Author Archives: fromthechairlift

Ski poles…how important are they?

While riding the chairlift a few weeks ago, a snowboarder asked me why we use ski poles. It was a reasonable question from someone who maneuvers the slopes without them. “Holding ski poles helps with our position over the skis. We need to stay forward and keeping our hands in front of us keeps our weight forward. They are also used for timing turns and balance.”  I felt I probably lost him after the first few words. Skiers may understand better what I attempted to explain.

Ski poles are an important accessory and their role is often misunderstood. Look around and you may see many skiers holding their poles but not actively engaging them in their skiing. To improve your skiing, you have to improve your pole use.

P. Position

Keep your hands in front and up. Every ski instructor at one time has said “keep your hands like you are carrying a tray.” Whether this visual works or not I don’t know but you should be able to see your hands in front of you and of course to the sides. We know that if we get our weight back on the skis, a fall is likely. Hands forward equals weight forward.

O. Open

For the recreational skier, the arm position while holding ski poles is open. Since poles are used to time our turns, our arms need to be open so we can reach forward to plant our pole and initiate the next turn.

L. Light

Unless you are skiing deep powder, very steep terrain or moguls, the touch of the pole to the snow is relatively light. Initiated at the wrist, your poles plant is generally a quick and spry touch to the snow as you seamlessly transition your weight and turn.

E. Engage

Engaging your poles with your skiing will give you more flow and actually conserve your energy. Proper pole use keeps you balanced over your skis which leads to better skiing. By better I don’t just mean pretty. You are a safer skier with proper technique and being safe keeps you on the hill where we all want to be.

Finally, are you skiing with old poles? I was until I decided to go slightly shorter and that sent me to the ski shop. I came away with a sweet pair of  SWIX composite ski poles. They are light but strong. Because they are light, it is easier to keep them up and in front of me where they belong. The “swing weight” (which refers to the pendulum like motion of the pole against your directional path) should be quick and springy. Until I got my new lighter poles, I didn’t realize how nice it is to have a pole so eager to please.

Next time you are skiing, take a run and concentrate on how you are using your poles. If you are being dragged down by older heavier poles, don’t hesitate to replace them with a newer, lighter model. You really will notice a difference.

 

 

 

 

The Perks of Midweek Skiing

How weekday slope time improves skiing

     Have you been to your favorite mountain on a weekday?  There is a calmness and relaxed feeling only to be found between Mondays and Thursdays.  Without the bustle of families and young children, bus trip visitors and weekenders, midweek skiing can be your best friend.

If you are over a certain age, sometimes referred to as senior, reduced ticket prices may lure you to ski midweek. You can find all sorts of deals throughout New England.   For New Hampshire, click here for senior deals  or if you are headed to Vermont, look for discounts at Ski Vermont .  If you live in southern New England and want a closer venue, consider Wachusett Mountain in Princeton, MA.  Wachusett deals can be found here .

You may have guessed by now that saving money is only one of the benefits of mid week skiing. The real treasure is found in skiing with very few people maybe even alone. With fewer skiers and riders on the slopes, you can concentrate on your technique and improve your skiing. The snow stays fresh longer and this is the best setting to focus on how you are skiing.

If there was ever a time to grab some midweek skiing, it is during March. The sun’s angle is just a bit higher than the preceding months and with clocks springing ahead on March 12th,  this

is the time to get to the slopes midweek. If you are lucky enough to catch one of the abundant “bluebird” days, you’ll need some sunscreen or you just may see the beginnings of the coveted goggle tan.

Do you know of someone who hasn’t skied in years and wants to try again? If you are healthy and in good physical condition,  you can try skiing again. The equipment advances in everything from base layers to goggles to skis make it a very reasonable idea. And midweek is the time to try but do your friend a favor and have them start with a lesson or two. Don’t let them dress like they did in the 1970s. Jeans are NOT for skiing nor are ear muffs. Outfit them with the right equipment from clothing to skis. Learning to ski today is easier than it used to be, trust me. When I think back to terrain conditions and what we thought was the hot gear decades ago, I am surprised I stayed with it. I sure am glad I did because this sport has provided me with countless days outside with friends and family.

