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March 30, 2007

Vail Resorts and the Colorado Pass

I have several other posts about the Colorado Pass, but now that it is nearing the end of the season, it is the best time to start thinking about and/or purchasing your season pass for next year. I want to cover the Colorado Pass again, as well as highlight what I think about the CO Pass, Vail Resorts, and the impact of the two on affordable skiing in general.

First, the Colorado Pass--last year the pass ran a little under $400 (even less if you bought early) and got you unlimited skiing at Breck, Keystone, and A-basin plus 10 days at Vail and Beaver Creek. Compare that to roughly the same price (regular price) for a season pass at Brian Head that is for one resort as opposed to three plus two more with bonus days.

Second, Vail. Well, it is Vail. Ten days at $85 a day peak price is more than double the cost of the pass. Hell, even a week at Vail is more expensive than the pass.

I am on a ton of mailing lists, but VRI is has a new Colorado Pass Club that gets you all kinds of offers and discounts. It is important to be an informed consumer and look for deals. If you do that, VRI has about the best deals in the industry. Their lift tickets and prices aren't cheap, but when you use the CO Pass it makes skiing at Vail, Beaver Creek, Breck, and so on actually LESS EXPENSIVE than at many of the smaller resorts around the country... and you are skiing at the finest resorts in the world for reasonable prices.

Utah has nothing that even comes close to the CO Pass. A season pass at Alta is several hundred dollars more than the CO Pass and just covers Alta, and so on. I am big on keeping skiing affordable and Vail Resorts is certainly doing their part.

Posted by Justin at 02:48 PM | Comments (4)

March 26, 2007

New Link - Reclaim the Peaks.com

I can't do justice to the entire Snowbowl debate, but I want to direct your attention to my new link--Reclaim the Peaks.com that is run by the Snowbowl Ski Club.

Arizona has two resorts. One owned by the White Mountain Apache tribe, Sunrise, and Arizona Snowbowl. Snowbowl leaves some things to be desired. It is small. The snow coverage can be lacking. Lift lines suck on busy days because the college kids swamp it. But it is one of two resorts serving the two fastest growing metropolitan areas in the country as well as the country's fourth largest county:

WASHINGTON - Maricopa County gained 696,000 residents between 2000 and 2006, the largest numerical increase of the nation's 3,141 counties, according to estimates released today by the U.S. Census Bureau.

This increase surpasses the total population of all but 15 U.S. cities.

Pima County added an estimated 21,362 residents from 2005 to 2006 to end up with 946,362 as of July 1. It grew that year at a rate of 2.3 percent, placing it ninth among Arizona counties in growth rate.
Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, has 3.8 million residents, making it the nation's fourth largest county.

"The dramatic increase in Maricopa County's population is the main reason Arizona became the nation's fastest-growing state between 2005 and 2006," said Census Bureau Director Louis Kincannon, referring to the state population estimates released last December. "Maricopa's growth has been remarkable, adding nearly 3 million residents since the 1970 census."

Maricopa County also added the most people - nearly 130,000 - from 2005 to 2006, the bureau reported. It was followed by Harris County, Texas; Riverside County, Calif.; Clark County, Nev.; and Tarrant County, Texas.

Pinal County ranked as the second fastest-growing county in the country from 2005 to 2006 among those with a population of more than 10,000. The county had an estimated 270,000 people and saw a 12.9 percent increase.

But Ski resorts and recreational opportunities do not need to expand just because the state is exploding with growth.

Reclaim the peaks is accepting donations for legal appeals and this issue is about far more than our local resort. This case has major implications for the entire industry as well as for all federal land.

Posted by Justin at 01:45 PM

March 24, 2007

Rocky Celebrates

I grew up in Billings and went to school at Highland Elementary, just about a mile from Rocky Mountain College. My first job ever was delivering papers for the Billings Gazette. Matter of fact, I started college at Eastern Montana College (about two miles away). Today, the Billings Gazette has an article on Rocky Mountain College in Billings winning a national ski racing championship:

Rocky Mountain College saluted its national championship men's ski-racing team Friday afternoon with a reception in Prescott Hall's appropriately named "Great Room."

Friends, fellow students, faculty and administrators gathered to hear written statements from Gov. Brian Schweitzer, senators Max Baucus and Jon Tester and congressman Denny Rehberg congratulating the Bears on winning their second United States Collegiate Ski Association championship in three years.

"As a ski coach I never thought I would hear that kind of recognition," Rocky coach Jerry Wolf said of all the kind words flowing from Helena and Washington, D.C. "I was just trying to put together the best team I could and the fastest team I could to try to win."

And win they did, in Winter Park, Colo., sweeping the giant slalom, slalom and combined standings in topping the 19-school field when the competition concluded on March 10.

Good times. Rocky is about a half a mile from my mom's house. Congrats on winning a title.

Posted by Justin at 07:00 PM

March 22, 2007

The Larger Impacts of the Snowbowl Ruling

The Snowbowl decision has some wide ranging impacts. This opens an entirely new door to challenge construction projects, roads, permits, and so on. Come up with a religion and find a way to claim that a project substantially burdens you from exercising that religion, and the RFRA affords you the same rights as the gave the tribes--to shut down construction.

I have posted the ruling here in its full text as a .pdf. I won't rehash the entire ruling, but almost the entire thing was based on the Religious Freedom Reform Act of 1993. The conclusion of the ruling is:

In sum, we reverse the district court on two grounds. First, we hold that the Forest Service’s approval of the proposed expansion of the Snowbowl, including the use of treated sewage effluent to make artificial snow, violates RFRA. Second, we hold that the Forest Service’s FEIS does not fulfil its obligations under NEPA because it neither reasonably discusses the risks posed by the possibility of human ingestion of artificial snow made from treated sewage effluent nor articulates why such discussion is unnecessary. We affirm the district court’s grant of summary judgment on Appellants’ remaining four NEPA claims and on their NHPA claim.

Note that the RFRA does not just apply to Native American religions, but to any religion. There is no test on what religions are valid or not. One religion is no more or less valid in the eyes of the government, so our only requirement under the RFRA is to demonstrate that our religion is substantially burdened and the government did not use the least restrictive means and/or did not have a compelling government interest burdening us. This case allows ANY CHURCH OR RELIGION THE SAME RIGHTS AS THE HOPIS AND NAVAJOS have to stop any construction on Federal Land that they deem impacts their religion. And Congress expanded the definition of religion even further to mean just about anything. Quote from the Snowbowl ruling:

Finally, and perhaps most important, Congress expanded the statutory protection for religious exercise in 2000 by amending RFRA’s definition of “exercise of religion.” Under the amended definition — “any exercise of religion, whetheror not compelled by, or central to, a system of religious belief” — RFRA now protects a broader range of religious conduct than the Supreme Court’s interpretation of “exercise of religion” under the First Amendment.

