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April 30, 2006

And With The Tenth Pick in the 2006 NFL Draft

Quarterback, Southern California, Matt Leinart.

My lasting impression of Matt Leinart will always be him just getting lit up on a late hit by Dale Robinson in the ASU-USC game last year and ending up getting stitched up on the sideline. Taking a series off. And coming back and rallying SC for a win over ASU.

Mind you it is not a pleasant memory. It was heartbreak. But Leinart is tough. And a leader. And a great pick for the Cards. He gets to learn from Kurt Warner. He would have gone number one overall last year and instead slipped to number 10.

Oh, yeah. When he does take the reins from Kurt, he gets to hand the ball to Edge. And throw to Anquan and Fitzgerald. Talk about an offense.

Am I really excited about THE CARDINALS? Almost makes you forget the Suns are down 2-1 against the Lakers. Back to the game and praying that Nash and Co. can find a way to get their heads straight. Shawn Marion has decided to take three games off. Rarely have I seen him play worse. Missed dunks and layups. Missed easy 10 foot shots. Lacking defense. Getting posted up by Luke Walton. Time to turn it up.

Posted by Justin at 02:09 PM

April 29, 2006

Hosting Matters Hit by DOS Attack

The Good Folks at Wizbang explained why my site was down yesterday.

The reason for the problem: Hosting Matters is experiencing a Denial of Service attack. They're working to block it now.

More info on DoS attacks: Wikipedia: Denial-of-service attack.

UPDATE at 4/28/06 8:43:47 am:

Although LGF is also at Hosting Matters, we were moved to a different network after experiencing a similar attack. (That's why we're still up.)

UPDATE at 4/28/06 8:48:17 am:

I may have spoken too soon; some parts of the LGF system are beginning to act a bit flaky.

UPDATE at 4/28/06 9:27:25 am:

The attack reportedly originates in Saudi Arabia.

My site was very flaky yesterday and this explains why. Lots of blogs are hosted at Hosting Matters and they have been an awesome host for me. DOS attacks are just plain mean. I hope that Al Qaeda in Saudi Arabia is not upset anything posted at Ski Blog. The last thing I need is a cyber-jihad declared on my site. I mean, I supported the indoor ski area in Dubai. What more can a skier like me do?

I'll admit that I did watch the recent South Park episode with Mohammed in it, so maybe it has something to do with that. Good times! But we are back up and running now.

Posted by Justin at 06:37 PM

Snowbowl Offers Pass Credit For Season Pass Holders

Snowbowl is offering credits for folks that purchased season passes for this year since the resort was only open ten days.

This past winter has been a challenge for everyone; the lack of snow and shortened season is not what anyone imagined after a record setting winter. Luckily we were able to rally enough employees and open for a brief period in March and April. As a result the need for Snowbowl to make snow is more paramount then ever. Another fact is that this year temperatures would have allowed us to make snow as early as November and we could have been fully open by the Christmas holidays. The ability to succeed as a viable business and continue necessary improvements to the ski area depends on consistent snow and skier visitation.
...
The Peaks belong to everyone and Snowbowl has always been willing to share and accommodate religious beliefs and practices as we also have been, and will continue to be, good stewards of the land. The opposition would have you believe otherwise as in their latest communication; “If you choose to support Snowbowl you are supporting the attempts at further violations of the religious beliefs of hundreds of thousands of people”.

There is irony in the actions of the appellants in that the White Mountain Apaches own and operate Sunrise Ski Area on what they consider a sacred mountain, and on which they make snow with reclaimed water. The Yavapai Apache irrigate their casino grounds with reclaimed water and the list could go on. To add insult to injury there is little financial risk to the plaintiffs – no requirement to post a bond or reimburse legal costs with a losing decision.

...

Because of the short season, 05/06 Season Passholders will be given the option to renew their season passes for the 06/07 season at a 50% discount.

It is rare for a ski resort to give Season Pass holders a discount based on weather. When you buy a season pass, you place your $399 in the Weather's hands. And if the weather is bad, you stand to lose $399. But to most folks, $399 is not a huge amount of money. What if you had invested say $10M and were depending completely on the weather to get your investment back? Well, guess what, that is Snowbowl's situation. For all the folks that felt ripped off by the 10 Day season who bought season passes, how do you think the resort feels? And then the resort turns around and offers a refund. That is classy and a smart business move.

What is not classy gets back to the original issue. Sacred mountain. Force a business to pay almost $3.5M in legal fees to stay in business, a business that they have already been told at multiple levels including the US Supreme Court who refused to hear the previous case of Wilson vs. Block that was filed in 1979 to shut the resort down. The Navajos have never prevailed at any level, but they simply have to find enough money to file a lawsuit and have little to lose.

The lawsuit rests entirely upon the religious rights of a small group of people to dictate what the Forest Service can do with the land that they are in charge of. Plain and simple. Does Snowbowl have the right to follow through with the previously approved improvements on Forest Service Land or does the Navajo Nation, the Hopis, and the Sierra Club have the right to declare any mountain or other Federal Land a "holy place" and shut down all commerce or activity there.

