How to survive the White Ribbon of Death.

A-Basin on opening day (Jesse Paul, The Denver Post)

A-Basin on opening day (Jesse Paul, The Denver Post)

Whether your season’s already started (I’m looking at you, A-Basiners) or if you plan to ski as soon as your mountain opens, there’s a good chance you’re going to encounter something scarier than a zombie apocalypse. (Hey, Halloween’s coming. Go with it,)

Yes, I mean the dreaded White Ribbon of Death.

Oooooooooooooooh.

Don’t run screaming from your computer. I know it’s frightening, but there are ways to ski it and live to tell the tale. It just takes courage, fortitude, and a little bit of knowledge.

In case you don’t know, the White Ribbon of Death (aka WROD) is the narrow strip of artificial snow ski areas put down early in the season so they can open before Mother Nature cooperates. Generally, it’s populated by about a zillion people, all hopped up because they haven’t skied in a loooong, looooong time. Add in not-so-great conditions, and you’ve got a scary situation. You pretty much take your life in your hands when you ski it — not that that keeps anyone (including me) away.

So what should you do?

• Keep it in perspective. Sure, you’re loaded with excitement. After all, it’s been a long, long summer. But you’re not the only one who feels this way. SO — don’t expect to be all alone out there. It’s going to be really, really crowded. And don’t think it’s going to be knee deep powder, either.  Face facts: The conditions are usually pretty marginal. Just know what you’re in for before you show up.

• Make the necessary adjustments. Whatever you’re skiing on, make sure to check your bindings to be sure they release properly. It’d be pretty awful to take a fall and be out for the rest of the season.

• Use ‘em if you’ve got ‘em. Old skis, that is. There isn’t that much of a base and you’ll probably encounter a rock or two. So if you want to preserve your good skis, keep them for when conditions improve.

• Don’t dress for the polar vortex. It’s very early season. There’s plenty of cold weather to come. You can leave your heavy stuff at home. Layers help, so you can shed or add as needed.

• It might not be a long day.  You may only get a few runs in before the crowds or conditions get to you. That’s okay. The whole purpose of skiing the WROD is just to get out there. In fact, you may want to bag the whole first tracks thing and start a bit later, when everyone else is fed up with the crowds and long lines and has quit for the day.

• Relax and have fun. Remember, it’s not the only time you’re going to ski this season. There’s plenty more to come. So if you only get a few runs, think about the whole long season stretching out before you. And smile.

• If you do ski the WROD, report back. Share your story. Let us know how if you skied it — and lived.



Read full story · Comments { 1 }

No Turning Back: A Review

WME_PosterI have to admit, I haven’t been a Warren Miller fan for a long time. After all, it hasn’t been the same since Warren stopped making his own movies. For me, the newer ones tend to run together — a lot of people jumping off cliffs; oh look, more back flips; and the obligatory urban stuff, sliding down stair rails and jumping over small buildings and parked cars. Granted, some segments are much better than others. But on the whole, I’ve kind of lost interest.

Sacrilege, I know.

Still, the Warren Miller movies are a tradition. An indicator that ski season is coming! So when Warren Miller Entertainment asked if I’d like a review copy of their new movie, No Turning Back, I said sure, why not.

I won’t keep you in suspense. Almost to my surprise, I liked it.

The construct is the same as it’s been in the past. Like other WME movies, it’s divided into segments, each one featuring different skiers in different locales. The first segment (which I think is the best) showcases Ingrid Backstrom, Jess McMillam, and Chris Anthony skiing in the Chugach of Alaska. The ability of Jess and Ingrid to tackle the steep stuff is exhilarating to watch, and the passion and excitement they bring to big mountain skiing is an absolute  joy. WME has featured women skiers before, but I love that this time they’re in the lead spot. Maybe it’s a reaction to the new all-female Pretty Faces movie? Who knows. But as a female skier, and one who gets pretty tired of having the focus on guys, guys, and more guys, I thoroughly enjoyed watching the women rip it up.

The second segment spoke to me, too. As an older skier, I loved seeing a group with an average age of 46 absolutely killing it in Chamonix. Seth Morrision, Mike Hattrup, Tim Petrick, and Heather Paul tackle some awesome terrain off the Aiguille du Midi, accessing lines that can only be reached by rappelling down ropes and descending ladders. Some of the quotes I wrote down as I watched this portion: “With the revolution of ski gear, [skiing is] the fountain of youth for anyone who’s older,” “When skiers are saying 50 is the new 40, what they’re really saying is thank you fat skis,” and “If you’re not smiling, you better change sports.” Anyone who disses older skiers or thinks that they, themselves, are too old to ski, watch these guys. You’ll change your opinion pretty quick.

And I also enjoyed segment #3, which focused on the laid back, off-the-beaten path ski towns and areas of Montana. Maybe it’s because I’ve been to Montana twice in the past two years and plan to go again this winter. The scenery is gorgeous, the skiing by Julian Carr and Sierra Quitiquit is lovely, and the whole vibe of the piece really spoke to me, since I love places that are a bit outside the mainstream.