Did you catch that? "Any exercise of religion, whether or not compelled by, or central to, a system of religious belief" is protected by the RFRA. Now, I know folks didn't come here to have Justin lecture on Constitutional Law. So I won't. I will let Justice Kennedy from the 1997 Supreme Court case City of Boerne v. Flores which was a Catholic Church that tried to use the RFRA to overturn a denied building permit. Apparently they believed that the law gave them the right to ignore local building ordances because their worship required a larger church and the City of Boerne imposed a substantial burden without considering the least restrictive means as is required under the RFRA by denying their request to renovate a historical landmark.

Respondent and the United States as amicus contend that RFRA is permissible enforcement legislation under. Although Congress certainly can enact legislation enforcing the constitutional right to the free exercise of religion, see, e.g., Cantwell v. Connecticut, its power "to enforce" is only preventive or "remedial," South Carolina v. Katzenbach. The Amendment's design and text are inconsistent with any suggestion that Congress has the power to decree the substance of the Amendment's restrictions on the States. Legislation which alters the Free Exercise Clause's meaning cannot be said to be enforcing the Clause. Congress does not enforce a constitutional right by changing what the right is...

RFRA is not a proper exercise of Congress' enforcement power because it contradicts vital principles necessary to maintain separation of powers and the federal state balance. An instructive comparison may be drawn between RFRA and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, provisions of which were upheld in Katzenbach, supra, and subsequent voting rights cases. In contrast to the record of widespread and persisting racial discrimination which confronted Congress and the Judiciary in those cases, RFRA's legislative record lacks examples of any instances of generally applicable laws passed because of religious bigotry in the past 40 years. Rather, the emphasis of the RFRA hearings was on laws like the one at issue that place incidental burdens on religion. It is difficult to maintain that such laws are based on animus or hostility to the burdened religious practices or that they indicate some widespread pattern of religious discrimination in this country. RFRA's most serious shortcoming, however, lies in the fact that it is so out of proportion to a supposed remedial or preventive object that it cannot be understood as responsive to, or designed to prevent, unconstitutional behavior. It appears, instead, to attempt a substantive change in constitutional protections, proscribing state conduct that the Fourteenth Amendment itself does not prohibit. Its sweeping coverage ensures its intrusion at every level of government, displacing laws and prohibiting official actions of almost every description and regardless of subject matter. Its restrictions apply to every government agency and official and to all statutory or other law, whether adopted before or after its enactment. It has no termination date or termination mechanism. Any law is subject to challenge at any time by any individual who claims a substantial burden on his or her free exercise of religion. Such a claim will often be difficult to contest. See Smith, supra, at 887.

Requiring a State to demonstrate a compelling interest and show that it has adopted the least restrictive means of achieving that interest is the most demanding test known to constitutional law... All told, RFRA is a considerable congressional intrusion into the States' traditional prerogatives and general authority to regulate for the health and welfare of their citizens, and is not designed to identify and counteract state laws likely to be unconstitutional because of their treatment of religion.

The following comments are taken from a debate in which the lawyer for the City of Boerne made the case against the RFRA:

If upheld, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act will transform our society from one in which churches are expected to be fair-minded members of their respective communities to one in which churches hold the upper hand, whether the issue is zoning, prison regulation, or taxation. RFRA's disdain for the rule of law and for a responsible role for churches is certain to engender less, rather than more, religious tolerance. It is unfortunate that it was drafted in such legalistic terms and therefore is largely inaccessible to the people, who should understand what has hit them.

If you look at the record of the Constitutional Convention, the one word you will see over and over again is "tyranny." The Framers recognized that tyranny is possible when you have great concentrations of power, and they agreed that the way to avoid tyranny was to divide and decentralize power. They did that in the Constitution of the United States.

The three most important structural safeguards in the Constitution are the separation of the powers of the three federal branches; federalism, which separates the powers of the federal government and the states; and the establishment clause, which separates the powers of church and state. RFRA crosses all three boundaries simultaneously...

To understand RFRA you have to understand its scope. The act applies to every law in the United States, whether it was drafted and enacted by a city, a state, a municipality, or the federal government, and whether or not it is a written law. It also applies whether the law was passed before or after RFRA. In other words, this act intends to be the structural equivalent of the Constitution. No other law in this country has that scope. Congress has never before passed a law that has such scope, and RFRA's scope is the prime indicator that what Congress in fact is trying to do is to displace the judiciary's decision with its own policy determination that a different standard ought to be applied in cases involving religious freedom.

These are not my arguments, but those of the City of Boerne and of Justice Kennedy. But according to several commenters, I am a racist for agreeing with them. We are all racists for not bowing down under the weight of the RFRA. We are racists for not putting religion above all other needs of our society.

This case is not about the Hopis or the Navajos. Again, as I have said, they are simply tools in the grand scheme of things. This is about the Sierra Club and their agenda to stop most projects on Federal Land and in that light, this ruling gave them massive new power. Find a religion that somehow has a practice that might be burdened by the project and fund an RFRA lawsuit in their name to stop it. Make the courts decide if there is a compelling state interest and if the least restrictive means test applies. These are impossible burdens and now this allows almost anyone to tie up almost any project in another massive round of lawsuits. Instead of just preparing Environmental Impact Statements, every project will have to go out to every single religion and ask, "Are we going to burden you? Is there a compelling interest for our project? Is there a least restrictive means to accomplish that?"

Posted by Justin at 10:11 AM

March 21, 2007

The PSIA and Teaching Part Time

Alpengluhen has a great article on the challenges of improving as a part time instructor:

The part that isn't easy to realize is just how large of a gap there is between levels 1 and 2. The testing changes from general skiing ability to a realm entirely different. Book knowledge, teaching abilities, and general skiing all need to increased by several fold. Wherein lies the problem.

Time.

Working at a smaller resort has it's advantages until you reach the concept of advancing, where you run into the unspoken barriers within the organization. Working with beginners is about 90-95% of any instructors' job regardless of location. Typically busy from open to close with a minor break for lunch. With a larger resort though, it's possible to pass off a class to another instructor giving you time to practice what's needed for your exam certs. The sad truth is that working regularly with beginners degrades your own skiing abilities as an instructor (mainly you become sloppy in your form).

The advancing tests aren't about the ability to make it down run XYZ in one piece at Level 2 (or 3), they're more focused on the ability to get down a run gracefully while fully utilizing the standards of balance. Did you engage those edges? Actively pressure the fore and aft of the ski? Maintain a balanced stance? Were you able to "dance with gravity"?

If you're a weekend warrior or part-time instructor time becomes your enemy here. When downtime arrives, it's typically at your second job, which has nothing to do with riding. In short, you've now encountered the ugly side of the professional organizations; the unspoken desire to keep the ranks to an exclusive group of full-time professionals. There are part-time and weekend warriors who have made it to the level of DCL, it's taken them years to achieve this rank. I've met two and both of them are amazing instructors and people. While talking with my DCL this weekend over my leveling exam he expressed the difficulties many of his own instructors were having with this very issue.

