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January 30, 2007

Deer Valley Hip to Technology

I posted a couple of weeks ago about Deer Valley reaching out to promote their Freestyle FIS World Cup Event via video at Youtube.com.

I have spent the better part of the day trying to make appointments to meet with some PR departments at various resorts so that I can get details on what they are doing to make skiing affordable or to reach young, hip, technologically advanced folks. Two big projects of mine. Skiing affordability and the impact of technology on the industry. And by that I don't mean new binding or new ski designs, but radical changes in the add on products that we all use. About half the resorts totally blew me off and won't even return my calls when I try to get comments and info about these topics. "You are just a blogger, not a real journalist and therefore we don't have time to even talk to you." Of something like that.

The scoop on the recent freestyle competition is posted at their site, but Erin Grady does a video that is awesome (posted below the fold).

I called Erin to compliment her on the idea of podcasting and video podcasting that Deer Valley used. I told her that I posted the video on my site and any time she wanted to post similar stuff, to call me. She gets it. She gets the world that we live in. One where gadgets permeate everything we do. Smart Phones. iPods. GPS. Laptops. And according to GOB Bluth, "wireless crapability".

I go to a lot of resort websites and some are absolute crap. Nothing is ever updated but the ski report and even then it is simply xxx" of new snow, machine groomed, etc. Then I go to others like the ski report at Big Sky where Dax blogs about the conditions in detail as well as his exploits while out there skiing it. Dax was a major influence on me even starting a blog and TWISI is pimped.

I have been working on an article about new technology and its impact on the industry. I have a first person point of view because the advances that allow telecommuting and remote work (read--why call centers can go to India) are what allow me to work via DSL broadband from Brian Head instead of trudging 30 miles through rush hour traffic to downtown Phoenix. We take out laptops in the truck and work via telephone broadband while we are driving to multitask. I have a fat DVD in dash player in the Avy. I keep a GPS on my camelback. I have skull candy headphones for my iPod and Motorola Walkie Talkies. I occasionally send text messages from the lodge. My son Jake and brother Jackson play NCAA Football against each other on their PSP's while we are driving. In short, break into my truck and steal my stuff 'cause I have tons of gadgets that you can pawn for crack.

So Winter-X is over and ESPN promotes the crap out of it. They target that towards the iPod generation. Burton gets it and puts all kinds of stuff in their gear for it. Other manufacturers see what is happening.

Deer Valley is skier only (like Alta). Alta took out their terrain park this year and caters to an "authentic" ski experience. DV appears to be targeting a different group. The new wave of skiers. The kids that jib on twin tips and hit the superpipe. Kids with iPods and PSP's.

It was nice to speak with Erin who is making an effort to promote their resort the way my sponsor at the top VRI is promoting their Colorado Pass--via social networking sites, blogs, youtube.com, pod casts, etc.

Erin's video:

The Avalance DVD Player.

Posted by Justin at 05:09 PM | Comments (3)

Birthday Line for Jer from Arrested Development

Just for Jer today from Arrested Development, Season 2, Episode 7--Switch Hitter:

Gob: Michael, I'm your big brother. I'll never be impressed with you.

Good times my friend.

Posted by Justin at 03:27 PM

Happy 30th Birthday

My little bro is turning 30 tomorrow. I really enjoyed the time that we spent skiing together and going to ballgames last year. I joke a lot about him working at a convenience store (and even more about getting fired from a convenience store), and I hope that his 30's are the most happy and productive years of his life.

It is amazing to think that Jake is 10 and he is 30. I always mark time by major milestones and a favorite picture of mine is Jake when he was 2 riding on his shoulders with the Arizona Cardinals AWA Jet in the background coming back from their playoff victory in Dallas over the Cowboys. That year, the Broncos won their second Superbowl over Atlanta.

Decades go by fast. It has been almost a decade since the Broncos won a Superbowl. He has seen the lists that I keep of "to do's" that I am constantly updating and crossing off items. I had one for college with every single course I needed to take and the planned semester that I was going to do it. Same thing for projects and patent applications, etc., at work. I look back at them to check my progress and to look at milestones.

Make a list of what is important and what you want to accomplish this next decade. Start checking those items off.

Posted by Justin at 02:45 PM

Just Posted Photos of Opening Day

I am just posting some new pics to the site. I forgot that I did not post my pics from opening day. The resort is better off due to snowmaking, but it has been sparce all year. So far to date BH has received approximately 110" of snow all year.

Posted by Justin at 12:30 AM

January 27, 2007

Thanksgiving

My first ski day was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. It has been a little over two months since I put on the boots for the first time this year.

Why do I bring that up? Because since November 21, which was the Monday before that, the Phoenix Suns have lost exactly twice and one of those was after arriving from Denver an hour before tip-off of the Washington Wizards game. 32-2. And now the Suns hold the 10th longest win streak in the history of the NBA and the longest since the Lakers won 19 in 1999. They set the franchise make for consecutive wins with 16 last night.

This is my team. Been my team since KJ and Horny and Thunder Dan, when I was a kid in high school. Back when the Purple Palace replaced the Madhouse on McDowell. I remember how impossible it was to get a ticket to see the Suns once Chuck arrived and the run that they had my senior year during their last trip to the NBA finals. They are my team because I own season tickets and was there for the game 7 victories over the Lakers and Clips and for the second half collapses that killed us against Dallas and the Spurs the last two years in the Western Conference Finals. I watched us get eliminated on our home floor a step short of playing in the championships the last two years. This year is something special.

Posted by Justin at 09:27 AM

January 26, 2007

The Weather Channel Has Blogs--Seasonal Affective Disorder

Did you know the Weather Channel has blogs?

It's the dead of winter. Snow is on the ground. The sky has been gray for what seems like forever now. It's enough to get you down, and it does. Millions of Americans suffer varying degrees of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). SAD is linked to a biochemical imbalance in humans that reacts to lack of light...remember the daylight hours are shorter in the winter. Symptoms can include fatigue, lack of interest in normal activities, social withdrawal, craving high carbohydrate foods, and weight gain. These symptoms usually subside in the spring.

Increasing your exposure to light can help improve your symptoms. The American Psychiatric Association recommends walking outside and rearranging your home or office so that you are exposed to more window light. Severe cases of SAD can be treated with light therapy. It has proven to be an effective treatment for SAD. It usually involves exposure to bright light for 30-90 minutes a day.

I think I may have SAD. Symptoms can include

  • fatigue--I always seem run down after a hard day skiing
  • lack of interest in normal activities--I am almost complete uninterested in work or taking care of myself. Hell, when I am at the mountain, I barely shower, shave or clean up at all.
  • social withdrawal--I barely even talk to anyone during ski season that isn't going up skiing with me
  • craving high carbohydrate foods--Me, ski day, pasta or Chinese food, nuff said
  • weight gain--have you seen me lately?

So here is my cure...

  • Time off work to cope with my new found mental illness (as opposed to my other long standing mental illnesses)
  • Tanning bed in the condo to help with light therapy
  • A more understanding boss that cares about my fragile mental health and allows me to take most of the winter months off so that I can deal with the problems my SAD causes

SAD is no laughing matter. I may never be able to work again during the winter months due to the debilitating nature of the disease.

Posted by Justin at 04:22 PM

Enough Ranting, Let's Talk Some Suns

I forgot to mention that the Phoenix Suns are as hot as any team in the history of the NBA. 31-2 in their last 33 games. It is unfair.

I have tickets to the Spurs next week, but am hoping to go to the condo instead. I hate getting rid of them and my Utah tickets, but gotta do what I gotta do. I have only got a few days in this year due to snow conditions, so it is time to suck it up and start skiing hard packed and windblown conditions since the storms haven't been coming the way they should.

