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Get Your Blood Pumping this Season with a New Cold Weather Sport

It’s tempting to spend all your leisure time bundled up on the couch during the winter, but staying active can drastically improve your overall physical and mental health. Enter winter sports — from tubing to ice skating to skiing, there are many options to choose from locally and regionally. 

Since sliding around on ice and snow can be a little bit intimidating for some people, we are here to take a little bit of the guesswork out of your new adventure. 

Tubing & sledding
If you are brand new to winter sports, Liberty Mountain Snowflex Centre on Candlers Mountain Road is a great place to get your feet wet (or should we say cold). The facility offers activities for winter sports enthusiasts all year long, including two Neveplast tubing runs. Neveplast is an artificial ski slope with a synthetic surface that’s slippery, just like real snow. 

According to Assistant Director Luke Baderman, tubing is their most popular wintertime activity. “It’s easy to grab your tube, ride up the conveyor belts and slide down. Tubing is also much less intimidating than skiing or snowboarding!” he says. 

There is also a designated sledding area at the Snowflex Centre that’s made with the patented Snowflex® material. It’s slippery but also provides some grip, allowing you to change directions and control how fast you go. 

You can take your tubing skills to the next level at Wintergreen Resort’s The Plunge, Virginia’s largest snow tubing park. Wintergreen is located about an hour north of Lynchburg in Nelson County, making it the closest ski resort to the Hill City and a day-trip option. According to, the Plunge has a total vertical drop that’s higher than a 10-story building. (You must sign a risk waiver.) 

Skiing & snowboarding 
Beginners can also learn the fundamental skills for skiing or snowboarding at the Snowflex Centre. 

“It’s great way to transition to real snow. If anything, it is a tad harder to ride on the Snowflex® material compared to real snow, so if you are able to ride comfortably here, then riding on actual snow will be much easier,” said Baderman. 

Lessons are highly recommended before you venture out on any slope, and all resorts in our region offer them. Aside from turning and stopping, you’ll also learn how to use ski lifts safely. 

“If we have a true never-ever, then we start with getting to know the equipment, then we move onto body mechanics and how our body can influence the snowboard or skis. Then we start sliding!” says Pierce Byrd, director of Wintergreen’s Snowsports School. “Once our students find balance while sliding, we start to turn our equipment to a stop. Teaching stopping is very important and necessary to ski or ride safely on the slopes.” 

According to Massanutten Resort’s “Beginner’s Snow Sports Guide,” when skiing/snowboarding you should wear: 

  • one pair of warm socks 
  • water-repellent ski pants, jacket and gloves 
  • thermal underwear and warm layers underneath (avoid cotton) 
  • winter hat 
  • goggles 
  • helmet 
  • lip balm/sunscreen 

Most ski resorts in our region can typically stay open through March, with the help of snowmaking capabilities. “In the Southeast, we have a winter-window from December to March for the best ski conditions,” Byrd said. 

Ice skating
Just down the mountain from Liberty Mountain Snowflex Centre is another local winter sport spot — Liberty University’s LaHaye Ice Center. Instructor Hannah Pulley says you can learn how to ice skate at any age: “All you need is your confidence and a pair of skates!” she says. 

Pulley and other members from the LU synchronized and figure skating teams coach classes for adults 18+ through the Learn To Skate (LTS) program. 

“You will learn how to fall safely, stand up appropriately and understand how to maneuver your feet around the ice rink,” Pulley says. 

An eight-week LTS session is $90 a person and includes your skate rental. The spring classes are underway but check their website for the next session. 

When coming out to the ice rink, Pulley recommends wearing long pants, a long-sleeve shirt, jacket, gloves and long socks. She also says a helmet (something you would wear bike riding) is a good idea for new skaters.  

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