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Winter sports in the USA

Intermediate English

For people who like sport, the American winter is a season of opportunity     

 Winter sports are popular in North America. In winter time, a large part of the continent is covered in snow for up to four months.

skiing in UtahDownhill skiing in the Rocky Mountains, in Utah
    Only two parts of the USA are mild or warm in winter — a) the coasts, especially Florida and southern California, and b) the southern part of the Mississippi basin.
    Everywhere else it gets cold, often very cold. By the end of November, many American states are often covered in snow; and although recent winters have been less cold, sport in winter usually means snow sports, or indoor sports.
    By January, many people in North America will have temperatures of -30°C; not every day, of course, but such low temperatures are not rare. In Chicago and Minneapolis, the temperature can fall below -40°.
    When it is very cold, specially when there is a cold wind, few people want to go outside, unless they have to; but on sunny winter days, winter sports are popular.
    In the large flat regions in the middle of North America, the most popular winter sports are  snowmobiling, snow-shoeing and cross-country skiing. Ice-skating is popular too; lakes and rivers freeze, and many towns and cities have free open-air skating rinks. In many places, these are flood-lit after dark, so that people can enjoy skating in the evening.
    However, for many people, real "winter sports" means downhill skiing; and in the USA, there are two main areas for this; the Adirondack Mountains in the North East, and the Rockies in the west.
    The Rockies are probably the best place in the world for skiing. North America's "continental" climate means that the snow that falls here is usually very dry, very powdery. It provides perfect skiing conditions in the most famous skiing resorts, which are mostly situated at a height of over 2000 metres.
    The best resorts are in Colorado and Utah, where the air is usually beautifully clear through the winter months. Colorado has America's most famous skiing resorts, Vail and Aspen, where the stars and the rich go for their winter holidays. But the great ski areas of Utah are just as good, with miles and miles of slopes
    There is one big difference between American ski resorts and most Alpine resorts in Europe: the traffic!
    For most Americans, a skiing holiday means a trip by plane, as  most American cities are a long way from the Rockies. Americans do not take long holidays, so they cannot spend several days driving to the Rockies.
    The situation is different for people in Los Angeles and other West Coast cities. They can drive to ski resorts in just a few hours.
    Nevertheless, American ski resorts encourage visitors to come by plane and use buses when they arrive: lots of ski resorts offer free bus services from the nearest airports; some, like Aspen, provide free buses between the hotels and the pistes.
    As a result, people do not sit for hours in their cars, moving very slowly towards the slopes, and the air is not polluted.
    Conditions are not going to get worse; the quality of the environment in America's mountains is a very important issue.

Vocabulary guide

area: zone - basin: wide valley - everywhere else : in all other parts -  flood-lit: illuminated - height: altitude - issue: question - provide: make for, offer - resort: holiday centre - skating rink: artificial lake where people can skate on ice - slope: piste - snowmobile: a snow scooter - trip: voyage, journey.

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Student Worksheet

Select the factually and grammatically correct versions of each of the following statements.
1.    In winter a lot of North America is  in snow over three months.
2.    On very cold days  people   outside unless they .
3.    Americans go  plane when they go to the Rockies, and resorts buses.



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Level : Intermediate.
CEFR  LEVEL :  B1 - B2
IELTS level: 5-6
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Grade level: 10.6

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Originally published in Horizon, the low-intermediate level English newsmagazine.
Photo Utah tourist board.

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