There are five other segments, too: Snowboarding in Niseko, Japan, which features boarding in an insane amount of snow in the country’s north island; skiing Mount Olympus in Greece (loved the history and the ruins); searching for the site of the world’s oldest ski in Lofoten, Norway (the beauty of the mountains and sea is amazing), racing in Vail and Beaver Creek (enjoyed seeing the racing legends); and speed-riding, which involves skis and parachutes in Switzerland (in a word, heart-stopping).

On the whole, I found this movie more accessible than some of the ones I’ve viewed in the past. Yes, it still has the obligatory exotic locales. Which really, I enjoy. But I think it seemed more focused on actual skiing rather than jumping off cliffs and doing crazy stunts. And not only did the first segment feature women, but women were also featured prominently in two of the other segments, as well. For me, this is a big improvement.

Did it do its job and get me stoked for the season? Yes.  Then again, I’m always stoked. My rating: Two ski poles up.

YouTube Preview Image


Read full story · Comments { 1 }

Surfing your way to better skiing.

Those of you who follow my blog know that I harbor a deep, dark secret: I grew up on the Jersey Shore. And though I never learned to surf, I know plenty of people for whom surfing is a way of life — similar to the way I feel about skiing. So this week, while I’m on vacation, I’ve decided to post a piece by guest blogger, Emily Bradbury. Emily is a fellow Vermonter who lives, plays, works, and raises her family here in the Green Mountains. She’s a contributor to Ski Vermont’s All Mountain Mamas blog, and the founder of Adventure Travel Mom. And she has some thoughts on how surfing can actually make you a better skier. Take it away, Emily! 

The Kindred Spirit of Ski Divas and Surfer Chicks
Emily Bradbury

Emily Bradbury

Emily Bradbury

As a native Vermonter and lifelong skier, falling in love with surfing was a complete surprise. My life is in the mountains — hiking in the summer, skiing in the winter, working and raising my family in a small ski town. So surfing was not really on my radar, until I spent a week at a surf camp in Costa Rica a few years ago. Turns out, skiing and surfing are kindred spirits, and those of us who feel at home in the mountains have an edge in learning to surf.

Through the surf camp I visit every year, I’ve met some pretty incredible women, most of whom claim skiing as their primary sport. Here are five reasons why women who rip on the mountains tend to kill it in the waves too, and why surfing might even make you a stronger skier:

1. Athletic instinct. Individuals who ski and board are naturally adept at surfing. General fitness is part of it, but the difference is the mental factor. The hardest part of learning to surf is catching waves. You paddle hard and get into the right position, which is just as the steepest part of a wave is about to break. You pop up and you’re staring down the steep face of a moving wave. Hesitating or leaning back means a wipeout and a pounding by the next wave. Skiers instinctively know to stay low and balanced, look where they want to go and just charge. It’s the same thing they do every day in the mountains.

2. Learning something new is good for the brain. Freesking World Tour Champ Laura Ogden credits learning to surf with making her more critical of her skiing. Though initially she just wanted to experience the feeling of catching a wave, she found that surfing served a higher purpose. “There is something inherently good for the soul in being novice at something similar to what you excel in. Learning to surf played many unexpected roles in my life, all of which had a very positive impact on my skiing.”

3. Improve strength and balance. As skiers, we spend a lot of time in the “forward flex” position, with tight abdominals and strong quads. Avid skiers are prone to injuries that result from chronic overuse of certain muscle groups. Surfing puts your body in extension, opening the front side and strengthening the posterior chain, which includes the glutes, hamstrings and back muscles. Paddling a surfboard works your upper body and lower back, while lengthening abdominals. A week of warm water surfing is the body’s perfect antidote to a season of ripping it on the hill.

4. You are there for yourself. Aussie surf coach and avid snowboarder, Victoria Patchell points out that “like skiing, recreational surfing is a sport that doesn’t have winners or losers, only participants. Once you enter the water you are there for yourself, and due to the individualist nature of the sport it provides an incredible opportunity for personal growth and transformation.”

5. Same rush, different sport. My friend Hillary Harrison, an avid skier who owns Peaks n’ Swells Surf Camp in Costa Rica, was first drawn to surfing because she craved that same adrenaline rush she got from skiing and biking in the mountains. “I’ll never forget how free and happy I felt riding that first wave,” said Harrison. “People say we’re addicted to the rush, but it’s hard to give up that feeling when it’s what drives you in life.” Don’t worry if you’re not an adrenaline junkie like Hillary (I’m not!). Surfing has a “bunny slope” too. White water waves are the perfect way to practice paddling out, popping up, and turning before heading into bigger surf.

Emily kills it on a wave.

Emily kills it on a wave.



Read full story · Comments { 0 }

Pretty Faces: A review of Lynsey Dyer’s all-female ski movie

PrettyFaces

I’ve been excited about Pretty Faces ever since I heard about it way back in December. Here’s a refresher: Despite the fact that women make up around 40% of the skiing population and about 30% of the adventure sports film viewership, only 14% of the athletes in major ski films this past season were female. And this was a record of female representation, up from 9% the previous season.*

So Lynsey Dyer decided to do something about it. A phenomenal world-class skier who was named Powder Magazine’s Skier of the Year, Lynsey is also the founder of  SheJumps.org, an organization dedicated to encouraging  women to  participate in outdoor activities. Lynsey made it her mission to produce an all-female ski movie. That took some doing. She used Kickstarter to raise most of the funding, eventually collecting enough to make her dream a reality. (I interviewed about this here.)

