Category Archives: Planning Your Trip

Driving in Winter Conditions

Master the Highways in the Dead of Winter

Driving confidently to a winter resort depends largely on your snow-driving skills. I learned mine at the Bridgestone Winter Driving School in Steamboat, Colorado. While most of us don’t have the luxury of going to Winter Driving School, there are certain driving tips that we should all use.

Before driving on these frozen freeways, we need to understand about a car’s weight transfer and grip. Grip or traction is dramatically affected by weight transfer, which occurs whenever there’s a change from steady braking. When braking, weight is on the front wheels; when the car speeds up, weight transfers to the back wheels. Think popping a wheelie.

Knowing the principles of weight transfer and grip helps to understand the yin and yang that most influence vehicle behavior: understeer and oversteer.

Oversteer is when the car turns more than you want — again, due to too much speed. When you try to slow down, weight shifts to the front, taking away grip from the back and allowing it to fishtail. Sound familiar? To correct it, steer in the direction the rear end is skidding.

Killing Speed

You should practice the following three braking methods: threshold braking, cadence braking and ABS braking. We practiced three separate braking methods after barreling down the track’s slippery straightaway. Threshold braking means applying as much pressure as possible without going into wheel lock-up. Cadence braking, or pumping, works in desperate situations. ABS (anti-locking braking system) is controlled by computer sensors that adjust brake pressure to prevent lock-up. The system pumps the brakes for you, creating rapid pulsations underfoot. My first reaction to ABS was to take my foot off the bouncing brake, but I soon learned to keep the pressure on until the car stopped. Knowing how to brake is huge because intersections and hills become polished and slick with frequent stopping and slowing.

For me, driving on ice is a lot like skiing: steering, transferring weight and adjusting speed to the terrain. And, as in skiing, I never go faster than my guardian angel can fly.

Content courtesy of SnowSports Industries America | SIA and snowlink.com.

An Ideal Week at the Mountain

Seven Days of Fun at the Mountain

Now that you’re gaining mastery in skiing or snowboarding, spend a week at a resort to fine tune your skills and add other winter activities to ratchet up the fun meter.

Choosing a resort

Go online. Websites like skisnowboard.com give subjective reviews and comparative information for all major resorts in North America. Expand your horizons – pick resorts you haven’t visited. Then browse individual resort sites to find a good package deal. Everything from air and lodging to lessons and lift tickets is cheaper online. Children stay and ski for free at many resorts.

Lodging

Lodge (hotel) room vs. condo. Condos are usually more spacious, allowing one or more families to stay together, and are good opportunities to save on meals. If you’re not into cooking on vacation, the lodge is a good option. Ask about breakfast, hair dryers, hot tub and spa services, laundry facilities, kids programs and on-site ski/snowboard storage. Schlepping equipment is not fun, especially for kids.

Ski-in/ski-out vs. the village. Some properties sit right on the mountain – convenient for slope access but not for restaurants and shops that are found mostly in the village. Ask about distances for walking and shuttles. If you must walk in your ski boots, buy a pair of Cat Tracks. These slip-on rubber soles will protect your boots on pavement and keep you from sliding on ice.

Transportation

Find out about transportation – from the airport and in and around the resort. Some resorts like Jackson Hole, WY are a distance away from town, requiring a shuttle or rental car if you want to stay at one place and visit the other. Self-contained resorts like Vail, CO have excellent free transportation systems, so you never need a car. If you choose to stay in town, most inns and hotels offer shuttle service to the mountain.

Other activities

To get the full winter experience, book other activities like dogsledding, sleigh rides and snowmobiling. Reserve a spa treatment for the fourth day. After three days on the mountain, you’ll need a soothing break about that time. For the hot apr├Ęs ski, dining and late-night scenes, locals often can be the best resource. You’ll need dinner reservations at major resorts. Concierges at upscale lodges can reserve everything for you.

Lessons

Take your skiing or riding to a new level by enrolling in a specialty program, such as lessons for bumps, racing and powder. Some schools offer classes just for women and seniors, and others will take you to their secret stashes for tips on all-mountain skiing/riding. Save time by booking your lesson and downloading release forms online. If you aren’t into taking a lesson, go on a free guided tour of the mountain offered by most large resorts.

Equipment

If you don’t want to schlep your own equipment on a plane, book demos directly on the resort’s website or separately at rentskis.com for pickup at certain shops. Or sign up on skibutlers.com for a technician to deliver equipment right to your room. Reserving ahead saves tons of time. You can also ship your own stuff ahead of your arrival.

Content courtesy of SnowSports Industries America | SIA and snowlink.com.

A Weekend Trip for the Enthusiast

72 Hours of Freedom-Hit the Slopes


Can’t get enough skiing or riding in one day? Then it’s time for a classic winter weekend in the mountains. All winter weekends are good for heading to the mountains, but if you want more time on the slopes and to avoid crowds, you may want to pick a non-holiday time (pass up Christmas/New Year weeks, Martin Luther King and Presidents’ Day weekends).

Choosing a resort

Since you have only two days, make the most of your time. Pre-arrange everything from lodging, lessons and lift tickets on the resort’s website under packages. Search for special weekend offers. When you select a resort, look for one close to home (less travel time) from all-inclusive sites like skisnowboard.com that gives subjective reviews and comparative information for all major resorts in North America. Check out the trail map to make sure you can handle most of the terrain.

Transportation

Find out about transportation – from the airport and in and around the resort. Some resorts like Jackson Hole, WY are a distance away from town, requiring a shuttle or rental car if you want to stay at one place and visit the other – too time consuming for a weekend. Resorts like Breckenridge, CO and Aspen, CO where lifts are right in town are good choices for weekends to enjoy both. They have convenient bus routes, and most inns and hotels offer shuttle service to the lifts/mountains.

Lodging

Ski-in/ski out is the most efficient option for a weekend. Select a condo if you want to save money on meals; a lodge room if you don’t want to bother cooking after full days on the mountain. (Besides, a night out is part of the fun.) Check out parking situations if you drive; shuttle service from the airport if you fly. Inquire about ski/snowboard storage. Schlepping equipment is not fun, especially for kids. If you must walk in your ski boots, consider purchasing slip-on rubber soles that will protect your boots on pavement and keep you from sliding on ice.

Lessons

Take your skiing or riding to a new level by enrolling in a specialty program, such as classes for bumps, racing and powder. Some schools offer clinics just for women and seniors, and others will take you to their secret stashes for tips on all-mountain skiing/riding. Save time by booking your lesson and downloading release forms online. If not a lesson, go on a free guided tour of the mountain offered by most large resorts, or just go rip it up with your friends! This could be your breakthrough weekend, where you get out of the green-blue rut and make the move to more challenging black terrain.

Equipment

If you’re thinking of upgrading your equipment, this is a good time to do it. Stop by your local specialty retailer for great customer service and expert advice. Or, if you can, fly in or drive up Friday afternoon to allow time to visit the ski shop and make your choices. Then ski or ride on demos for the two days – this should give you a good idea of what you’d like to buy. Most shops deduct the cost of the demo from the purchase price. You’ll go home with new gear as well as great memories.

Content courtesy of SnowSports Industries America | SIA and snowlink.com.