Archive for January, 2011

Call Me Crazy but…

I love waking up at the before the sun and driving two hours to my internship. I love blasting music and drinking hot tea while I roll through the predawn darkness. I love breathing real mountain air and ringing the bell in the morning. I love the swish of velvety powder under my board. I love the crunch of ice too…just not as much.  I love Lakeview Lodge breakfast, Chimney Rock salad bar and Gourmandie “adult beverages”.

I love rocking out to Justin Bieber in the workplace (someone in the marketing office has developed an acute case of Bieber Fever…and it’s not the girls). I love meeting random people on the lift and quoting Super Troopers with them all the way up. I love exploring the trees and making funny videos of Jaimie and me trying to ride switch or blasting through Kathy’s Yard Sale. I love lifty jokes, costumes and snow sculptures. I even half-loved being stuck on Snowghost (see my last blog), because while we were there Dave pointed out some great spots for me to try. I love the sweet burn I get in my muscles after a session of tree riding. I am even growing to love that darn cat track (not quite there yet, though). Basically what it comes down to is I love Schweitzer Mountain. (And for those of you who think I’m being paid to say this, the joke’s on you-I’m not paid at all!)

I love highlighting trails off on my map. I love getting to attempt new things every day and forcing myself to just bomb this run or that run. I love people watching out my window and seeing all the happy faces. I even love the manky smell my face gaiter gets after three days of snowboarding in a row. Even when I’m tired, stressed, annoyed or I had a little too much fun last night, nothing can stop me from having a good time here. If I could, I would spend all my days here instead of in school. Learning and education is all good and well, but it can’t compare to the Schweitzer life.

I would like to take this opportunity to beseech you, loyal readers, to find something that makes you as happy as Schweitzer makes me and hold on tight to it. About a week ago a kid from my neighborhood suddenly passed away. I went to his memorial Friday and I have to say, it made me take a hard look at what I really love. Life is crazy and wonderful, and it can be taken away instantly. So love the life you’re living and the blessings we have here, my fellow pow hounds, whether you’re on Happy Trails, Midway or the Lakeside Chutes.

I think part of loving these moments is giving yourself something to ski or ride for: for fun, for competition, for yourself, for someone else. I ride for Luke and everyone else who won’t get the chance to feel the heaven of fluffy powder beneath their feet again. I’m loving life right now and I’m going to keep on loving it.

*This blog is dedicated in memory of Luke LaSalle.

- Katie Ross
Intern

“All In”

I got all wild ‘n out in the terrain park. I took on jumps and the box set. I learned how to ollie, grab my board and do manual turns.

Do I sound like I know what I am talking about? I don’t. And by terrain park, I mean the one right underneath Musical Chairs! I should have had a notepad during my terrain park lesson to keep up with all the names of the tricks my instructor was having me attempt. And man was he having me attempt a lot. Complete with crazy double diamond tree skiing, he must have thought I was half-way decent or something.

There were moments that I did not feel prepared as well, but I was pushed to very edge of my limits. That is how we get better. I clipped my hip, did an unplanned back flip off of the box, and I hit that sweet spot on your tail-bone when my board went out from under me on the metal box. But now I can say I did it and I will do it again! Sometimes it’s good to get hurt and I have gotten it out of the way. My time in the “terrain park” has definitely shown me that in order to be the best at something, I have to get down and dirty. If it results in a bruise or even worse, in order to achieve a landed jump then that is just how it goes. Well put by a fellow Schweitzer employee, “you don’t get rich by playing the penny machines. You have to go all in!”

I want to go home and nonchalantly glide onto the snow (in reality, it’s probably all ice back home) and take on a jump as if it’s no big thing and let my friends see how far I’ve come. I must admit, I have a bit of an ego and a lesson was the last thing I thought I needed. I figured I could just waltz on into Stomping Grounds and turn it into whipped cream. Thank God, I didn’t do that. If I didn’t hurt myself, I definitely would have hurt another rider!

My lesson was a lot of fun and it helped me shave off time on my turns, making me much more tight and controlled. I now have the concept of my center of gravity and how to land a jump. Perhaps when I really do go into the Stomping Grounds, I will turn it into whipped cream! From here on out, I am all in!

The Hunt for the Neon Ski Suit

I kind of missed out on the neon ski suit craze as a person who was born in the mid 80’s. While older generations had the luxury of stopping by their favorite ski shop to pick out the perfect neon one piece to look super radical while on the slopes, the youth are stuck perusing through parents closets, thrift stores and fighting the good fight on Ebay without blowing the bank.

