Joe Kaiser, Sports Editor
Winter is coming soon, and those of you not from the warmer parts of the United States may be expecting snow this winter break. Now if there is one kind of wintry mix that a person can have fun in, it’s a combination of steep slopes and lots of snow. Skiing and snowboarding are some of the best perks of winter. However, some people – like many of those who play the sports in these articles – are just not happy with a simple combination.
Enter heli-skiing. This is an extreme sport where skiers and snowboarders are dropped by helicopter into backcountry terrain.
Obviously, helicopters are awesome, but some of you might be asking how this sport is any different from actual skiing. The answer is that it really is not. It is skiing for those who can afford helicopter rides. The important difference is that instead of being bound by ski lifts and ski runs, a heli-skier is able to hit almost any slope. This means that he could ski in a place where no one has ever skied before. In some areas, helicopters will drop the skier at one point, from which the skier must travel to the start of his run. In the United States, however, the helicopter will drop the skier off exactly where he wants to begin the run.
The dangers of heli-skiing are much greater than those encountered during an average day at a resort. Skiers must be able to get down the run by themselves, in a variety of kinds of snow. Also, since most heli-skiers ski in places that have never been skied on before, there is a greater chance of triggering an avalanche. With no backup, and a helicopter as his only connection to the rest of the world, a good heli-skier must be able to read the snow and avoid avalanche-prone situations.
If you are still unconvinced as to how rad heli-skiing is, please watch “The Art of Flight,” and see if you do not get an itch to carve up the side of a glacier in Patagonia.