Know Before You Go: Seven Important Lessons from Skiers and Snowboarders

For some, winter means staying indoors and watching the snow fall softly with a cup of hot cocoa, but for many Michiganders and winter visitors, the snowy season means plenty of powder and plenty of opportunity to shred the slopes

Layer up with gear from the Pure Michigan store!

If you’re a seasoned ski or snowboard fanatic, you may have already learned some of these lessons the hard way (and now have a funny tale to tell), but if you’re a winter warrior ready to strap on some skis and give it a try, keep these do’s and don’ts for a successful ski or snowboard experience in mind – no matter how obvious they seem!  

DO: Layer up. Suiting up with the right clothing is very important before strapping on a pair of skis or buckling up your snowboard boots. There’s no need for expensive ski clothes your first-time out. Consider some long underwear, a turtleneck, fleece and some kind of insulating leg wear to wear under a winter jacket and waterproof snow pants. A pair of waterproof winter gloves is a good idea, too.  When you know you’re hooked on skiing or snowboarding, you can upgrade your wardrobe with some new winter weather gear from the Pure Michigan Store. Wearing comfortable and warm clothes will allow you to stay out on the slopes longer. So, unless you’re heading to the ski resort spa, you can leave the shorts and tanks at home!

Photo courtesy of Traverse City Tourism

Proper equipment is a must! – Photo courtesy of Traverse City Tourism

DON’T: Let your friends be your ski instructors. Even if your friends or family members ski and want to teach you, investing in a ski lesson is a better bet to ensure your success on the slopes. You’ll get started with a quality base of ski knowledge, and the individual attention will help you progress faster. Ski resorts often offer specials on lessons for first-timers. Ski Snowboard Michigan can help you find the right one for you. 

DO: Use proper equipment. Ski goggles are a must for both beginners and experts. Goggles reduce the sun’s glare during the day, and can protect your eyes from a fall or an unforeseen tree! Also, consider renting equipment instead of buying new or borrowing a friend or family members’ old pair of dated skis or boots. Buying new ski or snowboard equipment can be expensive, but learning to ski on a modern pair of skis is not only safer than skiing on old skis, but, it will help you progress faster. For beginners just starting out, renting is the way to go.

Photo via @Boyne.Mountain on Instagram

Mind the ski lift and have fun! – Photo via @Boyne.Mountain on Instagram

DON’T: Forget to pay attention to the chairlift. Every year, countless skiers and snowboarders get wrapped up in the excitement of a completed run or the beauty of the scenery and aimlessly get bumped or fall off the chairlift. You never want to be “that person” that holds up the line. Always stay alert and aware of your surroundings!

DO: Know your limits. There’s no shame in taking a few falls while getting used to the sport on a smaller hill. Ask any expert snow sports enthusiast – it all comes with practice. Too slow and too fast are often times right next to each other for beginners. Go at your own pace and stick with it!

photo-credit-Joey-Wallis-2-permission-requested

Know your limits and work your way up! – Photo by Joey Wallis, Mount Bohemia

DON’T: Head down a black diamond your first time on the hills. Besides losing most of your gear after you inevitably wipe out, you’re risking serious injury. Build up to harder slopes as you gain more experience. It is important to choose a ski resort with a good beginner’s area. You want wide, not very steep slopes. And more than just one “bunny hill”, so you can work your way up gradually.

DO: Head to Michigan.org to find  the best places to carve up the slopes this winter. Doing your research will not only save you time when booking a hotel, but you might find discounts on lift tickets or rentals through your search as well! Before you go, set the mood for your ski trip by watching videos of skiers having a blast, as they float through powder and weave through trees.

Have you learned any of these lessons the hard way? What else would you recommend to beginning skiers and snowboarders? 

For more information on planning a Pure Michigan ski or snowboard trip, visit michigan.org/snowday.

Grab Your Imagination and Your Boots for a Snow Day Getaway in Oscoda

Cardboard? Check. Scissors? Check. Creativity? Check. Pack up your snow gear and your imagination. Oscoda’s Snow Box Derby is back for its 25th year! Today, Oscoda Area Convention and Visitors Bureau tells us how to suit up for smooth sledding and a snow day getaway on Michigan’s sunrise side. 

Photo by George Thomas - Lumberman's Monument

Photo by George Thomas – Lumberman’s Monument

Snow Box Derby
Snow Box Derby is an Oscoda area tradition. The unique sled race glides into action February 8, 2015. Participants work to create a race-worthy sled using cardboard, scissors, duct tape and ingenuity. Creativity is encouraged! Many teams even wear costumes. The theme for this year’s race is “25” in honor of the derby’s 25-year celebration. Throughout the day, there will also be free children’s games including frosty bowling, as well as snowball golf for the adults! What type of sled would you build?

