The Perks of Spring Skiing

27 03 2012

Powder days are dwindling but it’s not all bad. End the season on a high note by taking advantage of these warm-weather perks.

1. Parking Lot BBQs
Nothing says spring like firing up the Weber and blaring the Marley family from your car speakers. While the snow isn’t great, at least you’ve got some grub and suds to enjoy while you lounge in the parking lot with other weekend warriors.

Places known for brining the party to the hill: The Beach at Arapahoe Basin and the Corona Siding lot at Mary Jane (hmm, what a fitting name).

2. Babes in Bikinis, Boys in the Buff
Sure the natural beauty of the mountains is serene but every once in a while you need a little eye candy to rev your engine. And that’s exactly what spring skiing offers. As the sun beats down skiers can help put take off their layers one item at a time. Pretty soon, you’ve got bombshells in bikinis and studs on skis. What’s better than riding the chair with a scantily clad mountaineer from Argentina?

3. Springtime Festivals
Mountain towns know the skiing starts to teeter when the ground hog can’t find his shadow. To compensate they fill the calendar with free concerts. Whether it’s a “farewell winter” festival or something like “Spring Back to Vail,” live music and rowdy college kids are a guarantee.

My personal favorite is the Breckenridge Beer Festival in April. Over 35 breweries and live music make you forget the season is almost over.

4. AM Ski, PM Hike
Or bike, swim, whatever. One my favorite things to do in spring is ski for a few hours early in the morning and just as the slush starts to make an appearance, bee-line it back to Boulder for a hike up the flatirons.

5. Sun-kissed Cheeks
I’m referring to tanned faces here but depending on how far you strip down, you may get more than just your face toasted. While your friends are being kidnapped by the cartel in Tijuana, you’ll be cruising down the hill earning you a natural glow. Who said Spring Break is meant to be spent on the beach?

6. Cerveza, Cerveza, Cerveza
Hot sun. Long lift ride. Why not sip on a cold one? You can finally leave the whiskey blanket at home and cool down with a beer. Never has that frosted bottle looked so good.

7. Farewell Frostbite
Returning to the car and dying to de-layer is a much better feeling than chattering teeth as you wait for the heat to kick in. Let’s face it, the only downside to skiing are the bitter cold days. But not during spring skiing.  Enjoy the high temps and be thankful you can feel your toes.

Winter weather is a give and take but since Ullr hasn’t given us much snow this season let’s take all we can this spring. Make the most of your last few days and embrace the sun.





SIA Snow Show Madness

29 01 2012

Over a thousand vendors, countless after parties, and two days of testing 2012-13 gear at Winter Park, it’s no wonder the snow sports industry was geeking out for the 2012 SIA Snow Show.

Let me set the scene. Imagine every snow sports brand in the industry displaying their 2012-13 gear (skis, boards, boots, apparel, helmets, goggles, headphones, etc.), DJ’s spinning, women struttin’ around in bikinis, business transactions over beer, hippies hoola-hooping on top of buses, the list goes on and on. It’s a shocker anyone gets any business done.

The showroom is set up so that the skiing booths are in one area with the snowboard booths in another. After a few hours of our booth I wandered out of the ski area and into what felt like a rave – snowboard country – or as my editor Ryan likes to call it, “The Mason Dixon Line.” And that’s no exaggeration.

Photo courtesy SIA

Amongst the music and neon colors, brand head honchos, sales reps, and retailers hop from appointment to appointment-shaking hands and making deals.

In my case, I wasn’t buying gear or negotiating contracts so I focused on networking and scoping out the latest trends. One trend I noticed, the place was chalked full of high tech gadgets. A few I saw:

  • Smith Optics I/O Recon goggle – These goggles plug into your smart phone and have a mini screen that reflects onto the lens. You can read texts, scroll through music, and check your mountains stats. Steve Jobs would be proud. MSRP: $650 (Ouch!)
  • O-range solar panel backpack – With welded seams, LED light, and attachable solar panel, this pack uses sunshine to charge anything with a USB port. MSPR: between $300 and $800+
  • Bern Gloves/Mittens with removable wrist guard– Sensible and safe, wear these on the mountain to keep your fingers toasty and your wrists protected. Or, take the guards out and wear them on the concrete

    Photo courtesy SIA.

Backcountry, Sidecounty, Big Country, whatever you want to call it, skiing beyond the resort boundary is the biggest trend of 2012-13. It seems as if every brand is jumping on the bandwagon and developing some product tailored for use in the backcountry.

