Monday, December 27, 2010

Powder Storm

I love to ski in the powder,
I love to ski in the snow
I love to ski in then powder
Don't you know...

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Ski Family!

Wow! For the first time in I don't really have any idea when, my dad, sister and I spent an entire weekend skiing together!! It actually wasn't even that bad. Lol! It's awesome just skiing around Killington, seeing everyone around the holiday - it's like having anlargebextended family (although I bet my sister and her boyfriend probably got a little frustrated with me stopping everywherebto talk to everyone.
Totally funny thing today - it was like a Warren Miller movie at the top of the SkyePeak Quad today! There was a gun at the bottom of the Stash that wasncompletely blasting everyone on the lift. It was like a three second snow blast - jesse's goggles were completely blasted! So then everyone had to get off at the top of the skye peak quad - but they couldnt move at all because the snow hadbfrozen on the bottoms of their skis, like a reverse wax! So you all these tufting to move off the lift but it was their skis werenjust glued right down to the snow! It was freaking hilarious! I really just wanted to hang out their forna while...but we had to keepnskiing on...and skiing...and skiing!

My New iPad!!

Okay so this is my first new post from my real world chromatids present - an iPad!!! so instead of going to bed I am here at 3:30 in the morning figure out how to type on my iPad. I am hoping that I will be able to do all the sorter of things that I have been doing on the computer but without all the hassle. right now I am only worried about how the hell am I supposed to upload photos to Facebook and then get them onto my extrnali hard drive. I do like how it has automatic caps after periods and for the word I - and my typing mistakes aren't coming through...I wonder if I can't just keep typing and it'll. Add apostrophes - and it does! Now two handed typing is a little strange, but I am pretty sure i wil get the hang of this super fast! The photo quality is amazing! Thank you to my little sister for this awesome gift. Great skiing with her today also! I am now a true American - I have an iPad!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas from the Resort!

Holy wow, I cannot believe how awesome the skiing has gotten in just the past two weeks!  The conditions are amazing and the open terrain is increasing daily!  The skiing is honestly the best Christmas skiing that we have had a long time, if I am remembering correctly.  But two weeks ago, the mountain was so bare that there was no Bear.  But now, Bear is opening a trail a day and wow!  would you believe how great the skiing under the guns on Wildfire is!  Will & I were cruising the mountain and each waved and yelled thanks to a lone snowmaker turning on the guns along Wildfire.  I think he was a little surprised at the thanks - but he shouldn't be - the snowmakers have been doing a phenomenal job this season!  From that unbelievably nasty rainstorm only two weeks ago to natural trails like North Star opening up, this is fantastic!  Combined with the blue skies that we had today and perfect 20 degree temps, how could anyone not be having an absolutely wonderful Holiday Vacation here this week  :) 
And for the best Christmas ever - we'll be getting Great Eastern top to bottom tomorrow!!!!!!! 

See everyone out on the hill tomorrow for Christmas Day!!!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Photo Gallery: Winter 2010

Just another glance at my beautiful backyard covered in marshmellow powder  :)

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Damn my inside foot :(

Ever since I switched over from straight to shaped skis, I have been struggling with the two footed concept of skiing.  Not mentally, because keeping both feet on the snow makes perfect sense, but my inside foot just always seems to want to lift off the of the snow  :(  I know that I have other problems (like my nasty jersey pole flick habit), but the fact that I have yet to really take control over that inside foot really aggravates me.  Since tearing my right ACL last January, I can feel that I am trying to relieve some of the tightness during the roll-over transition by lifting up my right foot and stepping it around the turn instead of letting my ankle crank it over.  It has been really frustrating, because I thought that before my injury I was really getting it but now it feels like I am back at square one. 
So, what can I do?  I have been doing a lot of one ski exercises, trying to gain strength in that weaker leg and then reminding it what it should feel like during transition.  However, I don't really seem to find any necessarily weaker points, except for a general weakness in the knee itself.  This means that the inside foot just seems to be avoiding doing it's job rather than not being able to perform properly.  While this is of great relief to me in general, it makes me more frustrated because perhaps I am lifting my inside foot due to just sheer bad habit.  So I have been really working on just skiing almost 80% pressure on my inside foot.  Of course, this means that I am probably inclining a lot more than usual, but that is something I can fix later...I hope...It is very frustrating when I can do all the drills, but as soon as I take my attention away from my inside foot to focus on variable terrain or whatever, I can feel that foot unweighting beneath me. 
Well, they say that bad habits are hard to break...and it looks like I might have to break this one twice!!!  ARGH!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Holidays are Upon Us!

Well, you can tell that the holidays are coming - every day there are more and more people filling up all the extra space on the trail.  While this is VERY good for business, it does not really make for the best trail and liftline conditions.  I knew it was time to head home today when someone skied over my tails in the liftline at the Needle's Eye Quad - one reason why I am a big fan of gondolas during the busy season.  It's harder for assholes to run over your skis when you don't have them on!

