Skiing in the wind can be an unpleasant or even dangerous experience, especially if we do not take the appropriate precautions. Following some simple rules, perhaps at the end of the day we can say:
“TODAY WAS DIFFERENT, I HAD A GREAT TIME”
Enjoy skiing on windy days too
Sometimes we think that you only put on your skis and go up the mountain on perfect sunny days, with plenty of snow … but you can learn every day and this includes windy days. Here, we are going to explain why.
Adverse conditions can mean new challenges for the skier who wants to improve, learn and evolve. Yes, it is possible to have a good time skiing on a windy day in the mountains. It can be very useful to learn or train some techniques, experience new sensations and adapt our technical gestures according to its intensity and direction.
Take the opportunity to train some technical exercises, experience new sensations and adapt your way of skiing depending on the intensity and direction of the wind. Below you will find information and some tips for skiing on windy days, which we hope will be useful. In any case, when in doubt, follow the advice of professionals. It’s to enjoy a hot coffee at the foot of the piste then do something risky.
Tips for skiing on windy days
Wind direction and intensity
Depending on the direction of the wind, the station technicians decide for safety reasons whether or not to continue operating the lifts. It mainly depends on four factors:
Cable or land transport
The lifts that transport us without losing contact with the ground, such as a lift or magic carpet, are not as exposed to the wind as chair lifts, gondolas or cable cars. Although the latter offer undeniable protection against rough weather as well as some types of chair lifts, those have a protective bar with an integrated bubble, which considerably reduces the effects of wind and cold. For example, the newly installed covered rugs at Peyragudes guarantee a pleasant and comfortable experience for beginners.
Modern conveyors have advanced safety systems that allow the ascent to continue operating even when the wind exceeds 50 km / h. Stations equipped with old elevators are often forced to close their facilities much earlier than those that have invested in modern equipment. The bicable or tricable cable car, as well as the two-way ski lifts, are considered the safest in extreme wind situations, the latter with a transport cable and a tow cable.
The transport line
Alignment of the elevator is determined by the engineers, taking into account mainly the terrain as well as other economic, technical and safety elements. Investment costs, operating costs, low risk of collision and upon disembarking, the connections to the runways, the means necessary to prepare the departure and arrival areas, etc. These are some of the determining factors in choosing the alignment of the climb. Last but not least, due to the risk of derailment, it is vital that the line cannot be parallel to the wind.
The higher parts of the station are more exposed to the wind than the lower parts. In addition, the highest mountains are always more exposed to the wind, because they are not protected by the other massifs.
To start your day right, choose which lifts are open and, depending on which ones the resort plans to open, determine a route sheltered from the wind. Although the wind changes direction frequently, changes in direction in the mountains are less frequent. When the weather conditions are really bad, the wind direction is sometimes constant. With that said, choose tracks that face the opposite direction of the wind.
Choose your clothes well skiing on windy days
Clothing and equipment will be a key factor in enjoying a windy day in a ski resort. Regarding the layers for your clothing, the three layers will be essential to maintain a small microclimate that will protect our body from harsh weather.
The regulation of our body temperature in situations of physical activity, induces the body to evaporate water through the skin acting as a temperature regulator. We will avoid unwanted sweat if with the first layer we choose synthetic fibers such as chlorofiber, polypropylene, polyester or even new generation wool.
If, on the other hand, we choose cotton t-shirts as the first layer, we run the risk of being cold during the day since they will absorb and hold sweat easily. Garments close to the body are ideal, since they prevent cooling by convection as there is a layer of air between the textile and our skin.
The second layer must be composed of insulating materials that keep you warm, even when wet. Polartec’s synthetic fiber with a thickness of 300gr / cm2 stands out for quality and price.
Lastly, the third layer plays a crucial role on windy ski days. This layer should protect us from rain and snow, favoring impermeability. It must also prevent the passage of wind and permit the expulsion of moisture. This last layer should be quite tight to the body. If we choose a rain cape or a wide raincoat for example of a wide size, we run the risk of being uncomfortable during the day since it will wave like a flag, making noise and moving constantly.
