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WINTER SPORTS

Source: Outdoor Sports and Games
Category: WOODCRAFT





What to wear--Skating--Skiing--Snowshoeing--Hockey


If one is fortunate enough to live in a part of the country where they
have old-fashioned winters, the possibilities for outdoor sports are
very great and the cold weather may be made the best part of the year
for healthful outdoor exercise. To enjoy winter recreations properly
we must have proper clothing. An ordinary overcoat is very much out of
place, except possibly for sleighing. The regulation costume for
almost any outdoor sport in winter is a warm coat, a heavy sweater,
woollen trousers and stockings, and stout leather shoes. If in
addition we have woollen gloves or mittens and a woollen skating cap
or toque, we shall be enabled to brave the coldest kind of weather,
provided of course that we have warm woollen underwear. Various
modifications in this costume such as high hunting boots, or leggings
and a flannel shirt worn under the sweater are possible. In the far
North, the universal winter footwear is moccasins. We must be careful
not to dress too warmly when we expect to indulge in violent exercise.
Excessive clothing will render us more liable to a sudden check of
perspiration, a consequent closing of the pores and a resulting cold.
Rubber boots or overshoes are very bad if worn constantly. The rubber,
being waterproof, holds in the perspiration and we often find our
stockings damp even when the walking is dry. Rubber boots also make
our feet tender and cause cold feet. Tight shoes are also bad for the
reason that they check circulation. The best footwear for a boy who
lives in the country will be Indian moccasins or shoepacs worn with
several pairs of lumbermen's woollen stockings. Such footwear would
not do for skating, as they have no soles, but for outdoor tramping in
the snow they are just the thing. No leather is thoroughly waterproof
against snow water, but by frequent greasing with mutton tallow,
neatsfoot oil or vaseline, shoes can be kept soft and practically
waterproof as long as the soles and uppers are in good condition.

[Illustration: A shoepac]

In all winter sports, especially in Canada, the custom is to wear
gaily coloured goods. A mackinaw jacket made from the same material as
a blanket, with very prominent stripes or plaids, is often worn.
Closely woven goods are better than a thicker loose weave as they are
lighter, warmer, and more waterproof.

Chief among winter sports is skating. There is no healthier
recreation, provided that the ice is safe. Even in the coldest weather
with the ice a foot thick or more we must always be sure to be on the
lookout for air-holes or thin places over springs. It is said that ice
an inch thick will hold the weight of a man, but it is better to be
sure than to be sorry, and three or four inches are much safer.

[Illustration: The club skate model]

A few years ago the height of the skater's art was so called "fancy or
figure" skating, but recently the tendency has been for speed rather
than for grace and the old-fashioned club skates have been replaced by
racing or hockey skates with much longer runners. Fancy skating for
prizes is governed by rules just as any other game or sport. The
contestants do not attempt figures of their own invention but strive
to excel in the so-called "compulsory" figures. A fancy skater can
practise from diagrams and directions just as one might practise moves
in a game of chess. In printed directions for fancy skating the
following abbreviations are used for the strokes:

R--right
L--left
F--forward
B--backward
O--outside
I--inside

T--three
LP--loop
B--bracket
RC--rocker
C--counter

Supposing the figure to be executed to be the well-known "figure
eight." It would be described as follows:

R-F-O L-F-O. R-F-I L-F-I. R-B-O L-B-O. R-B-I L-B-I.

By referring to the above table the skater can easily determine just
what strokes are necessary to produce the figure properly.

Racing skates should be attached to shoes of special design either by
screws or rivets. The most important thing is to have the blades
carefully ground by an expert. They should be keen enough to cut a
hair. To become a fast skater, practise if possible with an expert.
Have him skate ahead of you and measure your stroke with his. By
keeping your hands clasped behind your back your balance will not only
be greatly improved but your endurance will be doubled. The sprinting
stroke is a direct glide ahead with the foot straight. A trained
skater can go very long distances with very little fatigue but one
must carefully measure his speed to the distance to be travelled. When
you can cover a measured mile in three and one-half minutes you may
consider yourself in the class of fast skaters.

