March 9 in Skiing Insights by Steven Abramowitz Comments Off on Top 10 Spring Skiing Events 2016
2016 Spring Mountain Festivals and Events
Spring brings warmer temperatures and great skiing conditions; it also brings out a party atmosphere in the mountains. Although there are many good times to be had, here are 10 of the of the best spring skiing events and festivals in North America.
March 12-March 27: Park City, UT
Park City’s 9th annual Spring Grüv is a huge 16 day celebration with free concerts and the renowned Pond Skimming Contest. Great skiing and food are accompanied by headlining music from Michael Franti & Spearhead on March 26th and John Brown’s Body on March 19th.
March 12-28: Aspen, CO
Bud Light Spring Jam
The 11th annual Bud Light Spring Jam continues like never before with weekend competitions, downtown concerts and the Core party. Visitors will enjoy the KickAspen Big Air, spring conditions, live concerts from artists such as Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers, Big Gigantic and more.
March 17-20: Jackson Hole, WY
Jackson Hole Rendezvous Fest
The 6th annual Jackson Hole Mountain Festival weekend kicks off on March 17 with Music Under the Tram featuring Sneaky Pete and the Secret Weapons then Zac Brown band and The Chris Robinson Brotherhood both on the 19th. On March 20, visitors will enjoy the Marmot Coombs Classic followed by Chanman Roots Band at the Apres Party under the Tram.
March 18-April 24: Breckenridge, CO
Breckenridge Ski Resorts annual month-long festival returns to end ski season with a bang, and features a number of events, including a series of concerts with bands such as Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, the pseudo-triathlon Imperial Challenge and Mountain Dew Spring Open, the GoPro Big Mountain Challenge, and the Breck Chili Cook Off.
March 26: Stratton, VT
Marchdi Gras Village Winterfest
Stratton celebrates Marchdi Gras and the annual (Stratton Meets New Orleans) Block Party. Enjoy live music at Grizzly’s by Roxy Roca, local food and drink vendors, the Famous Ice Bar, fun/free activities for the kids like free caricatures and Vermont wild life. Also, Nimble Arts will be strolling the village with acrobatic performances along with Stilt Walking and Fire Eating.
April 2: Loon Mountain, NH
Break out the straight skis and leg warmers for this day-long celebration of big hair and bold fashion choices. Prizes are awarded for the most excellent costume. Take your lunch break at the On the snow dance party with DJ That Nija and when you’re done hot doggin’ for the day, Fast Times takes the stage in the outdoor concert tent for another legendary performance. Air guitars are recommended.
April 8-10: Vail, CO
Spring Back to Vail
Spring Back to Vail, the annual spring bash, returns to Vail for its thirteenth year. Enjoy a jam-packed weekend of action including the World Pond Skimming Championships on Sunday, Vail film festival and virtual reality tent, aprés parties, and music by The Chris Robinson Brotherhood.
April 8-17: Whistler, BC
World Ski & Snowboard Festival
Whistler’s monster 10-day event showcases the latest progressions in the skiing and snowboarding world, where even the art events are packed full of adrenaline. The festival includes Canada’s largest free outdoor concert series with bands like A Tribe Called Red and Monster Truck. There is something for everyone here, skiers and non-skiers alike. Including the IFSA North American Freeride Championship and the Monster Boardstyle. You’ll also find career-making showdowns of lifestyle fashion, photography and film, the most sought-after spring snow conditions and endless nightlife. Check out their blog for guides to help navigate this must-attend event.
April 14-17: Sugarloaf, ME
28TH Annual Bud Light Reggae Festival
This year they’re pulling out all the stops. Music starts Thursday night in the Widowmaker Lounge and continues Friday with a Reggae rave, then New Kingston throws down Friday night. Saturday brings an afternoon of partying and live Reggae on an outdoor stage with headliner Ballyhoo! in the King Pine Room and even more music in the Widowmaker Lounge. Don’t miss Sunday Bloody Mary’s and reggae on the Beach.
April 16: Jay Peak, VT
7th Annual Tailgate Party
A more informal event than other, but not to be missed. Get into the lot, show your stuff and enter to win prizes at the party. Judged categories include best presentation, best dish, best drink, and overall tailgate champions. Post Tailgate Party starts up at 4 PM with live music by Horn Beam.
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February 10 in Skiing Insights by Brion O'Connor Comments Off on First Aid Advice for Skiers and Riders
What You Need to Know Part 2: Altitude, Impact and Dehydration
To continue our coverage on first aid tips for winter sport related ailments, we look at some not so uncommon problems and useful tips to avoid injury, and provide slope-side assistance. Remember, it is always best to seek professional medical help. But if you’re in a remote area where help is not available, the following suggestions can make a world of difference.
Heading from sea level to the high mountains presents skiers with a classic “double whammy” – less oxygen and increased risk of dehydration – and requires an adjustment period. Add greater exposure from the sun, and the dangers that altitude pose become very real.
“High altitude is a significant factor” for potential injury, said Dr. Bojan Zoric, former physician for the US Ski Team. “It diminishes your athletic ability by 20 to 30 percent. You really have to pay attention to that fatigue factor, and that dehydration factor.”
