Published: Oct. 3, 2019

Darby Hartman at a slalom race in Powderhorn, CO

Photo: Darby Hartman at a slalom race in Powderhorn, CO.

There is nothing more beautiful than a fresh coat of snow over the Rocky Mountains. Before the resorts open, now is a great time to prepare for your ski or snowboard season. Darby Hartman is a senior at CU Boulder and a member of the CU Ski Team. With ski and snowboard season fast approaching, Darby has a few tips for veteran and novice riders.


Prepare in advance

While the mountains haven’t opened yet, it’s a good idea to start preparing for the slopes well before the season starts. Building up your strength and endurance can help reduce your risk for injuries and keep you going throughout the winter months. The Rec Center offers a variety of resources to help students prepare:

  • The Recreation Injury Care Center (RICC) provides walk-in consultations for all Rec Center members. Students can meet one-on-one with an athletic trainer to have an injury evaluated and learn tips for improving their form.
  • The Rec Center also offers Training Services, which can be great for developing a sport-specific training regimen. Options include personal training, partner training and adaptive training. Stop by the Guest Services desk to learn more.

Dress for success

While it’s commonplace to wear gloves and a jacket, many people forget the importance of keeping their neck warm and protected against the elements. Darby recommends wearing a “neckie” (protective neck cover) whenever you hit the slopes. She also suggests making sure your boots properly fit your feet. Feeling secure on your board or skis is important for having confidence on your way down the mountain. Most importantly, wear a helmet to avoid head injuries and concussions. It’s also a good idea to wear sunscreen and stay hydrated with a bottle of water or regular water breaks throughout the day.  


Back to basics

Learning to ski or snowboard is no easy feat. The bunny hill is a great place for beginners to learn and master basic skills and get used to their equipment. Learning control is key to progressing to other areas of the mountain. Darby points out some ways to check if you have mastered the art of control, including making turns, stopping without your poles and feeling comfortable getting on and off the lift by yourself.

Once you’ve mastered these skills, you are ready to explore other areas on the mountain. Be willing to go out of your comfort zone, but keep moderation in mind. If you ride a black diamond before you’re ready, you may be putting yourself and others in danger. Know your own limits on the slopes, and stay in control.  


Find your crew

Need someone to hit the slopes with? CU Boulder has a variety of clubs and organizations that students can join to get more involved on the mountain.

  • Boulder Freeride is a non-profit student organization that plans and coordinates trips to a variety of ski resorts throughout the semester. This club is great for members of all experience levels.
  • CU also has a Club Snowboarding Team through the Rec Center.

Have a safe trip

Driving in traffic to and from the slopes can be tiring. That’s why CU Boulder has a Ski Bus Program that takes students to and from ski resorts. This year, the Ski Bus will serve Epic and Ikon Pass holders and visit the following resorts:

  • Keystone
  • A-Basin
  • Breckenridge
  • Copper
  • Winter Park
  • Beaver Creek
  • Vail

Bus schedules and tickets are available online.


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