This past weekend, I attended the MLK Ski Weekend held at Blue Mountain Ridge located in Collingwood, Ontario (a couple of hours outside of Toronto). Let me just say that I had a fantastic time. I was introduced to snow sports. Growing up in South Georgia and only wanting to vacation in warm spots is the reason I have never tried any snow based sports. I love doing travel blogs and wanted to give you a rundown of my snowboarding experience, finding your plus size snow friendly gear, and my overall experience. Please note that this will be a lengthy post.
This was my first experience do the MLK Ski Weekend. I was familiar with the concept because it's been around for a while, but this was my first year taking the plunge. The attendees are mostly African American (though all are welcome) and the weekend is packed full of snow sports, happy hours, late night parties (including a pool party, and getting to know new people. The cost is based on a number of people in your group. We were a group of 4. We ended up paying around $500 per person for three nights in a two bedroom suite in the Mosiac. Things not included in that cost were transportation to and from the airport ($100 via charter bus) & snowboarding/ski equipment rental and beginner lessons ($122) and of course my airline ticket. My takeaways from traveling with this group are that I liked doing an activity that some believe is "out of the box" for African Americans. I also liked having the option to participate in the many activities planned around the weekend. Now, I guess the million dollar question is, "Would I do this trip again?" It's a yes from me. I figured out that I want to get good at snowboarding and the group was super cool. I do have a couple of critiques of the trip, but nothing too serious. I felt like the shuttles were a little shaky on the organization. There were shuttles going to town and after-parties during the trip, and the directions were a bit hazy, so I hope that they will work on being more clear in those directions. Secondly (this is for my single ladies as the friends I went with were single), the guy to girl ratio was 1:10. Now, I didn't care, and I got my life because I'm married, but I can see if you wanted to get your flirt on how this ratio could get in the way of that.
A big part of preparing for this trip is clothing. I had never been snowboarding before and the MLK Ski Weekend newsletters did provide tips on dressing, but you add in plus size in that equation and finding the right clothing can be difficult. A lot of you asked about my coat. My coat came from AdditionElle, and so did my ski pants (which I accidentally left at home). Now AdditionElle is a Canadian company, so I naturally looked here first because they cater to plus sizes and they know about cold weather. Buying ski pants scared me to death because the way these thighs and butt are set up, I just knew I wasn't going to find anything that fit, but thanks to AdditionElle I was able to purchase ski pants with stretch. Columbia also has plus sizes, but their pants do not have stretch, and if you carry most of your weight below your waist then you are going to need stretch. If you carry most of your weight in your midsection and have slimmer limbs, then I think the Columbia pants will work for you. I purchased fleece leggings from Columbia which provided an extra layer while I was in the snow. I would also suggest Penningtons, they are sister company to AdditionElle and go up to a 5X. With AdditionElle and Penningtons, my guess is because they are Canadian based and it gets cold in Canada early a lot of the coats and sizes sold out before Christmas. I purchased my coat at the beginning of December, and there was only one size left to purchase. My suggestion is if you know you have a ski trip coming up start looking in late fall, like October-ish. Also, another tidbit is that the conversion rate from Canada to the USA favors the U.S. dollar and you can get your item around 25% less after the conversion. Google will easily convert the prices for you. My last tip is to skip wearing cotton. Being in layers causes your body to sweat, and there is nothing worse than being hot, cold and wet all at the same time. Pick up a few shirts with wicking technology will give you so much more comfort while you are doing your activities. You want to stay dry! You can sub in some of your workout tops with the dry weave or drying technology. I also ended up picking up a top in a men's XXL in Columbia. They had a shop in the Blue Mountain shops. Finally, the faux fur pullover in the first photo is from Remi Ray London. This pullover is heavy and super warm. If you want to look chic in the snow this will do it for you. Find it here.
So now you have the clothing, now what. I chose to snowboard, because of the way my knees are set up. My knees such after my ACL surgery and doing a full 90-degree angle squat is not a reality for me. Skiing is a lot of squatting. The pros to skiing are that it provides you better balance and is easier to learn because you get you use both feet. Snowboarding, on the other hand, has you standing in a straight postured position, but balance and technique are needed. The learning curve for snowboarding is harder. Keeping it real, just from wearing the snowboarding boots my calves were burning, and I hadn't even done anything yet, but I was determined to at least snowboard this mini hill, and I did. You can see the video here. Let me also say that I learned from snowboarding on this trip that I want to get good at it. This trip has me wanting to get better, and I want to pencil in this activity once a year. I really enjoyed doing these sports in the Blue Mountain resort area, my guess is that the mountains are man-made and the roads to get to there are flat with no scary up mountains in the snow scary trails.
Overall, I had a great time and can I say that Canadians are some of the nicest people you will ever meet. Everyone on the resort was just so friendly and accommodating. Also, please excuse my guerrilla photography and I wish I could have had a photographer on the trip. HA!