Of course, on the other hand, it is totally awesome that people choose to spend their winter vacation outside on the slopes than lazing around on some beach all day doing nothing  :(  Lift service skiing isn't exactly what you would call a workout, but it does help people to breathe in the cold winter air after sitting in a cubicle or classroom all the rest of their lives.  It's an awesome thing seeing a family with young kids braving the trails at Killington, although sometimes poor trail choice leaves something to be desired.  I hate watching a dad yelling at their youngster for their poor performance on a trail - and all because dad chose something way over their head!  But in the end, skiing is such an awesome way for a family to spend the holidays!  Even my super traditional family has realized that the holidays are much more fun when you get to go skiing!!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Mancuso, Kildow & Vonn

Over wings at Sushi Yoshi, my ski sister and I were talking about how skiing went with her seven year old daughter today. They were practicing whirlie birds on RamsHead. Somehow we ended up in a debate about Julia Mancuso versus Lindsay Vonn as role models for young female ski racers. I was kind of surprised that we were on opposite ends of this discussion, but for the same reasons: we both felt that our athlete represented a strong female.  But there is a third athlete hidden here: the Lindsey Kildow that lies stored away underneath
From Hometown Girl...
 When she first appeared on the scene, I was a Lindsey Kildow fan. She showed such a tough and dedicated work ethic, similar to Peekaboo Street and Diane Roffe-Steinrotter. She was big and strong, without making any apologies for her six to eight hour a day training regimen and her total commitment to ski racing. Mancuso, on the other hand, seemed to be having too much fun, running around with tiaras and beads instead of focusing on her run. The media loved this charismatic racer, getting caught up in her magical Aspen smile and costume jewelry from her Junior racing days.  There was no analysis of her training program, no interviews with the other racers who worked just as hard (if not harder).  The other competitors tried in vain to break into the media attention.  But in the end, it was Julia's enjoyment of the sport of skiing that put her on the podium while a driven, brunette tomboy named Kildow sulked angrily in the background. Playboy Bunny

Four years later, we saw a Julia that had remained true to her original identity, while the new Mrs. Timothy Vonn showed up looking like the finished product from TLC's What Not to Wear. Now bleach blonde and in full make-up, Mrs. Vonn appeared in Sports Illustrated, exposing most of herself in bikini clad photos in a pathetic attempt to demonstrate that she, too, could be sexy and feminine. While her husband's training program for her is truly impressive and her downhill runs and recoveries are honestly amazing for a female athlete, I felt that Mrs. Vonn had sold her soul for some big corporate sponsorships and media attention instead of just focusing on the internal drive that had gotten her to the top in the first place.  It seemed almost as if women's ski racing was no longer about who skied the fastest, but who looked the best in the finish corral.

So who is the better role model for today's young female racets and ski bum wanna-bees? Is it the fun loving and free spirited Julia Mancuso, a ski princess in her own right? Is it the powerfully aggressive Mrs. Timothy Vonn, so blindly driven for sucess that she must change her entire image and personality? Or, was it the young Lindsey Kildow, so innocently dedicated to skiing that she didn't even have time to notice her appearance in the mirror?  Despite the frivolous tiara, I would rather be the mentally balanced Julia. I don't care how good you are - if you need to dye your hair and put on full makeup before running your race, you are missing the point of skiing and have lost yourself in the commercialism. I would rather our young lady skiers stay strong in who they are as individuals and ENJOY THE SPORT OF SKIING, no matter what place they finish. On the course and in training, there are many things that young athletes can learn from Mrs. Vonn, but I would much rather they find self-confidence in being themselves rather than changing who they are to fit the corporate sponsorship plan.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


What another awesome day of program!!  Nothing reminds me more of how much fun skiing is than shredding the gnar on Snowshed with a bunch of five, six and seven year olds!

This morning I had the Pole Group - where we were working on Fore and Aft balance using thousand step's amazing when a six year old can explain to you that they are in the back seat, how they were able to determine that from how they were lifting their ski off the ground and then listening to a group of them discuss what they could have done to be more forward.  Watching young athletes discover their physical self-awareness is such an amazing moment :)  Then we tried leaving our tip on the snow while lifting our heels - and even the kids who were convinced they were forward began to realize how much futher their skiing has to go.  As we were heading into lunch, I heard one athlete tell another that they had the first part of the whirlybird down okay, but that they really needed to work on their tails for the second part.  Analysis, Vocabulary and Understanding!!

I spent the afternoon with the Pinky Toe Team, trying to wake up that inner leg from its deep slumber.  They were able to start tracing my tracks with their pinky toes - a great start  :)  but these first time Hopefuls were more interested in discovering the Secret Trails known only to Hopefuls.  Ah, the Hopeful Secrets...but after a thorough secret meeting to discuss the technical and emotional requirements for these adventures, a great "A hah!" moment happened and we chose to spend the rest of December focusing on Skiing the Gnar (on Snowshed).  So we  worked on mastering our independant lift riding skills, making friends with the lifties on the Snowshed and Northbrook Quads.  Who needs grown-ups, anyways?!

Two Trails Diverged in a Wood, and the Hopefuls?  We chose the Gnarly one!!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Vespi hanging out in her Snow Cave

A Pickle full of Idiots

Oh man was it difficult to get up this morning...but I had to return the Atomic Lady's demo ski that I totally flaked on returning to the Basin last night. So It's 10am and I'm on the K1 wearing a layer short of long johns on the bottom instead of curled up in my sleeping bag next to my little drummer boy.
Besides the fact that the brewery didn't show up for their own freakin' party, the boys rocked the Barrel!! Aaron let out this new machine gun style fills on War Pigs - so totally awesome and Eli's set list had us "dancing our asses off" right from the beginning! Noodling, moshing, head banging...I am feeling really old this morning :) I hope my turns don't suffer because it is a beautiful day, fighting with the Killington Cloud to be a bluebird one.
But the skiing is awesome!! There is a beautiful layer of light fluff from last night's covering some slightly stiff groomies. But we have had no probles finding the texture we've been looking for. Thanks to Peter for letting me check out these 159 fischer Koa 78s. :) Rip it to live it!!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Dynastar Eden 2011

