Ski Indoors. It’s Cool. We Promise.

At Woodward at Copper, Colorado’s new indoor park training facility, you can learn Rodeo 5s, backflips, and more, into the comfort of a foam pit.
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A skier takes the plunge into Woodward’s foam-filled pool

The arm cast can’t be a good sign. “Broke it Monday,” says 22-year-old Mike Harris. It’s barely a month after the opening of Colorado’s Woodward at Copper, the planet’s first indoor ski and snowboard training facility dedicated to park and pipe. The good news: Harris broke it throwing a flip outside at Copper’s Catalyst terrain park, not here. That he’s hucking indoors just four days later illustrates Woodward’s user-friendliness.

At least that’s what I hope. The facility is for the aerially challenged who think a misty or a plain old flip is as out of reach as an Olympic podium.

But those moves are within grasp at Woodward, which houses these dreams in The Barn, a multimillion-dollar, 20,000-square-foot jibbing HQ complete with skateboard features, a spring floor, six trampolines, and a 35-foot-long Snowflex ramp that launches skiers into a foam pit.

After a two-hour primer session that certifies our group to launch off the jump, I click into my bindings and ease my tips over the edge. Below me is a massive pit filled with nearly 12,000 nine-inch foam cubes to absorb any miscues.

Soon I’m straightlining toward the shark-finned lip and then rotating my first-ever back flip on skis. When I come to the surface, a coach swings me a rope from the ceiling to climb out of the foam pit, and there are high-fives all around.

“You should rodeo it this time,” says Harris.

I ask three other groms how, and then point ’em down again, this time entering the realm of off-axis rotation. I land backward, just like I’m supposed to, and reach for the rope, grinning. [from $25; woodwardatcopper.com]

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Contrary to popular belief, even on a completely bluebird day in January atop the highest lift in Vail, you’re not getting vitamin D from the sun. Vail, or any other ski hill in North America for that matter, is too far above the equator to receive the type of direct sunlight needed to create vitamin D during the winter months. Which is a bummer because this recently popular “sunshine vitamin” plays a key role in boosting the immune system. In particular, it triggers and arms the body's T cells, the cells in the body that seek out and destroy any invading bacteria and viruses. Last year, scientists at the University of Copenhagen discovered that Vitamin D is crucial to activating our immune defenses, and that without sufficient intake of the vitamin, the killer cells of the immune system will not be able to react to and fight off serious infections in the body. Vitamin D can be obtained through the diet, though very few foods naturally contain it. The foods that do include fatty fish, fish liver oil, and eggs. Smaller amounts are found in meat and cheese. A person’s vitamin D status is determined by measuring the level of 25-hydroxyvitamin D in blood serum.  Current lab ranges are 30-80 ng/mL, though most functional healthcare practitioners recommend levels be at least 50 ng/mL - even higher in some cases. Though the RDA for vitamin D is 600 IU/day of vitamin D, most health experts are suggesting closer to 5,000 IU/day for optimal immune function. So to up your chances of not getting sidelined by a cold or flu this ski season, be sure to follow these three guidelines. That way you can spend your “sick days” skiing.  

Inside Line: Mary Jane & Winter Park

Mary Jane—named for a mining-era lady of the night—and its sister area, Winter Park, offer plenty of prospects for good skiing, including bumps and powder-filled bowls. Forming one of the closest major resorts to Denver, the two areas spread across five mountains and 3,078 acres. Add 3,060 feet of vertical, 30 feet of snowfall, and a direct train from Denver and it’s no wonder why the Front Range packs the place on Saturdays.

James Heim wishing he were on belay. Location: Last Frontier Heli-Skiing, BC.Check out our suggestions for good gear for steep skiing.The first rule of skiing steeps: Don’t take off your skis. I was 11 years old and I still remember the name of the trail at Big Sky, Montana: Snake Pit. My family was on its first Western ski trip. I wanted to outperform my brothers, so I suggested this steep, rocky glade. Two turns in, panic struck. I inexplicably took off my skis, stacked them across my arms like firewood, stepped downhill, and slipped. I tumbled down hundreds of vertical feet, somersaulted, slammed my knee into a stump, and screamed like a dying rabbit. My parents consoled me by buying me a black-diamond Snake Pit pin from a Big Sky gift shop that I promptly stuck on my school backpack.The second rule of skiing steeps: Know how to self-arrest. And know that self-arresting is difficult without your skis on. When you fall, you’ll most likely be on your side. If you’re not, twist yourself around so your skis are perpendicular to the fall line. If you fall headfirst, roll over so your skis end up downhill, below your body. Now dig your ski edges into the slope as hard as you can to stop. If you lose your skis midtumble, kick hard with the toes of your boots and claw with your hands until you create enough friction to stop.The third rule of skiing steeps: In order to prevent a dangerous collision with trees or rocks, scope out your line carefully before you drop in. Note the locations of dangerous features such as cliff bands, trees, and lift towers so you have a clean run-out if you fall. Find your line and follow it to the bottom. And whatever you do, don’t panic the way I did. All you’ll end up with is a banged-up knee and a lousy pin.

Skiing Steeps: Everything You Need to Know

On steep slopes, the risks are higher—if you fall, it’s harder to stop. But so are the rewards. Pitches tilted past 40 degrees can be thrilling if you overcome your fears and tackle the terrain confidently. Learn how to self arrest and more. —Hillary Procknow