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Subject Categories


 Article GC1.         Should my Child Ski or Board?  

    Exercise and Conditioning

 Article GX1.         4 Simple Exercises

 Article GX2.         Get a grip! e3 puts power into the palm of your hand  

 Article GX3.         Keeping our Balance 

 Article GX4.         Developing Proper Ski and Snowboard Balance  

 Article GX5.         Three Things That Can Improve The Way You Ride

 Article GX6.         Fundamentals Key to skiing and Riding 

 Article GX7          Preparing for a fun first day   

    Equipment / Accessories  

 Article GE1.         Wax the Board  

 Article GE2.         Ski Swap Guide

 Article GE3         Snow Accessories (Glasses, Gloves, etc...)

 Article GE4         Dress for the snow



Article GC1

 Should my child ski or board?

Sam Morishima


I am often asked by parents, “should my child (ages 3 to 7 years) first learn to ski or snowboard?”

  Unless, there are strong peer pressures from friends or family insisting the child snowboard, it would be best if the child have at least one year of skiing prior to snowboarding.

  Skiing as their first feet bound snow sport allows several advantages.  First they are going to learn to stand up faster on skis.  They can maneuver to the chair lift easier, and move through lift lines smoother.  Getting use to the logistics of handling the snow environment of a ski resort the first year can grease the runway for snowboarding in later years.

  Balancing with feet attached to something is going to be a key element to whether a child is going to have fun or be frustrated with the sport.

  On skis they can move both feet independently, making it easier to stay balanced.  In the earlier stages of skiing having the legs and feet in the pizza slice position for balance, slowing down and stopping doesn’t involve having the ability to make independent lower and upper body movements which is critical from the start in snowboarding.

  Anatomical reasons for why a child may take to skiing easier than snowboarding is that the child’s head is larger in proportion to the rest of the body than in an adult. Therefore, the child’s center of mass is higher up in the upper chest compared to that of the adult’s lower center of mass in the abdomen area near the belly button.  This high center of mass can easily throw off the balance of a snowboarder which already requires greater ankle and foot strength for balance.

  Also, young children commonly have difficulty flexing their ankles to put the snowboard on edge.

  If you are uncertain and your child doesn’t have a strong preference for snowboarding maybe the best first choice is skiing.

  If however your young child goes snowboarding it is important that adults assist them.

  Here are a few guidelines for the assisting adult:

  Have the child wear wrist guards to minimize wrist injuries. Show them how to spread the impact of the fall to minimize injuries.

  When the assisting adult is also a snowboarder, make sure the child is to their toe side when getting on the lift. This way if the adult needs to give assistance to the child for example, getting off the lift, the adult is already facing the child and doesn’t have to twist and contort their body to hold up a falling child, which would be the case if facing on their heel side.

  Assist a small child to the chairlift loading area by gently pushing or pulling the child while both the child’s feet are strapped to the binding.  Small children who try to scooter kick their way are very slow and awkward.

  Also, having both feet in the bindings makes it easier to unload. Small children often don’t have the strength and coordination to unload with just the front foot attached.  Remember with a small board the bindings are placed close together and that there is no place to put a loose foot during unloading.

  Whether the child is skiing or snowboarding with adults stay on terrains that is appropriate for the child’s level.  Even if a child seems to be able to handle the terrain, if it’s beyond their level it can create very lasting bad habits. 

  What I found to be the most important experience builder with small children is to go at their pace allowing for stops at the lodge for a relaxing warm-up with a hot chocolate and conversation.  The time spent warming up at the lodge with them is just as important as the time spent on the slope.  

The ideal way to introduce the child to either sport is before you go to the snow.  A go on the Endless Slope at SnoZone is a perfect way to observe the ability of your child to adapt to the sport.   Able to watch close up at his or her progress as they learn the proper way to negotiate the skis or board and begin establishing the correct body placement and habits required for good fundamentals that allow the child to grow and advance in the sport.  Get them off to a great and enjoyable start on an Endless Slope. 

  See also article: Kids and Adults love the "Endless Revolving Slope"

 Article's Table of Content



Subject: Exercise and Conditioning

Article GX1

4 Simple Exercises

 By Sam Morishima


Wondering how you can ease yourself into preparing for this winter's activities.   Try these 4 Simple but effective exercises to get you ski and board ready.

 One legged balance:  Balance on one foot.  The key is to keep the ankle of that foot relaxed and flexed. With the other foot, pretend the big toe is a pencil and write out the letters of the alphabets on the ground in front.  Then switch onto the other foot and again write out the alphabets letters.  Focus on being relaxed throughout your body making sure that the ankle you are standing on is flexed and acting like a spring.  Make sure you can feel equal weight all along the bottom of the foot you are standing on.  Every once in a while flex the ankle a little, shifting most of the weight onto the ball of the foot.  Then return the weight so it is along the whole length of the bottom of the foot again. This will build your fore and aft balance. Write out the alphabets a couple times on each foot.

  Do the following 3 times a week, three sets each, resting for one minute between sets

  Side Hops:  Stack some books about 6 to 8 inches high.  Stand on the left side of the stacked books. Jump over the books leading with your right foot, landing on your right foot on the other side of the books.  Then making sure your balanced on your right foot jump over the books to the other side leading with your left foot and landing on the left foot.  Use ski poles to aid in balance.  Repeat the hops 15 to 20 times.

  Ankle, Calf and Achilles Builder:  With your forefeet on a step and holding onto a railing, slowly raise yourself with your feet.  Keep your knees slightly bent (do not lock your knees).  Then lower yourself, until your heels dip lower than the step.  Repeat the cycle 15 to 20 times.