The movie just had its premiere showing in Boulder, Colorado. And though I wasn’t lucky enough to be there, one of the members of TheSkiDiva.com forum, Monique Mudama, was in the audience. I’ve prevailed on her to write a review, and with pleasure, I present it here:

Pretty Faces: A Review
By Monique Mudama

It’s no surprise to me that Lynsey Dyer’s crew picked Boulder for the debut showing of Pretty Faces. And it’s not much of a surprise that the show sold out, either. Boulder Theater was packed with people – more women than men, but plenty of both – to celebrate skiing, to celebrate women skiers, and to build some serious stoke for the coming ski season.

Pretty Faces. What can I say? I loved this movie. It’s strange, but a lot of ski movies don’t have enough actual skiing. Pretty Faces does not suffer from this problem. It delivers shot after shot of women hucking cliffs, charging through pow, and owning steep descents. Professional athletes talking about why they ski. Little girls giggling as they learn how to ski. Middle-aged women bouncing up and down in their chairs, talking about how excited they are every morning to go ski. I’ve never seen a ski movie that so completely represented how I feel about skiing – giddy, gleeful, grateful. Maybe a little obsessed.

And the skiing. I was captivated. As the audience around me hooted and stomped and screamed whenever another female athlete was introduced, I just kept leaning forward in my chair and whispering, “Oh man. Oh my god.” The skiing was so beautiful, so aggressive, so perfect. I ached to be there, skiing those lines. To be someone who could ski like that.

To be honest, once an athlete is bundled up in ski gear and getting face shots while skiing bottomless pow, you can’t always tell if that’s a man or a woman. But I don’t think that’s the point. The point is that when I’m skiing and I see a guy ski an aggressive line or huck a rock, I appreciate it, but it doesn’t impact how I ski. But when I’m skiing and I see a woman ski an aggressive line or fly off a jump? It’s different. Suddenly, it seems possible. Pretty Faces is an entire movie filled with women expanding my concept of what is possible.

Before seeing this movie, I went primarily to show my support for the idea – to help prove that an all-female skiing movie was viable. And that’s still a good reason to go. But a better reason to go is this: Pretty Faces is one of the best ski movies I’ve seen. Go watch it.

For more info on Pretty Faces, go here.

*Data from the Pretty Faces’ Kickstarter website.



Read full story · Comments { 5 }

What’s new in Vermont for the ’14/’15 season.

Last week I talked about all the new things you’ll see in Colorado this coming season (if you’re interested, go here). Now for all you eastern skiers, here’s a round-up of the capital improvements you’ll find in the Green Mountain State in  ’14/’15:

skimapOkemo Mountain Resort
Okemo will be replacing its Northstar Express Quad with The Sunburst Six, a new high-speed six-person bubble chairlift with heated seats – the first of its kind in North America. Operation Snowburst returns for a second season of snowmaking improvements with the addition of 100 new, energy-efficient HKD tower guns. This follows a $1 million snowmaking investment that allowed Okemo to open early with top-to-bottom skiing and riding last winter.

Mount Snow Resort
Snowmaking enhancements continue at Mount Snow with the arrival of 645 brand new low-energy snow guns; the largest single snow gun upgrade in the resort’s history. The entire snow gun arsenal is now 100% low-energy. Also making its debut this winter is Smart Snow; a state-of-the-art snowmaking control system, the same one used for the snowmaking operation at the Winter Olympics in Sochi. Thousands more feet of snowmaking pipe have been replaced and a number of trails have been electrified so high output fan guns can be operated on them.

Smugglers’ Notch Resort
The addition of 156 new high efficiency tower guns and one additional fan gun signals the completion of Smugglers’ conversion to a fleet comprised fully of high efficiency snowguns. This will be Smugglers’ third consecutive winter of snowmaking improvements. 250 new guns were incorporated into the fleet over the previous two winter seasons.

Stowe Mountain Resort
Stowe Mountain Resort’s state-of-the-art snowmaking operations have been supplemented by a three-year $9.8 million dollar snowmaking expansion. Totals for the 3-year project include over 100,000 feet of new snowmaking pipe — almost 20 miles worth, 615 HKD SV10 tower guns, 150 Ratnik Baby X2 land frames, 20 SMI Super PoleCat snow towers and 8 HKD Turbo snow towers. Stowe has also completely renovated its  summit Gondola on Mt. Mansfield and improved family lift service on lower Spruce Peak with a new Quad chairlift and two new carpet surface lifts.

Stratton Mountain Resort
Stratton has invested in  58 new gondola cabins, 350 more energy efficient HKD snowguns, two new snowcats, new glades, buses and bullwheels, rental gear and more in year two of a total $21 million investment in the overall resort experience. With a trip of just eight minutes, the Stratton gondola carries 2,400 people per hour and runs 7,590 feet from base to the summit of southern Vermont’s highest peak. The latest HKD purchase brings Stratton’s tower snowgun fleet to over 1,000 and completely eliminates the use of diesel. 

