Now, let us get down to the facts on skiing. This section covers the basics of this much-loved winter sport.
– The History of Skiing
– Skiing Holidays: Here are the Many Reasons Why
– Skiing Equipment: Let’s Get You Geared Up!
– Snow Skiing: A Photo Gallery
We would also want to take this opportunity to debunk some common myths about skiing.
Myth #1: Skiing is only for the rich
Admittedly, you have to spend some money for you to indulge in the sport. But skiing is not limited to the super rich. The sport does not necessarily have to cost an arm and a leg! There are a number of budget ski resorts that can provide you with opportunities for skiing without you having to fork out a lot of money. Also, ski resorts have ski equipment for rent, so that you need not buy the whole set of gear.
The amount you need really depends on a number of things – the time of the year (go during off-peak seasons), the type of resort (there are budget resorts that will do the trick), as well as the kind of transport and accommodation.
Myth #2: Skiing is a dangerous sport
We must admit, there are risks to the sport, as in any other sport. But the risks can be minimized if you follow the safety rules prescribed. If you ski only on marked-off trails, there shouldn’t be any major problems. It only becomes an extreme sport when you make it so.
Extreme skiing is only for those who have the necessary abilities. Of course, you wouldn’t want go to the other extreme and be over-cautious and avoid the more challenging ski trails. That is not the goal. All you need is to maintain a good balance between your skills as a skier and the challenge a trail can pose. The key is to strengthen your skills – just like learning to play an instrument, the more you practice, the more you become skillful. In turn, you are able to do more. So, practice, practice, practice. You may be able to ski the more challenging pistes before you know it.
Myth #3: Skiing is only for the physically fit
Of course, being physically fit is an advantage, but it is not a prerequisite. People from all ages and fitness levels enjoy this sport. In fact, there are people with disabilities who still get to go traipsing down the trails. These disabilities range from blindness, fear of heights and in some cases, someone who lack a limb have been known to ski (and have fun, at that). So, there shouldn’t be a hindrance if you really want to ski. One piece of advice you must consider is the fact that physically preparing for your skiing adventure would be a big help.
What’s to be enjoyed in a skiing holiday? You may ask.
Well, let us outline the reasons here why skiing is one of the most popular winter sports.
1. The Challenge: Imagine yourself conquering the toughest trails available. Picture in your mind how you zip past all the rest, as you jump and turn with grace and expertise. From the moment you started to wobble down a slope dedicated to novices, you get this feeling that with continuous practice you will finally get out of it and get on to the more difficult ones. Part of the allure of skiing is the bragging rights you get when you have mastered the art. Many others have shown their expertise and it really feels good to be part of that exalted company.
2. The Experience: Indeed, the feel of skis gliding across freshly fallen is simply enchanting. The exhilaration of zipping down a steep trail, along with the aroma of the trees, the tangy coldness of the ice and the wind and the sheer beauty of the surroundings are what makes the experience of skiing worthwhile. The view of the snow from the gondola or ski lifts makes you want to go down on the snow ASAP.
3. The Adrenalin High: Woohoo! You cannot help but let out an excited shout as you zip down a steep and bumpy run. If you are in the need for speed, skiing will do the trick. The experience gives you quite a rush that you will not forget. You will come to enjoy the fact that your thighs are burning and you can hardly catch your breath as you look back and see the tracks you have made.
4. Ski resort amenities: Ski resorts offer more than just skiing. After a whole day’s run, you can still look forward to chatting with friends while sipping a hot cup of chocolate or sitting on the terrace as you enjoy the view of verdant pine forests and snow-covered mountains. You also have the option of taking a long, hot swim at the heated pools some resorts may offer.
5. Other activities: Skiing in some of the world’s best ski resorts can also give you a wide variety of entertainment options. You can indulge in some of the best shopping, get out and enjoy a beer at a nearby pub or wine and dine at some of the world’s best restaurants. Some towns also have historic and cultural value, so that you can leisurely explore its streets and be swept back in time.
Great value packages are available for you so that you can enjoy the perfect ski holiday.
“Skio” – that’s Old Norse which means “a stick of wood”. This word is said to be the precursor of the word ski, and this is where we can trace the colorful history of skiing. The oldest such stick of wood ever discovered is a 4,500-year old wooden version of the ski. There is also some evidence, such as drawings on rocks and in caves that skiing was invented long before that time.
And since necessity is the mother of invention, the stick of wood came to be because of the need of more efficient transport for activities such as hunting during those cold winter months. In the course of using the skis for transport, the people realized how much fun it can be. Eventually, what was once a necessity became a highly popular and supremely enjoyable sport. And this was, some say, all because of the people from Telemark, Norway. Their enduring contributions to the world of skiing include jumps, the Telemark turn, as well as the Christiana (or known now as Christie) turns. Even until now, we still see versions of these classic skiing moves.
