I would like to ski in the Southern Hemisphere this summer. Any advice?
Winters below the equator are as great as winters up here. Elite ski teams, ski clubs and thousands of individuals travel south each year. Avoid the last two weeks of August, when resorts are crowded (local school vacations). To get the most out of a trip, you need to jettison your summer mind-set as you plunge instantly into February weather from the warmth back home. There are three main destinations: South America, Australia and New Zealand. Portillo, Chile, and Bariloche, Argentina, are romantic. Valle Nevado, Chile, and Las Leñas, Argentina, are vast and modern. Realize you are journeying into Spanish culture, where skiers dine late, party later and then sleep in. Slopes are empty until late morning.Aussie resorts like Mt. Hotham, Perisher, Thredbo and Mt. Buller are low in elevation, and snow can be spotty. But the atmosphere is charming and there are lots of other distractions during bad ski days.New Zealand is the most scenic. Settings change dramatically in short distances. A ski day can include heli-skiing down a glacier, hiking in a rain forest and exiting onto a beach. Famous ski “fields” include Mt. Hutt, Coronet Peak and the Remarkables. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you can get into a midwinter mind-set once you’re on snow again. Your biggest problem: forcing yourself to get back on the plane to return to the heat of summer.
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The Gear Geek
I’m heading to Mt. Hood, Ore., for a master’s camp. Isn’t it a ski-testing ground?
JD, Via the Internet
You’ll see every iteration of race skis, boots, bindings and poles on the Palmer Snowfield in summer, as elite racers and dedicated geeks test next year’s gear. U.S. Ski Teamers and product designers ski on prototypes that’ll never appear in any shop. The whole circus is crammed into “lanes” just wide enough to carve a GS turn. Freeskiing? Don’t bother: You’re here to trim tenths of seconds off your personal best. Down in Government Camp (“Guvvie”), don’t expect much nightlife. There are three bars, and the lifts open at 7 a.m.
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How do Olympic skiers stay in shape in the off-season?
By keeping the adrenaline pumping. When you’re used to 70 mph descents, cardio and weight workouts are like eating soda crackers. So, in addition to gyming it, Olympic skiers keep themselves slope-ready—physically and mentally—with adrenaline sports: Hahnenkamm champ Daron Rahlves jetskis and races motocross. Slalom ace Sarah Schleper is an aggressive mountain biker. Follow suit with trail running, inline skating, mountain biking, rock climbing—any sport that gives you a rush. These activities will keep your lungs and muscles strong, reflexes sharp and your mind prepared for skiing.
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