  Sitting Wall:  With a ball the approximate size of a soccer ball between your thighs, lean against a wall, sitting in an imaginary chair with your thighs parallel to the floor.  Hold the position working up to three minutes.  Squeeze the ball at the same time.

  These exercises will pay off with dividends on those runs called Burn-out, Endless mile, Traumatized, The Wall, Bottomless Pit, etc…  Good Skiing and Boarding!


Article's Table of Content


Subject: Exercise and Conditioning

Article GX2

 Get a Grip! E3 puts power in the palm of your Hand

 By Sam Morishima 

US Ski Team members Tom Rothrock (Slalom racer) and Dane Spencer (Giant Slalom Racer) prepare for another practice run down the mountain. These two future USA hopefuls are practicing with something no other skier has practiced with before to help improve their skiing performance. As they grasp their poles their hands wrap around a specially made grip handle.  Pushing off from the starting gate their fingers close down on the molded hand piece - the thumb bearing down on the grips ledge and the little finger and index wrapping tightly around a narrow waist that feels ergonomically natural for them.   Rothrock and Spencer’s ski poles are equipped with a new style handgrip from BioGrip company called e3. 

 The handgrip enhances the skier’s balance and stability through the hands natural grip by aligning and balancing several muscle groups throughout the body, increasing the athletes agility, speed and strength while reducing strain.

The e3 grips works on the basic principle of stabilizing the shoulders, back and hips with the underlying premise that the human body is an interactive physical structure of multiple interlinking components, rather than a collection of isolated body parts attached to a central longitudinal frame.   The e3 grips help modify mechanical behavior throughout the body by placing the shoulder and hip girdles in more inherently stable positions and the axial skeleton in a balanced vertical alignment.  The results of these important changes are more efficient muscle use that improves balance, mobility, and strength.

 The grips without the poles are also being used for balance training in the hands of top snowboarders Mike and Tina Basich and Shannon Dunn to help fine tune their balance. Jasey-Jay Anderson 5x Crystal Globe Overall Champion in snowboarding has been using the grips to improve his balance for over six years.

Does it really work? Can just the way you position your hand’s grip make such a significant difference in the performance of your skiing and snowboarding?  Hand position has been an important aspect in martial arts delivering rapid and powerful blows from a stable base stance.  In fact the idea of the hand position originated from studying the martial arts.

 I’ve used the e3 grips with my students in my ski and snowboard lessons to help them position properly over the skis and snowboards for the development of intricate movements.  The students perform and improve faster and develop the movements in a more relaxed and comfortable way compared to those not using the grips.  A noticeable improvement is the balancing and holding of the skis’s edge when the student uses the e3 grips.   I currently ski with the e3 grip poles and have noticed that I tire less using them.  

 The e3 has been used previously in other sports, especially running.  Dean Brittenham, who recently retired from the Shiley Elite Athletic Excellence Health Resource Center at Scripps Clinic in La Jolla, California, stated, "I saw immediate and dramatic improvements in the running form and agility in the athletes using the e3 grips. I believe the e3 grips are a major breakthrough in improving athletic performance." Beth Alford-Sullivan, former Women's Coordinator of Cross Country Track and Field, Stanford University, noted after a demonstration that the runners using the grips, "showed immediate improvement in each athlete's running form and stride." Peter Maher, 1988 and 1992 Olympic Marathoner, said that, "After using the e3 regularly, I have developed a far more relaxed and injury-free running form." Peter also indicated that the soreness he was experiencing in his hips disappeared.

 Olympian and American woman’s discus record holder Suzy Powell practices her discus throwing using the grips and has broken her own record. Suzy remarked "By using the e3 grips and principles in my training, I have witnessed remarkable improvements...  As I prepare for my third Olympic team in 2004, I know the grips and my improved biomechanics will give me a competitive advantage."

 The inventor of these hand orthotics is Stephen Tamaribuchi one of the nation's top consultants for prevention of repetitive strain injuries.  The e3 grip technology is a result of twenty years experience in the field of human biomechanics, working with both sports athletes and "corporate athletes" suffering from repetitive stress injuries.  He realized that hand position could help people and athletes properly maximize their workouts and strengthen the proper muscles for various activities.  I was fortunate to meet Stephen at the time he was beginning to work on placing the grips onto ski poles.  He personally made me one of the first e3 ski poles to try.  Since, that time it is the only pole I prefer to use. 

As a consultant he works with athletes improving their performance through optimal biomechanics.  He has helped both athletes and non-athletes to improve how they use their muscles to perform various activities from typing to sprinting.  Beside the athletic use the grips are locally used by Medical Professionals at Radiological Associates (RAS) in all of their imaging and treatment rooms as well as the Sutter and Mercy Cancer treatment centers.

 When I asked Stephen why he developed the e3 he stated: "My hope is that the e3 grip will allow people of all ages and physical condition to perform better in sports and daily activities. I particularly want to help people who are suffering from joint, balance, and mobility problems. I believe the e3 can significantly improve their quality of life."

 By the way Per Lundstam Men's conditioning coach and assistant in Men's GS and Downhill was so grateful to Stephen that he gave him one of Bode Miller’s slalom skis that he had won a race with.  Now when I ski with Stephen he leaves me so far behind that I’m glad that he has the courteous of waiting for me at the lift lines.  I swear those skis of Bode’s has wings.  The interesting thing is Stephen is so well balanced he makes optimal use of those lightening boards of Bode’s.  Guess what’s in the palm of Stephen’s hand?  e3!

 Information on Stephen Tamaribuchi and on his e3’s can be found at his website : .

Article's Table of Content



Subject: Exercise and Conditioning

Article GX3

Keeping our Balance

(Skiing keeps you balanced)

By Sam Morishima


We are living longer and we find we need to constantly strive to maintain an active quality life style.

