A Look at the Intriguing History of Snowboarding

To say who actually invented the sport of snowboarding would be impossible because people have always loved to slide down a snow-covered hill. Soaring through the snow on some kind of seat or board is nothing new. The ways to enjoy the snow are numerous, and people have devised ways to turn garbage can lids and cardboard into “snow boards” to enjoy an afternoon frolic outdoors. The various ways to glide through snow have become more sophisticated and have evolved into using polished boards or skis in much the same manner as a surfboarder would ride a wave.

There have been many attempts at developing a modern snowboard. In 1965, the “Snurfer” (a word play on ‘snow’ and ‘surfer’) was developed as a child’s toy. Two skis were bound together and a rope was placed at the front end to afford control and stability. Over 500,000 “Snurfers” were sold in 1966 but they were never seen as more than a child’s plaything even though organized competitions began to take place. The year 1969 brought a slightly more sophisticated snowboard based on the principles of skiing combined with surfboard styling.

The “Flying Yellow Banana” was developed in 1977. This was nothing more than a plastic shell covered with a top surface like that of a skateboard, but at the time it was considered a major advance in the little known sport of snowboarding. The first national snowboard race was held in the area outside Woodstock and was known as “The Suicide Six.” The race consisted of a steep downhill run called The Face in which the main goal was probably mere survival.

Snowboarding continued to increase in popularity over the next several years. In 1985 the first magazine dedicated specifically to snowboarding hit the news stands with huge success and furthered the popularity of this exciting sport. Hoards of fans began to organize regional events and pretty soon snowboarding events were held in all parts of the world. In the year 1994 snowboarding was finally declared an Olympic event, much to the delight of fans. The not-so-new sport of snowboarding was finally recognized and meant a huge victory for serious snowboarders across the globe.

A collection of snowboarding tricks and stunts was released on video in 1996. Filmed in Alaska, the breathtaking beauty and captivating snowboarding techniques featured in the video exposed snowboarding to a new generation, and by 1998 snowboarding constituted almost 50% of all winter activity. Today, nearly all ski resorts accept snowboarders. There are still a few holding on to the past but this is unlikely to continue as the number of snowboarders continually increases.

From the first crudely built snowboards to the advanced and specialized models available today, snowboarders have carried a “bad boy” image. This rebel reputation is still common today in spite of the fact that snowboarding appeals to men, women, and children of all nationalities and social groups. At most major ski resorts you can find snowboarding gear, information, and lessons. Olympic and world wide snowboarding events are among the most popular of winter sports and the competition to be the best is fierce.

Retailers nation wide and around the world carry many types of snowboards, and the choice in specially made snowboarding gear is immense. Snowboarders have participated in the X Games and even charity events such as Boarding for Breast Cancer. From its early meager beginnings snowboarding has progressed into a fully recognized sport, and large numbers of people are turning to snowboarding for adventure, fun, and professional recognition.

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Skiing in Greece

Snow and skiing may not be the first images that comes to mind when thinking of Greece; however, Delphi, Greece is home to the largest winter sports center in Greece. The Parnassos Center is located on the Parnassos Mountains. It has two sites, Fterolakka, located at an altitude 1600 meters, and Kelaria, located at 1750 meters. They both end in Toumborachi. The location has seventeen skiing sites with eight skiing routes and two mini skiing routes for beginners. it has thirteen lifts: six each of aerial and tow lifts and one four seat telecabin. It is open each year between December and May. There are schools available as well such as Pappos-Baloumis, Mpoumpa and the Pro Shop. There are several equipment stores available as well. Also available to visitors are snowmobile and sleigh rentals,and ice skating.

Though the winter season in Greece is rather short, there are many Winter sport centers to choose from for your enjoyment.

The Velouchi Resort in Karpenisi is located on Mount Tymfristos, in Central Greece. The ski center has eleven sites with six lifts, in addition to a lift leading to the skiing site for beginners. Other amenities include a restaurant, a cafeteria, a snack bar, and a equipment shop. The resort is open from December to March.

The Elatochori resort is located on the Pieria Mountains of Mount Olympus. The ski center has six ski trails. There are also a tracks for snowboards and sleds. Other amenities include a chalet, two schools, shops selling and a Snowboard Fun Park.

The Kalavryta Center in Peloponnese is located on Helmos Mountain.

The resort has eight ski lifts and thirteen ski runs with different levels of difficulty.

The ski center offers night skiing, snowboarding, snowmobiling and paragliding. There are three ski schools available as well as ski equipment. It is open between December and April.