Sugarbush Resort
Sugarbush spent more than $1 million on both mechanical and electrical upgrades to the lifts. The resort also invested $1.8 million in snowmaking equipment, completing a five-year, $5 million capital project. Over the summer, crews installed 351 new Snowlogic, HKD, and Ratnik low energy snowguns, and made significant improvements to infrastructure, replacing a variety of snowmaking pipes, pumps and valves. The resort also replaced one of its winch cats with a new Pisten Bully 600. Parking for busy days has been expanded to create 450 new parking spaces. Permitting continues on a new Valley House lift. All told, the resort invested $4.5 million this year in infrastructure.

Killington Resort
Killington continues to invest in essential infrastructure projects ahead of the 2014-15 winter season, including over $1 million in lifts and lift improvements, $2 million worth of new energy efficient snow guns, and continual trail and glade maintenance.

Bromley Mountain
Bromley’s snowmaking system will be completely and efficiently up to date for the Winter 2014/15 season. Mountain Operations has taken full advantage of Efficiency Vermont’s Great Ground Gun Round Up, and traded in all the old air-hogs for new efficient tower guns. The snowmaking team is also working with HKD to develop portable ground guns on tri-pods to cover some of the tricky terrain that made those old inefficient ground guns necessary.

The Hermitage Club
After more than two years in construction, the Hermitage Club’s new 80,000 square foot, state of the art Club House is due to open for the 2014-15 season. The Club House will offer members gourmet fine dining, a fitness center with lap pool and hot tubs, full treatment spa, day care, retail, upscale locker rooms and more, all with a  360-degree view of Vermont’s Haystack Mountain.

Over $5 million in mountain infrastructure upgrades start with the new Stag’s Leap Lift which connects the lower mountain with the upper for the first time in over 12 years and offers a mid-station unload with access to more than 24 acres of learning terrain. Snowmaking expansion and energy efficiency initiatives continue with an additional 17 new Techno Alpin fan guns, an additional new 110 HKD Impulse Tower guns, 25 new Evo Rubis towers and additional 70 new Ratnik land guns.

Magic Mountain
This season Magic will have the capability of making snow on 75% of its terrain.  In addition, each year Magic expands the “off-piste” opportunities by clearing out new glades.

 



Read full story · Comments { 1 }

What’s new in Colorado for the ’14/’15 season.

22-colorado-resort-map

Whether you ski in Colorado regularly or only once in a while, you’ll find a lot of new things at the state’s ski resorts this season. Here are a few, courtesy of information provided by Colorado Ski Country USA:

Learning, Lessons & Little Ones

Arapahoe Basin will unveil a new 7,000 square foot Kids Center in the spring of 2015. To find out more, visit http://bit.ly/A-Basin-WhatsNew2015.

Aspen/Snowmass is opening The Hideout, a new multi-million dollar 7,500-square-foot children’s center at the base of Buttermilk. It’ll  offer improved access for drop off, direct access to the mountain and an interactive design. To learn more, visit http://www.aspensnowmass.com.

Loveland Ski Area is adding a second Magic Carpet surface lift. This will be open to the public and will provide access to gentle terrain perfect for first timers. For more information, visit http://www.skiloveland.com.

Purgatory at Durango Mountain Resort’s new Burton Riglet Park will anchor the development of a multi-faceted ski and ride terrain-based learning facility perfect for the youngest of riders, ages 3-6 years. For more information, visit http://durangomountainresort.com/.

Guest Service & Experience

Copper Mountain has reengineered Sherpa, its resort smartphone app game. Not only will guests be able to create and share their own mountain tips and favorite trails, but Copper will reward the best contributors with swag, tickets, passes and even a prized treasured spot on 2015/2016 winter trail map. Learn more about Sherpa at www.CopperColorado.com/Sherpa.

Purgatory at Durango Mountain Resort’s equipment rental operation will feature a new boot fitting station, snowboard demos and an upgraded rental fleet. The redesigned shop will allow guests to spend less time in lines so they can spend more time on the slopes. For more information, visit http://durangomountainresort.com/.

Silverton Mountain has purchased a new helicopter ski cargo basket to accommodate the deep snow landings. The old basket would get buried in legendary Silverton powder snow upon landing, forcing the guides to shovel snow just to get access to their skis. For more information, visit http://www.silvertonmountain.com.

Sunlight Mountain is investing in base lodge improvements that support the ski area’s commitment to sustainable business. Also new this season: newly remodeled restrooms in the base lodge. For more information, visit http://www.sunlightmtn.com.

Steamboat is expanding night operations to Thursday through Monday from 5:30-8:30 PM and from 6-9 PM during spring. A new Patrol/Maintenance Station at the top of Christie Peak Express is also being built to serve as home base for nighttime patrollers, as to provide repair and work space for lift maintenance operations. Steamboat is also moving all ticket office services  into its One Steamboat Place location. A new SnowSports Privates Lounge, in the former main ticket office space in the Gondola Building, will provide convenient sales and a comfortable meeting area for guests and instructors participating in private lessons.

Ski Cooper will complete improvements in its rental shop to enhance the flow of guests renting skis and snowboards, while adding more printer stations and re-configuring the area for guests to fit boots. For more information, visit http://www.skicooper.com.

Crested Butte plans to install a Magic Carpet® lift just for the tubing hill,. The mountain is also improving its free ski storage service with the installation of new slopeside rack systems. Guests who aren’t lodging at one of the resort’s properties or renting equipment from the Crested Butte Rental and Demo Center can take advantage of the service for a nominal fee.