I recently was fighting the good fight on Ebay when I found the most perfectly dreadful ski suit. Bright pink, neon green arms, and a glowing orange back… It was perfect. So naturally I threw down a bid of $20 on it. Thinking maybe this thing would get up to $50, but no. The bids climbed and climbed to well over $200. My dreams were crushed and the hunt for the perfect neon ski suit started again.

Stories of this horrific event spread through the office, and like a ray of glory from Ullr himself I received a fateful phone call from a good friend who had spotted a ski suit at the Goodwill for a whopping $5. It may not be perfect, but it is darn close, a radiant teal with glowing green and orange stripes on the chest.

Guaranteed the story of the neon ski suit will live on as spring shows up. Hot dog parties will ensue around the mountain and the neon one pieces will live again. I’m thinking video blog when this happens!

Sky High Adventure

This morning, marketing head honcho Dave asked me if I wanted to have our weekly catch-up meeting on the lift. Dave wanted to get me out on some of the backside terrain I hadn’t been to yet. And even though I had planned to keep today pretty mellow after a night of carousing about the mountain, I agreed. I gamely chugged as much water as I possibly could between 8 and 10:30am, fueled up with some coffee and we headed out.

Immediately I began to feel better. The weather was fantastic, sunny and warm with no wind.  It’s hard to have a bad day when it’s bluebird at Schweitzer. So Dave and I cruised down to Snowghost and headed up so I could finally conquer the dreaded T-bar. And that’s when things started to get interesting.

Partway up Snowghost the first time, we stopped moving. This would not cause alarm for a normal person, but I have shunned normalcy my whole life. And I, an avid snowboard/mountain enthusiast, am petrified of chairlifts. Mostly this is because I’m scared of heights, but I have also had people tell me some crazy horror stories. So all I can think about when a chairlift stops is whether it will start again, what if the chair falls and I have to jump, how many bones I’ll break if I do jump, etc. ( I know that this rarely, if ever, happens. But paranoia is much more powerful than rational thoughts in these situations. Go figure.)

We started moving again after a few agonizing minutes. We got off midway and cruised back down for a warm-up before heading to the T-bar. On our second trip up, we stopped again. What followed was probably the longest 20-25 minutes of my life. And of course, because karma loves me, Dave and I were stopped at one of the highest points in the lift line. Poor Dave tried to distract me by keeping the conversation steady, but my fear could not be swayed. Every muscle in my body was completely tensed as I sat, quivering a little, waiting for motion. After a few false starts, we made it to the midway point and unloaded.

As soon as my feet were back on terra firma, I breathed a huge sigh of relief. It seems crazy that a snowboarder would be so scared of a chairlift after having been on one so many times before. I guess it’s just one of those things. But I never let it stop me. When we started moving again, I even did the unthinkable and bravely told Dave I was game to ride all the way to the top instead of midway, but alas, the lifties were unloading everyone at the midway point. We set our sights on Stella and getting back to the office.

My next time up Snowghost will definitely be a little tense, but I have no doubts about my safety.  After having this experience, the lift stopping will definitely not scare me so much. I’ll know what to expect and I’ll be more prepared. Maybe next time, I can even hold back the tears (just kidding!)

-Katie Ross
Marketing Intern

My Epiphany on (Nordic) Skis

I decided to try Nordic Skiing on my day off last week. The last time I was ever on a pair of Nordic skis I am pretty sure I spent the majority of the time getting off of the ground due to the fact that this particular sport is good at tricking you.  It looks relatively simple, just hop on and get into a rhythmic movement. Fast speeds and turning don’t seem like issues, but losing control is easy to do and tripping up the pentameter of your heel moving up and down is even easier. I learned the hard way!  It was probably deserved as well; never let your ego get the best of you when it comes to Mother Nature.

I went out towards Picnic Point, and if you were out there on Wednesday, I was the girl waving her arms frantically down the hill when you first begin by Hermit’s Hollow! Ironically I met a man who had graduated from UMaine in the 70’s. Coincidentally, I just graduated from there 4 weeks ago. There is a real pattern here with East Coasters moving out to the West and Idaho more specifically. I think I have met at least 8 people who have traded in the ice for the powder.

For fear of being called a traitor, I digress. I made it up to the top of Picnic Point and was just amazed at the views. It was a gorgeous bluebird day and I could see far, far into the distance. You know the feeling of where you just appreciate being alive? The weather was perfect, I pushed myself to try something new and when that happens you know that no one can take it away from you! It was such a great day and I am really glad I didn’t allow myself to let the hassle of gearing up, laundry, driving up the hill or any other lame excuse stop me.

Plus, Nordic skiing is a great work-out. I am pretty sure I dropped 65 pounds. The fact that I got lost somewhere on Bear Ridge and took a wrong turn and had to hike back up a hill helped! The staff at the rental shop was amazingly friendly and didn’t laugh at me when I asked for their opinion on whether I should take up classic or skate style or even when I asked them how to strap into the skies.

