The great, completely unscientific energy bars taste test.

Raise your hands — how many of you like to take energy bars to the slopes?

I’m sitting here with my hands firmly on the keyboard. Not just because I’m typing, either, but because I’ve never found an energy bar I really liked. To be fair, maybe I just haven’t looked hard enough. After all, the concept of energy bars is tremendously appealing. It’d be great to bring something along for a quick snack on the lift.

So I thought I’d do a limited, unscientific taste test. Limited, in that I’m only going to test four bars. And unscientific, because it only involves one taster — me.

Here’s what I found:

Zone Perfect (strawberry yogurt): 210 calories. 15g protein, 21g carbs, 7g fat, 1g fiber. A sweet yogurt coating surrounding a grainy strawberry-flavored interior. Not too bad.

Kashi Go Lean (oatmeal raisin cookie): 280 calories. 13g protein, 49g carbs, 5g fat, 6g fiber. Chewy with a sweet exterior coating. Again, not bad.

Clif Energy Bar (carrot cake): 240 calories. 10g protein, 46g carbs, 4g fat, 5g fiber, 4g fat. Doesn’t taste even remotely like carrot cake. In fact, it has a strong cinnamony flavor. No exterior coating. Didn’t like this at all.

PowerBar Performance (apple cinnamon): 230 calories. 9g protein, 45g carbs, 2.5g fat, 3g fiber. Flat, sticky, and hard to remove from the foil packaging. Very gummy texture that turns grainy in your mouth. Has a slight apple flavor and a decidedly non-apple aftertaste. Ugh.

Of course, everyone’s taste is different; you might like something that I don’t, and vice versa. What’s your favorite energy bar? List it here. I’ll test more in the future.

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Sure, I’m sure!

Even though it’s come and gone, here’s a day worth noting: National Women’s Confidence Day.

If you missed it like I did, here’s some background: National Women’s Confidence Day was established on June 7 by Vanity Fair (the lingerie company), and announced to the world by none other than their spokesperson, Queen Latifah. The idea of the day is “to recognize women who project the power of confidence and encourage other women to gain confidence and self-esteem.”

As much as I abhor this as a blatent ploy to sell women’s underwear, I guess I must be a sucker at heart. Because I can’t help but applaud the notion behind it. After all, there’s nothing wrong with encouraging women to be confident.

This is especially important in skiing, a sport where head games can do a real number on you. Lack confidence in your ability, and you can pretty much guarantee yourself a white knuckle, teeth chattering, toe clenching ride down the mountain. In other words, you won’t have any fun. But feel fairly confident, and the run’s a different story.

Seems to me that lack of confidence is more of an issue with women than it is with men. Chalk this up to social conditioning, intimidation, or who knows what. I’m not saying you should over estimate how well you ski and take unwarranted risks. On the other hand, why not give yourself permission to recognize the ability you do have? Instead of talking yourself down, boost yourself up. You’ll ski better, feel better, and have a much better time.

I’m sure of it.

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Try it. You’ll like it.

Well, here I am — back from my trip to Grand Cayman. And even if it wasn’t skiing, it was still a lot of fun.

We swam, snorkeled, relaxed on the beach, read, ate too much — in short, we did all the things one does on vacation in the Caribbean.

What could be bad? The weather was incredible — in the 80’s, nice breeze, bright sun, The water was magnificent, too — a brilliant, clear turquoise unlike anything you’ll see anywhere else. Not cold, either, so you could jump right in without that awful shock you get here in the Northeast.

It made me think: Could there actually be other things in life that’re fun, besides skiing? The short answer is — yes. I mean, I may be crazy about skiing, but I’m not completely crazy.

How dull it’d be if we did the same thing, time after time after time. Whether it’s a new place, a new sport, a new book, or even a new food, trying new things keeps us alive, expands our minds, and makes us better human beings.

Naturally, this even applies to skiing. Trying a new mountain, a new trail, or even a new technique can re-awaken our senses and remind us again why we love the sport.

So when you think about skiing next winter, think about mixing it up a bit. Chances are you’ll like it.