The Profitis Ilias Resort is located on the Politsies plateau of the Mavrovouni mountains. The center has five ski slopes and one ski run. There are also three lifts. Other amenities include a school and a shop where visitors can rent ski equipment and snowmobiles. There is also a chalet with a restaurant and cafeteria available. It is open between December and March.

The Pisoderi Resort is located on Mount Verno in western Macedonia. The ski center has twelve runs and five lifts. It has a chalet where visitors can rent ski equipment or receive ski instructions. There is also a medical center on the grounds.

The Tria Pente Pigadia is located on the Vermion Mountains in Northern Greece. It has seven lifts including two for beginners. Ski instructors are available at the resort. It is open each year from October to April. There is a chalet with a beautiful view. The chalet offers night accommodations.

The Vasilitsa is located on the Pindos Mountains. The ski center stretches over two mountains and has sixteen ski runs that have every imaginable kind of terrain. The ski center is known as one of the best places in southeastern Europe for snowboarding. Other amenities include a small snowboard shop, two chalets that have overnight accommodations and a small bar.

The Kaimaktsalan is located on the Voras Mountains in Central Macedonia. The resort has fourteen skiing sites and four lifts. The ski center also has a snowmobiling course. Other amenities include two schools, and a chalet with a restaurant and a cafeteria. The cafeteria has a playground. The chalet also has seven luxurious mini suites available.

The Thessaly Pelion is located near Chania. The ski center has seven skiing sites and five lifts including a lift for beginners. The site offers night skiing on the weekends. Other amenities include a school that also rents out ski equipment.

The Seli is located on the Vermion Mountains of Northern Greece. The center has eighteen trails ranging in difficulty to meet the needs of all skiers, and six lifts.

The Seli village is located at the bottom of the ski center. The village has ski schools and shops available. The village also has hotels and coffee shops to welcome visitors.

The Falakros is located on the Falakros Mountains in Northern Greece.

The ski center has over twenty skiing sites. There are four lifts in addition to three beginner lifts. The ski center has four ski schools and the Tsakiris shop available to skiers. Other activities include trekking, cycling, riding, and jeep safaris. Other amenities include three chalets and a medical center. There are also accommodations available in Drama.

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Most Popular Winter Olympics Events

The Winter Olympics began in 1924 and has been growing in leaps and bounds since then. Like its summer cousin, there are some events that capture sporting fans’ imagination more than others. These events draw the largest spectator crowds and get the most airtime on television.

It would be prudent to say that of the 15 events featured at the Winter Olympic Games, the following are the most popular:

Figure Skating

Always a fan favorite, figure skating has a number of categories for which enthusiasts eagerly watch every turn on the ice. The categories are:

-Singles (Men’s and Ladies): Skaters perform beautiful twirls and jumps in time to music.

-Ice Dancing: mixed couples perform to music. One important aspect of this discipline is that the man must not lift his partner higher than his shoulders.

-Pairs: Similar to Ice Dancing in that it involves couples.

In the men’s event, the USA has consistently done well, winning more gold medals than any other country. The costumes are as much a part of the allure of this event as the grace displayed by the figure skaters.

Alpine Skiing (Slalom)

Added to the Winter Olympics in 1936 in Germany, this sport has a number of categories that are easy to understand by fans. Its hair raising turns and super fast speeds have made it one of the more popular events at the Winter Olympic Games. Skiers have been known to reach speeds of almost 81 miles per hour.

One of the features that make this event so popular is that skiers, despite their speed must pass through a number of gates while traveling down what is called a vertical drop. If a gate is missed, the competitor has to climb back up and go through the gate or face disqualification. This event is definitely not for the faint of heart.

Alpine skiing includes:

-Giant Slalom

-Slalom

-Super G (also known as Super Giant Slalom)

-Downhill

-Super Combined

Both the men and women’s events hold the same appeal for spectators. Not surprisingly, the top three countries over the years have been Austria, Switzerland and France.

Skiing (Freestyle)

The dizzying jumps and turns keep spectators enthralled as they watch skiers perform almost unbelievable feats. Apart from the beauty of the display of man against nature, spectators hold their breath at the indescribable spills that are part and parcel of free style skiing.

Men’s Ice Hockey

This event may well be the most popular of the Winter games. It has not lost favor since the very beginning of the event. In fact, this is just one of six original sports that started the Winter Games.

Curling

This event became an official game in the Winter Olympics in 1998. Prior to this it was a demonstration game, also known as “Chess on Ice” due to its use of strategy. There are two events, men’s and women’s, although a failed bid was made to add a mixed doubles category for the upcoming 2010 Games in Vancouver, Canada.

