Friday, January 16, 2009

Bundle Up & Ski!

There is nothing like a cold snap to get New England news stations talking about skiing. For some reason, ski areas are the whipping boys for weathermen and news anchors when temps dip below zero.

To answer your question, yes, we are definitely open, and yes, people are skiing - right now as I type this. Let me give you some cold weather tips for skiing:

1. Choose the right mountain - now I'm biased here, but I think Cranmore is a great choice for skiing on a cold day. Our sunny south-facing orientation helps as well as our elevation, which doesn't put you up into the wind quite as much as some of our neighboring ski areas. We are also less prone to wind delays on our lifts for the same reason. We have two lifts to the summit - one fixed grip, one high-speed quad. This gives us redundancy so if one lift is impacted by wind, you can usually still make it to the summit here.

2. Dress for it - this may sound simplistic, but if you cover up all your skin, you'll stay warm. Wear a helmet - it's essentially a wind-proof hat. Wear multiple layers of polypro clothing, fleece and a wind proof outer shell. Do not wear cotton anywhere. Buy hand and foot warmers. Leave grand-ma's knitting at home and wear heavy duty water and wind proof ski or snowboarding gloves. Better yet, wear mittens - they are easier to use with hand warmers and your fingers can keep each other company and warm. Be sure to wear ski pants with multiple layers of fleece or polypro under them.

3. Cover your face - Goggles are big sellers on days like this. Not only do they protect your eyes, they also shield your face from wind and cold. This isn't a time to wear sunglasses on the slopes. Face masks - neoprene or fleece - are a good choice as well. I don't go anywhere without my fleece neck-up.

4. Take frequent breaks - This isn't the time to see how many runs you can get in a row without a break. Enjoy your day. Start a little later. Stop at the Meister Hut at the summit for coffee or hot chocolate when you get off the lift to warm up before your run. Take an early lunch or late afternoon break and eat something warm. Your body burns more fuel in the cold so keep yourself well-fed. Carry a Clif bar or other high-protein snack in your pocket for quick re-fueling.

5. Don't believe the hype - Weather is big news in New England. Don't believe everything you hear. Believe it or not, those of us who live here get up and go every morning to work even when the temps are sub-zero. Our cars start, our kids make it to school and businesses open and run. We just wear good rugged footwear and heavy jackets, gloves and hats to go grocery shopping. Live free or die!

If you've been planning for this long holiday weekend with your kids, don't disappoint them. Dress for it, take breaks and have fun, gosh darn it. This is what makes us New Englanders. We don't let the weather stop us from having fun. What's the alternative? Stay inside 6 months of the year?

Right now, the sun is shining and the sky is a brilliant blue. The snow is so cold that it squeaks when you walk across it. You know what I'm talking about. It's that breathtaking cold you'll think about on a sweltering August day when you're at the beach or on your boat.

New England is all about weather extremes - the changes of the seasons. Want weather the same all the time? Move to Arizona or Florida. The forecast there is high 60's - every day until further notice. I'll take North Conway on this incredible winter day.

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