Saving snow in Sochi ensures a Wintery Olympics

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Saving snow in Sochi ensures a Wintery Olympics

The 2010 Olympics in Vancouver proved to be very difficult for course builders to provide enough snow to make the games run as smoothly as they could have. Snow had to be helicoptered in and was salvaged in as many ways as possible. With the addition of slope style added to the Olympics this year for skiing and snowboarding, more snow is going to be needed than ever for the Olympics to run successfully, and for jumps and rail features to be big enough to support all of the new triple corks and craziness that is going on snow these days.

Mikko Martikainen, one of the maintenance organizers for the Sochi 2014 Olympics last summer decided that he did not want the same fate to happen in his hometown. Last year, he piled together 500,000 cubic meters of snow and covered it with special insulated blankets. It has been piled under these blankets since last winter and is a good amount for backup in case temperatures rise over the next couple of weeks, or if snowmaking machines break down. He actually invented this process 12 years ago, so it is an honor for him to have his techniques used on a level as high as the Olympics.

Moving the snow under these specialized tarps is just a precaution. So far this year Sochi received an ample amount of snow in November and December, where at this point in Janurary it seems to have hit a dry spell. It is also expected that it is going to be a warm February, so at least the snow maintenance organizers will have some sort of back up plan. Perhaps Tahoe mountain resorts should start using the techniques of Martikainen and preserving their snow every year because we are in a serious dry spell right now.

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Staches for Snow and Braids for Blizzards

Staches for snow
The snow depth in the Lake Tahoe area ranges from 18 inches to 34 inches, depending on the ski resort and snowmaking operations ability.  This is dismal and disappointing for all of the powder hounds and riders who want more variation than just a few crowded runs.  Many riders are going to desperate measures like burning their skis in a bonfire to coming up with crazy dances on top of the mountain.

Its not just the powder hounds who are struggling through this lack of snow, most of the business and ski resorts are struggling to make their annual revenue which is largely made during the winter months.  Plump Jacks in Squaw Valley has come up with their own way to pray to the snow gods by having their male employees grow mustaches, and having the girls twist braids.  These superstitions may sound silly but it gives the employees who chose to work and live the lifestyle hope that they will get to ski more than groomed runs, and then make more money when they get off the hill and go to work.

So if you live in Tahoe or any place that isn’t getting enough snow, then join the cause and grow a mustache or twist your hair into a braid to encourage the snow gods to finally give us some weather!

Go Pro and other Personal HD cameras

Go pro cameras are a great way to replay your day whether you are freeskiing around the mountain or doing any other type is extreme sport. The popularity of Go Pro has grown exponentially over the last couple if years and it is obvious that it is going to continue to grow because the number of people from beginners to pros has exploded with many riders reposing their camera around the mountain.

It is always super fun to replay your favorite jumps or cliff drops of the day when you get home and many times can also be utilized as a tool to get better at riding because you can see what you did wrong.  Go Pro shots also make super cool extreme sports edits, and an example of this can be seen in the about me section o my blog.

Due to increased popularity, other companies have been penetrating the market of HD personal helmet cameras.  These companies include Replay HD who currently sponsor the Freeskiing World Tour, and Contour.   There are also other smaller companies that I have seen pop up around ski shops in Europe when I was skiing there earlier this winter.  Go Pro now offers a feature that others don’t where you can see what you are filming with a little screen panel located on the back of the camera which allows the user to better align their shots for accuracy.

So for those of you who don’t own a personal HD camera for riding, save up some money and get one!!

 

Drink Water not Energy drinks in Extreme Sports?

How many times have you seen a competitor in the X-games, Dew Tour, or any big extreme sport event get to the bottom of the course and have either an energy drink sticker on their helmet or take a big swig of their sponsor in front of the camera? For those who watch extreme sports often or participate in them personally, the answer is quite often will you see athletes flashing the logos of energy drinks which may not always be the healthiest for riders. I personally do not have anything against these sorts of promotions of energy drinks being a business major and understanding that this is a good way to get their products promoted and to help promote extreme sports athletes, as well as the benefit of getting a little more focused and alert after consuming the products on the hill.

