What’s Yo-Yo skiing?

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Skiers can do multiple runs in ski areas with lifts, but backcountry and cross-country skiers use yo-yo skiing to do more runs. Backcountry skiers venture beyond ski areas and hike or skin up the mountain for varied terrain. Cross-country skiers yo-yo ski for uphill training.

In ski areas served by lifts, skiers can easily reach the top of the mountain and ski down in a relatively short period of time. This allows them to do several runs throughout the day. For other types of skiers, such as backcountry skiers and cross-country skiers, the methods of doing more runs in one day are more difficult. Backcountry skiers often yo-yo ski, a method in which they walk or ski—attaching synthetic skins to the bottoms of their skis that allow them to ski uphill without sliding backwards—their way up a particular section of the mountain, ski down, then hike or skin back for more runs. Yo-yo skiing is more difficult than lift skiing, but offers more varied terrain in areas outside the ski area served by the lifts.

Backcountry skiers venture beyond the boundaries of ski areas or even hike into areas where no ski area exists. They will either hike the gear up the mountain or skin it and then ski back down the mountain. Often, backcountry skiers ski halfway down a run and change directions to another area, or go to the bottom of the run and then back to the top for another run on a particularly worthwhile section of hill. This yo-yo skiing technique allows the skier to enjoy a particular run or section without having to travel to a different part of the mountain for quality skiing. It also saves time, as the backcountry skier doesn’t have to go looking for more snow.

Cross-country skiers sometimes yo-yo ski in ski areas or in the backcountry. It’s not uncommon to find cross-country skiers making their way up the slopes of the ski area to the top and then skiing down another slope. Unlike other methods of skiing, however, cross-country skiers will yo-yo more for the uphill run than the downhill run. Skiing uphill gives them more of a workout and allows them to work on powerful technique; therefore, cross-country skiers will use yo-yo skiing as a training method.

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