Ski and Winter Sports Report From the Aspen Valley – Christmas 2007

Are you ready to play? Today’s storm was almost perfectly timed. Tons of fresh snow arrived for the weekend, coating the valley in white. Locals will be playing hard. Holiday visitors will be gradually arriving. And more snow is predicted for Christmas day!

Which winter sport do you play?

When there’s this much fluffy-light new snow blanketing the valley, you just have to get out and play. It’s not a matter of whether or not you like to play in the snow, but moreso…where do I begin?!

Skiing, skiing, or …skiing?

When it comes to strapping a pair of wooden sticks onto your feet and zooming down a declined hillside, Aspenites wrote the book. Skiing has evolved, and skiers in Aspen are making history.

Downhill skiing, on designated trails (slopes), in a maintained ski area such as Aspen or Snowmass, is the typical sport that we imagine when we think of skiing.

Telemark skiers also populate the ski areas, but in smaller numbers than downhillers. Telemark skiing differs from downhill skiing in its style and equipment. Telemark boots flex, and the bindings release at the heel. To make a telemark turn, instead of bringing the feet closer together as in downhill turning, the telemark skier positions their back leg to make a lunge.

Another advantage of telemark skiing is its versatility. Telemark skiers can enjoy groomed trails and resort slopes, or they can head into the backcountry for solitude. Skiers can apply adhesive “skins” to the undersides of their skis. These give them grip on the snow and allow the skier to hike up a mountain. At the top, the skins are removed and the skier skis down.

Performing lunges all day provides an incredibly challenging leg work-out! After a day of tele’ing, the telemark skier is rewarded with an endorphin high, pure exhaustion and a hot toddy by the fireplace (if they can stay awake!).

XC, anyone?

Cross-country skiing is a way to ski on a different trail, away from the populated ski slopes. No lift lines, no crowds, just fresh air. And it provides an excellent aerobic work-out.

The Aspen area is home to many nuru massage fine cross-country trails and maintained areas. Nearby Carbondale’s Spring Gulch Nordic area will entertain many downvalley locals, looking to escape the crowded glitz of Aspen slopes this weekend.

Backcountry treasures.

If you are privileged to have the ($) experience, a guiding service can lead you into the backcountry. You can be escorted by snowmobile, or you can heli-ski by helicopter to more remote places.

In the backcountry, you’ll find untouched powder, amazing views of high peaks that feel close-enough-to-touch, and possibly some wildlife. You might have enough privacy to recreate “your own version of wildlife”.

There are winter sports in Aspen besides skiing?

Of course, snowboarding is a popular alternative to skiing. But there are a few others, too.

Snowshoe hikes, along forest trails or by creating your own trails, are exhilarating. Snowshoeing requires minimal gear and it’s loads of fun. You will quickly realize that “shoe’ing” provides excellent cardiovascular and strength exercise. However, it is so much fun that it can seem effortless.

As if it weren’t great enough that we have Christmas in the middle of a week and tons of fresh snow to celebrate, but just days before Christmas we get…
A Full Moon!

On a full moon night, the snow glistens. Outside on a trail, you find nothing but peace. Discover how diamonds dance on the snow, the moonlight shining through the trees.

This winter, try your favorite sport by moonlight. And try a new sport, or a few new sports!

Nina Schnipper offers sports therapies for athletes, weekend warriors, and non-athletes at Higher Spa & Studio in Basalt, Colorado. She specializes in pain relief and injury recovery, using fitness training and massage.