Salomon has a backcountry specific binding, designed to fit fatter skis used in deep powder. K2 is releasing an entire sidecountry line. Backcountry Access is selling a pack which houses an airbag to keep you atop the snow during an avalanche. Not to mention almost every hardgoods brand has a backcountry ski that’s at least 100mm underfoot.

After an exciting but exhausting weekend in the showroom, it’s time to ditch the fluorescent lights and test some hardgoods on the snow. Off to Winter Park for the on-snow demo.





Springsteen’s “We Take Care of Our Own” Echoes BITUSA

20 01 2012

*Forewarning, this has nothing to do with skiing, but rather my other true passion – Bruce Springsteen.

After three long years and two E-Street losses, The Boss returns with his 17th studio album, Wrecking Ball. Those fortunate enough to have heard the album claim it’s “his angriest yet.” This comes as no surprise. Bruce isn’t one to shy away from issues of politics, social justice, and socioeconomic struggle. It anything, Bruce is a political activist using Rock & Roll as a medium to share a message.

The title and chorus of his first single, “We Take Care of Our Own,” sounds optimistic and utterly patriotic – just what we need in this shaky climate of war, recession, and uncertainty. Right? No. Bruce is never that simplistic.

Photo courtesy Backstreets.com

The phrase “we take care of our own” is associated with American patriotism. On the same caliber of “united we stand,” this phrase is one that many American’s hold dear proudly hold to be true. Hmm, maybe Gingrich will use this as him campaign anthem. On second thought, he might want to listen to the lyrics more closely.

I can’t help but be reminded of “Born in the USA” when listening to this new track. What at first sounds like a pro-American anthem, is actually riddled with the misfortune and suffocating circumstances of being born in America (being forced to fight in Vietnam, joblessness, losing loved ones to war, etc.) Bruce isn’t praising our country in BITUSA, rather, he is excavating the harsh realities and truths that so many of use are too prideful to acknowledge and accept.

“We Take Care of Out Own,” appears to be sending a similar message. While the track is charged with phrases associated with American patriotism (“the bugle blown,” “the work that will set my hands free, my soul free,” “sea to shinning sea,” and “wherever this flag’s flown”), Bruce is telling us that these phrases stand on hallow ground. They’re claims, not realities.

It’s possible Bruce is addressing the U.S. government and our political leaders with this message. Yet, it may also be a cry to fellow Americans – if our government and leaders cannot take care of us then we must do what is within our power to take care of one another.

After listening a few times, the title begins to sting. We aren’t being praised. This song isn’t a pat on the back. It’s a brutal reality check, implying that our message has been soiled and swept under the rug.

Echoing BITUSA, “We Take Care of Our Own,” seizes ideals that we hoist for the world to see, scratches off the gild, and exposes the stark reality of their core. I’m not suggesting that American’s have fallen short. I don’t believe Bruce is either. Rather, I believe he is directing his message to our leaders and those of us who blindly follow them.

      We yelled ‘help’ but the cavalry stayed home,

      There ain’t no one hearing the bugle blown,

      We take care of our own,

In my eyes, Bruce’s message is as simple as, “you aren’t practicing what you preach.”

The political undertones of his album Magic were indirect hits to the Bush administration, the War in Iraq, and other acts that the American government has committed against foreign countries and its own people. I believe his latest album, Wrecking Ball, is going to extrapolate these realities. The track lists suggests this and knowing The Boss, he will once again echo the cries and concerns of his countrymen.

I’ve been knockin’ on the door that holds the throne
I’ve been lookin’ for the map that leads me home
I’ve been stumblin’ on good hearts turned to stone
The road of good intentions has gone dry as bone
We take care of our own
We take care of our own
Wherever this flag’s flown
We take care of our own

From Chicago to New Orleans
From the muscle to the bone
From the shotgun shack to the Superdome
We yelled “help” but the cavalry stayed home
There ain’t no-one hearing the bugle blown
We take care of our own
We take care of our own
Wherever this flag’s flown
We take care of our own

Where the eyes, the eyes with the will to see
Where the hearts, that run over with mercy
Where’s the love that has not forsaken me
Where’s the work that set my hands, my soul free
Where’s the spirit that’ll reign, reign over me
Where’s the promise, from sea to shining sea
Where’s the promise, from sea to shining sea
Wherever this flag is flown
Wherever this flag is flown
Wherever this flag is flown

We take care of our own
We take care of our own
Wherever this flag’s flown
We take care of our own
We take care of our own
We take care of our own
Wherever this flag’s flown
We take care of our own

For the latest on Springsteen and the E-Street Band visit Backstreets.com.





What’s Your Slope Style?

