A sport and a mode of transportation which uses a pair of long, flat runners called skis as equipment for traveling over snow. Boots which are worn connect to the skis with use of a binding.
The sport is grouped into two general categories - Nordic skiing and Alpine Skiing. Originated in Scandinavia, Nordic skiing uses free-heel bindings which attach at the toes of the skier's boots and not at the heels. Various types of Nordic skiing include cross-country, ski jumping and Telemark. The other one, Alpine skiing (called "downhill skiing") owes its name to its origins in the European Alps, and uses fixed-heel bindings which attach at both the toe and the heel of the skier's boot.
Skiing and Snowboarding
Skiing uses gravity to move downhill by gliding over snow using two thin and long boards which help keep balance and control. Although a similar snow sport, snowboarding uses one wide board instead of the two thinner boards that skiers use. While skiers coordinate their movements and control their speed and direction using both boards, snowboarders have to rely on their own balance and skill. Balance, weight, and edge control are the mantras in Skiing.
Skiing is an ideal escape from the summers of the plains. The cool environs of the happy hills help beat the heat and dust. This immensely popular sport has only gradually become popular in India because of the Himalayas. Towering peaks, snow-capped mountains and glaciers, unexplored valleys make sure that the thrills never run out of skiing in the Indian hills. The spectacular ski slopes offer Alpine-like playgrounds with large tracts of virgin snow the exquisite combination of a serene flora & fauna. Furthermore, at the skiing destinations in India one can enjoy both snow skiing (Alpine and Nordic) wherein you ski down a straight or zig-zag route as well as heli-skiing. In Heli-skiing, one can jump from an elevated position or have yourself air-dropped on the snow clad peak itself from a helicopter.
Skiing, as an adventure sport, has come a long way in India. Introduced by the Europeans, it started out as a purely elitist sport, which provided the foreigners an adventurous respite from the heat of the plains. However, it has today become a sport of the common man. People from within India as well as all around the world flock to the country in large number to enjoy the pleasure of skiing.
You will scream, cry, laugh and at the same time enjoy your run down the challenging snowy slopes. The thrill and excitement is nothing short of amazing.
Safety and Guidelines
Skiing being a high speed sport involving balance exposes you to different dangers. Thousands of skiers get seriously injured so it is incumbent to have some basic knowledge of the risks involved and the injuries.
First and foremost, skiing safely is everyone's responsibility. While on the slopes, we must look out for other skiers and be aware of the environment.
Risks of injury
Ski injuries are as common as the injuries experienced by other people participating in any similar intensity activity. The severity of injury may be range from a head injury or paralysis to minor bruising. Fatalities do occur, but in worse conditions.
Direct impact injuries are the ones to the thumb, hand, wrist, and shoulder region. The thumb may be forced back into past its natural end range by a ski pole (Skier’s Thumb). Wrist, hand sprains or fractures may be caused due to hard landings. A fall on out stretched hand (or FOOSH) may result in a broken wrist bone, separated shoulder or broken clavicle.
Accidents can happen and injuries are inevitable. The extent of the damage may be minimized. A fit individual is able to recover quicker. Also fully functional equipment is a huge factor in preventing injuries. Taking beginner lessons or refresher lessons (in case you are experienced) is always a good idea.
Though on-site Ski Patrols might be there to assist, be responsible enough to ensure your own safety.
Pre-requisites to setting your foot on a ski:There are certain things that one should take into consideration before starting to ski.
Before hitting the slopes:
• Being mentally sound and physically fit are of utmost importance
• Always heed to the advice of an instructor or expert or take several Ski lessons from a competent Ski instructor.
• Always be appropriately dressed to accommodate the extreme weather conditions and preferably spend some days before skiing in altitude acclimatization.
• Keep an eye out for the weather and snow conditions specially ‘avalanche awareness’
• Warm yourself up before engaging in skiing activity. Jogging, stretching exercises can be done.
• Double check to see if Ski Equipment is functional.
• Wear a helmet to reduce the risk of head injuries caused by falls and/or collisions.
• Preferably have a ski partner.
• Even if a passion for adventure goads them to, people with cardiac ailment, pregnant women and blood pressure patients should refrain from indulging in skiing.
