You know the Australian winter has truly arrived when the main ski resorts open for business, as they did this month. And, with the ski season upon us, I’ve been thinking more about après ski. The snow’s glare can be really blinding. And while polarized sunglasses aren’t ideal for skiing – you’re best to stick to a good pair of goggles – sunglasses are great for après ski.
I’ve been fortunate to ski at a couple of our beautiful resorts here in Victoria (for those of you who think of Australia as a sunburnt country, yes you can ski here, too – particularly in the south). I’ve also sampled the delights of skiing in France and Italy. But one of my most memorable snow experiences was in Luosto, a tiny village in Finnish Lapland where my family and I went in search of Father Christmas. It was there I first discovered you could have so much fun in the snow apart from skiing. Who knew making snow angels in deep Lappish snow with a six year old would turn out to be one of life’s great experiences? So I thought I’d list a few other après ski experiences that are really worth seeking out, kicking off with some Nordic pastimes where polarized sunglasses are definitely de rigueur:
Husky ride – Don’t let an opportunity to try this pass you by. I was amazed by how fast, exhilarating and strangely quiet it is – a real adrenalin rush. Check out whether your local ski resort offers this activity or your local husky club may offer dry runs.
Reindeer sleigh ride – I did this after the husky ride so I was still coming down from that high. And it was night, so I didn’t need my sunglasses, but on a bright day you would seriously need them to cut out the glare. It was magical – shooting stars and the soft sound of old wooden rails sliding through the snow. Highly recommended.
Tobogganing or bobsledding – We did this during a blizzard in Lapland. It was -25C and the wind was unforgiving. But it was a blast, nonetheless.
I always know that snow was a reflective surface, but what I did realise is that, up to 80% of the sun’s UV rays are reflected upwards from the snow. Yes, you can easily still get sunburnt. Hence why skiers get panda eyes. Worse for the eyes, this can lead to snow blindness (photokeratitis) – and it’s a big problem the longer you spend in the snow. What I have also learnt since working with sunglasses is UV light bounces off snow even on cloudy day; what’s more, the effects of UV rays increases with altitude. It is therefore essential to have 100% UVA and UVB protection, both for your eyes and your exposed skin. So I’m thinking a good quality pair of polarised sunglasses will be an essential part of my après ski wardrobe this year. As well as this, the visually challenged are now catered for as well. Oakley prescription glasses can be ordered in various tints, so you can look cool, keep your eyes safe and still see on the slopes!
I hope this has whetted your appetite for some après ski activities this snow season. And, whether you’re heading to an Australian ski resort or the slopes of Val d’Isère, Klosters Whistler or Aspen, make sure you have a good pair of polarised sunglasses to cut out the glare and protect your eyes after the skiing is over. You can thank us later.