  With longer life expectancy our retirement age increases, making it all the more important we keep fit, healthy and productive.

  Though the aging process affects all bodily systems two important areas that can prolong our quality of an active life are, preserving our dynamic balance and maintaining the musculoskeletal system.

  Balance is multidimensional meaning that it is a very complex dynamic state requiring the contribution of several body systems to create balance.  Your sensory, motor cognitive and musculoskeltal systems all work in harmony to create balance.  Movement is a series of many repetitive intervals of going off balance and reestablishing balance throughout change of positions. Normal movement appears continuous and smooth because each new balanced interval position is short with rapid repetitive recovery times.  Even the act of standing requires complex interaction of the mind and body systems.  Remember for most of us it took more than 2 years from the time of our birth to accomplish this feat.

  In turn the quality of our balance affects our active performance. For example any small affect in our balance can result in reduction in speed in our ability to field a baseball, return a tennis serve, or block a basketball shot.

  The negative age-associated changes such as delayed somatosensory inputs and/or an over dependence on vision to control balance are likely to be very subtle at first and difficult to detect.  Many falls in the mature adult are the results of such decrease in balance.  Falls can lead to permanent damages for older people since falls can be exacerbated by weak bone structure resulting in serious broken bones such as in the hip area.

  One of the many body systems that contribute to good balance is the musculoskeletal system with its skeletal alignment and muscular integration.  Good posture with a strong skeletal stance aids the balance process.

  By regularly performing dynamic balance activities you can improve the multiple dimensional systems that make up balance.

  One very demanding balance activity is skiing, which requires dynamic balance and good athletic stance.  In skiing, it is vital that the body is aligned properly, allowing equal pressure on both feet.  However, skiing on the mountain can have it’s own set of external hazards.  To avoid the dangers of skiing on the mountain yet provide the benefits of skiing for developing and maintaining dynamic balance there is the “Endless SlopeTM” a machine that allows you to ski in the comfort of the indoors all year around.

  At the Endless Slope /Adventurous on Pier 38 in San Francisco or at SnoZone ski and snowboard school in Sacramento you’ll discover that they have combined the development of balance with the teaching of the fine art of skiing.  The student not only establishes better balance but, does it while enjoying the thrill of skiing in a comfortable indoor setting.

Once on the moving slope, you realize how tenuous balance is on a steep mountainside.   Except here you're safe and comfortable and able to manage the ride because you're aided by holding onto a bar in front of you and if you fall you are caught by a safety belt.

  As you strengthen the skills for skiing and boarding you won't rely on the bar as much.  But, in the beginning you're truly grateful for the assistance.  You quickly upgrade you're balance and edging, learning what would take years on the mountain to just matters of minutes on the Endless Slope. The Endless Slope develops your feel for dynamic balance as you carve your turns. There is a fantastic sensation of skiing on real snow.

A 30 minute experience convinces you beyond a doubt the effectiveness of the program. After only ten minutes on the "Endless Slope" you feel like you've been on the mountain all morning. "This is great," you scream, thinking how wonderful it is to glide across a surface when you are in balance.

  After a half hour lesson you're smiling.  You realize the feel for balance and at the same time begin to actually unravel the mystery to master the sport of  "Skiing and Snowboarding."  You may after time using the “Endless Slope” walk a little straighter, bounce a little lighter in your steps, stand a little taller all because you are developing a better sense for balance.

Training programs using such devices as the “Endless SlopeTM” not only helps to prolongs the inevitable age-related changes in balance but, are vital rehabilitation tools to help injured patients return to the mountain faster.

At the USC University Hospital a similar Ski Simulator is used in helping rehabilitate patients who have injured themselves and who want to ski or board again. The Ski Simulator helps patients work on balance training and trunk stability, as well as strengthening the lower extremity muscles. The Ski Simulator has helped dramatically with body alignment, strengthening the proper muscles also allowing some patients to stand up taller stretching evenly the leg muscles loosing up the hips to walk better.

The “Endless SlopeTM” is not just for the recreational sports person or someone in need of sports rehabilitation.  World free style ski champion Mr. Bob Howard said: “You can quote me that I would never have been a 3 time World Champion if it hadn't been for the revolving ski deck. I am 100% sure it developed muscle and technique you are unable to develop even on snow. I couldn't have developed that without the muscle energy I gained by skiing on the deck. This doesn't mean anything to anyone else but I am sure that the ski/acrobatic / Freestyle training I have done on the deck every fall since 1974 has given me the opportunity to perform and ski at my highest level for my age. I am 46 (year 2002) and soon to 47 and I am still flipping and twisting.”

If you skied in the sixties you will remember Suzi "Chapstick" Chaffee who trained on the revolving ski deck to hone her ski ballet style as well as the Olympic Gold Medalist freetyle mogul skier, Jonny Mosely who trained on one for five years.

Whether you are training for a World Championship, preserving the quality of your life or going through rehabilitation there is nothing like being “Balanced!”  Ski for life!

Article's Table of Content


Subject: Exercise and Conditioning

Article GX4

Developing Proper Ski and Snowboard Balance

By Sam Morishima

Director of SnoZone and Endless Slope / Adventurous ski and snowboard school


Doesn't matter if you’re a skier or a snowboarder "Balance" is vital.  Without good balance all other executions on skis or a board can lead to failure.

Recently I read several technical ski and snowboard articles where each mentions the importance of balance.   However, not one article mentions how one can develop good balance for skiing and snowboarding.  So how does one go about developing good balance for skiing and snowboarding?