Preventive measures are always best to reduce the risk of injuries. Skiing, although, fun due to its ease, and the thrill of dashing down a slope, involves a lot of skill that needs an initial bit of practice and patience. Skiing techniques are a little difficult to master, and hence there are ski clubs which tutor you from the basics of turning and stopping safely to more advance skiing and newer freestyle techniques. Beginners learn under a trained instructor, skiing speeds are low, a less steep and a well manicured terrain is chosen with relatively low risks. Extreme skiers test their abilities against more challenging terrain for which the risks may be much higher.
Equipment & CostsSki equipment can be quite expensive, especially at the top end of the range. Beginners do not need to purchase the most expensive equipment. Manufacturers make many different categories of skis designed for specific skiing levels.
Beginners should preferably rent equipment from a reliable ski shop, rather than purchasing it. Renting give you the option of trying out what suits you. Once you decide that you love the sport enough to justify your investment in ski gear, you can invest. There are a number of options for renting. Equipments are available for hire from Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (HPTDC) offices in the towns having skiing. The equipments are available on a very small cost. Beginner courses are conducted under expert guidance. Safety is ensured by certified guides, experienced helicopter pilots, easy availability of medical facilities and emergency backup arrangements with the Indian Air Force. Many local ski shops also rent ski equipment. Or one could also contact the resort.
Here's a list of ski equipment available to rent:
• Ski boots
• Ski poles
Most clubs hold classes for beginners throughout the winter season. Good skiing requires a lot of practice, patience and energy.
Trained instructors are available for guiding the tourists and also casual skiers. Good quality equipment, including skis, boots, sticks, gloves and goggles are available on hire on the spot from the Government-run ski shop.
At all levels, proper ski equipment is a given essential for skiers.
Equipment Checklist for Skiers Perfect equipment make skiing perfect, this is true in all sense for everyone.
1. Skis - Depend on a number of factors, such as age/gender, skiing ability, or regional location and style of skiing.
2. Ski Bindings - Connect the skis and the ski boots.
3. Ski Boots - specialized footwear which provide warmth and protection in snowy conditions.
4. Ski Helmets - Ski helmets protect your head in case you fall down.
5. Ski Poles - help skiers improve balance, speed & acceleration
6. Ski Clothing - the flexibility of the clothing is very important. It is the fabric which keeps the body's temperature balanced depending on the outside climate. Stretch fabrics have a more relaxed and versatile capacity, which is basically required while skiing down a snowy mountain and doing extreme skiing. Better fitting styles and waterproof wear are a better option for skiers for the wider range of motion. While selecting a ski jacket go through this checklist: waterproof, breathable fabrics, with taped seams, venting zippers and insulating stretch components for comfort
7. Ski Goggles - Ski goggles shield your eyes from the sunlight reflected off the snow and enhance your on-the-mountain vision.
8. Ski Socks
9. Ski Gloves
10. Ski Accessories - Ski racks, ski bags, boot bags, radios, dials and oxygen cylinders, etc.
With the ever-increasing number of skiing enthusiasts, the skiing slopes in India have improved with time. Tourists not only from India but also from all over the world are trained for skiing here. The increased facilities are easily available and are affordable in the major skiing spots in India.
Skiing Destinations in IndiaIndia being the ‘land of the Himalayas’ plays host to a number of ski hideouts, which are favorite amongst the adventure lovers. In India there are many favorable destinations like Jammu and Kashmir, the hills of Kumaon, Himachal Pradesh, and the Northeastern states of India, which have become favorite ski hideouts for skiing enthusiasts. Gulmarg is the ultimate beginner's skiing resort.
Jammu and Kashmir
• Manali: Higest Skiing Altitude: 14,000 ft. Ice Skating Season: December To February.
• Kufri: Altitude: 2,510 m. Main Attractions: Annual Winter Sports Festival and the Carnival. Best Time To Visit: April to June & November to February.
• Narkanda: Altitude: 2,708m. Best Time To Visit: December to March.
• Solang Valley
• Shimla: Ice Skating Season: December To February. Main Attractions: Skating Competions. Ice Skating Season: December To February.
• Auli: Location: Garhwal Himalayas. Altitude : 2500-3000 m Above Sea Level. Nearby Attraction: Badrinath. Best Time To Visit: April-June & November-February.
• Munsiyari: Location: Pithoragarh. Specialty: Skiing Resort. Altitude: 2135m Above Sea Level. Nearest Town: Jauljibi. Best Time To Visit: April to June & November to February.
• Dayara Bugyal