Go check out the site. It is one of my favorites. Always good info from a part time instructor who has a day job Mon-Fri. Lots of good info and fun reading.

Posted by Justin at 12:28 AM

March 20, 2007

Back to the Mission

Yesterday, I had a reader who recently stumbled on to my site (and said as much) criticizing the direction of my site, the narrative content, and that I spend time on issues as opposed to simply talking about skiing or pow or whatever else he was looking for. I want to go back to my Mission Statement that is linked at the top of the page:

I will try to pass along information that is useful and occasionally talk about new products or new things happening in the industry of interest to skiers and boarders. When I get bored, I might take a jab at some political matter of particullar interest to me, my friends, or folks in the industry. Maybe that is the environment, growth, new resorts, spotted owls, the McDonaldization of our ski culture, wages at resorts, etc. Nothing too serious like wars or elections or that sort of thing. I don't write about my political beliefs at this site, I do that plenty at other blogs.

First, how lame is it to have a Mission Statement? I feel like some cheesy Corporate Suit for even having one. This is a forum to discuss issues, not just conditions. To discuss the things that are being done right in the industry, not just what is wrong with it. And for people to get information. I love people that post comments and publish all of them (though I reserve the right to not post objectionable material). I started the site to discuss affordable family skiing and to describe the way that I obtain that. Discuss the pluses and minuses of different resorts as well as other topics. I didn't create the site to post about how spiritual the ski experience is. That is something personal that belongs to each individual. I don't believe that skiing is simply a "passion" or a "way of life" or some other nonsense that makes it sound like some Eastern Religion about enlightenment by way of powder days. It is a sport and an industry. We may engage in the industry or sport because of a deep enjoyment of nature or powder, but there is no need to question or comment on why each of us skis or how committed we are to the spiritual nature of skiing. The fact is that we all enjoy the same sport for our own personal reasons.

The industry is run by companies like Intrawest, American (well not as much anymore), Vail Resorts Inc., Burton (not skiing so much as snowboarding but snowsports is the merger of both), K2, and so on. The Olympic sport is run by the IOC and governing bodies that determine the rules of competitions. 90% of US ski areas are on Forest Service Land, meaning that the corporations are regulated by the Forest Service that permits their operations. Every single one of these entities do lots of things that I don't particullarly like, but in the end we depend on corporations to take the massive risk of operating a business that completely depends on the weather. Bad weather and resorts don't open or people don't come. Bad weather and gear doesn't sell and the local gear shops go out of business.

I weigh the benefits of skiing Aspen or Vail versus Wolf Creek or Brian Head. $80+ for a day of skiing versus $40. I weigh owning a slopeside condo at Brian Head that is 7 hours away versus renting versus owning in Park City or Pagosa Springs which are much further. I weigh number of ski days and affordability of a season pass versus vertical feet and acres when choosing where to go. I might take a couple trips a year to somewhere else, but because of cost constraints I usually go to Brian Head with the family. The most important thing to me is affordability and accessibility. People like me (upper middle class suburbanites) are the lifeblood of this industry. We buy condos and spend money at the resorts. But increasingly we find ourselves unable to ski because prices keep rising. The income threshold at which folks can afford to ski keeps rising. This site is about expanding skiing to more people and more families. Providing information so that gapers and families that want to go more often can.

Posted by Justin at 03:19 PM

March 19, 2007

The Sierra Club and the Environmental Movement's War on Skiing

Today, a reader called me a racist for being a little sensitive to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision on Snowbowl.

I am truly saddened by the messages written by Justin, the facilitator of this so called ski-blog. The fact that such racism can be freely exchanged in this manner is so indicative of the institutionalized racism of American society. Unfortunately those that bask in the privledge to ski that can't see how privledged we are to connect with the snow and mountains in this way, when so many other social ills are rampant in many peoples day-to-day lives, are missing the soul of this sport.

Recreation to some, a way of life for some folks like myself, I sincerely hope you can stop and check yourself Justin, at some point, and look to the history of Native Americans, how this country was founded, and what this case truly represents in the grand scheme of things.

This isn't about Snowbowl. Snowbowl is a relatively small resort, but this is a step in a much larger direction.

Colorado Wild's Ski Area Citizens Coalition contains the following messages about expansion:

With skier numbers essentially flat nationwide for the past twenty years, any ski area expansion and concomitant marketing for the limited pool of skiers must steal skiers from other ski areas. This in turn pressures other ski areas to also expand or otherwise “improve” their ski area, in short, the “ski area expansion arms race”. In approving one ski area expansion proposal after another, the Forest Service continues to promote more and more expansions – and their concomitant environmental damage – just so other resorts can regain the “Newer, Bigger, Better” marketing edge. Any look at SKI or other popular skiing magazines illustrates the marketing of expansion terrain.

Ninety percent of ski terrain in the western U.S. is on public lands. On the White River National Forest (home Breckenridge and ski area icons Vail, Aspen, and more) between 1985 and 1999, skier visitation increased 28%, yet skier acreage has more than doubled (a 107% increase). The trend has only grown since then with Vail’s Blue Sky Basin, Breckenridge’s Peak 7, and other expansions planned at Copper Mountain, Keystone, and Arapahoe Basin. The Forest Service refuses to assess the nationwide impact of their policy promoting ski area expansions despite virtually no growth in skier visitation nationwide in two decades.

In an interview with Newsweek reporter Daniel Glick (author of the book Powderburn), former Vail Resorts principal Leon Black described how publicly traded ski resorts must attain a 15% return on investment to satisfy investors. With skier numbers nationwide stagnant for two decades, ski areas must either steal skiers from other ski areas to increase revenue, profit from real estate sales, or horizontally integrate by purchasing successful local businesses. The Peak 8 lift is the epitome of the former fueling the ski area arms race, where one ski area gains a marketing edge advertising newer, bigger, and better, only to be followed by the next resort seeking to gain it back.

Hate for the ski resort owners, but love for the sport. Ski Resorts are destroying the sport by expanding and providing better terrain. It isn't just Colorado Wild, but dozens of other groups that turn out to stop any expansion at all. There is no necessary expansion. Lift 8 at Breck--not needed.

The Denver Channel has info on the 1998 fires at Vail:

A federal grand jury in Denver has indicted four people on eight counts of arson for a series of eco-terrorism fires set at the Vail ski area in 1998...

The Two Elks Lodge and other structures on Vail Mountain were burned to the ground on Oct. 19, 1998. Damage was estimated at $12 million...

A group called the Earth Liberation Front, or ELF, claimed responsibility for the fires and said it was done to protect the habit of the lynx. The FBI describes the group as one of the nation's leading domestic terrorist organizations. ELF says harming people is not its intention...

