Archive for January, 2010

What Season is it Anyway?

Thank goodness it’s snowing outside. Flakes falling from the heavens are a good reminder that we’re really still in the middle of winter. Sometimes, the seasons can really blend together.

Now before you theorize that I simply can’t read a calendar, let me explain what I mean.  Working in the marketing department here at Schweitzer is great, but it can have it’s challenges.  Since we have the task of preparing advertising, brochures, radio ads, television commercials and a whole bunch of other stuff, we naturally have to be way ahead of each season in order to get things done on time.

So, while tomorrow may read February 1st on the calendar, we’re in the middle of summer in our world.  The big summer festival dates are planned and I just signed off on the summer brochure. We still have some work to do on the summer website, but the majority of “big picture” stuff is done.  And guess what happens when the big summer items are checked off our lists?

You guessed it… we’re back into winter mode, or at least the planning stages anyway.  Right now, we’re finalizing the season pass campaign for next winter, thinking about our national ads in publications like SKI and Skiing and discussing which cities we’ll be visiting for consumer ski shows next fall.  It’s pretty easy to see how things can blend together and get confusing.

Which is all the more reason why we have one weapon in our quiver that keeps us sane:  the ski break.  Fortunately for all of us, we can get out on the mountain quite a bit, even if it’s just for a run or two at lunch.  No matter how much the mind is thinking about summer marketing, once we break away from that mode, boot up and grab the boards, the real reason why we’re here becomes instantly clear. We simply love the mountains, winter, skiing and being a part of the community of enthusiasts here at Schweitzer.  Enjoy the season — it won’t last forever!

“The Feeling”

You know that feeling you get when something good happens? It’s that feeling you get in your stomach that sometimes even runs down your spine until your toes tickle! It’s one of those things that doesn’t usually happen when we’re sitting on our butts, but usually happens with some kind of momentum. I suppose there are a bunch of good feelings we get that can all be similar like falling in love or getting a job that seemed impossible to get. Those are all great feelings, but what I’m thinking of usually has something to do with gravity. Depending on what one may be doing, gravity may be in our favor or against us. But when talking about “The Feeling” gravity is definitely helping out.

“The Feeling” definitely isn’t specific with one sport or activity and some sports may cause more butterflies than others… but it’s still that same feeling. It’s what makes us go back time after time. Down in Moscow there’s a strictly downhill mountain bike trail that starts up at the top of Moscow Mountain where I do the same set of trails every time I go. People always ask me why I don’t go anywhere else or try a different trail, cuz it’s all about those butterflies!! It’s the wind making your cheeks flap, the air that you split through so fast that your eyes are tearing up because your shades can’t block it, and that feeling that nothing can stop you!! 

It’s almost like a feeling of invincibility.  I used to think I knew what that felt like, then my age caught up with my actions, a couple broken bones later I’m back in reality. But that will never stop me from screaming through gears on my dirt bike to make it to the top of the hill, ripping down the same trail on my mountain bike over and over, or slicing through powder in the latest found powder stash.

So long as I continue my career in recreation, I promise to preserve our right to be “wowed!” As long as you promise the same for me, a promise that I’ll have one more chance for butterflies to fill my stomach, rush down my spine and have that exclusive feeling that zones me out from the rest of the world! The same feeling that makes us want to go right back up to the top and do it again. I’m not one to single people out, but if you have no clue what I’m talking about, I suggest trying something new, maybe something you thought you’d never do, maybe something that scared you before. Who knows, it may just be a good time.

-         Jimmy Reed, Marketing Intern

Where Did It Go?

I can’t believe we are already half way done with our ski season. I feel like it was just a few weeks ago when we were all pining away – waiting for opening day to be announced. Those first few day when we didn’t mind lapping the Basin and Musical Chairs all day; those first few days when one inch of snow meant a whole world of difference; those first few days when we dodged alders like we were running gates.

As people slowly seem to be getting more and more into summer mode, especially in the cities of CDA and Spokane, we up and Schweitzer are still in full-on winter mode with half a season of skiing left, and I find myself getting more and more paranoid as each day goes on that the season will be over before I know it.

I think about what is coming up and I see nothing but fun events that I’ll be looking forward.