This is a mountain located 120 miles from a metropolitan area of 4M people. Offering a great sport that encourages enjoyment of nature. The resort is a wonderful caretaker of the land and provides a valuable recreational opportunity for hundreds of thousands of skier visits. The same folks that want Snowbowl shut down are out trying to "drain Lake Powell" and have blinders on. They want to stop all logging. They want to deny the rest of us enjoyment of multi-use Forest land because one group believes the area to be sacred and other groups don't like the fact that the area is not pristine in its natural wonder.

What bothers me the most about this is not that the Navajos have a beef with Snowbowl. It is the hangers on like the WMA tribe and the Sierra Club that have attached their agendas to the religious beliefs of the Navajos. That have pooled funds to use the religious beliefs of the Navajos to advance their own either financial (WMA) or environmental (Sierra Club) agenda. The environmental impact has been studied over and over by the Forest Service and scientists and is a closed case. So now the hangers on are pumping money into suing for Sacred Lands for the Navajos. And all of the financial burden of this are placed on Snowbowl. What a system when outside groups can effectively shut someone else's business down by proxy funding a lawsuit over religious beliefs of a people that they have absolutely nothing to do with.

Posted by Justin at 01:00 PM

April 27, 2006

I Stand Corrected

Yesterday I said the following:

And that is why I love the Suns. It is crisp passing. It is team work. It is chemistry. And it is a bunch of guys who are undersized outhussling and out working their opponents.

Tonight it was none of the above. The Suns dropped a game to the Lakers and now a best of 7 becomes a best of 5 with LA having home court.

The phrase is dance with who brung ya. Gotta remember what got you here and get back to it. The offense is stagnant. No bench play. The bench scored 4 points tonight. Marion had an awful shooting night and is laboring to get shots off over Odom. The team is reliant on 3's going down and Nash is having his passing lanes closed down.

Time to make adjustments and get at least one win in LA.

Posted by Justin at 02:35 AM

April 26, 2006

Heading to See the TWO TIME NBA MVP--Steve Nash

It is Unofficially Official that Steve Nash will repeat as NBA MVP.

Suns star Steve Nash will be named the NBA's Most Valuable Player for a second straight season, according to a league source familiar with the voting.

The announcement may not come for two weeks, like last season's May 8 ceremony. The votes have been tabulated in what was expected to be a close race with LeBron James, Dirk Nowitzki, Chauncey Billups and Kobe Bryant.

US Airways Center will be rocking tonight as the Suns seek to take a 2-0 lead over the Lakers in the Best of Seven first round series.

Wil and I were having a fairly spirited debate over what is wrong with baseball at his new blog baseballtopia.com two weeks ago. While we agree that baseball is not the same game it was, not all of the changes have been bad. I love Interleague play for instance. Certainly the nature of sports is changing. Less team play. More money. Agents often times hold more sway than coaches. Endorsement money pays far more than what a player makes for going out onto the field, course, or court each day. And individual accomplishments such as Home Runs or Dunks trump team accomplishments--like say involving teammates or winning.

Tonight's game and this entire series between Phoenix and the Lakers is a test of a team sport and team game versus a "me" player and a "me" game. Kobe did his best to get Odom and his other teammates involved in game one. And the Lakers still lost. So now, expect Kobe jacking up 40+ shots this game.

This is about AI's rant "practice-we're talking about practice, not a game" and the Kobe's of the world that score 50 in a loss. This is about Ron Artest who got suspended to the detriment of the Kings last night or for the entire last season over the brawl.

Until last year, I was an NBA HATER (in caps) because the Suns had a roster consisting of another "me" player, Marbury. There was no chemistry. Guys were looking to get their 20 touches per game. And the entire team was competing with itself to get shots and touches as well as to pad their own stats and get a larger endorsement contract from a shoe company. Steve Nash is so fun to watch. This team makes an extra pass to an open shooter. They dish and make layups. They make their free throws.

My argument is simply that a lot of the blame for the landscape of pro sports today is that players no longer practice free throws or passing or bunting or defense. There is no more sliding hard into second to break up a double play because the short stop has the same agent as you or you play golf together in the off season. These wonderful games of finesse and pitching and defense and teamwork have become thugfests of hard fouls and brutality under the basket. Of power hitters who don't play defense and guys that cannot make a free throw in clutch time but can do windmill dunks.

And that is why I love the Suns. It is crisp passing. It is team work. It is chemistry. And it is a bunch of guys who are undersized outhussling and out working their opponents. Their slogan for last year was "Working Hard--Playing Harder". Who admires hard work these days?

Well apparently someone is noticing. Mike D'Antoni finished second in Coach of the Year balloting and Nash won another MVP. The award should be renamed to MVT--as in most valuable teammate as that is what Nash is. A team guy in a me sport.

Posted by Justin at 12:42 PM | Comments (1)

Follow Up on Economics of Being a Skier

So I was thinking about things that I have to get done for next season and one of them is buying my season pass. Turns out that most resorts have season pass sales right at the end of the previous season and this is when prices are lowest. Here is the deal at Brian Head:

Adult Season Pass = $339
Minus College Student Discount of $50 = $289

If you do a family pass, you get discounts on everyone's pass by lumping them all together. With my kids set to attend school in Utah next winter, the kids' passes were only $89 each. Turns out, for me, Tera, Jeremy, Jake, Jackson, and Jarrett, the total ran right at $900. The boys all have their own equipment (Jarrett's is too big since it is hand-me-downs from Jake), so we don't have to do rentals. They have smokin' deals on season rentals too, but I am not sure all the details.