It’s great to have the opportunity to try new things and I foresee investing in my own Nordic equipment in the future. It was great to be outside and my whole week has a better looking color to it now that I did it. I want the rest of my life to feel like that and it was a great realization to have when trying to think about what I could envision myself doing for the rest of my life.

-Jaimie Crawford
Intern

Easy Carving Hero Snow

The title of this blog entry has significance. I had a chance to use the line a fair amount of times back east, particularly as a snow reporter when describing snow conditions on wet weather days. My snow report might go something like this, “So grab your Gortex and garbage bags and hit the slopes, because we have an entire mountain of easy carving hero snow out there today!”

See, back east, you get accustomed to wet weather days — they happen with fairly regular frequency.  Out here, however, I haven’t had many occassions where I get to use my signature wet weather line… that is, until this past weekend.  Mother Nature decided to rain a little (ok, not a little) on our parade over the past few days. 

I have to say that, while the weather was most certainly a disappointment, my hat is off to those that laughed in the face of the evil weather gods and got out there to enjoy a beautiful day of easy carving hero snow yesterday.  In fact, 912 of you did so on Sunday, including my twin boys who spent the entire day on the mountain and came back to my office collectively 20 pounds or so heavier due to the added water weight.

Garbage bags were high fashion for the day and, despite the dampness the seeped down into each and every core, I saw a lot of smiles, reminding all of us that fun is truly where you find it. 

So while we don’t wish for rainy days in January, they simply happen from time to time. Kudos to those that embrace them and find a way to make lemonade out of the lemons that occasionally fall from the sky.

Try and Scare Me!

In watching this weekend’s weather patterns closely I have been told that one thing you can count on during the MLK weekend is poor weather. For some reason during this awesome holiday weekend when we all have an extra day to ski or ride and enjoy activities and events put on by Schweitzer during Winter Carnival it rains. (The East Coast equivalent for me would be that no matter what without fail, it always rains during Harley Davidson’s Laconia Bike Week. I am not a HOG or anything, but Laconia’s Bike Week is the oldest in HOG history which means my neck of the woods is filled with a lot of frustrated bikers – every year.)

So how could this be? With two very scientifically viable facts presented here ;) on weather patterns during very important holidays, why does it downpour or present us with slushy snow and damp moods? How could the weather stay so consistent over a number of years? Are all the environmental scares about our weather patterns changing untrue and I am crying at the commercial of stranded Polar Bears on melting glaciers for nothing?

I am no meteorologist by any means and Earth Science was only a class I took in college as a required gen ed so my limited research and knowledge on this obnoxious weather pattern is only backed up by a web version of the Farmer’s Almanac and even that is shaky. But I do have the physical proof of my soaked clothing and hair to know that this weather is a real downer whether it comes once a year or is consistent.

The first day of this weekend the resort has been preparing for the last few weeks has culminated into dealing with all the lifts on hold except for the Lakeview Triple, Basin Express and the Musical Chairs. From my view in the Mill Building while I sit safely in my computer chair I can see gray skies and ripping winds and it looks scary. It is the kind of day even the most rugged would deem as pointless and just bypass it and wait until clearer skies came into view.

I by no means consider myself rugged, but I do like putting myself in positions to test my level of durability. I once went to summer camp for a month where they only allowed us 2 minute showers 3 times a week. That is my biggest claim to fame and the reason I had to force myself to get out there today. I have to be more rugged than that! Also Katie, our intern, is only here on the weekends and it’s nice to have a riding buddy whose skills don’t completely dominate you like “The Sean’s” of our Marketing dept.

Well my view from the Mill Building was spot on. Outside it was wet, windy and throwing some of the sharpest snowflakes right at your face. The wind was rocking us all over the place on the chairlift and although I was laughing I was definitely thinking of the best way to jump ship if I had to. Visibility through my goggles was non-existent and every layer right down to my fourth shirt was soaked by the time I had made it down my third run.

The point is though, I made it down my third run and I kept going. I could feel cold water running down my back and even down my snow pants, but I was having so much fun that I didn’t care. It may not be pretty out there, but it is so fun. The snow was just soggy enough that it played with my board and made me slide down the mountain in all sorts of directions. The moguls weren’t as hard so turning on them was a lot more comical and the liftys, as always were having a great time and spreading the cheer.

The weather may be terrible and constantly let us down during MLK weekend, but there is a silver lining and since we all have an extra day off we aren’t really wasting our time if we take a day to ride some really wet snow. I know I am psyched to get out there again tomorrow and see what else La Nina is going to throw at me. I know I can handle it because I am rugged!

- Jaimie Crawford
Intern



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