Signature Vacations – Vail

Our Cordillera Ranch Signature Vacation series is continuing to offer families an opportunity for adventurous travel. We’ll head to Vail, Colorado,the finest family ski and snowboard destination in the country in February for President’s Day Weekend.

In the last edition of Cordillera Ranch Living, I wrote about passing along our Texas outdoor heritage to the next generation. In this edition, I’ll strongly recommend passing along a love for winter outdoor recreation. Although we don’t have access to snow and mountains in our backyard, a flight from San Antonio to Denver and short drive into the Rockies will create some wonderful memories for your family.

Skiing and snowboarding are great sports for people of any age. It gets you outside in the fresh air, burns calories and relieves stress. It’s something you can enjoy as an individual, in a group or with your family and friends. Our Signature Vacation trip will offer families from The Clubs of Cordillera Ranch a great way to spend time with your neighbors and friends in the premier ski and snowboard destination in Colorado.

Skiing and snowboarding are fun activities. Or they can be fun, once right and left turns and stopping have been conquered. But there are other reasons to learn to ski and snowboard, and they include:
Physical: Skiing and snowboarding improve muscle tone as well as improve balance and endurance.
Health: Skiing and snowboarding provide an excellent cardiovascular workout, which helps to strengthen the heart muscles.
Social: Skiing and snowboarding bring families and friends together for one common purpose — to slide on snow.

Vail is the largest ski mountain in the United States, and long regarded as one of the best. Vail has topped Ski Magazine’s annual poll 16 times in the last 23 years. Vail has some of the best ski and snowboard terrain in the world; a collection of peaks that harbors a seemingly endless series of vast bowls—5,289 acres of wide open slopes, most serviced by lifts, some reachable only on foot.

One of the first questions always asked when planning a snow bound trip is “Do you ski or snowboard?” If you have never tried either, then you must ask yourself what would provide the best experience for a first timer. Most experts will agree that skiing is easier to pick up for first timers compared to snowboarding. But this answer is also very subjective and it really depends on the person’s athletic ability. I personally started snowboarding 18 years ago and have not put on a pair of downhill skis since the mid 90’s. Or perhaps you’re an accomplished skier and you’ve decided to give snowboarding a go.

I’ll attempt to break down the differences between the two sports so that you can make an informed decision and also be aware of how fast you can realistically expect to progress with your current skiing skills.

Skiing and snowboarding are alike in that they are both downhill and are both the source of countless hours of fun and exhilaration. Some of the differences, however, that you’ll find between them include:
Snowboard riders constantly have to sit or exert energy to remain on edge while they are stationary. Unlike skiing, you will not have poles to help you remain upright and standing when you are not moving.
Snowboarding is a lot easier on the knees compared to skiing. Knee injuries are not as common in snowboarding as they are in skiing. Snowboarding can, however, be a lot more brutal on your wrists so make sure you wear some wrist guards.
You’ll start to develop a deep hatred for flats when you’re starting out with the snowboard. Again, you won’t have your ski poles to bail you out.
You will, however, begin to fall in love with deeper and softer snow. Snowboards work nicely in powder and crud while skis are better in bumps and ice.
Getting up after a fall on a snowboard is a skill in itself but once mastered should prove to be easier and faster than having to put your stuff together again after falling on skis.
If you’re just looking for speed, more speed and nothing but speed, you may be surprised to know that given a skier and boarder of equal ability, skiing beats snowboarding virtually each time in terms of velocity. Since this isn’t a science article, we can’t get into the physics involved which explain why skiing has an edge. Suffice to say that if you were to compare speed records for both skiers and boarders, the skiers will always be faster.

So you’ve been skiing for several years and you’ve decided that it’s time for a change. Around the mountain you see people having the time of their lives on snowboards and your friends certainly think you should give it a go.

So, should you? Is it hard? Will all those years of skiing make it easier to learn? The answer is probably yes, to a certain extent. Apart from being familiar with the mountain environment and being comfortable with descending fast, as a skier you would also be familiar with the concepts of edging and carving.

As with other beginners, you’d be best served with investing in some lessons or at least doing some reading to get an idea of the basic maneuvers involved with snowboarding. Expect to end up with a sore backside and/or a mouth full of snow during the initial stages.

Many skiers do, in fact, report to have progressed much further in their first few days of snowboarding than they did with skiing within a similar time frame back in their early days. This, of course, varies between individuals with some claiming that there is absolutely no difference in the amount of time it takes to become proficient in one or the other.

You can, therefore, expect to reach the intermediate stage without too many hassles. Beyond that, however, you’ll have to put in the miles just as you do, or have done, with skiing. Don’t expect to be carving up those double black diamond runs like a pro in just a few days.

Let me close by saying that even if skiing or snowboarding are not up your alley, Vail offers something for everyone! Anyone can find plenty to do, from spas to shopping to snow tubing. Even if you ski bell to bell, you still have 18 hours to fill. No worries. Our Signature Vacation will offer an all-inclusive opportunity to enjoy the wonders of the Vail area!

Shane Reynolds
Outdoor Recreation Director
The Clubs of Cordillera Ranch

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