Gerlach and Meyerhoff had both been indicted in Portland, Ore., in December. Gerlach was accused in the toppling of an 80-foot electrical transmission tower in December 1999 and in a fire that year at an Oregon meat company. Meyerhoff was accused of setting fire to a lumber company and a tree farm in the state in 2001.

Overaker was indicted in January on federal charges stemming from fires at two ranger stations, a lumber company office and a meat company in Oregon. She is also accused in the toppling of the transmission tower in 1999.

Rubin was indicted in January in connection with fires at a lumber office in Oregon and wild horse facilities in Wyoming and California.

I am not comparing the Hopis to ELF by any stretch. The Hopis have legitimate concerns about snowmaking on their sacred peaks. Here is the problem though, the Snowbowl snowmaking debate brought out the same kinda nutjobs that set fire to Vail:

Flagstaff Mayor Joe Donaldson got a nasty surprise after attending a candidate's forum where his support of snowmaking at the Arizona Snowbowl was a point of contention.


Vandals had littered his car with toilet paper, and placed a urine-filled commode on top.

Donaldson took it as an extreme example of opposition to using reclaimed Flagstaff wastewater to make snow on the nearby mountaintop...

After the event, Donaldson said he was confronted by members of a group opposed to the snowmaking plan, including Kelvin Long and another Save the Peaks member, Klee Benally. Both said they have no idea who might have put the toilet on the mayor's car.

"We don't have control, at least I don't have control, over people's actions and ... a lot of people are upset over this issue. It's not surprising that something like this would happen," Benally said.

We have a legal system for a reason. We don't allow terror, threats, or intimidation. So I am a racist for seeing this entire thing as an assault on skiing and on civil discourse in general. I am a racist for watching folks threaten ski resorts because our sport does not conform to their environmental agenda--no matter how radical their agenda is.

Again, the Hopis were a pawn in this game by the Sierra Club and others. The Hopi tribe did not vandalize the mayor's car. We all can assume that it was some 20something student at NAU who wanted to make a "statement" of protest. This is what ELF and other radical environmental groups justify as being necessary to "save the environment". They could give a damn about Native American Oppression and racism. They will stand behind an obscure religion because they understand the fact that this has far larger implications than just at Snowbowl. This provides them with new ammunition to stop ski area expansion and possibly close resorts down when their permits come up. That is their agenda.

Posted by Justin at 04:25 PM

Maybe Some More Storms Brewing

There is a storm coming through on Wednesday that may drop 6" or so at Brian Head and possibly one next Tuesday on that may bring some more snow.

Tera and I are planning to head up over Easter and possibly one other trip sooner, but waiting to finalize. She has not been up since Thanksgiving... It finally hit me that she keeps saying she will go next time and never has.

She is putting Bookends on the season to be there for opening and closing but not in between.

Posted by Justin at 02:48 PM

More on Al Gore and Global Warming - From the WSJ

I hate to rant about Global Warming and the environment, but it has become such a hot topic with the Oscar nominations, Nobel Price Nominations, etc., as well as the constant "skiing is doomed" rhetoric. The Wall Street Journal has an interesting read on Al Gore-mania and the Environmental reality of Gore's own policies as well as the scientific reality of his scare tactics:

The media are finally catching up with Al Gore. Criticism of his anti-global-warming franchise and his personal environmental record has gone beyond ankle-biting bloggers. It's now coming from the New York Times and the Nashville Tennessean, his hometown paper that put his birth, as a senator's son, on its front page back in 1948, and where a young Al Gore Jr. worked for five years as a journalist...

The Nashville-based Tennessee Center for Policy Research was skeptical that Mr. Gore had been "walking the walk" on the environment. It obtained public records showing that for years Mr. Gore has burned through more electricity at his Nashville home each month than the average American family uses in a year--and his consumption was increasing. The heated Gore pool house alone ran up more than $500 in natural-gas bills every month.

Mr. Gore's office responded by claiming that the Gores "purchase offsets for their carbon emissions to bring their carbon footprint down to zero." But CNSNews.com reports that Mr. Gore doesn't purchase carbon offsets with his own resources, and that they are meaningless in terms of global warming.

The offset purchases are actually made for him by Generation Investment Management, a London-based investment firm that Mr. Gore co-founded, and which provides carbon offsets as a fringe benefit to all 23 of its employees, ensuring that they require no real sacrifice on the part of Mr. Gore or his family. Indeed, their impact is also highly limited. The Carbon Neutral Co.--one of the two vendors that sell offsets to Mr. Gore's company, says that offset purchases "will be unable to reduce greenhouse gas emissions . . . in the short term."

$500 per month just to heat your pool? Ah, but his company provides carbon offsets so Al can sleep well at night and continue flying his private jet around the world to tell us common people what we need to do to save the earth.

I keep pointing these things out because the common theme lately is that Global Warming is going to destroy skiing as we know it. The truth is that skiing truly has become a sport that only the wealthy like the Gore's or Kerry's or Kennedy's or Schwarzenegger's can afford and they continue to fly to resorts in their Gulfstreams and drive their H2's. If the world is at the point that the powerful elite treat the environment this way, destroy our sport by pricing it out of reach, and preach to us about the "Environment" and "Global Warming", maybe the destruction of the sport as we currently know it isn't such a bad thing.

Wind power and green tags and so on have no impact on the habits of those that can afford the higher price tag attached. Paying an extra $5 for a wind powered lift ticket when you are already paying $80 isn't a big deal. Fact is that these "save the Earth" feel good policies are driving prices up further, which prices the middle class out of skiing that much more. And the folks that are purchasing the happy nice nice wind powered green this or are not changing their lifestyles and can readily afford a higher price. There is nothing green about buying your way into environmental compliance by purchasing some fake offset credit.

Now I don't want to say that the money going into wind power isn't a good thing, but how do we know how much of the green tag proceeds fund wind power and how much go to overhead or profits (and even non-profits make a profit for their administrators). It is a big scam that lets the wealthy preach to the rest of us and justify how they live their lives as they price us out of our great sport.

Posted by Justin at 01:33 PM

March 17, 2007

Buying Away Global Warming

The Aspen Times (registration required) had an article about the increasing cost of "being green" that the wealthy are willing to pay. Through Carbon Offset credits and some slick marketing, the wealthy can feel good about doing their part to save the earth, despite flying around in their Gulfstreams and living in virtual palaces:

The notion of living a green life for the sake of staving off the effects global warming seems to be getting hotter by the minute. Especially among those who can afford the steep price tags for the ever-expanding list of environmentally responsible products and services...

When wealthy tree huggers need to get away from it all, they can buy TerraPasses - the carbon credit certificates distributed to Oscar presenters last month - to counterbalance the damage to the environment caused by jetting off to vacation via private plane. Unfortunately, though, one hour in a Gulfstream GV, for example, burns as much fuel as an entire year of driving, so it would take a $600 TerraPass to offset the carbon dioxide emissions from a single 3,000-mile flight.