Seriously, this ski just might be heaven for me!  I know that my dad has been skiing Dynastars for a pretty good chunk of time now and I guess perhaps they just fit the way my family skis - might have to get my sister on their bump ski and see what she says!  Now, granted I demoed these 85mm under foot skis on one of the most beautiful powder days of the year, providing me all the loving float that my body could handle (well I did get stuck in theigh deep snow once, but that was more lack of pitch than lack of float.  :) 

I was a little disapointed, I guess you could say, about the softness of the slight rocker tip, but it was only the last 10 or 15 cm rather than an entire front end so it was much firmer than the K2 Lotta Luv with the All-Mountain Rocker.  It was wonderful how I could float through the powder and then roll them onto their edges from some slightly aggressive railroad track turns.  I'm not so sure how they would have stood up to the rigors of the Ski Bum Race today, because I took out the Nordica Conquer instead  :)  Hopefully I kicked ass!

The width of the ski, so wide all the way through, does make me a little worried though.  I think that I will try the 78cm Dynastar Idyll over the next few days to see if that can handle everything that I'm looking for.  I would rather NOT have rocker - it seems like the tip of the ski comes pre-broken - but the little amount of rocker in this ski would at least be alright for one season...any more than that, I'm not really sure how long they would last.  Plus, My bad habit of sometimes picking up my inside foot (only sometimes!) became a real problem on these as I did step on the tails a few more times that I would have liked to. 

I will try to get a photo up soon - my internet doesn't really like the minimal skills of my six year old computer! 

Powder, Work, Eat, Sleep

Well, that pretty much sums up my life for the last couple of days!  The skiing here has been amazingly awesome - what a difference from last Wednesday (when it was r***ing cats and dogs here)!  We have had over 20 inches in the past few days and I have been so busy skiing that I have completely forgotten to take pictures!  Maybe tomorrow...but it just hasn't stopped snowing for the past two days!  Rope after rope has been dropped as trails are building up an amazing base - things that we were afraid to ski only 2 days ago are now being skied by every Joey on the mountain!  Soooo amazing!  Thank you so much mother nature!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Nordica Conquer 2011

So last Friday I had the opportunity to demo the Nordia Conquer, an extremely powerful women's ski, in a 154.  I am glad that I started out the morning with the boys, driving hard to be the first to the bottom of our warmup on Great Northern.  It's always good to have a warmup run - especially popping the cherry on brand new demos!  And wow!  These skis just blew me away right from the start. 

There is no complaining about the construction of these extremely durable skis.  I could tell right from the start that these skis could put in season after season, even for a local skiing over 100 days a year.  Yes, they were a little bit heavy - probably due to the rediculous binding-ski combo for sale.  I will say, the removal of binding choice from the consumer is an extremely frustrating one.  Do ski corporations not trust us to purchase the binding that best fits our technique - or do they just want to guarantee the binding sale?  :(  Either way, the ski was extremely solid and slightly heavy - but in the East Coast crud, a heavy ski is always a benefit.

Check Out the Nordica Conquer 2011
at Basin Sports in Killington, Vermont

The solid construction and 84mm width made the Conquer an extremely sluggish initiator.  The ski would not lock into the next turn until about 20mm from the tip, making the edge to edge much longer!  However, if you are a jerky skier, I could see where this would help make a more graceful transition for those who don't roll their ankles, but as a dynamic skier I quicky found myself juicing the tails (which were appropriately stiff - not tossing me about) so that I could make a quicker edge transfer in the air.  I would have liked more input from the ski at an earlier point in the sidecut, so that I could have more control over my edge transfer. 

That said, I had an amazing run down Rime, riding the 14m radius from one treeline to the other, although this did mess with the primarily downhill skiing pattern of my buddies.  The ski itself had a really wonderful turn shape, with the tails really bringing the skier across the hill rather than merely switching edges while still pointed downhill.  It even wanted to do this in the moguls, which made this an extremely difficult all-mountain ski...East Fall ice moguls are not something that I really wanted to make long GS turns in.  When I did get the skis to point down the hill, they were definately unhappy and felt as though they were reluctant to participate, waiting instead for any opportunity to cross the trail. 

All in all, I am glad that I took this ski out in a 154m due to its big, beefy nature.  Even with my huge, powerful theighs that are usually most comfortable with a 160m, I couldn't see myself finding any comfort on anything longer.  This ski is definately designed for the larger, slow moving women who wants to travel fast on her skis.  You have to be strong to work with the ski, and pretty heavy to dominate it.  I kept thinking how perfect this ski would have been for groomed & crud terrain if I was just twenty pounds heavier.  Otherwise, these skis were so fast & sexy that I guess I'll just have to settle for skiing these on non-crowded midweek days - with a helmet  :)  Thanks Nordica for actually manufacturing a quality product that won't break down after 30 days on snow!!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Ski Bum Food: Beef Stew

The Ski Bum Diet has gotten a pretty bad reputation over the years, and duly deserved.  I have eaten all kinds of snacks made from the condiments, crackers & marshmellows available at the base lodges, while simultaneously complaining about the quality of food available in the resort areas.  But I think that this past Thursday, amidst the first official powder day of the season, I had to take a warm-up break up at the Peak Lodge at Killington and ended up creating the grossest ski bum meal ever.

