Can it be too cold to ski?

Yes. Yes it can.

This week the Midwest was met with an arctic blast that calls into question human existence at this latitude.

Next week, meteorologists expect to be even colder, in fact record-breaking.

After wind chills reached -30 degrees Fahrenheit in the Twin Cities metro, hills closed down early and opened up late to save skiers from themselves. I’m sure they anticipated dismal crowds and wanted to get their employees in their cars before they wouldn’t start, too.

This day, back in 2017, was definitely too cold to ski.

Having worked at a Twin Cities-area hill (luckily indoors) those bitter cold nights are the slowest and most miserable, as neglectful parents dropped their kids off at 4 p.m. after school and picked them up again at close.

Kids are a good barometer for the question posed in the headline above. On those cold days, the kids wouldn’t even be outside ripping laps. They’d be inside stealing mustard packets, destroying restrooms and trying to shake Sour Patch Kids free from the vending machines.

Bottom line: They weren’t out taking laps and skiing the hill they had all to themselves. This, of course, means it is too cold to ski.

The vertical/temperature scale

Now, coldness on the ski hill is a sliding scale. Last year, during a deep, deep weekend at Whitefish (over 55 inches fell in three days) air temperatures lingered around zero, sliding below for the final (and deepest) day.

When you are skiing thousands of vertical feet, the cold doesn’t bother you as much (especially when those vertical feet are covered in cold smoke…okay, I’ll stop).

When you ski 200 vertical feet and then have to ride the icy chair back to the top for five minutes, however, that zero degrees feels like 10 fewer degrees every lap you take.

Somewhere out there, someone far more mathematically inclined than I could develop such a coldness-as-it-relates-to-vertical-feet sliding scale. Really though, their efforts are probably best served solving the worlds real problems.

So for now, unscientifically, I can recommend that it is definitely way too cold to be skiing laps at your Midwest hill.

That is, of course, unless it’s a powder day. And would you look at that, Monday is shaping up to be one. Stay tuned tomorrow for what looks to be a nice little snowstorm for snow-starved Twin Cities.

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