However, for just $1,500, a moneyed traveler who flies commercial can buy a TerraPass to offset 1 million airline miles, or 450,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions. Plus TerraPass will throw in a free folding bicycle, which can then be conveniently stored in a private bike room.

Certainly, not every environmentalist chooses to travel by air - some drive instead. Which is why it's fortunate that a TerraPass offsetting the carbon emissions of a Lexus hybrid SUV actually costs the same as the one for the regular Lexus SUV. But the best news for penny-pinching nature lovers? At just around $43,000, the Lexus hybrid SUV is barely $6,000 more than the comparable non-hybrid Lexus SUV.

Wind Credits, Carbon Offset Credits, etc., are the biggest load of BS ever created. They allow the wealthy to use their money to "buy" their way into environmental friendliness as opposed to looking like Big City Liberal hypocrits when they fly their Gulfstreams around the world and drive their posse around in 10 Suburbans.

That is what Al Gore, John Kerry, Ted Kennedy, etc., are all about. Nancy Pelosi asked for a mega-military plane to fly back and forth to SF. The A-list celebs that handed out Oscars to Al Gore fly around the world in private jets and talk in their little circles about buying carbon credits to offset their lifestyle, allowing them to not actually conserve themselves, but rather to bribe someone else into doing it. And all the while, they feel good about doing their "part".

It is precisely that part of the American lifestyle that is the problem. We all want to be like the celebs. We want H2's like our favorite athlete. We want to fly around the world like the jetsetters. And as we buy larger and larger houses to keep up with the Jones's, we continue to destroy the environment. Yet Hollywood and the wealthy can afford "energy credits" to offset their destroying of the environment.

Hollywood actors and the self appointed leaders of the environmental movement are far different from the rank and file armpit haired, pothead Rastafarian college kids that sport the nasty BO and wear their hemp clothing. Yet we look to these folks that live in mansions to be our conscience about environmental causes. The Inconvenient Truth is that the rich set the example of buying massive vehicles, flying private jets, and owning mega houses that consume massive electricity to power 100" Plasma TV's and heat their pools and hot tubs. We need real leadership and it is leadership by example, not leadership by purchasing "offset credits".

Posted by Justin at 02:56 PM

March 16, 2007

Last Chance to Buy American

That is American Resorts. There are only three resorts left and American is considering selling the two in Maine leaving only The Canyons.

American Skiing Company announced that its Board of Directors has authorized the Company to conduct a strategic review of options for its Sunday River and Sugarloaf resorts, both in Maine, including the potential sale of the resorts.

"As a result of our recently announced resort sales, we've received a tremendous amount of interest in our remaining resorts. To ensure we maximize the value of these assets, we will commence a review of options for our Maine resort properties," said ASC President and CEO B.J. Fair. "With respect to The Canyons, we are continuing our efforts towards successful and favorable resolution of the litigation involving the resort," added Fair.

Mr. Fair also noted that American Skiing Company would only pursue a sale of one or both resorts if the valuation and terms presented from a potential buyer were favorable.

And why not? They are barely a ski company anymore. Why not bail on the other two?

Posted by Justin at 10:51 AM

March 14, 2007

New Feature - Ski Forums

I added a new feature at the top SKI FORUMS that is an online discussion board.

I have been playing with it all day to get the style to look similar to my site and to the photo gallery. Check it out and post 'til your heart is content.

Posted by Justin at 06:01 PM

Up Early Today

It is a little before 7:00 AM and I am showered and ready for the day. Honestly, I just can't wait for the day to be over. 6:00 PM is eleven hours away.

In case you live under a rock or hate the NBA, tonight is probably the biggest matchup of the year thus far. Dallas of the 17 game winning streak that ended on Monday faces the Suns who had their own 17 game winning streak. Both teams are 10-1 since the All Star Break.

If you were a reader last year, you know how things go. As temps start rising and the season winds down, I shift from ski mode to NBA playoff mode. It is about a month early, but this game has the feel of a playoff game and is a preview of what I hope is a measure of revenge in the Western Conference Finals this June. Not just that but it is 2 time MVP Steve Nash against his former team, best friend, and biggest competition for a 3peat.

If you have not watched the Suns play, it is high octane to say the least. It is basketball at light speed. The last two years, it kept me glued to my seat almost to the start of football season.

GO SUNS!

Posted by Justin at 07:59 AM

March 13, 2007

Rachael Ray

So at another blog that I regularly visit, there was a friendly discussion of favorite celebrities. I have added some pictures of my favorite from her article in FHM (located below the fold).



Posted by Justin at 03:19 PM | Comments (1)

To the Editor - Snowbowl Edition

I have submitted the following letter to the editor:

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals took an interesting position on Arizona Snowbowl by ruling that snowmaking on a “sacred mountain” violated the religious freedom of the Hopi tribes. That stands in stark contrast to a decision by the same Court of Appeals regarding the Pledge of Allegiance in 2002 in which they stated:

“The Pledge, as currently codified, is an impermissible government endorsement of religion because it sends a message to unbelievers 'that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community, and an accompanying message to adherents that they are insiders, favored members of the political community.'”

It is an odd that the very practice of saying the Pledge of Allegiance must be struck down, yet we need to stop snowmaking so that we can “protect” the religious freedom of the Hopi tribe. That we must in effect strip the rightful and lawful users of public land of their business that was approved by the appropriate governmental agencies in order to protect the needs of a very small minority of people that claim this site as the birthplace of mankind. In the case of Snowbowl, the courts went one step further and compared making snow using wastewater to using wastewater in Christian baptisms.

Our country is now held hostage by a court system that decides which religions merit protection and which religious institutions have rights. The government now decides which religions it recognizes and which it does not. This runs completely contrary to the purpose of the First Amendment. And now this new First Amendment standard is being applied to effectively strip private business owners of their ability to hold property and expand their business.

While many people disagree on whether snowmaking is good for the environment or whether Arizona Snowbowl is good for Flagstaff, there can be no question that these decisions should be made by elected officials and Forest Service experts, not by unelected and often unresponsive courts. No one religion should have the power to take away the belongings and viability of a business from its owners or our citizens. We should all be free to practice our beliefs, but when my right to religious freedom means stripping someone of their right to “Life, Liberty, and Property” by force of an unelected court system, we step increasingly toward tyranny.

Justin Blackburn
Owner – www.ski-blog.com
Goodyear, Arizona

This is an attack on personal liberty, property rights, and the First Amendment. The 9th Circuit has made a decision on the validity of the Hopi religion as being more important than property rights of Arizona Snowbowl. This very decision is "impermissible government endorsement of religion because it sends a message to unbelievers 'that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community, and an accompanying message to adherents that they are insiders, favored members of the political community.'" I am not Hopi, but this decision takes a government position on the validity of the Hopi faith and makes them favored members of the political community.