The first-ever ski competition or organized event involved a version of cross-country racing and these events were begun at the beginning of the 1800s. Today, the Nordic system, which was used then, is very much in use during organized events. A modernized version of the telemark was developed by Sondre Norheim in the 1850s. He also improved on the skis by adding a birch binding, which made sure that his boots stay firmly in place while he was skiing. History recognizes Norheim as the father of modern skiing. Another skiing enthusiast, Matthias Zdarsky, also made sturdier and firmer bindings.
Skiing soon spread to Norway’s European neighbors. And in 1924, the first-ever Winter Olympic Games was held in Chamonix, France. It so happened that the 1924 Olympics were held in Paris. Thus, Chamonix requested that skiing (as part of a winter sports festival), be recognizes as an official Olympic event. However, the petition was not approved but the events were eventually established as the Winter Olympic Games.
Other techniques soon were developed for use on varied types of terrain. While the Telemark turn was useful for level terrain, it proved to be inadequate for near-vertical drops. Thus, the technique of Alpine skiing was developed – this involved disciplines such as the slalom and the downhill skiing. The precursor of downhill skiing is attributed to Zdarsky.
Then, after World War II, skiing became even more popular as Switzerland and Austria built the first ski resorts. Gradually, other disciplines were developed – there is the Giant Slalom, the Super G, and many others.
Of course, the stick of wood became more and more technologically advanced, so skiers today enjoy more speed and increased safety. Millions of enthusiasts have since taken great pleasure in the sport.
And that is the history of skiing in a nutshell.
Before you even head for the snow, be sure that you are fully equipped with all the necessary equipment. You can buy these, or, if the budget is limited, you can also rent some of your equipment. A lot of ski resorts have ski equipment available for rent.
Here is a list of things you will need:
– Skis: A good choice would be an integrated binding system, which combines the ski with binding that ensures that your boots are firmly in place. Skis are invariably made from materials suck as Kevlar, Titanium, glass fiber or a combination of these. Sometimes skis may also have a wooden core. The ski binding really depends on the type of skiing discipline you want to do. What we suggest is that you first rent your skis, so that you more or le
ss get a feel of what works best for you even before you make a substantial investment towards a pair of skis. Make sure that the length of your skis is suitable to your level of skill. It is best to as for assistance while at the ski store as they are more knowledgeable about the skis that will suit you.
– Ski binding: The bindings make sure your boots are firmly attached to your skis. Be sure to ask help from a certified technician when purchasing bindings, as the choice for the correct ones depends on your weight, height and skier classification. Ski bindings should work just right – they should release while you are falling but should stay put when you are skiing.
– Ski poles: These ensure that you are balanced, as well as help you accelerate and speed up the trails.
– Ski boots: There is a wide range of choices when it comes to ski boots – the padded ones for beginners and the stiffer ones for the more experienced, as well as rear-entry, mid-entry and front-entry ski boots. Make sure that your ski boots fit properly. Ill-fitting boots may spell the difference between enjoying your day at the slopes and wasting time trying to deal with discomfort brought about by your ill-fitting shoes.
– Goggles: Goggles are very essential, particularly when there is high wind. Of course, check that the goggles you have enable you to see clearly. This is especially important for those who wear eye glasses or corrective lenses. There are goggles you can wear over your eyeglasses.
– Headgear (helmet and sunglasses): DO NOT forget to include the helmet in your checklist. You will need it to protect you from impacts and trauma you may experience because of falls and other accidents. Your life may depend on whether you are wearing a helmet or not. Be sure that the helmet you have on is properly fitted so that you are not just protected, but comfortable as well. Sunglasses, meanwhile, help to filter strong light so that you don’t have to deal with the glare of the sun as you ski. Remember, the snow reflects the glare and may make it harder on you to see.
– Ski suit: Generally, a ski suit is made of waterproof or water resistant material that also offers protection against the wind. Along with warm underwear, the ski suit ensures that the skier feels nice and warm.
– Plenty of warm clothes: This includes a ski jacket and ski pants (waterproof and insulated), turtleneck or sweeter, and long underwear (choose the kind that wards of moisture and prevents it from soaking up into the skin). Also, be sure to bring mittens or gloves – two pairs would be ideal, so that when one pair gets wet, you have a backup ready for use. Other important ski clothing include a helmet liner and a neck gaiter (which serves to keep your neck toasty warm).
– Ski wax: Glide wax is used to make sure that your skis glide smoothly, particularly when it rains. This wax helps eliminate drag, thus enabling you to have better control of your skis and to also increase your speed. For cross-country skiing, be sure to apply kick waxes to that part of the ski which extends from below the area of the foot. As its name suggests, this wax helps the skier propel himself forward.
The choices may seem overwhelming but the important thing is that you have the complete set and that the set must fit you well. Remember to check all your equipment before you even hit the slopes. That way, you ensure not just your safety but the safety of other skiers as well.