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.

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.

10 Michigan Snowboarding Facts to Know Before You Hit the Slopes

 The snowboarding season has arrived, and whether you’re planning on shredding the ‘gnar, carving up black diamonds or just going down your first bunny hill, you know that the Great Lakes State has some of the most exciting and diverse terrain in the Midwest.

Photo courtesy of iEnvision Photo

Photo courtesy of iEnvision Photo

We’ve put together a list of 10 snowboarding facts you should know if you want to stay crunchy – or “cool” to all of you non-boarding folk. So drop in and read below to see if you’re up to snuff on these snowboarding fun facts.

1. Muskegon, Michigan is noted as the birthplace of modern snowboarding. In 1965, Sherman Poppen, an engineer, invented a toy for his daughters by tying two skis together and attaching a rope to one end so they would be able to steer as they stood on the board and glided downhill. Poppen’s invention was known as the “snurfer”, a combination of snow and surf.

2. In 2000, Snowboarding was the fastest-growing sport in the United States, with the number of boarders rising to a total of just over 7.2 million. In 2013, in the Midwest alone, 7.1 million snowboarding enthusiasts dropped in on hills and grinded on rails and boxes.

3. Snowboarding was first included in the winter Olympics in 1998. Nick Baumgartner, hailing from Iron River, competed in the 2014 Winter Olympics. He also won the gold and silver medals in the 2011 and 2012 Winter X Games, respectively. Read our Q & A with Nick here.

Baumgartner4. Just 20 years ago, many popular ski resorts, like Aspen and Toas, did now allow snowboarders on their hills. Today, you’re hard-pressed to find a resort that doesn’t welcome snowboarding with open-arms. In fact, not one of the more than 40 ski resorts in Michigan have snowboarding bans!

5. Are you regular or goofy? This may seem like an odd question to those just getting into the snowboarding sport, but to veterans, it’s like knowing their own two feet. Literally. Regular means you snowboard with your left foot forward and Goofy means you snowboard with your right foot forward. Don’t worry; it has nothing to do with your state of mind!

6. Once you’ve got your feet on the ground, you’ll need to know what kind of board to get. There are three types of snowboards: freeride, freestyle and racing. Each board is unique to the type of snowboarding you’ll be doing, so it’s important to ask what’s best for what you’ll be doing when renting or buying. Of the three types, the freeride snowboard is the most popular.

7. In 2013, 67 percent of snowboarders were males and only 33 percent were females, with boarders aged 18-24 representing more than one quarter of all shredders on the slopes.

skiing-in-michigan8. Mount Bohemia, located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, is noted as having the highest vertical (900 ft.), most snow and the most expert terrain in the Midwest. In fact, Mount Bohemia is rated #1 for powder skiing east of the Rockies by Powder Magazine and has been called one of the top ten undiscovered ski resorts in the world by MSN.com!

9. According to Livestrong.com, snowboarders make up approximately 30 percent of all business for major ski resorts in the U.S. In Michigan, many major resorts like Boyne HighlandsCaberfae and Alpine Valley invite boarders of all skill levels.

10. Snowboarding isn’t just about going down hills. Much like skateboarding, snowboarding can also be considered a trick sport. Many boarders grind off rails, jump off boxes and fly off jumps to land in the fresh powder below. If you’re going to try one of these stunts, just make sure you wear a helmet!

Interested in learning more about snowboarding or planning a trip? Visit http://www.michigan.org/snowboarding for more information!