  • First off, starting the first Friday in February will be a 5 week long Starlight series (aka beer league ski racing.) I’ll be looking forward to the social festivities every week of meeting up at the NASTAR shack, winning swag at the after parties, and running gates on my super fast fat powder skis.
  • Then March starts going and we have Outrageous Air, Grom Stomp and Stomp Games
  • Finally April kicks off with Tropical Daze and what I hope to be a string of sunny spring daze sitting atop the mountain at the Church of Jimmy Wang’s sipping a cool beverage while working on my Gog tan.

With this kind of exciting schedule ahead you can see why I think the rest of the season will zoom by. I just hope I can hit all theses events and enjoy them as much as possible, because as far as I’m concerned winter is far from over!

Mountain or Molehill?

Over the past few days, I’ve had the pleasure of skiing and touring with a great group of folks from around the country.  Most are ski club members that have a passion for skiing or riding and have interest in bringing their clubs to Schweitzer in the future.  It was a diverse group of folks from Florida to Texas to California and many points in between.

One common story that was shared by many of them (particularly those from the Midwest) centered around their “home hills” — the likes of Buck Hill, MN, Paoli Peak, IL, or Boston Mills/Brandywine, OH (there are countless other examples).  For those of you who grew up around here, let me tell you a little about these places… they’re usually 200-300 vertical foot hills, most near major population centers.  The ride up the lifts is usually much longer than the quick run down the slope.  Yet these tiny areas are brimming with personality, history and are responsible for introducing millions of people into the sports of skiing and snowboarding.

I have a personal connection to one such area.  When I was five years old, I lived in Dayton, OH with my parents — my dad was stationed there in the Air Force.  Somehow, our neighbors from across the street convinced my parents to take some ski lessons at the local hill — Sugarcreek Ski Hills, in Bellbrook, OH.  My parents didn’t ski up to this point and fortunately for me, they decided to have me tag along and take lessons, too.

I can’t remember for sure if it was after my very first day on snow, but I established a connection to skiing almost instantly.  I loved everything about it— the freedom of bombing down the bunny hill, the joy of my first chairlift ride, the mystery of how they could actually “make” snow.  At age five, I had become an addict.

Thirty plus years later, I’m still an addict.  I’ve chosen to make a career out of my passion. Sadly, Sugarcreek Ski Hills closed in the late 1980′s, a product of some tough snow years, southern location and changing demographics.  A few homes now dot the hillside and the lodge has been turned into a community center.  For those living where I grew up, the nearest skiing is a couple hours away now — certainly a barrier when it comes to exposing new people to the sports.  I’m bummed that I’ll never be able to go back and ski the slopes where I learned and developed my love for this sport.

That’s why it’s so great to hear about these small areas around the country that are still thriving.  Every day after school, hundreds of thousands of students jump on buses and head for the hills, learning to ski or ride in after-school skiing programs. At many of these areas, our future Olympians are running gates, honing their skills in top-notch racing programs. They may not have 2000+ feet of vertical, 300 inches of snowfall or high speed lifts, but they do have heart.

So, for those who learned on a small hill far away from the mountains, I’m with you.  We’re all part of the greater community of skiers and riders enjoying what we do — and that’s really what counts.

Recreation Heaven

First and foremost, I’d like to tip my hat to all of the riders who finished up “24 Hours at Schweitzer” this morning at 10am.  It was exciting and humbling to see them strolling through the village to the stage after their last run down the hill. It was definitely humbling because they skied and boarded for 24 hours straight, but it’s even more humbling to think of something as physically and mentally challenging as that race and how small of a task it really was compared to the reason why they were all there, for Hank and the challenges he faces with cystinosis. I think everyone out there showed that if Hank can endure what he is going through day in and day out, then they can handle 24 hours of skiing. Amazing job everyone!!

I’m moving on into my 3rd week of work up on the mountain and 4th week living in Sandpoint. I’m starting to catch the recreation fever!! I’m from a small farm town down in Southwestern Idaho on the Ore/Id border. When someone asks me where Weiser is, I usually just refer to it as an hour from Boise. There aren’t many places to refer to down south that people can relate to. Maybe that’s why I like it. Sort of a secret that us “Weiserville” people like to keep on the down low, just like up here Schweitzer to the rest of the nation. “It’s the best kept secret,” is what I keep hearing people from back east and down south say (Schweitzer of course). I’m starting to agree.

