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Skiing | Suntan Fun in the Snow

Skiing is actually a group of sports that use skis combined with boots that are connected to the ski using a binder. There are many different popular types of skiing and competitive events. Competitive skiing events are recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the International Ski Federation (FIS) and others including the United States Ski and Snowboard Association. The most popular skiing competition is the Winter Olympics and is televised and open to the public to view in person. There are two primary types of skiing, which are “telemark” (skiers use free-heel bindings) and “alpine” (downhill skiing).

It is important to attend “ski school” before hitting the slopes – even if you are a better than average skier it’s a good idea to have a refresher course. The trained instructors teach the basics of turning and stopping safely, racing, “bump” skiing (skiing over moguls) and newer freestyle techniques. Many ski resorts in North American have a ski school where you can purchase a private session or join a group. Group lessons are a great way to meet new people with your interests and have even more fun on the slopes. Just as it’s important to have an instructor, it’s also important to be sure to wear goggles that are 100% UVA, UVB and UVC protected and apply suntan lotion before heading out because the reflection on the snow from the sun will easily creep onto your skin. Additionally, your skin will become very dry so it’s essential that you keep it moisturized, too. Please check out our Facts section to make sure that you protect yourself correctly with the proper SPF and hydration.

Alpine Skiing is actually “downhill skiing” on snow covered hills on skis with a fixed-heel binding. This sport originated in the late 1880s and was named for the European Alps. Ski resorts have alpine skiing where ski lifts will take skiers up the mountain. These areas on the mountain are very well groomed, trees are cut to create trails and avalanches are regulated. The challenge for the skiers is to learn how to control the direction and speed of their descent down the mountain. I am an avid user of “snowplowing” down the hillside as it slows my speed down comfortably and will aid me in stopping, while little children fly past me with no fear! However, the more advanced skiers use more difficult methods. After gaining confidence on the smaller hills, skiers move to tackle ever steeper, longer and more uneven slopes at higher speeds. The easier ski runs (“green”) are usually fairly flat and smooth and sometimes known as “bunny slopes”. Trail difficulty is classified into colors, from green to black. A “black diamond” is very steep and left in its natural state (unlike the well-groomed green slope) and has challenging terrain such as moguls, narrow passes and unmarked obstacles. The weather conditions, different snow, air temperatures, icy crust or fresh powder requires different skiing techniques and equipment.

Cross Country Skiing (XC Skiing) or “bushwalking” on skis is a hobby of some skiers whereby they stay out for long periods using tents or huts along their trail; or take shorter trips at ski resorts on maintained trails. The sport of cross country skiing is one of the most difficult endurance of spors as it uses all the muscles that are used for running, rowing and swimming all in one sport. This is a popular sport in many countries, primarily in Northern Europe, Canada, Alaska and the upper Midwestern United States. This type of skiing is a part of the Nordic skiing sport family which includes ski jumping. Cross Country skis are generally shorter and narrower with the tip higher and more curved than the classic ski. Poles are carried by the skiers just like alpine skiing. Some of the more popular resorts places for cross country skiing are Silver Star Mountain Resort, B.C.; Mount-Sainte-Anne Cross Country Centre, Quebec; Craftsbury Outdoor Center, Vermont; Methow Valley, Washington; Royal Gorge Cross Country Ski Resort, California; Telemark Resort, Wisconsin; Devils Thumb Ranch, Colorado; Soldier Hollow, Utah; Sun Valley Nordic Center, Idaho; and the Trapp Family Lodge, Vermont.

Freestyle Skiing is a gymnastic/acrobatic form of specialized aerial skiing and  can include events such as moguls, aerials, half pipe, bit air and skier cross. In the 1960s it was also called “hot-dogging”. The sport is more appealing to younger generations and is similar in nature to snowboarding and skateboarding. The FIS recognized this skiing as a sport in 1979 and adapted new regulations for certification of athletes and jump styles and techniques as there were some dangerous areas of the competitions.