Grab a midweek day this month and get to the slopes. Keep your stance open, your hands forward and with a smile on your face, see how amazing your skiing can be.

 

Was it a fool’s winter?

I wish I could say I was heading north this weekend to ski on a five foot base where snow piles are glistening still. I wish I could flash a goggle tan as I switch to spring skiing gloves and a soft shell jacket. The winter of 2015-16 in New England shocked all of us after last season’s plentiful snow.  Significantly warmer than average temperatures, lack of precipitation and frequent thaw freeze patterns made the winter, well, foolish.

This is no surprise to those who follow the winter season across New England. We waited. We hoped. We never gave up…but winter did. She just never showed up.

I could be bitter as I sit here on April 1st with my yard blooming at least one month ahead of the norm. I could be kicking the baseboard with my hiking boot had I not switched (already) to mud season footwear. In spite of the horrific lack of cold and snow, I remain grateful for  another winter shared in the company of my snow loving family and friends.

January took me to Mount Snow in Vermont for the annual Kids of Courage winter event Superbly handled by the AbilityPLUS, Inc. volunteers, over fifty physically challenged children and young adults rejoiced as they skied in spite of the teeming rain that fell all day. There may have been a total deficit of snow and cold but the smiles lit up the hill. I am a better person for having been a part of this day.

February found  me traveling northward to Camden, Maine where I had previously only visited in the summer. The welcome that small town gave to a group of ski journalists (North American Association of Snowspnorts Journalists/EAST) felt like a warm hug. For three days,  we became part of the U S Toboggan National Championships and celebrated Mardi Gras as only Camden can. Although the snow conditions were variable at best, I did get to the summit of the Camden Snow Bowl where I caught the view of the Atlantic in the near distance.

As March chimed in and the snow remained elusive, I headed back to Mount Snow for the annual meeting with my ski writer friends and colleagues. With a temperature of 72 degrees, I have never skied in such tropical air. With  bare hands and heads, we traversed  patches of snow avoiding the soil that is usually not seen until May. The following day, rain fell from the sky but many of the stoic ski writers took to the lifts because any day on skis is a great day. This is why I love this gaggle of folks. If you want to be around people who love winter look no further. The NASJA/E posse, informally defined as a group of people who have a common characteristic, occupation or purpose, can take any day on snow and make it fabulous…it doesn’t matter where or when. I left Mount Snow feeling the love even if the ground was too bare for my liking.

Between those adventures, “winter” found me at my home mountain, Waterville Valley in New Hampshire. With a positive attitude, they, like all resorts throughout New England, did their best to groom the ungroomable and make snow during short windows of opportunity only to have it lost to fog. The loyal skiers and riders still made the trek northward in spite of less than awesome conditions. Still, the hot chocolate flowed, perhaps with some Schnapps added early, and the fireworks lit the dark winter sky. The hiking trails were less snow covered but still trekked by those who love the outdoors.

Many say it was the winter that wasn’t but for me, it was yet another season to enjoy good company where the land rises skyward as mountains and stars gleam just a bit brighter.

I have no regrets and will eagerly wait for next winter’s first snowfall.

 

 

 

 

 

Winter has arrived and it’s golden.

After a painfully warm December in New England, the temperatures now hover around freezing while snow showers coat the trees.  For skiers, riders and all winter sports enthusiasts, winter’s arrival means finally being able to get out on skis or hike on snow covered trails. Although some enjoyed  golf on Christmas Eve, those of us who play in the snow were nearing the end of our patience.

Mountain resorts are open but operating with limited  terrain while snow guns roar.  Base depths need to grow to provide good coverage to take a sluggish start well into March and beyond.  Everyone knows this hasn’t been the best start to the ski season but at least we can now say, it has started.

With this ski season’s debut, I begin my 50th year of skiing. Now some of those years were rather lean but the numbers don’t lie. This is my golden year and I plan on making it superb.

I wasn’t one of those kids who grew up in a skiing family. My older brother and I both were introduced to skiing through youth fellowship ski trips. We both became life long skiers as a result. There were many day trips but few formal lessons until I discovered I could take “ski instruction” as a Physical Education class in college. This solidified my love of skiing and from then on, getting on the slopes became a priority.