Seriously, check out Brian Head and give them a call about Season Passes before it is too late. Tracy in the pass office tends bar part time at the Navajo lodge and is one of the coolest people on the mountain to talk to. She will hook you up and at $289 (before the discount for buying a family pass), it only takes 6-7 days on the mountain before you are skiing for free. For the kids, it is more like 3 days.

And why am I already making preparations for the 2006-07 season already?

Posted by Justin at 12:31 AM

April 25, 2006

Economics of Being a Skier

Last week, I wrote about the Economics of the Ski Industry, and was commenting to a post at Highly Obsessed about the Housing Crisis at many resorts.

Just for sake of argument, let's assume that you are lucky enough to live within 6 hours of a resort. Figure that is LA or San Diego residents going to Mammoth or Brian Head or San Francisco residents going to Tahoe, Phoenix going to Sunrise, etc. You are just out of day trip distance, so you have to stay overnight. For two days (drive early and ski one, stay over night, ski day two, drive back that day), you spent $100-200 on gas, $150 on lift tickets, $50 on food, $100 on hotel room. That is $400-500 for a two day trip and if you are lucky you can get two or three buddies to split the cost of the gas and hotel. Even split 4 ways, the trip still costs around $300 and that is for two days.

Not including rentals or the cost of equipment, how does a young person afford the trip? You either have an awesome job, someone else paying the bill (mommy or daddy), or are involved in some kind of illegal activity. If you live at a resort and have a season pass, the cost comes down tons, but is still sick expensive.

Basically, our sport is filled with either hardcore guys who are willing to earn $7.50 an hour and work at the resort for their season pass, or rich folks. There is a third category of locals that have better paying jobs within driving distance and have season passes, but these tend to be older folks, not teens and twenties. I sometimes wonder where I fit in to that equation. I certainly am not rich, but found a niche where skiing at an off the beaten path resort and having season passes, as well as buying a low cost condo and fixing it up has made it affordable. But it is still expensive. I am probably the season pass local guy that has a real job, but since I bounce between Phoenix and Brian Head, I still spend the money on gas.

The sport is a sport of haves. There are no have-nots. There are some dudes that show up with 20 year old skis and wear their work coveralls, but now a pair of ski pants costs almost $100. I ebay my skis, bindings, and boots; shop end of season for jackets, pants, gloves, etc.; have a condo at the resort; and have season passes. I have about $3,000 in equipment, between my skis (2 sets), wife's, kids' (3 sets), and snowboards (2). Got another $2-3,000 in jackets, pants, gloves, etc. Own a condo ($1000 per month). And pay $1000 for the season passes for me, the wife, and the kids. The only thing making it afforable is ironically, the rising home and condo prices at the resort. My condo has gone up almost $50k in value in 6 months alone.

The Irony of things is the affordability of the sport for me is directly tied to the increasing property values of my condo. The higher prices go, the easier it is for me to justify continuing to own a condo at the resort and continuing to ski there. Even if I don't ski, I would end up like most of the other condo owners in our complex and have a place that I rent out and make money off the appreciation.

I do my best to make the sport affordable for friends and family by letting the use the condo for free and by arranging to carpool to the resort. By helping them find deals on equipment. But in the end, the sport is fast approaching being completely out of reach for most people. And were it not for my condo and season pass, I certainly could not afford to ski more than 5-10 days a year.

Posted by Justin at 02:41 PM | Comments (2)

April 23, 2006

Suns-Lakers Game 1 Update

Game one belonged to the Suns as they beat LA and held Kobe to 7-21 shooting and took a 1-0 advantage in the first round series 107-102.

This was my brother Jeremy's first Suns playoff game despite going to several regular season games over the last few years. The atmosphere is completely different. Solid Orange. Rowdy. Loud. And despite the loss of Amare several weeks ago, hopeful.

The Suns have a much easier road this year than last and manage to avoid both the Mavs and the Spurs until the Western Conference Finals, assuming they can beat the lower half of the bracket. In a strange bit of quirkiness, the Clippers as the 6 seed play a Denver team that does not have home court advantage as a 3 seed. Memphis won the honor of facing Dallas in the first round despite being a 5 seed. So lose and finish 6th and you get home court. Win and finish 5th and you get the Mavs on the road who are almost 20 games better than Denver. Phoenix's half includes Denver, the LA Clippers, and the Lakers (who Phoenix has not lost to with Nash in the lineup since his Phoenix return).

Tim Thomas continues to be the best mid-season addition in the league and poured in 22 today and grabbed 15 boards. The Suns defense was smothering at times which was a pleasant surprise, despite several horrible foul calls. When Phoenix was called for their fourth personal barely 3 minutes into the 1st QTR, it set the tone. But a victory is a victory and this is number one of sixteen.

