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December 25, 2010

Wolf Creek has Second Fatality of Season

This is terrible news:

Pagosa Springs, CO - A 35-year-old Tucson man died while snowboarding at Colorado's Wolf Creek ski area on Saturday when he plunged off a 40-foot cliff.

Christian Rea was snowboarding with friends in Wolf Creek's Waterfall area on Saturday when they encountered the cliff. One of Rea's friends tried unsuccessfully to warn him to go around the obstacle as Rea dropped off the cliff, landing on his head and rupturing an artery in his neck, according to Mineral County Coroner Charles Downing.

Downing further explained that severing the blood supply to Rea's neck killed him quickly.

Peace to his family. Tragic way to end the Christmas holiday.

Posted by Justin at 09:38 PM

December 23, 2010

Powder Karma

So we drove all night to Brian Head after I got off work so we could get here for the EPIC storm system that dumped over 5' in the last four days.

Unfortunately, I am working this week and my boss is on PTO so I am covering the work hotpager. Given my work ethic and love for my job, there is no way that I would sluff off from my duties to ski on a mega-powder day...

So I take an early, long lunch starting at 11 and hope to get a half a dozen laps in during my normal break. First run I drop into Engens and it is sickness. Hammer down, I am 3/4 of the way down the face and I hit a snowboarder's rut, my ski digs, my binding comes open, and I face plant yardsale style.

Except no ski. White skis on a powder day are probably a bad idea. I hike a full 30 yards up the steepest part of Brian Head poking my pole into the snow like I am doing an avalanche training session. Nada.

45 minutes, Jake, Jer, and Jacko lap me and finally a guy looks 50 yards down the hill at the bottom and sees what looks like a ski. He heads down and sure enough, I wasted every bit of energy and stamina I had saved up climbing and digging and postholing and working... my ski left without me.

Moral of the story--I paid the price for my lack of work ethic. Thankfully when I came back, it was exactly as dead as expected over the Christmas week and I didn't get fired. YET!

Brian Head is not the steepest and best mountain in the world, but on a day like today, after a hot tub session, there is not much better. Runs on Engens and Devo's were spectacular. Snow is heavy and wet so tomorrow will be like concrete, but today was worth the drive last night.

Posted by Justin at 05:12 PM | Comments (2)

December 13, 2010

Why is Alpengluhen Bringing up Maslow?

Alpengluhen has an article that got me thinking about Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs and skiing. How the hell he did that is beyond me, but fair enough...

Let me start this off by saying at the resort we teach skiing to children ages 4+, and snowboarding to children ages 8+. Why the difference? I used to joke that it took an extra 4 years for a child to build up the proper angst and disrespect for their elders to properly snowboard...

It's at this time checklists such as Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs come in handy. I have attended the ACE 1 training and never finished the certification point. Does this make me an expert at teaching children? Not at all. It's taken several years to feel confident in teaching young children and I still learn more each season.

Back to the basics of the questions received now. Most of these parents tell you their child is 4 or 5 at this point, which serves as a great indicator for how the conversation will continue. Attention spans are still short at this age. Depending upon the child basic needs can be an issue yet to be clearly spoken. While the child can walk, their physical strength may not yet be up to the point of competency when skiing. (If you don't believe me, try laying on flat ground, rolling to your feet, and standing up. Even adults have issue with this one.) Even with these limitations there is still one overall challenge that tops them all; parents.

The real challenge of teaching skiing isn't the kids, it's the parents. Overall kids this age are just excited to be playing in the snow, making snowballs, sledding, falling in, eating, or building snowmen. The introduction of a snow sport just provides yet another avenue of excitement for the children. Which is the key take away from snow sports; to have fun outdoors. For younger children, associating the concept of skiing with a fun time out in the snow is the most important step to creating your future Olympian. Many parents have difficulty understanding that a great ski day may include putting on the ski boots and building snow forts. Yet their kids have already started to bridge the concept of skiing with a fun time outside.

Let me add my take on this... Start out with the basics of what ruin a ski day for a youngster. The Maslow's Hierarchy is important because before you can actually enjoy skiing or riding, you have to not be miserable.

