Winter is no longer coming; it’s here. Snow came on Halloween and has not let up since, much to some students’ dismay and to others’ delight. As fun as complaining about the snow may be, it’s not leaving any time soon, so we should just embrace it. And what better way to embrace it but through true wintry merriment: by sledding?
One needs much more than a will to brave the elements to partake in this activity, however. Sledding is not just some activity for chilly tomfoolery. It’s a skill — a skill that takes years of wipeouts and mittens full of snow to master. Luckily you have me, a trained professional in the art of this sport, to teach you the basics. To get the most out of your sledding experience, follow these tips:
1. Do not take the snow lightly. Tuck your mittens or gloves into your jacket. Zip your jacket all the way up. Shove your snowpants into your boots. You may look certifiably insane, but you won’t be laughing if you get a neck full of snow as you plummet face-first down a hill.
2. Assess your snow. The best kind of sledding snow is packing snow — snow that’s light enough to be pushed around, but firm enough to be molded. If the snow is too powdery you’ll just get sprayed in the face. If the snow is too wet, your sled will sit in place, stuck in a gloomy frozen circle of despair.
3. Choose your sled. Flying-saucer sleds are good for only two things: plunging down a hill backwards and injuring yourself. Toboggans are always a good choice if you and your friends want to pretend you’re the Brady Bunch enjoying a day full of cheesy family bonding. Really, the best sleds are ones that are plastic, rectangular, and can fit one to two people. These will give you the most control for steering and stopping.
4. Get ready for your first run. Once you’ve
picked your hill, get settled properly in your sled and aim to go as far down the hill as possible. However, be aware of your surroundings. Especially if you’re with a partner, you run the risk of crashing into any number of trees, bushes, rocks, civilians, etc. If you are sharing a sled, agree on a codeword that will signify to ditch the sled in the event of an imminent crash. I recommend “BAIL,” personally.
5. Get fancy with it. Once you’ve made your first run, repeat it. And repeat it again. If the snow is right, the more times you go down your original track, the faster and slicker that track will become. Once you’re satisfied with it, you can construct jumps by packing mounds of snow onto parts of the track. (If you really want to get into it, you can do what my dad and brother did and create a jump — cover the track with a plank of wood, and then cover the wood with snow. Best jump results, guaranteed!)
Ultimately, sledding is as fun as you make it. Nobody wants to spend a day of sledding without at least one wipeout to laugh about, and nobody can resist getting on an unpre
dictable inner tube with about six other people. If you’re a perfectionist like me, or you approach snowy hilltops with reckless abandon, get outside and sled.