Posted by Justin at 07:17 PM

April 20, 2006

Suns-Lakers Starts the Playoffs

"I'm coming to play," Marion said of being in ABC's prime slot Sunday. "We're going to go out with one thing we're focusing on - that big-ass trophy at the end of the road."

Fifty-four wins. 54. No Amare. 54 wins. No Joe Johnson or Quentin Richardson. 54 Wins. Second seed in the Western Conference. Fourth best record in the league. Too small. No rebounding. Steve Nash's health. Too much roster turnover. Some 6'7" French guy that was not good enough to play in Atlanta is your starting Center.

It is hard to make an argument that a team that loses two top tier players that averaged 20 pts this year and almost 30 last year in Joe Johnson and Amare respectively, is better than a team that won 62 games and contended for the Western Conference Championship. Last year's team had six guys that played, maybe seven. This year's team is even more fun to watch and is deep and talented. Perhaps even better chemistry.

So to the doubters who said at the beginning of the year that Amare's loss would doom the Suns. They would be lucky to win 30 games. Nash did not deserve the MVP. Blah blah blah. 54 Wins. Five Four. And now it is on. National TV against the Lakers. The Flash of Kobe versus the Suns team game, great shooting, and the most unselfish team in the league. Enjoy the games on ABC starting Sunday. I will be enjoying Kobe scoring 50 in a loss in person. Let him score his 50. And the Suns will win by 20 as usual.

Posted by Justin at 11:03 AM

April 18, 2006

The Economics of the Ski Industry

You can tell a lot about a company by reading their financials... matter of fact, you can tell almost everything about a company by reading them. Let's have a look at American Ski Company, who runs Steamboat, the Canyons, and several resorts back east:

PARK CITY, UTAH – March 15, 2006 – American Skiing Company (OTCBB: AESK) today announced its financial results for the second quarter of fiscal 2006. The Company reported strong results in its Christmas/New Years and Presidents' Day holiday periods, and slightly lower skier visits than in the prior fiscal year in the East in January (excluding New Years) due principally to weather related difficulties at its eastern resorts. At Steamboat and The Canyons in the West, the Company recorded a 12% increase in skier visits for the winter operating season to date thru January 29, 2006, due to strong booking patterns and favorable weather creating excellent skiing and riding conditions. The company's eastern resorts were negatively impacted by rain events in January, and recorded a 3% decrease in skier visits for the winter operating season to date thru January 29, 2006.

Despite these challenges, the company achieved a record high level of resort revenues on a same-resort basis for each of the second quarter (an increase of 6% over the prior fiscal year quarter) and first six months of fiscal 2006. Other highlights included a fiscal 2006 year to date increase in cash provided by operating activities of nearly 9% over the 27 weeks ended January 30, 2005.

Interesting. But the numbers get more interesting from there:

On a GAAP basis, net loss attributable to common shareholders for the second quarter of fiscal 2006 was $11.3 million, or $0.36 per basic and diluted common share, compared with a net loss attributable to common shareholders of $22.1 million, or $0.70 per basic and diluted common share for the second quarter of fiscal 2005. Total consolidated revenue was $112.5 million for the second quarter of fiscal 2006, compared with $106.1 million for the second quarter of fiscal 2005. Revenue from resort operations was $109.9 million for the second quarter of fiscal 2006 compared with $103.4 million for the second quarter of fiscal 2005. The $109.9 million in resort revenues represents a record level on a same-resort basis, since the sale of the Heavenly and Sugarbush resorts in fiscal 2002. The increase in resort revenues reflects the higher business volumes in December of fiscal 2006 relative to the prior fiscal year. Revenue from real estate operations was $2.6 million for the quarter versus $2.7 million for the comparable period in fiscal 2005. Excluding other items (for a reconciliation of other items, please see the tables following this discussion), the net loss was $11.3 million, compared to a net loss of $16.2 million for the second quarter of fiscal 2005.

It is a strange sport. Over half of the income is from Lift Ticket revenue. Lift Ticket revenue has a huge fixed cost component and very little variable costs. Most of the industry is structured this way. Huge capital investment. Incremental returns on long term use of that investment. But these resorts are consistently losing money (or at very least breaking even when you factor in Depreciation, etc.).

I make this point because we have heard a lot of folks in the Snowbowl, Arizona Debate think that a resort can continue to operate when they do not have a consisten season. Let's think about this. Let's say you run an amusement park. (Not Neverland Ranch mind you) You invest $100M into the new Gizmatronic Roller Coaster. You have to sell a lot of tickets to recoup the investment. There are only a few costs associated with it--taking tickets, repair, occasionally painting it, cleaning up vomit, electricity, wear and tear, etc.--so your variable costs or cost per rider are low, but your fixed costs of the $100M investment are high. You depend on being able to get riders. If you have a coaster that breaks down frequently and is inoperable most of the time, it is next to impossible to recover your fixed capital investment. You have a break even point in number of visits and if you cannot hit that point, you operate at a loss.

We all want every lift to be a high speed quad and every day to be a powder day. If companies are not recovering their fixed costs for these kind of improvements, you end up on a 30 year old double chair that breaks down. The ability to operate snowmaking allows the resort to ensure a more consistent season and therefore justify improving the quality of their fixed investments. Without snowmaking, the season is even more unpredictable and one disasterous winter can put a small resort or company that does not have 20 resorts spread across both coasts out of business.

