It might surprise people, but we get surprisingly little snow in Zurich. The winter months remind me more of overcast Seattle than the snowy alps nearby. Just this week we received our first snowfall of the year. Many people go inside to throw the weight at the first sign of snow. But it is important to throw the hammer in the winter. It isn’t that hard either.
I may not be from the midwest, but I’ve learned a few tricks that make throwing in the snow very easy. And, if that fails, you can check back in a few weeks for some ideas on building an indoor throwing cage.
- The process of snow removal starts before the snow comes. It is much easier to clear snow from the ring if you never let it accumulate. If you let the ring get filled with an inch of ice, you’ll be speding hours scraping it away and melting it. The night before snow is forecasted, I put down some salt around the ring and out a tarp or a sheet of plywood over the ring (with room for air between the ground and cover). You need to keep up this routine throughout the winter. I’ve tried various methods over the years, including a torch, and the simplest works the best. If you don’t do anything beforehand, warm salty water can break up ice quickly when it is not too cold.
- Place distance markers in the field before the snow comes. You distance lines will be hard to find after the snow comes (especially if you se white paint like I do), and a few markers can help you orient yourself.
- When you go out to throw, dress appropriately. This doesn’t just mean that you have warm clothes and a hat, but also choose clothes that aren’t too restrictive. You don’t want to alter your technique just because you are wearing your big puffy down jacket. If you warm up well you won’t actually need that many layers unless there is wind too.
- Walking in snow and ice in throwing shoes is an art form. They are built to reduce friction after all. I normally just take small steps, but I’ve know people that have used ski poles to keep from injuring an abductor.
- If there is a lot of snow, attached colored tape to your hammer handle so that you can find it if it gets lost in the snow.
- Also, it can help to shovel a path out to a landing zone so that you don’t have to drudge through snow all day. When I was in Belarus, the snow plow came and did this for us. Everywhere else this process likely involves your friend with a snow blower or manual labor and a little back pain. A simpler option is to just walk back and forth on the same path to get your hammer. This compresses the snow and does the work for you. I normally just do that since I’ve never thrown in really deep snow.
- Throw multiple hammers. Retrieving hammers takes longer in the snow, but you can train faster, stay warmer, and save energy if you throw multiple hammers before retrieving them. On the other hand, remember which direction each throw went so you don’t forget where they all went.
- Plastic bags over your feet can help keep your feet dry if you can’t stand that type of thing (or if it is cold enough to worry about frostbite). You can get free bags from the produce section of your grocery store. To dry off your shoes between practices, I recommend investing in a fireplace or a cheap shoe dryer. They work wonderfully.
- Eat a good breakfast. I don’t know what it is about throwing in the snow, but I always get twice as hungry as normal.
Feel free to post your suggestions below. In the meantime I am riding the train south to Locarno for the afternoon. While it is still only 1° C (34° F) today in the “warm” canton, at least there is a coach and no snow.