The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

January 12, 2013

No child left indoors: Snow sports month

By Bob Garrett
For The Daily Item

— Humans are not meant to hibernate. January is a great month to get outdoors.

It’s National Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month and there are special programs at ski slopes and resorts nearby and all around the country.

Pennsylvania’s resorts and slopes have an association that hosts a great website that is packed with information and discounts. You really should visit the Pennsylvania Ski Areas Association website at

By heading to the slopes you and your family can join the tens of thousands of winter enthusiasts who migrate to our mountains every week to ski and snowboard.

Skiing and snowboarding is now easier and more affordable than ever. During the entire month of January, the 22 member resorts of the Pennsylvania Ski Areas Association are offering a $5 discount on already low midweek “Learn a Snow Sport” packages. Special ticket prices include your ski lesson, rental equipment, either skis or a snowboard and a lift ticket.  

Here are some questions often asked by first-time skiers and snowboarders.

1. Is skiing safe?

Statistically, skiing or snowboarding are about as safe as bicycling or tennis. Today’s modern equipment is designed with safety as a top priority.

2. Is skiing expensive?

Skiing, snowboarding, tubing and most of the other winter sports at ski areas are not as expensive as you may think. With just a little planning it’s possible to ski on a budget and spend a lot of time on the slopes. Rent your equipment; you probably already have the clothes that you’ll need to stay warm. Please keep in mind that it’s “Learn to Ski” month and most ski areas have great “starter” packages available.

3. Will I be good right away?

No. However, your skills will develop quickly. By the end of your first day you’ll be able to turn, slow down, stop and ride the lifts. Take a lesson early on your first day and commit to regular lessons. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how natural skiing becomes. My experience is that snowboarding is a bit more difficult to learn.

4. How should I dress?

You should check the ski area’s “conditions” report or “ski report” before heading out. These daily reports give you a summary of the temperatures, trails open, lifts running, weather and more. Keep in mind that temperatures generally rise during the day and dip quickly as soon as the sun goes down, so think in terms of layers. Light-weight, waterproof clothing is a good top layer. A hat and gloves are a must. If you’re going to be out in temperatures less than 20 degrees, frostbite is a real concern and you’ll need to minimize any exposed skin.

5. Is it only for athletes?

No. Your equipment and gravity does most of the work for you. However, the better in shape you are the more fun you will have. Your balance will be better and getting up from falls will be much easier.

6. What are ski areas like?

No matter where you go, every ski area has these basics: a mountain, ski lifts or ropes that transport the skiers to the top, trails of varying difficulties and lengths, a base lodge with a ski school and rental shops. Usually, there will be a lodge that includes a restaurant, bar, gift shops and other services.

7. Should I take a lesson?

Absolutely. This is how you will learn the “rules of the slopes” and the mechanics of skiing. After your lesson you can spend the day practicing what you’ve learned.

8. How do I use the lift?

You’ll learn this in your first class. There are many types of lifts and your instructor will give you specific instructions on how to use the lifts.

9. How to get off the lift?

Because there are so many types of lifts and tows it’s hard to give one standard suggestion. However, on chair lifts, keep your tips up and talk with your fellow lift-mates so you all know which direction you will be going once you stand up at the top and slide away. Then move quickly away from the lift once you’re off to keep the unloading area clear.

10. Do you have one tip?

“The downhill skier has the right-of-way.” In other words, stay under control and ski defensively at all times. See you on the slopes. Tips up!

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