Crested Butte is also adding ten snow bikes to its resorts rental fleet. For those new to the sport at CBMR, a two hour instruction and guided tour around the mountain is required to ensure safe use of the equipment and knowledge of where snow biking approved routes are located.  For more information, visit twww.skicb.com/snowbike.

At Loveland Ski Area, the new Ginny Lee Cabin, a day-use on-mountain structure located off Chair 8, will provide skiers and riders on the north side with a convenient place to meet friends and warm up without a trip to the base area. For more information, visit http://www.skiloveland.com.

Food & Beverage

Loveland Ski Area’s Loveland Basin is unveiling a newly remodeled cafeteria. There’ll be more food and beverage options, comfortable seating, and a cozy place for guests to take a break and take in the views.  For more information, visit http://www.skiloveland.com.

Ski Cooper is offering an on-mountain mobile food service with the new Cat Trax snow-cat. In a similar vein to a food truck, the Cat Trax will serve hot food at different locations on the mountain, offering the ski area’s first on-mountain dining service. For more information, visit http://www.skicooper.com.

Steamboat’s Thunderhead Lodge at the top of the gondola received a dramatic makeover this summer. Similar to the layout of the popular Four Points bar, Thunderhead Red’s will double in size and expand to include the eastern side of the building to take advantage of the east facing views of Mt. Werner and Storm Peak. In addition, equipment upgrades throughout a number of kitchens will improve the facility’s culinary offerings.

Steamboat is also launching OpenTable, a real-time online reservation service throughout its family of restaurants this winter. With OpenTable, resort restaurants will be able to manage reservations more efficiently, streamline operations, and enhance service levels. For more information, visit http://www.steamboat.com.

Winter Park Resort’s largest on-mountain building construction in over 25 years, Lunch Rock Restaurant will be a state-of-the-art facility utilized year-round, with 150-seat heated deck, 250-seat indoor restaurant, bar, and hydration station all focusing on Colorado themes. At 16,000 square-feet, the new restaurant will be over five times larger than the previous structure at Lunch Rock, which was built in 1985.  In addition to convenience and comfort, at 11,200 feet in elevation Lunch Rock Restaurant will boast amazing views of Parry Peak, James Peak, Parsenn Bowl, the Fraser Valley, and the Continental Divide.  For more information, visit http://lunchrock.co/.

Terrain & Snow Conditions

New at Aspen/Snowmass beginning Dec. 19, 2014, Snowmass will feature four lanes of lift-served snow tubing at Elk Camp. For more information, visit www.aspensnowmass.com.

Crested Butte has partnered with the local US Forest Service District to identify new areas for glading. Intermediate skiers looking for more gentle gladed terrain should get ready to weave through the trees in the East River area and off the Teocalli Lift. For more information, visit http://www.skicb.com.

Eldora Mountain Resort has added two new Kassbohrer grooming machines to the existing fleet of five groomers.  For more information, visit www.eldora.com.

Loveland Ski Area has invested in snowmaking upgrades at Loveland Basin and Loveland Valley to improve efficiencies and productivity. For more information, visit http://www.skiloveland.com.

Powderhorn’s mountain operations crew is widening the Equalizer trail for the 2014-15 season. For more information, visit www.powderhorn.com.

Purgatory at Durango Mountain Resort is adding more snowmaking equipment to the front and backside of the mountain. The resort is adding 11 new energy-efficient snowmaking tower guns, and a state-of-the-art, high-output fan gun, making the mountain operations team more efficient during the early season to establish a solid base that lasts throughout the entire ski season. For more information, visit www.durangomountainresort.com.

Ski Granby Ranch is adding two new runs on West Mountain, improving access to Dean’s Glade on West Mountain, reopening the Poma Lift which gives access to Lone Pine Bowl, and adding a new gladed area off Bronc Rider on East Mountain. For more information, visit http://www.granbyranch.com.

Steamboat is adding a new Bison Sherpa, the first of its kind in Colorado, to its grooming fleet. It’ll be used to tackle some of Steamboat’s steepest terrain and portions of its terrain parks. In addition, Steamboat’s state-of-the-art snowmaking system is being upgraded this winter with more than two miles of pipe, more than 11,000 feet, across See Me, Upper See Ya, Sitz, top of Vogue to Jess’ Cut-Off and Sitz to Boulevard. In addition, two new 12 ft. by 16 ft. blockhouses at Jess’ Cut-Off and the Christie Peak Mid-Station will provide new valve stations for intersecting pipe lines in those critical areas. The new lines will significantly accelerate the resort’s ability to produce snow as tower guns can be spaced 75 feet apart to more efficiently cover the trails.or more information, visit www.steamboat.com.

Telluride has invested in new snowmaking equipment for 2014/15,  for greater snowmaking capacity in the high traffic areas off of Lifts 4 and 5, accessing the beginner and intermediate areas in the heart of Telluride’s trail system. Telluride’s new snowmaking system includes 38 new high efficiency Snowlogic snow guns. These snowmaking snow guns require 90 percent less energy to operate than other models. For more information, visit http://www.tellurideskiresort.com.

