Skis and Boards up, Winter Sports in Tompkins

Matias Simionato , Staff Writer

There is one thing that everyone wanted as a kid, and that is a snow day. Just a day where they did not need to go to school and just play in the snow. Sadly school is in Texas, where the only times it does snow, the surrounding area is left with catastrophic damage to the pipes. So it is obvious that most students in Tompkins have not experienced the joy of the winter sports known as snowboarding and skiing. However some lucky students have gone and done these underrated sports, and their stories might inspire someone to give them a try someday. Matthew Keller is a senior at Tompkins who tries his best in all his subjects. He also has a few hobbies, one that he has tried to get into a few years ago was skiing.

“It was fun. I enjoyed the jumping area that the park had. You could be skiing at high speeds, looking like a bullet to the other skiers, yet when you hit the snow ramp they had set up, you felt like a bird for a few seconds… before beginning your descent and feeling like a bird with 12 pounds of rocks are tied to your feet. However once you landed, you just wanted to do it again. The one aspect that I struggled with was just slowing down, not because I did not want to, just because it’s kind of hard to go from 20 mph to 2 mph,” said Keller.

While many people do not know what it feels like to ski, since they have not gone before, it is easier to explain it as rollerblading or ice skating. A fine mix of control and balance is needed to not fall flat on their face.

“Skiing was good, I liked it. I had never been skiing before, and I did not do much rollerblading or ice skating. Skiing was a different experience, but after a while, it became easier and easier to learn how to ski. After two days of practice I could maneuver the snowy slopes with ease. While I did not try anything too risky, like the black diamond trails and the jumps, it was still an enjoyable experience for me. The one thing that I did struggle with was, quite plainly, braking,” said senior Rishan Sivakumar.

Braking while skiing is difficult, as it requires a specific movement that can be hard to do in some situations. In skiing, there are two main ‘forms’ that the skis take. The ‘french fries’ form, which is when a skier places their skis straight, is the default form, allowing for exponential speed when going downhill, and when mastered can be used in synchronization with the center of the body, allowing for smooth turning at high speeds. However with high speeds there is always a question, how does one slow down? The answer to that is the ‘pizza’ form, moving the skis from the straight form to where the two front tips of the skis are almost touching. This form allows for slowing down, where the edges of the skis hit the snow, causing friction. This friction of the snow and ski accumulate over the matter of a few seconds, slowing down the skis to a certain speed or until the skier brakes completely. While it may seem simple, it can be quite difficult to learn for new skiers, and can be more difficult for the other winter sport, snowboarding.

“I love snowboarding, it allows for more free movement than skiing. In skiing you have to hold a pole and use your legs and part of your torso to turn, but when you go snowboarding, you have to use your entire body to turn, in most cases falling down. It’s even more fun when you go on the ramps, giving you some air time,” said senior Hayden Fraiser. “The thing I struggled with the most was honestly moving, as you have to use your entire body for motion. When braking, instead of doing the ‘pizza’ form that skiers do, you have to tilt your snowboard to the air, allowing the back edge of the snowboard to build friction which slows you down. However, it is also quite challenging as more times than not, you will just fall flat on your back when trying to brake, leading to more than a few pounds of snow to build up in your jacket.”

In the 20th century, slope rankings were a messy subject. It was truly every skier for themselves, with people skiing with wooden poles and leather boots instead of today’s plastic and durable materials. The National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) adopted a color system in 1964-1965, however it was not effective, as ski resorts in Europe used different colors to symbolize the different levels of slope. However all this commotion was stopped later in 1965 by none other than the Walt Disney Company, who wanted to build a ski resort, they found the mess of rankings ridiculous and made their own research to find the best colors to match their own rankings. They made their ski resort follow the rankings of green circle as the easiest, blue square for intermediate, black diamond for more advanced skiers, and the double black diamond, which is made for only experts. Three years after Disney made their ranking decision, the NSAA adopted Disney’s design and is now the official slope rankings in the USA.

“I went skiing and snowboarding in the past. It is very fun, you gain a lot of speed on both allowing you to zoom past every other guest. My favorite trails were the black diamond trails, which allowed for terrain that did not favor your paths. I had to go slow in some areas to avoid leaving on a stretcher. But the areas that I could go fast, well I went really fast. I was going around 20 mph, just turning here and there to stay with the slope path,” said senior Nicholas Chen. “When I went on the jumps, it was amazing. When the speed and jump from the ramp are combined together, it feels like you are flying. The wind hits your face just right making you feel like you’re the only person in the world, just flying through the air, and when you land you just want to go to the next jump and do it all over again. I did struggle with stopping, as even when you can fly through the air, stopping is still the hardest part of skiing and snowboarding.”

Winter sports are some of the most underrated sports, allowing one to feel free and fly like a bird while doing it. These four students highly recommend them. Hopefully, these stories inspire someone to give these sports a try in the future, close or far.