Learn to ski this winter

By Craig W. Artmstrong

Feature Writer

Winter is here. Gone are the days of swimming, jogging, biking and playing softball. The temperature has dropped, but you still want to flex your athletic muscles. How about skiing? It’s an age-old sport enjoyed by people of all ages. If you want to get started on the slopes, here a few things to keep in mind.

The best thing you can do for yourself is sign up for some lessons. If that is not possible, you might want to look to a friend who skies. Of course, this would have to be a good friend with a lot of patience, a friend who doesn’t mind spending a day or two watching you fall down.

You’ll also need some equipment. You might want to rent the equipment since you have never skied before and might not like it. Any ski rental shop should be able to fit you properly with skis, boots and poles.

Boots are the most important piece of equipment. They should allow your toes to wiggle to keep the circulation going, but should not allow your heel to lift up. Your heel is what allows you to turn your skis. Stabilizing it inside your boot will allow you to turn your skis correctly. Too much room will prevent this from happening.

Apparel is important for keeping warm and dry. Your day of falling down will last longer if you are not wet and cold. The longer the day lasts, the more you will learn and the closer you will be to actually skiing. Don’t wear clothes that can get wet; this includes sweatpants, jeans, hoodies and basically anything that isn’t waterproof. Buy or rent some ski clothes, waterproof pants and a jacket with padding. Dress in layers. If you get too hot, you can remove a layer or two.

Finally, consider a helmet. Helmets are becoming more acceptable gear for skiers. Several high-profile individuals have died in skiing accidents and skiers are starting to protect themselves with a helmet. Wear a helmet. It’s the smart thing to do.

Whether you get lessons or attempt to teach yourself to ski, the snowplow is the ideal technique for beginners. Basically, it means to point your skis toward each other to create a wedge to cut through the snow. Your feet should point toward each other and your knees will follow. In order to control your skis and keep them from crossing, you’ll need to continuously push your feet apart. This is how the process of skiing begins. Snowplowing also allows you to control your speed. The more parallel your skis become, the faster you will go; the more your skis begin to cross, the slower you will go.

Turning on your skis is all about shifting your weight. If you want to turn left, you need to take the weight off of your left foot. It sounds a bit backwards, but once you try it, you’ll see how it works.

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