Too Cold to Ski?

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Too Cold to Ski?

Post by dcpattie » Mon Jan 01, 2018 7:23 am

The eastern 2/3rds of the country is in a deep freeze; -23 F in western Iowa, -18 F in Lake Placid, -2 in Davis WV, -13 in Portland ME, and these temps are forecasted through Jan 8.

What is your cut-off?
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Re: Too Cold to Ski?

Post by jt10000 » Mon Jan 01, 2018 11:01 am

If I have already travelled, and have the right clothes, around -5F in fairly still conditions.

I won't travel far for below 0F skiing anymore.

I've done races - Keskinada, in another country - that started a little below 0F and finished a little above. One good thing about that was that it made 10F seem balmy!

This is skating. I suspect that if I lived in snow country, I'd do easy classic skiing a little colder if it was a few minutes away.

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Re: Too Cold to Ski?

Post by xchawk » Mon Jan 01, 2018 9:29 pm

I went out late morning today when it was -15F. There were 10 to 15 mph winds, so wind chills were pretty brutal at 30 to 40 below. It was sunny though and with all black on, it didn’t feel too bad. It was -23F when I woke up and I chose to wait till it warmed up a bit, so I guess my threshold would be somewhere in between the two.

If I lived where snow was consistent throughout the winter, I probably wouldn’t go out in such harsh conditions given I’d have ample opportunities to get out during the season. However, given three consecutive lean snow years where I live, I’ve been itching to get my XC fix (and get some Birkie training in).

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Re: Too Cold to Ski?

Post by Pat » Tue Jan 02, 2018 11:03 am

I think my threshold varies as to whether I'm skiing when the sun is down or not. I seem to suffer less with cold hands if the sun is up, but since most of my workouts end up being early in the morning, I'd say I call the limits when it is single digits. Double digits to preserve my digits.


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Re: Too Cold to Ski?

Post by MN Hoser » Tue Jan 02, 2018 2:20 pm

In MPLS, it rarely gets below -15F, so you mainly have to worry about the wind. After a snow storm, the winds can be pretty strong for a day or two. That's when you head for the woods.

I was up in NW WI last week, and it got down to -28F one night. I classic skied late afternoon before that low (at maybe -5F), and skated midday after that (-10F at the start and -5F at the end). New snow, and the skis were gliding pretty well.

I raced the 9 km Double Pole Derby last weekend. The start was -6 and end was -5F. No problem, but there was a 7 mph wind and the race started into the wind. Some people didn't wear glasses or cover their faces, and I don't understand that. They had to have used Vaseline or some other product. Photos at

I'm having some heart problems when racing, so I'm glad this race went off without much problem. My heart was wacko for 2 min, and then "came back."


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Re: Too Cold to Ski?

Post by Burgesse » Wed Jan 03, 2018 7:51 am

Here in “the icebox of the nation” :lol: it’s been below zero for a couple of weeks so that if we are going to ski it’s cold. We set a new low of 37 below last week. It’s been good for snow shoveling on the ski trail. I don’t like skating when it’s below zero but with electric insoles and overboots there’s really no limit to classic skiing - glide is good and kick is always fine. As Jay says, some kind of goggles are good,I use Salice flip ups, and I use a thin balaclava when it’s windy. My biggest problem is getting choppers to fit the pole straps; I’ve got an old pair of poles with the single strap that work all right. The coldest race I can recall was the 2009 MN Governor’s Cup at Camp Ripley when it was about 15 below, and I think we had one of our Voyageurs Loppet races here at about 17 below. I’d prefer at least 20F above zero. :bigsmurf:

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Re: Too Cold to Ski?

Post by Neuro » Wed Jan 03, 2018 1:07 pm

-15C (-5F) is about the limit for me too, and then I'll only take it as slow where I'm still able to breathe with the air hitting the top of the mouth first, not gulping it straight down the tube.

I've heard stories how the risk of developing asthma with cold air straight into the lungs is bigger than previously thought.

Of course there are masks or breathing tubes which I might try as the rest of the body is usually Ok if it gets colder with face mask and goggles, but rare to get that cold temps here in Oslo anyway.

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Re: Too Cold to Ski?

Post by SpecialGreen » Tue Feb 06, 2018 10:00 pm

I'd say that when it is too cold, it's just not productive to train at L3 or harder. But there are still many very pleasant, sunny clear days when it is below 0F, and you can still enjoy a fun ski. You can also do strength work, if you keep your pulse and breathing reasonable.

Below 0F, I wear Woolrich ski knickers from eBay over normal skisuit. Old school, but warmer than "windstopper shorts." They look funny, but I honestly don't think they're any slower than pants or spandex.

Eyes can be tricky: I have a pair of Blitz flip-ups, but if I cover my face with my hands while descending in a tuck, my hands channel the humid air, and they still fog-up. I only wear them when it's "ice-cream headache" temperature.

For face, I have a "hair gel" product which is half petroleum jelly, half beeswax. You can goop it on very thick, especially if you didn't shave. Kineseo tape is less mesy, but you can't get total coverage. You can also use both (think: grip tape squares + klister).

The only thing that really stops you from skiing is if you can't breathe. You can still get out, if you can take it easy. Unfortunately, taking it easy requires restraint. I have mild asthma, and am still coughing from 23 minutes of L3 with some L4 bursts at 7F yesterday :(.

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