What is Bowl Skiing?

Cori Gramms
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A Quick Explanation

Scenery and unmatchable powder lines attract skiers to ski resort bowls. They are popping up in resorts all over the world where skiers can now enjoy the extreme experience of skiing off of cliffs, through rock bands, and into deep powder on the inside of a bowl.

A ski resort bowl is what remains of a natural or man-made cirque after glacial erosion has carved away the surrounding rock walls.

Descending into a ski resort bowl takes extreme care and courage. Going off a cliff or rock wall can be a reward for expert skiers who enjoy more extreme sports. At the ski resort, they are usually found in areas that don’t have as much snow as the gladed ski areas.

Bowl skiing is ideal for skiers who want to expand their boundaries and enjoy skiing in areas where there is less powder to worry about.

The Benefits of Bowl Skiing

A long winter night in northern Norway with a large bowl just outside your front door. A packed powder snow filled hardwood bowl, clear light, not a breath of wind, and a few friends around you. Sounds like a fantastic arctic experience, doesn’t it?

Bowl skiing gives you the same thrill as riding down a steep and narrow road/trail. But it’s even more fun.

Bowl skiing is when the mountain essentially becomes the trail. Imagine this. You’re standing at the crest of a steep and narrow mountain (trail) – the world is spread before you, blue sky above and flat valley below. You hike to the top of the mountain, ski down the front side, and then traverse your way back down, back into the valley and complete the run. What you’ve just imagined is bowl skiing: a circular ski run at the top of a ski area.

The sensation of skiing down the steep part of the mountain and seeing the world around you is exhilarating: the pines, the snow, the gullies and glades under your skis as you ski, full speed, down the walls of a bowl. The adrenaline rush is immense.

Things to Know About Bowl Skiing

The Ice Bowl in Wilmot Mountain near Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, is a must for every skier who traces his or her roots back to the Midwest.

This is one of the most famous annual events in the Midwest on the Fat Tuesday (Shrove Tuesday) before the beginning of Lent, a 40-year tradition originated by Harley Spiller in 1969.

The tournament is organized along the lines of an old-fashioned barn dance with a party atmosphere. Despite the fun atmosphere, the bowl skiing event is taken seriously by the participants. About one hundred teams consisting of four skiers (or five for charity teams) and one or two woodsies gather for hours of downhill ski competition.

The party begins as soon as the skiers hit the slopes. The woodsies (the two members of the team who don’t ski) take control of the loudspeakers, entertain the skiers all along the course, and eventually mix jugs of liquor into steaming hot chocolate. The skiers, in turn, put their ski poles in the upright position and use them as stilts to move to and fro. They try to make their way down the slope back to an old convertible at the bottom of the hill.

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