I grabbed my cup of hot water, making sure that I said hi to Ma Bailey on the way through the register area, and went and sat down my the fireplace.  Since I had stopped at the Waterwheel earlier, I had a package of Vermont's best beef jerky in my pocket. However, the cold weather had really stiffened up the jerky, making it almost impossible to chew enjoyably.  So, I thought, why not try to warm up the jerky by dipping it in my hot water?  Yum, that really was good! 

Of course, I just couldn't let it rest there - we've made lots of tomato soup with hot water and ketchup, why not try and rehydrate some beef jerky in the hot water and make some stew!  So, I tore the jerky up into little pieces, threw it in with the hot water and added some ketchup and little bit of bbq sauce from the condiment squirter things and wrapped my hands around the cup, breathed in the smell and waited...and waited...and waited...and was completely grossed out!  But, the point of any real ski bum meal is to get the insides warmed up and the body refueled enough to get back out there onto the mountain and into the powder!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Growing a Winter Wonderland

Once the temperatures drop up on the mountain top, something magical happens. All of a sudden, against all of nature's intensions, a winter wonderland begins to develop amongst the trees and trails above 3000'. Men in hard hats and heavy ear protection scurry back and forth between the Great Metal Dragons that line the trees, shooting forth the white-ish blanket that creates a ski bum's dream come true :)

My dad was up for the weekend and his only goal was a pilgrimmage throught the muddy & half-frozen snowcat tracks to the snowy wonderfulness. Even though the mountain is probably opening soon, it was important for him to get up and see the landscaping improvements - of which there are so many this year - before they are covered! It's going to feel like such a snowier winter because of all the trail regrading and pipe replacement that's been going on all fall. Plus, he wanted to check out what kind of snow they were blowing - and if it was skiable yet! It's that super sticky and yellow snow with a white lace on top, which builds an awesome base but is a little trecherous for a smooth descent. ;)

But the greatness is coming. We watch the traffic on the mountain increasing every week. A month ago, I felt as thugh I had entire mountain to myself, but today my pack of two humans and three golden retreivers ran into six hikers, a patroller on a 4-wheeler, three snowmakers getting picked up by their supervisor in the suburban and the head of patrol racing up to yet another meeting. Pretty soon the Winter Wnderland will be complete and I won't be able to count how many people I run into on the mountain.

Thank you Mother Nature, Krom, the Snowmaking Fairy and all your amazing snowmaker minions!

Let the Winter Wonderland Grow!!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Sing-a-Song of Winter

Where it's snowing
All winter through,
That's where I want to be.

Snowball Throwing,
That's what I'll do...
How I'm longing to ski!
Through the snow-ow-ow-ow...

"Snow" by Irving Berlin

I had the utmost pleasure today to hike up to the snow today. One of my most cherished reasons for living in the mountains - even if there is no snow down here, I can simply walk up to where there IS snow :) But it's the idea of walking across some weather line, as the percipitation goes from wet to moist to hard then light floats down and feels just perfect as it covers the crunch of the leaves.
Vespi loves it too - she was very adamant about not going for a hike, but the look on her face when she saw the weather changing - she was a puppy again! And I? I was a kid again, laughing & running, throwing snowballs and singing at the top of my lungs!

Oh the weather outside is frightful
But the fire is so delightful
Since we've no place to go
Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!

"Let it Snow!" by Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne

I love this song, not only is it sooo much fun to sing while walking through a snowstorm, but because it's about the accumulation! There isn't enough snow yet, so they might as well cuddle up in front of the fire and wait until the powder is ready in the morning! Awesome! Simply awesome!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Reflection Season

As a ski bum, the month of October has increasingly brought less and less ski time and more and more reflection time.  I tend to think of hiking as reflection time, because my brain has soooo much time to wander about.  Anyways, being post-harvest season there are plenty of things of which take stock and see what you need to get ready for winter hibernation.  And on the Access Road, this means that trips to the Post Office become grand adventures!  But what I tend to focus primarily on a few things...

(1)  Fitness & Nutrition
(2)   Equipment & Technical Clothing
(3)   Household & Traditional Clothing

You might ask if these are in any particular order, and I would say YES.  Definately.  Of all things, my Fitness & Nutriotion levels are the most important.  If I or anyone in my family are not mentally and physically prepared for the upcoming season then what is there?  That's a different blog, but once I have double checked my workouts (am I trail running enough?) and my nutrition guidelines being followed (am I snacking too much?), then I am able to focus on what's really important: My Gear!! 

I love that my reflection time coincides with the beginning of the holiday shopping season, because all these gear catalogues start showing up at The Ski House!  This makes it much simpler to put together a list of all the items that need replacing from having that last final season in the snow and to find new items that I have been trying to add to my arsenal for years (like climbing protection!  argh!)   I call this my Want List, which serves as a miserable reminder that I can ride last year's stuff for one more season and that I don't really need anything on the list  :(  But it's still a great way to reflect on what I have and where I could possibly go in life - think of all the mountaineering we could do...

Finally, I look around at my little condo and try to see what needs fixing, like the tub, and what I would love - like one of those tall faucets for the kitchen.  Oh well.  These things aren't really important to me though.  Just things on the list that society needs me to change.  I guess that I can go reflect on the conflict between my inner self and society now. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Dreaming of the First Snow!