Snowmaking and multiple resorts in different geographic areas is a hedge against a bad winter. Vermont is a hedge against Utah and Colorado having a bad winter and vice versa. Snowbowl has no hedge. They have no snowmaking.

For those of you that think they are just in it for the "profit" and are another evil corporation trying to destroy the environment to make an almighty buck, think again. Resorts that have huge real estate operations and are diversified do well. But the smaller companies don't have the deep pockets to endure droughts or low turnout due to bad conditions. All of their revenue is generated by skier visits.

It is an ugly sport for investors. Sure, there is something sexy about having investments in real estate or in the ski industry, but the resort side of things is icky. Most industry companies are privately held, so they do not release their financials, but think about making gigantic fixed cost investments and having to depend on the weather to determine if you make a profit or not. In that sense, we are lucky to have ski resorts at all, especially the ones that are not MEGA-Corporate resorts. See what is happening to the small resorts in Switzerland.

In Switzerland the European problem can be seen in microcosm. There are around 600 ski lift companies spread across more than 200 resorts in the country, and only a dozen of the latter ? according to analysts ? have growth potential.

Since most Swiss resorts are small and located in peripheral regions, they have low cash flow, an inability to attract investment capital, and are crippled by high costs of labour, services and food, according to professor Thomas Bieger of St Gallen University.

"The Swiss ski industry is split into two camps: bigger companies [in large resorts] that are innovative and can keep pace with global developments, and too many operators in small ski areas who don't have the means to invest."

Bieger told swissinfo that consolidation is one of the answers to the problem. "Only then do you have enough money to make investments."

This is the McDonaldsization effect. Consolidation to the point where every resort appears the same and is owned by only a few huge companies. Little guys cannot compete. Think Walmart and Target and maybe a Sears or K-Mart are the only place to shop for anything. I don't argue that it is good or bad for the industry, only that the folks that are hating on Snowbowl--namely the Sierra Club and other Liberal Environmental Lobbying Groups--are the same ones that are hating on Walmart and corporations consistently. But by fighting against snowmaking and shutting down Snowbowl, which is a very real possibility based on the economics of it, they are in fact making the ski industry even more like the small town that gets overrun by Walmart, only this time it is the Vails and the Aspens and the Keystones and the operating companies of the US Mega-resorts that will soon be the only place to ski when all the smaller areas are gone.

Considering what an Environmental Impact Study and fighting against Lawsuits in Federal Court costs, instead of spending money on lifts and snowmaking equipment to keep a small resort viable, Snowbowl is spending money fighting for their very life. That is the landscape in Arizona and if you like skiing at all in Flagstaff, be prepared for what will happen if Snowbowl loses this battle. They will no longer be able to justify the fixed investment and the entire experience will deteriorate to the point that it is not worth going or worth Snowbowl operating. There is no choice. It is snowmaking or drive to a Colorado Mega-resort.

Posted by Justin at 02:11 PM | Comments (2)

April 14, 2006

Gorilla Wins Police Officer $77,777.00 on Backwards Half Court Shot

The Suns Gorilla is one of the League's best Mascotts. When Robert Sarver came along and started dunking off a trampoline, rallying the Suns fans, and bowling himself into trash cans, some might say there was a little Gorilla in him.This is only part of the story of perhaps the best skit at a Suns game since the Gorilla in a 500 lb. Oliver Miller suit.

A Suns game turned into a stunning series of events for Peoria resident John Hoebee and his 8-year-old son, Trey.

First, at Friday night's Suns game, Hoebee, a Glendale police sergeant, was charmed when his son was chosen to give pregame high-fives to the players and sit on the Suns' bench during warm up.

That was thrilling, but it wasn't all.

"While we were waiting, a lady approached me to see if we wanted to shoot the half-court shot," said Hoebee, 40. "The lord blessed us that night."

Hoebee took a shot worth $77,777.77 from the half-court line.

He missed.

But Suns Managing Partner Robert Sarver offered a second chance with the Gorilla flipping it over his head.

"We shoot that all the time together and he makes about 1 of 25," Sarver said.

This was the one.

So last night, the Gorilla is seen scrubbing Robert Sarver's house, doing his laundry, cleaning his pool and toilet, and working off the $77,777.00 he cost Sarver with his half court shot. That may have been the shot of the year in the NBA. Over the shoulder, backwards, halfcourt shot for $77k. I am sure Sarver could be seen doing his best Moses and Judah Ben Hur impression (and that was perfectly timed for Easter now wasn't it)--"Damned Dirty Ape!"

Posted by Justin at 11:24 AM

Of Baseball Purists and NBA Playoffs

Wil over at 120 Days is about as avid of a sports fan as you will ever find. But more than just sports, homeboy loves baseball. And since he is from Phoenix, he is a Diamondbacks fan. Let us not forget that before the Diamondbacks, he was also a season ticket holder to the Suns. Well, it is the offseason in Steamboat, and what is a sports fan to do? Start a summer blog about the boys of summer.

