Gearing up for winter sports

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Zachary Hada
  • 28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
When temps plunge and the Black Hills turn into a winter wonderland, many boldly charge forward to take in all the area offers.

As Airmen and their families hit the slopes and participate in recreational sports in the Black Hills and surrounding areas, it's important to keep safety a key part of their plans.

"With the onset of winter sports - proper preparation, safety equipment and a realistic self assessment of one's skill are key to avoiding injuries," said Gene Strong, 28th Force Support Squadron Outdoor Recreation assistant.

Strong, who has 40 years of downhill skiing and snowmobile experience under his belt, stressed the importance of properly gearing up for winter sports.

"First and foremost, it's important to protect yourself," Strong said. "Participants should wear appropriate clothing including protective goggles, helmets and several layers of warm clothing."

In addition to wearing proper safety gear, Strong said Airmen should familiarize themselves with the terrain and always travel with a wingman.

Dave Routh, 28th FSS Outdoor Recreation assistant, added there are several injuries that are common and easily avoidable when participating in winter sports.

"Broken arms and legs, bruises, head injuries and twisted knees and ankles are often caused by carelessness," Routh said. "Airmen need to know their limitations and have someone more experienced show them the basics."

Strong emphasized that maintaining situational awareness is vital when participating in winter sports.

"It's important to stay alert and protect yourself," Strong said. "When Airmen are out and hitting the slopes, they are not only responsible for their own safety, but that of the others around them."

Routh affirmed that when Airmen stay proactive and prepared, they reduce the risk of injury - ultimately staying healthy for their family, for work, and for another day on the slopes.

Outdoor Recreation offers a wide variety of equipment and safety gear for rent including snowboards, skis, snowmobiles, tents, snow boots, sleds, campers and helmets.

For more information on recreational and winter safety or to sign up for a recreational safety course, visit the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks website at For more information or to rent winter sports equipment, call the Outdoor Recreation office at (605) 385-2997.