One of the most prominent preoccupations of ski resort locals is tracking the weather.  I don't mean that we watch the Weather Channel when we get up in the morning and then go about the rest of our day.  I mean that we follow the weather, checking the radar several times a day, comparing our analysis of the upcoming system versus Jim Cantore, Alexandra Steele and our friends.  I have spent hours of my day watching for minute changes in the radar, hoping that the Nor'Easter will somehow combine with the cold air at the peak and give us a hint of what the upcoming winter will be like.
Waking up to Winter
First Snow 2009-2010 Season
Cooper's Lodge, The Long Trail, Killington, VT

Since I tend to be an extremely impatient person, I tend to have my bags packed and ready to go at any moment.  Go where?  To the peak, of course, because the first snowfall usually happens around 2 or 3 in the morning, when the temperature drops just enough to turn that fall rain storm into something more wonderful.  So we watch the weather in hopes that she will reveal exactly which night we should camp out above the snow line.  There is just something magical about hiking up the mountain during autumn and waking up surrounded by winter.

You can smell the difference coming as the humidity changes and the air becomes crystal clear, almost burning your nostrils with its clarity.  That first breathe in the morning, full of snowflakes and the fresh mountain air, is one of the most wonderful and magical moments of the year.  I always end up jumping out of bed, in a rush of excitement and end up wrestling in the fresh snowfall with Vespi.  You can feel the snow squeaking underneath your feet, with the freshly traumatized leaves crunching below.  Nothing makes me feel more like my six-year old self than racing around in the freshies, trying to experience all the snow before it melts by noon.  :)

Both the Weather Channel and are claiming that snow should fall in the Killington area either Friday or at least Saturday night.  These predictions have been confirmed by both Chef Frizzie and Aaron.  The only problem that I can foresee is how I am supposed to work those nights in the restaurant until 11pm and then hike up to the peak for the most magical morning of the season: the First Snow!!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

One Season Does NOT a Ski Bum Make

Over the past several years, more and more visitors to Killington have explained to me that either they or one of their kids was a ski bum once.  This means that they spent an entire winter working somewhere in a ski resort town, either as a waitress, liftie, bus boy or even a ski instructor.  This "year off," both mentally and financially supported by the parents, is meant to expose the youth to the real world and convince them of the righteousness of the nine to five.  I am told stories about the horrors of living with 'burnouts' and the relief of getting skiing out of their system so they can return to graduate school or some other brainwashed profession.  These individuals cannot cope with the lack of financial security, running quickly home to their parents and the materialistic American lifestyle to which they have grown accustomed.

Female Ski Bum-in-Training
The Summit Lodge, Killington, Vermont
These seasonal workers never were, are not and will never be ski bums.  The ski bum lifestyle is not something that you can get out of your system in a single season.  It is a way of life that penetrates every breathe and thought that occurs, no matter the season.  A true ski bum could never blow off the mountains after a year of selling tickets or working as a liftie.  A real ski bum would quit that job halfway through the season because they didn't have the days off to go skiing!  The true ski bum doesn't care what kind of people live in the town, what kind of restaurants are available or if there is an acceptable theater district in the area - they care whether the mountain can sustain them for an entire lifetime of skiing and riding!

Being a ski bum is NOT easy.  You try balancing your budget when you can't work days while the mountain is open for skiing.  Sometimes I struggle to pay my heating bill, but that's why I have a -20 degree down sleeping bag.  I work nights as a waitress and bartender at the Birch Ridge Inn because the owners and the chef understand why I am here.  In fact, five years ago I went to my interview straight from the mountain with my snow pants on.  Winter weekends are spent coaching the Killington Hopefuls, so that I can ski while most locals are blacked out.   In fact, I have been told that when I don't get to ski, I am a real bitch.   I can't spend my money on late nights in the bar, expensive vacations or a closet full of clothes.  After paying my mortgage, my first priority is to make sure that I have all the necessary gear for the upcoming season.  Life is not about holding down some 40 hour a week job so that you can make your retirement dreams come true.

Skiing is Life, and you just work around it  :)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Don't Blame the Boots!

I have always been fascinated by the skier who always blames their equipment for any fault in their own performance.  I have watched people flop down the Powerline, getting tossed backwards by an unnoticable terrain change only to have to them swing their arms wildly forward, resulting in some kind of fore and aft struggle.  Or how about the skier who slaps through the moguls, skis slamming into each mound of snow like they were giving it five.  My personal favorite is the groomed trail skier who, if only they had the precision boot fit, would have been able to more easily maneouver down that 'poorly maintained' section of trail.  They all come skiing up to the group, barely having noticed their arms and legs flopping around them, and proceed to blame the failure to perform on the quality of the boots.
Summit of Mt. Adams, Presidential Range
White Mountain National Forest, NH
It seems to me that these people would much more benefit from redirecting their attention from this year's hottest trends in metal and plastic and would instead focus on what is actually happening when they ski.  The lack of a properly fit boot is not the reason for your lack of balance and control in variable terrain: it is your body's complete and utter lack of awareness of what is happening and how to resolve the imbalance.  A good, balanced skier doesn't get thrown off balance because they are not stagnant.  Instead, they are aware of their body's every movement and are constantly evaluating the terrain and determining its probable effect on the skier's body.  Once the body is awake and functioning, only then does the fit of the equipment even factor into the sitiuation:  you have to know how to use your body before you can use your equipment!

