And so it begins: My two first days.

At long last.

Like all of you, I’ve been waiting, waiting, and waiting some more for ski season to begin. After all, my last ski day was April 17. It’s been far, far too long.

This week I finally got my turn with not one, but two first days at my two local mountains, here in Vermont: Okemo and Killington. Okemo opened November 15, Killington, Nov 5. And this week, I was ready. This week, I was there.

Getting Ready For The Big Day

You’d think this would be a snap. After all, I’ve been skiing for — let’s just say lots and lots of years. Nonetheless, I think anyone’s first day skiing should be called “National You’re Going To Forget To Bring Something Critical Day.” Because invariably, no matter how much I plan, no matter how many times I fill up and empty my ski bag to make sure everything’s there — I manage to leave something behind. This year was no exception. Yes, I had my boots, goggles, gloves, socks, and helmet. But somehow I managed to leave out my gaiter. Not too big a deal, but still, will I ever learn?

First Day #1: Okemo

The ideal first day is sunny, cold, with great snow and blue, blue skies.

Mine was not like that at all.

Although we had a bit of snow Sunday night, Monday — the day I chose to ski — started out with an icy, sleety mix. No matter, I thought. Maybe it’s snowing on the mountain.

If only. Instead, it was sleeting there, too. But I wasn’t going to let that stop me. I mean, what’s bad weather? We’re skiers, aren’t we? We laugh at the stuff Mother Nature dishes out. We can take it.

Sort of. To be honest, visibility sucked. I took five runs, then quit. It was just too unpleasant; I looked like a popsicle and felt this side of pneumonia. But on the upside: the snow was soft and there was no one out there (big surprise). Okemo’s been blowing snow like crazy, and it shows. There’s top to bottom coverage, and it looks more like February than November. The mountain says it has 14 runs open, and I guess there probably are. In reality, however, there were essentially three ways down. But they were fun ways, so who’s counting?

It was cool to ski by the construction for the Sunburst Six, the new lift that Okemo’s putting in to replace the old Northstar Quad. It’s a bubble lift! With heated seats! The only one like it in North America, too. Things seem to be progressing nicely — the lift may be ready to spin in early December. I can hardly wait.

Construction continues on  The Sunburst Six, Okemo's new bubble lift.

Construction continues on The Sunburst Six,
Okemo’snew bubble lift.

 

In the meantime, however, if you want top to bottom skiing, you have to rely on two fairly slow lifts to get to the summit. But this isn’t unusual for early season skiing at Okemo, and really, early-December — if they make their goal — is only a couple weeks away (incredible, huh?). So I can suck it up.

Besides the lift, Okemo has a few new things in store this season. The mountain put in 100 new, energy-efficient HKD tower guns and snowmaking pipeline upgrades. This follows a $1 million snowmaking investment they made last winter, so they’ve made great strides in this department. They’re also re-doing their terrain park, in partnership with Snow Park Technologies. So for those of you who are into that, you’re in for a treat.

First Day #2: Killington

Weather-wise, a much better first day than my day at Okemo. Yes, it was colder than one would expect for November (in the teens without the wind, when I started), but it was snowing. And it kept snowing pretty much all morning. Now that’s a ski day.

Lookin' good at Killington

Lookin’ good at Killington

Killington’s been open since November 5, but I’m glad I waited. Until recently, skiers had to download when they wanted to return to the base lodge. That’s all over now. There’s top to bottom skiing, with more set to open by Thanksgiving (they’re making snow pretty aggressively).

How were conditions? Really, quite good. Lots of snow on the trails, no visible rocks, and very good coverage. It was actually a very fine day.

Killington has a number of  things this season you’ll probably appreciate. They’ve added 400 new, energy efficient snow guns this year and are working to improve snow coverage on high traffic intersections. And this is pretty cool: Killington is instituting Terrain Based Instruction in their ski school. In TBI, students are coached on a series of sculpted terrain features before moving on to the larger slopes or up the chairlift. The features help skiers learn to control speed and  promote balance. Killington says their system will be the largest in the country, and second in North America only to Whistler. I plan to check it out for a later blog post. They also tell me they’re improving their signage, which is a big plus. I’ve always had difficulty with Killington’s trail signs, so I like this a lot.