The original opinion by the District Court in Arizona stated the following:

Pursuant to RFRA, the Plaintiffs seek declaratory and injunctive relief that would: (1) declare that the selected alternative, as approved, violated RFRA; and (2) stop the Forest Service and ASR from taking steps in furtherance of the selected alternative. According to the Plaintiffs, the proposed upgrades to the Snowbowl, particularly the use of reclaimed water to make snow, will have negative, irreversible, and devastating effects to their religious, traditional and cultural practices. However, the Defendants and ASR assert that since there is no evidence that the decision will exclude tribal practitioners from the Peaks, no evidence of any diminution of access, no inability to collect medicinal or ceremonial plants and other materials, and no prohibition on holding religious ceremonies anywhere on the Peaks, there is, consequently, no substantial burden on the exercise of the Plaintiffs' religion.

And later added:

In 1979, the Forest Service conducted an extensive process pursuant to the EPA to evaluate proposed upgrades to the Snowbowl, which included the installation of new lifts, trails and facilities. The 1979 Forest Service decision approved 206 acres of skiable terrain and facilities to support a comfortable carrying capacity of 2,825 skiers.

The Forest Service's 1979 decision to approve the Snowbowl upgrades was challenged in the courts by several Indian tribes.

In Wilson v. Block, 708 F.2d 735 (D.C. Cir. 1983), cert. denied, 464 U.S. 956 (1983), the Court upheld the Forest Service's decision and found that the project did not substantially burden the tribes' exercise of religion. In addition, the Court upheld the more general question of whether to permit skiing in the area. Since the Wilson decision, the tribes have continued to use the Peaks for religious purposes.

Again, ask yourself how the 9th Circuit ruling is consistent with 1979's Wilson case in which Snowbowl won this battle once already.

Posted by Justin at 12:38 PM | Comments (10)

March 12, 2007

Like a Turd in a Baptism

Congratulations to the Sierra Club, the WMA tribe, and the Hopis. They succeeded in shutting down snowmaking at Arizona Snowbowl. The Arizona Republic has the article:

The tribes appealed and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the lower court's decision, saying the planned expansion violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

"We are unwilling to hold that authorizing the use of artificial snow at an already functioning commercial ski area in order to expand and improve its facilities, as well as to extend its ski season in dry years, is a governmental interest of the highest order,' " Judge William A. Fletcher wrote for the three-judge panel, which heard arguments in September. He compared the practice to using wastewater in Christian baptisms.

This is going to the Supreme Court and rightly should. This may as well be Kelo all over again. The Courts decide who owns property and how it can be used. They put the needs of a religion over the rights of property owners. They put the tribes ahead of jobs and the economy.

I am going to Snowbowl and I personally am going to piss on the hill, maybe even take a dump. You know that animals occasionally urinate and do number 2 up there too? But using treated wastewater is somehow worse. I guess me taking a crap on the hillside is akin to me pissing in the baptismal waters. Good decision there 9th Circuit.

The celebration plans at the local casino's (Hondah) will be announced shortly.

Posted by Justin at 02:13 PM

March 11, 2007

For Adam at Highly Obsessed - Vlad Radmanovic Snowboard

Adam over at Highly Obsessed posted an open letter to Vladomir Radmanovic, the Lakers player who was recently fined $500,000 for his snowboarding accident:

On Friday, you admitted that your recent shoulder injury wasn't a result of slipping on the ice after all; rather, it was due to a spill you took while learning to snowboard for the first time. First, I want to commend you on finally telling the truth. You panicked at first, causing you to lie about the nature of your injury, but common sense prevailed. Well done!

Vladdy (can I call you Vladdy?), you seem to be getting a lot of flack for snowboarding when you're in the middle of a five-year, $30 million contract that pretty much explicitly says, 'don't go snowboarding'. In fact, I believe the last words your coach told your team were "You guys take care of yourselves. This is a time when things can happen." But that is neither here nor there; I'm here to tell you to ignore the critics! By learning to snowboard, you have gained cred in a commnity that buddies like Kobe and Phil could only dream of. You are finally on your way to your true calling. It's time to ditch your basketball career and hit the slopes, buddy. And we in the snowboarding community are ready to welcome you with open arms.

Adam, we got one up on your letter. Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic has this little nugget on his blog about the recent Suns-Lakers game:

Did you catch a glimpse of the "Go Suns" snowboard near the Lakers bench on Sunday? It was not-so-subtle shot at Vladimir Radmanovic, who lied to his team about how he suffered a separated shoulder before acknowledging a snowboarding accident and being fined $500,000.

It was the work of Suns superfan Michael Levine, whose regular displays of affection for the Suns are well-known to those who sit near him. He also has created such props as Raja Bell and Tim Thomas masks, "Trix" cereal boxes, Tim Duncan pacifiers, Milwaukee Bucks hunting gear, Braille signs for the officials and the classic "I'll have the mango salsa" sign for Chris Kaman.

Levine said that the Lakers coaches, athletic trainer, Smush Parker and Ronny Turiaf all laughed at the snowboard Sunday. So did everyone else who got the gag. The Lakers and the snowboard sign will be back April 13. Will Radmanovic?

I am offering right now to buy Kobe a season ski pass at Aspen if it helps. I heard he just loves Colorado and three years ago spent a ton of time in the Aspen area. Matter of fact, the Lakers let him have time off so that he could travel back and forth. Not sure if it was for business or pleasure...

Posted by Justin at 04:00 PM

March 10, 2007

IT IS HOT

It is spring break for Jake and Jarrett so we are prepping to head back north for a bit. A quick check of the weather at BH--mid-50's all week. Not a cloud or storm in sight.

I got an e-mail last week asking the following:

I don't know if you will have this info, but if not, maybe you can point me in the right direction. Do you know if there is enough snow to ski Sunrise at the end of March. I am trying to put together a trip with some friends, but it would be a real disappointment if there is not going to be decent skiing.

Bad news folks--it has been a light snow year down south despite the promise of an El Nino year. BH is sitting right at 200" with less than a month to go and a normal snowfall of approximately 400". Sunrise has a 20-40" base and it was 60 there yesterday. Might want to bring an extra $50 for P-tex or rent some skis. Here is my response:

It is pretty sparce right now. They have a 30-39" base right now and today it was almost 85 in PHX. That means it is in the high to mid 50's at Sunrise. I am betting that they have maybe another week or two at most of being open before the snow is gone.

Honestly, this weekend or next will probably be the last that they are open unless there is another big storm (which mid-March or later storms are pretty rare) and it would take a 1-2' storm to keep them open.

Sorry to disappoint, and I could be (and hope I am) wrong.

Point is--if you enjoy skiing, don't wait around. The season is almost over and especially down south, this may be the last weekend or certainly the last week upcoming.

