Sports

Are you ready for the ridge?

Merry Christmas, everybody, from the Chapmans to everyone reading today's prose and I hope tomorrow finds you happy and healthy and remembering the reason for the season.

Is it time to start using the ski gear? Hurricane Ridge might open this weekend if there is enough snow to operate a couple of rope tows, but, as I write this, more inches are needed to get the operation up and running.

Let's preview what's ahead on the slopes.



Traffic

Olympic National Park winter rules require that all vehicles carry chains when traveling above Heart O' The Hills entrance station until May 1 and that means just what it says. Chains have to be in the car or truck or van and the requirement applies to all vehicles including 4-wheel drive, regardless of tire type, and applies to all road and weather conditions.

Say the road is open and traction tires are required. That means snow tires, studded tires or M/S rated tires. You still must have chains in the car. If a sudden storm comes up and chains are required to get down the hill and you don't have chains to put on, be ready for a big ticket.

If everyone carries chains, the road might give the park greater flexibility in keeping the road open during times when conditions are marginal.

Try to take as many in the car as you can, since parking is limited. When parking, make sure you park close to other vehicles.



Lift tickets

The Hurricane Ridge Winter Sports Club has set the all-lifts ticket at $25 for all day. That's bunny rope, intermediate rope and Poma lift. Half day starts at 1 p.m. and is $22.

The rope-tows-only price is $20 and $18 for half and the bunny lift is $10.

Compare that to $60 at Stevens Pass and Crystal Mountain, folks.



Ski school

The ridge has offered ski schools for 40-plus years and the special six-week program for ages 4 and up and all skill levels starts in January.

Toddler lessons for 4- and 5-year-olds are $100. Age 6 and above, ski or snowboard: $125 for the six weeks. These are small classes, quality lessons and great fun. There are packages that combine lift tickets and lessons. Allow ample time if renting equipment on the ridge and make sure you are prepared for changing weather conditions with extra gloves, eye protection and sunscreen.

Make sure ski gloves, mittens, etc., have protection for riding rope tows. Heavy leather gloves are best, but there leather glove and mitten protectors for sale at the lodge.



On the ropes

First-time riders on the rope tows sometimes have a difficult task. I remember my first couple of times when the rope flipped me over sideways on many occasions and I had to get back up and go to the back of the line.

Here's the skinny: Get to the rope and square body and skis or boards up the hill. Tuck poles under left arm, or keep in right hand and use them to help grabbing the rope. Take the rope with both hands and let the rope slide through, then squeeze lightly until you feel the rope begin to advance you up the hill. Then squeeze tightly and let the rope pull. Best bet is to try to sit down on the skis for better leverage, especially on the faster-moving intermediate. When getting off, steer to the right and let go, momentum carrying you off the rope to the get-off area.

If you happen to lose control on the way up and fall, quickly get off the lift area so you don't get run over by the next skier. Never ski back down the tow area.



Columns by KONP 1450 AM sports announcer Scooter Chapman appear weekly in the Sequim Gazette. He can be reached via e-mail at scooter@olypen.com.

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