The End of Snow?

As far as winter sports enthusiasts are concerned their favorite winter resort will always have that deep natural snow cover.  Always.  Period.

Will climate change prove them wrong?  Studies have shown that this might very well be the case.

snow melt a problem for snowboarders

Climate Change and Snow

The relationship between climate change and the basic science on how snow is formed is fairly simple.  The increase in the average temperature of the Earth’s atmosphere and its oceans causes more water to evaporate into the atmosphere and warmer air holds more water than cooler air.  In fact, with each 1 degree Celsius or 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit of warming, the air’s water-holding capacity increases by 7 percent.  When the air is warm, it becomes supersaturated with water which brings about torrential rainfall followed by flooding.  If it’s cold enough, snow would fall instead.

Less Snow, More Snow

Is it the end of snow?

According to scientific studies, that may very well be the case if global warming persists.  And it has a very high chance of occurring based on the report made by NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies.  The average temperature around the world increased by 0.8 degree Celsius or 1.4 degrees Fahrenheit since 1880, much of it in the recent decades.  Melting snow off mountaintops is a reality.  A good example is Montana’s Glacier National Park which had 150 glaciers in 1910 but is now down to 27 glaciers.  Back in the 1800’s, the total glacier volume of the European Alps was at 230 cubic kilometer.  It is now down to one-third the original amount.

If less snow is expected, why is there an intensification of the snowfall extremes in some parts of the world?  The answer is, again, climate change.

In February of 2015, an epic blizzard hit New England.  Climate scientists explain that the main cause of this blizzard is the fact that it is winter.  Remember the “warm air sucking up a lot of water”?  Since it was winter time, these mega-loads of sucked-up water turned into snow and got dumped in heavy and intense deluges.

The blizzard that hit Buffalo, New York in 2014 accounting for 8 feet of snow was supposedly caused by the “lake effect”.  Typically occurring between the months of November and February, the “lake effect” snow event happens when cooler air passes over a warm body of water, takes up the water, freezes it, moves toward where the wind is blowing and dumps the snow as soon as it hits land.  In the case of the Buffalo blizzard, the warm body of water was Lake Erie.  Days after the lake effect snow event, warmer temperature took over the area which caused the rapid melting of the snow which, in turn, caused minor flooding.

The Dilemma

Whichever way the wind (or warm air) blows, winter resort operators have to deal with a lot of challenges ahead of them.

For the Less Snow scenario, the obvious solution is to make your own snow which could prove to be very expensive and detrimental to the environment.  The first major resource needed is water.  Seventy-five thousand (75,000) gallons of water are needed to cover a 200 x 200 foot area with 6 inches of snow.  To cut on costs, some resorts would re-use the run-off water from the slopes collected in the reservoirs.  This practice, if not done responsibly, may cause soil erosion and soil pollution due to the contaminants that the water encounters in the run-off.   Next would be power consumption. A large air compressing pump requires a lot of energy.  Likewise, the water pump system uses, more often than not, diesel fuel which contributes to air pollution.  Last but not the least in the expense department is labor cost.  Another solution is a bit less expensive but more labor-intensive.  Resort operators in the Austrian Alps have resorted to covering snow fields with white fleece to delay the melting of the snow.

Covering glacier to prevent melt

In the More Snow scenario, a blizzard is the star of the show and it brings with it lots and lots of snow which, in some cases, is nothing to be happy about.  It translates to cancelled flights, collapsed roofs, downed lifts, avalanches, resort personnel unable to go to work and a lot of other things which cost money.

At the end of the day, the cost of meeting these challenges would impact on the end-users, the winter sports enthusiasts. That’s right, you guys. If you love to ski or snowboard then it is time to start thinking about the small things you can do to reduce your impact on the environment.

 

 

 

 

 

Top 5 European Snowboard Destinations

1. DAVOS, SWITZERLAND

Davos is a year round resort village in Graubunden, east of Switzerland.  Easily accessible by train, bus or car from Zurich, Davos is a top international destination for ski and snow activities.

davos switzerland

For snowboarders, Jakobshorn is the place to be.

Jakobshorn is part of the Albula Alps and is one of the five skiing regions of the Davos Klosters Mountains.  In December 2014, Jakobshorn opened its new state of the art gondola lift which makes it easier for winter sports enthusiasts to reach the mountain from Davos Platz.  Once on the mountain, the “pistes” or ski runs may be reached via the chair lifts, cable car and T-Bar.  Dubbed as the “Fun Mountain”, Jakobshorn is renowned for its range of restaurants and a compact, versatile and perfectly groomed park with short, intensive runs which offer more than 20 elements including kickers and rails.