I am hoping that this year is like last where the big storms come a little late, but it is already getting late and nada.

Posted by Justin at 12:21 AM

January 24, 2007

I Sound Like a Broken Record

I got to reading some of the stuff I have writen about the sport:

  • Wages for workers suck
  • Housing at resorts for workers is almost nonexistent
  • Middle Class families can barely afford to ski
  • Resorts have to import workers because of wages and housing conditions
  • GLOBAL WARMING, WAR IN IRAQ, GAS PRICES, END OF THE WORLD, OZONE LAYERS, TERRORISM, GAY MARRIAGE, ABORTION, VOLCANOS, GIANT METEORITES HEADED FOR EARTH (ok, that was a movie I think)

I added the last because we need to keep in perspective that skiing is not the only thing going on in the world. It is my escape from these other issues. I have to remember that while I complain about average Americans not being able to ski, my skis alone cost more than about 2/3rds of the people on Earth make in a year.

It ain't all powder days and bluebird conditions. It ain't all high speed quads and gondolas. I absolutely love the sport and hate going off on tangents about how unaffordable it is or rising prices of this or that. I just don't want to see the sport keep going on a trajectory towards a point where my kids can't afford to take my grandkids skiing anymore because prices are so out of reach.

If you love the sport, you will want to ensure that our kids and grandkids can continue to ski for a reasonable price and enjoy the sport we love. So many articles talk about Global Warming destroying skiing as we know it. I say who cares about Global Warming because if prices keep rising, none of us will be able to afford to ski anyway. Vail and Aspen write briefs for lawsuits about Green House gasses, but you don't hear them talking about affordability. That is the single largest threat to the industry in my opinion. And someone (especially guys like Jake Burton and the major athletes in the sport) needs to beat that drum more.

UPDATED:

Let me add this Page 23 of IntraWest's FY2006 Financials:

2006
(in Millions)
2005
(in Millions)
Resort Operations Revenue $936.1 $806.6
Resort Operations Expenses 847.4 707.0
Net EBITAD $88.7 $99.6
2006
(in Millions)
2005
(in Millions)
Real Estate Development Contribution $147.6 $67.6
Interest in Real Estate Expenses 27.6 35.4
Net EBITAD from Real Estate $175.2 $103.0

Like I said, resorts make their money off of real estate but that value only increases because of the presence of the ski area. Not that $100M off of operations isn't significantly profitable, but resorts write off huge chunks of debt servicing and depreciation on ski operations to offset the profits. When a resort makes twice as much off of real estate development as they do off of skiing, it makes it tough for the resorts without real estate to compete. And the reason that real estate is going up is scarcity of resources and exclusivity of the sport. If charging more for a lift ticket keeps lift lines short and only attracts the affluent folks, these folks spend more per skier visit than the riff raff and are the only ones worth selling a condo project or home lot to, and real estate development is where the real money is at. Your average middle class person has nothing to offer the resort since they don't spend money on other services, are often day trippers, and don't buy real estate. Prices differentiate between the right consumers and the wrong ones. Hence $83 lift tickets.

Posted by Justin at 02:24 PM | Comments (6)

Skiing for a Family of Four

I want to expand further on the rising cost of skiing and pricing families out of the market. I want to post the real economics of skiing for a family that isn't addicted like I am and doesn't have season passes, their own equipment, and a condo at a resort. I am going to talk specifically about Brian Head, which represents a good "budget friendly family resort", but these costs are fairly representative.

Cost per Day Cost for 3 Day Weekend
Lift Tickets $50 per person = $200 $600
Rentals $25 per person = $100 $300
Condo Rental $200 $600
Food (and remember how expensive resorts are) $100 $300
Gas to and from the resort (rough guess) each way = $50 $100
--------- ---------
Total $1900

Now, remember that you can stay at a hotel in town and eat at Taco Bell, so maybe we can cut a few hundred dollars out of the budget for food and lodging. For that matter, you could drive a Prius hybrid and get 45 miles per gallon (however snow really sucks for passenger cars). We start cutting those costs and you are still over $1000 for a three day weekend of skiing for a family of four. You can make the argument that this is on par with Disneyland or the other major attractions. Maybe this seems reasonable. But this is FOR ONE WEEKEND of skiing. I can't imagine going to Disneyland three or four times per year, but I can certainly imagine going skiing more than one weekend per year. Most of that cost is in lift tickets and rentals. If you want to ski Aspen, you better double that number or possibly more. And again, this demonstrates the value of the Colorado Pass, discounts, owning gear, going to small resorts, and cutting costs.

In our case, we own our equipment. A good set of adult skis bought on E-bay runs $250 plus another $150 for bindings and mounting. Boots run $150 for a low end cheap pair, but probably more like $250 for adults and $100-150 for kids. So for each adult, we are talking at least $600-700 for skis, boots, and bindings and these are E-bay prices for new equipment. Kids gear is cheaper so that number is more like $300-400 per kid for their skis, boots, and bindings. So for a family of four, let's say $2000. Then you have coats and ski pants. Plus gloves, face masks, walkie talkies, helmets, hats, long johns. Figure it is at least $300 per person for these items when they are bought on sale in April when things go on clearance. That is another $1200.

Rough estimate is $3500 for gear, plus another $300 or so per year because kids outgrow stuff or you lose stuff. Then you have season passes which in my case run $200 per kid plus $300 per adult. Figure that is roughly $1000 per year. On top of that, you still have to eat and have a place to stay. We have our own condo, so we cook most times (which helps tons).

Prices are going to keep rising unless there is some competition, and honestly I don't know if competition will even help. Skiing already competes with other sports and other entertainment for our budget dollar. If average Americans can't afford the sport without major sacrifices, how do we keep the sport from getting out of reach?

Posted by Justin at 01:30 PM | Comments (1)

January 23, 2007

New Magazine-The Ski Journal-Takes on Day Trip Resorts

The Ski Journal is a subscription financed venture that is not filled with the advertising 10 page glossies and pimping for the big resorts that seems to haunt the big publications. Call it a coffee table magazine filled with big pictures and stories that are not tainted by the need to please the big money advertisers.

This week's issue takes on four day trip areas including Jeremy's favorite, Bridger Bowl, Montana.

Condos, alpen-malls and lift-serviced snowshoe trails – resort development has overrun many of North America’s classic ski haunts. Here are four which strive to remain true to their local base while dealing with the challenges upgrading and competing. Featuring Bridger Bowl, MT Alpental, WA Powder Mountain, UT and Mad River Glen, VT.

I have to add Wolf Creek, Colorado to the list. In a recent article in Transworld Magazine, they stated the following:

If you call Colorado’s Wolf Creek Ski Area during business hours, you’ll actually get a live voice; call after 5:00 p.m, and you’ll be greeted by what sounds like an answering machine—there’s no automated voicemail system here. The venerable resort tallied around 216,000 skier visits in 2004/05—record-breaking numbers for Wolf Creek, but small potatoes compared to nearby heavyweights like Vail and its 1.5-million skier visits.

This grassroots appeal—along with an annual snowfall of 30 to 40 feet—is the very thing people love about Wolf Creek. Recently a proposed development in the middle of the resort has stirred a heated battle between resort operators, the Forest Service, Texas-based developers, the county, residents of several nearby towns, and a slew of environmental groups.

As proposed, the Village at Wolf Creek would include around 2,200 housing units—enough for up to 10,500 people—and 222,100 square feet of commercial space on 300 acres of land inside the Rio Grande National Forest. The land, acquired by Texas-based developer Red McCombs in a 1986 land swap with the Forest Service, is surrounded by acres of federal land, including the 1,600 acres that comprise Wolf Creek. The resort currently has no base-area town, and visitors head to nearby Pagosa Springs and South Fork—towns with a combined population of less than 1,000—to sleep, eat, and rent gear.

