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Dreading the upcoming family ski trip? While the prospect of spending days with mom, dad and your littlerace1 brother on runs like EZ Street and Beginners’ Way may seem a bit dull, the Columbia Ski and Snowboard Racing Team has come up with a few tips to help you find fun on the groomers (after all, we’re mostly confined to icy/rainy east-coast skiing, so finding fun in less-than-ideal conditions is our modus operandi). You might even burn a few calories, too.

1. Skiers: learn to race carve.

What seperates you from Bode Miller? He’s edging more (and he’s 6’5). Rather than skidding through turns, try putting more and more pressure on your downhill leg/shin to feel the edge of the ski carve through your turns without breaking its grip on the snow. Once you’re comfortable with this and begin to get a feeling for the natural arc of your ski’s turn, try getting a little more speed and work on moving your body out farther from your skis as you turn. Once you’re making 60 degree angles with your body through turns, groomers with the family become decidedly more fun.

2. Find excuses to go fast.

The Chinese Downhill is one of the most sacred events in ski and snowboard racing. What’s more, anyone can do it. Round up a posse of friends, family, ski school bandits – whoever.  Start from the highest point on a run, and first one to the bottom wins. The only rule is, there are no rules – anything goes (though true Chinese Downhillers might opt for a helmet first). Event popularized by the 1980s ski/amateur porn film Hot Dog.

3. Discover new ways to go downhill.

Whether it’s strapping into your sister’s snowboard in ski boots and going for a run, or going without skis/a board at all – there’s always a new and challenging way to make it down the mountain. You don’t need to waste money on exotic rental items like ski bikes or teleboards to amuse yourself (and onlookers).

4. Ski/ride harder

If you don’t end your day tired, you’re not working enough. It’s easy to think that a sport that relies primarily on gravity, ice and metal blades doesn’t involve much work – but you don’t have to take it easy! Intense race carving, and even just tucking down runs, can burn hundreds of calories per hour.

So, while a week in the mountains with your family might not seem ideal at first glance, you CAN make it more fun than your friends’ boring trip to DR. Alternatively, you’re invited to join the 114 members of Columbia Ski and Ride next year for another epic season – because while 1020 and the Heights get old, waking up to fresh tracks with Columbia Ski and Ride never does.

-Raph Graybill and Francesca Overwater, Co-Captains

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When describing family vacations, I like to say that the only kind my family goes on are “exercise vacations.” One of our favorite yearly vacations was to Waterville Valley in New Hampshire to go cross-country skiing. I always liked these trips, even as my friends told me that I was crazy and that downhill skiing was much more fun and a lot less work. For a while, I would bite my tongue and agree with them, but as I got older, I began to appreciate the benefits of cross-country skiing, and quickly grew to be a staunch supporter of the sport.

On its website, the Cross Country Ski Areas Association names 6 attributes of cross country skiingThis could be you! that make it a worthwhile activity. These are: “easy to learn, healthy, family friendly, accessible, affordable, and offers great variety.” Not to mention that it’s fun, which I consider a bonus attribute.

Since this is a health and fitness blog, I’ll focus on the benefits of cross country skiing as it pertains to those issues, and let you check out the website for the other ones. All of these observations come from personal experience as well as from the website, so – I promise – you can trust them.

For us health-conscious individuals, the exercise factor is a huge benefit of cross-country skiing. As someone who likes to think of herself as a gym rat (whether that’s true or not), cross-country skiing is some of the best exercise I ever get. After a day out on the trails, I feel tired in the best way possible. I sleep GREAT, and my muscles feel used. Not only that, but since I get so much exercise during the day, I don’t feel bad vegging out in front of a roaring fire for the evening. Importantly, however, all this does not mean that you’re suffering all day. Actually, it’s quite the contrary. Because of the beautiful scenery – trees, snow, frozen creeks – you forget just how hard you may be breathing while out on the trails. Also, if you go up, there’s always a downhill ahead so you know your hard work will pay off with a relaxing downhill glide.

While all of this is great, you may point out (and rightfully so) that if you’re going to go on a vacation, why go cross-country instead of downhill? Vacation is not supposed to be about exercise anyway, right? Well, there are tons of reasons: I’ll just name a few here. First, cross-country skiing is much cheaper (a trail pass at Waterville Valley, my favorite place, costs 18 dollars for the day, and rentals are 19). Second, it’s a lot more comfortable because instead of sitting on chairlifts freezing your butt off for half the day, you’re constantly moving and warming your body up. Third, you get to see really beautiful trails and ever-changing scenery. Finally, there’s MUCH less of a chance for injury in cross-country than in downhill skiing.

Before I leave you, I’d just like to point out that you don’t even have to go to an official place to enjoy the benefits of cross country skiing. If there’s enough snow and you have the right equipment, you can do it right outside your front door. This may be a little bit harder in NYC since the snow gets cleared almost right away, but if there’s a big snowstorm, there’s always Central Park. So next time your family is looking to plan that winter vacation, consider suggesting cross-country skiing – I definitely recommend it.

Source: http://www.xcski.org/ski_snowshoe_info.php

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