  Watching a rerun of the karate kid standing in a rowboat in the middle of a lake on one leg in the so called crane position maybe the answer.  If you do not have a rowboat or a lake for that matter you maybe out of luck.  But wait (no I will not sell you Genzu Knives), but instead provide you with a simple balancing exercise which may just develop the balancing skill required to improve your skiing or boarding.

  Goal:            Improve your balance in the turn.

  Why: Being properly balanced prior to the turn will enhance the execution of the shorter radius turns that are required on steeper slopes and through mogul runs.

  Do these exercises at home: Standing next to a table place one hand on it for stability.  Then lift one of your knees so that the foot is slightly off the floor.  Now with the leg that you are standing on flex the ankle and in doing so the knee will also bend flexing out in front slightly.  Keep your head up and eyes looking straight out.  Now carefully feel the pressure at the bottom of the foot your standing on. Start off by trying to have equal pressure all along the bottom of the foot.  Rock forward and aft until you feel the equal distribution along the bottom of the foot.  Notice how important the role your ankle plays in your balance. You will feel the ankle adjusting slightly to keep you balanced.  The ankle is critical in skiing and boarding as it fine-tunes and adjusts the amount of edging and steering you place on the ski or board.  Flex the ankle and notice that it pushes the knee forward making the upper body move straight down.  Extend up on the ankle and your knees rise up and your upper body moves straight up like a piston.  Now flex the ankle and repeat several times slowly.   Place the lifted foot down when you had enough balancing on one foot.  Now lift the other foot and repeat the ankle flex and extension. The purpose of this exercise is to get you comfortable with balancing on one leg.  This exercise will also strengthen the ankle.  As you develop the ankle you will not need a table to support you.  Try this while brushing your teeth or standing in line.

  Another version of this exercise is to stand on one foot with ankle flexed and with the other foot writing out the alphabet with its big toe.  Though I wish this was my idea it is actually from a student of mine.  She said her daughter a professional dancer uses this exercise. 

  Important note:  Many skiers feel that the ankle plays a small part in skiing since the ski boot which is very ridged prevents the ankle from moving.  They couldn’t be more wrong. There is actually quite a lot of ankle movement required for both skiing and snowboarding either both feet together or independently.  The real situation is, the ankle movement is vital for good skiing and boarding. The critical movements of the ankle are fore and aft (flexing and extending), rotational and lateral edging.   A slight ankle movement has drastic affect on ski or board edging, pressure, steering and balance.  Once a rider develops the control of a fine-tuned ankle movement a high level of skiing or boarding performance can be achieved.  

For skiing and boarding, it is about adjusting your balance over and around the sweet spot.

 Skiing and Boarding is an acute balance sport where ankle strength and control is vital for proper performance.  For both skiing and snowboarding the best way I found to develop balance is on a revolving ski and board deck.  If you have an opportunity to get on one do so you'll be surprised how it can improve your skiing and boarding.


Article's Table of Content



Subject: Exercise and Conditioning

Article GX5

 Three Things That Can Improve The Way You Ride!

By Sam Morishima


 Coaches around the world all preach the same statement; “ what are the 3 most important things you can do that will make you excel at a sport?”   The answer; “Practice, Practice and Practice!” 

 I would like to add to this that, “if you are going to practice, practice properly.”  This is where proper coaching and lessons are critical to not only your safety but proper development and a successful out come.  The last thing you want is to establish bad or poor habits through improper training or learning. 

 When it comes to lessons the more lessons you take the greater your accomplishment level will be. 

 To ski or Snowboard correctly and well has a high entry level that one must overcome. 

 I recommend taking 10 to 12 or more session programs that allows beginners and intermediates to overcome such an entry barrier. 

 Like any sport it takes proper muscle development and coordination as well as entrenching what we call muscle memory. 

 It is not the first 4 or 5 lessons that one obtains the needed skills to ride properly but the last 2 or 3 sessions in a series of 10, 12 or more sessions that one begins to ingrain the needed skills.

 There is no magic formula that makes one a better skier or snowboarder - only hard work, in the proper environment with the proper instructions. 

 Remember, good skiing or snowboarding is a habit and becomes as simple as walking as your muscles and balance becomes naturally reactive to changing positions. 

 If you have to think about it, it is usually too late to do something about it.

 Some experts say it takes a week’s worth or more of focused practice or repetition to develop just one new movement pattern into a solid skiing or boarding habit.  

 Given the practice time, the right environment and focused instruction beginners can easily become intermediates and intermediates can become expert.

 Like any sport a little commitment can go a long ways!

 Good skiing and boarding!


Article's Table of Content


Subject: Exercise and Conditioning

Article GX6

Fundamentals Key to Skiing and Riding  

By Sam Morishima

October 1, 2005

 Why do we love skiing or riding a board.  It’s the challenge of riding that keeps us in love with the sport.

The challenge is what fuels our thirst for more.  The changing conditions of snow and terrain demand that we adjust our technique.  However, most skiers and boarders understand only one technique and rely on it for all conditions and situations.  Being satisfied with the way you ride forcing a one trick technique on different terrains can be inefficient as well as becoming boring and frustrating!

 Golfers do not rely on one type of club or way to hit the ball but use a different club and hitting technique that varies with the situation at hand.  Different snow, terrain, slopes; etc demands different techniques as well.  So why do so many skiers and boarders go for a one size fits all attitude limiting their riding to one technique while a plethora of conditions exist; grooms, powder, moguls, Sierra cement, mash potato, etc. each one having optimal ways of riding?  The reason being is skiers and riders are not receptive to learning other techniques. 

Sure, you can obtain different types of skis or boards meant to optimally ski or ride different conditions but you still need to know how to use them.  Understanding and knowing how to execute the appropriate techniques allow you to maximize the use of your skis or board.