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(Not) Going Skiing.

Believe it or not, even I’ll admit that there are other things in life besides skiing. So starting tomorrow, I’ll be off on a vacation where there won’t be a snowflake in sight.

Actually, I’m pretty excited. I’m headed to Grand Cayman for a week of fun ‘n sun. And I won’t be back til June 17.

I’ve never been to Grand Cayman before, but I have been to the Carribbean — Barbados, St. Thomas, Providenciales. And Bermuda (not in the Caribbean, though it’s Caribbean-like). Anyway, I hear this island’s pretty nice.

What are your vacation plans for the summer? Care to share? Or are you saving all your vacation for that blow-out ski trip this winter? And if so, where do you think you’ll go?

I’ll post when I get back — probably on Sunday, the 18th. So don’t forget to come back then. In the meantime, if you haven’t read my earlier posts, go into my Archives and check ’em out.

I’ll talk to you later.

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Never argue with a woman who reads.

All credit (or blame) for this goes to poster Dorm57 on I know it has nothing to do with skiing, but I thought it was so cute I had to share it with you:

One morning a husband comes back from fishing and decides to take a nap. Although not familiar with the lake, the wife decides to take the boat out, so she motors out, anchors, and begins to read a book.

Not long after, a game warden pulls up beside her boat. “What are you doing here?” he asks.

“Reading a book,” she says (thinking, “Isn’t it obvious?”)

“Ma’am, you’re in a Restricted Fishing Area,” he informs her.

“So what’s the problem, officer? I’m reading, not fishing.”

“Yes, ma’am, but you have all the equipment here, and for all I know you could start fishing at any moment. I’m afraid I’ll have to take you in and write you up.”

The woman says, “That’s fine, and in that case I’m afraid I’m going to have to charge you with sexual assault.”

The game warden says, “Ma’am, you can’t do that. I haven’t touched you, looked at you…I haven’t even gotten into your boat.”

“That’s true,” she says, “but you have all the equipment and for all I know you could start assaulting me at any moment!”

The game warden thinks a bit, then motors off in his boat muttering, “Have a nice day, ma’am.”

Moral: Be careful when arguing with a woman who reads. It’s likely she can also think.

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Jump For Joy!

Well, it’s about time — women ski jumpers may finally be on the way to becoming Olympic competitors!

I don’t know if you’ve been following this story, but ski jumping is the only Olympic sport that doesn’t allow women to compete. And yes, you don’t have to check your calendars; it really is 2006 — not 1906.

Just last week, however, the International Federation of Skiing (FIS) voted to add an individual event in the 2009 World Championships in Liberec, Czech Republic — a necessary step to the sport attaining Olympic status.

Why the hold up? The thought was that there weren’t enough competitors to generate interest for the sport. But according to CBS News, more than 120 women from 14 countries are registered with the FIS as ski jumpers. And nearly half of them are qualified to compete internationally. That gives ski jumping more seasoned competitors than women’s bobsled and skeleton had when those sports were added to the Games in 2002.

So a big congratulations to women ski jumpers like Lindsey Van, Alissa Johnson, and Jessica Jerome. These are hard working, extremely talented women who deserve to compete. Glad they may finally get their chance!

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Summertime Blues.

Okay, so it’s May 27. Memorial Day Weekend. The Official Start of Summer.

Not to panic; we can make it.

After all, if you pick November 15 as the arbitrary beginning of ski season, it’s only five months and 19 days away.

That’s 172 days.

Or 4,128 hours.

Or 247,680 minutes.

Take a deep breath. We can do this.

Count on it.

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People are talking!

It’s May 24th. Do you know where the management of your favorite ski area is?

I do! I do! They’re at the 2006 National Ski Areas Association Convention in Marco Island, Florida.

And do you know what they’re discussing?

Once again, I do! One of the main topics is women and snowsports. Apparently, they’re as concerned as we are about the dearth of women on the slopes.

