A new year is upon us. Time to set some goals for this winter.
You may be looking for New Year’s resolutions that you’ll actually commit to. We’re here to help—knowing the oft-cited statistic that 80 percent of resolutions fail by February. If you’re a skier or snowboarder, whether you’re new or have been doing it for decades, in 2018 seek out new skills you can learn, ways to improve and goals you can set, like finally skiing that line you’ve been eyeing or logging 50 days on snow in a winter.
To help inspire your winter missions, we’ve come up with 10 ideas for bucket-list goals for 2018. (Sticking to them is up to you.)
Tune Your Skis or Snowboard
What matters most is that you tune and wax your skis or snowboard at least once a season. Whether you drop them at your local ski shop or tune them yourself is your call. Want to try it at home? First, read up on how to tune your skis or snowboard or take an in-person workshop. Then get outfitted with the essentials: The Dakine Super Tune Kit has all you need to wax and tune at home, from files to scrapers to a tuning iron. You’ll also need wax and a set of vises, like the Swix Jaw Economy Ski Vise Set, to clamp onto the workbench in your garage.
Take an Avalanche 1 Course
If you’re new to the backcountry or it’s been years since your last avalanche course, it’s time to sign up for an Avy 1 course. Snow science and backcountry safety protocol changes over time, and it’s always good to get a refresher on the latest findings. If the two or three-day Avy 1 commitment feels too taxing, then consider a more introductory-level avalanche awareness course, which only lasts a couple of hours and will still give you an overview of what you should know before heading out of bounds.
Sign Up for a Lesson
If you’re a new skier or snowboarder, a straight-up lesson at your local resort can help tremendously. Check out group lessons and off-season pricing for the lowest rates. But even if you’re an expert skier or rider, you can still learn a trick or two from specialized clinics and camps, like how to shred steeps or powder better, or how to venture into backcountry terrain. Check out the multiday Steep and Deep camps in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, held several times a winter; Expedition Kirkwood at Kirkwood, California, for camps geared toward women, freeriding and the backcountry; or sign up for a mogul clinic with Olympian Donna Weinbrecht at Killington, Vermont.
Snag First Chair
Commit to rallying out the door on powder days with the goal of edging onto first chair. Or save yourself the trouble and sign up for a first tracks program, where you’ll get early access to the mountain before everyone else. Homewood Mountain, in California, offers season pass holders free breakfast and access to the lifts an hour before the general public on select dates throughout the winter. Colorado’s Aspen Mountain and Snowmass grant early access most days of the week, if you make a reservation ahead of time. Windham Mountain in New York has a first tracks program enabling lift access an hour early on weekends that’s free for pass holders or $15 for ticket holders.
Re-Waterproof Your Gear
Even if your jacket and pants come with lifetime guarantees, your gear’s durable water repellent fades over time, even in the most technical outerwear. So, if you’re repeatedly out in stormy, wet conditions, you’ll eventually start to soak through. Here’s how to prevent that. Start by washing your gear. Then apply a new waterproof coating. Stock up on Nikwax’s double pack of outerwear cleaner and waterproofing.
A growing number of resorts now allow uphill skiing inbounds. Be sure to check your resort’s uphill policy before you head out—some require getting an uphill pass and following specific routes and time frames. The U.S. Ski Mountaineering Association keeps a good database of which resorts allow uphill traffic and their current rules. Welcoming places like Magic Mountain, in Vermont, will even give you one free lift ride if you’ve hiked to the summit and collected a token. Crested Butte, Colorado, has alpine touring gear for rent in their demo center if you want skin up the mountain.
Enter a Competition
You don’t have to be a professional ski racer to get competitive this year. Resorts across the country offer fun, recreational-level competitions for skiers and riders of all levels. At Squaw Valley, California, each spring, you’ll find the legendary and hilarious Pain McShlonkey Classic, in honor of late freeskiing pioneer Shane McConkey, where skiers race down the mountain on snowblades. The Dirksen Derby at Mount Bachelor, Oregon, held each December and founded by pro snowboarder Josh Dirksen, attracts both pro riders and weekend warriors for a banked slalom for charity. Castlerock Extreme in Sugarbush, Vermont, is a judged big-mountain competition for all, held on the steep shot under Castlerock chair.
Visit Someplace New
You probably ski the same mountain for much of the winter, and why wouldn’t you? You already know your way around and maybe you’ve got a place to crash and a season pass. But push yourself to explore a new mountain this year, someplace you’ve never been, and you’ll be glad you did. If you’re lucky, maybe your pass comes with access to other mountains. The Epic Pass gets you into over a dozen Vail-owned resorts. The Mountain Collective Pass is good for two days of skiing at 16 world-class destinations. The M.A.X. Pass covers five days at 44 resorts. If your local hill is part of the Powder Alliance, you’ll get three free days of skiing at up to 16 partner resorts. Once you’re there, most places offer free mountain tours if you need help finding the hidden stashes.
Chase a Storm
Follow a snowstorm and you’ll often be rewarded with powder days. But how do you nail it? Start reading a weather forecast geared toward skiers and riders, like the comprehensive, regional forecasts written by skiers, for skiers at OpenSnow.com. There’s even a section of the site dedicated to storm chasing to help you predict which ski town is going to get dumped on next. Wait until a few days out, and when the forecast proves promising, pull the trigger on last-minute flights, lodging and lift tickets. If you’re planning at least 48 hours in advance, you can score discounted lift tickets on Liftopia.com.
Bring Someone New into Skiing
This might be the most important resolution of all: Introduce a friend to the winter sport you love. January is officially learn to ski and snowboard month, which means programs and lessons around the county are geared toward bringing people into the sport. Check your local mountain for specials for new skiers and riders—most resorts offer discounted rates on lessons and gear rental for first timers. Loon Mountain, New Hampshire, has First Class beginner’s weekends where you’ll get two days of lessons and walk away with a new pair of skis and boots. At Boreal, California, $219 gets first timers three days of lessons and gear rentals, plus a season pass for the rest of the year.