For several months this winter, when the snow was non-existent at Brian Head, Wil helped me fix my snow jones with reports from Steamboat. I am doing my best to reciprocate with reports from AWA and the BOB... wait, US Airways Center and Chase Field... and keep him up to date on the goings on back home. Check out baseballtopia. 120 Days was the first place I read during ski season and baseballtopia is now the first place I stop. BTW, Wil, I grabbed you an El Duque card at the last Diamondbacks game and set it aside for you. Wil is a huge El Duque fan. (Note about El Duque--As Dante Culpepper will soon find out, a "Boat Party" in Miami better have 150 Cubans riding on 20 inner tubes tied together.)

So contrast these two numbers--18,422 and 18745. These are the respective attendance numbers for the Suns versus Mavericks last night and next door for the Diamondbacks versus the Rockies. I got to Arizona Center to park almost an hour and a half early figuring traffic would be a mess and it would be hard to find parking for the Suns game that started at 7:30 when the Dbacks started at 6:30. Joke was on me.

Jake and I went and got some redemption for the Season opening loss to the Mavs at home in Double OT where the Suns blew a 17 point fourth quarter lead. The Suns shot 67% from three and played like a team with some fire and passion for both halves. This marks three straight halves that they have played like a contender against playoff teams. Gary Coleman was at the game to promote his new movie and looked hysterical next to Cedric Ceballos at 6'8". "Whatchoo talkin' bout Ced?"

Posted by Justin at 11:03 AM | Comments (1)

April 13, 2006

Utah May Set Record for Skier Visits

Utah may have set a new record in skier visits, passing 2004-05.

It's not for a lack of snow or winterlike conditions that have Utah ski resorts preparing to close. The snowstorm last Saturday was definitely winterlike in nature — cold and snowy. And, with only one exception, Utah resorts are holding a snow base well over the century mark.

But, as always happens, skiers believe it's time to move on and so resorts, with one exception, will be closed by midmonth.

Three resorts — Sundance, Wolf Mountain and Beaver Mountain — have already closed. Scheduled to close on Easter Sunday, April 16, are Brian Head, Brighton, The Canyons, Deer Valley, Park City Mountain Resort, Powder Mountain and Solitude. Alta will close the following day, April 17, which will leave, again as always, Snowbird, which has set a closing date of May 14 for daily operations and May 29 for weekend skiing.

At this point, said Nathan Rafferty, president of Ski Utah, "We don't know final numbers, but I'm confident we will come close and could even exceed last year's record. The one measure we have at this point is the number of hits on our Web site, which are up 25 percent over last year."

What this means is Utah could come close to the 4 million skier-day mark. Last year's record was 3.8 million skier days.

That being the case, the 2005-06 season will match closely the 2004-05 season in skier numbers and snowfall.

Posted by Justin at 10:42 AM

Baseball is Back--But in Phoenix, No One Noticed

Went to the game last night:

What if the Diamondbacks won a game and nobody came?

That pretty much happened Wednesday night when Arizona took advantage of some horrendous baserunning by the Colorado Rockies to pull out a 5-4 win in front of 18,644 sleepy fans - the smallest crowd in franchise history.

We literally sat on the rail over the bullpen. Watched Casey Daigle warm up and Jose Valverde bring the nastiness. But it appears nobody else was interested.

This is just plain sad.

Posted by Justin at 10:21 AM

April 12, 2006

Suns Find Some Grit in Second Half versus Suckramento

Last night was what we have been waiting for. The Suns went through the motions in the first half and let the Kings shoot 65%. Raja Bell led the charge in the second half that smothered the Kings at both the Offensive and Defensive end. The Suns scored 72 in the second half to the Kings 42.

Phoenix has locked up the number two overall seed in the West and the way things shake out, here are the matchups:

(1) San Antonio or Dallas
vs.
(8) LA or Sacramento

(4) San Antonio or Dallas
vs.
(5) LA Clippers

(3) Denver
vs.
(6) Memphis

(2) Phoenix
vs.
(7) Sacramento or LA Lakers

Nobody wants to be in the top half of the bracket and face Dallas or San Antonio. Phoenix and Denver are set at 2 and 3 and San Antonio and Dallas are set at 1 and 4, but which one is the 1 and which is the 4 is up in the air. The Suns and Mavs both have injury problems and both have been slumping as of late which clearly makes the defending champs the team to beat.

I received my playoff ticket package today in the mail and they are beautiful. I hate to use them to go to games because the tickets look so nice.

Posted by Justin at 01:48 PM

April 11, 2006

Chevy Tahoe Commercial for the Apprentice

Check this out:

The New Chevy Tahoe has a contest for Commercials to be submitted and this may be the best commercial I have ever seen. Titled "Die Hippies Die".

Enjoy!

Posted by Justin at 02:37 PM

Note to Today's Youth via Comment at Willisms

(A note to kids today: Date goth chicks, they expect to be disappointed and unhappy. With that as a startingblock, you can do no wrong.)

What can I say about this quote. This in the middle of a blog post about growing up and discovering the coolness of the stuff your parents were into as a kid. As a child of the 80's and early 90's, I remember when I first started discovering the coolness of my parents. But then again, the premise of the article is basically retro-coolness for geeky kids of the 1990's. That pretty much describes me. The 70's and 60's had some great stuff. Led Zeppelin, the Beatles, Monty Python, Mel Brooks, etc. Let me add the Stones and Star Wars. Possibly old school SNL.