It only makes good sense to address the women’s ski segment. According to Sports Illustrated, 42% of alpine skiers are female (though you could’ve fooled me). Nonetheless, whatever the number, it’s a group that’s often overlooked and extremely underserved. And not paying attention to it just doesn’t make sense.

Just a couple weeks ago I was contacted by a market research firm that’s addressing the convention. They were trying to figure out why more women don’t ski; why women (especially teenage girls) leave the sport; and how to keep women skiing — all interesting questions on which I tried to provide input, based on feedback I’ve gotten from you, my own observations, and things I’ve read from women posters on AlpineZone and EpicSki.

Hope the Association comes up with some good ideas. We could use ’em.

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Ain’t no harm in that.

I’m embarrassed to admit it, but until recently I thought the words to the Gwen Stefani song, “Ain’t no holla back girl,” were “Ain’t no harm in that, girl.” My daughter informed me otherwise. I guess I’m showing my age.

Anyway, “Ain’t no harm in that” has sort of become a family catch phrase. And I’m using it here to promote exercising during the off season. After all, “Ain’t no harm in that.”

Keeping in shape in the off season can mean fewer sore muscles when ski season rolls around. I go to the gym 5 times a week, where I do half an hour on the ellipitical machine, and half an hour of weight training. On days when it’s just too beautiful to stay indoors, I like to bike (great for leg muscles), roller blade (ditto), hike (ditto), or swim.

The most important thing is to find something you enjoy. That way, you’ll be sure to keep at it. I know, I know — finding the time to exercise with the kids, the job and/or school, laundry, errands, etc. etc. can be a real challenge. But — and I know you’ve heard this before — staying in shape is imperative not just for skiing, but for warding off all kinds of health conditions and for making you feel better all around. (It’s also important for looking great in a swim suit this summer. But that’s for someone else’s blog.) Even if you can only exercise a few times a week, try to make that a regular part of your schedule. The payoff is incredible.

What do you do to keep in shape? Yoga? Pilates? Tennis? Swimming? Walking? Post it here. After all, the fitter you are when the snow starts to fly, the less ibuprofren you’ll have to take next winter — and the more easily you’ll fit into this season’s ski clothes. Ain’t no harm in that, girl!

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February isn’t just for skiing.

Something else exciting is going to happen, too. And although it has nothing to do with skiing or women and skiing, I’m so proud that I have to put it out here:

You see, my husband recently sold his first novel to Random House. It’s called Finn, and it looks like it’ll be in book stores everywhere in February, 2007. Way cool.

Here’s the description from Random House’s catalog:

Wicked meets Cormac McCarthy — a masterful debut centered on one of the most notorious characters in American literature.

In this resonant, remarkable novel, Jon Clinch tells the story of Finn, Huckleberry Finn’s brutal and mysterious father. Finn begins and ends with a lifeless body, the mirror of a corpse glimpsed but unnamed in Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, drifting down the Mississippi. The circumstances of the murder and the secret of the victim’s identity comprise Finn’s story.

Along the way, Clinch introduces the reader to a mesmerizing cast of characters: Finn’s own fearsome father, known only as the Judge; Finn’s brother, the sickly, sycophantic Will; the hermit Bliss, a blind moonshiner; the strong and quick-witted Mary, a former slave who becomes Finn’s mistress; and of course young Huck himself (and the mysterious secret regarding his birth).

Finn is a novel about race, about the stain of slavery, and about the burdens of paternity. Written in a style both precise and thunderous, understated and violently elemental, it draws from our literary heritage to create something original and new. Finn is a hypnotic, completely original, distinctly American story.

Sounds intriguing, doesn’t it? I have to say, too, that it’s one of the best books I’ve ever read. And I’d say that even if it wasn’t my husband who wrote it; it’s that good. What’s more, Jon’s a great skier and a terrific guy. ( I know that’s totally unrelated, but I thought I’d throw it in.) Film and foreign rights are for sale, too. Anyone interested?

By the way, you don’t have had to have read Huckleberry Finn to enjoy Finn. It’s great all on its own.

Jon has a blog you can visit, too: The Horsehair Couch. Be sure to drop in.

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