Over the years, I have found that pilates has helped me to understand how my body works.  While Yoga introduces us to the presence of our body parts, Pilates can show us how these parts function during movements.  Variations of a single movement have exposed me to the minute adpations which my body can perform and the ability to control these movements.  This awareness has helped me to make preventative rather than reactionary movements while skiing, biking & trail running.  I can understand how to use core muscles to maintain stability of the upper body, can adjust the flex and angles of my ankles to account for variances in terrain, make minute lateral movements of the femur in the hip socket to adjust my turn radius on demand.  Control over both big and small muscles in the body have provided me with a more stable platform from which to approach the mountain, and have given the opportunity for increased grace of movement.  If we truly wish to become great skiers, we must turn away from this dependency upon external sources and instead focus on our ability to perform through the control of our own bodies.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Green Jacket: Marmot Ama Dablam

Bombproof Warmth:
Marmot Women's Ama Dablam Jacket
A couple year's ago, we walked into Base Camp Outfitters at the bottom of the Killington Access Road on Route 4 and I saw her.

Soon, Soon...

Ah, the beauty of Vermont's foliage.  Every morning it is such a treat to look out the window, gaze out at the multi-colored trees that are right outside my window and wonder, when the hell all these people are going to leave so that I can go play? 
Foliage in Vermont
For a ski bum, the foliage season means working until you're too exhausted to even go outside.  First, we have the leaf peepers, an extraordinary group of people that really do not belong in Vermont.  Although they have the most fascinating stories to tell and revel in just looking at our beautiful scenery, they do not understand our way of life.  They react in horror to tales of walking up the mountain, rarely offer gratuity above fifteen percent and constantly complain about the cold weather.  You are in Vermont, people!  Instead of trying to participate in our way of life, they park on the side of the road with their cameras and take pictures from inside the car!  It's almost like they feel death upon them if they left the safe confines of their vehicle. 
But now the Columbus Day Weekend is upon us, marking the end of the great foliage exodus.  Now, all the weekend skiers come up to clash with the leaf peepers.  They come with all their corporate money saved up to spend on this year's brand new gear and equipment that ski bums could only dream of.  But at least the weekenders bring dreams of the heavy snowfalls and powder days that are not so far in the future.  Yet they too serve as a reminder of the life left behind, the narrowness of the escape, the money and stress that could have been.
 Soon, all these city folk will return to their skyline apartments and McMansions, housekeeping and trying to figure out what Vermonters could possibly do up here all summer long. Soon, they will leave us in peace to once again enjoy the peace and quiet of our Vermont foliage - even if it is all over the ground and no longer on the trees.  Vespi will be able to run around off lead without worrying about the possibility of giving some blue-haired Brooklyn-ite a heart attack or having some Minnesota Baby Boomer gush over her for thirty minutes.   Soon, the leaves will fall from their branches and cover the ground with beautiful yet fading colors, reminding the tourists that nothing is perfect for long.   Soon, I will have the energy to head out into the woods and play, rather than having to rest all day to make it through my shift tonight.  Soon twig season will arrive and peace will return to the Green Mountains of Vermont. 

Friday, October 1, 2010

The First Hot Chocolate!

Whenever it rains in September, the conversation inevitably turns toward predicted snowfall.  Over the past two days we have gotten enough rain to have been over two feet of snow - if the temperature had been about twenty degrees less.  But it's the dreaming that makes the foliage season so much fun.  Every leaf that falls, every drop of rain means that we are that much closer to the real thing falling from the sky.  It's so cold and damp that when we close the curtains and make a fire we can pretend that it's snow blowing around outside rather than torrential rain.  But nothing marks the oncoming winter season like that first mug of hot chocolate. 
Hot Chocolate: A sign of winter's much anticipated arrival
My first mug of cocoa this year was at my mom's house in Vermont.  I had just gotten home from working at the Birch Ridge Inn and was feeling simply exhausted.  The autumn wind was howling outside and leaves were blowing just about everywhere.  Aaron had the most wonderful fire going in the two-sided stone fireplace and I immediately knew that there was only one thing left to make the evening perfect as I snuggled up in front of the fire with Vespoli and Aaron: a nice warm mug of hot chocolate topped off with a thick layer of mini-marshmallows. 
Today is another one of those blustery, torrential downpour kind of days.  Unfortunately, I haven't done my winter shopping yet and am desperately missing both my cocoa and my marshmallows.  Yet another sign that it is not yet quite winter.  Oh well.  I know that everything will work out in the end.  The snow will always fall when Mother Nature finally decides to drop the temperatures below that magic number of 32 degrees Fahrenheit.  The only question now is WHEN?!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Foliage is for Trail Running!

  Ah, the rainy season of foliage has begun.  The foggy weather is a bummer for the leaf peepers, but for the trail runners and mountain bikers, this season is HEAVEN!  Beautifully colored leaves litter the trails, except for a tire-wide stripe marking the best line through the rocks and roots.  I do love mountain biking, but I find that while the colors are in the trees it is much safer for me to trail run - this is because I spend too much time looking around at the beautiful trees rather than on the rough surface below.  I have fallen off my bike way too many times already during foliage; so I'll just stick to running until all the leaves are down and the trees are naked. 