Another season almost in the books and I am stuck around 10 DAYS! I had 25 in last year at this point. 10 DAYS! Do you know how bad that sucks considering I have a condo at the base of a resort and work a job where I can go skiing almost whenever I want? That is how bad the snow has been. It started late and if not for the 5-6' the last week of Feb, I may not even have in 10 days. The base barely got deeper than the stumps and gravel at Brian Head and if I am scared to cut through the trees or off to the side of a run, it takes most of the fun out of things.

So mutter a quick prayer under your breath that there will be a freakish storm system in mid-March that dumps 5-10' over the next month so we get even close to a normal snowpack and so that I can get closer to 20 days.

UPDATE:

I have the top off of the Wrangler today and it is mid-80's in PHX. That is the downside of spring. The weather gets so beautiful that you start having other stuff to do besides ski.

WEAR SUNSCREEN. On the slopes. In the Jeep. Now is when you get the racoon eyes and it ain't fun to have your face peeling.

Posted by Justin at 12:32 PM

March 09, 2007

Everything I Needed to Know I Learned from Adult Swim

So I am being my usual self and enjoying the free hours after the kids go to bed that I can actually watch some TV that is not age appropriate for a 6 year old. And low and behold, I find that most of the time at night I spend watching cartoons anyway. I am a sucker for one eyed alien chicks that used to be married to Al Bundy.

Adult Swim on Cartoon Network has changed my life. First, I have decided to open a "Home Based Business". Did you know that it is a $100B a year industry and that over 20,000 US Homebased Businesses gross over $1M a year? That over half of the businesses in the US are "home based"?

Once I open my home based business, I am going to use all that money to buy natural herbal enhancements to make me a more desirable man. Because I am getting older and out of touch with what today's Freshmen college students talk and act like, I have ordered the entire Girls Gone Wild Series DVD's, focusing especially on the "Girls Gone Wild Extreme Sports" editions since I love to ski and these are exactly the type of girls that I should be looking for.

So then how do I meet these hotties to impress with my wealth from my home based business? Forget telephone date lines, I can text FLIRT to 43567 and I can flirt via text with real live local hotties via my cellphone. That is a date getter right there.

Finally, because I want to be able to have a meaningful conversation with these girls, I can complete my High School diploma from home. Did you know that High School grads earn an average of $200k more in a lifetime than non-grads? Well, who cares in my case because my home based business is going to make me rich.

Please note the disclaimer at the bottom in small print that flashes quickly across my blog:

The Justin depicted in this ad as a masculine, sexy, wealthy, intelligent skier is a paid actor. Experiences are not representative of the size of his "endowments", nor of his actual skiing ability. Financial results are not typical and your results will vary. Snowboarding increases chances that the actual "ski bum" that "works" from home may include occasional bong stains on the carpet and THC induced erectile disfunction that medication cannot correct.

Late night commercials seem to be targeted squarely at my brother Jeremy. He would be so much better off if he took the Masters Course from his High School Diploma Mill and learned TV and VCR Repair. Good times.

Posted by Justin at 11:52 PM

March 08, 2007

Bite Sized Wisdom from a Ski Review at Weather.com

A bite sized nugget from reviews.onthesnow.com about Wolf Creek--but really about skiing in general:

I read a lot of these negative reviews and wonder if these people really even like to ski. Some have valid complaints about poor service, bad attitudes by the staff, crappy facilities, etc. Most just seem to be looking for something to complain about. Bottom line: Skiing is not for whiners, pessimists or wimps. It's always going to be cold. There will usually be lines and traffic and you'll have to walk a little ways to and from your car. The food will always be more expensive than at home. Your boots will never feel like your house slippers. Snow conditions will not always be perfect and the sun won't always be shining, but if you truly love to ski, then none of this will matter to you. All that will matter is standing on top of a mountain and trying to decide which way and how fast you're going to go down it.

Well said.

Posted by Justin at 11:01 PM

I Read Books

So I am on a recent ski trip with my buddy Tim. As is usual custom, Tim wants to quote or describe his laundry list of philosphical reading and asks over and over, "Have you read so and so?" No, dude, I have kids.

I need books with lots of pictures. I read more philosphical writings of Elmo and Big Bird than anything. So when my buddy Matt at The Ski Journal sent me their new hardback Frequency-The Snowboarders Journal book, I was stoked. Massive Big Mountain photos. Yeah it is snowboarders, but when you are hitting 55 degree slopes, it is awesome whether you are on skis, a snowboard, an old inner tube, rollerskates... whatever. Pictures are good. Especially pictures of big mountain skiing and snowboarding. The articles are great reads too, but the pictures... The hardback is just beyond awesome and the magazines are perfect for the coffee table as a conversation piece.

I am adding a link to Frequency over on the side next to the Ski Journal and both are worth checking out. They have an editor and staff blog for both and both are awesome reads.

Posted by Justin at 01:30 PM | Comments (2)

March 06, 2007

Global Warming Heats Up Ski Resorts in Europe

This article in the UK has an interesting side effect of Global Warming:

Brothel owners in Bulgaria are blaming global warming for staff shortages.

They claim their best girls are working in ski resorts because a lack of snow has forced tourists to seek other pleasures.

Petra Nestorova, who runs an escort agency in Sofia, said: 'We have hired students, but they are temps and nothing like our elite girls.'

What isn't global warming effecting?

Posted by Justin at 03:58 PM | Comments (1)

Great Article About Jackson and the Loss of the Tram

The Denver Post has an article about Jackson Hole and the loss of the tram:

By now, pretty much every self-respecting skier has at least some familiarity with Jackson Hole Mountain Resort because of its 40-year reputation as the king of big mountain skiing. From Corbet's to Coombs, its status among experts is as big as its 4,140-foot vertical rise, rivaled by only a rarified few on the continent.

Still, most of those skiers (and snowboarders) would be shocked to learn just how few people actually visit the famed mountain - fewer than 400,000 a year on average. And thanks to tradition, you can expect even less this season.

Last winter saw a record number of skiers and snowboarders at Jackson Hole, a whopping 450,000 (compared to more than a million each at Vail, Breckenridge, Keystone and others that comprised Colorado's 2005-06 record of more than 12 million). After learning of the retirement of the fabled Jackson Hole tram, the tribe of traditionalists (and, yes, I was among them) flocked to the mountain to pay respects to the retiring war horse after 40 years of dedicated service...

The good news is that plans have been submitted for a new 100-passenger tram that will double the capacity of the former lift when it comes online in December 2008. The better news is that between the end of one tradition and the start of the next, the skiing remains as stellar as ever. The only real difference is that they're practically giving it away.

They might have taken away the tram, but they can't take away the terrain. And while some might lament the loss of the traditional ride up, the reality is that Jackson Hole remains - as it always has - all about the ride back down.