My husband and I raised two kids who learned much about life skiing and snowboarding. Our memories of years spent in the New England mountains still make us smile. We are all better for having embraced this winter activity as a family.

Now  a new season is ahead of us. Life’s inevitable changes have come our way but we are still enjoying as much time on the snow as possible. We treasure this time even when the snow comes late. That first chairlift ride always brings a sense of promise and expectation and for me, the beginning of my golden year.

Get outside and enjoy the winter.  There is adventure just waiting to make you smile.

 

 

 

Happy Spring!

Happy first day of spring and snow is on the way. There are those of us who still have runs to enjoy and we are thrilled. I have a solid month of skiing left. March is the best month to enjoy the slopes with warming temperatures and better sunlight. This winter, we really earned March. Temperatures were often chilly and the wind howled. We are all ready for spring skiing and the sought after goggle tan. Don’t quit skiing yet. We New Englanders are in for a muddy spring with plenty of property clean up from our historic winter. No need to rush getting to that work believe me. Take the next few weekends and enjoy the slopes because although we love summer, it is a long stretch to next December. Where have you skied this winter? Any notable firsts for anyone? I know my great nieces, Hailey Geltman, Emma Guerreiro and Victoria Arbelo have been kicking it at Mount Snow where they have been on skis since they could walk. Hailey and Emma, now five years old are linking turns and are more comfortable with terrain. My great nephews Ryan Guerreiro and Zach Geltman are following in their sisters’ tracks. This makes me very happy and I look forward to skiing with them next season because as we say in our house, the “family who skies together stays together.” Our friend Maddie Bray has had an outstanding year racing at Waterville Valley in the BBTS program. Many of my peers have traveled to spectacular venues in pursuit of perfect snow. The AbilityPLUS Adaptive Programs at Mount Snow and Attitash/Wildcat have had a record number of volunteers and participants.  Skiing and snowboarding continues to make us all smile. It is never too late to join the excitement. The only requirement is an open mind and a big smile. Come join in the last month of snow time and we’ll show you why we never tire of this sport. See you on the slopes.

January 1, 2015 Happy New Year!

Many new starts come our way with a new year. If you are willing and open to change, it can be a time to live differently and maybe even better than previously. There is just something about January 1st that whispers–“you know, a change might help or be fun or is entirely necessary.” Can you hear it? Many can’t or don’t want to but that whisper can start you on a better path to wherever you want to head.  Most people want improved health and at this time of year, we are flooded with advertising claiming to be able to take us there. There are many gimmicks and tools packed with promises that we’ll lose weight, gain muscle, look younger, thinner, sleeker and of course, healthier and happier. I’d like to suggest another way to approach this new year.

Go outside and get active. Oh, I hear the naysayers already…”I hate the cold…” Except in extreme conditions, the “cold” weather known as winter is quite easily managed. Letting it stop you from enjoying all there is on the other side of your front door is quite honestly, foolish. I don’t know anyone who actually enjoys being cold, but I know many people who know how to live in the cold without suffering. It really isn’t difficult at all.

Let’s assume you have no clothing for the cold weather and want to assemble a wardrobe that will enable you to get outside in the upcoming three months and live life. What would you need to obtain to be comfortable outside on a winter’s day?

First, you need wool blend socks. Your feet will sweat with activity and unless you have wool in your socks to wick the moisture away from your skin, your feet will get cold. No one likes cold feet. Your footwear needs to fit properly so the blood can circulate in your feet. Whether you are in sneakers for a walk around the park or in hiking boots going off on a local trail, your footwear has to fit properly with the wool socks. Invest time and a little money to achieve this. Wool socks come in a wide variety of weights and prices. You won’t break your budget buying them and they last a long time. Take care of your feet so they can take you on an adventure.

Next, you need a base layer of clothing that fits snugly against your skin. This used to be called “long underwear” but the power of layering clothing for cold management has left this term in a pile with the cotton long sleeve T-shirt. Your base layers should also have wool content for wicking moisture from the skin. The prices vary significantly for base layers and I would recommend getting the best your wallet can handle. You can sleep in them, wear them for errands (especially in a mountain town) and if cared for, they will outlast many frosts. Honestly, most real winter enthusiasts get at least two days worth of wear before switching them out and that is probably a low estimate. Your base layers are invaluable and worthy of your love and attention.

