SNOW ACTION  

Snowboard Classes!

Finally! After a crappy December, the snows have arrived, which means you can stop making excuses about learning to snowboard. Just be smart and take a class. Nothing personal, but your bong-huffing bud is no substitute for learning the basics from a skilled instructor, and your ass will thank you for it later. Simply watch the weather report (or go to www.onthesnow.com/OR/skireport.html) and go on a day when the mountains are blanketed in fresh powder (another thing your ass will thank you for). Timberline, Mt. Hood Meadows, and Ski Bowl all offer fairly inexpensive classes complete with lift tickets and equipment rentals, and while you can expect to receive a good number of ass rattles, by the end of day one you'll have conquered the bunny slope and be ready for more. One last tip: padded bike shorts underneath. What's that sound? Why, it's your ass saying, "Thank you!" WSH

Timberline, $49 for two hour class, 503-231-5402, www.timberlinelodge.com; Mt. Hood Meadows, $55 for 90-minute class PLUS SHUTTLE RIDE FROM PORTLAND!, 503-327-2222, www.skihood.com; Ski Bowl, $38 for 90-minute class, 503-272-3206, ext. 241, www.skibowl.com

Tubing!

I'm not into any sport where I can break my arm, snap my neck, or where I might possibly maim another person with my stupidity and lack of experience. Thusly, I do not rock climb, kayak, ski, or snowboard. I do, however, tube, because the risk of injury is extremely low, and you still get the adrenalized thrill ride of whipping down a mountain at top speed. Of course, the best tubing spots are on Mt. Hood or one of the other Cascade Mountains, but make sure you bring tire chains, because you can't get to the sweet powdery stuff without them. KS

Ski Bowl has a tube and tow which costs $15 for the day and they've just opened a new extreme tube hill. They also offer other fun winter activities like snow biking, and a zip line where you ride down the Mountain suspended 40 feet in the air. See www.skibowl.com for directions and info.

Ice Skating!

Every person should compete in a figure skating competition at least once in their lives. There's one coming up in the Oregon State Games this July (register at www.stategamesoforegon.org), so it might be a good idea if you learn how to ice skate NOW. Classes are ongoing at the Lloyd Center Ice Rink, as well as the Valley Ice Arena in Beaverton, and the Ice Chalet in Clackamas, and all can teach you the basics of what you'll need to know when you're performing triple axels and death spirals at this year's summer games. Just don't be like that blind girl in Ice Castles and trip over the roses. Boy, did she look stupid. WSH

Call for hours and class times. Lloyd Center Ice Rink, 288-6073, Valley Ice Arena, 297-2521, Ice Chalet, 786-6000.

Ice Climbing!

According to climbing expert Steve Baldwin, "You don't have to be crazy-crazy to go ice climbing," but you do have to be somewhere south of sane for it to appeal to you. Luckily for your poor mother--who really should have taught you better--the necessary weather conditions for ice climbing are rare west of the Cascades, though the waterfalls along the Gorge occasionally ice up. If you don't feel like waiting around for those three days a year, you can head east a few hours to the Strawberry Mountains for glacier climbing. First, though, you should give Timberline Mountain Guides in Bend a call, so they can a.) talk some sense into that stupid head of yours or b.) teach you how to not kill yourself and break your dear, poor mother's heart. SM

Timberline Mountain Guides, 541-312-9242. Alpine climbing classes $120 on up.

Ice Fishing!

Just because mountain lakes and rivers freeze in the wintertime doesn't mean those pesky delicious fish can hide from your sharpened hook. In fact, winter is the perfect time for a new take on the classic sport of fishing. Your same equipment will do just fine: A fishing rod, warm jacket, beer, cooler, and chair. However, there is one important additional gizmo called an "auger"--a giant corkscrew drill that bores through the ice. For more sophisticated ice fishing, small specialty tents and ice fishing shanties are available (ever see Grumpy Old Men?). Otherwise, ice fishing is about the most Zen winter sport out there: Nothing centers the chi better than sitting on a freezing cold lake waiting for a nibble. PB

Jubilee Lake (Umatilla National Forest), follow signs on I-84 past Pendleton, daily park permits $5

Curling!

Curling is kind of like an enormous version of icy shuffleboard, only much more difficult. Curling also requires very little physical exertion, and yet is recognized as an official Olympic Game, which means you can play it and call yourself an athlete without actually burning off any holiday flab. There are plenty of welcoming opportunities to curl at icy locales all over the Portland area, thanks to the Evergreen Curling Club, but if you wish to observe before actually doing, simply turn to your friendly Canadian television channel, where it's broadcast pretty much 24 hours a day. JWS

www.evergreencurling.org, adult membership $60

Snowshoeing!

Over the past decade, snowshoeing has evolved. Gone are the old-school wicker snowshoes, which were more like stomping around with clumsy tennis rackets strapped to your feet. Lighter and sleeker, the new snowshoes allow you to blaze paths over hills and deep into the woods. Even when the snow is hip deep, you feel almost like you're levitating. About the easiest way to get started is through Portland Parks & Rec, which runs treks throughout the winter. Plus, they pick you up, hook you up with rental snowshoes, and chauffer you up and down the mountain. PB

Portland Park & Rec, parks.ci.portland.or.us, or call 823-PLAY, tours Sat-Mon, 8 am-5 pm, $29

Hockey!

For those inclined to experience road rage, here's the perfect antidote: Take out your aggressions on the hockey rink! Not only will you get automatic respect for having the "nads to get out on the ice, but your fellow road ragers will happily entertain your violent streak by slamming your face into the plexiglass and knocking your teeth out. There's also fun to be had by knocking the puck into the net. WSH

Mountain View Ice Arena, 14313 SE Mill Plain Blvd, Vancouver, WA, 360-896-8700, call for information about their hockey skills clinic.

Snowmobile Rentals!

Snowmobiles are a lot like jet skis--morally and environmentally repugnant, and yet… AWESOME!! I mean, you hop on, and then you're ZOOMING through the PRISTINE BACKCOUNTRY, sucking in FRESH, COOL AIR while the GLORY OF LIFE shimmers before your eyes and you experience WINTRY, AWE-INSPIRING BEAUTY and the STOMACH-TWISTING GLEE OF GOING REALLY FAST! Plus, as Laurie DeBauw of Cascade Snowmobile Rentals adds, "You don't have to stand in lift lines." YEAH! Because who would want to stand around waiting to strap on some GAY-ASS SKIS when you could be ZOOMING THROUGH THE PRISTINE BACKCOUNTRY, reveling in the GLORY OF LIFE? EH

Cascade Snowmobile Rentals, 6918 SW Pine, 622-6404. Rentals start at $100 per snowmobile for two hours, and are targeted at Skyline Snowpark outside of Government Camp. Call for reservations and further specifics. The Outdoor Toy Store, 25 NE 2nd St in Stevenson, WA, 888-427-7474. Rentals are $155 per snowmobile per day, plus deposit and your own transport. Again, call for reservations and further specifics.

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