Most Important Factors for a Good Day on the SlopesBy Kerry Phillips
Utah Ski Corner
Ask any skier or snowboarder what they pay attention to most when they are getting ready for a day on the mountain and most will tell you they need to see well, they want to stay warm, and well-fitting boots are important. And, from choosing the right gear to taking the right ski runs, knowing your skill level can also make a difference in your day.
Standing at the top of an unfamiliar mountain, ready to head down a run, is usually an exhilarating moment, unless you can’t see. It can be scary to be standing there trying to make out the difference between a hill, a bump, a ledge, and even a tree if you aren’t using the correct eyewear.
Whether you choose goggles or sunglasses, make sure you find some with polarized lenses and UV protection. With the reflection of the sun off the snow, this will help with glare and protect your eyes from sun damage.
If you are generally warm and are skiing in clear conditions, sunglasses may be all you need for that day. But, goggles are designed to protect your eyes in other ways and provide clearer vision on days when conditions are foggy or snowy. You have the option of buying a different pair of goggles for different types of weather, or buying goggles with exchangeable lenses to fit the conditions.
Yellow lenses will help you see better in foggy conditions. They will help you discern the difference between a bump and a ledge – which most people would want to know. With no goggles or a darker lens, everything can blend together on these days. On a really sunny day, a darker or amber colored lens will provide better vision. Clear lenses can actually amplify the brightness of the sun on these days.
Goggles are best for people who wear contacts because they block out a lot of the air and keeps contacts from drying out. Goggles wrap around your face and can provide a clearer view for peripheral vision as well, because the frame isn’t blocking the view.
Goggle fog. If you feel like your goggles constantly fog up, there are a few things you can do to help prevent it. First, buying some good lenses with anti-fog features will help. You can buy sprays that will help as well, but be careful with fog wipes or wiping fog off of your goggles; goggle lenses are very soft and can be scratched easily. Also, to avoid the fog, make sure the vents are open to the air and not covered up by a snow cap or scarf. If your head gets warm, that heat will travel into the goggles and fog them up. The same goes for when you stop or go into a lodge for a bit. If you put your goggles on top of your warm head, they will likely fog up. It is better practice to take them off completely.
Nothing can end a ski day quicker than feeling like you are freezing. Wearing clothes in layers is key to keeping up with any changing conditions and shifts in body temperature. It’s best to wear a base layer snug against your body made of a wicking material such as Thinsulate, Thermax, silk, polyester, polypropelene, or wool – never cotton. These materials will wick the sweat away from your body and help keep you dry and warm. The same goes for socks, but never wear socks in layers. Just one pair of ski or snowboard socks padded in the right places will keep you warm and comfortable for the day.
Technology in outer layers is just as important. You can buy a coat or snow pants anywhere, but buying brand names you trust at a good ski shop, you will get ski or snowboard jackets and pants that are more waterproof, windproof, and have sealed seems to keep out the cold and moisture. They also have snow skirts to keep snow from getting into your clothing during a fall.
To keep your fingers from feeling like they are frost bitten you can go with mittens, which are warmer than gloves. If you prefer the mobility of gloves, you should try layers like you do for your body. Wear a wool or fleece lining inside your gloves that you can remove if you feel too warm. Make sure your gloves are wind resistant and waterproof.
When it comes to fit, you should be able to move and bend your hands freely without your fingers pushing the ends. If the glove is too snug, your circulation is likely to be cut off and your fingers will get colder faster.
Knowing Your Skill Level
Recognizing and acknowledging your skill level is not about ego, it’s about safety. A quick way to ruin a day on the slopes would be to take yourself to a blue or black diamond level you are not prepared for or haven’t skied in years or on the gear you are using now. Skipping the pretense can not only save the day, it could save yourself from an accident or hurting someone else because you cannot stay in control. Remember that runs marked with a color you are used to skiing on a different mountain will likely be a different skill level. Some mountains are just more challenging, so take it slow and work your way up as you feel more comfortable and confident.
Skill level is also important when you are setting bindings on skis. Bindings are set tighter for higher skill levels because you don’t want your skis popping off if you are skiing moguls or making major jumps. However, the wrong binding setting can lead to serious injury if you set them for a higher level and really need them to pop off in a fall.
The fit of boots is so crucial to a good day of skiing or riding, this topic deserves an article of its own. Click here for more info.
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