Bobsled or Bobsleigh is also fairly popular and always draws a sizeable audience. It has been a part of the Winter Olympics since the beginning. The three events are the two-man, two-woman and four-man races, and the four-man event is generally the most popular.

Overall, the honor for winning the most gold medals in the Winter Olympics goes to Norway followed by the United States of America. The Winter Olympics, while not as popular as the Summer Olympics has steadily grown over the years to capture a sizeable audience.

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The Importance of a Warm Winter Coat

When it comes to winter coats for men, women, girls and boys, the importance of a warm winter coat should be of paramount concern for parents, kids, men and women alike. The thing about winter coats is that most of them just plain suck. Sure you can go to Wal-Mart and buy a winter coat for $100 but don’t it expect it to be warm, don’t expect it to fit well, and don’t expect it to be stylish. But above style, it should fit well.

A well well-fitting jacket is a warm jacket. It all starts with the type of material you find inside the jacket. Many jackets come with some kind of synthetic insolation, I don’t even know what its called but its probably no good. You want to go natural go with goose down, you can’t go wrong and you’ll always be warm. You should also consider the inside of the jacket that actually touches your skin. It usually should contain a comfortable light polyester material so you feel too warm and doesn’t absorb moisture if you happen to sweat (chances are if your doing something rigorous, like shovelling the driveway, you’ll probably sweat).

At the same time you should also consider leaving enough room to layer up. Layering up involves adding layers of clothing underneath a winter coat to provide additional layers of warmth. Layering is a must-do for winter sports, but is also advisable for general winter day-to-day. Layering isn’t just about piling on more shirts. The first layer should be a polyester or synthetic material that will keep moisture off your body, like a sports shirt. The next layer should be a light cotton based material, or hybrid cotton polyester for warmth and moisture wicking. The should be all you need plus the warm coat over top. You should never have to much space on the inside of the jacket, this is where cold air can hide and chill you quite quickly. You always want the layers of clothing and the space between clothes and the jacket to be fairly snug.

The outer shell of the jacket should always be a water proof breathable material. Don’t bother with anything that says “water resistant” or “water repellant”, choose brand name water proof shells like Goretex. The next time you get wet snow or rained on, you’ll thank yourself for spending a bit more on the waterproof material, and you’ll thank me for writing this!

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3 Steps To Plan the Ultimate Ski Trip in Colorado

Colorado is a mecca for winter sports only if you know where and when to go. If you’re arranging an adventurous trip in, say, Summit County, you must prioritize skiing. If, however, you’re getting cold feet while planning a ski trip in Colorado, trust this write-up to be your bible. Now, without ado, let’s get started.

The 3 steps

Decide your companions on the trip and its length

For making any trip pleasurable, you’d require the company of great comrades and/or family members. Afterward, you’d require setting up the length of the trip too; a trip’s duration will get directly influenced by your travel budget. So if you’ve chalked out your travel budget, you’ll get a handle on the number of days and nights that you’re willing to spend in the mountains.

Save the dates of yours and of all those who’re accompanying you

As an ideal itinerary planner, you shouldn’t be lackadaisical in deciding which days (and dates) of the ski season will suit you and everyone. The best months to ski in Colorado start from mid-October to the first week of July, so ask everyone the month and the dates that suit them the most.

Decide the ski resort where you and all the fellow traversers would like to ski and revel

First things first, choose the size of the ski resort that you wish to go to; whether it’d be a huge one or a smaller one. (Actually, that, too, would depend on your budget.) If you’re having a lavish budget, we’d advise you to select a resort enjoying Copper Mountain’s excellent stature. (For example, if you happen to choose Copper Mountain, we’d advise you to book a seat in a Copper Mountain shuttle in advance; because you shouldn’t leave anything to chance.) And if you’re planning on a shoestring, go for a small-sized resort such as Ski Cooper.

Are there any other points that need to be remembered before selecting a ski resort?

Yes, there are two of the most important points.

Your budget: You’ve to choose only those resorts that fit your budget. If there are any beginners, it’s better to choose a resort that give ski training sessions. (However, such resorts are costlier than the normal ones, so choose accordingly.)

Know the resort’s vertical drop: For those of you who are unaware of the term “vertical drop,” it’s the distance for which your skis will run. Many ski resorts post the vertical drop on their website.

So by following these three tips and by remembering the two points (to select ski resorts), you’ll be able to plan a great ski vacation. Ski happily and safely, Skier.

