Quandary: To ski or to snowshoe? | SummitDaily.com

Quandary: To ski or to snowshoe?


Quandary, the old and wise mountain goat, has been around Summit County for ages, and has the answers to all questions about life, love and laws in the High Country. Have a question for Quandary? Email your queries about Summit and the High Country to Quandary@summitdaily.com.

Dear Quandary,

Do you burn more calories downhill skiing, snowshoeing or cross-country skiing?

Anything that gets your butt away from Netflix and the couch is bound to help, but certain activities do expend more energy than others. So if you’re looking to pack the most punch you can into a few minutes between binge-watching seasons of “Game of Thrones,” your best bet is either snowshoeing or cross-country, depending on what tickles your fancy.

The amount of calories you burn is going to depend on how many you can stand to lose. The more voluptuous the skier, the more calories will come off in any exercise. Gender, health and skill level will also contribute to your calorie cutting, but for our purposes we’ll base calculations off of a 150-pound man who’s good enough to stay upright continuously, but is not a pro. Let’s name him Gaper Gary.

If Gaper Gary heads over to any of our local Nordic centers and decides to take a few laps on snowshoes, he’s going to burn 476 calories at a normal pace in one hour. This would be the equivalent of downhill ski racing for an hour. Or in other terms, five minutes on snowshoes will burn off the equivalent of 10 Reese’s Pieces according to the Calorie Lab. It’s kind of a wash if you nibble while you work though, so leave the candy at home when you’re on the trail.

If you don’t have the gear to aid your magical transformation from couch potato to gliding gazelle, the Gold Run Nordic Center in Breckenridge opens for the season on Saturday and will include an open house with discounts on all the gear from last season. If you aren’t exactly a self-starter, a trip to the center on Sunday could be especially beneficial. At 9 a.m. Gold Run will host a 30-minute Winter Warm Up to get you stretched out and started on core exercises.

As it turns out, you burn the exact same amount of calories snowshoeing as you do cross-country skiing at a moderate pace (4-5 mph). However, if your easy day turns into a skimo (ski mountaineering) trip you can burn up to 1,054 calories per hour on the uphill. That means saying goodbye to those two fruit-filled Danish pastries in just a wee bit more time than it took to scarf them down.

When it comes to alpine skiing, as Max Dercum once said, “It’s easy Edna, it’s all downhill.” This is great if you are looking for a fun day, but less so if you’re looking to pack in a serious workout in a few minutes of your day. I know you’re all thinking, ‘Not the way I ski,’ but again remember Gaper Gary doesn’t have the same level of expertise as all of the local yokels. At Gary’s moderate pace he burns 340 calories while gliding downhill, or the equivalent of working off one full package of banana pudding. Now if Gary decides he’d rather be bird watching, and slowly meanders down the mountain, he will only burn 272 calories — just enough to work off one Big Mac (if he held the cheese).

So if you have 15 minutes to become a flawless version of yourself head for the Nordic centers, not the hills. Unless of course you rip down a hill like Bode Miller, though there was no data on how many calories you burn while tumbling.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

As a Summit Daily News reader, you make our work possible.

Now more than ever, your financial support is critical to help us keep our communities informed. Every contribution, no matter the size, will make a difference.

Your donation will be used exclusively to support quality, local journalism.