SO — my season is off to a great start. Last season I made 84 days. Will I equal or beat that record? Stay tuned.

 

 



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Considering a Women’s Clinic? Here’s the ’14/’15 List.

 

Divas in Liberty Bowl.

If you’re thinking about taking a women’s clinic, you’re in luck; there are plenty to choose from. Over the past few years, more and more resorts have added them to their ski school line up. Why? Well, a lot of women prefer learning in a testosterone-free environment. Women’s clinics focus on building skills and confidence while offering the camaraderie that comes from skiing in a group of women and working with skilled female instructors. Research actually shows that women are more supportive and men more competitive in a learning situation. And this can carry over to the ski hill, too.

Here’s a sample of what some women on TheSkiDiva.com have to say about them:

• I go every year to at least one of the women’s clinics they have at my local resort. They are fun and it’s great to learn some new tips and have a blast skiing with other women. I like them because they are just a supportive group of skiers and each one of us encourages everyone throughout the lesson – something I certainly don’t get in other types of lessons.

• I have taken both co-ed and women only clinics. I prefer the women only because I too feel that with other women the atmosphere is supportive and not so competitive. Every time I have been in a co-ed class, there has been one guy who thinks he knows more than the instructor. Then the whole goal of the class changes to be a competition between the two and I get lost. In co-ed classes I have been subjected to feedback from a guy in the class when I prefer to get my feedback from the instructor. The pace in a women only clinic meets my needs too. We stop for bathroom breaks as needed and to get warm if it’s really cold. Other women share what they think I am doing well not what I am doing poorly. They encourage me to take steps outside my comfort zone but do not slam me if I should choose not to take that step. And, I laugh more on the lifts.

• I opted for the women-only because it was the only clinic offered in my area. It turned out to be really fantastic. One of my instructors  iwas very focused on the difference in the center of gravity between men and women, so the main reason I went to the clinic the first time was to hear more on that subject. The best thing about them — I’ve done two — was meeting new ski buddies. I met two wonderful ladies that I’ve stayed in touch with though we haven’t been able to coordinate skiing again yet. There really wasn’t anything I disliked, other than I wished more folks were signed up. I agree with the other posters – there is a relaxed vibe, we have a great time, we can kvetch about skiing at “that time of the month”, etc. Plus the clinic organizer makes the most awesome goodie bags EVER. She sent me one while I was recovering from breast cancer surgery (she is also a survivor) that blew me away. Again, that made-a-new-friend thing…love it.

That said, women’s clinics aren’t a one-size-fits-all answer. Everyone’s learning style is different, and a co-ed clinic might be fine for you. But if you’ve been looking for a women’s clinic, here are some to consider:

 



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A review on ski reviews.

Two of the many sources for gear reviews.

Two of the many sources
for gear reviews.

This is the time of year when a lot of ski and outdoor magazines and websites come out with their reviews on the new season’s equipment. I don’t know about you, but I love reading them. It’s a great way to get psyched for the coming year. And besides, it never hurts to look. :)

All the same, there are oh-so-many skis. And oh-so-many reviews. It can  get pretty confusing. So before you rush off and buy the ski that a review says is best, here’s something important to keep in mind:

Gear reviews are subjective. So much depends on the reviewers’ ski level, the way they ski, their own personal likes and dislikes, snow conditions, biomechanics, ski length, even mood.

So please — keep in mind that reviews are strictly the opinions of a specific skier (or a very small group of select skiers). They’re a great place to start. But the best way to tell if a ski is right for you is to:

1) Learn as much as you can about the ski you’re interested in – which includes getting opinions from a variety of sources. You might want to check out the Gear Review section of TheSkiDiva.com, where members of the site evaluate skis they’ve tried. The best thing about it is that it’s interactive, so you can actually ask questions of someone who’s tried the ski. Try doing that with a magazine.