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Enjoy a Relaxed Ski Holiday In Peisey-Vallandry

Whether we like it or not, winter has arrived in the United Kingdom! Although the autumn season was remarkably prolonged this year, rain and colder weather has finally reached the shores, just in time for us to begin planning a Christmas break!

And while many Britons will take the chance to catch up with friends and family during the holiday season, just as many are likely to head out on a slightly more exciting type of break – like a stay in a catered chalet in a ski resort in Europe.

The Unbeatable French Alps

For many, a preferred destination is sure to be the French Alps. After all, it is here that some of the best skiing and snowboarding pistes and slopes in the world are located, as well as some of the most famously luxurious resorts. Over the decades, this part of Europe – along with neighbouring Italy, Switzerland and even Austria – has deservedly carved a reputation for itself as the winter holiday destination par excellence, explaining its popularity among tourists both in Britain and further afield.

But for every person willing to pay top dollar for a catered chalet in Val D’Isére or Morzine, there will be another looking to scope out quieter or more affordable options elsewhere in the country. Inevitably, this type of traveller will discover that France holds more than meets the eye in terms of the scope of its ski resorts.

With plenty of scenic places to visit – and a few excellent ski resorts – the Savoy region is ideal for those wishing to enjoy a catered chalet holiday while staying relatively secluded from the winter-sport crowds yet within easy access of quaint villages and natural attractions.

Peisey-Vallandry

One of the best resorts from which to enjoy all that Savoy has to offer is Peisey-Vallandry. Part of the Alpine region known as Paradiski, this resort offers the perfect mix of challenging pistes, breath-taking scenery and extra activities and sports – making it perfect for families as well as for individual travellers or groups of friends.

Adrenaline junkies for whom the thrill of whisking down slopes is not enough, for example, will delight in the opportunity to engage in ice climbing – up frozen waterfalls, no less – or paragliding, while families might enjoy snowshoeing, pedestrian walks, or even cultural sessions held at the resort itself.

Peisey-Vallandry also offers special nursery days, so that parents with small children may have a personal day to enjoy the slopes on their own. A health club and regular entertainment events are also a fixture at this resort, ensuring that tourists who choose to book a catered chalet there get an extra something out of their skiing holiday!

For all these reasons and more, Peisey-Vallandry is an excellent under-the-radar option for a Christmas break in France.

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Top 5 Labor Day Destinations for 2017

Few auspicious moments of life are a mere resemblance of happiness, and we don’t miss a chance to celebrate such moments. Consequently, we use different names to remember the time, place and the day we spent, likewise the upcoming Labor Day 2017 is a much-anticipated event around the United States, post solar eclipse.

Plan your Labor Day weekend leisure with a Northeast escape to Stowe for gala time with your family members and buddies; it is commonly known for its winter sports and many outdoor activities. On the other hand, Stowe is a standout amongst other Labor Day destinations since you’ll have an opportunity to join the people around the town and appreciate the excellence of climate. Regardless of whether it’s a hike to swimming or a mountain biking and bottling plan, Green Mountains will make you put forth on your plans.

Mere opinion!

The idea of arranging a stay at a top-notch resort nearby Mount Mansfield is a sensible decision, where you will be facilitated to enjoy the eateries, pools, and spacious tennis courts and much more. If you want to explore the surrounding, there will be a complimentary transport facility arranged by the management that can take you into the town, just like a quick nap. Or you can rent a bike to explore the places by your own. Perhaps, the hiking trail is a favorite option for most of the visitors, where they spend more time discovering the beauty of nature.

On the other hand, people tend to participate in various events, such as bike race, football match, street games, country fair and live concerts and so on. If you are looking for some other ways to have fun, then you should try city outskirts for a relaxed and peaceful environment, where you can view the fireworks around the town; right after the sun hits off the day. Perhaps; this option is viable for those who need a space for privacy.

There are few renowned places around the nation to enjoy the Labor Day occasion, and the top five among them are listed below.

  • Enchanting Canyon lands National Park in Utah
  • White Sands in New Mexico
  • Santa Cruz in California
  • Tennessee’s Knoxville
  • Beautiful Kerr Lake of North Carolina

Camping outdoors is always a fun, and these places are perfect choice to make it happen!

Prerequisites for outdoor camp

A day out in the middle of the forest or elsewhere in the city outskirts needs to be planned according to your stay; a number of participants and the weather condition are mere basics, in addition to that, you have to load enough food, water can, and camp tent in your vehicle.

Unlike other arrangements, the restroom is a tough one though; but we can manage it all the way by renting a porta john to indulge the need for proper sanitation. The arrangements differ according to the individuals need and standards, thus few “must have things” are covered in this topic.

