FOR THOSE willing to brave the frigid temperatures and freezing winds of winter, there are thrills to be had outdoors when the pretty white stuff descends from the clouds and paints the grounds in a wonderland of white.
Yes, it's snow season. And for millions of Americans, that translates into ski season, or snowboard season, whichever you prefer.
And what do both of those two winter sports require ... aside from the money to purchase the equipment? Balance.
WHETHER?YOU’RE?taking to specifically designed lanes at a ski resort or simply finding a fresh patch of powder with an incline, tubing is a fun alternative to skiing and snowboarding for winter sports enthusiasts of all ages.
Well what if you born shortchanged in the coordination department? Are you left to sip hot cocoa by the lodge fireplace while those gifted in staying upright on two wooden planks enjoy the thrill of racing down a steep incline at unsafe speeds?
Of course you shouldn't.
And just because you won't be running a slalom, shredding the hill or pulling an backside 720 on a frozen half-pipe doesn't mean you have out on all the fun.
Welcome to the wonderful world of tubing.
Think of it as backyard sled riding on a larger scale. Sledding on steroids if you will.
Ski resorts across American have long since caught on to this winter sporting event and have dedicated portions of their mountains just to this pursuit.
It's a fairly simple premise.
1. Grab tube.
2. Take carpet lift to top of run.
3. Position self on tube.
4. Hold on.
5. Descend and ... try not to let go.
And then repeat.
At most ski resorts there are separate pricing plans and times available for tubing.
Seven Springs Mountain Resort in Pennsylvania offers daily tubing on one of its 12 tubing chutes.
It also runs a special on Tuesday evenings, a Tube-a-Palooza party where one price gets you access to the chutes, as well as all-you-can-eat pizza, hot dogs, fountain drinks and hot chocolate.
It's an ideal afternoon or evening of entertainment for families, especially those with young children.
Sure, teach your children to ski. But an afternoon spent knees together, knees apart, knees together, knees apart, intermixed with multiple episodes of falling is enough to dampen the spirits of even the most wild-eyed toddler or young child.
Throw in a few hours of downhill surfing and the little one's demeanor is sure to perk up right quick.
It's also the playground for the equilibrium-challenged, those are not brave enough or coordinated enough to handle skiing or snowboarding.
Here, at the tubing chutes, the uncoordinated man is king.
A further drive than Seven Springs, Flat Top, West Virginia's Winterplace Ski Resort is the tubing capital of the Mountain State.
Winterplace boasts 16 tubing lanes and five lifts to get tubers back to the top of the hill in a hurry.
And for those who ski or shred and feel like they are missing out on all the excitement, most ski resorts offer add-on packages for tubing.
Of course, you don't have to travel to a ski lodge to partake in the fun.
All you need is a tube, a car and a hill with a decent drop. Oglebay Park has its own ski and snowboard run situated at the driving range. But Oglebay is full of hills, as are most areas in the Ohio Valley.
Find a place that is relatively clear of debris and branches, climb to the top and hang on tight.
Hughes may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org