21 12 2011

You can tell a lot about a skier by their attire. Here are the most notorious slope styles on the scene right now.

THE SOCCER MOM

This is the skier you go to for hot cocoa and granola bars. She pulled up in her minivan stocked with extra socks and coloring books to keep you busy on the drive up.

Threads: The soccer mom sports a onesie or snowsuit with pants that resemble her mom jeans. She has a fleece neck warmer even if it’s 50 degrees out. A helmet is protecting her noggin and mittens keep her hands toasty.

Gear: Rentals she found with a Groupon discount

What’s in Her Pack: This minivan momma has everything to take care of six kids on the slopes. Chapstick, SPF 1,000 sunscreen, Kleenex, and extra hand warmers fill her fanny pack.

Where You’ll Find Her: If you can’t reach her on her Walkie-Talkie, look for her in the lodge handing out PB&Js (sans crust). She’ll reapply your sunscreen and make sure you’re drinking enough water. If she’s not in the lodge then she’s at Ski School checking on your progress and asking you to pose for photos with your instructor.

Favored Terrain: The Soccer Mom likes to stick to the groomers. She’s past the Magic Carpet but too cautious to tackle a Black. If she’s feeling really saucy, she may venture to a Blue. Most comfortable cruising down the greens, the S-Mom stays in control and has perfected her Pizza stop.

 

THE NATIVE

Take Grizzly Adams, toss him a flask of Hot Damn, throw him on a pair of 1965 Rossignol Starto’s and you have The Native. This guy’s been here since the mountain opened and has never stepped foot inside the lodge. He hunts for dinner in the same backcountry that he was shredding two hours prior.

Gear: You can spot this guy by his faded ski jacket and Carhartt hat he found at a gas station. His beard is his neck warmer and his raccoon eyes help camouflage him from ski patrol.

Gear: Let’s just say he can still rip on boards that were built before the first high speed quad.

What’s in His Pack: The only thing he’s packing, besides a wicked daffy, is the elk jerky he smoked outside of his tent.

Where You’ll Find Him: If you can find him, he’s skinning to the summit or dashing through the trees. The Native avoids the base and Gondola at all costs. Why wait in lines when you can ski the backcountry?

Preferred Terrain: Steeps and chutes unsoiled by tourists.

 

THE ASPEN APRÈS

There’s more than one breed of cougar roaming the mountain. Both have fur and a strong bite but one preys on rabbits while the other preys on men in they’re 20’s.

Threads: Decked to the nine’s in a matching Spyder ski suit, complete with fur-lined hood, this Cougar never leaves her ski-in/ski-out condo without her Versace sunglasses.

Gear: Top of line skis, boots, and bindings that her Sugar Daddy bought for her.

What’s in Her Pack: An iPhone, lip stick, and Visa Black Card.

Where You’ll Find Her: The Aspen Après is all about the après so she’s at the bar, sipping a dry martini and flirting it up with the Argentinian ski instructor she snatched off the lift. About 80 percent of her “ski time” is spent in the lodge and the other 20 percent is spent on the slopes, not skiing, but scouting her next prey.

Favored Terrain: The shops and boutiques. Mind you, this is expert terrain. With impeccable form, the Aspen Après maneuvers the sales associate, skirts through the fitting room, and slides her plastic through the credit card machine in record time.

 

THE GAPER

Now, the Gaper knows he’s a gaper. That’s the whole point. He wants people to look at him and know he’s funny. The truth is, he probably would be fun to have a beer with and shoot the shit. Let’s just hope his skills are as gape as his style.

Threads: The Gaper goes to every extent to bring back the neon of the 80’s. A one-piece neon snowsuit and pair of throwback Scott goggles make up this guy’s garb. Note: He is not the original owner of this apparel. All items were gathered from eBay or a thrift store.

Gear: A pair of rear entry ski boots and 115mm skis that he uses on groomers.

What’s in His Pack: A digital camera to document his style, a Rockstar energy drink, and some Pabst he proudly chugs in the lift line.

Where You’ll Find Him: Other than the movie Flashdance? Well, he’s still hung over from the night before and hasn’t made it to the parking lot yet. Cut him some slack. At about 3 pm you can find him at the lodge buying a round of Jäger Bombs for his friends Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince.

Favored Terrain: The Gaper’s skill level can range, but most aren’t as fresh as their style may suggest. He’s probably at the park…watching the other guys. When not at the park he’s in the lift line showing off his tubular attire.

 

THE FLATLANDER

This is the guy you hear all the locals complaining about. They think he’s out of control and ignorant to ski etiquette, but really he’s just loves that he could sneak away from his nine-to-five daily grind. He’s a humble skier but not the guy you want to play follow-the-leader with.

