You can’t tell from the snow in my yard, but according to the calendar, it’s officially spring.
Yes, it’s been an awesome winter here in Vermont. But as Tom Waits says, you can never hold back spring.
And it’s true. For me, it means ski season is drawing to a close. No, I’m not going to Mount Hood or someplace far away to ski into the summer months. I just don’t have the $$$ for that, and even though the pandemic may be winding down, I don’t think it’s such a great idea. For most of us, however, spring brings — surprise, surprise — spring skiing. And here in the northeast, that can mean rock hard, frozen snow in the morning, and snow that’s either soft, slushy, or sticky as the day warms up.
So what advice do I have? I’m not an expert, but there are a few things I’ve learned over time that might be of help:
1) Wear sunscreen: I know, I know; we’ve all been masked up this year. But if you’re lowering your mask while you’re skiing (don’t do it on the lift line or when you’re near other people), you’re going to need sunscreen. After all, researchers have discovered that even a little tan isn’t healthy. More than 2.5 million cancers in 3 million people are diagnosed annually. So get out the SPF 30 and slather it on.
2) Wax your skis: You know that grabby snow that can bring your skis to a stop, while your body continues to travel? Not good. A coat of warm weather wax will fix that right up. Carry some rub-on in your pocket, too, for touch-ups on the mountain.
3) Dress accordingly: Layers are a good idea. It may start out pretty cold and warm up quite a bit, so you may want to peel as the day goes on. Also, no matter how warm it gets, do not wear short sleeves or shorts. Why? If you fall, you’re gonna pay big time. Falling on snow is like falling on sand. The ice crystals will scrape your skin raw, plus you’ll get very, very wet. So protect your skin, stay dry, and wear a shell.
4) Timing is everything: You might want to start your ski day a little bit later than usual. This is practically sacrilege coming from me; I’m always out when the lifts start running. But if you want to avoid rock hard ice, stay in and have another cup of coffee. Then follow the sun around the mountain. Ski the south and east-facing slopes in the morning and the north and west-facing slopes in the afternoon, so you can catch the snow as it softens up.
5) Softer and wider is better: Set aside your narrow waisted carving skis and go for something wider. Powder skis have a bigger surface area that lets them to surf over the heavy stuff without getting bogged down. They also have a softer flex, which allows them to bend more, so you don’t have to steer as much.
6) Ski it like you mean it: Keep a balanced, even weight on each foot. Also, steer lightly by tipping the skis on edge ever so slightly to turn. To put it simply, slow moves, long turns. Let the tails follow the tips, and don’t twist your feet too much. Commit to the fall line and don’t spend too much time shopping for good stuff.
7) Enjoy! A lot of people end their ski season when they no longer see snow in their own backyard. This is good for those of us who stick it out. The mountain is a lot less crowded. Quieter. Just the way I like it.
So what’s your spring skiing tip?