A great post, but it makes you wonder what parts of the 1990's will be retro-cool to our kids in like 20 years. I am quite sure it will not be American Idol or Skating with Celebrities or Britany.

Posted by Justin at 02:24 PM

Oh, Canada--Adam's Healthcare Woes

(BTW, I am trolling for some comments here. I am bored now that I can't ski or think about skiing every waking moment.)

Last month, I wrote about Adam's issues with getting an MRI on his knee that he injured. Adam lives in Toronto and has been waiting for them to make his appointment for his MRI. Well the results are in.

I've been hounding the poor folks at North York General Hospital for two weeks to get a date for my MRI. After the third call in two weeks, I got the call I had been waiting for.

Previous to getting this call, I had thought a date for sometime in May or June would have been a disaster. It turns out that was wishful thinking. After preceding the date with "are you ready?", she told me my date was July 23rd.

Holy ****. That's in four months.

And what if I need surgery?

My plan right now is this: I have spoken to a couple of people that speak of a magical "cancellation list". I have asked to be put on said list. Whenever someone cancels, people on the list are called sequentially. If you happen to answer the phone, you are in luck. You get an MRI within a day or two. If you don't happen to answer, however, you are simply skipped; the MRI clinic doesn't want to play phone tag at the last minute.

But everyone in Canada has free healthcare. It is free. And everyone has it. So in Canada, I would wait months for my MRI (that is not really free when you see how much they pay in taxes) all so that someone else can have their healthcare also be "free". Everyone is equal. No choice. No option to pay more for better care. No Mayo clinics. Just equality and ubiquity. Guess what, equality is overrated. Waiting months so that everyone has the same healthcare does not sound so good when you have a possible torn ACL that could take a year post-surgery to heal anyway.

I hope Adam gets his MRI shortly and gets healed. I know that I pay through the nose for my HMO that I barely use. But I also know that when my wife needed multiple CT's, Ultrasounds, and MRI's last year, that we never waited more than a day or two. It is expensive and we pay for our insurance, but we have choice. I can't imagine losing a season of skiing because I have to wait four months to get an MRI. Or risking permanent damage. But maybe a torn ACL is not the kind of thing that is considered an "emergency". If your HMO in the US tried to get you to wait four months to get an MRI when you had a torn ACL, trust me, you would be in court before I could say Malpractice Attorney.

Posted by Justin at 08:34 AM | Comments (9)

April 09, 2006

JP Goes BROKEBACK

JP over at Colorado Backcountry is hating life right now. He busted up a couple of vertebrae and is out for the rest of the season. And on top of the injury, I have to make sure and add some insult.

DUDE BROKE his BACK on the MOUNTAIN.

Get that spine back together bro, cause we have some riding to do this year. I am rolling up to Colorado next year for certain and making plans to ski with Wil at 120 Days and Mike at Heavy Winter.

Not fun. All of us have had our injuries this year. My knee, Wil's entire Body, and now Mike at Heavy Winter is reporting what may be the most disturbing of all:

I’ve begun to realize something not all together good about my self. Namely, my hair is beginning to look like the exact opposite of Jay Leno’s. Where his is mostly gray with a black chunk in the front, mine is mostly black with a gray chunk in the front. As you might imagine, this is a bit distrubing.

Good times. Enjoy the offseason boys and let the planning for 2006-07 begin.

Posted by Justin at 04:49 PM | Comments (3)

Trip to Brian Head over Easter

Despite the fact that my grandmother is going to kill me, we are probably heading to Brian Head to close out the season this weekend. It is the last weekend of the season and there is an Easter Egg hunt as well as the annual Pond Skimming contest. I am going to give pond skimming a go this year and have challenged Jeremy and Jacob to try it too. (Neither seems excited about the idea of getting soaked in 35 degree water.)

I am already starting to miss the season after taking this last week off. I hate to miss the last weekend, despite the warm temps and spring conditions.

It is 88 degrees in Phoenix today and I know what is coming. The AC is already running and I spend yesterday in the backyard doing some yard work. I filled out my FAFSA for the MBA program at SUU today, did my taxes, and bought my tickets to NYC for a work trip in two weeks. I renewed my Suns tickets and bought my Cardinals tickets for next year. I have two brand new mountain bikes in the closet. Lindsey is standing on her own and about to take her first steps and baseball season is starting. So my life has plenty to fill things up. Yet all summer, all I can think about is "How far away is November?"

I am already setting goals for what I want to accomplish next year. I want to throw a switch 180 and a 360. I want to start throwing some grabs. I want to lose 35 lbs. I want to improve my technique in powder. I want to ride some new rails. I want to start the season in better shape so that it doesn't take a month to get over the soreness of riding consecutive days. I want to ski 60 days. I want to finish my MBA. But all of these things can wait one more weekend while I enjoy the finale of the season at Brian Head.