For people who love their recreation, this really is the land of opportunity up in the Sandpoint/Schweitzer area. For me, recreation is my life. You’re thinking to yourself, “That’s what everyone says!” I say it’s my life not only because it’s what I do in my leisure, but because I chose it to be my major during my stay at U of I (yes there is a recreation major). Along with Recreation I’ll finish school with an Outdoor Leadership minor, which only gives me more of a reason to feel at home!

I’m here in Sandpoint and up at Schweitzer mostly thanks to my girlfriend and her family talking it up and telling me about the job fair up at Schweitzer before the season began.  I always laughed and thought there was NO WAY I’d like to live in what I like to call a resort town. But as my stay here grows longer, I begin to wonder why I would want to leave? I’m just getting into snowboarding (& having a blast!!) and I already want summer to come so I can tear down the mountain on two wheels and then head down to the lake! 

The easiest way for me to describe what I’ve been blabbering about is like this: picture a 5ft deep underground swimming pool full of pudding (I love pudding!). The cement frame of the pool would represent Sandpoint and Schweitzer.  The pudding inside the pool represents recreation. Of course there I am standing on the edge eagerly waiting to jump in. (its chocolate pudding if you’re curious!) I dove in and I tried eating all the pudding! I couldn’t even get close! There was so much of it! It was like an endless supply!

I guess this marketing internship really is rubbing off on me as I just got done talking up the slope and the town. I wouldn’t blog about it if it weren’t all true.

 -Jimmy Reed, Marketing Intern

“When the world says, ‘Give up,’ Hope whispers, “Try it one more time.” ~ Author Unknown

It’s 4:09

The 24 hour racers are over a quarter of the way through the battle.

I struggled and struggled to come up with a blog that would touch, encourage, or inspire you and the racers in some way. I penned sentences crawling with caricature (like that one) to prod at some emotion – detailing the pain in their legs, the depth of their thirst, the defeat in their minds…

Then, despite my desperate attempt to compose a Pulitzer-worthy account of imminent victory embellished by details of “near-death experiences” and “moments of enlightment,” I gave into a prevailing voice in my head (my high school English teacher,  Marianne Love) “Haley, always write what you know…”

Because the truth is, I haven’t yet participated in a 24-hour skiathon.

 And while I have experienced defeat, victory, near-death, blah, blah, blatant exaggerations – I don’t know that I could translate it quite as simply and eloquently as the following Einstein’s of Ink.

 So for all involved in 24 Hours of Schweitzer – the Hank, Tricia and Brian, their friends and families, those who’ve donated, those who’ve volunteered, those who’ve sponsored, those who are working round the clock to pull off the event, and of course, those in their sixth hour of endurance – may these words and images bring you inspiration, courage and hope.

 “For true love is inexhaustible; the more you give, the more you have. And if you go to draw at the true fountainhead, the more water you draw, the more abundant is its flow.”
~ Antoine De Saint-Exupery

 

“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”
~ Franklin D. Roosevelt

 

“Dum spiro, spero (Latin), “While I breath, I hope””
~ Philemon Latin Proverb quotes

 “Nobody trips over mountains.  It is the small pebble that causes you to stumble.  Pass all the pebbles in your path and you will find you have crossed the mountain.” 
~Author Unknown

 “The race is not always to the swift, but to those who keep on running.”
~Author unknown

 

“There is no telling how many miles you will have to run while chasing a dream.” 
~Author Unknown


“One may go a long way after one is tired.” 
~French Proverb

  “Energy and persistence conquer all things.”
~ Benjamin Franklin quotes

 

“When the world says, ‘Give up,’ Hope whispers, “Try it one more time.”
~ Author Unknown

Here’s to you…

As I sat at my desk and pondered what I was going to blog about…I couldn’t help but think back about my “weekend” (which is actually Tuesday/Wednesday).

I spent my two days off this week skiing… When I first moved here 4.5 years ago, I drew a circle around Sandpoint that was what I considered a 6-hour drive. And just staring at that map was a big reason I moved here. Sandpoint is an amazing place…but when you look at the surrounding area…it really is amazing. So…

This week, I didn’t ski at Schweitzer.

