Thursday, February 16, 2012

Go Skiing

By Alison Haywood, Sports Columnist

Despite snowboarding’s rising popularity, the truly dedicated snow athletes shoose skiing. Skiers can go faster, are more agile and can access more varied terrain. While board sports attract more teenagers and show-offs, you will find the most talent perched above a pair of skis.

First of all, skiers can go faster than snowboarders. Whether due to aerodynamics, friction or balance, physics seems to favor skiers. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, skiers have reached speeds of more than 155 miles per hour, while the world’s fastest snowboarder barely broke 124 miles per hour in 1999.

Greater speeds not only mean more fun, but the greater velocity also allows for bigger tricks. Skiers can therefore, theoretically, jump higher and longer than snowboarders.

For most skiers, however, enjoying the sport is not about catching the biggest air or flipping the coolest tricks. While many teenagers are drawn to board sports for the opportunities to show off and do tricks, skiing attracts a kind of person who has a deeper appreciation for the skills it takes to fly effortlessly through the firs or carve up a mogul-covered mountain face.

Snowboarders also get a bad reputation for their attitudes. While it is true that many snowboarders are quite skilled and respectful of others on the mountain, the subcultures that are drawn to board sports simply because they are “cool” often ride recklessly, endangering and angering the people around them. These groups are often overly concerned with tricks and showing off with no consideration toward the people above and below them on the slope.

Skiing also opens up a variety of terrain that snowboards have a harder time with. Nothing compares to snowboards when it comes to riding through fresh powder, but when conditions get rough, skis are much easier to handle on ice and in wet snow. The edges have more surface area with which to cut in to ice, and they’re easier to turn through slush than snowboards.

The type of terrain where skiers really leave snowboarders in the dust is anything remotely flat. Between having poles to push with and the cross-country technique known as skating, skiers can traverse quickly over flat areas without breaking stride. Snowboarders must stop, un-strap one foot, and hobble awkwardly to the next slope.

The ability to ride across flat surfaces as well as slopes also allows skiers to ski areas that aren’t serviced by ski lifts, including the pristine mountain back country, which often has the best snow.

Don’t be fooled by snowboarding’s promises of popularity and potential for powder. Serious athletes choose skis.