If you read my entries regularly, you will notice that I have several longstanding opinions:

  • Skiing and snowboarding are becoming increasingly exclusionary sports due to rising prices of gear, lift tickets, lodging, etc. This is making our sport the sport of the rich and super rich and pricing families out of the industry.
  • Mega-resorts that cater to big city affluent folks (read the Vails and Aspens of the world) dominate the landscape of the sport because of their tie ins with ski magazines, marketing outlets, and the big money folks that run the sport.
  • Small resorts are finding it increasingly difficult to expand or offer better terrain, snowmaking, etc., due to the economic disparity between the big resorts and small and due to the fact that most ski areas lose money on the skiing operational aspects of their business, but make money off of ancillary services such as Real Estate, Development, and Commercial businesses that cater to the affluent.
  • Housing, Wages, and Benefits for workers in the industry remain poor which further increases the gap between the wealthy folks that can afford to ski and the rest of the folks that have to work as waiters, lift operators, or hotel workers to get their season pass at the local resort.
  • When you drop $83 per day for a lift ticket and that is more than most of the employees at the resort make for that day ($9 per hour X 8 hours per day = $72), you have an industry that is priced beyond the reach of a growing number of consumers.
  • The economic forces that allow ski resorts to charge $83 are simple supply and demand. There are not enough resorts, enough runs, enough lift capacity, enough good terrain, or enough snow to support more than 60M skier visits per year and the big resorts already have their share of the affluent folks that everyone wants because they are the ones that fuel the bottom line. So the smaller day trip resorts without condos to sell, hotels to fill, shops to sell gear, and the other economic advantages of the majors, fight for the scraps of day trippers on a budget.

Ironically, the populist party lead by folks like Ted Kennedy, John Edwards, and John Kerry give their "Two Americas" speech over and over, yet they participate in a sport (see Michael Kennedy's death at Aspen in 1998 and John Kerry's snowboarding in 2004 prior to the election) that most of the people in that "other America" can not even dream of enjoying. Add in the fact that environmental groups move to block every single expansion of every single resort in an attempt to keep the world "pristine". With no expansion, resorts will continue to raise prices and the demanding and wealthy public will continue to pay it.

This is what two Americas is, my friends. One America where the rich have their own sports like polo, yachting, and increasingly skiing; another America where the rest of us save for months to afford to take day trips to places like Wolf Creek, Colorado, where we can afford to ski because they offer a no frills experience for under $50 per day. A sport where in order to snowboard, people have to steal gear since a new board and bindings run over $600. Wolf Creek, Alta, Bridger Bowl, A-Basin, Loveland, Brian Head, Arizona Snowbowl, among others, are the antidote to this world. All have lift tickets for around $50 or less. Most are no frills areas with minimal night lifes and minimal or affordable lodging.

I am not saying that we need to not allow them to ever expand because it will change their character, although some suggest just that sort of thing. I am suggesting that we indeed allow them to expand, but in measured and reasonable ways--things like adding snowmaking or installing new lifts or opening new terrain. We allow them to develop their areas, and even build reasonable base areas and condo developments. These condos and base areas help support the sport and keep these places in business. Many locals and environmentalists don't want any growth because it will change the character of their favorite spots.

I want more people to enjoy the sport. I want more folks to be able to afford to ski. I want my friends to go and to be able to afford to go more often. I want middle class people to take their kids. But strangely, a lot of the affluent folks don't want us at their areas unless we can afford to be there. As if my dad skiing on my hand-me-down skis and wearing my hand-me-down jacket diminishes their enjoyment of the sport of the super rich.

Let them keep polo and yachting. I want skiing back for the rest of us.

Posted by Justin at 01:03 PM | Comments (1)

January 22, 2007

Snow Storm in Arizona and Jeep Trip to Crown King

I drove across mountain passes on a 70 mile backroad trip from I-17 to Prescott via Crown King this weekend. The trip was absolutely awesome, although you rarely could see more than a few hundred feet due to snow and visibility issues.

Four jeeps and a Toyota Truck went out with us and we didn't do a lot of slipping and sliding, well, at least not as much as we thought we would. The scena[e-jacoby]ry was awesome and I took both boys who had a good time.

Bad news is that the same storm that dropped over a foot across the pass was mostly wind at Arizona Snowbowl and blew most of the snow off the San Francisco Peaks. I mocked the Hopi Gods last week and I take some accountability in that my lack of faith may have caused their anger and shortened the ski season for Flagstaff.

Posted by Justin at 12:59 PM | Comments (2)

Canadian Wood Spider

My uncle Troy sent me this wonderful video of the Canadian Wood Spider. Thought it merited a post on the website.

Note this is published under humor...

Posted by Justin at 12:14 PM

January 20, 2007

Skiers versus Snowboarders - Brian Head Horror Story

I am talking to Cynthia, my neighbor down the hall at Brian Head. Way cool lady from Vegas who we run into most busy weekends including over Christmas and this last weekend.

Turns out that some jerks broke into her ski storage closet between Christmas and MLK weekend. Get this--they stole two Burton boards, but left about $2500 worth of skis behind. They didn't even want to waste time with the skis, just the boards.

I pulled my powder skis into the condo and brought the Burton board into the condo too. Sure, they can get stolen from the condo too, but I have double deadbolts on both the condo and the storage closet. She only had one lock. I checked my closet and some jerk with a screwdriver had tried to break into mine too.

So not to sound like a two plank wank, but why the hell do all the gear thefts involve snowboards, not skis? Cynthia didn't have condo insurance, which double sucks. I do, so if someone steals my gear, it isn't going to hurt as bad. I left the old kids skis in the gear locker, so if you want a four year old of K2 Jr. Escapes in a 125 or a pair of crusty Rossy 109 kids skis, have at it. I hope you have fun busting into my locker and wish you well if you want to tote them down the three flights of stairs.

If you dig on stealing stuff or if you need to steal to afford your snowboarding habit, I offer three alternatives to fix the situation--charge the kids on the football team a little more for their reefer; get into the more lucrative side of theft and crime; or stop wasting your money on the ganj unless you are willing to make a career out of being a lowlife.

Disgusting. Gear thiefs are the lowest form of life their [damn that grammer and my inability to use there and their] is and I hope that karma bites you for it. I hope that you steal an avalance beacon from someone's locker and it is defective while you are in the backcountry and that a freek sluff sends you to meet the ski Gods who will punish you for your lack of faith. There is no repentence for being a gear thief and eventually the punishment will catch up with you.

Posted by Justin at 12:55 AM | Comments (3)

Jeep Trip to Crown King Tomorrow

It snowed in the high country in Arizona today, although Snowbowl and that other Indian resort that wants to shut down skiing everywhere but at the runs next to their casino have yet to report snowfall totals. Snowbowl opens tomorrow, but my skis are in my condo.

We are taking the jeeps out to Crown King and the back way into Prescott tomorrow and doing our annual snow run.

I got the blankets, the winch, the jackets, some Oreos and a case of water and Pepsi ready for the trip. Hoping that I get stuck and can use the winch that I paid for but have barely wound the cable on. But not so stuck that I tear stuff up.

Posted by Justin at 12:52 AM

January 18, 2007

It is Official--Goodyear New Home to Cleveland Indians

The Arizona Republic reports that the deal is doen:

City leaders and top brass from the Cleveland Indians celebrated finalizing details that finance a new spring training facility in Goodyear.

With the smell of hot dogs wafting through the air, the City Council unanimously approved on Wednesday an intergovernmental agreement with the Arizona Sports and Tourism Authority that will pay for half of the $75 million spring training facility. City staff and developers have kicked into high gear to have the stadium ready for the first pitch by March 2009.