[Illustration: A hockey skate]

Hockey skates are somewhat shorter than racing skates although built
on the same general lines, the standard length being from nine and
one-half to eleven and one-half inches. Hockey is one of the best
winter games either outdoors or in a rink. The game of shinney or
"bandy" as it is called in England has been modified in this country
by substituting a flat piece of rubber weighing a pound called a
"puck" for the india rubber lacrosse ball, which weighs but four
ounces. The best hockey sticks are made of Canadian rock elm.

The whole idea of hockey is to shoot the puck through your opponents'
goal and to prevent them from shooting it through yours. In practice
almost any number can play hockey and have plenty of exercise. The
less experienced players should when securing the puck always shoot it
as quickly as possible to a more experienced player on their own side
to attempt shooting the goal. Skilful passing is the most important
branch of hockey and consequently good team work is absolutely
essential to success.

[Illustration: The hockey player's costume]

A regulation hockey team consist of seven players called goal, point,
cover point, right centre, left centre, right wing, left wing.

The position of goal tender is the most difficult to acquire skill in.
He stands directly in front of the goal and is expected to stop the
puck with hands, feet, and body. While the position of goal does not
involve much skating, a goal tender should also be a good skater. His
position requires more nerve and cool-headedness than any other
position on the team because the final responsibility of all goals
scored against his team is up to him. His position is largely a
defensive one and his work at times very severe. The goal keeper must
very rarely leave his position but must depend upon the two other
defensive men the "point" and "cover point" to stop the puck when it
away from the direct line of the goal. The defensive men on a hockey
team should not by any strategy or coaxing on the part of their
opponents allow themselves to leave their own goal unprotected.

The forwards have most of the work of shooting goals and advancing the
puck. Of course such a man must be very active and a good all round
player. Hockey is a poor game in which to display grand-stand playing.
The player's whole idea should be to shoot the puck so that either he
or some member of his team may score a goal.

The rules of hockey are comparatively few and simple. The game
consists of two twenty-minute halves with a ten-minute intermission
between. In case of a tie at the end of a game it is customary to
continue until one side secures a majority of the points.

A standard rink must be at least one hundred and twelve feet long by
fifty-eight feet wide. Nets are six feet wide and four feet high.

One of the most exciting of winter sports is skate sailing. The same
principles that are applied to sailing a boat are brought into play in
sailing with skates. While considerable skill is necessary to handle a
skate sail well, any one who is a good skater will soon acquire it.
The direction that you go is determined by the angle at which the sail
is held. When you wish to turn around or stop you simply shift its
position until you run dead into the wind. A skate sail should be
light and strong. A limit of five pounds' weight is all that is
necessary. The sail is a very simple device. There are a great many
kinds but one of the simplest is made from a T-shaped frame of bamboo
with a V-shaped piece of canvas or balloon silk sewed or wired to the
frame. The best skate sails are made with a jointed frame like a
fishing rod so that they may be taken apart and easily carried.

While an expert can handle a sail eight or ten feet wide and twelve
feet high it is better for the beginner to start with one much
smaller. The construction of the sail and the method of holding it are
shown in the diagram.

[Illustration: A skate sail]

Snowshoeing is another winter sport that will furnish a great deal of
pleasure and will enable us to be outdoors when our less fortunate
friends may be cooped up in the house. There are a number of standard
shapes in snowshoes, but probably the "Canadian" model will be found
to be the most satisfactory generally. Snowshoes should be from
twenty-four to forty-four inches long depending on the weight to be
carried. In order to enjoy snowshoeing we must use moccasins. The
proper method of attaching the snowshoes is clearly shown in the
diagrams. The beginner will find that snowshoeing is a very simple art
to acquire, being far less difficult than skating and with far less
danger of having a bad fall.

[Illustration: Four types of snowshoes]

The sport of "ski-running" or skiing is practised more generally
abroad than in this country. A number of winter resorts owe their
popularity largely to this sport. Skis are simply long flat pieces of
wood fastened or strapped to the shoes. The best type are the so
called "Norway" pattern. Various lengths are used from four to eight
or nine feet long, but for a beginner the shorter ones will be better.