Wolf Creek Ski Area is adding a new refurbished Elma Lift, a fixed-grip triple chairlift. The Elma lift will provide skiers with a way to return to the base area from the bottom of the Alberta lift and eliminate the long traverse across the mountain from Park Avenue to the base area. It will also incorporate great beginner terrain along with some excellent intermediate terrain in an area that is currently underutilized. During times of avalanche hazard reduction when the Alberta Lift opens later than the other lifts, the Elma Lift will allow the public to return to the Treasure Stoke Quad and the lower Waterfall Area while waiting for the Alberta Lift to open.

Wolf Creek  is also replacing its old Race Hutch at the bottom of the Charisma trail. The new building will store all the timing equipment, fencing, poles and associated racing tools. For more information, visit http://www.wolfcreekski.com.

Anniversaries & Milestones

Several resorts in Colorado are recognizing significant anniversaries and milestones during the 2014/15 season. Winter Park will celebrate its 75th anniversary on January 28, 2015 with a weeklong series of events that kicks off with a celebration at Winter Park resort and finishes with Mary Jane’s 40th birthday party.

Wolf Creek is also celebrating 75 years this season. Along with a 75th anniversary logo, Wolf Creek will host a Retro Day to commemorate the occasion.

Additionally this winter, Howelsen Hill in Steamboat Springs will recognize the 100th anniversary of ski jumping at the nostalgic ski area.



Read full story · Comments { 1 }

Eat well, ski well.

Ever have one of those ski days when your get up and go has got up and gone? Maybe it’s your diet. Now that pre-season is here, it’s a good time to think about ski nutrition. After all, it’s no surprise that the food you eat can have a profound effect on your skiing. Food is fuel. Put bad stuff in, and you’re likely to get bad results.

Recently I spoke to Diana Sugiuchi, a Registered Dietician and member of TheSkiDiva.com forum. Diana runs VerticalDropNutrition.com, a site that focuses on eating for skiing, to see what she has to say on the subject.

Diana Sugiuchi

Diana Sugiuchi

Q: How did you get involved in ski nutrition?
A: One day I was skiing by myself and feeling pretty horrible and crappy, so I went into the lodge and got a bagel. And as I was sitting there eating, I got really mad at myself – not just for stopping for thirty minutes and for paying $5 for the bagel, but for not eating properly. I thought, ‘this is ridiculous. You know what to eat; you’re a nutritionist!’ So it occurred to me: if I’m in this predicament, there must be a lot of other people who have this same problem; people who aren’t skiing as well as they could be because they’re not eating the right things.

Q: How is eating for skiing different from eating for any other sport?
A: There are a lot of similarities. It’s an endurance activity, because you’re out there for a while. But when you ski you have the ability to stop and have a snack. And unlike a marathon, you have bursts of activity for short periods of time. This makes your nutrition needs a bit different.

Q: Does the weather pose a challenge, as well?
A: Cold weather increases your metabolism a little bit, and that can play a part in the kinds of foods you may want to eat, as opposed to foods you may want to eat when you’re biking in the summer. I find what a lot of people don’t pay attention to is apres ski muscle recovery. If you’re on a multi-day ski trip and  wake up on day three and can’t even move, you know there’s a lot you can do to minimize that through what you eat.

Q: Can you give me examples of foods or nutritional guidelines you should follow for skiing?
A: The most important thing is to front-load before you go out. Eat as much as you can without being uncomfortably full because that’s going to give you the energy you need to carry on. A good breakfast would be lean protein. You don’t want to overdo it on  fats, and that’s what you’ll find at a lot of resort breakfast buffets. That’s pretty much the worst food you can eat because you’ll want to take a nap afterwards. Eggs are great and I absolutely love low-fat Greek yogurt. You want to make sure you eat a lot of complex carbohydrates because they’ll give you the energy you need. Protein will stick with you a bit longer, but eating things like oats and fruit and whole grains are really going to give you that good energy you need.

I also recommend shoving a few little snacks in your jacket, just because you don’t want to come in if you’re hungry.  Carbohydrates with a little bit of protein are great. One of my favorite things is PB & J on whole grains. Cut this into little pieces so you can have a bite or two when you need it – fantastic. Some of the energy bars are good, too, but try to stay away from the ones that are really high in protein because that’s not what you need when you’re in the middle of your activity. You really want to go where the carbs are. I love the Cliff Z bars. They’re made for kids, so they’re small – just 100 calories or so. They also have a good ratio of carbs to protein. Be careful, though, some of the bars that look really healthy have enriched flour — which is wheat flour — as one of their first ingredients. So if you eat them your blood sugar is going to drop pretty quickly.

Q: What about lunch? How do you navigate the ski cafeteria jungle? I mean, there’s a lot of crap out there.
A: There is a lot of crap. I always buy my lunch because I’m too lazy to make it in the morning. So my go-to is chili. All the mountains have chili, and chili has a lot of beans, which is a great complex carbohydrate that’ll stick with you all afternoon. If they have a white chili that’s made with chicken, that’s great, but beef chili is good, too. Go easy on toppings like cheese because you don’t want too much fat in the middle of your day. Sometimes I’ll have a turkey sandwich, if they have a sandwich station. You want something nutrient dense, where you’re going to get a lot of bang for your buck. I don’t think a salad at lunch is good enough. It’s a lot of filler and not enough protein and whole grains.