However, according to some people, like the creators of www.wedrinkwater.com Austin Smith and Brian Fox, things should be reversed and people should go back to drinking water to nourish their cravings on a hard day of riding.  The benefits of water are obvious that you avoid harmful products like high fructose corn syrup, sodium, and other mystery products that people are starting to depend on when under extreme conditions in no matter what sport you are participating in.  Energy drinks do give an extra boost sometimes that water cannot provide as well so the debate is controversial to how much drinking energy drinks during sports can be beneficial or harmful to the consumer.

www.wedrinkwater.com donates ten percent of their sales of shirts and jackets to people who need better access to cleaner drinking water around the world because currently 1 out of 8 people do not have access to clean drinking water all of the time.  So check out their website and check out their products because you are donating to a good cause!

Jedidiah Kravitz Ski Blog

Another great blog that incorporates social media and freeskiing, as well as making skiing a permanent lifestyle is the blog created by Jed Kravitz out of lake Tahoe, California.

Not only does Jed give extensive ski, park, and resort reviews, he also incorporates a lot of social media into his blog and sees the importance of how it needs to increase in the skiing world.  Jed also lives the skiing world being able to ski all aspects of the mountain and competing on events like the Freeskiing World Tour so he has a lot more insight as a talented skier himself.

Jed’s Blog can be accessed by going to Jedidiahkravitz.wordpress.com , so check it out for another great blog about freeskiing, social media and incorporating it as a lifestyle.

Ski Job: Ski Technician

Over the years ski gear has gotten more and more complicated, and in return of that the maintenance of the ski gear has become more complicated as well.  Being a ski technician is a good job for many who want to be involved in skiing for their whole life, but they have to be knowledgeable of how skis work and what it takes to fix them.

Along with being able to take care of the skis and knowledgeable, it is important to be professional as well.  When meeting with customers, you need to be able to know what is going on with their gear in order to fix the problem, the more professional you sound from the beginning the more confident the customer will be that you can fix their product.   Anything from needing a base grind to a sidewall reconstruction, the customer pays a lot of money for their skis to begin with and are usually pretty upset about what happened with their product whether they hit a rock or need their edges sharpened.  In result of this, as a ski technician, the more confident you sound that you can fix the product to their standards, the more happy they will be when they leave their skis in the store.

A ski technician must be crazy about the sport of skiing, and be willing to help anyone at any time and be enthusiastic about helping them find a solution to their currently dysfunctional skis.  Some people make a career out of this job as well by joining organizations such as the U.S. ski team.  It is their job to follow all of the athletes on the U.S. ski team to events all over the world and makes sure that their gear is tuned to the up most perfect ness, like literally perfect ness.  They use blocks of wax that are 75 dollars per piece and put on layers and layers of wax and then scraping it off over hours of time to make them as fast as physically possible because ski racers can win by only tenths of a second, so every little thing to make it faster is beneficial to the racer.

This job can work for passionate skiers that want to work in a local ski shop to serve local customers, or who want to work for the U.S. Ski team or other organizations and travel all over the world to prepare gear for professional athletes.  Stay tuned for more ways to make skiing a permanent lifestyle.

Making Your Job Work Around Skiing

Anyone who is obsessed with skiing manages to work their schedule around being able to ski as many days as possible including working around their job, school, family, or life in general but there are many different ways to make it work.  Apart from working in the ski industry, as I have written about in several other blog posts, there are many ways to work your skiing schedule around your job.

The Summer Worker

There are some jobs out there that one can make enough to last them the whole ski season.  For example, working long hours in construction and building up overtime means lots of cash to save for the winter, but no summer life in sacrifice for winter.  Another job that many local riders do is get into the logging, and landscaping industries.  Pretty much any job where you can rake in a lot of hours and high wages, but it is really hard to pull off for many. 

The Summer and Winter Worker:

Then there are those who work in the summer, as well as the winter but their winter schedule is based around their skiing.  There are many nighttime jobs that one can ski all day, and then go to work at night.  These jobs include bartending, serving, delivering pizzas, working with dogs, or just any job that can be done at night time so the skier can be out on the mountain all day.  Another job that many do to be able to ski and work at the same time is coaching.  See my earlier post about coaching for more detail, but it is a great way to utilize skiing and working at the same time. 

Skiers will find any way to ski as much as they can, and that means they have to find ways to make it work around their schedule, so stay tuned as I post more about jobs in the ski industry to make it a lifestyle, or to be able to work and ski as much as possible!!

Alpine Meadows Update

Alpine 2 days ago

Once again, after Tahoe finally receives a series of storms to bring us some amazing snow for a week, we are back to a warm weather cycle which turned all of the remaining good snow in to slush.  This has happened after pretty much every storm this year, so those who weren’t out there slaying lines last week or stuck in the office have already missed out on all of the good snow.  I skiid Alpine yesterday and the snow has already turned to slop and impossible to glide smoothly through without a fresh layer of wax.