The next two layers are a bit more “activity specific” but warrant mentioning here as you prepare to enjoy winter beyond your couch. A mid-layer on your upper body helps to guard your body heat while also allowing you to “cool off” should you overheat. My favorite is a 1/4 zip long sleeve top with thumb holes to keep the sleeves in place over your wrists. The zipper from just below your chin to your upper chest allows for a quickly accessible cool down when you feel overheated from activity. It is efficient and easy way to spill off some heat without interrupting your activity. Over your 1/4 zip, feel free to layer with a flannel (wool blend recommended) or vest before donning your outer layer or jacket.  Avoid bulk as this is a hindrance to movement. The current day fabrics are designed to keep you warm without bulk and this is blessing. On your lower body,  your pants act as the mid and outer layer for most winter activities. Pants should block wind and moisture while allowing adequate movement.

The outermost layer of the upper body is the jacket and there are many options from which to choose. This is also where “sport specific” choices can be important. Generally speaking, pick a properly fitted jacket that accommodates your mid layers while allowing you to move comfortably whether you are raising a camera or reaching forward with a ski pole.

Lastly, never ignore your head, hands or eyes. ALWAYS cover your head (headbands don’t count-leave them in the 1980s). Wear gloves or mittens (leather or knit depending on hand use needs). The winter sun can be bright and even a cloudy day can offer enough glare to be annoying so protect your eyes with goggles or sunglasses (no metal frames until spring).

Protect your lips and skin against the cold air with the products of your choice but do use something. Drink water before and after your adventure.  Get out in footwear that offers support, warmth and traction and head out your front door to all the adventures that can be found in winter. See you there.

Time to get excited

Maybe it’s because I got a heating oil delivery today or perhaps because I stacked firewood yesterday, but I am ready for winter! I am ready for her sounds, her smells and her season. Don’t get me wrong, I love autumn, too. I love autumn because I can get ready for winter. Today, I have spent some time in anxious anticipation of the upcoming snow season. For me, there is much to do as I fill my calendar with ski commitments. As a member of North American Snowsports Journalists Association (www.nasja.org), I want to stay current with the annual changes and improvements throughout the ski, ride and snowsports worlds. I am connecting with my New England regional marketing directors to let them know I am on this blog as I strive to keep you informed. Why just today I learned that the Boston Ski and Snowboard Expo (affectionately known as the “ski show”) will feature some recent Paralympic athletes and their training/equipment. This is always of great interest to me as I continue to serve on the Board of Directors of AbilityPLUS, Inc.  Located at Mount Snow, Attitash and Wildcat, AbilityPLUS, Inc. offers adaptive snowsports and recreation at Mount Snow, VT, Attitash and Wildcat, NH. If you really want to see what this is all about, come to Dartmouth High School on October 19, 2014 and visit our booth at the Second Annual Southeastern Massachusetts Community Resource and Craft Fair between 10-4. Along with fellow Board member Richard Staples of Barrington, RI, we’ll show you how kids with physical challenges can enjoy and benefit from adaptive snowsports. I guarantee you will be amazed. This is also the time of year I look over my ski gear to see what might need upgrading. Last season I bought new skis in March so I really relish the thought of more time of those. My helmet on the other hand is old and I would like to see what might be available in a new model. Such an exciting time. With the ski show less than a month away, now is the time for you to start thinking winter. Where do you plan on skiing and riding this winter? Are you buying seasonal passes or planning a few trips? Are you a day tripper because if you are, you have a place in heaven. Are you hoping to take a group skiing this season and you are the planner? You, too, have a place in heaven as that can be challenging. Now is the time to start because you don’t want to waste valuable “on snow time” working on details. Forget the leaves and give your upcoming ski season your attention and you will reap the benefits when the snow flies. Do some homework now then attend the BEWI Ski and Snowboard Expo at the Seaport World Trade Center, November 13-16, 2014. Rumor has it we are going to have a cold and snowy winter and I am going to be ready. Won’t you join me? Think snow and I will see you on the slopes.

Enjoying some fresh snow.

Enjoying some fresh snow.

White Mountains, N.H.

White Mountains, N.H.

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