Threads: Denim jeans, a Starter jacket (probably the Green Bay Packers), and a knit hat from Cabela’s.

Gear: Rentals or a pair of skis caked in two inches of dust

What’s in His Pack: A few cans of Old Style, a trail map that he can’t read, a ski pass he will lose, and a bag of salted peanuts.

Where You’ll Find Him: In the beginning of the day he’ll be reeking havoc on the greens and blues, but once he builds his confidence he’ll hit up the double blacks and possibly get lost in avalanche territory. Most likely, he will avoid ending his day on the stretcher only because he turned in early to catch the Packers game.

Favored Terrain: The mountains a bit taller than the landfill The Flatlander is used to skiing on so he’s going to take full advantage of the terrain. You’ll be able to point him out from the base because he’s the guy who yard-saled after barreling through the Ski School line. Don’t worry; ski patrol is on their way.

 

THE STEEZE

Add one part Terrain Park plus one part underground Dubstep and you’ve created The Steeze. A fairly new brand of skier, The Steeze feels it’s his mission to bring style back to the ski scene, thus trash talking boarders in the park.

Threads: A tall tee or basketball jersey over a sweatshirt, mirrored goggles, a neon bandana and a long beanie.

Gear: Twin-tip indie brand skis and Beats by Dr. Dre.

What’s in His Pack: A can of Redbull, American Spirit spliffs and a wristband from the club he was at last night.

Where You’ll Find Him: In the morning he’s in the parking lot putting on his gear and zoning out to Skrillex . After hitting up the pipe for a few hours, The Steeze will hop on the bus and head to the watering hole where he pretends to bond with the locals over a Vodka Redbull.

Favored Terrain: The Steeze is a park rat. Thinking he’s in a Tony Hawk video game, this guy will try to jib anything without a pulse.





Women Beware: Mustaches Invade College Campuses

17 11 2011

Facial hair is attacking the upper lips of young males everywhere

             

College campuses, city parks, and house parties across the nation are falling victim to mustache mania.

Most women are used to hair adorning their grandfather’s smiles but are witnessing their boyfriends, co-workers and acquaintances applaud in the mirror as they spot new follicles.

While the style of large collars and bell-bottom jeans faded with the disco ball it seems the mustache of the 70’s is making a comeback.

The recent resurgence of the mustache is due largely to Movember, a national campaign to raise funds for prostate cancer research. During November, men grow mustaches in return for donations to the Movember Foundation.

Employees of the Bonnier Corporation are taking Movember to a new level. They prance around the office congratulating each other on their growth. They offer grooming advice and styling tips at the water cooler. They serenade female coworkers with the works of Freddie Mercury.

Movember Team Pow Stash of Bonnier Corp

At Bonnier there are no style restrictions. Editor of Skiing Business Ryan Dionne is boldly attempting to grow a Fu Manchu. “My wife told me that if I was going to grow a mustache I had to be creative,” said Dionne. “She started to shape it and this is what she came up with.”

Others are taking a more traditional approach. “I’m going for the classic Tom Selleck look,” said Kevin Luby of Skiing Magazine. Luby joined the Bonnier Movember team saying his father had prostate cancer last year and believes this is a great excuse to model a mustache.

Movember isn’t the only reason for this outbreak of nose ornaments. Some men simply love sporting a mustache says Brian Schroy, team manager at Empire Attire. Brian is taking part in Movember but was cultivating a mustache long before the campaign.

Schroy finds several positives to donning a mustache, “It’s a great flavor savor when drinking hot chocolate and tends to attract the ladies.”

While a mustache may be a form of peacocking for Schroy, it doesn’t fare well with all women. “There’s a fine line between an attractive male with a mustache and one that looks like he crawled out of a cave,” said CU-Boulder student Tessa Chatara Middleton.

Middleton prefers a more natural looking mustache but says cleanliness is key. “Sometimes I can’t help but stare,” she said. “I once thought a squirrel was attacking a man’s face but discovered it was his mustache.”

Middleton isn’t the only woman to stare. “I got a lot of strange looks,” said engineering student Jon Severns.

Severns wore a mustache last spring but decided to shave it for career purposes. “It wasn’t as thick and full as I would have liked but I think it was pretty decent,” he said.

Kevin Luby (left) and Tucker Neary (right) toast to male grooming

As Movember rolls on, the mustache craze continues to bloom. Men are deciding whether to welcome the facial accessory or take it to the clippers. Some will follow Severns and snip away the hair while others, like Schroy, will proudly display it at the local watering hole.

