Powder Play

Published: Wednesday, January 5, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 4, 2005 at 10:41 p.m.
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Snowshoeing is getting more popular as a winter activity. Anyone can do it; just strap your boots into the showshoes, and you're good to go.

Photos from Ski Utah
Slather on the lip balm. Pull on the cold-weather gear. Baby, it's cold outside, and that means one thing: It's time to hit the slopes.
If you haven't tried winter sports in years, you're overdue for checking out all the new snow action. Activities are available for every fitness level. Snowboarding and skiing rule, but you don't have to do either.
Snowshoeing is a perfect activity for all members of the family and can be made challenging for those who want to ramp up their fitness. With all three activities, equipment and gear can be tailored and fine-tuned to the terrain and to your skills and proportions, such as height and weight.
Here's a guide to fitness and fun on the slopes: Skiing Expect to see more skiers on half pipes, said Jen Kohl, sales specialist in winter sports at REI in Santa Ana, Calif. Freestyle skis with twin tips enable skiers to do the kinds of tricks once reserved for snowboarders in the park, even landing fakie (backward).
If you need a break from skis, skiboards can offer a different kind of fun. These look like miniskis and allow you do to 360s and other tricks. No poles needed. A caveat: Not enough is known about injuries from skiboards. The bindings don't release, and there is a potential for injuries similar to those in skiing.
Getting into fresh, deep powder or doing some heli-skiing? Try the new megafat skis, which are more than four inches wide at their widest part. More manufacturers are making these phat fatties.
The new word on bindings: digital, dude. Atomic's Neox EBM 412 has a monitor gives you an "OK" on an LCD screen if you're locked in and ready for takeoff.
Snowboarding It's a great time to be a woman on the slopes. More equipment makers have realized that women need boots and boards designed for female proportions. "Men's heels usually are higher than women's," Kohl said. Think beyond cliches of pink and floral patterns for graphics on women's boards there are other designs out there.
If you're going to get one board this season, make it an all-mountain board, like Salomon's F20, 22 and 24 series, Kohl said. You get maximum versatility when a board can go off-trail or handle a pipe.
Some binding systems make it easy for you to go, including K2's step-in cinch system and Flow's click-and-go bindings, said Ethan Yotter, snowboard sales specialist at REI.
Snowshoeing Snowshoes are getting lighter, without compromising their stability and durability. As a winter activity, snowshoeing is taking off because people are discovering that anyone who can walk can do it, Kohl said.
Strap your boots into the snowshoes, and you're good to go. There are three main categories of snowshoes for sale: recreational, adventure and backcountry.
Most people need just recreational snowshoes. You can rent these until you're ready to buy your own. Adventure snowshoes are designed for hiking, backpacking and off-trail exploration. Backcountry snowshoes are for mountaineering and other backcountry activities.
Runners who want to train in the snow can choose from a small category of snowshoes designed for trail running.

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