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Surprising Do’s and Dont's for Early-Season Skiing

Tips & Ideas Monday, November 16, 2015

The snow’s flying in the high country and the diehard among us are ready to get back on the trails, even though it’s early. Here’s how to avoid the mistakes most skiers make:


  • Don't go too early. Some trails may just not be ready for traffic.
  • Don't Skate. Your skate ski edges dig too deeply into the thin base; your classic skis will float better on thin base snow.
  • Don't hammer it. Go for long, slow, easy skis to rebuild fitness; cross-train for strength and flexibility
  • Don't forget to consider other users and your safety. Hunting season isn’t over yet, and many access roads are still open to traffic.


  • Do check conditions or call the center before heading out. Conditions can change hourly this time of year.
  • Do focus on form. Now’s the time to get your technique back, not your heart rate or speed.
  • Do wax wise. Skis can oxidize through the summer and create a film of dust and grime. They should be brushed, waxed, hotboxed, and then scraped and a coat of hard wax applied, scraped, and brushed. (Choose a basic blue hard with blue extra kick wax to deal with more varied conditions; avoid yellows.)
  • Do talk shop. Chat with the Nordic center staff about layering waxes, trails in the best condition, and your gear inventory, even what they’re wearing in current conditions.

Where to Ski Now!

Snow Mountain Ranch
Has 30k of groomed trails; bring rock skis and prepare to hike to the biathlon range. Blue Ridge Road opens for skiing 11/25 and with over 32" at the summit conditions should be good!

Breckenridge Nordic Center
Has some trails open and is making snow.

Rabbit Ears Pass
Skiable conditions have been reported on Rabbit Ears Pass since late October.

Vail Nordic Center
Opened early to great early November conditions; check for current trail status.

Top Things to Do in November

1. Strengthen
Strength train your core and upper body to prevent back pain when starting out on the trails. Get started: Add some planks to your routine.

2. Get Your Season Pass
Most centers offer discounts when you buy early. Ask about combined/multi-center passes and family deals, too.

3. Shop
2014 gear is in the racks! Ask staff for their picks.
Thinking used? Fall swaps are over, but most centers have a few pairs of great skis hiding in the back if you ask.

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