I'm not upset though - the little bit of moisture has made the ground just a little bit smushy, which is perfect for my Vibram FiveFingers SPRINT!  You know, those wierd running shoes with separate spaces for all your toes.  I wear the Sprints and have had such a wonderful time playing in the woods!  There is nothing better than feeling the mud ooze up between your toes.  It reminds me walking across the beach to get my canoe into the water and happy thoughts just creep up everywhere.  Plus, my feet and calves have gotten so much stronger - I am definately going to have a better edge during the upcoming ski season  :)  But my absolute favorite part of foliage Trail Runs: you can hear the red, yellow & brown leaves crunch under your feet when you're running.  What a beautiful season for trail running!!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Just Keep Paddling

Since I am blessed with a lot of free time in the summer, I have the good fortune of returning to my childhood stomping grounds and participating the Bear Mountain Canoe Regatta, sponsored by the American Canoe Association.  This is a great event that has been around for decades and something that I have participated in since I first held a paddle.  As you can see, our team is fairly serious, in so much as that we all have matching shirts and smiles!  Most of our kids begin paddling as soon as they pass our waterfront test and it's all paddles and canoes from then on! 
2010 Camp K-20 Canoe Team

Our team focuses on a combination of fun and responsibility - once our paddlers reach the age of fourteen, they can participate by becoming a Coach-in-Training, working with the younger paddlers on their skills.  But paddlers come in all shapes, sizes and ages.  My sister and her two-man partner made a return appearance this year, at the ripe old age of almost 30.  And I make sure that all the moms and dads are ready when the 18 & Over age group comes up.  It used to be that I would feel like I was forcing these parents to paddle, but something has definately changed at regatta.  Now I have parents asking me when the their race is, just like they did when they were campers.  Sometimes the regatta calls and you just have to paddle. 

Dock Dogs!!

For the first time this year, the official DockDogs Competition came to Killington - and it has turned out to be one of the best events of the summer!  It was a great mix of professional athletes, local dogs and the old dogs who were just there for the social atmosphere.  Aaron & I followed Vespi around for a couple of hours as she sniffed her way through the crowd that was already over-flowing the bandstand in its first year!  She made tons of new friends, sniffed butts with some old ones, and came home with a big bag of homemade treats that would make any pastrry chef jealous  :)
Photo Credit: Chandler Burgess
The object of the game is to get your dog to jump as far as possible off of a running platform that is two feet above the water, the world record being over 28 FEET!  Since Vespi won't even jump off the dock, it was amazing to see these dogs not even flinch at jumping 13-16 feet.  One of Vespi's boyfriends, Sully, was competiting for the first time and ended up jumping over 13 feet, while our neighbor's dog, Finn, ended up with 2nd place in the Junior Division.  You should have seen how proud they were of his ribbon!  Sent the photo all around to their friends before the event had even ended  :)

All in all, I think that DockDogs might very well turn out to be one of the highlights of the Killington summer event schedule.  If you missed it this year, I would very much recommend that you add this to your list - and start training with your dog now just for a chance to participate!  Set to the backdrop of the beautiful mountains with Ozzy Ozbourne blaring out of the speakers, this is definately a Killington friendly event - at what other dog show do you get offered jello shots on a regular basis?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Changing Winds

Our friend, Ben, came over the other morning for no reason whatsoever, and had the most exciting news to share.  While picking up his breakfast at the Phat Italian, summer was referred to numerous times in the past tense.  Now that may frighten some flatlanders or city dwellers with fears of preparations for the cold months ahead, but here news of Fall's arrival brings smiles of great anticipation for the months ahead.  Local folks start sneaking peaks at their skis and boards, shaking out the winter jackets and digging deep into the closet to find where those ski socks went.  It's a time of anticipation and questions, like When will the mountian open?  When is the first snowfall?
Killington Hay Festival:
A Benefit for the National Audobon Society
But what is it exactly that tells us that Fall is upon us and the months of screaming children are behind us?  For some it's that new-age American habit of throwing the pigskin.  For my dad, it's analyzing the final games before post-season baseball begins.  My sister, who lives in NY, had started talking about the new fall fashions and is pulling out her leather knee-high boots, I'm sure.  And for my mother, it's time to finish up your fall needlepoint and break into the christmas thread. 

Up on the mountain, we have other ways of telling time.  While walking Vespi the other day, I heard someone explain that the Killington Classic marked the beginning of fall and the end of the summer motorcycle season.  The Killington Hay Festival covers a good month from Labor Day to Columbus Day as we watch the leaves turn their beautful harvest colors.  One of my favorites are the heirloom tomatoes which seem to be in every farmer's market this time of year. 

But for skiers & riders, fall is all about the anticipation of the powdery winter months.  There are vigorous discussions about probably snowfall, changes to the mountain and debates about the resort's opening policices.  The harvest comes in and the serious dry-land training begins.  We know it's fall because dead leaves cover the ground - except for those worn paths on the mountain biking trails  :)  Rock climbers in dark colored hoodies litter Deer Leap, basking in the warm rays of the sun while they try to keep their fingers warm.  And hikers start carrying heavier packs, including hats, gloves & a warm fleece for the cool trip downhill.  Aaron will be checking the weather everyday to determine if tonight we should be sleeping at the Peak in order to catch the first snowfall.  And then, "let the wild rumpus start."

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Echo Woods!

Some trails at Killington are possessed by with a magical & mystical power. These are the trails where your soul seems to float just above the wide open groomers. Or perhaps you find magic in a trail so rarely open that any trip down without a scratch in your skis must have been glorious. For some, it's that magnificent bump run where survival is somehow translated into excellence. But there is one trail at Killington that has been my favorite since the beginning: the twisty turny tree trails of Echo Woods.

