Now is the time to master a new winter sport and show those stuck in the ski-lodge rut how to have maximum fun in the cold. Here’s how, and where, to get started, with tips from the athletes who know best.
PARK AND PIPE SKIING
Copper Mountain, Colorado
Play in the pipes before they debut in Sochi
When halfpipe and slopestyle skiing make their Olympic debut this February in Sochi, Russia, you may decide it’s time to give the sport a try. It’s easier than it looks.
To get started, sign up for a winter freestyle lesson at Woodward at Copper (from $199), an indoor and outdoor action sports training facility at Colorado’s Copper Mountain. You’ll spend half the day practicing tricks and gaining air awareness on trampolines, ramps, and foam pits inside Woodward Barn, and then you’ll take your new skills to the on-snow terrain park.
Simon Dumont is a two-time Winter X Games gold medalist in halfpipe skiing.
“The pipe looks intimidating, but once you ride it a bit and you’re finally able to conquer that fear, then you’ve put your skiing ability to the ultimate test and overcome a huge mental test as well,” says Dumont, who currently holds the world quarter-pipe height record (35.5 feet). “Make sure you learn the basics of how to ski and that you feel comfortable with all the variables before you just go and get in the park or the halfpipe.”
Untouched powder, wild chopper rides
If there’s one thing that’s on nearly every skier’s bucket list, it’s heli-skiing in Alaska, where visions of untouched powder, steep spines, and wild chopper rides abound.
Skip the crowds and stormy weather of Valdez and instead head to Points North Heli-Adventures (from $5,475 for an all-inclusive seven-day trip) in remote Cordova, where you can access over 1,500 square miles of empty ski terrain on the southeastern side of the Chugach range from the seat of an A-Star. You’ll stay in a former fishing cannery turned waterfront lodge, and after a day of skiing and a wood sauna, you’ll feast on halibut and Copper River red salmon.
Daron Rahlves is a former Super-G skiing world champion.
"It does cost money, so save up and do it,” says Rahlves, a former Olympic downhill ski racer turned big-mountain film star. “But if you and a buddy are flexible enough to do a last-minute trip and you don’t mind waiting for seats to open up, then that could be the best money-saving heli-ski trip.”
Into the woods with a team of Siberian huskies
Dog lovers and speed freaks, we’ve found your calling. But you can’t just rope up a litter of huskies and charge into the woods.
First, take a ride with an experienced musher or sign up for a commercial dogsled tour, like Husky Works (from $275) in Stratton, Vt., which offers rides for two to three passengers along winding, groomed trails through the southern Green Mountains. A team of Siberian huskies, with names like Storm, Polar, and Tonka, will propel you deep into the wilderness. Then, Vermont’s Peacepups Dogsledding on Lake Elmore offers a four-hour Mushing 101 lesson ($500), where you’ll learn to harness the dogs, set up the sled, and drive them yourself while following another guide.
Mitch Seavey is a two-time Iditarod champion.
“The number one rule of dog sledding is dog care,” says Seavey, who, in 2013, nabbed his second Iditarod title and became the oldest racer to win at age 53. “An experienced mentor can teach you things like proper training, nutrition, gear selection, and a host of other information to keep it fun and safe for you and your dogs.”
Park City, Utah
Whip through 15 turns of the Olympic track
Nobody starts out as a bobsledder. “Bobsled athletes come from all different sporting backgrounds,” says two-time Olympic hurdler Lolo Jones, who’s planning to compete in bobsled at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. “There are former football, volleyball, and rugby players, but the majority of bobsled athletes have a background in track.”
Park City’s Utah Olympic Park offers bobsledding and skeleton rides (from $200) for total rookies. Utah’s Comet Bobsled pairs three passengers with an experienced pilot and lets you whip through the 15 turns of the 2002 Olympic bobsled track. You’ll reach speeds of up to 80 mph and experience the otherworldly gravitational pull of 5 Gs.
Lolo Jones is currently training with the U.S. bobsled team.
"People think it will be like a roller coaster ride. It is not like that,” says Jones. “A lot of G forces are pushing you down, and it can be rough. You never get used to it, but you know what to expect after a few trips.”
Sip a beer and dive into a plate of nachos
Après ski may not be a winter sport, per se, but sipping a beer and diving into a plate of nachos after a day in the mountains is an integral part of the snowsports culture.
To do it right, try Cloud Nine Bistro, a mid-mountain cabin on Aspen Highlands that serves up European-style Gruyère fondue washed down by carafes of wine and followed by disco dance parties.
Chris Davenport is a skier and ski mountaineer.
“If you’re drinking après ski, make sure you drink water, as you’ve got to ensure that you don’t get dehydrated and suffer the consequences the next day,” advises Davenport. “I stay away from hard liquor after skiing and just go with the tasty carbs of a cold beer.”
Check out the November 2013 issue of Red Bulletin magazine (on newsstands October 15) for more articles. To read the magazine on your iPad, download the Red Bulletin iPad app. Follow Red Bulletin on Twitter for more.