“The ability to grow a mustache is the mark of a true gentleman,” said Schroy. ”It’s very Gatsby.”

Common Mustache Styles

Common Mustache Styles   





Dream…Like There’s No Tomorrow

15 11 2011

Music was blaring and beer was flowing as friends and family of Warren Miller Entertainment packed the Boulder Theater for a showing of Warren Miller’s Like There’s No Tomorrow.

Talk of La Nina and Opening Days echoed throughout the box office line. Once I made my way inside the theater, a sea of flannel and neon confirmed I was in the right place. After talking with a few buddies from Warren Miller and Skiing Business I grabbed a bottle from Odell (the official beer sponsor of SKI and SKIING and dibbsed a front row seat.

Dreaming about snow days and record storms, I’ve been counting down to winter since I hung up my skis last season. Beside the artful cinematography and sick skiing, Warren Miller films add a humanistic quality to the sport by featuring background stories on the people we watch barrel through the powder. These are the stories that inspire me to not only pursue the sport but also the lifestyle.

Lynsey Dyer speaking about She Jumps, her non-profit organization that works to increase female participation in outdoor activities.

The opening scene isn’t what you’d expect- skiers plowing their way to the summit on snowmobiles. No. It’s men draped in traditional Indian garments hauling skis on crickety sleds through the untamed Himalayas. Instead of retired ski bums handing out granola bars and trail maps its military officials toting AK-47s. Lynsey Dyer and Lel Tone expose us to an entirely new skiing culture as they plan their first ascents just yards away from the Pakistani border.

Back to the states. The film takes us to Squaw Valley, California where we meet Jack Walsh. At 93 years old, Walsh shreds like a guy in his 30’s. He’s been skiing Squaw since it first opened in the 1940s and doesn’t plan to retire any time soon.

Walsh embodies everything I aspire to be as a skier. His untainted respect for Mother Nature and intimacy with the mountain is something I greatly admire. I feel a chill run down my spine as Walsh gave his skiing testimony.

Onward to New Zealand where white patches on the hills aren’t snow; they’re sheep. Ted Davenpot and Sam Smothy tour New Zealand’s South Island dropping lines and trying their a hand at sheep herding.

This scene reminded me of my “Skiing Bucket List”- all the places I want to ski before I die. Needless to say, I made a mental note to place New Zealand at the top.

Portillo, Norway, and Alaska are just a few of the other locations featured in Like There’s No Tomorrow. It’s one thing to see pros tearing up these mountains; it’s another to be the one making the tracks. Not only did this film amp me up for the season, it left me with great daydreaming material.





Corduroy at Key

11 11 2011

Ski season in Summit County has been open for a few weeks now and it’s been killing me to hear everyone at Ski and Skiing brag about their first runs. When my friend called to say he was heading up this Friday I couldn’t say “no”. So after about four phone calls and five emails, I was able to get the day off work, sneak away from Skiing Business and hit the slopes.

I tuned my skis while telling the roomies five times throughout the night that I was going skiing. I had to make sure they didn’t forget. Plus, I wanted to make them jealous.

Spring Dipper

The plan was to hit Breck for opening day but when we saw the turnoff for Keystone we became too impatient. We had to get on the hill NOW, so Key it was.

It was a toasty 40 degrees with bluebird skies. Not bad for my first day up. We waited about fifteen minutes for the lifts to open and got first tracks – the perks of waking up early.

I’m guessing four runs are open but since the crowd was small there isn’t too much cuddling. The first few runs are pure corduroy. We made a chorus of wooden spoons on washboards as we skied down. The surrounding mountains are pretty bare except for the peaks. Give it a month or so and it will look like a scene out of a Jack London novel. The Almanac pros are expecting another La Nina season. Fingers crossed.

It took less than a run to vow I would never move back to Chicago. Nothing against the Windy City but its lacking a little vertical. Graduation is six months away and the life of a skiing nomad doesn’t sound too bad right now.

Making the white stuff

Got my ski legs back and I can’t stop cheesin’. This is what I live for! It may not be the best conditions or terrain but hell, I’m skiing on November 11. Sharing the mountain with locals and kids who ditch class just to get a few turns in; I wouldn’t have it any other way.

After hootin’ and hollerin’ all morning I called it a day when I was starting to skate more than ski. It’s easier to unstrap your boots when you know there’s a whole season ahead of you. After, toasting the day with an Oktoberfest at Kickapoo Tavern we loaded up the gear and headed home to the 60 degree weather. Needless to say I left my skis in the trunk…why bother hauling them in when I’ll be back on Sunday?








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