Larry Dolan, owner of the Cleveland Indians, and his son Paul, president of the team, flew to the Valley for the festivities. "This is a great, great day for the Cleveland Indians and the Dolan family," Paul Dolan said after presenting the City Council with a stack of Indian's T-shirts. "We very much look forward to a 20-year-plus relationship with the city of Goodyear."

Every time it comes on, I have to watch Major League. The plot revolves around how the owner wanted to move the team to Florida in a new stadium that they were going to build for her. The movie follows the team from their old spring training home in Tucson through the entire season and into the post season when they beat the Yankees. The players get wind of the plan to throw the season so that the Indians can move to Florida and decide to win it all just to spite her. The Indians are moving to my town in the new stadium that we built to lure them away from Florida.

We are an NL city and I am sitting right now wearing my grey and black pinstriped Diamondbacks Away Jersey. I pretty much hate every other team in the National League (except the Rockies because we were Rocks fans before the Diamondbacks game into existence), so I have adopted the Royals who moved to Surprise where we used to live and the Mariners who train in Peoria. My favorite jersey is my teal Mariners jersey. Now, I am an Indian fan. Chief Wahoo and all.

Posted by Justin at 02:27 PM

Feelin' All Percy

Yeah, I had a bit of a sinus infection. It has been going on for well over a month, but today I actually was tearing up from my left eye it hurt so bad. I could not look at light and my wife continued to be supportive and try to understand the complexities of being a man by asking the important questions:

  • Are you retarded?
  • Why do you hate doctors?
  • Do you think it is going to get better without you going in?
  • Do you want paper or plastic?

Scratch the last one... I think that was the girl at the grocery store, but honestly, my head hurt so bad and I was in such a fog that it all ran together. I couldn't get in to my regular doctor until 2009, so it was off to urgent care. The Medical Assistant always comes and gets you in the waiting room then takes you through the door that keeps the riff-raff out and up to the scale... 260... geez I am fat. Then it is blood pressure... 114/78... maybe I am not that fat. A quick temperature... 99.0... slightly warmer than the weather at Brian Head this weekend. Then the big question:

What brought you in today?

Well, it is either a really bad sinus infection or a massive brain tumor. I figure either way, I probably get a couple of days off of work and some good pain killers. I think she appreciated my optimism. Turns out it is the former. So some steroids, some antibiotics, and some Percocet later and I am riding the narcotic wave of dizzy euphoria. What better way to enjoy the effects of pain killers? Staying up until 3:00 AM watching Arrested Development Season 2 and blogging.

Posted by Justin at 02:44 AM | Comments (1)

January 17, 2007

New Sprint Snowzone

More companies are reaching out to increasingly tech savvy winter sports enthusiasts:

Sprint today announces SnowZone, an exclusive wireless site that allows users to get the information they crave from the latest weather and snow conditions at their favorite resorts to getting video clips with the latest tips and tricks from gold medal athletes including freestyle skier Jonny Moseley, known for pushing moguls skiing to the limits, and snowboarder Seth Wescott, who won the first snowboardcross gold medal in his sport last February. Additionally Sprint Power View segments featuring interviews with America's best skiers and snowboarders will be offered, and users can share and watch their most exciting moments on the slopes without having to come off the mountain.

SnowZone currently includes the following content:

  • Snow Reports - Provides weather updates and the latest snow conditions at ski resorts throughout the U.S. and Canada broken down by region (Far West, Rockies, Midwest, Mid Atlantic, East)
  • SnowZone Photo/Video Share - Users can join the SnowZone community to share photos and videos from the hills as well as check out what others have submitted on their phone. Selected favorite photos and videos will be featured in the Sprint Power View Inside Ride program. Additionally users can read blogs on tips, tricks, gear and more from Moseley and Wescott.
  • Fun on the Run - Get exclusive access to Moseley's full-track downloads from the Sprint Music Store or download music and music videos from MTV Mobile, Sony Music Box, GoTV Alternative Rock and Hip Hop. Users can also watch Extreme TV (on Sprint TV) or download some of the most extreme wireless games and play them directly on their Sprint or Nextel phone.
  • Express Yourself - Included in this section are Wescott's featured ring tones as well as the hottest ringers, screen savers and call tones.

I bought a set of Skull Candy headphones for my radio and iPod that attach to my helmet. I have a Garmin GPS, Camelback, and more and more cool techie gadgets to take with me for my ski trips. But then again, I am all crazy geeky like that. I have a DVD player, Sirius Satellite Radio, and iPod controls built into my stereo in the Avy. I have my Onstar phone so that I can get phone reception while driving. I am even considering getting the portable version of Sirius for ski days so that I can listen to NFL games and NBA games while on the slopes. I have wireless broadband for my laptop so that I can work from almost anywhere.

Now I have another gadget to spend money on. But getting snow reports before you roadie up the hill is always a good thing.

Posted by Justin at 05:09 PM

Gear on the Cheap

Got an e-mail from Gear Samples.com about what they do. Pretty cool deal.

I suspect you meet a number of people who are just getting started on the slopes and we both know that the gear can be expensive. My wife and I run a small website that sells new sales rep samples from Marmot, Cloudveil, and Arc'Teryx for 40%-70% off retail. I'd appreciate it if you'd check it out at: www.gearsamples.com and if so inclined recommend it to folks.

If you know anything about sales reps, it is that if you play it right and they think you are worth the trouble, they have all kinds of cool free stuff to hand out. Maybe it is pens or some other cheesy promotional item. I get stuff all the time from folks that want me to pimp for them on my site. Note that I don't do a lot of pimping on my site. I try stuff out and will shill for stuff that rocks like the Colorado pass, ski discount sites, and things of that nature.

I checked out the prices and this is a great way to save some cash. Lots of folks sell their samples on e-Bay for almost full retail and usually, the samples that come out are for stuff that has not even been released yet and is the next year's model. Check out the site.

Posted by Justin at 05:01 PM | Comments (1)

Snowbowl Opens Saturday

From the Arizona Snowbowl website:

Anticipating a forecasted storm this weekend Arizona Snowbowl will begin the 2006-07 season at 9 AM this Saturday, January 20, 2007. The Hart Prairie beginner area and the Sunset intermediate terrain will be open along with Hart Prairie Lodge, providing restaurant, equipment rental, ski school, ski patrol and retail services. Additional lifts and trails will open as additional snow allows. Snowbowl is accepting applications for dozens of openings ranging from equipment rental, food & beverage, Ski & Ride School, lift attendants, maintenance and many other departments.

“We are anxious to get this season going. The pent up demand is overwhelming as every skier and snowboarder in Arizona is ready to get on the slopes”, states Snowbowl’s General Manager, JR Murray.

He continues, “The most recent snowfall on January 13, was light and fluffy but we were able to get our grooming equipment on the snow quickly and pack it down. Allowing it to “set up” with cold temperatures has improved the snow pack on the trails. Any additional snow at this point will only make the conditions better.”

The Arizona Snowbowl is one of last ski areas to open this season but this is because most of the others ski resorts have snowmaking. This is a good example of why snowmaking is so critical to a ski area because the base of snow would have been established with manmade snow allowing us to open in early December. Over thirty inches of snow has fallen since our anticipated opening date that would have covered up the manmade snow. If this is typical, waiting until January for snow, then the manmade snow is really skied on for the first several weeks of the ski season before it is covered by natural snow. This year Snowbowl would have used only a fraction of the water available to them to make snow. The big difference is the fact that manmade snow allows a resort open each year on a predictable basis.

Not sure who to thank--the Hopi Gods or the Snow Gods. I wonder if they hang out together. I hear the Hopi Gods may be responsible for 9-11 and Hurricane Katrina according to Joe Shirley who is fighting to stop snowmaking. I am always worried about offending powerful deities that can cause worldwide calamities or worse yet, destroy the financial viability of a ski resort. I hope the resort opening is a sign that the Hopi Gods are going to hold off on any Hurricanes, Tsunamis, or Terrorist attacks for a while.

