Learning the slopes with our student body 

Snow sports in the school’s community 

Everything looks like a speck of dust when standing over 6,000 feet in the air. The chill wind of the mountain is enough to keep the balaclava and goggles on your face. Nothing can quite describe the powdery snow under your feet or the steep run away ahead. Despite the noise of the chair lift, the surroundings seem to go quiet, leaving only you and the slopes ahead.

Skiing and snowboarding have been around for decades. Both snowsports would become an Olympic sport in the 1900s. Even as temperatures have grown warmer, the boom of skiing has refused to die. In the United States alone there are more than 400 snow resorts. For English teacher and sponsor of the W-L Ski club Mr. Richard Greene, his first experience with skiing was in the army. 

“I was assigned to an Arctic unit to train in the Arctic when I was in the army,” Mr. Greene said. “There I learned how to cross country ski…About 10 years later I learned how to snowboard.”

Beyond just having fun, there are a lot of technical aspects to the sport, which is why many skiers and snowboarders learn it through lessons or other programs. There are others who have friends or family who can ski or snowboard, and learned through them.

“A lot of it is self taught from my dad,” freshman Mackenzie Thompson said. “He is a very technical skier. So when we go out, it’s not casual or leisurely, he’s definitely like drilling me. He’s like my own teacher.”

Skiers and snowboarders alike can always improve their skill and ability. However, certain techniques and slopes are easier for skiers to go down than snowboarders. With things like runs that go through trees or mogul runs—a series of small (or large) bumps of snow on advanced slopes—compared to snowboarders, skiers are generally able to make quicker, sharper turns.

“I don’t like moguls, they are tougher on a snowboard than they are on skis,” Mr. Greene said. “You gotta really have your stuff together, because the board starts to react to what you’re doing, because it’s almost like a spring.”

Despite the sport’s season lasting only a few short months each year, skiing and snowboarding are sports loved by millions. 

“The best part, I think, is the moment where you’ve started to go down the hill,” Mr. Greene said. “Almost every time you start down a run, you have to get it all together mentally and cognitively…Once you do, it kind of becomes very natural. It’s like walking, or swimming, or just sitting still. [It becomes that] moment of….Zen.”

The American east coast has notoriously bad skiing conditions, especially when you compare it to the West Coast. States like Colorado, Utah and Wyoming have some of the biggest mountains in the country, due to the Rocky Mountains that run through them. These vast mountain ranges allow for a massive industry of ski resorts and amazing slopes. 

“The mountains [in the West Coast] are huge,” junior Henry Frickert said. “You can do different runs all day and never get tired. There’s always something that you haven’t done and something more to do.”

Many families travel a few or several times a year to go to these states and ski. While the costs of airplane tickets, hotels, and equipment can be high, the West Coast is known to have far better weather conditions and a wide range of challenging slopes like moguls and tree skiing. 

“Sometimes moguls runs are so nice,” Thompson said. “They give you that little burn in your leg…and you feel very accomplished, because it feels like you’re skiing very technically and advanced.”

Some of the biggest differences between the resorts do not always lie with size of the resort, but with the quality of the slopes. In the East Coast, many skiers are subject to random and consistent patches of ice, slush, and other varying snow conditions. With limited resorts in the area, and time availability, it can be difficult to get any good skiing days. 

The W-L Ski Club was created with the goal of a group of students planning and going on a ski and snowboard trip, most likely to one of the local resorts in the area. The trip will not be sponsored by the school, but the club can meet and plan it on their own time.

“It’s all different age [and ability levels],” Mr. Greene said. “They’re [a] very welcoming bunch of young people and they’re certainly welcoming now, because they want to get members. So if you’re interested in learning more about it, definitely contact [the club].”

Although the club was not able to go on a trip this year, they have hopes to continue the club next year and make the journey.

Skiing and snowboarding can, unfortunately, be expensive. From buying ski jackets and helmets to lift tickets, the costs can easily rise. There are, however, a few things that can be done to keep the prices down. 

“I would say that the best decision I ever made was to buy all my gear [as to renting,] because it eventually pays for itself,” Mr. Greene said. 

While the original price of necessary items like jackets, goggles and snow pants can seem daunting, they usually can be worn for several seasons without needing to be replaced. For kids who grow quickly, getting sizes that are on the bigger side to start can last a few years as they grow into them. 

Things like helmets, goggles, and backpacks generally only need to be upgraded when they start to break or the user wants a new model. 

“What I found is that [with] Alpine [sport] gear, skis, snowboard, boots and helmets, you don’t have to refresh your equipment all that often…So I have the same snowboard I bought when I first started snowboarding in 2012…I bought new boots because they do wear out, but same helmet,” Mr Greene said. 

Many frequent and proficient skiers and snowboarders buy their skis or boards, along with their boots. Good quality boots, skis and boards can last for years. In fact, there are services like waxing (the process of protecting skis from scratches and allowing them to glide smoother) that can keep the equipment in tip-top shape. 

Renting skis and snowboards is also a preferred option. It can be tedious to rent them for a day at the resort itself, having to wait in a long line and fill out forms. However, outside ski and snowboard rental companies can have equipment for an entire season, allowing the line to be skipped. 

Since skis, snowboards and the boots that go with them are tailored to the person’s shoe size, it is usually recommended for kids to rent until they stop growing; otherwise, the equipment would have to be replaced more frequently. 

Some ski resorts also offer season passes that work at multiple resorts and are the cost of only a few ski tickets. One of the more popular passes to get is an Epic Pass. This pass works at several big named resorts in Colorado and Utah like Vail, Breckenridge, Park City, and more. There is unlimited skiing and it even extends to international ski resorts. 

Vail Resorts has acquired several resorts in Pennsylvania that are popular for skiers in this area, like Liberty Mountain Resort, Whitetail Resort and Roundtop Resort in 2019. People with Epic Passes are now able to access these along with 14 other resorts in Pennsylvania for the amount of days they paid for. 

“It’s a great deal,” Mr. Greene said.  “It’s not a great deal [when you go] once or twice a year…[However,] I mean for the cost of an epic pass…almost $200…for an entire season and so yeah, and then your family can have the same benefits.”

Overall, skiing and snowboarding are both skilled and incredibly fun sports for any age level.

“It’s fun to practice,” Mr. Greene said. “There’s very few sports that are necessarily fun to practice…It’s a great way to be outside and be amongst people coming of the pandemic. It’s a great way to maybe learn something new.”

It can also be an easy way to bond with the ones you love. 

“If you want to get out and if you want to get experience with it, it’s really better to do it earlier,” Thompson said. “I would just find time when you can, get rentals, if you really want to get into skiing, you should do it…It’s honestly a lifetime investment, like a lot of people say that’s golf, but for me it’s skiing…Learning to ski, in my opinion, is one of the best things you can do for yourself.”


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