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Basics of Wrestling

Wrestling has to be one of the hardest sports around. There are many factors that make up a good wrestler, however, there are many traits that are shared by all wrestlers no matter what their skill level is. To be a good wrestler, you will need to be as strong as football players, have the body awareness of gymnasts, conditioning of marathoners, speed of sprinters, and the mental toughness of the marines.

Dan Gable (who is a legend in the sport) was once quoted as saying that “Once you wrestle everything else is easy.” This couldn’t be truer. Wrestling is a sport that makes everything look easy in comparison. One of the reason for this because of weight cutting. Most sports will allow you to be able to eat normally before a competition. Wrestling on the other hand requires you to keep your weight under control. If you ever fail to make your weight class then you are not allowed to wrestler.

It can take many years for wrestlers to be able develop and really gel in the sport. However, this can be shorted by working out in the summer time. Since it is a winter sport, you can make up a lot of ground, by working out and training all year. This isn’t mandatory, but it is required if you want to be truly successful. There are summer camps all over the nation. In fact with a little research online, it would not be too hard to find a wrestling camp that is right near your house. Wrestling in tournaments all summer long is another way for you to really develop.

One way that will really help you develop your skills in the summer time is to make sure that you write down what you have learned at the camps. Bring pen and a notebook when going to a wrestling camp. This is because during these camps you will be shown many, many moves and will not be able to remember them all. When you write them all down you will be able to remember all of them, or at the very minimum you will remember more than you would have ever been able to without writing them down.

A person will only need a few pieces of gear in order to practice and compete. You will need to have wrestling shoes, a headgear, and a singlet. A singlet is the wrestling uniform that you might have seen before… it is the spandex. A few optional things that you can wear when you are wrestling are mouth guards and knee pads.

There are many different places competitions will take place but a good majority of them will take place in school gyms. This is because most wrestling events will take place between one or more schools. State and national tournaments are often held in stadiums due to the size requirements that necessary. A lot of space is needed for more than four to five mats. Some state tournaments have 10 or more mats because of the amount of wrestlers that they have. If they didn’t have all those mats then the event would take weeks to finish.

Wrestling is a great sport and it teaches many different life lessons. It not only teaches you how to be part of team but it also teaches you skills such as discipline, determination, and persistence. All of these skills are great for life.

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A Guide to the Three Layers of Snowboard Clothing

One of the main appeals of snowboarding is the fact that you are taking part in an activity in some of the most dramatically beautiful landscapes on earth, but spending time in mountain regions also exposes you to changeable and potentially harmful climates. As a result it is vitally important that before heading out onto the slopes that you have the correct clothing and equipment to keep you warm, protected and ultimately able to enjoy snowboarding for longer. Ideally your snowboarding clothing should keep you warm, be lightweight and keep you dry by wicking sweat away from your skin. The best way to achieve this is be using the layering method which allows you to react to sudden drops in temperature by adding layers or increases in temperature by taking a layer off. The three layer system is applicable for most winter sports with the base layer trapping warmth and wicking moisture away from your skin, the middle layer, which is usually a clothing or fleece jacket providing additional insulation and the outer layer protecting against the wind and rain. Below is a short guide to what each layer consists of and why it is important in your overall snowboarding equipment.

Base Layer

The base is the layer that is in contact with your skin and is there to trap a layer of air and remove moisture from your skin to keep you both warm and dry. The base layer should cover you from head to toe and as such consist of a long sleeved top, full length leggings and socks made from a moisture wicking material such as polypropylene. Avoid wool combination materials if you are have a low itch tolerance and cotton altogether as it loses all its thermal properties if it gets wet.

Base layer check list:

Thermal Body Shirt – Must have long sleeves and will ideally be made of polypropylene to ensure moisture is transferred away from your skin.

Thermal underwear – Again opt for polypropylene as this will not itch and provides great thermal and anti moisture properties.

Snowboarding Socks – There’s nothing worse than having cold feet and protecting your extremities in freezing conditions is of vital importance. Good quality snowboarding socks will not only keep your feet warm, dry and comfortable but also improve the fit of your snowboarding boots and protect against impacts. Your socks should come half way up your calf and shouldn’t be too thick as this will encourage sweating.

Second or Middle Layer

The job of the second layer is to trap warm air as you ride and transfer moisture further away from your body as your ride, it can also be used as the outer, protective layer on warmer days. Commonly used materials include wool and fleece with fleece being particular popular due to its lightweight properties and breathable properties which draws moisture towards the outer layer of clothing.