The most critical aspect to learning different techniques is to ride in a manner that allows you to adapt to different situations.  In other words, allow the body to feel the snow and the terrain so as to adapt to the changing conditions.  By being receptive, your body can learn and flow into the appropriate technique. 

To prepare ourselves to accept and discover the appropriate techniques we need to make sure are skiing and riding fundamentals are in place.  The two most basic and critical fundamentals that can help us adapt and make us receptive to different techniques are the same for both skiers and snowboarders.

Fundamental # 1:  Staying flexed.  Don’t be stiff and upright. Flex and stay low and loose will give you better control due to a lower center of mass adding to your stability and allowing you to make shorter radius turns.  It also helps stabilize and absorbs shocks when the terrain becomes icy and bumpy.   Just flex your ankles and knees.  For skiers, it is important that you flex your ankles first otherwise just flexing and bending your knees will put you on your heels causing you to sit back pushing the skis ahead of you and losing control of them.

Fundamental #2:  Allow your skis or board to initiate the turn not your upper body and arms.  For both skiers and snowboarders use your feet to initiate the turns.   The feet are the closest things on your body to the ski or board and they have the greatest affect on the ski/board and snow interface effecting the direction and movement of the ski/board.  For the skier, rolling the feet (foot inversion little toe edge and foot eversion big toe edge) to create an edge provides the turn for our shaped skis.  For the boarder A foot dorsiflexion results in a heel edge and foot plantar flexion for a toe edge.  What is important to add for the snowboarder is to initiate the toe edge turn first with the front foot slightly leading the back foot with the plantar flexion.  This will give a smooth carved toe edge turn.  Allowing a feet first action provides you with greater sensitivity to your terrain.

By making sure our fundamentals are solid will create a foundation for any skier and snowboarder to learn and acquire new techniques.

With our two fundamentals in place our sensitivity for adaptation is ready for experimentation.  Experiment different movements as you go down various runs.  Your enhanced sensory in your body will discover better techniques in riding and skiing.  The most important aspect of all is it will bring back the excitement and the challenge of the sport and keep us loving it.


Article GX7

Preparing for a Fun First Day on the Snow

By Sam Morishima

 Are you ready for the snow?  Here are some tips for a fun first day.

 Be and stay healthy:  Why? For two good reasons:  Skiing and snowboarding can be strenuous and second, the altitude and weather can get to you.

 Skiing and snowboarding are acute balance sports requiring specialized movements. The best approach is to develop good core balance and to learn to ski and board efficiently.   Using more feet and ankle muscles with body positioning rather than twisting and pumping your body will result in smoother skiing and boarding and less expenditure of energy.  This will minimize the use of large muscle groups that cause you to muscle your way through skiing and snowboarding. By balancing better and using feet and ankle movement will allow you to ride the skis and boards almost effortlessly.   You can improve your balance at home by just balancing on one leg and trying to relax your feet and ankles.   

 Once you establish a good sense of balance then building stamina in your muscles with such exercises as hopping over a stack of books or squatting puts the final touches to getting your ski and snowboard body ready.

  To help you acclimatize to the altitude with its less dense air you need to be rested up.  Get a good nights rest prior to heading up the mountains.  Once in the mountains begin your sport activity slowly remember your body is trying to adapt to the lack of oxygen.  Because of the oxygen starvation occurring your heart is already compensating by pumping harder and faster.  On the tissue level your cells are trying to adapt by increasing their respiration activity and fluid loss is increased.  So drink plenty of water and take antioxidants like vitamin C rich foods.  Antioxidant vitamin supplement (vitamin C, vitamin E, and lipoic acid) have shown to significantly improved symptoms of altitude sickness.   Eating carbohydrates for energy might be a good thing as well minimizing the chance for hypothermia.  Things you should avoid are Caffeine, Alcohol, and Nicotine.  Such chemicals cause dehydration and vasodilation increasing the loss of heat from your body.

 Protect your self with sun block.  The sun’s ultraviolet rays are responsible for sunburn reactions with some UV rays (UVB) having a major role in causing skin cancer as well as other UV rays (UVA) going deep into the skin resulting in pre-mature skin aging changes such as wrinkle formation. 


Just to let you know the SPF ratings are ratings that apply only to the UVB rays that cause the cancer and not the deep penetrating UVA rays that can cause pre-mature aging.


SPF 15 sunscreen blocks 92% of UVB rays and SPF 30 sunscreen blocks 96% of UVB rays.  By the way the effectiveness of the sunscreen depends upon the amount applied to the skin.  Most people do not apply enough on therefore cutting down the effectiveness of the SPF 30 to a reality level of SPF 7 to 15.  So follow directions on how much to apply to utilize the maximum capability of the sunscreen.  If you don’t want to pre-maturely wrinkle like a prune look for a broad-spectrum sunscreen that contains agents that effectively blocks the UVB and UVA rays. 


I’ve heard that the broadest protection are sunscreens with SPF 30 or greater with added UVA blockers such as titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, Parsol 1789 Avobenzone) and Mexoryl-Sx.  But do some research of your own - don’t just take my word for it.


Hey, if you ever find a sunscreen that is broad-spectrum that has a high SPF rating, doesn’t sting the eyes, stable, water-resistant, is well tolerated, non-toxic, cosmetically nice and inexpensive let us know.


Next, protect your eyes.  We spoke of UVB rays - the ones that burn the skin - and they are the ones that can damage the eyes. Combined with cold wind and reflection off the snow, UVB has the potential to cause snow blindness (photokeratitis), a temporary blindness lasting 12 to 48 hours with very painful problems with the cornea of the eye.


Regarding the UVA rays-  current research says they are primarily absorbed within the lens of the human eye – but who knows what the future studies will find out.  There are discussions though that talk about the possibility that the UVA rays can hurt your central vision, damaging the retina at the back of your eye (macula.)


