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Cold Weather Skiing Tips
By:  Tom McCarthy   (2007/01/16)


As we move into a period of colder weather (may it remain with us for a long, long time), it might be useful to re-cap some important cold-weather skiing tips:†

  1. Cover all exposed skin!
    • Dermatone, balaclava and glasses are a must. You won't win style awards but you will be without frostbite!

  2. Bring warm fluids on your ski.
    • Cold weather, especially following a period of very warm weather such as the one weíve just had, often leads to overdressing. Overdressing leads to excessive sweating, which will lead quickly to dehydration. Bring eLoad energy drink to replenish liquids and sodium/electrolytes. Instead of filling the bottle cold, fill it with hot water Ė itíll stay unfrozen longer that way.

  3. Donít dress too warm.
    • For the same reason as above Ė dressing warmly will often lead to excessive sweating. Stopping to rest once soaking wet will then result in your wet clothing getting cold Ė even the best synthetic fabrics canít wick moisture if theyíre surrounded by 2 layers of heavy fleece and a waterproof coat. And, of course, once the sweat on your clothes starts to chill, so will you. Dress appropriately for your exercise level.

  4. Switch gloves for mitts.
    • Most people start to avoid skiing when there fingers and toes start to freeze. That's smart, but there are solutions to these common problems. Switch out your usual gloves for a pair of mitts. There are ski specific ones that many swear by.†† Gloves allow for a better feel on the pole, and generally more useful when waxing, fumbling with keys, etc..† But they squeeze blood out of the fingers and thus your fingers get cold more easily.† So the best of both worlds is lobster claw mitt covers that you wear over your gloves.† They are generally thin, but don't be fooled they are warm.† Also loosen your pole straps and remember not to squeeze the poles too tightly.

  5. Wear some booties.
    • Your feet donít have to freeze. Fresh Air Experience sells booties, which are very warm covers that can slip on over your boots (and yes, still leave space to clip your bindings in). They can be a very, very good investment Ė repetitive toe frost-bite can leave you with tingly-toes well into summer. You can also loose toenails..but they do grow back.

  6. Guys: wear windbriefs!
    • Fresh Air Experience will gladly sell you a pair. We recommend wearing 2-3p pairs on windy days below -20C. Just to be safe. ;)

  7. Wear a good toque with ear covers.
    • The best way to stay warm is to wear a toque, as you lose a lot of heat through your head. Always wear a toque if itís below Ė5C. If itís very cold, try a toque with some built-in ear coverage Ė frostbite sucks. Separate ear muffs are good too, but harder to keep track of among all that ski gear.

  8. Put your water-bottle up-side down in its holder.
    • This little-known trick can stop your bottle-spout from freezing. Keeping it immersed in (above-zero, because itís not ice) liquid will keep it unfrozen. If you put it up-right, itíll freeze quickly.

  9. Donít lick your zipper.
    • Yes, I can confirm that it can freeze to your tongue. If that happens, donít rip it away, just put the rest of it in your mouth until it warms up.

  10. Re-wax your skis.
    • The really warm wax, both grip and glide, will be very slow in cold snow. If you can, put a layer of colder glide wax on your skis (Vauhti Blue or Green are good choices). For grip, Vauhti has a terrific colder-snow hard-wax line. Remember to clean ALL klister off your skis, as that will grab and be slow in old fresh snow. Itís also good to remember that you donít need as much grip-wax in cold snow as you do in warmer, wetter snow.

  11. Bring a change of shirt for after your ski.
    • Although itís cold with no shirt on in the parking lot on a Ė20 day, itís worth it to put a dry, warm fleece or down top on. Take off the wet, sweaty stuff, because itíll get cold very quickly, and keep you cold as youíre driving home.

  12. Explore different trails
    • Cold weather will quickly freeze up open water or streams that cross trails, allowing for more extensive grooming. It also tends to harden the snow. Both of these allow Lafleur to groom more of the Park, and to run heavier machines over the trails, which will set the classic and skating tracks in deeper and more consistently. Enjoy it!

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