Posted by Justin at 09:34 AM | Comments (1)

January 16, 2007

Honor

Honor:

On April 14, 2004, 3 days after Easter Sunday, Corporal Dunham was manning a checkpoint in Karabilah, Iraq, when an insurgent leapt from his car and began choking Corporal Dunham. A scuffle ensued as two Marines approached to help. Reportedly, the last words from Corporal Dunham were, “No, No. Watch his hand.” Suddenly, the insurgent dropped a grenade. Corporal Dunham took off his Kevlar helmet, dropped to the ground, and covered the explosive as best he could.

The blast seriously wounded all 3 Marines. Eight days later, Corporal Jason L. Dunham died at Bethesda Naval Hospital from wounds he received in the incident. He was 22.

Corporal Dunham made the ultimate sacrifice, and in doing so saved the lives of his fellow Marines. Due to his actions on that fateful day, Corporal Dunham will be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Imagine caring so much about your fellow man that you are willing to sacrifice your life to save him.

Next time you are buying your latte from the kid with the two lip rings and jet black hair at Starbucks, imagine being his friend and hanging out. Ask yourself, if this kid was my friend and I loaned him $20, would he pay me back? If my car was broken down, could I call him and ask him to give me a lift?

Cpl. Dunham was 22 years old. He wasn't thinking about a Medal of Honor when he saw the grenade, I can promise you. There was nothing in it for him. That is what honor is. It is doing what is valiant without thinking, without weighing the rewards or consequences. It is a Freudian Slip where your thoughts and true nature come out.

Posted by Justin at 11:27 PM

January 15, 2007

Major Power Outage and -15 Degree Temps at Brian Head

How do you top the misery of riding the lift in sub zero temperatures? Why having a power outage while you are doing it. Bad things at Brian Head today. Not sure what caused the problems, but the power went out at around midnight last night and did not come back until after 11:00 AM. The it was spotty for the rest of the day with brief 10-20 minute outages. Cable did not come back until after the Seattle-Chicago game was over, so we missed it.

Brian Head had all the lifts but Giant Steps closed down until power was restored (since I believe Giant Steps has a diesel generator). Because Navajo was shut down, there was no place for Jarrett to go today. We sent Jake and Jackson over to Giant Steps while I took care of Jarrett and nursed what appears to be a case of the flu with my second sinus infection of the year. I slept for 16 hours on Saturday and came home at around 1:00 PM from skiing feeling horrible.

Conditions are still sketchy in many places and I still bottomed out on some rocks yesterday on Dunes. The latest snowstorm only dropped about a foot of snow and the base still isn't where it needs to be. Combine that with -10 degree temps, power outages, and the holiday crowds, it isn't exactly epic conditions. The snow is good in spots, but choppy from the wind, the traffic, and the lack of a good base.

We are going to give it a go tomorrow since the power problems and the crowds seem to be improving. Good news is that we got a lot of work done on the condo today and got it buttoned up earlier than expected. Painting and drywall texturing. Good times.

Posted by Justin at 12:43 AM | Comments (2)

January 11, 2007

Park City / Deer Valley Reaches Out to New Media for Freestyle World Cup Event (h/t Rocky Mtn Voices)

From Rocky Mountain Voices.com the following about Deer Valley and Park City trying to reach Gen X / Y:

When Deer Valley Resort wanted to reach the Gen Xer’s and Y’s to market the Freestyle FIS World Cup, they turned to social networking and new media distribution like YouTube. Erin Grady, Deer Valley’s Communications Manager, worked with the Park City Chamber and Visitors Bureau to create a short, 5 minute Video Podcast that could be uploaded to YouTube and linked to blogs, MySpace pages, and web sites where local skiers hang out. “We knew that the younger crowd gets a lot of their information through interactive mediums, so that’s why we selected social media and podcasting,” said Grady. Since the event includes free concerts from The Samples and The Wailers (the reggae band made famous by Family Man and Bob Marley) in addition to the freestyle competition, the web is a perfect medium to reach out.

Video Below:

Posted by Justin at 02:42 PM | Comments (2)

Huge Storm Coming to Brian Head

A major Arctic blast is on its way. Temps in the single digits and below zero. 30+ MPH winds. Oh yeah, and did I mention 2-3' of snow.

If you have never skied in below zero temps with a 30 mph wind, it is like heaven. You have the slopes to yourself. Every single inch of you is cold, but anything that is exposed is frozen. You take one run and then spend 45 minutes in the lodge thawing. The lift rides seem to take an hour and every time a lift stops, you have thoughts of killing someone and hiding the body under a drift. Real fun times here.

My son Jarrett usually wants to stay with Mom (yeah, he is a momma's boy) but last night he tells me that he "wants to go skiing with Jake and Jackson". My conditions are simple--don't fight the entire time while we are driving and don't whine the whole time we are there. Last time I took him to a Suns game, he needed earplugs and by the 4th quarter kept saying "I want to go home" and crying.

I am going over to Sports Authority to buy some long underwear for the kids. They are gonna need it. Hand and foot warmers are a must. Part of me is looking forward to a powder day, but the other part of me is from Arizona and my body isn't prepared for this kind of cold yet, if ever.

Posted by Justin at 09:44 AM | Comments (1)

January 09, 2007

All That is Wrong with College Football

Gonna get off topic for a bit since Boise State got exactly ONE FIRST PLACE VOTE in the AP Poll and none in the ESPN/USA Today Poll despite finishing 13-0 and beating powerhouse Oklahoma. Boise State finished 5th in the AP and 6th in the ESPN/USA Today Poll.

Who won the National Championship? Utah... Wait, that is Utah's former coach who could not get a whiff of the title at Utah despite running the table, but is the best coach in the world despite losing a game. So called Mid Majors are little more than proving grounds for coaches to inflate their paychecks before heading to a BCS conference school. They have no chance to compete and as soon as they have a great year, their coach gets offers for several times more money at a powerhouse. For instance, Utah paid Meyer approximately $700,000 to coach there and take the Utes to the Fiesta Bowl in 2004, but Florida offered him over $2M per year for 7 years to come to Florida. How can Utah ever build a reputation and therefore get some National respect if they cannot afford to keep a great coach? This talks about BYU and Utah competing to hire Meyer's old DC as their head coach:

Monday and Tuesday, Utah turned its job search into a miniature Florida-style hiring effort, throwing money in hopes the lure of gold would land its man.

In a paper chase that began Friday, sources say Utah's first offer to Whittingham Sunday started at $500,000, a figure that clearly outdistanced a BYU offer first put on the table Friday. Utah then pushed that to $750,000 a year for five years by Tuesday afternoon, a figure unheard of in the Rockies for a first-year unproven head coach.

In contrast, according to the Coloradoan in Fort Collins, Colo., Colorado State coach Sonny Lubick has a base salary of $350,000 and total package of $500,000 per year. Estimates at the Air Force Academy put Fisher DeBerry's compensation package on par with Lubick.

A far cry from the $2M per year Florida paid. And expect a contract extension and several million dollars more. Why does Florida have so much more money? Because LSU and Florida played in BCS Bowls this year. The major conferences are guaranteed to divy up the pot of $140M ($14M per team for the 4 BCS Bowls and National Championship game) amongst themselves. Sure, they might have to take a Boise State or a Utah every couple of years, so they only divide up $126M instead of the whole pot. What did BYU get for winning their conference--a trip to the Las Vegas Bowl and $1.5M bucks. Boise State would have gone to the Liberty Bowl and gotten $2M had they not finished undefeated.