Most sunglasses should block at least 70% UVB and at least 60% of UVA.  However, good sunglasses will block at least 98% of both.  Great sunglasses claim to block 100% of the UV rays.  These great sunglasses are usually made with polycarbonate, glass or plastic (CR-39).  This is why you shell out the big bucks for those great shades. Check the rating on your sunglasses and buy to protect.


This is the end of part one on a three part series on prepping yourself for a fun first day in the snow.  Part two will discuss Clothing, helmets and equipment.  Part three will discuss getting to the slopes - a checklist for your car.  


Preparing for a Fun First Day on the Snow

Part Two   Dec 08, 2005

 Hope you read part one on exercise, acclimatizing to the altitude with proper nutrition and hydration, protecting your skin and eyes.  If not then grab the previous issue of SSN and catch up but for the rest who did let’s move forward with Clothing, helmets and accessories. 

You want to dress for success on the hill.  May it be battling the weather or trying to attract a significant other as well as that most important reason so you can perform your best.

 When selecting what to wear, think functional.  Your garments should be durable, fit well to allow freedom of movement, keep you warm and dry.

 Dress in layers.  In the mountains, be prepared for changeable and extreme weather.  Wear layers of clothing, rather than one thick item.  You can always take a layer off if you get warm. Think of three key layers.

 First layer (Base Layer):  his layer will help wick moisture away from your skin and to the outer layers, where it can then evaporate, thus keeping your skin relatively dry.  Base layer garments are available in various weights to match activity level.  Lightweight layers when it's warm or when you are really working up a sweat; medium or expedition weights when it's really cold or when you aren't exerting yourself, and thus generating little body heat.  Wet garments that are in contact with your skin conduct 25 times more heat away from the body than dry ones.  Avoid cotton- it absorbs many times its weight in water and loses its insulating qualities when wet.

 What works well as a first layer consist of a polypropylene shirt and pants or long thermal underwear made of a synthetic fiber such as polyester that has 'wicking' ability to move moisture away from your body.

 Second layer or  Middle layer trap warm air next to the body.  The thicker the layer of trapped air, the warmer you'll be.  Two or three light weight layers are preferable to a single heavyweight one, because you can adjust the amount of insulation you're wearing to your activity level and to fluctuating temperatures.

A good rule of thumb is: shed a layer before you get too warm and begin to perspire.    The same applies when temperatures cools down all you do is add a layer before you begin shivering.

 A great second layer is a light - weight wool sweater or fleece pullover and pants. Note: Cotton clothing and blue jeans are poor choices because they won't keep you warm when they get wet.

 Third or top or outer layer is your protection from the elements, minimizing heat loss from wind and cold.  Remember that even a gentle breeze can suck warm air from your body through the process of convection.  Regarding the top layer look for a waterproof, breathable outer shell that lets perspiration escape while protecting you from wind, snow, and rain.  A good outer layer should consist of a water-resistant snow pants and a jacket to protect you from snow, sleet, or rain and to block the nasty wind.  For a good snowboard jacket look for one that is loose fitting, comfortable, long enough at the back to cover your bottom to keep snow out of your pants, and high enough at the neck to keep out the wind and cold.  Pants need to be comfortable and loose fitting.  It may be nice to look for a pair with extra padding around the knees and bottom to protect you when you fall.

 Key features to look for in clothing.

 Check for freedom of movement yet provides warmth and protection.  For boarders get a jacket shell with a long cut down to your hips that will keep your midriff warm and dry when fastening bindings, or on deep powder days.

 Look for tough, waterproof, breathable shell to stand up to plenty of abrasion and abuse.

 I like vents under the arm that help regulate your temperature.  Open when hot; close when cold.  Storm flaps covering all zippers help keep wind out.  Zip-pulls (attached to zippers allow you to open and close the vents without removing your gloves.

Look for double or triple-stitched seams, and reinforced material on the sides of the jacket shell, and knees and rear end of your pants.  Remember you now have some investment on you so be careful as you carry your skis and board with their sharp edges that can cut through the stitching and material on the sides of your jacket or pants, or through your gloves.


Let’s move on up to your head.  For minimizing heat loss from the head and protecting the little used portion of your body a helmet can be a good thing to have.

We won’t discuss the fancy helmets with on board computer, GPS, tele-communication and entertainment center features but just how to look for a good fitting helmet.

To start with lets determine the size.  Wrap a measuring tape around your head just above the eyebrows.  This is the helmet size.

Now go to the store and try on the helmet by first aligning the front rim of the helmet above your eyebrow.  Then holding the straps on both sides roll the helmet over the back of your head.

The first thing to look for is gaps.  Feel the pads press on your head.  They should be flush against your forehead and cheeks.  Make sure that the back of the helmet does not touch the nape of your neck.

Fasten the chin strap making sure it is snug and feels comfortable.  Then try to roll your helmet off your head.  A good fitting helmet will make your forehead skin move as you try to roll the helmet.

You’re not finished yet.  Make sure your goggles or if you are going to wear glasses that they fit well with your helmet. Also, do you listen to music then check the use of ear phones on it.  Does your ears get cold make sure that the ear covering on the helmets cover and fit well.

Not all helmets are built the same.  Some work with Charlie Brown’s head others fit better on Jug Head’s. So try various ones.  Once you know the helmet fits well then go for the colors, design, venting features, communication capabilities and such. 