Q: And after skiing? What can you eat then to help your body recover?
A: Some great things to eat after skiing to help with recovery are hot chocolate made with lowfat milk. This is a variation on one of the best recovery snacks, which is a glass of lowfat chocolate milk. A banana with some peanut butter is good, too. Buy little individual packages of peanut butter for easy traveling. Or you could eat dried fruit and nuts or a turkey sandwich. Bring it with you and it will stay fresh in the car while you ski.

Q: So now we’re getting into pre-season, so we’re starting to think about things we can do to get ourselves ready. Is there anything we can do nutritionally?

Chocolate milk: the ideal recovery drink!

Chocolate milk: the ideal recovery drink!

A: Oh, yes. This is the time when you should be focusing on building strength; doing your conditioning exercises. And if you’re not eating the right things at the right time, you’re not going to improve your muscle capacity. It’s really important. You can’t eat your way to being in shape. You have to replenish yourself within an hour after your work-out. It doesn’t have to be a whole lot. One of the things I recommend is 8 ounces of low-fat chocolate milk. It has just the right ratio of carbohydrates to protein, and just on a physiological level, it’s the best recovery snack. It’s better after a work-out than regular low fat milk because you need the extra carbohydrates – and sugar is a simple carbohydrate — to drive the protein into your cells. Your body absorbs it better.  It doesn’t have to be chocolate milk, but you want something that’ll give you 10 grams of protein. Sometimes I’ll have half a cup of Greek yogurt with a little bit of fruit in it.

Q: One last question, especially for our eastern or midwestern skiers: Any advice on what we can do, nutritionally, to adjust to altitude?
A: There are a few things you can do. It’s super-important to stay hydrated, so make sure you’re drinking water often. Aim for at least 80 ounces per day. Don’t skimp on the carbs, either. These help get oxygen into your cells. Complex carbs like whole grain bread, brown rice, fruits and beans are best for sustained energy. And don’t overdo the sodium. It may be best to avoid salty restaurant meals while you’re adjusting to the altitude and choose less processed foods which have less sodium. Lastly, eat foods high in potassium such as potatoes, citrus, bananas, tomatoes, leafy greens and dried apricots.

Thanks, Diana! For more info on ski nutrition, visit her site at VerticalDropNutrition.com.

 



Read full story · Comments { 2 }

It’s ski movie time!

And why not? It’s fall, otherwise known unofficially as pre-season. And if you’re like me, there’s nothing like a good dose of ski porn to get you stoked about what’s to come. So buy your tickets, grab some popcorn, and settle into your seat. It’s time to get your fill of breathtaking cliff jumps, incredible mountain scenery, and hilarious crashes (which sort of reassure us that yes, even the great ones fall).

Which movie am I most excited about? No surprise here: it’s Pretty Faces, the first ever all-female ski movie, produced by Unicorn Picnic. Some of you may recall the Kickstarter campaign Lynsey Dyer ran late last year to get it funded. (I wrote about it here). Yes, she succeeded raising money far beyond her initial goal, and yes, the movie will  be making its debut in Boulder on September 30.

Here’s the trailer:

And here’s the schedule, as it stands so far:

September 30: Boulder Theater, Boulder, CO
October 3: Roxy Theatre, Revelstoke, BC
October 4: Sturtevant’s, Sun Valley, ID
October 8: Tower Theatre in Salt Lake City, UT
October 15: Volcanic Theatre Pub, Bend OR
October 15: Roxy Theatre, Missoula, MT
October 16: The Mountaineers , Seattle, WA
October 17: Pink Garter Theatre, Jackson, WY
October 19: Don Thomas Sporthaus, Birmingham, MI
October 22: Portland, Oregon with EVO Gear
October 23: Outdoor Gear Exchange, Burlington, VT
October 25: Brava Theatre, San Francisco, CA
October 29: Egyptian Theatre, Boise, ID
October 30: Backcountry Essentials, Bellingham, WA
November 13th: Hadley Farms Meeting House, Hadley, MA
November 14: with WomensMovement.com, Durango, CO
November 15: Center for Contemporary Arts, Santa Fe, NM
November 16, Marriott Park City, Park City, UT
November 26: The Sitzmark at Alyeska, Girdwood, AK
December 12: South Lake Tahoe, NV
December 13: Taos Ski Valley, Taos, NM

Of course, there are loads of other ski movies coming out, too. Here are trailers to a few of the many:

Warren Miller Production’s No Turning Back:

YouTube Preview Image

Almost Ablaze, by Teton Gravity Research:

YouTube Preview Image

Days of My Youth, by Red Bull:

YouTube Preview Image

Powderwhore Productions’ Some Thing Else:

YouTube Preview Image

Deep Andes 2014:

Hoo Doo from GypsyFeelin:

Tribute, from Freeski-Crew.com:

Jamski Films’ The End:

YouTube Preview Image

Salomon Freeski TV Season 8 – The Controller:

YouTube Preview Image

Enjoy!



Read full story · Comments { 1 }

Private resorts: yea or nay?

