STEVE H: Hello and welcome to another Summit Sports Podcast for skis.com and snowboards.com. On this podcast I'm going to talk Steve, the SKI-E-O and Ski Buyer here at Summit Sports, as well as Jenna, our snowboard buyer, about the benefits of skiing in the spring.
After a long and cold winter, we're finally starting to see some warmer weather but don't put those skis and snowboards away just yet. Here's why.
STEVE K: Yeah, actually spring skiing is what I really wait for and live for. I have skied a number of times so far this year, Steve, but they've been mostly for work. My two ski vacations are coming up. One is next week, the second week in March, and the second one is the second week in April so those are my vacation ski trips.
STEVE H: Okay, and are you staying in the Midwest or going out West?
STEVE K: Going out west. Both trips are to Deer Valley. My favorite place is Park City to go and we have a place in Deer Valley which is awesome.
STEVE H: Okay. Well, tell me about spring skiing out west.
STEVE K: So, spring skiing out west is much more comfortable, you know, one of the benefits, obviously, is the weather. It's warm. You need to wear a lot less clothing, usually a light shell, you don't need an insulated jacket, and a couple layers is more than enough. You don't need neck warmers and balaclavas all the things that keep you warm in the cold days, it's usually just very comfortably 35-40 degrees in the afternoon.
STEVE H: As far as it being warm like that, you wear less, I tend to, you know, take off the hat, sometimes the gloves, anything we should be aware of?
STEVE K: Well, some people take a lot more off.
STEVE H: Oh yeah.
STEVE K: You do see people skiing in bikinis and shorts and short sleeve shirts very often.
STEVE H: What about any danger to that?
STEVE K: Your ability to get burned, and a bad burn on snow is actually greater than on the beach because you get the reflection of the snow so it's really important for sunscreen on any part of your skin that is exposed particularly your nose, cheeks and facial area.
STEVE H: Is there a problem with getting colder because it's warmer and you're sweating more?
STEVE K: That can happen especially if you get one of the colder spring days because you will sweat typically more that's why it's really important to wear base layers and other layers that have wicking properties so it can pull the moisture away from your skin.
STEVE H: I've been known to, in warm weather, pull off my goggles and put on a good pair of sunglasses. Do you recommend I do that or no?
STEVE K: Yeah, actually I always bring my sunglasses along with my goggles. You need goggles with a dark tint lens so that you get low light transmission through it and then you need glasses typically at lunch because you almost always eat your lunches outside in the spring. You know, you're going to pull out the sunglasses because it's pretty bright out there and wear those and often you'll ski with them in the later half of the day when it gets warmer.
STEVE H: Now, most of the time I'm kind of a first chair up kind of guy when it comes to skiing but you don't recommend that for spring.
STEVE K: No, you know, typically in January and February you do want to get on one of the early chairs because the snow's the best in the morning; either you're getting powder or fresh corduroy, you know, and it degrades toward the end of the day but spring skiing's the opposite. Typically you don't really want to go out first thing because the tracks that were created or the corduroy that was created is really hard in the morning because it's frozen overnight so you want to wait for the snow to soften up. I typically won't go out in the spring until after 10 and usually about eleven or twelve is when the runs get really nice and when it gets a little bit softer, it's more of a corn snow, it's really easy to ski on. It's a little slower than regular snow but very easy to carve, very comfortable to turn on, it requires very little effort.
STEVE H: So, we can sleep in then.
STEVE K: Exactly.
STEVE H: Okay.
STEVE K: But we typically ski later so usually what we'll do is we'll get a later breakfast, we'll have a little later lunch, sometimes we don't eat lunch until 1:30 or 2 and that might be the end of the day and then we just kind of sit out on the patio and have a beer or a glass of wine and then take the last chairlift up to take the last ride down.
STEVE H: Are there anything that we should be aware of because it is spring, it is getting warmer, you tend to see some areas where you might see brown, some grass, anything that we should be aware of?