Ski-Bobbing (“ski-biking”, “ski-toys”, “ski-bob”) has had winter sports enthusiasts sliding downhill on contraptions for centuries. The first ski-bobbing device was patented in the USA in 1892. The ski-bobbing is a combination of skiing and mountain biking with a bit of motorcycle flat track thrown in. The traditional ski-bob is based on skis and ridden with foot skis. The hybrid is also based on skis, but without the requirement of needing foot skis. The board bikes are based on a snowboard. The extreme covers anything that doesn’t fit into the other categories (mostly homemade). The competitions have control gates and the races are timed. The current high speed record is over 120 mph.

Ski Jumping at one time was more popular than downhill skiing in the United States. Skiers push themselves down a very steep ramp and actually shoot out into the sky on flight. Gravity takes over and the skier lands on a small slope, onto a flat area and hopefully stops before reaching the hay bales or perhaps a padded wall. This is not a sport for the faint of heart, so that leaves me out! Olympics have had ski jumping as a part of their competitions since 1924. Because of the danger of skiers traveling too far and landing past the drop point (or K-Point), jumping events including the Olympics require each skier make one practice jump and two competition jumps. Therefore, it the officials believe skiers will go farther than 10% past the K-point they will lower the start point to shave off speed. In the United States speed ski tracks are located in Oregon and Colorado. Canada has one in Whistler and the rest are in Europe.


Ski Flying is an extreme version of ski jumping with the events taking place in the big hills with a K-spot of at least 610 feet. If ski jumping is a dangerous sport then ski flying is insane! There are five ski flying hills with one being in Norway, Germany, Austria, Slovenia, and Czech Republic. There is a sixth hill that is located on Copper Peak in Michigan, but is not up to FIS standards. The world record is 780 feet set by a Norwegian in 2005.

Paragliding is also known as “ski gliding” is an extreme sport. Skiers actually paraglide off a mountain while skiing! The difference from “para-skiing” is that paragliding involves flying and paraskiers remain mostly on the ground. If one is an expert at skiing and also knows how to operate a paraglider then they should have no trouble with this sport. In fact, ski paragliding is quite similar to summertime paragliding. The wind plays a big role because it can be very different over a snow covered area. Landings can be the challenging factor here because it’s difficult to judge the distance from the skies to the snow. The key to this sport is that the skier needs to make a great deal of preparation.

Sledding holds a great deal of fond memories for me as a child; however it certainly has changed through the years. There are eight types of classified “sleds” today, which include metal runner sleds, next-generation runner sleds, wood toboggans, plastic toboggans, metal disks, plastic disks, snow mats, and inflatable tubes. Toboggans, tubes and disks are the best way to start a run down a hill on new snow. Sleds tend to get bogged down. Once snow is packed down, sleds have a high speed advantage. Sledding can be dangerous, however. Thousands of accident cases are reported every year from the sleds running into cars, buildings, trees or other stationary objects. There’s a new modern, hi-performance sled on the market now. It’s pricey but you’ll think you’re on a sleigh ride! The manufacturer is Hammerhead and is sold by several companies. While researching this sled, I found the Pro XLD at Frontgate for $349 (and the Pro X at Amazon for $221.96. Be sure you hear a helmet. Check it out!

Waterskiing is a sport whereby one or more skiers are pulled behind a boat on a body of water. Water skiers can wear either one ski, called slalom; or two skis, called double. The ski(s) enables a person to stand upright while holding onto a tow rope while they are skimming the surface of the water. The first skis were made of wood and skiers strapped them on their feet with rubber bindings. Starting in the 1970s manufacturers began to use fiberglass in their construction. The first slalom tournament skiing was in 2003. The skier usually begins from deep water or a dock, crouching down in the water (like sitting in a chair) with the ski tip(s) pointed up. When ready, the boat accelerates and pulls the skier out of the water. Besides the driver of the boat, there should always be a “spotter” in the boat who is communicating with the skier with hand signals, i.e.: thumbs up for “faster”, thumbs down for “slower”, and cutting the throat with hand motion is “stop”.

Are you an avid skier and want to share a fun under the sun on the slopes story, events or photos, then please email our Suntan Crew. Want to go back to Sports to read more about suntan sports?

-Ms. Suntan

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