  1. VERBIER, SWITZERLAND

Verbier is a village resort in the Swiss Alps, south west of Switzerland.  Accessible by bus or train from Martigny which is a 2 and a half hour drive from the nearest international airport in Geneva.

Verbier Switzerland

Oftentimes compared to Chamonix, Verbier offers extensive and challenging slopes with a lot of off-piste and long bump runs.  Verbier forms part of the “Four Valleys” ski area with Thyon, Veysonnaz and Nendaz and together they offer over 410 kilometers of ski runs.

For freeriders, the Verbier Xtreme Competitions sponsored by various companies are considered to be the most technical and most demanding by all riders.  Held at the North Face of the infamous Bec des Rosses, most routes down the face are angled at 55 to 60 degrees and are strewn with rock outcroppings for good measure.

For freestylers, the snow park at La Chaux has three separate lines and a number of rails, jumps and corners.  The extreme natural terrain with hundreds of rock drops make up for the lack of a pipe.

  1. ANTON, AUSTRIA

Sankt Anton am Arlberg or St. Anton for short is a village which lies on the Tyrolean Alps.  It is part of the Arlberg area of ski resorts.  St. Anton is accessible by car or train by way of Munich or Switzerland.

St Anton, Austria

Once only known to insiders, the Stanton Park at St. Anton, has been likened to a big arena with an innovative park design and has, thus, become the freestyle mecca in the Arlberg region.  The varied terrain, huge amounts of powder and the 180 kilometers of marked off-piste runs set St. Anton apart from all the other resorts.

  1. SERRE CHEVALIER, FRANCE

Serre Chevalier is part of France’s Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur region.  It is accessible by train or car from Geneva, Turin in Italy and Grenoble in Paris.  Serre Chevalier is the largest resort destination in the Southern Alps.  Comprised of 13 mountain villages, it offers a variety of ski terrain which runs for 250 kilometers and off-piste runs with tree-lined powdered fields.

serre chevalier trails
Serre Chevalier

 

For expert boarders, Serre Chevalier is considered a natural playground with its tight open trees to weave around in, the extreme drop-offs and innumerable bowls, banks and gullies.  The Cucumelle slope and the areas around the Rocher Blanc are littered with natural obstacles that provide plenty of scope for experts.

  1. CHAMONIX, FRANCE

Chamonix is a commune in the Rhodes-Alpes region of southwestern France.  Chamonix-Mont Blanc is comprised of 16 villages and hamlets.  The nearest international airport is in Geneva and from there, Chamonix may be reached by car or train.chamonix

Chamonix has an allure for the hardcore boarders because of the challenging lines that it offers.  The Chamonix area boasts of amazing snowboarding terrain, both off-piste and on-piste.  If you’re into tricks, the natural kickers at Le Brevent and La Flegere are worth checking.  For beginners, the pistes at Le Tour and Les Houches are most accommodating.

 

Expert or beginner, Chamonix never disappoints.

 

7 Tips to Defeat Your Opponent in the Next Tennis Match

Tennis is a very rewarding and very competitive sport. It is also a solitary sport, especially true if you are a singles player. Below are 7 tips to coming out on top in competition or to amp up your game moving you to the next level.

1. Watch The Ball

Sounds pretty obvious, this is a command you will hear in almost any ball sport, and rightly so. Watch the ball with intensity. Many feel they do this step, however they take their eyes away from the ball right at contact. Watch your racket make contact with the ball. If you look at a photograph of the pros after they have hit the ball you will notice their head is still pointing to where they contacted the ball, keeping their head still and the bulls eye in place.

2. Watching the Pros

Speaking of watching the pros, this is a very important factor in developing a great tennis game. Many of us learn visually, so no matter how many lessons we take, books we read, or matches we play we will not reach our potential until we see it done right. Watch the pros with the same intensity you watch the ball. Focus on their footwork, stroke, and concentration. Then take it to court.

forehand tennis hit

3. Watch Yourself

Recording yourself can be a phenomenal tool to fixing faults and spotting error. Even when we feel like we play well, all too often a recording will reveal otherwise. Try comparing your strokes with pros and see where you need improvement. You may be surprised at how effective this can be.

