It snowed sideways, the wind whipping the snow across the mountainside, as I rode the chairlift.  A dad and his daughter sat next to me, heads down burrowed into their jackets.  As we briefly talked in between the bowing of heads, I found out they were new to the sport of skiing.  The little girl sniffled and clearly felt chilled from the inclement weather.  Later on in the lodge, I spied them sitting sipping hot cocoa — now I knew the reason for her chills.  Underneath her ski jacket, she wore a thin, cotton T-shirt — nothing else.  I was shocked, but then if you’re coming from warmer climates, it can be hard to know how to dress for this kind of weather.

If you know me at all, you know I unabashedly love skiing.  I call the ski hill my “happy place” for the unadulterated joy it gives me.  The last two seasons I’ve felt blessed not only to ski often here in Colorado, but to share the joys of skiing as a ski instructor at a local ski resort.  A great day on the ski hill can make anyone forget about all the hard things in life, and that’s true whether you’re six of sixty years of age.  In an age of too many hours spent surfing the Internet and playing computer games, I’m so grateful to the sport of skiing for encouraging young people to get out of the house and enjoy outdoors and nature.

But nothing can ruin a day on the ski hill faster than being miserably cold.  Despite images of people whizzing around the slopes, much of a ski day is spent stationary, sitting on chairlifts or waiting in lines for lifts.  Combine all that sitting in one place with snow falling and blustery winds, and it’s a recipe to chill one’s bones to the core.

That’s why it’s so important to dress appropriately, and dress from the inside out.  Neophytes to the sport of skiing tend to focus on warm gloves, jackets and socks.  And while those are important, what’s underneath matters just as much.  I tend to get cold feet and hands easily, so I was lured in by expensive gloves to keep the fingers toasty, and couldn’t understand why despite many dollars spent,  I still got cold hands.

Strangely enough, sharing a lift ride with a nurse got me the best advice on staying warm.  Our fingers and toes get cold when our body is trying to protect our core — where our heart is.  Keep your core warm, and magically the toes and fingers are warmer too.  That’s why when I’m teaching skiing and I realize that a kid has only a t-shirt on underneath a jacket, I know the remedy isn’t a new pair of gloves, but rather a good fleece jacket or even a vest.

The best money I ever spent for outfitting myself for downhill skiing was purchasing a down vest.  That extra room layer around my core makes all the difference in keeping all of my body that much warmer.  And when I stay warm, I can enjoy the snow, and the slopes all day long no matter what the weather.  Let it snow!