Second layer check list:

Jacket or sweater – Made of either wool or preferably fleece, this should be lightweight and breathable allowing moisture to evaporate through the material. It will not however protect against wind or rain.

Snowboarding Pants – Placed over the top of your base layer, snowboarding pants should have a nice, roomy fit and provide additional warmth and moisture protection with padded areas in the knees and backside area for impact protection and to prevent melting snow seeping through to your base layer.

Snowboarding Boots – Available in regular shoe sizes, snowboarding boots are the link between your snowboard and your feet. As such fit around your feet and ankles is highly important. Take time to try a number of pairs to ensure you get a comfortable and secure fit as a decent pair will last you a while.

Outer Layer

The outer layer of your snowboarding equipment is there to protect you from wind, rain and impacts, prevent moisture from entering and allows moisture to escape from the inner layers.

Outer Layer Checklist:

Beanie, Hat or Helmet – Whatever you use make sure it covers your ears and for impact protection opt for a specialist snowboarding helmet.

Snowboarding Goggles – Snowboarding goggles should protect your eyes from wind, snow, rain and UV. Lenses vary in terms of their light transmission capabilities with different lenses available for different light conditions.

Snowboarding goggle lenses should also have a scratch resistant coating, anti fog coating and 100% UV protection. The goggle frame should fit comfortably to your face with a cushioned foam surround that also removes moisture from your face improving comfort and reducing fogging. Snowboarding goggles have a broad head strap that should fit snugly holding the goggles firmly to your face.

Snowboarding Jacket – Your jacket is your final protective layer against the elements and as such should be wind proof and water repellent. As with the rest of your snowboarding clothing your jacket should be breathable allowing moisture to escape.

Snowboard – Snowboarding is pretty difficult without one but make sure you get a snowboard that is suitable for your dimensions, riding style, experience and budget. Snowboards vary in terms of construction materials, camber, flex, dimensions, effective edge and sidecut so again make sure you try a number out and discuss your requirements with a snowboard supplier before taking the plunge.

Snowboard bindings – Good quality sturdy snowboard bindings are important to ensure your boots are firmly attached to your board. Available in small, medium and large sizes your bindings should be bought in combination with your boots to ensure the most secure fit.

Snowboarding Gloves – Use specifically designed snowboarding gloves with fleece insulated glove liners to protect your hands from snow, ice and impacts. They should be waterproof and have padded and reinforced palms and fingers which are both high impact areas.

When buying any snowboarding apparel ensure that it fits well to prevent chafing and to maintain the breathable nature of the fabrics. Your snowboarding clothing is there to keep you warm, safe and comfortable over long periods in the winter climate and as a result it is worth spending the time and money to ensure you get the best possible equipment.

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USA Olympic Nordic Team and Professional Cross Country Skier, Andy Newell

Andrew Newell – Professional Cross Country Skier, US National Nordic Team, 2006 & 2010 US Olympian

Sponsors: US Ski Team, Salomon, SMS, Swix, Fischer, Bank of Bennington, Karhu, Rudy Project, Power Bar, New England Nordic Ski Association, T2 Foundation

Vermont native Andrew Newell brings a whole different light to the sport of Cross Country Skiing. He is one of a kind, pushing the limits of what can be done on XC Skis. He skateboards, surfs, mountain bikes and produces extreme XC Ski films; not what you would think of as a typical XC Skier. On the course, Andrew holds in his trophy case 3 World Cup podiums, 2-time US Olympian (2006, 2010) and is internationally recognized for his sprinting abilities. I recently got the opportunity to catch up with Andy while he was on the road and pick his brain a little on the present and future.

Q. What was your inspiration or driving factors that made you begin to think about X Ski Films and extreme XC Skiing?

A. Well I started X Ski Films over 10 years ago when I first started training with the US Ski Team. Then and now my goal was to show people in the US what XC ski racing was all about and to capture the excitement of skiing. It’s one of the most popular winter sports in the world but it’s not really seen in the mainstream media here in the states. It was always funny to fly to Europe where there are 70,000 people in attendance at races and skiers are considered celebrities, and then to come back to the US where most people think it’s just a sport that old people do in the woods. In addition to the ski racing I tried to capture the life of an XC skier, the fact that we’re out training is tough but we always have fun with it. All of the tricks and extreme skiing on XC skis was just kind of my personality coming out in the films. I always grew up trying to go as fast as I could on the down hills or as big as I could off jumps and to me that’s what XC skiing is all about. It’s about being able to concur the uphills, descents, corners, jumps, and all kinds of terrain in all types of conditions. Cross-country skiing was meant to be the ultimate outdoor adventure. X Ski films kind of found a niche at the time because although every race was televised live all around Europe, finding world cup ski racing in North America was tough. Nowadays all the fans of skiing can tune into all the races by streaming them online or watching them on Universal Sports but that wasn’t the case back then. So now X Ski Films is more or less out of production, aside from short videos online when I have time to post them, but the X Ski Films lifestyle always lives on!

