Posted on February 28, 2014
Today is the start of the U.S. Snowshoe Championships at Prospect Mountain in Vermont. The best snowshoe racers from the U.S. and around the world will compete with 5 K and 10 K races and relay races.
Snowshoes are especially designed for walking over the snow. They are meant to be much larger than ordinary shoes—while still being as light as possible—so that a person's weight is distributed over a larger area, and the person doesn't sink into the snow. It's important that a snowshoe not accumulate a lot of snow, so they are designed to have openings (latticework) so that any snow that gets on top of the shoe will fall through. A final feature that helps people walk on the snow is the fact that the toe of the snowshoe curves upward slightly.
Traditional snowshoes were made from wood with rawhide lacings. Modern snowshoes are lighter, made with lightweight metal or plastic and synthetic fabric lacings. Of course they have some sort of binding to hold the snowshoes to boots.
Some people may need snowshoes for their jobs; snow shoes allow people to walk in areas with deep and frequent snowfall. I can imagine forest rangers in some areas needing them, for example. However, most snowshoes are designed for recreational use. People love to walk in gorgeous, untouched, powdery snow—as long as they don't have to slog thigh-high through the drifts!
So, yeah, walking through pristine powder is great – but running? I imagine that is really, really tiring! It must be worth it, though—hundreds of people join in the races!
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