So how do you gain a national reputation as a "Mid Major"? You play major conference schools. Only problem is that they won't schedule you unless it is at their home. Boise State played Oregon State (the team that beat USC) at OSU and throttled them. 42-14, I believe. Yet USC loses two games and finishes above BSU. You think a team like Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio State, Florida, Notre Dame, Nebraska, Oklahoma, etc., wants to play Boise State? Maybe, and only if it is at home, certainly not on the Smurf Turf (their blue field). So every year, the knock on Boise State, Utah, Fresno State, etc., is that they don't play anyone. This allows the Major Conferences to keep them out of the BCS Bowls so that they cannot beat someone like Oklahoma, ensuring that an upstart cannot compete for a National Title or bring in enough money to keep their coaches like Urban Meyer, Dirk Koetter (Boise State), Dan Hawkins (Boise State), etc. Even Arizona State stole a Dennis Erickson from Idaho by throwing money at him.

I love underdogs. I love Gonzaga. I love Weber State beating North Carolina. I love Wichita State (but mostly for the name the Shockers and for the cool hand signal). I love a tournament of 64 teams and seeing a team like George Mason go to the Final Four. Boise State deserved more than they got. They deserved to play for a title. Going undefeated is difficult and should be rewarded. Instead, expect more of the same and if BSU goes undefeated next year, expect them to finish 5th again and their coach to get an offer of $3M per year to coach somewhere else.

Posted by Justin at 11:24 AM | Comments (1)

January 06, 2007

Mystery Date (h/t Adam at Highly Obsessed)

Adam at Highly Obsessed posted an article linking to an updated version of the 70's board game Mystery Date. Some highlights of the post at accordion guy:

Snowboarding Date with Steve-O McTokesalot

mystery-date-snowboarder.jpg

Many snowboarders do not make ideal dates. They'll bore you to death about which resort has good runs and how skiers must die; they may not have the capacity to talk about anything else because they've liquefied their brains by listening to Danzig at high volumes on their iPods. Let's not forget their weed habits, either -- a lovely young lady I knew once dated a 'boarder who smoked up so much that their nights of passion ended up being, shall we say, like spending hours trying to stuff a marshmallow into a parking meter. If you get my drift.

Two of the other dates are as follows:

Prom Date with Preppy McSmug

Next on the list is smug guy in rented tux. I have always maintained that renting a tuxedo is like renting bowling shoes -- except that with bowling shoes, the odds are that the previous renters didn't throw up in them.

Smug Boy will probably spend more time admiring himself in the mirror than looking at his date. He'll eventually go on to college to major in bird courses (I believe Americans call them "gut courses"), keggers and date rape.

The Nerd Date

Finally, a nice nerd boy, dressed like the guys from Weezer and sporting either a laptop or notepad. Unfortunately, he's the "dud" date.

Speaking as a nerd, this is an outrage!

Snowboard boy's probable fate is talking to high school kids about the dangers of drugs as part of his community service. Tuxedo boy will likely end up clawing his way up to middle management at the #5-rated office supply company. However, Nerd boy's future prospects are pretty bright and speaking from experience and observation, nerds make better dates simply because they're grateful to get one.

So forget Mystery Date, people. Go buy Trivial Pursuit instead. Better yet, go out with a nerd on a Mystery Science Theater 3000 date! You won't regret it.

mst3k... Yep. He said that. Check out his post. Beautiful post. Check out the entire thing and the pictures for more details. I just love Steve-O Mctokesalot. I swear I ride the lifts with these guys occasionally and my brother Jeremy fits the bill. After a while, guys like this end up where Jeremy is--pumping gas and filling propane tanks at a gas station and smoking up while playing 4-5 hours a night of Madden with his boss.

Posted by Justin at 12:41 PM

24" in 48 Hours at Brian Head... And I am in Phoenix

Brian Head finally got the big snow storm we have been waiting for to complete the base and keep me from spending all my hard earned money on p-tex. 24" in 48 hours and it is straight up bluebird today. It is supposed to snow Wednesday and Thursday of next week and I am planning to head up for the weekend with Jackson, Jake and my dad.

Last night I hit the Miami Heat vs. Phoenix Suns game and next week I have tickets to see the Lebrons on Thursday. The Suns just destroyed the heat minus DWade and Shaq. The high point of the night came with :02 seconds left and the Suns up 25. Pat Burke. 6'10" way back up center dropped the bomb from 3 as the game ended. The crowd went wild when he got up off of the bench with 4:00 left, but when he hit the three it went nuts.

The Phoenix Suns are scorching hot right now and have won 23 of their last 26 games. I have tickets to two games this week coming up, then don't have tickets again until Feb 21. I backloaded my season tickets by selling most of the games in Jan, Feb, and March. I didn't want to be stuck in Phoenix when Brian Head was having major powder days. Yeah, that worked out.

Posted by Justin at 12:28 PM | Comments (1)

Welcome to Drift - Canadian Ski Resort News

Added a new blog to the blogroll. Check out Canadian Ski Resort info at Drift.

Note to folks that read my site--if you post comments and leave an e-mail or url, I usually check it out and or e-mail you back. I get bored with my day job where I sit on the computer all day and so most of my day is spent blogging or pretending to work or taking long lunches or going to Starbucks or ducking out of work four hours early to go skiing. Notice how blogging and pretending to work probably aren't going to get me fired, yet, my long lunches and Starbucks runs or half days to ski probably will. If you have good stuff to read, I will add you to my links and you may very well save my job.

I dig this site and two other new ones, Rippin' Skiers and Jon Lawson at My Snow Pro, a lot. (Links at the Right) I don't have any sites in the blogroll that aren't either serious eye candy (which JP and Alex at weknowsnow provide lots of) or great content (which everyone on the list has). I get off topic and rant from time to time, so my links give me fuel to provide content. So shoot me a link if you see something on the Inter-web-a-mathingy that I should be aware of that does not involve Canadian Pharmacies, various enlargements, or Britney Spears limo shots. I get plenty of links and comments and trackbacks to that. But you can't get enough Canadian Oxycontin, can you?

Posted by Justin at 02:54 AM | Comments (1)

January 04, 2007

Alta's "No Snowboarding" Revisited

Adam at Highly Obsessed had a recent post on Alta's no snowboarding policies. In a previous article he states the following:

There's an Associated Press article out on Alta, a ski area in Utah that still doesn't allow snowboarders on its slopes. There were a couple of lines in the article that caught my attention:

"At the risk of offending my snowboarding friends, I have to say this is another reason why I like skiing here -- I love snowboarders, but without them, the loose snow doesn't slough off the mountain as quickly."

On one hand, that sounds like total bullsh*t to me. [Isn't it lame that I edit what he says by simply replacing one vowel so as to obscure his profanity? =)] Do snowboarders really have a more negative impact on a slope's snow than skiers? I don't think so, but it made me realize skiers and snowboarders probably have different effects.

I am reminded of a posting at Wil from 120daysofpowder's other site, Baseballtopia, titled "48 Homers Hit, Time to Get This Off My Chest"

There is one thing that destroyed the game purists loved more than anything else over the last decade. How’s that for a starter, Jack? “In these decadent and depraved times what could he be after?” you ask yourself. “America is in a war with itself, gas costs $5/gallon, and Bush is learning to play a fiddle on the roof of the White House. What could possibly be wrong with the adopted bastard grandson of the hardy men from America’s Atlantic pastures?” you beg of me!

Every-god-damned-thing.

Write it down, I said it, take down all bets, no one will be turned away! There won’t be one starting pitcher this season to end with an ERA of under 2.90! Not a single cock-eyed one of them!

