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How cold is too cold?


WBLskier
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So I skied for the first time of the season yesterday. We're in Minnesota (water is less than 40 degrees). My 9 year old begged me to go first so I let her. All went fine. She took my advice and went easy and didn't fall. She was in a full wetsuit. I went next and managed to crash 3 times. Why I crashed 3 times is a separate matter. I was in a wetsuit too. It is the first time I ever recall actually falling when the water is that cold. On one fall my head went under and I managed to suck in some water (seemingly outside of my control). I've read about the cold water gasp reflex and how you can't control it and how people drown from it every year. I've (naively) always figured I was used to being in cold water so it couldn't/wouldn't happen to me. It wasn't a big deal, but it made me really re-think letting my kid ski when it is like this (even if she had a drysuit, which she doesn't) or even if I should be going in water in the 30's. I'm not overly concerned about the hypothermia issues (we're careful and not in the water very long), but the fact that I couldn't keep myself from sucking in some water because of the cold makes me nervous. A drysuit wouldn't fix this particular problem. Has anyone else ever given this any thought? Thanks.
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It is definitely something you need to be consciously thinking about when you are skiing - concentrating on not gasping when you fall. I've been skiing in water that cold a number of times in just a jacket and shorts and can seem to keep the gasp under control. As far as letting small kids into water that cold - I wouldn't no matter what they are wearing just because of the panic and gasping that can happen when your face suddenly hits water that cold.

 

Looking forward to taking our boat out Saturday for the first time on Minnetonka, only have a short suit but I think I'll remember to bring it.

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In hindsight that was probably pretty stupid for me to let her go at all. I did it all the time as a kid and adult and didn't really think twice. Reading about it 70 degrees and under seems to be when gasp can happen...that could be June here. I suppose the colder it is the bigger an issue it is though. Wonder if a wetsuit hood would help at all...for me not for my daughter who probably is going to have to sit out for a bit longer now. Anyone wear a wetsuit hood when the water is really cold?
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70 degrees - yeah that would be maybe June if not late June in some of the lakes we ski in. Personally I only notice it around 50 and below, but I run pretty warm even in the winter time. I guess I'm "lucky" wife and kids have never expressed any interest in entering the water until both the air and water are very warm.
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@WBLskier I wear a wet suit hood when the water is cold, and also when the air is cold. They help prevent the "ice cream" headache. Some hoods are better than others. I don't like the ones that cause you to not be able to hear. Eagle has become my favorite.
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Better have at least a wet suit though. My dad ran out of gas on me a couple days after ice out and there is nothing like slowly settling into 38 degree water in your swim trunks. I don't think I found the buoys for a couple of days afterward!!!
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We ski as early as we can as well. I've had two instances where someone has gasped and we had to pull them in the boat. Not regular skiers, but friends. I haven't let my kids go in at those temps yet for that reason, but also because they're smaller and far more subject to the temps than an adult.
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Its not really a discussion about how cold the kid thinks the water is, it is about the advisability of having a kid in the water when the temperature can invoke a gasp reflex during a fall and cause them to suck water into their lungs.
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I use the baggy drysuit with Comp Vest inside. I also have a loose fitting sweatshirt and loose fitting sweatpants on. Neoprene hood to avoid ice cream headache and gasp issue. 40 degree water is no problem.

The worst slalom equipment I own is between my ears.

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The big thing to keep in mind is that with a wetsuit and life jacket, you're going to pop back above the water even if you did take a mouthful of water. For me the main concern with the 'gasp reflex' is if you had no floatatation aids and couldn't get above the water to cough up the water.

 

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I went skiing 2 weeks ago and it was damn cold and I fell a few times. I cannot relate your reaction either. I was in a wet suit with some neoprene boot liners and that was it. Some might also classify me as young and stupid though...

 

Neither of my falls were hard enough to be disorientating or anything, they were more of tip over falls. I could maybe understand your concern if the falls were more violent. If the falls are getting violent enough to cause these situation you might consider skiing more relaxed. Skiing such that there is reduced risk.

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Just south of you on gervais. We were our December 15th and again March 15th the day ice went out here. The head gear is really clutch. Would never ski cold water without it.

 

I also go the deep dive insulated gloves out of overtons- the ones that look like you're playing soccer goalie.

 

With your young one, that's pretty awesome. Some serious determination. Good quality to have. Warmer weather on the way.

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Will also add those drysuits that skibrain has above, best product out there. I went to one of those hybrids after many uncomfortable years in a barefoot international. Drysuit, head gear, warm gloves, and a boat heater....is like mid July. Well, pert near.
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I've been windsurfing as soon as the ice is out for 30 years, and I've never had an issue with a gasp underwater. I've gasped when I surfaced though! One thing I've noticed with skiing though is that we tend to dress much lighter in cold water than we would for surfing or windsurfing. I'll wear a shorty in the same water I'd wear a steamer to windsurf in. I think when it's cold you need to do a deep water start, which is the only start I do at our club anyways, but at least you get a bit acclimatized before you go anywhere. Although I pretty much wait until the rope is tight before I slide off the dock and I'm already saying "go please"
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windsurfing is hours.... waterskiing minutes .... so you can do with a bit less (just make sure you stay warm IN the boat).

 

And modern suits are way better.... i use a 2/3 mm wetsuit that does not get wet (99% dry).

Matuse yamamoto geoprene limestone suit (best I ever had).

 

So you feel the cold but it does not cool you down that much......than it is a few minutes skiing, get in the boat and put on a sailing jacket (i stay warm and can go for a second set).

 

Feet: cycling windstop soks (thin and warm) for in the boat.

 

While skiing: AIR temp ...! so HANDS AND HEAD are basically the only thing that stops me from more passes.

 

Head: I sometime use a neoprene cap, with ears cut out (covered I cannot ski... balance gone), yes looks really stupid !

 

Hands: they get wet and cold, and have not found THE solution (without loosing grip).

 

 

 

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@prettig for warm hands - Camaro Titanium seamless 1mm gloves. Wear liners, then the Camaro gloves, then your regular ski gloves. The liners keep the Camaro gloves from slipping on your hands, and your regular ski gloves over the Camaros keep the Camaros from wearing prematurely. Grip is normal if you can adjust to the extra thickness. I don't know if Camaro gloves are readily available where you are, but they are in the U.S.
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interesting.... if I can skip the liners it might work.... too thick does not work for me (need a firm grip at the handle.... especially on shorter lines.... tried .... I just loose it or gloves are gone within a few runs..).

 

0.5mm would be ideal (about the same as the kevlar liners).

 

 

 

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I tried the Camaros without the liners but they slipped on the skin of my hands. The ski gloves did not slip on the Camaros, but the Camaros slipped on my hands without the liners. Warm hands more than compensate for the thickness for me. Numb hands don't hang on to the handle either.
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but neprone... so gone in a few sets ! Tried neoprene, latex etc .... all don't last.

Best would be kevlar cut protective gloves (same we use for skiing) with latex coating (pretty common work gloves).

 

And all have the palm coated NOT the back ! (need it the other way..... than they last and keep the windchill out.....because 90% of the time the hands are on the handle).

 

... we keep searching......

 

 

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By using cotton liners under the Camaro gloves and ski gloves over the top, my Camaros lasted all winter and still look new. I think the Camaro gloves have titanium in them (because of their name) so they don't wear out like neoprene.
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