Photo via Under the Radar Michigan

Photo via Under the Radar Michigan

Turn your derby day into a Pure Michigan winter weekend. Check out these other snow day activities that the Oscoda area has to offer:

Snowmobiling
Oscoda is the eastern gateway to northern Michigan’s snowmobile trail system. From here you can travel across the state to Traverse City or northward to the Upper Peninsula. In Foote site Village, six and a half miles west of the trailhead, riders will find food, beverages and fuel. There the trail divides and riders have the option of heading north via Rea Road across the AuSable River and connecting with the Alcona County Trail system.

Cross Country Skiing
Whether you’ve been skiing for years or are just now picking up the sport, Oscoda offers trails for skiers of all levels.

Photo courtesy of Oscoda CVB

Photo courtesy of Oscoda CVB

Experienced XC Skiers

Highbanks Cross Country Ski Trail – This is a linear trail, covering 14 miles of scenic AuSable River bluff, running from Iargo Springs on the west past Lumbereman’s Monument to Sid Town. This back-country trail is marked but not groomed, and is suitable for novice to intermediate skiers.

Hoist Lakes Trails – Longer loops and steeper hills offer an exciting challenge in beautiful surroundings. The trailhead is six miles north of Glennie on the west side of M-65 where parking is available.

Photo by Melissa Ghrist

Photo by Melissa Ghrist

Corsair Ski Trails – This trail is nestled in the beautiful Silver Valley area, surrounded by 120,000 acres of Huron National Forest. The Corsair system offers 44 miles of groomed and tracked trail with a variety of terrain, being one of the largest groomed trail networks in Michigan.

Eagle Run – located two miles west of Oscoda on River Road. The trail runs along the banks of the AuSable River in the Huron National Forest, through mixed hardwoods and pines. The trail consists of 11 miles of groomed loops of varying lengths and difficulty. Trails are 13 feet wide and double packed.

Beginning XC Skiers

Sled Hill (Old Orchard Park) – is located eight miles west on River Road. Winter time fun for the whole family. Groomed sled hills.

Reid Lake – offers six miles of gently rolling trails through an area of many ponds where you can easily find evidence of beaver activity. Parking lot is plowed but the trails are not groomed. The parking area and trailhead are located on the south side of M-72 across from Kohler Road. From Oscoda, follow F-41 north to M-72. Turn west and go 12.5 miles.

Will you build a sled made for speed or ski through peaceful surroundings? Whichever you choose, plan your Oscoda area snow day getaway at oscoda.com

Humans Aren’t Meant To Hibernate! Discover Michigan Skiing With These Cost-Cutting Tips

It’s winter in Michigan! For Mickey MacWilliams, Executive Director of the Michigan Snowsports Industries Association, it’s her favorite time of the year. Here she shares some tips for taking full advantage of all that Pure Michigan ski areas have to offer this season.

Photo by Instagram user @benhunt13

Photo by Instagram user @benhunt13

Skiing has been a popular sport in Michigan for over a century, and today it’s a $4 billion industry. Michigan is home to the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame, and some of the first and largest ski jumping competitions originated here back in the early 1900s. We have been enjoying Michigan’s winter weather ever since, and now it’s your turn!

For those who don’t know how to ski or snowboard but want to learn, January is the month. That’s when ski facilities all across Michigan offer an exciting and affordable learn-to-ski or snowboard program called Discover Michigan Skiing. Beginners aged seven and up receive a lesson, equipment rental and a lift ticket or trail pass for just $20 for cross-country skiing or $35 for downhill skiing or snowboarding. To get started, a Discover Michigan Skiing voucher is needed, and they are available at participating McDonald’s restaurants in Michigan or online at goskimichigan.com.

Snowboarders_basin_stKids in fourth and fifth grade can ski for free all across Michigan this year with the Cold is Cool Ski & Ride Passport. Twenty-seven ski areas have each contributed up to three lift tickets for this passport booklet, so students can ski all winter long, accompanied by an adult. Cold is Cool Passport applications and program details are available at ski shops across the state and also at goskimichigan.com.

Ski areas across the state offer packages, special events and discounts that can be a lot of fun while helping to reduce the costs of getting out onto the slopes and trails. The Events & Discounts tab on goskimichigan.com is updated frequently and offers a wide assortment of options.

MtBrighton_2274_485_322_300Want to know what the snow conditions and weather are like at any Michigan Ski area?  The Ski Areas and Conditions page provides up-to-date snow conditions and direct links to ski areas all across the state, where you can view web cams and see conditions in real time.

We live in a state that turns cold for four months each year. Michigan is truly a winter wonderland. If you’re dressed right for the weather – like our ancestors did for over 100 years – it is amazing out there.  Here is a link to a brief, condensed history of Michigan skiing.  Now it’s your turn to get outside and enjoy the Pure Michigan winter!

What are your tips for first-time skiers and snowboarders? 

Screen-Shot-2013-11-25-at-4.57.24-PM-150x150Mickey MacWilliams is the executive director of the Michigan Snowsports Industries Association, which represents the ski and snowboard industry in our state.  She is also an avid downhill and cross-country skier and a very timid but enthusiastic snowboarder.  You can reach her at info@goskimichigan.com.