2) Assess your abilities honestly and fairly. You don’t do yourself any favors getting a ski that’s above or below your level, so give yourself a fair assessment.

3) Keep in mind the conditions under which you want the ski to handle.  If you ordinarily ski under boilerplate conditions in the east, it may not do you any good to only look at powder skis. Or if you want something for powder skiing, well, then a groomer probably won’t cut it.

4) Get out there and demo! You may find that a ski that gets awful reviews is one that suits you perfectly. Hey, they make tons of different skis for a reason. What’s great for one person may be awful for you, and vice versa. The best way to find out is to give them a try.

Bottom line: Keep in mind that reviews are only a small part of ski selection process. The rest is up to you!



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Sex sells. But should it in skiing?

Julia Mancuso for Lange

Julia Mancuso for Lange

Good question. It’s one that’s been generating a fascinating discussion over at TheSkiDiva.com — right now the thread is 12 pages and growing. After all, we’ve all seen the pictures of scantily clad high-profile women skiers posing in nothing but lingerie and ski boots. Does this do them a disservice? Can’t women skiers stand on just their abilities and achievements? Or do they need to be sexually provocative in order to get attention?

As you’d imagine, there are as many opinions on this as there are women on the forum, so my voice is only one of the many. That said, I’ll be upfront: I’m an unabashed feminist. I mean, I get it. People like to look at women’s bodies. They’re beautiful. Even I recognize that. And I realize the window for these women to cash in on their fame is fairly small. They’re big for a year or two, and then, poof! Someone else is in the spotlight. If they find it agreeable to make money posing in skimpy outfits, well, it’s legal and they’re adults. They can do as they like. No argument there.

Nonetheless, I find if profoundly sad that they find it necessary to do this at all. It’s demoralizing when a woman who’s an Olympic-level skier poses suggestively in an ad for ski gear. These are world class athletes who should be celebrated simply for their abilities — not because they’re posing with their tush hanging out of a thong and a come-hither look in their eyes. I think it objectifies them and diminishes their accomplishments. What’s more, I don’t think it does anything to sell to the women’s market — if that’s the intent — and only sexualizes them to men. I mean, I’d buy ski boots a lot quicker if I saw a woman using them to rip down the mountain, instead of posing with them half undressed.

Okay. Deep breath. Enough of a rant.

As I said before, the thread on the forum is long and there are loads of opinions. But here are a few:

• It’s mostly disturbing to me that there are women who feel like they have to do this. Certainly not in a “gun to the head” sort of way, but I don’t think most of us have ever been in the position where we could do the sport we love full time and perhaps improve significantly if we could make the extra money from semi-nude advertisements, or we could try to train while doing another job to make ends meet. THAT is honestly the main concept that disturbs me. And while I like to be optimistic and think that I’d hold my ground and not let that sway my decisions if I were in that position… it might feel different if I were. I also agree that perhaps the MORE annoying thing is that advertisements such as that feel like the company is only concerned with advertising to men. Hah, now if they had a similar photo of a guy on the next page…. ;)

• As I see it, athletes are celebrities. And further, they are celebrities that happen to have pretty brilliant physical attributes due to the fact that they are athletes. So people are going to want to make them into sex symbols. I do see that this happens more with women than with men, sure. Some of it boils down to the fact that men tend to be more visually stimulated and women less so (it’s the same reason why men are more into sex-driven porn while women may tend to find plot-driven porn or literary porn more of a turn-on). Some of it may be patriarchy, etc.  The difference I see now is that woman now can CHOOSE whether they want themselves to be viewed this way. They can choose to be ‘just’ an athlete or they can choose to be a sex symbol. And they can be both.