Posted by Justin at 03:50 PM

April 08, 2006

NBA Playoffs

I am going to try to take a couple trips up north this spring/summer to get in some more time on the slopes. But because I can't give up blogging close to daily until October/November and don't want to bore you all with a blog about taking the GMAT and sending transcripts to get into Business School, I am probably going to be posting more and more about some local sports stuff going on in Phoenix. Keep stopping by and there will be skiing posts mixed in with other Basketball, Baseball, and Football related posts.

Wil, I hope this makes you happy since you abandoned us desert dwellers and are missing out on the playoff run of the Suns.

BTW, Suns beat down the Lakers last night despite 51 by Kobe. I really hate Kobe, but man is he good. He has no shame and clearly no teammate better take a shot. 30 feet out, shoot it Kobe. Halfcourt? Shoot it. Conversely, I genuinely like Tim Duncan, despite the fact that the Spurs own the Suns and he is the biggest reason why. He is humble and charismatic and isn't a me first kind of guy who demands his 30 shots a game.

NBA playoffs start in two weeks. I LOVE THIS GAME. Go Suns.

Posted by Justin at 12:11 PM

April 05, 2006

More Business--Blogging from NYC

I got a call yesterday for an emergency business meeting in New York tomorrow AM. I am travelling and staying on the Hudson right across from Manhatten in Weehawken, NJ.

I selected my Arizona Cardinals Season Tickets yesterday and am in the 7th Row of the upper deck in the North End Zone on the Goal Line. Suns Playoffs are about to start. I am about to start my MBA in Utah. And I have been home for three days in the last two and a half weeks, between Brian Head, Dallas, and NYC. So I am staying busy.

It is snowing at BH as we speak and if the temps don't get all crazy, the snow might be pretty decent this weekend. I am debating another quick trip up north, but am about to crater from exhaustion. We shall see.

Oh, and to my boy Wil, "Why you gotta be right about Amare?" I read about it on ESPN when I got off the airplane, but trust me, all is not lost. The Suns are not done, but the road gets more difficult now without one of the best players in the league back. But Nash is the reigning MVP and is proving it again this year. Wil knows where my seats are and has an open invite to come down for the playoffs, but don't pull some crap of calling me right before Game 7 of the Finals to take me up on it. =) BTW, and don't call me for Cardinals playoff tickets either. I did drop my Devils tickets due to schedule conflicts with school, which kills me, but we have U of A and SC on the road this year.

Posted by Justin at 06:20 PM | Comments (4)

April 03, 2006

Winding Down and Summer Plans

I am starting to get ready for summer and hopefully shortly the start of the 2006-07 Season... Ah, November. A little too early to begin plans for next year, but certainly time to start preparing for Summer.

I am getting ready to start school and finish my MBA, planning a cruise to coincide with Tera and my tenth wedding anniversary, and trying to figure out what to do with three kids during the summer while I work from home.

I will probably be posting a season recap shortly, but 2005-06 has been awesome. Bought my condo at Brian Head. Skied 30+ days for the second year in a row. My son Jarrett spend his first real ski day at Brian Head. Jake is working on new tricks and improving greatly. Spent three awesome trips with Erich and/or Tim and/or Taufiq. Spent several trips with my little brother Jackson and my Dad who didn't think he would ever ski again because of a bad back. Got Tera on skis a few times and spent those days coaching and skiing with her. Threw and landed a 180, improved my switch riding, rode a rainbow, improved in the pow, met some great new people (Wil and JP who blog from Colorado, among others). All around, a productive year.

I will be posting throughout the summer about my adventures at Brian Head that will probably involve a new Jeep (still selling Tera on that), camping and fishing, mountain biking, and enjoying the summer in Southern Utah away from the heat of Arizona.

I may not be done skiing this year, but as of right now, things are winding down. Hope you have enjoyed the year and look forward to doing it again.

Posted by Justin at 04:17 PM | Comments (1)

April 02, 2006

Great Day at Brian Head

Yesterday may have been the last day I get up to Brian Head for the year. Season ends in two weeks on Easter, but that weekend is booked and next weekend is looking pretty busy since I have been out of town the last week and a half.

Dunes was closed due to wind, but the wind died down in the PM considerably. It kept trying to snow, but it was more of an annoyance than a storm and produced no measurable accumulation. Conditions were mixed. The pow from a couple of days ago was compacted and crusty and it was not warm enough to loosen up. We stayed on the lower mountain due to the wind and stayed on the groomed stuff as it had loosened up more than the upper mountain had.

So down below, in the terrain park, I decided there were two things I wanted to do successfully this year. First was 50-50 a rainbow and second was land a 180. Not like rainbows are crazy difficult, but I have this enduring image of doing a facial into a a metal object and looking like a hockey player.

First run through it, I hit the rainbow for the first time and while not pretty, rolled right over it. The second trip over the rainbow was much better. Got down to the jumps and threw a 180 on both runs and landed both. Not like it is difficult on either case, but it is simple fear of doing something stupid and missing the rest of the season that has kept me from attempting more this year. Well, now it is the end of the season and the fear of breaking a wrist or tearing an ACL is less of an issue. Now, I regret not taking more risks and pushing myself more. But really, the terrain park is only there for days when there is not fresh pow.

If it was my last day, I have something to build on and left on a high note.

Posted by Justin at 12:28 PM | Comments (3)