How to: Surviving Winter Sports for Dummies (Skiing/Snowboarding)

Friday, 11 September 2015

“The first impression is the deepest whenever you do something.” Have you ever heard this saying before? It is true even to the extent of the first time trying out an activity, or having a relationship, or anything for that matter, because the very first time makes an imprint that might almost never go away. It goes the same for winter sports. People always prepare and over-prepare before they try something for the first time, be it for the sake of failure, or for the sake of wanting to complete the activity without any regrets.

I remember my very first time snowboarding really clearly. It was in December 2014 and my friend had asked me if I wanted to go snowboarding. Of course,having never tried it before, I gave a very resounding yes since I have never seen snow in my life, let alone try out a winter sport on snow. The only time we actually see it would be on television, where the only two possible programs would either be the Olympic Winter Games, or the World’s Worst Accidents. As such, people tend to associate these sports with extreme danger,or something people do to get into the Olympics. Many don’t want to go out of the normality to give it a try.

Well,I am here to tell you that it was simply excellent and it was extremely fun.Definitely, the preparation and traveling took a toll on me, but the experience of sliding down the smooth slopes, looking at the beautiful scenery pass you by, almost feeling like you’re (literally) on top of the world, and ultimately,checking off something from your bucket list. The only few things I wished someone told me are about to be the things that I will tell you, just to make sure that your first experience goes as smoothly as possible.

Book the Right Ski Resort
Check reviews online, ask people for recommendations, make calls in advance. Nothing is worth sacrificing comfort just for laziness. You have to do your homework.Korea has quite a large number of ski resorts and almost all of them have at least websites that are user friendly. Check for reviews, and pick the one that’s best suited for you. Some of the resorts even have certain promotions and deals to attract customers, and also offer free shuttle buses so that you wouldn’t need to make your own way there. Whether you’re going to stay at the ski resort, or just go for a one day trip, it is always best to check and double check just to make sure you’re taking the best way out.

Do not Overdress
Friends who have gone snowboarding or skiing before at ski resorts told me this one thing, DO NOT OVERDRESS! Yes, it is winter, and every single time you head out,you tend to wear at least 3 layers before your overcoat, including a heat trapping inner wear. However, you will definitely be perspiring excessive amounts the moment you begin skiing. Mind you, there’s a reason why they call it winter SPORTS. It isn’t just a leisure activity though the weather is cold.All you require is a simple T-shirt, and your outer coat. When you arrive at the ski resort, everything you need is rented to you, and surprisingly, for a ski jacket that feels rather thin, it keeps you well incubated. You would definitely need 2 pairs of socks, preferably one to throw away after use,because the ski boots smell really bad. (Imagine thousands upon thousands of people who have rented it before) You would also need to have gloves because the ice and snow could give your hands frostbite.

Get Enough Rest
There are usually different time slots at ski resorts, and you can choose between the morning slot (0830-1500), afternoon slot (1230-1700), night slot (1830-0100).They even have really special ones at dawn (2400-0500), and the all night slot(2200-0500). Apparently, it is a totally different experience skiing in the night and during the day. Since I was a beginner, skiing in broad daylight would definitely be the way to go. We chose the morning slot because people usually dislike waking up early (or so I thought). We woke up at 4:30am in the morning to catch the shuttle bus at 5:00am that brought us to the ski park.After queuing up to get our equipment and gear, it was almost 9:30am already.You definitely require enough rest because it is a pretty tiring sport on top of the fact that you require your body to be in tip top shape to handle the cold as well as the heat from exercising. As you probably know, skiing and snowboarding is a motion of coming down, which means you would have to take a ski lift right back up the slope every time. Dragging that snowboard or walking in skis really takes a lot out of you. Adequate rest would ensure tip top condition and a more cheerful mood.

Onething that I really struggled with was the fact that I don’t exercise much, noteven regularly, and this actually played quite a big part during my ski tripbecause the snowboard is heavy, and even if it’s not, carrying it up over andover again takes quite a toll on you. You would probably take around 10 minutesor less to get up, and another 5 minutes or so to get down. In 1 hour you’vedone it 4 times. I remember it being lunch time, and I was already all puckeredout. I gave up and rested for the last hour before leaving while my friendscontinued. Make sure you’re not sick, and you’re in a healthy condition to makeyour money’s worth.

Do not be Afraid to Fall Down
This is one thing that is really important! I see many people afraid to go down fast for fear of falling down. If you are not willing to take the risk, you will not be enjoying the most out of your ski trip. The thrill is in the exhilarating downhill rush and the sliding to-and-fro that makes it enjoyable. The snow is soft, and there is nothing that can cut you. You might feel a little bumped and bruised at the end of the day, but at least you made an effort to enjoy the most out of this opportunity.

Try New Levels
Another issue would be trying out new levels. I was contented with staying at the beginner’s slope because it felt fun enough, less dangerous and wouldn’t be that scary. It was my friends who pushed me to try different slopes and we went higher and higher. The first time is always the toughest because you’re afraid you’re going to go tumbling all the way down and sustain a critical injury. The truth is, because of your snowboard or your ski, you will hardly even fall more than 3 meters. Always be willing to try the higher levels once you can clear the slope you are on without falling down. It is always a brand new experience and the view from the peak is simply breathtaking.

Enjoy Yourself
Finally,after all the stress in planning, juggling your resources, calculating the money, and making it all the way here, you need to enjoy yourself. Let your hair down, enjoy the rush of the sport, and just take in the ecstasy that makes you feel like you can conquer the world. It is by far one of the most exciting sports that I have ever done, and I would definitely be going for it again when winter comes. This is a sport that can only be done for 3 months every year,and opportunities are not going to keep coming back, especially not to a foreigner, a Singaporean, whose country only has summer. At the end of the day,when you’re there, always make it a point to remember that experiences are only great if you are truly enjoying it.

Snowboarding and skiing are one of the actual sports featured in the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games. Of course, having seen something on television and having experienced it first hand are two different scenarios altogether. Trying it out on your own could be the first step to understanding the sport a little better, and being able to clear another thing off your bucket list at the same time.

This article was written by an official college student reporter of the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic* Paralympic Winter Games, WINNERS. Some contents might be different from the official position of the Organizing Committee.

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