• First of all, I truly believe that a woman should be free to direct her own future in whatever manner she decides. It is irrelevant whether or not I approve of her choices. Secondly, I do believe that top athletes would be hired as spokespeople regardless of their appearance. Corporations like to hire winners. If the female athletes were not beautiful and sexy, the company would create a different style of advertisement. They want to sell their product. The sad truth is that, in the ski industry, male consumers outnumber female consumers 2 to 1. Those Lange boot ads are not selling to women; they are selling to men. It’s about name brand recognition. If Julia weren’t beautiful, Lange would have created a different style of ad for her. I’m not saying that Lange wouldn’t have done the sexy female athlete ads as well … they would have, but they wanted Julia because she is a winner, a top athlete, and would have created an ad that worked. I am not offended by her choice to pose in sexy ads. She is earning a living while she is still successful.

• Yes, women are entitled to do with their bodies what they want. But when they are told that the only way they can be a role model/public figure/spokesperson is to strip down, it’s not a fair choice anymore. Those Lange posters, like so many others, really market to men. If they marketed to me, they’d give me a woman/skier that I wanted to be. Not an underwear model.

• I think it’s sad that so many Divas (hey, me included) add the caveat of ‘IF I had her athletic body, I’d strip down. too.’ Why if? Who got to decide that my body is less valuable than someone else’s? A whole separate conversation, I know. But that does bring it back to can a women’s sport survive without sexualization of the athletes? In this day and age, right now? Sadly, I don’t think so. Not that I don’t want it that way or think it can never happen. But women equals sex in the public eye. The fact that we say we won’t bare our bodies unless they look a certain way punctuates that for me. It’s something we all need to keep fighting, and continue to change for the next generation. Geez, it’s something I need to keep working on for me! Value my athleticism and drive and passion, not criticize my thighs, love handles and flappy bird arms.

• I think that because the number of pro male athletes is so much greater than the number of pro female athletes that it’s more noticeable when a female athlete does a somewhat provocative ad. Moreover, members of this forum are particularly attuned to female athletes, particularly skiing, to the point where if a male basketball player did a provocative cover or ad, few of us would even know about it. But, we all know when “one of our own” is getting publicity. I’m sure there are dozens of deodorant, soap, razor, aftershave, etc. ads featuring pro MLB, NFL, NBA players either in the shower or locker room wearing only a towel. And sure, they’re not using pouty lips, but you can’t deny that part of the reason they are in the shower or locker room is to somehow attract women watching sports with boyfriends or husbands.

• OK, this is one of my major pet peeves – sexualizing women who should be able to sell magazines, TV ads, etc on their own merits. I fear for our young girls because there are not many strong female role models who do not compromise themselves by selling sex-driven photos. I understand that to make the big money endorsements such as Sports Illustrated covers, female athletes get sexualized. It is just sad that their isn’t a publication that can promote female athletes with more dignity and less sensationalism.

• Athletes compete because this is what they are good at. Pretty women may enjoy posing for the same reason – they are good at it and look good doing this. So is it too difficult to imagine one person being both – a pretty woman and an athlete – and do things they are good at and like doing? I tend to agree that it’s neither good nor bad to their sport, more like neutral. But if there are people who will think less of an athlete and the sport she represents because she chose to pose nude or in some tight clothes, it’s not the athlete who has to change. I would say that the choice they make is a logical one – neither athletic ability nor looks last forever, so it would be reasonable to capitalize on both. And no one is ever “respected” for looks. “Looks” is a visual characteristic that do not command respect. People respect efforts, talents and achievements but not someone’s height or weight or hair colour. But yeah, sure some will be remembered mostly for looks but this is usually because their achievements in their sport are fairly obscure… And to complicated matters worse, you can have someone with remarkable athletic talent and good looks but when this person opens their mouth…. Important lesson here: beware of creating role models.

• It  goes back to expecting too much from sporting figures as role models. If a female entertainer puts on something too sexy for good taste, we just shake our head and change channels. Why can’t we do the same with women skiers/cyclists?

You can read the thread in its entirety here. So what do you think?



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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.



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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


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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.



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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.



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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.

 



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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.



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