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"It's never too cold in Chicago. You're just underdressed." A quote that can be attributed to Neil Steinburg, a columnist at the Chicago Sun-Times, it's more than likely been muttered a few times on the ski slopes as well. Seasoned ski veterans know that cold weather brings great skiing and that proper preparation ensures a great ski day. But if you're just starting to get into the sport, starting to bring your little ones out onto the hill, or are skiing for the first time in a different area, here are some tips to stave off the cold and get some good turns in.
1) It's all about the layers...
Especially if this is your first time out on skis or a snowboard, you will be working hard and using different muscles so you won’t want to be bundled up so tight that you will start to sweat. Zippable fleece vests, breathable underclothes, jackets with side zip vents will make it easy to stay at the right temperature.
Blue jeans will soak water out of pile of snow just by walking by. Ski pants will keep you warm and dry. Also, jeans under snow pants can be a pain in the ankle! Often times, we hear of people complaining of pain in the shins and ankles and the culprit is usually pants that are stuffed into the snow or ski boot. A pair of breathable long johns would ease any pain and suffering, at least in the ankles and shins.
Stay away from those cloth gloves as they will have the same effect as jeans.
Don’t count on the hood of the ski jacket to keep the heat in your head. It usually doesn’t have the insulating factor needed and has a bad habit of getting in the way, blocking your eyesight and then it will keep sliding off, chilling the head.
The general rule of thumb is a 3-layer system. A warm, breathable layer stays closest to your body and should wick away sweat if needed. A second mid-layer should keep you warm without being too bulky. And the third outer layer should be waterproof and easily removable when needed.
For more information you can check out our First Timer Guide for additional information about what to wear (and what to expect and do).
2. Cold is Relative
Cold, like many things, depends on a ton of different factors.There is no hard-set rule about how cold is too cold for skiing and riding. A 0 degree (F) day when the sun is shining and the wind is calm can feel warmer than a 20 degree day where the wind gusts around you. And if you're wet, it doesn't matter what the temperature is as chances are you will be cold.
If you're a North Country alum on vacation in Florida rocking a tank top and flip-flops while the locals are bundled in jackets you know exactly what we mean. If you are used to cold temperatures or are an avid skier on the slopes more often than note, the cold might not affect you as much as it may your friend tagging along for the first time with you. Don't expect others to feel the same way as you do--either too hot or too cold.
Children also tend to experience cold differently. They have smaller bodies, tiny toes and fingers, and are still learning to acclimate to weather. If they say that they are cold, they probably are.
3. Fuel is for more than just the house.
We use fuel to help keep our homes warm and to keep our cars running. The same things applies to our own bodies. We need fuel to keep warm!
Snacks are an important part of staying warm, believe it or not. Good food--nuts, granola, trail mix, pb&j sandwiches--are sustainable forms of energy that will help to fuel your body and keep the mechanisms satiated and help you stay warm. Water is another essential. If you keep your body well hydrated you will see that you stay warmer by leaps and bounds.
Finally, movement is two-fold to help you stay fueled. Make sure to take breaks when skiing in the cold and when you are outside try to stay moving. When are you usually the coldest? On the chairlift! Skiing tends to warm you up as you move your muscles. So take some runs and head inside for a break to fuel up. Cover yourself in layers and head back out!
Ski, have fun, use your noggin!
If your body is telling you it's cold, listen to it! But if you're body is telling you it wants to get out there and move, listen to it. Remember, humans weren't meant to hibernate. We'll see you on the slopes!
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