Baseball used to be a pure sport, not a sport filled with juiced up "power hitters" that use "the cream and the clear". There are purists who watch Field of Dreams over and over and long for the days when baseball was a thinking man's game, not a game of juiced players and inflated home run numbers and ERA's. Alta is a mountain for skiers that have the same nostalgic love for pure skiing that baseball purists have for 1-0 Pitcher's Duels, hit and runs, bunting a guy over, stealing bases, and scrapping for wins. Alta is a purist's mountain.

Baseball is a business, just like skiing is. And baseball probably would not survive and be as viable for today's MTV junkies that like the XFL, WWE, and UFC where steroids and quick soundbites are encouraged. An old school game would not make for SportsCenter's quick clips. Baseball abandoned their pure sport and started things like Interleague Play and All Star Games that end in ties. They sold their soul or so many say. But then there are people like me that didn't grow up with a Major League ball player as their grandfather (which Wil did) and didn't go to games as a 4 and 5 year old. I never knew the game purists love. I love the new brand of baseball because of a love affair after 9-11 with a team in the Desert of Arizona. That was baseball to me. Because of my own lack of historical perspective, I don't understand the longing for an era that long since passed.

I can liken this to the ski and snowboard industry and my comments at Highly Obsessed:

Alta is under $50 for a lift ticket when Deer Valley, Park City, etc., as well as most of Colorado run around $75. Again, Alta does have plenty of room on their mountain. They have almost 2,500 skiable acres and better than 2200 vertical feet on one lift alone, plus only get around 350,000 skier visits per year. Families that are "mixed" still go to Alta-Snowbird which boast almost 4,500 skiable acres combined because they are connected now and Snowbird offers snowboarding.

Go ski with a 60 year old dude that has a couple thousand skier days under his belt and lived in a VW in the 70's skiing places like Breck, Keystone, Winter Park, Abasin, etc., before anyone had ever heard of Jake Burton. Alta has plenty of them and many of them teach. And because Alta is skier only, people gravitate there. The 600"+ that they received last year doesn't hurt either.

I love Snowboarders. My brother rides. All but a couple of my friends do. This is not meant to offend them. Just like Wil is not trying to offend me because he loves a different kind of baseball than I have ever known. There is a special magic there about a pitcher's duel like in the 2001 NLDS when Curt Schilling and Matt Morris stared each other down twice and Curt sent Mark McGuire into his retirement looking plain silly, despite being juiced and having hit 70 HR's just a couple seasons before. It is even more magical when it reminds 30 year old men of the time their grandfather took them to a game at the old Busch Stadium or Wrigley or Fenway. I cannot even begin to understand because I wasn't there back in the day.

Alta is today's pitchers duel. It is something to behold and love for those that want to escape to a different era before terrain parks and Jake Burton. It is ours. And if you don't understand, that is fine. I can't explain a beautiful sunrise to someone that has never seen one. I can't explain baseball before it was a made for TV sport to taday's ADHD kids. I cannot explain or describe Alta and its appeal to someone that has never been a part of skiing in its pure form.

Posted by Justin at 04:27 PM | Comments (1)

January 03, 2007

What to Remember on Your Ski Trip - from Jon Lawson

Jon Lawson at mysnowpro.com has a list of what to remember on you ski trip and how to prepare and pack. I posted a similar article from Megeve Mike earlier this year. From mysnowpro:

So now after I told you of my personal issues, you may ask yourself, "why should I listen to this guy". Well, I used to forget more, and I am better now. Also, if you were to pick up my instructor jacket you may be amazed at the weight. Lip balm, sunblock, cell phone, space pen, class list, neckgator, camera, ipod, trail maps, canting shims, accident forms, snacks, sometimes lunch, etc... You get the picture. A good instructor is always prepared.

So here are some ideas to get ready for your first ski day of the year.

Make a "clothing man". Have some fun with this. The night before (or week), dress an imaginary person on the bed. Jackets, vests, softshells, pants, hat, gloves, socks, gloves, long underwear, boots, goggles, glasses, and neckgator. Perhaps even put your skis and poles next to everything. In the pockets of your jacket, put your sunblock, lip balm, and SKI PASS or ticket. Then lay your next outfit on top of the previous one. You may not need an extra jacket or pants, but please have extra socks! BTW, long thin socks are the best. Thick socks or two pair make your feet sweat, freeze, and fall off. Not a pretty sight.

I am going to add helmet in my case and my sons and brother's case. I ski trees a lot and like to get off piste. I have this major fear of hitting a rock or stump and going down onto something and smashing my grape. It would totally suck to end up brain damaged or something. Drooling and slurring my words. I would be like Lou Holtz on ESPN's College Gameday. Better yet, I picked up some new earphone pieces called "Tune Ups" for my Giro helmet and they have a built in Motorola microphone and headset that doubles up for playing my iPod. I also will add that a Motorola Radio and Portable GPS are good to have. The GPS is good for tracking where you went and better yet, when combined with the Radio is good in case you get lost. Especially helpful if you load it with trail maps which are becoming increasingly available.

I always keep a neck gator in my pocket, regardless of whether it is 40 degrees out. This last week, I left my fleece liner for my jacket and a crazy windstorm showed up at around noon. I had my neck gator and my neck and legs were warm, but my torso was seriously cold.

Two things not to bring--zig zags and or a pipe, and a flask. Keep in mind that drinking and skiing or smoking up and skiing numb your senses and extremities and are just bad news. And never forget your bathing suit. You gotta pack it if you want to hit the tub after a long day. Worse yet, it is winter at the resorts and they are kinda tough to find in the winter. We have a public sauna and hot tub at our condo and they generally frown on wearing boxer briefs or going commando in the tub. Especially when you are as white and fat as I am. So I bring my European speedo and normally wear my chest and back hair out with a good gold chain around my neck. Italian style baby.

Posted by Justin at 12:46 AM | Comments (1)

January 01, 2007

Broncos Lose Finale, Darrent Williams

Some things put wins and losses in perspective including the death of Darrent Williams.

Broncos cornerback Darrent Williams was killed in an early-morning shooting near the 1100 block of Speer Boulevard in downtown Denver Monday.

Police told the team the Fort Worth, Texas native, was shot in a drive-by shooting. Williams was in a Humvee limousine with several others, including Broncos wide receiver Javon Walker, when it was hit with several bullets fired from another vehicle shortly after 2 a.m. Monday morning. Williams was one of three people in the limousine who were shot. All three, including Williams, were taken to hospitals.

Walker and several other people in the limousine were not injured in the shooting.

Tragic. That is all that you can say about the death of a 24 year old man. Thoughts and prayers go out to his family, teammates and friends. Not a good way to end 2006 and start 2007.

Now on to the 2006 finale against the 49ers. The Denver Rocky Mountain News offers this on the Season Finale:

What the Broncos were, not that long ago, were near-champions, one game short of the Super Bowl, first-round bye, division-winning ladder climbers, a mere step from glory.

What the Broncos now are losers, consigned to the general pile of losers, that bunch of failures with nothing more to do than to philosophize, and worse off because they are in the middle of the pile, as far from the bottom as from the top.

"We thought we were going to pull it out," said quarterback Jay Cutler. "Too bad."

This is as it was fated to be once Shana- han shrugged off Jake Plummer, the veteran, the failure, daring to chance a rookie, finishing with Cutler, an uneven solution but promising a better horizon.

"This is a good springboard for me into next year," said Cutler, and that is all it was really ever going to be. Once that choice was made, it all became about something much further away than an extra Sunday in New England, which is where the Broncos would have gone.

This is fairly what the Broncos deserved, if they chose to reach for tomorrow while today was still fresh. This game was lost because the strong arm of Cutler dared him to throw off-balance and directly to the 49ers' antique cornerback Walt Harris, who returned the favor for a touchdown.

