A Guide to Skiing and Snowboarding

A Guide to Skiing and Snowboarding

Skiing and Snowboarding are popular activities for so many people around the globe.  We are fortunate enough here in the US to be blessed with some of the most exciting, beautiful and easily accessed slopes in the world.  Both skiing and snowboarding allow us to see areas that we would not normally see.  They bring us closer to nature and have endless health benefits not to mention these extreme sports are insanely exciting!  Not only that, they are sports that the whole family can get involved in, not matter what your age, young or old, there are slopes created for all abilities from beginner to experienced.

Spending time on the slopes can help release endorphins, exercise the cardiovascular and muscular system, improve flexibility and doctors have even prescribed mountain air as a natural remedy for people that suffer from asthma and other breathing related illnesses.  If you suffer from problems with your respiratory system or suffer from allergies, you may be very surprised at the significant benefits a skiing or snowboarding holiday could bring to you.

Going on a skiing or snowboarding trip can actually be the perfect vacation, especially for people looking for something a bit different to the usual beach or theme park break.  They are active holidays but allow for the perfect opportunity to take time out and relax.  There is no need to worry if you have never skied or snowboarded before as most destinations have great resorts that can cater to all and offer lessons.  When was the last time you learned something new?  Learning promotes happiness and research suggests that you will likely be happier if you try activities that are enriching or challenging.  No one said it was going to be easy.  But remember that feeling of accomplishment? It is one of the best feelings we can have!

The initial learning curve is the real challenge and after that new learners experience the opportunity to improve themselves through setting new learning goals, so the happiness and sense of achievement continues. 

What is the Difference Between the Two?

Skiing and snowboarding have their similarities just as they have their differences.  Both are popular winter sports and are both played in the snow using equipment that attach the individual to the skis and snowboards with bindings.  The skis used in skiing are bound to boots that position the skiers feet facing forwards, with each ski progressing one foot at a time.  Snowboarding on the other hand involves travelling on snow on a single board with the individual positioned with the feet angled sideways with their feet in line with the body, perpendicular to the direction of movement.

With regards to learning, it is common to hear that skiing is easy to learn yet hard to master whereas snowboarding is hard to learn and easier to master.  Skiing is generally the chosen sport for beginners because it permits the use of both legs, making it a bit easier in terms of balancing on the snow.  Snowboarders use their whole body to navigate and therefore tend to be the second sport tried by many, the first being skiing.   

What Basic Kit Do You Need?

Setting yourself up with the basic kit is relatively easy for both sports so beginners shouldn’t worry.  Couple this with the fact that most ski and snowboarding resorts have dedicated teams to sell and fit the kit suited to you for you, it couldn’t really be any easier.  Both require specialized types of equipment as well as protective clothing to keep the body safe and warm whilst high up in the snowy altitudes. 

Many people who enjoy skiing on a recreational basis simply buy their own goggles, helmets, gloves, socks, sweaters, fleeces, ski jacket and pants.  The rest of the equipment including skis, ski boots, ski poles and ski bags they will rent upon arriving at their winter sports destination.  Once beginners start to become comfortable with the sport, the next purchase would probably be ski boots, and maybe skis.  Buying second hand gear may also be a cost efficient option for many.

The same applies to individuals taking part in snow boarding activities; helmets, goggles, gloves, socks, jacket and pants are all items that individuals may have their own personal preference towards.  Like skis, snowboards, bindings and boots can be rented at the resorts.

Some people may also invest in extra items such as wrist guards and knee pads, both of which can be extremely handy for beginners and those that expect to be taking a few falls.

Best Places to Ski and Snowboard in the US

Choosing a location to ski or snowboard can be a time-consuming decision thanks to the considerations that must be made.  Like any vacation factors such as accommodation, prices, airports, extracurricular activities and events and food all must be considered, and every family will no doubt have their own preferences and requirements.  When choosing a ski and snowboarding destination there are extra considerations to research and discuss, such as the snow weather and terrain in the area. 

  • Snowbird Ski Resort, Utah. Snowbird prides itself to being home to the best snow in North America.  Offering a high-quality Mountain School for teaching, a 125 passenger Aerial Tram making access to the impressive slopes easy, over 2500 acres of skiing and snowboarding terrain, 169 runs and an average of 500’’ annual snowfall, you can be guaranteed to be blessed with the most spectacular winter sports experience.  Lodging is made easy with the full-service resort on site that excels in recreation and relaxation with heated outdoor pools, spas and other luxurious amenities.
  • Alta, Utah – Linked to Snowbird, this resort has a less luxurious feel but a friendlier and personal touch with just as impressive skiing environments. They take a basic approach; ski, rest and repeat, and have excellent guest services and facilities to ensure the stay is as comfortable as possible.  Alta doesn’t cater for snowboarders, but boarders do in fact envy this part of North America for the amazing conditions, so it is worth strapping on the two thinner boards and giving it a try.
  • Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Wyoming. One of the biggest resorts in Jackson Hole with over 2500 acres of skiing and riding within the beautiful Bridger Teton National Forest.  This is a great option for families and couples of all ages and is located just 15 minutes outside the town of Jackson Hole, making the resort extremely accessible.   It is a 50 mile long valley on the Eastern Side of the Teton Mountain Range.  The resort not only offers the chance for skiers and boarders to ride some of North Americas best slopes, it also offers the opportunity to join in many other activities such as bike tours, sleighing, paragliding and wildlife tours.
  • Vail Mountain Resort, Colorado. A location that has an extensive range of terrains suitable for all levels of winter sport participants, from beginner to expert.  Receiving more than 350 inches per season, there is always an are of Vail that offers the perfect conditions, after all, it covers an impressive 5,289 acres and includes 31 lifts, 3 terrain parks and some well-groomed slopes and runs for beginners and intermediates.  Vail town consists luxury accommodation, fine dining and high-end shopping however cheaper lodging can be found I the surrounding towns.  Featuring some of the best terrain in Colorado Vail and its seven back bowls and well-groomed runs are well worth the trip.
  • Breckenridge Ski Resort, Colorado. Home to the famous Imperial Chairlift, the highest lift in North America, which begins at 9600 feet and ends at a high 12,998 feet above sea level.  Thanks to its impressive height, the resort can boast ideal winter sports conditions throughout the year, even in spring the top of the hill has full winter snow conditions.   The terrain is quite outstanding, but it is more geared towards skiers and snow boarders with a little more experience, offering great and highly rivalled opportunities for advanced individuals.   That said, there is plenty of terrain for every visitor with some excellent beginner friendly spots and the hill itself is easy to navigate.
  • Squaw Valley, California. Located at the north end of Lake Tahoe this destination is proud of it is an ideal place for beginners with a scenic view of the lake from the peak.  The Winter Olympics of 1960 put Squaw on the map and has since been a favourite for many, maintaining its vibrant ski culture and outdoor adventures.  The dramatic alpine scenery provides varied trails, bowls and chutes to keep any individual busy.  Fortunately, winter sport fans can enjoy this destination well into the spring season as it happens to have one of the longest ski and snowboard seasons in the country.  There are plenty of options for lodging and with over 170 trails to chose from and the longest mountain run reaching over 5km, no wonder it was voted North Americas Best Ski Resort in 2016.

With the promises of amazing views, spending time with old and new friends and family and the thrill of experiencing first-hand the joy speeding down slopes can bring, you can guarantee that after your first time you will be enticed back year after year to some of the worlds best locations for winter sports, right here in the US.

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