Me, and two buddies travelled north to Kootenay Pass (we call it Salmo Pass). It’s gotta be one of the best, easy access, back country areas I’ve ever been. And it’s less than two hours from here. I’m pretty sure when I stand on top of Schweitzer, I can probably see it. There’s so many peaks that I look at on a daily basis from our home, I just want to ski them all. This “weekend,” it was Salmo Pass. The powder was epic, the pillow lines were dreamy and the company was great.

I’ve spent the last 4 winters exploring the side-country directly off Schweitzer, and it too, is amazing. Every day when I come to “work,” I feel honored to be amongst such amazing mountains… The view when I get off the bus in the morning never gets old. I have had a list of places I want to go and ski…and the longer I live here, the longer the list gets…not shorter.

I am not a local. I had never been to the northwest until 5 years ago. And I had never even heard of Schweitzer. But now that I am here and have lived it…I’m hooked. I know we all want to save this place from expansion and change. But it’s hard for me not to talk and brag about this place to my friends and family, who literally, live all over the world.

I could go on…and on… But those of you that have been here or live here understand.

So here’s to you North Idaho… May your lands be vast, your mountains rugged, your waters clear and your people as friendly as always. I love this place.

Cougar Chronicles ~ The Aftermath

As the morning light trickles in through the tightly pulled drapes the young man looks around suspiciously trying to fight the daze of memories swirling around in his head like a blender. As he scrapes together his scattered property and pride he vanishes quickly and quietly out of the slimly lit den.

As the cougar awakes she feels rested and rejuvenated and relishes in her perfectly calculated attack of last night. She scampers around her condo dancing and listening to “Witchy Woman” by The Eagles.

The Cougar lounges for a while reveling in her success then heads out for morning mimosas with all her fellow friends to tell the tales of their very own Cougar Chronicles.

This has been the final submission for the Cougar Chronicles and for all of you who enjoyed it, thanks for reading. I hope everyone could find the humor and sarcasm within this blog, especially all you cougars out there. I know I enjoyed studying you all for the past month.

How the Unsullied Come to be Sullied

As I thought about blogging today, I thought about my experience with snowboarding; which in my case is mediocre.  I’m moving into the intermediate stage of riding and I was trying to think of some things to talk about to entertain readers.  With not much experience, I came to what some would call a “writers block.”  I don’t have an abundance of experiences to write about and I never claimed to be a creative writer. Stumped!! So I decided to talk with people about there 1st experiences down a hill/mountain.

Truth be told, I’m a super competitive person and I don’t like to be just mediocre at things.  For my friends that know me, they know that I can get in some ways “cutthroat” in a friendly competition.  I like a good rivalry, but more than that I love the feeling of succeeding and meeting goals.  I think we all are guilty of that every once in a while.  Not that losing is a bad thing.  Shoot, I’ve probably learned most of what I know from making mistakes and sometimes failing.  Every time I fall, I try and think of how I can avoid that again!  I can handle the process; it’s just more fun to prevail.

So there I was, thinking about how I don’t know crap (yet) about skiing or riding.  It makes me feel slightly insecure about riding with people who have so much experience, then I remembered most every person that is/was an impressive rider or an amazing skier was in my shoes at one point or another on their own learning curve to greatness.  I need to remember that time will pass and my skills will get better as I continue to tumble and fall.  Patience is a virtue… one that I may lack a bit of. 

After I came to my senses and realized I’m not the only person learning out there, I decided to talk with other people around the mountain about their experiences learning how to get to the bottom and where they did it.  Let’s see if any of these little blurps send you back down memory lane.

1st times on a board or skis:

-          “My buddies took me straight to the top, let’s go!”

-          “I was so young I can’t remember. I do remember ski lessons in Austria.”

-          “Right on the hill in my back yard growing up on some ghetto skis.”

-          “Parents worked on the hill. They brought me up to the mountain and I ran around the village for a few days before they put me on skis, then they put some skis on me and sent me down the mountain.”

-          “My friends took me straight to the top. It was so tough! It took me 1 & ½hrs to get down.”