Well, of course you are. That is exactly how the Rams beat the Broncos to start this whole adventure. And how the Broncos beat the Chiefs and how, if Cutler had not thrown that brutal interception, they would have beaten San Francisco.

Just as well they did not. Just as well that this thing ends without any phony validation of Shanahan's late impulse to win with an apprentice.

It cannot be known how Plummer might have fared had he kept his job, but it is doubtful that it would have been worse. His brief relief of Cutler on Sunday is no proof but it does have a number.

Rebuilding. Odd to rebuild after coming within a game of the Super Bowl. And the rebuilding will in all probability begin without Jake Plummer on the roster. So far, in the Cutler Era, the Broncos are 2-3 and missed the playoffs despite starting 7-4 under Jake. Sometimes, you get what you deserve. The Broncos benched Jake despite him leading them to the playoffs in three straight years and being solidly the fifth team in the wildcard race. Cutler was supposed to get them over the AFC Championship game hump and into the Super Bowl. So far, his interception in the fourth quarter that was returned for a TD cost them the Playoffs.

Maybe things will get better under Cutler, but it is tough to top three straight playoff appearances and an AFC Championship game appearance in the three plus years under Plummer. Look for Jake to be a Texan next year. Maybe a Raider. If Jake plays for the Raiders, does he get A-dub to give up number 16, the number they both wore at ASU? That would be heaven and hell for me. First, two ASU QB's playing for the same team--heaven. However, the team is the hapless Raiders who I despise--hell.

In the four years since Jake Plummer left the Cardinals, the Cards finished with four, six, five and five wins. Total of 20 wins in four years. In the four season in Denver, Plummer won 10, 10, 14 (including the playoff win), and 7 (not counting the "Cutler Era). Total of 41 wins in four years. Plummer led the Broncos to the Playoffs all three years he was the starter. In the four years before Jake arrive, the Broncos won six, eleven, eight, and nine wins and made the playoffs one time.

Posted by Justin at 03:14 PM

Congratulations are in Order for the WMA, Hopis, and Sierra Club

The Arizona Republic has an article about the state of affairs at Snowbowl:

For the seventh time in the past decade, the nearby Arizona Snowbowl wasn't open for that all-important week between Christmas and New Year's Day, normally accounting for one-third of a ski area's business for the year.

In six of the past eight years, the ski season hasn't been long enough to attract even 100,000 skiers, while the historic average in the late 1990s had been 125,000 skiers annually.

In three of those seasons, Snowbowl had 35,000 skiers or fewer. The 2001-02 season was only four days long.

But the hits just keep on coming for Sunrise, the Hopi Tribe, and the Sierra Club:

In a normal snow year, the Snowbowl has about a $10.5 million direct impact on Flagstaff's economy and $20 million indirect impact, according to studies by the Snowbowl and Flagstaff consultants. About 70 percent of the area's skiers come from outside Flagstaff, most from the Valley.

A recent study by Gary Vallen Hospitality Consultants of Flagstaff concluded that the Snowbowl would attract a minimum of 200,000 skiers each season if it had snowmaking capacity that could guarantee a consistent season from Thanksgiving to April 1. Snowmaking ability also would add an average of $6.3 million annually to the local economy, according to the Vallen study.

But ain't Karma a bitch for the Apaches and Snowbowl:

Ski area manager Bill London said that Sunrise hasn't been able to get loans of about $11 million for new snowmaking equipment and to acquire rights for a larger reservoir of water.

London said that Sunrise has had seasons in the past where it has had as many as 140,000 skiers but still finished in the red.

"The way it is now, our snowmaking equipment only covers about 10 percent of our total ski area terrain, so that's having a limited impact on our operations," London said. "If we had new equipment, we would be able to cover about 35 percent of our area with artificial snow."

So snowmaking is essential to Sunrise's operation, but they cannot get anyone to give them a loan. They are in the red. Guess the WMA tribe will have to use some of the money that they steal from Blue Haired old grandmas to keep their area afloat. Funny, but Snowbowl can afford snowmaking equipment and doesn't have the deep casino pockets to keep them in business. They have to have snowmaking or they cannot keep floating the ski area with an outside financial source. It is a bad investment to keep pumping money into a business that cannot be expected to be profitable.

Hmmm. I had this idea for Sunrise. Try this on for size--Snowbowl gets as many as 125,000 skier visits, 70% of which are from Phoenix. If Sunrise can get Snowbowl to close, they would capture at least a large portion of those skier visits and probably be profitable, even in a bad year. If estimates are correct, that 125,000 number may be more like 200,000. Then Sunrise could show a large enough profit to get their loan to make more snow and attract even more skier visits. Leading to even more profits. Wow. That Bachelor's Degree in Business from ASU finally pays off. Or maybe not. Even the WMA tribe is smart enough to come up with this business plan.

Well, news for Sunrise--I ain't gonna be a skier visit ever again or deal with their rude WMA tribe members that work the resort, stay in their trashy hotel, or spend money at their casinos. They are trying to hose Snowbowl by using some lame "Religious Freedom" excuse to shut down snowmaking on the precious San Francisco Peaks. Instead of pumping WMA tribe money into fixing their 30 year old facilities and improving conditions, they instead spend it on legal challenges to shut down their competition.

And who gets screwed in this whole deal? Why, the people of Phoenix, Tucson, and so forth that would rather shave two hours each way off of their drive and save the gas money they would spend going to Sunrise by going to Flag which is much closer. Better yet, Snowbowl has a more friendly and helpful staff made up mostly of college kids that actually do ski or ride unlike the WMA tribe members that run the resort at Sunrise. They understand skiing and care about the sport unlike the tribe at Sunrise, most of whom are simply there because in the winter they cannot start fires to provide work like they did in 2002 by starting the Rodeo-Chediski fires:

The Rodeo-Chediski fire was a wildfire that burned in east-central Arizona beginning on June 18, 2002, and was not controlled until July 7. It was the worst forest fire in Arizona to date, consuming 467,066 acres (1,890.15 km²) of woodland. Several local communities, including Show Low, Pinetop-Lakeside, and Heber-Overgaard, were threatened and had to be evacuated.

Initially there were two separate fires. The first fire, the Rodeo fire, was reported on the afternoon of June 18 near the Rodeo Fairgrounds on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation. An arsonist was arrested on June 29 and was later charged. By early evening, despite the efforts of firecrews, around 1,200 acres (5 km²) were ablaze. Increasing wind speeds fed the fire to over 2,000 acres (8 km²) by the following morning, and when wind speeds increased to around 25 mph (40 km/h) the fire grew rapidly — increasing fourfold over the next three hours.

The arsonist, who received a 10-year prison sentence in March 2004, was Leonard Gregg, a Cibecue resident who worked as a seasonal firefighter for the tribal fire department. He told investigators he had set two fires that morning (the first was quickly put out) in hopes of getting hired by the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs for a quick-response fire crew. Gregg had previously worked as a BIA fire crew member, and was indeed among the first to be called in to fight the Rodeo Fire.

There is plenty of money and people for everyone. The WMA Tribe does not need to burn my state down to find work. Phoenix is the sixth largest metropolitan area in the country. Counting Tucson and Phoenix, that is almost 4.5M people. But the Hopis, Sierra Club, and WMA tribe want us to ski at Sunrise or not ski at all. They are not our friends. They don't care about skiers at Sunrise. Sure, Sunrise has some good folks from Eagar and Pinetop, etc., that work at the resort, but the place is owned and ultimately run by the WMA tribe. Their motivations are not about running a great ski resort, but rather about finding another way to take money from the White Folks. Casinos just aren't enough. So they have thrown their hat in the ring with the Sierra Club that was equally to blame for the fires in 2002. They sure care about Arizona, don't they? They sure care about skiers too.

Posted by Justin at 01:05 PM