4. Use The Wall With Caution

The tennis wall can be an important tool to get you to the next level, however it can do the opposite as well. Be very cautious when hitting against the wall as you may be practicing bad technique. Start slow and make sure your stroke is correct. Have a pro analyze your stroke to be sure you are training good habits not bad.

5. Footwork

Foot work is so important. Quite often we feel it is our stroke that was off but in fact it was our foot work. Without proper footwork you cannot line yourself up properly to hit the ball with the correct stroke. Keep your feet moving in an organized fashion and you’ll be a step ahead of your opponent.

6. Patience

Learn and train yourself to be patient. Rather than going for that winner, keep passing the ball until you know you have the perfect opportunity to make that winning shot. Even using this strategy you are inviting your opponent to make the first mistake. Point by point games add up and you will find yourself at the advantage.

Master your tennis swing

7. Second Serve Success

The biggest factor in your wining a tennis match is second serves won. Your first serve is your weapon, you let it all out and go for it. You can’t do this with your second serve and on the other hand you cannot have a weak second serve that gives your opponent the benefit every time. Develop your second serve to be tricky, dependable, and precise. Really putting some time into your second serve will prove to pay off.

Like all things practice makes perfect. Using these tips will put you at an advantage in practice and matches. Getting out often and with a variety of players will help you to develop a well rounded game. Remember the good shots and forget the bad, then get out and play what you remember.

3 Techniques to Help you Become the MacGyver of Snowboarding

Now your not going to be launching out of halfpipes and crushing the 50ft kickers in the whistler park straight away, let’s be honest. But, as you progress in your ability, the best thing you can do is master the basics. These techniques cover how not to look like an ass when lining up for a lift (skating), How to make your way safely down a hill without breaking yourself (gliding), and how to link your turns so you can carve like a champ!

SKATINGhalfpipe tips

Skating requires balance and attention to detail (of the terrain) and at first, you may find it not very comfortable, but with practice and perseverance you will learn to love it! Below are some tips on skating:

  • With your back foot free, attach your front foot to the bindings of the board.
  • Place your front foot ahead of you as you use your back foot to propel forward to form the ‘skating motion’. Sliding/skating on your snowboard with one foot attached is an action used frequently in snowboarding (used whenever entering/exiting a lift or when traveling short distances uphill) and therefore must be learnt properly.
  • Practice skating around the area but always ensure that your back foot is behind your front foot at all times. Only take small steps with your back foot.
  • As you progress and improve, you will be able to take larger steps and learn how to kick off with your back foot.
  • Keep your front leg slightly bent, your front foot should bear most of your weight -this maintains balance.
  • With improved skill comes improved speed. Eventually you will be able to use your back foot on the snowboard stop pad or use it to press against the snowboard binding in the event that you do not have a stop pad.
  • Challenge yourself later on and make an effort to keep both feet on the board as much as is possible, also,try to crouch down and then ease up as you glide on the board.

GLIDING

Gliding is an essential skill to be learnt before progressing onto other snowboard practices. It is a basic movement which will aid you in familiarising yourself with weight shifts in a forwards direction and in gaining control of the board. Additionally, gliding is helpful in riding chairlifts, by being able to turn out of a glide, you will be able to unload from a chairlift with control.

STEP 1: Firstly, find yourself a gentle slope with minimal traffic and maintain a balanced standing position (if required, spread out your arms to stay upright). When ready, and once the coast is clear, position your back foot slightly in front the the back snowboard binding.

STEP 2: To begin moving downhill, lean forward and point your toes downwards in order to move forward. To slow down or come to a stop, simply shift your weight in the backward direction. Keep your gaze focused on the direction you are heading and not at your board.

carving on a snowboard

EDGE SWITCHES

Toe to Heel: Considered easier to execute than heel-toe, this method involves dropping onto your knees and resting your hands in the snow. For extra support, you can move your elbows down to ease the roll onto your side. As you tuck in your right shoulder, move your upper body in the direction of the roll. Once you have got your snowboard up into the air, ease it around slowly. By this stage you should have your snowboard in midair as you lie on your back, now, place your snowboard down and use your hands to push up into a seated position. The movement from toe to heel is complete.

Heel to Toe: Begin by sitting on the slope with slightly bent knees. Lie yourself down and place hands by sides. Try to get your snowboard into the air by placing your hands behind your knees; once in the air, turn the board once and place the tail/snout into the snow. Continue rolling onto your side until the board is onto its toe side and you are facing uphill. The move from heel edge to toe edge is complete. Make use of your hands to support you into a standing position.