Q. How do you envision the future of Cross Country Skiing and Team USA Nordic Skiing?

A. Right now is an exciting time to be part of XC skiing on the US team. We’ve gone from being one of the underdogs on the world cup circuit to one of the most successful teams in a fairly short period of time. In 2006 I reached the podium for the first time in a world cup sprint race, which at the time was the best result in over 25 years for the US. Since then our team size has tripled, we’ve won World Championship medals and we’ve established ourselves as a team that can accomplish anything. It’s cool to see how the momentum can build from year to year and how we’ve grown as a team while having tons of fun pushing each other. When I was a kid it was a huge goal to make the Olympics, but that was basically because we didn’t know what was possible. We didn’t have fast US skiers to look up to. Now young skiers in the US grow up motivated not only to go the Olympics but that it’s possible to win and be the best in the world. It’s been amazing to be part of that process.

Q. Could you provide the general public a glimpse of the training regime for an elite XC skier?

A. Being a world-class skier for sure takes a lot of endurance training, strength, and technical work. Just like most endurance sports like cycling or triathlon we log the majority of our training hours in the off-season, which is why skiing is such a full time job. In the summer months we are training twice a day working out for several hours a day on roller skis and a lot of running. Because we race such a variety of competitive distances, everything from sprints to marathons, we also need to constantly be working on intervals, building our Vo2max and speed training. So even during the summer we have to do intervals and hard training pretty often. We will typically get on snow several times throughout the summer in New Zealand or Europe but we are also lucky that we get to do a lot of cross training. We’re not stuck doing laps in a pool or spinning laps around a track we get to enjoy different modes of training like running in the mountains, biking, weightlifting, we keep exercise interesting. When you need to log between 800-900 hours of training in the year it’s important to keep it fun.

During the winter, all of our training is on skis but we also taper a lot and don’t put in too many hours. In a typical season I will race up to 40 times in 15 different countries, so with all the travel we focus on building our fitness through intervals and most of all racing.

Q. What type of technologies are you incorporating into your training and racing?

A. Technology is always pushing our sport not only in how we train but also in our equipment. Training theories are always evolving and we use a lot of technology to test our bodies and make sure the training we are doing is having a positive effect. At the US Ski Team training center in Utah we have treadmills that we can ski on and they measure how our lungs and heart are working at high intensity. Having a high Vo2max is really important in cross country skiing but also studying what kind of technique and movements to use at certain speeds. We also use machines to measure our blood volume and hemoglobin mass and are constantly keeping track of how many red blood cells we’re building throughout the training year. We also use very basic technologies like heart rate monitors and lactic acid testing on a daily basis to make sure we’re getting the most out of each workout.

The technology behind equipment is mind-blowing, so I wont even get into it. But a very cool side of XC skiing that most people don’t see is what goes into the race skis and the waxing of skis. Each country on the world cup has their own staff of anywhere from 5-15 wax technicians who’s job it is to test different types of skis and different types of wax for the bases. Because snow conditions can be different at every venue and constantly changing throughout the day wax techs are basically like scientists trying to find us the best combinations of wax and grinds (which is the structure that is pressed into the base of the skis). When I travel I usually have around 30 skis in my quiver at a given time. The days leading up to the races I work together with my wax tech to pick the skis with the best flex and base for the snow conditions and then they apply the race wax which has tested best before the race begins. It’s incredibly complicated so I’m glad I just have to focus on racing most of the time.

Q. How do you believe other sports you participate in like skateboarding, surfing, trail running and mountain biking contribute to your success on the snow?

A. I’ve always been drawn to sports like skateboarding and surfing because of how addicting and fun they are. That’s what I grew up doing and I still love skating. I think I enjoy sports like that because of how non-competitive they are and because of the style and flow you feel when riding a wave or a half pipe. Realistically though sports like skateboarding and mountain biking are great for skiing. Typically athletes who are drawn to endurance sports like running, road cycling, and cross country skiing lack athleticism. And people give me a ton of crap when I say that but it’s true. Endurance athletes are incredibly fit and strong but that doesn’t mean we have great ‘athleticism’; meaning agility, body awareness, speed, things like that. I think playing sports like soccer are great for building agility and of course sports like surfing and skating are great keeping up balance and learning to move your body in a specific way. Things like that haven’t necessarily helped my fitness over the years, but it’s improved my athleticism and has made me better at adapting my ski technique and learning how to move in an efficient way.