First, "I'm cold." Imagine that you are your average parent and you decide that Jr. needs to learn to ski as a five year old. So you pony up the $125 for ski school and send Jr. off for the day. Why would you waste the entire day if your kid is going to spend most of it back in the lodge because he is cold from the cheap ski clothing you bought at Walmart?

I am not knocking the value proposition of Walmart for buying your average coat for your little kids. The coat that your kid wears from the house to the car and from the car to school and during the 15 minute recess and back to the car and between the car and home. You are not at home where your kids are building a snow fort the 5-10 days per year when it might snow wherever you live. (I live in Phoenix and it is 78 right now on Dec 13, so suck it!) Assume that it is going to be cold.

So let's assume that you don't want to drop $100 for a good ski coat for your kid that they will outgrow shortly. Then make sure to layer well. And even with the best ski clothing, you still want to layer. Bring that extra sweater. Stay away from cotton sweatshirts and stuff that soaks up water. Being cold sucks. Being wet and cold is worse.

Next worst, "I'm Hungry." Bring snacks. Most kids programs feed the kids and provide hot cocoa during the day, but there is never a bad time to have a pack of a high carbohydrate snack. I personally love peanuts and cashews for snacking, but ideally, a good trail mix is awesome. You can get packets at the gas station on the way up.

Finally, "I'm tired." Make sure that Jr. gets a good night's rest the night before and if you are going multiple days, make sure they are in bed at a good hour after skiing, if they don't crash immediately upon leaving the hill.

Warm, fed, and rested.

Now, back to the original point of the post--it is very difficult to do more with a 5-6 year old than simply try to get them some familiarization with the snow, the cold, and a little bit of snow time. Whether Jr. is on skis or a snowboard, the first several trips add very little for kids under 5-6 if they are not successful and don't enjoy it.

Remember that the physics of snowboarding for smaller kids is a lot different than the physics of skiing. For fear of offending all my snowboarding friends, if your kid thinks he is the next Shawn White, check out Tanner Hall. Skiing isn't some lame, old person's sport despite how hard Jake Burton has marketed his sport to line his pockets. If you lack the physics to snowboard as a 6-7 year old kid, you are far better off skiing than snowboarding. Time on snow is time on snow. And there are a lot of places and things that skiers can go or do that snowboarders can't. It is never bad to be able to do both and then choose based on conditions. Of my adult friends that ride, many were skiers when they were younger and still enjoy skiing as well.

Posted by Justin at 02:09 PM

Exercises for Skiing from New West

Interesting article on exercises to prepare you for ski season:

Unlike cycling, climbing stairs and other exercises that build leg strength while extending the knee joint (called concentric muscle contraction), skiing requires muscular endurance that helps your legs work against the pull of gravity – akin to activities like walking downhill and descending stairs. Exercise physiologists call this eccentric muscle contraction. Some of the best ways to build eccentric muscle strength are running or hiking downhill, lunges and inverted leg presses using machines or free weights.

Skiing also requires strength in your upper body and core. Even simple exercises like push-ups, pull-ups and light weight training will help stave off fatigue resulting from getting up after a fall, poling across flat terrain and down catwalks.

Even more important than upper and lower body strength is core strength. Your core is made up of a complex set of muscles located in your lower back and abdomen. Its function is to help you maintain an upright posture and support your upper body. It’s particularly important in winter sports like skiing and snowboarding because all good technique begins with maintaining proper stance and posture, regardless of the terrain. Great ways to develop and maintain core strength are sit-ups, abdominal crunches and lower back extensions.

Check out the brief article.

Posted by Justin at 01:53 PM

December 04, 2010

Two Weeks In at Brian Head

This season is turning out quite nice already. I got my first day in on Thanksgiving and while I would not call one lift being open "epic" by any stretch, it was not WROD either. Matter of fact, the following day, BH was 60% open and today for the first time, all 8 lifts are running.

The base is excellent meaning that by Christmas, the resort should be exceptional if they can just manage a couple more storms.

My daughter spent another day in Kids Camp on Friday and she always enjoys the heck out of it. She did not want to come back to Phx. Sadly, I had to work and could not go out and we had to leave the next day so the couple runs I took will have to tide me over another week until I can break free and head north.

I believe BH had 80" in November which is outstanding.

Posted by Justin at 02:41 PM