascades a bit of a legend. While there are trails for all skill levels, Mount Baker attracts pretty aggressive skiers and boarders with lots of back country skiing, cliffs and natural halfpipes, all made better by consistent snow pack and reasonable prices. Just be warned that the snow fall levels bring avalanche risks, so gear up and/or get a guide if you want to get adventurous.
It’s a toss up whether the views from the summit or the base of the Alps peak of Valluga are more dramatic. If you are preparing for an “off the back” descent, you will get an eyeful of the journey ahead from the observation platform as your guide briefs you on where to turn and how to navigate the cliffs and rocks leading into the abyss below. If there is good snow cover, however, and you can master your nerves and make sharp turns, you will soon have the joy of marveling at what you’ve accomplished as you look back up at twin mountain peaks before making a long and powdery run back to home base in Zürs. Photo credit: © Copyright TVB St. Anton am Arlbergand/Fotograf Josef Mallaun
One of your best chances for an extensive run on ungroomed, unmarked snow is the 12-mile Vallée Blanche route from the top of Aiguille du Midi to the town of Chamonix in the Mont Blanc range of France. Starting with a two-stage cable car ride and featuring a harrowing climb along a thin ridge, which does feature a safety line in season but still requires climbing skills to manage, the Vallée Blanche tests your commitment to the cause before you even strap on your skis. However, in good conditions, the reward is an almost 12,000 foot vertical descent with amazing views. The terrain varies greatly depending on the route you pick, so skiers of varying experience levels can make the run. However, plan for a guide unless you already own and regularly use crampons and an avalanche beacon.
There are a handful of places to test your mettle as a climber and a skier, but few turn into a spring skiing mecca like Tuckerman’s Ravine. While some particularly hearty souls tackle the headwall in the winter months, the deep snow pack keeps the bowl open for business well into May when better weather conditions and lower avalanche risks draw skiers and snowboarders by hundreds, if not thousands. Prepare for a three (or more) hour hike into the ravine, toting your boots, gear and clothes for the highly variable weather of Mount Washington. Then it’s 30 minutes or more up the ravine before you are ready to rocket down the 40 to 55 degree slope. And, on a sunny spring day, be prepared for the line of people hiking up behind you and a crowd below to let you know just how they think you did on your run.
Host to some very high-profile snowboarding competitions, including the Burton European Open, Laax is a freestyler’s dream destination. With four snow parks, serving skiers and boarders at every level, and mini and super halfpipes – the latter being Europe’s largest — there is no shortage of places to catch air. Add in a freestyle slope and an indoor training facility known as the Freestyle Academy, and Laax is a place where you can learn the basics or master your craft. There are also more than 145 miles of trails for traditional downhill skiers and a glacier-fueled snow pack that generally ensures an extra long season for all to enjoy. Photo credit: gaudenzdanuser.com
Although Revelstoke Mountain Resort brought lifts and trails to this mountain in 2007, its heritage is all heli-skiing. For decades, skiers and snowboarders have enjoyed half a million acres of pristine and powdery terrain, accessible only by chopper. The way down is untouched snow and plenty of it. Revelstoke is renowned for its annual snowfall, which makes both the wide open bowls and treeline skiing consistently remarkable. Multiple heli-ski companies offer single, multi-day and guided packages. Cat skiing services also take you to the wide open slopes at lower price points and, of course, a slower pace. At the resort, the lifts do deliver plenty of mountain – the 5,260 feet of vertical drop is the biggest in North America — and a mix of terrains with options for less advanced skiers. Photo credit: Selkirk Tangiers Heli Skiing
Plan to stay for a week or even two if you make this trek. After all, there are very few flights between Buenos Aires and Malargue, the closest airport to this resort on the eastern side of the Andes. There are daily flights to Mendoza, but that’s a six hour drive from the mountain. You will be rewarded for the journey with a mix of dramatic views, big mountains and varied terrain. The resort is massive and the snow usually powdery. There is more back country skiing than groomed trails but there is something for almost everyone. And, if you get your fill of skiing, turn your attention to the nightlife — that’s extreme in its own right.
Skiing bumps may not be as popular as it once was but those who love it, really love it. These diehard enthusiasts are counting on places like the Mary Jane Territory at Colorado’s Winter Park Resort to keep the tradition going. Mary Jane is dedicated to mogul runs and tree skiing. While it offers runs for beginners to experts, the bulk of the mountain is for intermediate to fairly advanced, giving skiers lots of room to grow and learn. To help the process, there are Bob’s Mogul Camp and Bob’s Bump Jamboree, two ski school programs offering extensive training on mastering moguls. Photo credit: Winter Park Resort
For some, the lure of skiing is the adrenaline rush of bombing downhill at top speed. There’s no stopping to take in the view or savoring the feel of carving fresh tracks. Just pack down the snow and let’s go, as fast as we can! If that’s your state of mind, then head immediately to Whistler Blackcomb and take on the likes of Zig Zag, Dave Murray Downhill (the Downhill and Super G course of World Cups and Olympics past) and Ross Gold. Each is harder than the last but all are known for no-guts, no-glory speed!
(AP Photo/ Lee Jin-man) Hit the slopes before the Olympians at this growing resort two hours outside Seoul. Yongpyong is the venue for Alpine skiing and snowboarding at the XXIII Olympic Winter Games coming up in 2018. Already host to past World Cup Ski and Asia Winter Games competitions, this mountain is home to two halfpipes, 15 lifts and 31 trails, including six that have been approved for international competition. And, with its big moment in the spotlight looming, look for more and better things to come. It’s your chance to beat the champions down an Olympic course!
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