Beaver Bowl all the way down to Estelle looked glorious to ski, however after dropping in it was obvious that it was easy to go over the handle bars because of the sticky snow.  At the bottom of Alpine it says on a sign that they are doing their best to open certain runs at certain times in order to preserve and create quality corn snow which is some of the funnest snow to ski other than powder.  However, I am still praying that it will still dump some more because I am starting to freak out that it is going to be the end of ski season pretty soon which is always the worst day of the year for me and many other people.

As the season comes closer to the end, I am very glad that we got as much snow in March and April as we did because it almost made up for the lack of snow earlier in the year.  Alpine Meadows is definitely one of my favorite places to ski on a powder day because it is less crowded and there are so many fun cliffs that are hidden that don’t get bombed out right away like they would at Squaw.  It is interesting how many people still rush to Squaw first thing in the morning on a powder day where they have to wait in long lift lines, when there is barely a line at Alpine.

Squaw and Alpine connected for the first time by Cat Track

White Wolf Area

Today was supposed to be the first day where a cat track was to be plowed to connect Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows for the first time because they have recently joined forces.  This has been postponed until tomorrow but it is an even that should not be missed.  Skiers temporarily at Squaw can now start at the top of KT-22 and then ski down the backside which leads into the skiers right boundaries of the White Wolf area and then to a couple hundred yards before the entrance to the Alpine Meadows ski lodge.

While it won’t be that amazing of skiing if skiers are required to stay on the cat track, it will still be fun to say that you were there on the first day that it was possible to ski the first cat track that links Squaw Valley to Alpine and may be the first step towards permanently combining the resorts in this fashion.  Either way, shout out to Squaw Valley and Alpine for making attempts to show Tahoe that it is possible and may one day be a permanent aspect of these resorts.

Also Shout out to Troy Caldwell who owns the White Wolf land and is the one who is actually responsible for plowing the cat track for skiers to be able to explore the area.  While I am not sure if skiers are going to be allowed to ski all over the White Wolf area which has a bunch of different cliffs and chutes, it would definitely be a plus to this area being open legally for the first time ever.

So any skiers who want to be there on the first day where Squaw and Alpine are connected by a cat track, I recommend waxing your skis to be prepared for the slush and to head up to the top of KT to be there on a legendary day for these two ski resorts.

Twisted Sisters Day 1

Today I competed in the Twisted Sisters Event at Kirkwood, California.  Last year it was in the Sisters run at Kirkwood, but this year it was changed to the Cirque which is closed off to the general public but open for competitors in this event.  Other events that have made this venue famous is the North Face Masters and the Freeskiing World Tour.  ( See below for further description on the Twisted Sisters Event format ). 

It was a perfect day to compete in the Cirque, with no snow this year it decided to dump about three feet this week before the event, and the run was open to competitors only.  Inspection occurred as the jumps were being built at the same time, but there was plenty of time to choose a line to compete in.  As I mentioned earlier there were two runs per competitor, and then the top 5 went to a super final where there are two more runs.  Jumps were built off of pretty much every cliff, as well as a jump in the middle of the Cirque, with a few jumps through the trees at the end. 

My first run I crashed off of the first cliff I jumped off of, but I took advantage of the rest of the course on the way down to test out the features and throw a backflip off the features I havent even hit yet.  My second run I chose a different cliff to jump off of and stomped it and went straight into a kicker that was built and threw a backflip and stomped it, and finally I ended up on a kicker at the end where I just threw a tail grab over some trees and landed, but in the end of the run I hit a rock and a flat section and crashed 100 feet before the finish line so it was game over for me. 

However, three of my friends made it into the finals Evan Haines, Sugs Dorzynski, and Scott Pollman and they all went to the super final which was a super fun show.  Sugs threw left and right side 360s off cliffs and jumps all the way down the mountain with super good style and ended up winning a year long sponsorship with 4frnt skis! Scott Pollman went for the double backflip off of the lippiest kicker on the course and ended up crashing but it definitely was the gnarliest trick attempt of the day.  Evan Haines ended up 5th with super smooth skiing on double stagers and 360s at the bottom. 

Tommorow is Day 2 of the Twisted Sisters and round 2 in the Cirque, so good luck too all my friends in the Cirque!!!

Also, thanks again to 4frnt skis for holding the funnest event of the year again!!