I rode the tram in summer when I was around 10 years old. The Tetons are magnificent and worth visiting Teton National Park any time of year. The town of Jackson is great, but I am biased because my birth certificate says Wyoming. Cody (just outside the east entrance to Yellowstone) is where my dad, aunts and uncles grew up. My mom's mother was born there. My other three grandparents grew up in Lovell, just across the Bighorn Basin. Wyoming has the most beautiful and the ugliest country in the US.

The article highlights a sad fact about the Rockies. Everyone loves Summit County or the areas surrounding Denver for skiing. But the Rockies are a big range. If not Denver, folks love Utah and the SLC area. But when it comes to big mountain skiing Big Sky, Montana and Jackson Hole, Wyoming will astound you. Vertical that is beyond belief and massive areas. No crowds. Both combined average around half the visitors that Breck, Keystone, or Vail get. And both are practically inside of either Teton or Yellowstone National Parks.

Posted by Justin at 11:12 AM

March 05, 2007

Skiing Innovations Column

This column is worth a read, and talks about the innovations that have improved skiing over the last several years:

  • Inexpensive season passes: Nothing changed the face of skiing in Southern California, Colorado, and other markets faster than the bargain passes. When the price went from thousands to hundreds, skiers who used to make two trips a year started making three and four because lift tickets were no longer a factor in the decision.
  • High Tech ski parkas and pants
  • Snowboards
  • High Tech underwear: This is the aspect of getting ready to go skiing that nobody talks much about, but the changes in these key items of apparel have been remarkable. No longer scratchy, clingy, or uncomfortable, they fit well and keep you warm with fewer layers.
  • Helmets: I'm the only one in my family who does not own a brain bucket, which makes for some challenging conversations at family holiday dinners, since I am a supporter of helmets. I usually wind up with some lame copout like "I haven't found the right color, or size,'' but the bottom line is that most skiers are quite comfortable wearing this plastic chapeau and get a feeling of safety.
  • 4WD, cruise control and road improvements
  • Computer-generated ticket sales, allowing virtually any combination of multi-day passes, plus refund vouchers:
  • Ski area food service
  • Sorels
  • Non-skiing or snowboarding activities, including dog-sled rides, skating ponds, snowmobiles, and nature hikes on snowshoes

What about shaped skis and twin tips? High speed Quads? In Car DVD Players? iPods?

All in all a pretty good list. I like the idea of 4WD, Cruise, etc., having an impact on skiing. I cannot imagine making the 8 hour drive to BH without the Avalanche to make it up the mountain in the middle of a snowstorm at night.

Last trip to BH, we came in during a major snowstorm (a 2 footer) at night and cut fresh tracks up the mountain with 12" on the ground and not a plow in sight. Travis (who we met as he struggled to put chains on in the dark on his 2WD Toyota Tacoma) was about halfway up the canyon. We stopped and shined the headlights on his back tires for him and helped him get his chains on. He was unsure whether to head up or head back and get a motel room. We followed him slipping and sliding his way up the hill.

Makes me thankful for the Avy. The think is a rock. 130,000 miles on the 2003 and almost all of them have been ski trip miles. Trips to Loveland, Wolf Creek, A-Basin, Big Sky, Sunrise, Snowbowl, Alta, and just general driving around the West has taken its toll on my big black truck. The back window has Brian Head, Alta, and Big Sky stickers and the license plate is a derivative of "Black Diamond". The DVD player and monitors, Sirius Satellite Radio, and iPod controls make it entertaining and the heated leather seats loosen up the back for the long road trips home after skiing. The covered bed and ski racks hold plenty of gear. Side Pockets over the tires hold flares, blankets, jumper cables, tow ropes, tie downs, and occasionally food and drinks. Best Vehicle I have ever owned.

Get a 4WD truck if you ski a lot. It will save you.

Posted by Justin at 12:55 PM | Comments (1)

March 04, 2007

Deseret News Has New Vocabulary For Skiers/Boarders

Deseret News has a new list of ski terms for 2007:

As part of its winter at Westminster program, Westminster College held a skiing/snowboarding jargon contest in January and February, inviting its skier-students, as well as the general public, to submit skiing and snowboarding words that aren't in the dictionary to a Web site called Addictionary.org.

When the smoke had cleared, some 70 words and phrases had been submitted, topped by the winning entry, "Chowda," sent in by Alan Miller, who won a couple of ski passes, although no dictionary, for his effort.

Chowda — to fall on one's face, causing one to "chow on some powda."

A sampling:

  • Free refills: skiing/riding the same run over and over because it's snowing so hard your tracks keep filling in.
  • "Sorry, dude": how a snowboarder says hello.
  • Sup: how a snowboarder really says hello.
  • Still spill: to make it to the bottom of the run successfully and then fall over for no explicable reason.
  • Texas stretch pants: blue jeans.
  • The kind: really, really good; almost perfect.
  • Touron: mix between tourist and moron.
  • Two foot flu: condition that strikes employee/student after it has snowed 2 feet.

First, I highlighted my favorites. Second, "The Kind" probably transcends skiing and snowboarding. For information on what "The Kind" really stands for, you might want to check their website. But I will spoil it for you--it is a marijuana reference. Actually, they changed their pro-pot website to an anti-war website. I mean, get baked and bash the Bush Administration as being akin to Nazi War Criminals and talk about the WTO conspiracies all over a latte...

This highlights the hilarity of Utah and of Deseret News. There are two newspapers in Utah--Deseret and the SLC Tribune. Deseret is the Mormon run paper and SLC Trib is the non-Mormon (and previously militant non-Mormon). It makes sense that the editors at the Deseret News let that one slip by. I don't think they quite got it. I am not going to knock Utah too much, but there is a sense of Mormon Myopia that you get in Utah. Best snow on Earth, but all kinds of strange quirks about the state that just make it so easy to make fun of.

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

March 02, 2007

A Good Waxing

Jake and Jackson asked me how come dad and I got our skis waxed twice already this year and they don't remember ever having theirs waxed. I'm selfish...

Jake comes over and says look at my bases and showed them to me. He literally told me that he thought they needed some P-tex. He hears me talk about getting my stuff tuned and now he thinks he knows something. And yeah, they needed some P-Tex. =)

The dude in Brian Head Sports hooked me up this last week. First, I had a powder day emergency with my new K2's. I showed up 30 minutes before the lifts opened and had no bindings. He sold me a set of Salomons and had them on within 20 minutes. Next day, we got Jake and Jacko's skis tuned and he hooked us up on them too.

Note--tip the folks at the gear shops too. Especially when they give you good service. They work for next to nothing so that they can ride all winter and an extra $20-30 goes a long way. After I tipped him the first time, he remembered me and will take care of me from then on. Not because I tipped him, but because I appreciated the work he did. If you are gonna drop $500-600 on skis, don't be too cheap to tip the guys who work on your gear. Tip $5 when you get a wax. Just little stuff. If you see the guys in the lodge, buy them a drink or a lunch. They keep your gear working and lots of times they will point out stuff that you may not know.

Posted by Justin at 09:58 PM