Protecting the face is essential, and for this there is nothing better than a protective mask. A yellow or orange colored S1 visor mask will prevent a “flat view” of the relief and improve visibility, which is often reduced in windy conditions. The mask must have good ventilation, because when we cover our face it can increase the condensation caused by our breathing.
In addition, the topography of the terrain and the vegetation (trees) can be effective natural obstacles against the wind. Choose a wooded natural environment as a priority instead of slopes without vegetation. Skiing on windy days, we suggest covering your head and face in the following order: scarf around your neck, hat, balaclava and finally the hood of your third layer. Another good option is to put the ski helmet on at the end, directly on the hood, so as not to lose the latter in the middle of the descent.
Adapt your technique on windy days
Believe it or not, a windy day can be ideal to learn new techniques and expand resources on the track. Everything will depend on where the wind is coming from, as its direction will favor one type of exercise over another. We invite you to play with the wind while skiing, it can be very fun to use our body to change direction as if we were turning into a sail. We can slow down or accelerate our descent and experience new sensations.
Here are some exercises or games that we recommend depending on the strength and direction of the wind:
Skiing with headwind
The wind exerts opposition during the descent and prevents you from sliding normally. It is a constant brake, since it is completely opposing your line of descent. We propose exercises where you vary your aerodynamics. Try to perform 10 turns with the center of gravity high, followed by 10 turns where you will lower the center of gravity to the maximum, limiting the extension of the ankles, knees and hips. In the latter, you will probably feel more comfortable and descend faster, but the deep flex will fatigue your muscles. These last exercise work the quadriceps muscle (main extensor of the leg), among others, to work in an eccentric way, constantly.
Normally we descend with the axis of the hip almost perpendicular to your path line. Try to modify it by making a direct descent, rotating the hips and shoulders while advancing one ski or another. The swaying that occurs is multiplied by the wind, when using the body as a “sail”. This technique produces quite a pleasant sensation and transfers well to various technical patterns of alpine skiing that require an important tonicity in the core.
The so-called “stabilizing muscles”, which include the transverse, pelvic floor, multifidus, psoas, rectus abdominis and obliques, will act actively during descent. It should be noted that the force exerted by the wind modifies our basic position, reducing the flexion of the hip and causing us to delay the weight.
The stabilizing muscles must participate to regain the desired position of descent. On the other hand, there is a really pleasant and simple exercise that we have all done when we were little (and now not so much). It consists of exerting maximum opposition to the wind with the whole body on the maximum slope and drastically changing to the Schuss position, repeating the exercise in a cyclical way. The active participation of the abdominal and lumbar muscles to regulate the range of motion, more than substitutes a good abs workout from Jane Fonda.
This type of wind invites us to practice speed if we make a direct descent and the wind is parallel to our descent line. However, when we make turns, we will notice how our weight is transferred excessively towards the tips of the skis.
Increasing the drift phase and seeking centrality can be two factors to take into account in these types of situations. If skidding is not your thing, the backwind can be a faithful ally to train the skid diagonal or skidding on the line of maximum slope, while keeping our back to the wind, offering maximum resistance to the wind.
Skiing with the wind by your side
The transfer of our center of gravity in each turn can be affected by the wind coming from our side. When we make short turns (basic turns with skidding, elementary parallels and perfected short radius), unless the wind intensity is very high, we will hardly need to adapt our technique. But in the case of wide turns, the wind factor is more influential. If the wind is coming from the right, we will observe that in the turns to the left we will experience various sensations.
At the beginning of the turn, before attacking the maximum incline we will notice how our speed decreases, making us have to adapt the technique to facilitate the entry into the turn. One option is to orient the shovel more to the valley. If we are going to skid and if we want to drive the turn, we must avoid the decrease in speed by adopting a more aerodynamic position, lowering our center of gravity.
If we make the turn to the right (against the wind) we will notice how the wind prevents us from entering the turn at the line of maximum slope, having to increase the inclination and those technical gestures that facilitate the entry into the curve.
Assuming the wind is constant on one side, a practical and elementary exercise can be done. It consists of perfecting long parallel turns in a cyclical way, using the entire width of the track. Remember to look upstream so that no skier interrupts you. You just have to go back to the other side of the court by a long diagonal to continue practicing the exercise.
For the most extreme use of skiing with the wind, check out Speed Riding.