  Other Important Clothing Items

 Sunglasses or goggles to protect your eyes from harmful solar radiation, the wind, and to keep ice pellets or snow from stinging your eyes.  Remember bright sunlight reflecting off the snow can be just as bad as direct sunlight.  Select goggles that allow for appropriate range of peripheral vision.  Look for wide-angle frames or sport shields.  Sunglasses and goggles also come in specific tints to help you see dips and bumps in the snow on a dull day.  Here is a general rule regarding lens color tint and applications.

First polarized lens are great for reducing glare and can come in various tints: Polarized Gray is suitable for all light conditions especially bright sunlight and offer a 10 % VLT (Visual light transmittance).

Polarized Brown best in moderate light allowing increase contrast, improve depth perception and offer a 12 % VLT.

Polarized Green best in moderate to bright sunlight offering 16% VLT.

Polarized Rose best for moderate to hazy light providing the sharpest contrast and offering 19% VLT

Looking at the non-polarized lens lets start off with the:

Clear lens- suitable for very low to no light conditions which is usually a Clear Crystal Carbonate lenses that are great to protect your eyes from rain and bugs and at night time offering 98% VLT (VISUAL LIGHT TRANSMITTANCE)

Yellow lens- suitable for all “low-light” conditions such as cloudy, overcast, dusk & dawn. Low-light lenses increase contrast and visual acuity and is a yellow crystal carbonate offering a 80% VLT (VISUAL LIGHT TRANSMITTANCE)

Orange lens-  suitable for all “medium light” conditions such as partly sunny, cloudy, and overcast conditions. Low-light lenses increase contrast and visual acuity and is a orange crystal carbonate offering a 57% VLT (VISUAL LIGHT TRANSMITTANCE)

 Lets now examine heat loss through the head.  You can lose a tremendous amount of body heat through your head: cover it, and your feet and hands will be warmer.

 Hat or Cap for warmth (although it won't provide protection).  Make sure that the hat or cap can cover your ears.  Some jackets have a useful hood tucked into the collar.

 Wear a helmet to protect your head and for warmth.

 Fleece neck gaiter or facemask to protect your face when it's really cold.

 Wrist guards for snowboarders to prevent wrist injuries.

 Gloves or mittens made of waterproof but breathable fabrics.  Snowboarding gloves and mittens often have a reinforced palm and fingers to stand up to the wear caused by balancing on the snow.  Some also have built in wrist guards. Long , elasticized wrist or strapping on cuffs to keep out snow is a good idea.

 Socks with flat seams and stretchy material that doesn't wrinkle against your skin will minimize sharp pressure points against the foot.  A thin liner socks (synthetic socks) covered by a thicker wool or pile socks or snowboard/ski socks works especially well.  Avoid extremely bulky socks that can keep you from feeling connected to the ground, which is necessary for good control.

 Sunscreen should always be used to protect you from sunburn and chapping in cold winds.  A lip balm will prevent your lips from cracking.


Suggested Clothing Check List

 ___       Hat/cap/helmet - warm and must cover ears

___       Thermal underwear - for added warmth on cold days

___       Sweater, vest, wool shirt etc…

___       Water resistant warm-up pants or ski pants

___       Parka or ski jacket - insulated, usually worn over a sweater.  (most parkas and jackets are not water       proof and will soak through on wet days.

___       Waterproof & Windproof jacket or poncho and pants - for those wet days

___       Sock liner/Sock

 ___      Gloves or mittens - water resistant

___      Waterproof Sun Block - #15 or higher

___      Face Mask or Scarf - protection from wind and snow

___      Sunglasses - for sunny days

 ___      Duffel Bag/Daypack/Knapsack - to keep your small things together

___       Clothing and equipment identification.  Many ski items look alike.  Mark all your equipment with your    name.  Use masking tape with your name for all rental gear.

 ___      Skis/Snowboard - Correct length - Binding adjusted for you by an authorized technician

___       Ski brake for skis, Retention device for Snowboarders

___       Boots - properly fitted

___       Poles - proper length

___       Ski/Snowboard Bags or straps - to protect and/or hold skis together during transport

___       Ski/Board Lock - to secure your equipment when not skiing


Prepare for Winter Driving part 3

This is part 3 of preparing for a fun first day.  So if you had read the last two issues of SSN on getting ready through exercise, protecting your skin, eyes and head, keeping the right body temperature by properly dressing then you are now ready to prepare your car for the snow trip.  Interesting enough I am writing this from a condo next to Heavenly ski resort in blizzard like conditions. We arrived after delaying our snow vacation a day due to the winter storm that made the road uncomfortable to travel on.  Good thing I called ahead and spoke to the condo manager who advised us to stay in Sacramento and enjoy a good meal there because 5 feet of snow was covering the parking area and no sign of any snow removal equipment. Viewing the web cameras on showed lines of parked cars on the road to South Lake Tahoe at Myers further reinforced our decision to not travel on the mountain road that day.  So leaving the next day was a wise choice as the day was still cloudy but no 50 miles per hour winds and snow slashing down on us as we tried to desperately attach tire chains in the freezing cold.  So lesson one is call ahead, check weather reports; use the technologies available such as Internet sites with the latest road conditions, weather forecast, satellite views, etc. to view the latest and forecasted weather and road conditions to help make your decision to travel or avoid impending situations.

 Ok so you’re going to travel during the winter and we need to focus on our vehicle.  If you have the latest in all terrain type vehicle I can save you some reading here and you can skip this section and move directly to tire chains.  But for us who lack transportation that has lost its new car smell and requires a bit more attention you need to read this carefully.

Check the following:

Cooling system – Check the antifreeze/coolant level and that they will provide adequate freeze protection.

Brakes – have the brakes checked.

Battery – Check to see if it is near the end of its warranty.  Check the batter cables and that the battery cable connection are tight and corrosion free.