[Illustration: To throw the lumberman's hitch, start this way]

[Illustration: Then across the toe with both ends and under the loop]

Ski-running is simply coasting down steep inclines on the snow with
the skis used in much the same way as a sled. The longer they are the
greater the speed obtained, but the longer ones are also
correspondingly hard to manage.

[Illustration: Draw the ends tightly forward to fasten down the toe]

[Illustration: Then tie the ends together in a bow knot back of the
heel]

In Norway and Sweden skis are made to order just as we might be
measured for suits of clothes. The theory is that the proper length
of ski will be such that the user, can, when standing erect and
reaching above his head, just crook his forefinger over it as it
stands upright. Ski shoes should be strong, with well blocked toes. A
pair of heavy school shoes are just the thing if well made.

[Illustration: The straps over the toe remain buckled]

[Illustration: This is the "thong" hitch but it is not as good as the
lumberman's hitch]

To learn skiing we should select the slope of a hill not very steep
and with no dangerous rocks or snags to run foul of. The best snow
conditions are usually found two or three days after it has fallen.
Fresh snow is too light to offer good skiing and snow with a crust is
also bad. In running with skis on the level ground a long, sweeping
stride is used somewhat after the fashion of skating. The strokes
should be made just as long as possible, and the skis kept close
together. In going up an incline the tendency to slip backward is
overcome by raising the toe of the ski slightly and bringing the heel
down sharply. One foot should be firmly implanted before the other is
moved. In going up a steep hill a zigzag course will be necessary.

[Illustration: Front and side view of a ski]

As an aid in ski-running it is customary to employ a pair of ski
poles, which are fastened to the wrist by leather thongs. They are
usually made of bamboo or other light material with a wicker disk near
the end to keep the pole from sinking into the soft snow. Ski poles
should never be used in attempting a jump, as under these
circumstances they might be very dangerous.

Ski coasting is the sport that most boys will be interested in. To
make a descent, begin at the top of a hill as one would in coasting
with a sled and lean well forward with the skis parallel and with one
foot slightly ahead of the other. The knees should be bent and the
body rigid. The weight should be borne by the ball of the foot that is
behind. As the start forward begins, the impulse will be to lean back,
but this Impulse must be overcome or you will take a tumble in the

snow as you gain speed.

[Illustration: A ski pole]

In jumping with skis an abrupt drop is necessary. For the beginner a
few inches is sufficient. The start is made by coasting down an
incline, and just before the take-off is reached, the runner assumes a
crouching attitude and then straightens up quickly, maintaining an
erect attitude until he is about to land, when, as in jumping, the
knees are bent slightly to break the force of landing. During the
flight the skis should be kept perfectly parallel but drooping
slightly behind.

[Illustration: The Exciting Sport of Ski Running]

The various forms of coasting with toboggan sleds and bobsleds are
all well known to boys who live where there are snow and hills. A sled
can be steered either by dragging the foot or by shifting the sled
with the hands. Sleds with flexible runners have recently been
introduced and are a great improvement on the old type.

One branch of carpenter work that nearly all boys attempt at some time
in their lives is to make a bobsled or double runner, which is a pair
of sleds fastened on either end of a board long enough to hold from
three to twenty or thirty people.

[Illustration: A bobsled or double runner]

Coasting, especially with a bob, is somewhat dangerous sport,
especially in cities or where the turns are sharp and there is danger
of upsetting. A good bob is broad between the runners and low to the
ground. The drawing shows one that almost any boy can make at little
cost. Various devices are used as brakes on a bob. Most of them are
found to be out of order or frozen when the time comes to use them. A
brake that is made from a piece of iron bent in an angle and fastened
to the side of the runners on the rear sled is the best arrangement to
have. A bobsled should not cost over ten dollars complete with
steering wheel, bell, and necessary iron work, which should be made at
the blacksmith's.





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