Bear Creek (now Plymouth Notch)

Bear Creek
(now Plymouth Notch)

I live down the road from a closed ski area. It makes me sad every time I drive by it. Originally opened as Round Top in 1964, the area closed in 1981, reopening as Bear Creek, a semi-private resort, in 1998 (semi because they sold tickets to the public on certain days), only to close again in 2010.

But change is in the wind: the mountain is getting a new lease on life, opening again later this year as Plymouth Notch, a private ski area. Get out your wallets, folks, because here’s what it’ll cost to join: $25,000 per family, plus $7,000 in annual dues, and a $1,000 minimum spent on food and beverage each year. Membership is currently set at  250 families.

Yeah, a little steep for my budget.

Private ski areas are nothing new. You can find them all over the place. Probably the most famous is the Yellowstone Club in Montana, a lavish resort by anyone’s standards. Members must pay a $250,000 deposit and $16,000 in annual dues, and are required to buy a house (starting at $3.5 million) or at least an empty lot (from $1.2 million). Here in Vermont, we have The Hermitage Club, located at the old Haystack ski area. This is pricier than Plymouth Notch, though not as high as Yellowstone: $65,000 buys you a Family Legacy membership, with an annual dues of $5,600. Real estate opportunities abound, as well.

Plymouth Notch is starting to look like a bargain.

The attractions of a private ski area are considerable. You don’t have to worry about crowds or lift lines. You get concierge type service. The staff treats you like royalty. Plus many of these places offer extras like spa services, gourmet restaurants, and off-season sports, like golf, tennis, or swimming.

Me, I hate crowds and will go to great lengths to avoid them. That’s why I limit my skiing to mid-week, and why I’m pretty careful about where I go and when. A private ski area actually sounds pretty sweet. But somehow, the exclusivity of these clubs makes me a bit uneasy. Are they any different than a private golf or yacht club? No. This is America. You can pretty much do what you want with your money. And if you want to use it to join a mountain so you don’t have to rub shoulders with the riffraff, it ain’t nobody’s business but your own. So why the uneasiness?

To be honest, I’m not sure. Skiing is already an exclusive sport. Lift tickets, the price of equipment, and even the cost of getting to the mountain already keep many people from taking it up. Private ski clubs, I think, add yet another layer of exclusivity to the mix. They’re not part of the community at large, and their main objective is to keep people (read anyone who isn’t ultra-rich) out. It’s the “more for me, less for you” mentality that turns me off; it just seems antithetical to the culture of skiing. Plus it seems just so, I don’t know, over-the-top and excessive. And that just rubs me the wrong way.

Then there’s the problem of viability. Both the Yellowstone Club and Bear Creek have a history of bankruptcy. And an earlier incarnation of Haystack as a private area closed because of low real estate sales and high capital costs. For private areas, the reliance on real estate funding plus huge overhead can lead to the inevitable use (or abuse) of debt-financing and leverage — the same problems that precipitated the mortgage crisis a few years back. So a difficult business model to  manage. And if the area goes bankrupt, what does that mean for the people who buy in? Or for the future of the area, itself? Questions to ponder.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m happy to see Bear Creek/Plymouth Notch reopen. And if this is a way to get marginal or defunct ski areas back into the mix, I’m all for it. Come to think of it, wouldn’t a Mount Diva for Ski Divas and their guests be ultra, ultra cool? It’s all a matter of perspective, I guess. And what you have in your bank account.



Read full story · Comments { 1 }

The Mountains vs. The Beach

I’m at the beach this week, so I thought I’d recycle this one from June, 2012. It’s an oldie but a goodie, and sort of sums up where I am right now:

Which do you prefer in the summer?

Me, I’m torn. I love them both.

As someone who grew up on the Jersey Shore (which was not like the TV show of the same name. Heck, those creatures aren’t even from New Jersey. I wonder if they’re even from this planet), I have an almost visceral attachment to the beach. When I was a kid, I spent my entire summer there. My high school years were reminiscent of Beach Blanket Bingo. All my friends hung out on the beach, so I did, too. I even waitressed nights on the boardwalk so I could spend my days on the sand. The smell of sunscreen (we used to call it suntan lotion) still takes me back. And there’s no food I enjoy more than good seafood.

Not my high school, but close enough.

But the mountains… ah, the mountains. What can compare to the smell of pine trees, the view from a mountain top, the fun of kayaking a mountain lake or river? Even though I moved to the mountains later in life, I feel at peace here. It’s my home, and I love it deeply.

It’s true that every summer I feel the pull of the ocean. I yearn to sit on the beach, sun-sotted and salt soaked, dashing into the waves when I get too hot, stuffing myself with steamers and crab. All the same, I hate to leave my Green Mountain State. Summer in Vermont is glorious, and as much as I love it in the winter, it’s amazing here now, too.

Mountains

The Green Mountain State

So truly, I’m conflicted. Does it have to be an either/or situation? Can’t we embrace them both?

This year, I’m solving my dilemma with a trip to Acadia National Park in Maine. If you’ve never been, you should go. It’s the perfect combination of mountains and ocean, with lots of lobster on the side. And though the water is bone chilling cold, that’s okay. There’s enough other stuff to make up for it. I know I’ll have a great time.

So which do you prefer in the summer? The mountains? The beach? Or are you like me and love them both?



Read full story · Comments { 0 }