STEVE K: Yeah there are more rocks and you don't necessarily want to bring your best skis if you've got a second pair because you will have exposed but typically most of the resorts now make snow in the areas where they have problems like towards the bottom and stuff like that so nowadays it's much better than it used to be. Typically you're not going to have things that are not marked, usually they'll mark them with sticks and other types of warning devices.
STEVE H: Okay. Now this year's been exceptionally cold and we're hoping that it gets a little bit warmer for spring, people who may have wanted to learn how to ski this season may have held off. Should they take a lesson? Should they go now? Or should they wait until next year?
STEVE K: So, let me tell you a story. So, when I went to prepare to propose to my wife, she was not a skier and it was imperative to me that she learn how to ski so it was really a condition of marriage as I've talked about on other podcasts as well, and she said fine but there were 2 things that had to happen: 1 was she had to be warm, and 2 is she had to like it. So, I stacked the deck and I took her to Steamboat Springs at the end of March when I knew it would be warm and I knew it would be beautiful and she loved it. So, my advice is absolutely. That was the first time she skied in a real mountain environment and she got better fast because she got 7 days of skiing as opposed to a weekend and she absolutely loved it so it's a great time to learn to ski.
STEVE H: So then we swapped out Steve the ski buyer for Jenna the snowboard buyer and I started off by asking about cheaper lift tickets in the spring. Was that a myth or can you actually get discounted lift tickets?
JENNA: A lot of places will, you know, they'll change their rates for the spring, for late spring. Deal sites like Liftopia offer even better deals. Sometimes you might get, you might be able to find lodging thrown in just because it's late in the season, just to try to get more people out to the hill still.
STEVE H: Okay. But in the Midwest you can only go so far so is there really a difference between skiing Midwest and West or do they kind of end around the same time?
JENNA: Generally out west they tend to have a little bit longer season. There's places like Utah that have an excellent spring, you know, have great spring conditions still. A lot of places out west tend to have that longer season. Some will have a limit as to how long they can stay open based on the Forest Services, you know, other restrictions, you know, out in the Midwest, yeah, you'll generally make it through March, maybe the first weekend of April. Certain resorts it kind of depends, you know, some resorts where they've got golf courses or, you know, we've got one near us that has a waterpark so they'll stay open as long as possible until they can open that golf course and then, you know, kind of transfer the customers over to that.
STEVE H: As a snowboarder, you mentioned that it might be good for beginners to learn around the springtime. Why is that?
JENNA: I think spring is an ideal time for people to learn or people who are maybe a bit apprehensive about going. You know, I know Steve talked a little bit about the fact that you don't have to bundle up quite as much so it is a more comfortable experience but especially with snowboarders, I mean, as all of us know, the first day or two you are falling, you are on the ground obviously taking a lesson makes that a little bit easier. But you are spending some time on the ground and with the softer conditions you're not dealing with ice, you're not dealing with as hard-packed snow, you know, it tends to be more forgiving, you know, it's slower as well when the snow gets a little bit slushy. A little bit wet, you know, it's a little bit stickier on your board, it tends to slow you down a little bit so sometimes for when you're learning, you're starting off, it does help a little bit in terms of making it an easier experience all around.
STEVE H: We've had a very freezing cold winter which has frozen up the lakes a lot, is this going, how…are we going to be able to ski and snowboard, you think, later in the season even if we have a regular, average temperature spring?
JENNA: I think the biggest thing this year is we got a lot of snowfall early and the temperatures were cold enough early to make snow so resorts by us or out east even, places like Killington, I mean, they were cranking out snow, you know, pretty early and making sure that they had this good, solid base so that they can go a little longer than, you know, normally they would so even by us, I think as things start to warm up, I think the snow will stick around for a while.
STEVE H: The temperatures may be rising but there is still plenty of opportunity to get out to the mountain and spend another few days skiing or snowboarding.
I'd like to thank Steve and Jenna here at Summit Sports for coming onto the podcast today. Check out some of our great end of the season deals on skis.com and snowboards.com and thanks for listening to the Summit Sports podcast for skis.com and snowboards.com.