-          “Some buddies of mine took my brother and me up for our first time.  My brother took his skis off, put them together, sat on them and sledded down! They didn’t take it easy on us. Straight to the top!”

-          “Went up when I was 4 years old. I was made of rubber! I was fearless, so I just went straight down the hill!”

-          “It was super icy! I was taken straight to the top.  The only way I knew how to stop was wrecking. 3hrs later I made it down the run!

-          “I learned to ski on a manmade mountain in Ohio. It was 200 ft tall.”

-          “I rode in a back pack on one of my parents back my 1st few times. My 1st time on skis my mom took me down the hill. I’d ride in between her skis on my own skis and we’d practice my turns.”

-          “Went with a church youth group for a couple of days my 1st time. The next time I went, I went to the top of the hill on a different mountain. It took 1 & ½ hrs to get down.”

-          “My husband (boyfriend at the time) took me to the top and gave me a five minute tip session, and then he took off down the hill without me. May sound tough, but I learned.”

Most of the people I talked with are excellent skiers and boarders now. I thought these stories were great! They brightened my day and gave me hope for my riding future. Hope you enjoyed them.

- Jimmy Reed, Marketing Intern

Cougar Chronicles ~ The Snare

This week I headed down to the St. Bernard for an Après beer and to conduct research. With luck on my side it just so happened that day coincided with the SARS ski race up here. Now I’m not saying there is a direct correlation between the event and the amount of cougars at the Bernard… I’m just saying these two events happened to be on the same day in relatively close proximity…

The snare is a critical part in the cougar’s bag of tricks, without it they have nothing. There are multiple snares, some are very easy to pull off, and others require a foundation to be set as the young male is slowly reeled in. I’ll list my 3 favorite snare techniques from simple to complex.

1. Free Booze: Let’s face it; the majority of young males on the mountain are in no financial shape to be buying round after round of drinks at the bar. We all gravitate towards free drinks, swag, clothing, places to stay, etc… Pretty much anything… So when an attractive financially stable female is willing to buy us shots in exchange for seemingly innocent conversation we immediately, and that simply, fall victim to their snare. This is by far the simplest snare tactic and has surprisingly high success rates for the cougars.

2. The Attractive Daughter: I had touched on this a little last week. Cougars will exploit their young in order to reel in a potential mate. As the unsuspecting male goes in to talk to the daughter the mother instantly creeps into the conversation and slowly dominating it. This leaves the male a little annoyed… However this is all fixed with what else?? Free drinks!! This snare is very similar to the above, however does require an extra pawn.

3. The Stalk: Finally this one requires a lot more effort and a little bit of luck for the snare to be executed successfully. This snare is most successful mid-week when bar traffic is at a medium to slow pace. When bars are slow young males tend to roam bar to bar searching for the hot spot that inevitably will never be found.

  • Bar 1 aka TAPS: The cougars will keep a close eye on these potential roamers occasionally bumping into them at the bar and laying down “chit-chat foundation.” This foundation will cause the young male to recognize the face of the cougar making the next “accidental run-in” less awkward.
  • Bar 2 aka Chimney Rock: Again no group of sorority hotties the males are looking for, but surprising the cougars from Taps have just showed up… Funny coincidence you think. Rather then leaving to another pub right away one must get a drink; it’s far to cold outside to travel across the village tundra without proper belly warming fuel. This quiet time gives the cougs a chance to begin conversation with you about how dead the bars are tonight. Foundation Foundation Foundation!!!
  • Bar 3 aka Puccis: By this time your group has dwindled, some leave calling the night a “bust” however other males fight on! Oddly enough the cougars are already at the next bar. This is a very gutsy move by the cougars, a night of foundation could have been lost if they guessed the incorrect bar, however years of studying young males flight pattern from bar to bar mathematically insured this would be the next destination. This also causes the males to forget any idea of being stalked. By now the cougars have gained your trust, they suggest the long dark walk to the St. Bernard. As you head to the Bernard the group is slowly broken apart taking away your strength in numbers. Surprisingly the cougar’s condo is conveniently located on the walk. When she mentions she has a hot tub AND free booze BOOM another young man fallen prey.
  • Bar 4 aka The Bernard: If you made it here after a night of roaming you survived. Congratulations. Get rest, it will all start again tomorrow…


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