TAHOE/TRUCKEE — Sledding is one of the most fun and accessible winter activities out there. But don’t think that it doesn’t come with its fair share of risk. As with all snowsports, there’s a right way and a wrong way to hit the hill. Here are a few tips to get you started.
DO: Wear a helmet. Snow isn’t always soft. Though sledding may seem like a playful activity, they can actually go quite fast. A helmet can greatly reduce the risk of head injury.
DON’T: Sled in a wooded area. Trees are not a sledder’s friend. Because of most sleds’ lack of reliable steering, they are rarely safe to ride around obstacles.
DO: Visit one of Lake Tahoe’s designated sledding hills. Around Lake Tahoe, numerous businesses have sprung up to provide sledding areas. The slopes are clear and safe, not to mention there’s often hot chocolate just a short walk away.
DON’T: Drink and sled. As with any winter sport, drinking is not a good companion activity to sledding. Wait till you’ve completed that double black diamond bobsled route to imbibe.
DO: Look out for shadowed areas. Snow surfaces can vary incredibly. A shadowy area can often mean ice or a change in snow conditions. It’s also hard to see what obstacles are in these areas.
DON’T: Sled above a roadway. You may think you’ve found that perfect sledding hill right off the highway. But if your route has any potential at all to direct you onto the road, don’t risk it. Sledders have been killed in the Tahoe region after accidently sliding onto a busy street.
DO: Buy a sled with a steering device. Saucers and straight sleds are known for being uncontrollable. Also, if you are shopping for a sled with steering, be critical of any product’s claims and always test in an open obstacle-free environment.
DON’T: Sled head first. That’s a no-brainer.
DO: Build a jump. A little bump in the run can add that funny little perk to your sledding adventure.
DON’T: Build a big jump. Catching a lot of air on a sled is not something you want to be known for. Too many of those potentially glorious launches end in disaster. It’s not worth it.
Dylan Silver lives in South Lake Tahoe and is a freelance recreation and entertainment writer for the Tahoe Daily Tribune and Lake Tahoe Action newspapers. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.