Winter is finally here

Posted on Dec 15 2013 - 5:58pm by Kels Mejlaender

With winter in full focus now that December is here, you may be thinking about the impending holidays or winter break, but us skiers and snowboarders at Pacific Lutheran University have heads full of snow right now.

For the few of you lucky enough to hit the slopes over the Thanksgiving break — Crystal, Mt. Baker and Stevens Pass were among the ski areas open — your season has already begun. Others, however, may be waiting for finals to finish before throwing their gear in a car to glide through some powder.

Whenever you can go, the gear you bring marks you as one of two things — a skier or a snowboard. While many people enjoy both sports, most usually have a preference, one they tend to do more often when the mountains beckon.

In the choice between two snow sports, there are a few things would-be skiers and boarders, or those of you considering a change, should consider

1. Skis :are faster than boards

It’s basic physics — skis beat boards, assuming both people riding them are in the same skill bracket. The world record for fastest snowboarding speed is 201.907 km/h, or 125.5 mph, according to the website for the magazine Snowboard­, http://snowboardmag.com/stories/snowboarding-records-guinness-book-world-records-0.

The world record for fastest skiing speed is 156.2 mph, according to the website Snow Brains, http://snowbrains.com/swiss-attempt-to-break-speed-skiing-records-156-mph/.

If math isn’t your strong suit, that’s a difference of 30 mph. While most skiers and boarders probably won’t aim to go faster than 150 mph — my personal record is about 60 mph — the speed factor applies for regular runs too. If speed is your aim, then a pair of skis is your best companion.

2. Skis work better in slow moments too

For every 90-degree angle, downhill run, there are a few with flat areas in between the steep slopes. Whether these catch you by surprise or are just too long, many a skier and boarder will find themselves standing instead of gliding on a completely flat section.

In cases like these, possessing ski poles and the ability to skate are invaluable. Skiers might work up a sweat, but it’s worth it, because they can move both legs and push off from the snow to get a little momentum going, aided by their poles.

Snowboarders are stuck either hopping along or taking off their boards and walking till the slope gets steeper.

It’s also easier to be stationary on a run as a skier. If you want to stop and chat with your friends, you just pull off to the side and stand relaxed. Snowboarders are forced to sit in the sometimes-wet snow with much less mobility for turning around or adjusting position.

3. Lift chairs suit skis better than boards.

For skiers, the worst part about lift chairs is the lift lines. But at least they get to stand comfortably with two feet planted on the ground and facing forward.

Not only do boarders have to take the time to undo one of their boots from their board, they also have to twist their knee as they hobble along in the lift line. Once on the chair, the entire weight of the board drags one leg down instead of being evenly distributed like with skis.

When they’ve finally reached the top of the chair lift, boarders can’t immediately go on their run, but instead have to pause again and reattach their boot to their board. It’s a lot more time spent fiddling and adjusting than skimming through the powder.

 

You may have gathered I have a slight bias toward skiing. Full disclosure — I’ve never actually tried snowboarding. These are just all of the nuisances I have observed snowboarders coping with while skiing for 17 years.

Regardless of the little inconveniences that comes with snowboarding, both snow sports certainly beat sitting at a desk all day or doing homework — sorry, PLU professors.

Skiers and boarders alike know the value of good snowfall on a winter day in the mountains.