Q. Do you believe there are any other sports as physically demanding in regards to stamina as cross-country skiing?

A. There are a lot of tough sports out there for sure, and there are a lot of sports out there where athletes cross the finish line in complete exhaustion just like in ski racing. I think XC skiing is special because it is a unique combination of power and efficiency. We have races that last anywhere from over 2 hours, to as short as 3 minutes, so developing endurance and speed is important to being successful. Skiing is also a full body exercise which requires the use of literally every muscle in the body so the feeling you get after a hard race is pretty amazing.

Q. If you could only grab a couple items from the pantry before race day, what would they be?

A. On race day I keep it pretty basic with things like oatmeal, bananas, peanut butter things like that are what I like to eat before a race. When you travel for competitions as much as we do it’s definitely hard to be too picky about what you eat. I’ve adopted some pretty strange Euro eating habits like salmon fish paste on bread for breakfast or Norwegian brown cheese to list some of my favorites.

Q. What’s on the agenda in the coming years for Andrew Newell?

A. The big focus is on the Olympics in Feb. 2014 in Sochi Russia. To win an Olympic medal would be a dream come true for me and the whole XC skiing community in the US, so that is always a driving goal. It’s funny how a lot of sports truly revolve around the Olympics, I think a lot of athletes can get to caught up in the 4 year cycle of the Olympics and have too much of a one track mind. To me XC skiing is a lifestyle and that just doesn’t come around once every 4 years. We have an incredible world cup tour and we race as hard as we can each weekend on behalf of the USA. So yes the Olympics are very important, but I there is a lot more that goes into being a ski racer and I’ll continue to enjoy that lifestyle as long as it’s still fun.

Q. Could you share some of your favorite places to XC Ski and X Ski?

A. In the US I really like the skiing around home in Vermont. VT has a ton of small local ski areas that have some sweet old school winding trails. There is this one place near Stratton called Wild Wings that is a classic skiing only trail system. All the trails are super narrow and rolling and it’s great to go out with the buddies and hammer through the woods. Prospect Mountain outside Bennington VT is the ski area I grew up at and that’s also one of my favorites when I’m in the States. When it comes to Europe its hard to beat the amazing sun and mountains of skiing in Switzerland or Italy around the Alps. We spend a lot of time training and racing around Davos Switzerland and it’s incredible there. Finland, Norway and Sweden for sure have some of the biggest ski areas since XC skiing is such a part of their culture. Skiing around Oslo is awesome because there are so many trails connecting all the different towns. Holmenkollen ski stadium is right outside of Oslo and it’s kind of the home of skiing and has some of the coolest and most challenging terrain.

Q. What’s the vibe like on race day?

A. Race days on the world cup are what I live for because all of the pressure and excitement of racing on behalf of your country. One thing I didn’t realize about XC ski racing until I came to Europe, was how intense the fans are and the kind of atmosphere created by 80 thousand spectators around the ski stadium. Sprint races especially bring in the big crowds and you start to realize that, in a way, we are involved in the entertainment industry as much as the sport aspect of skiing which makes racing even more fun. Things like betting on ski races is hugely popular in Europe and with how unpredictable sprint racing can be it’s pretty exciting for the fans. Some of the rowdiest race venues are usually my favorites to compete at. Each year we have several sprints in downtown cities like Oslo or Stockholm where they lay down snow on the streets for us to race on. In a way it’s brought ski racing to the people and the urban sprints have a pretty incredible atmosphere.

Q. Lastly, A few tips for those wanting to progress in cross country skiing?

A. I would encourage anyone who’s up for an adventure and interested in staying fit to try cross country skiing. Even for folks who aren’t into the racing side of things can go out and have a good time on skis and enjoy the outdoors in a healthy way. For the skiers interested in pushing their limits and speed in the racing scene, I would encourage them to stick with it and not give up on the technical side of skiing. XC skiing tends to have a much slower learning curve than say a sport like cycling because of the balance and movements are more complicated. It’s easy for people to buy a fancy bike, put on a jersey, and all of a sudden feel like they’re ready for the Tour de France; but with skiing the technique can be as much a limiting factor as the fitness. So for people looking to progress, sometimes the best thing to do is break the movements down into sections. First work on the lower body movements and balance by skiing without poles, and then spend some workouts just practicing the upper body and poling motions. This is the best way to dial in your technique and also build strength.

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