Lost in Echo Woods: 20 Years Later!
It would all begin with the begging at the top of Roundabout. "Please, Please?" we would whine at the top of our lungs.  Coach would eventually give in and we quickly found ourselves bopping down something that resembled a combination mogul & bobsled run that was perfect only for those with the right amount of energy and motivation. This was the trail toward the best chairlift in the entire world: The South Ridge Triple. With eyes closed and arms held high, we would giggle in anticipation of the "Sudden Turns Ahead" and scream into the wind as we were jerked like rag dolls around the bullwheel. And then the singing would begin. From the Littlest Worm to Beauty & the Beast to Madonna, it didn't matter. There we would be, chair after chair of screaming children, using all our energy to keep from freezing to death in the harsh winds of the exposed South Ridge.

The suffering was always worth it. From the top of the lift straight down to Echo Woods we would slide, working on the hippest stease of the day: spraying snow. But pretty soon, all we could hear was each other screaming as someone over there crashed into a bush whereas someone over there was thrown out of the track. A third would have lost their ski in the snow and was trying to simultaneously dig and avoid getting skied over while another was worried if they had gotten too far from the group. A five-child pile up was a commen site. You would come hard around a corner only to be the latest victim in a giggling tangle of arms, legs, skis & poles. Ah, the mountain is a wonderful place when you're young.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Our New Fridge

After three months of trying to make ice and coming up with only water, we finally realized that our refrigerator was on its's last legs.  After months of denial, we began the slow process of saving up money to replace it.  We moved the rice milk, the tofu and eggs into the freezer, where we hoped they would have at least a fighting chance of survival.  It really was a sad state of affairs as we listened to our fridge make noises that I thought could only come from an angry bear as it fought for its life.  By early September we had succeeded in saving up the couple hundred dollars required to purchase the absolutely cheapest energy saver fridge on the market.  Then we made the fortuitous mistake of walking into Dick's Sporting Goods one beautiful summer day. 

Paddling Chittenden Reservoir toward Pico Mountain
We left Dick's that day with a canoe!!  Made of the same material as cheap sit-on-top kayaks, our hideously blue canoe was absolutely perfect.  The sales guy made the mistake of dropping the boat while trying to remove it from the racks and it was already on sale.  For us, there really was no question here as to whether or not we would purchase our first Mad River Canoe.  In about thirty minutes (with a little haggling) we left the store with a set of straps and a big plastic boat, headed home to grab our life jackets and paddles, and drove straight to the Chittendon Reservoir.  Immediately upon launching, I knew we had made the right decision.  I could feel the boat floating underneath me on the calm water as Vespi bounced from gunnel to gunnel trying to figure out where puppies would sit.  After about an hour, she finally settled in and found her place in the boat, her head on my shoulder, looking out over the water with wonderment at the beauty of it all. 

Since that wonderful day, we spent the remainder of the summer exploring all the lakes and ponds that the Killington region had to offer.  We found mini-reservoirs with apple orchard shorelines and little coves where sunbathing was clothing optional.  Hours have been spent fishing and reading as we floated along over the acres of water filled with mountain runoff.  There has never been a single moment that either of us have second guessed our decision to forgo the fridge and instead purchase a doorway to the peace and quiet of the cruising on flatwater. 

Ride the Beast Naked: Mountain Biking at Killington in the Summer

“Weave left, right, now around that big rock - don’t look at the big rock - now the root, root, push down, don’t slip, tilt the bike, root, rock, around that branch, pull up, move left…whew, wait - ”

I was amazed at how fast these thoughts came flying through my head as I headed down Trail 7, one of the Black Diamond Trails at Killington Resort. I was riding with my friend, Will, who was visiting from Boston. Earlier, we had reintroduced his 17-year old niece to the sport and were excited to spend some time riding hard on the more difficult terrain. Moving fast through the rocky, off-camber sections that traverse through Patsy’s, I was definitely glad we had spent the morning warming up on the easier trails. Dropping right down the Rock Garden on Double Black 7, a gnarly section of the Gravity East Race Series Downhill course, would definitely not have been a great way to begin my season.

Berm Track on Trail 7: Killington Resort
If you’ve ever enjoyed Killington on your board or skis, whether ripping through the woods or flying down Cruise Control, then you have got to try Downhill Mountain Biking. Just riding in the gondola is enough to make the skier or rider in you smile with anticipation. You’ve already felt the rush of the cold winter wind squealing through your goggles as you cruise down the Beast. Downhill Mountain Biking bring back all the same excitement - without the fluffy white stuff to protect you from the rocks, roots and gravel waiting to claim their next unsuspecting victim. But that’s why we all look like we could claim victory on American Gladiators - you don’t dress for the ride, you dress for the fall. Shin guards, Full-Face Helmets, Goggles and Gloves are the minimum recommended requirements when riding what looks like motor-less dirtbike down 2000 vertical feet. You’ll even see the more committed rider wearing full chest, shoulder and spine protectors, just in case.

That’s why the shop guys spend a good chunk of time lecturing everybody that rents. It doesn’t matter whether you want to hear it or not. As you come around the first turn of loose gravel, your eyes will pop out of your head as the bike wiggles underneath you. Only then will you wish that you’d paid more attention to what the rental guy was lecturing you about when he handed you the bike. But you keep riding, mostly because it would be embarrassing to hike back up, and then something wonderful happens. Maybe it was in the woods at the end of Green 2, pounding the rocky drops on Blue 3 or even the mini jumps on Blue 24; but about halfway down, a big smile reaches your eyes as you realize, “Hey, THIS IS AWESOME!” And then it hits you - you’re really not good at this yet, and maybe - just maybe - you should slow down! Instead, you smile and head to the K1 for one more run .