Windshield wipers – Change the wiper blades if worn or cracked and refill the wiper fluid. Make sure you use wiper fluid that is made for cold they contain solvents that will not freeze in most winter driving conditions or add special solvents to your windshield washer reservoir to prevent icing.  Do not replace with water, as it will freeze.

Inspect the engine hoses and belts for cracks, soft spots or bulges.

Defroster / heater – check to make sure they are in working order.

Head lamps- Check the car’s headlamps, taillights and the interior lights making sure they all work properly.

Exhaust system -Check they are working properly

Check your tires. Make sure they are properly inflated and the tread is in good condition. Don’t forget to also check the spare.

Tire chains - Regarding tire chains you must carry them or similar traction devices.  This goes even if you have four-wheel drive in fact you have to have chains on all four tires if required to put on chains.  Make sure they are the proper size for your tires and are in working order.  I suggest very strongly rehearsing putting them on at home so you know how to install them quickly and easily as well as checking for the fit and if there are any damages to the links and attachments.  Trying to figure them out on the side of the road in freezing, wet weather can make you very cranky as well as be quite hazardous.    Take along a flashlight and chain repair links. Chains must be installed on the drive wheels. Make sure you know if your vehicle is front or rear wheel drive because you will need to put the chains on the wheels that are driving the vehicle.  If using all four wheels as drive you need to put the chains on all four tires.

Other things I like to have are light thin rubber gloves that I can easily manipulate to hook attachments on the tire chain, knee pads so my knees don’t get soaked and a plastic or waterproof pad if I have to lay down on the snow trying to figure out why the chain doesn’t fit over the tire. A old not so important water-proof jacket and over pants to wear when out in the wet cold putting on the chains.  We also carry a couple of two way radios one on me when I am changing the tire and the other for my wife who is sitting warmly and patiently in the drivers seat waiting for my signal to start the car up to move the vehicle forward or back to either position the tires or to loosen any existing slack so I can tighten the chains.  With the two way radio she doesn’t have to roll the widow or open the door to hear me and stays nice and cozy in the car while I brave the elements.  By the way she can also put on chains and has done so before we met but for some reason I always lose the toss and is the one that ends up with dirty jacket sleeves and cold hands.  Another thing are plastic bags to put the wet jacket and over pants and to place the tire chains in after I take them off.  This way you don’t have to fuss with trying to cram the wet dirty chains bag back into the original case. A towel or wipes are a good thing to have ready to clean myself off after putting or taking the chains off.  A possible alternative is to carry  $40 to have the chains put on and $20 to have them removed by the chain gang.  So carry extra chain money if prices go up further during demanding times. When you are mouthing the words “how much is it to put on my chains,”  inside your warm window sealed car and the person in the rubber rain gear outfit standing in the slashing rain/snow/sleet freezing weather raises more than one finger you got to multiple the fingers by 10 to get the dollar amount they are charging.  If it is just one finger they raise it will either mean $100 or they don’t like you depending upon the finger that is raised. A good thing to have is an extra car key attached outside the car hidden in a secure place just in case you lock yourself out when putting on the chains or negotiating the price further. 

For emergency carry a tool kit that includes at least a screwdriver, pliers and adjustable wrench.  Highway safety flares and/or markers with reflectors and a battery jumper cable.

If you don’t have a garage to park your car in when up in the snow then make sure you have an ice scraper or commercial deicer, a broom or brush for brushing snow off your car, a shovel to free your car if you get "snowed in," sand or burlap for traction if your wheels should become mired in snow. Hand wipes are great too and carry a first aid kit especially antibiotics and Band-aids when you scrap or cut your hands. 

I have most of these things in a duffle bag and call it my winter emergency kit and keep it in the trunk.

In addition take along water and thermos of your hot beverage, non-perishable food, blankets, extra clothing, battery powered radio with spare batteries, a portable DVD player, a good book and you’ll appreciate them on a lengthy delay. Also, make sure your cell phone is fully charged.

Now if there is room for you, your passengers your ski/snowboard equipment and the all the rest of your gear then you just maybe ready to take your travel.  Did I mention don’t forget your season pass and arrange for pet care?

Safe driving and be courteous on the road it might be me in the other car.

Sam Morishima is a contributing editor for Sierra Ski News and director of SnoZone, a ski and snowboard school offering lessons on an “Endless Slope.”

For more information, visit, or call SnoZone a (916) 736-0432.


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Subject: Equipment / Accessories 

Article GE1

Wax the Board

 By Sam Morishima


Ever think about the abuse the boards attached to our feet endure as we bash through moguls, grab steep icy slopes, slam land from cliffs and boulder jumps.  Well I never did until the board began to delaminate on me.  Sending back the equipment to the manufacturer they only laughed at me saying look you got gouges as deep as the grand canyon, metal edges missing or snapped off like dry twigs, and you want us to give you a new board because the thing is delaminating, think again melon brain!

So I ski and board with great enthusiasm, what Boarder doesn’t!   It doesn’t mean I don’t love my equipment.  Well now that I’ve grown up a bit (not much mind you) I learned a thing or two about taking care of my board that I’d like to pass on to my readers.

You need to wax your sticks or board every three to five snow days. Your bottom sintered base pores needs to absorb wax not dirt which it will do if you don’t maintain them.  A clean well waxed surface will give you a smooth glide over the pretty white stuff.  When the season is over you need to clean and wax them before you store them. 

  What’s very vital is to wax your boards and skis once over the summer, because wax maintains and provides hydration to the base (keeping them supple and flexible.) If you leave your boards or skis un-waxed during the off-season, dehydration can shrink the pores, pull the base away from the edges, and can result in delaminating.  I learned this the hard way and now the board manufacturers are not laughing at me anymore because I’ve got boards that hang in there.

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