When most people wake up in the morning and see the outside temperature registers below zero Fahrenheit, they probably decide to call it, and spend their day curled up under some blankets with a hot cocoa and a good movie marathon. Good call. But, since it’s our job to get out there every day, freezing or not, we are crazy enough to brave the cold when most sane people would just say no. The GRP contingent in Bozeman hasn’t seen the positive side of the thermometer since we arrived in Bozeman 5 days ago, but it hasn’t stopped us one bit! Here are a few tips I’ve picked up on how to keep yourself (mostly) from freezing when Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate with sunshine and bluebird skies.
1. Play the waiting game.
Think you’re going to be an early bird and get out on the trails before all the other skiers? Think again! The average temperature around wakeup time (a casual 9 am) has been a nippy -20F. The key is to wait it out until things warm up to a somewhat acceptable level. So here’s what to do: Make coffee. Check out the view from the window and try not to think about the cold. Check accuweather. Check NOAA. Wait 5 minutes and check both again, and act shocked when they haven’t changed at all. Make some more coffee. Watch a movie. Finally, around 11 am, look out your window, and see that the APU team has arrived, and rush down to the trails, acting like you’ve been out in the cold the whole time. After all, we’re no wussies when it comes to weather!
2. Layer up
There’s a fine art to layering. Too many layers, and you’re likely to resemble Ralphie’s little brother from A Christmas Story. Too few, and strange parts of your body will inexplicably go numb mid-ski. It’s kind of hard to kick up a steep hill when you can’t feel anything from the knees down. Personally, I prefer to stay toasty, so most days I’m out on the trails looking like the Michelin man. But hey, it’s a small price to pay to stay warm. I think I’ve struck the perfect balance for number of layers: 2 pairs of socks, 2 long underwear bottoms under tights and warm-up pants, 2 wool tops under a jacket and vest, warm gloves with liners, and a buff pulled over the head Clare Egan style with a warm hat. No comment on whether it’s possible to even move dressed like this.
3. Get Creative
There are a number of everyday household items that can help you in your battle against the cold, so don’t be afraid to tap into your creative side and use them! Saran-wrap around your legs and feet? Sure thing! Plastic food-handling gloves slipped in between gloves liners? Why not! One thing that has really been saving our fingers and toes the past few days are Lil’ Hotties hand and toe warmers. THANK YOU Costco for carrying the jumbo box. A few in the boots, a couple down the gloves, and hey, why not slip a few other places too? These things are a lifesaver, and since they stay warm for 5+ hours, we’ve been rocking them post-ski too. Fashionable.
4. Flaunt all known fashion rules
I’m not going to say that we usually follow any fashion rules at all, since as Nordic skiers we spend a good chunk of our days gallivanting around in patterned spandex and pointy hats. But when it gets cold outside, things take a turn for the worse. I’m talking especially about a little Swedish creation called AirTrim, a Styrofoam and filter monstrosity that fastens around your head and acts to warm up the outside air before it reaches your lungs. Of course it functions beautifully, and has literally saved me from lung-burn during all my race prep workouts. Just try to ignore the large icicles that form on the outside of filter from condensation. Fun stuff! Oh and one last thing, can’t forget frost lashes! When your eyelashes turn completely white from frost collecting on them. Actually, I think I may have seen Lady Gaga rocking this look a little while ago, so it may not be a total strike against fashion. But on second thought, maybe it is.
Today’s race, a classic sprint, was cancelled when they realized the temperature wouldn’t get above -15F by noon, so we are waiting it out and hoping that tomorrow they are able to pull off a mass start race. The forecast looks somewhat promising, and though the FIS rules are a little confusing, we think that it needs to be above -20C (-4F) at race start. So hopefully we’ll all get to race tomorrow, and fingers crossed they will be able to reschedule the classic sprint. In the meantime, stay warm everyone and we’ll be doing the same!