Furthermore, visitors to high-altitude resorts should take caution to limit their alcohol intake when they first arrive in town (admittedly not an easy task if you’re on vacation). In the worst-case scenario, you can ruin a multi-day outing by hitting the hill, and après ski activities, too hard too quickly.
“There, you’re just dehydrating yourself more,” said Zoric. “And you probably didn’t sleep very well. It’s a recipe for disaster.”
The key is to ease into your high-altitude escape. Give your system time to acclimate. Drink often, but avoid coffee, alcohol, and other diuretics.
Skiing combines a slippery surface and speed. That mixture is a classic setting for accidents, whether between skiers, skiers and immovable objects (like a tree or padded tower), or just catching an edge. My daughter Maddi once got body slammed simply by making the mistake of looking back just as her skis hit some soft, spring snow (classic mashed potatoes). The skis grabbed, and her momentum sent her cartwheeling, ending her day (we did have the Ski Patrol staff check her for a possible concussion, but fortunately she was just shook up).
For impact injuries, I employ the procedures I learned taking a basic CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation) course. First and foremost, remain calm: A clear mind and a quiet demeanor is essential to help the injured person relax. I prefer the acronym DR. ABC, which stands for Danger, Response, Airway, Breathing, and Circulation. Here’s how each step breaks down:
Danger. Whether the injured skier is part of your group, or someone you come across, you want to have someone contact Ski Patrol without delay. Then assess the situation, making sure that you, and the injured skier, can be seen from uphill to avoid further accidents.
Response. Evaluate the injured person by asking them to describe how they feel. You can often gauge the severity of the injury simply by their response, including whether they’re conscious and/or coherent. If they can’t respond, proceed quickly to steps A, B, and C.
Airway. Make sure the victim’s airway is open by tilting the head back with the chin facing up.
Breathing. Make sure that the victim is breathing. Listen for exhales, feel for air coming out of the mouth or nose, or look for a rising chest.
Circulation. Check for a pulse and visual signs of circulation, including a healthy complexion and blinking of the eyes.
The information you gather through this assessment – especially if the victim is cognizant and can describe how the accident occurred and what their pain level is – can be a huge benefit to the Ski Patrol staffers once they arrive. If there’s a delay, make every effort to keep the injured skier or snowboarder calm, warm and still. This can be easier said than done, especially if the accident victim is in a great deal of pain.
If you suspect a spinal or head injury, don’t attempt any movements. If it’s an extremity, such as an arm, wrist, or leg, immobilize the injured body part (ski poles make great temporary splints) and elevate it to reduce swelling. Apply compression and ice only if you can keep the rest of the body comfortable while doing so. If the victim is bleeding, apply pressure to the wound, and a tourniquet to stem further blood loss.
These are relatively high-level actions, and there is no substitution for a fully trained medical professional. But in the moment, swift, assured action can prevent an injury from becoming more severe. And if you have the chance to take a CPR course, do it.
Last, hypothermia is a particular concern for backcountry skiers. Hypothermia, as defined by WebMD, can occur when “the balance between the body’s heat production and heat loss tips toward heat loss for a prolonged period.” Accidental hypothermia usually happens after cold temperature exposure without adequate clothing.
These days, specialized, high-tech gear designed for windy, icy environments at altitude can be found at reasonable price points. So if you’re heading to the high country, dress appropriately.
However, keep in mind that hypothermia can still occur in milder environments, according to WebMD, depending on a person’s age, body mass, body fat, overall health, and length of time exposed to cold temperatures. Tell-tale signs include shivering, which may stop as hypothermia progresses (shivering is a sign that a person’s heat regulation systems are still active), slow, shallow breathing, confusion and/or memory loss, drowsiness or exhaustion, slurred speech, loss of coordination, fumbling hands, stumbling steps, and a slow, weak pulse. In severe hypothermia, the victim may be unconscious.
If Ski Patrol isn’t available, move the victim carefully to a warm, dry shelter as soon as possible, removing any wet clothes, hats, gloves, shoes, and socks. Protect the person against wind, drafts, and further heat loss with warm, dry clothes and blankets. Use your own body heat if necessary, and offer warm liquids, while avoiding alcohol and caffeine, which accelerate heat loss.
If the hypothermic person is unconscious, call for help right away. CPR should be given immediately if you can’t find a pulse and there is no sign of breathing. However, be sure to feel for the pulse for an entire minute before starting CPR, since the heart rate may be extremely slow. Don’t start CPR if there is a heart beat present. In the absence of signs of breathing or a pulse, continue CPR until Ski Patrol or backcountry rescue members arrive.
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February 4 in Skiing Insights by Steven Abramowitz Comments Off on First Aid Advice for Skiers
What You Need to Know Part 1: Prevention and Frostnip?
A few years back, my wife and I were riding a quad chair at Sugarloaf in western Maine, and I started chatting up the young snowboarder sitting with us. It was a bitterly cold day – full balaclava weather – and when Lauri, a medical professional, looked over at our lift partner, she immediately interrupted us.
“You need to get inside, now,” she told the teenager, with an edge in her voice that didn’t invite debate. “You’ve got frostbite, Bad.”
That’s when I noticed the waxy complexion on the young man’s cheeks and nose. The teen said he felt fine, but Lauri persisted. “I’m telling you, you need to go to First Aid.”
As we parted ways at the top of the lift, my wife shook her head.
“That boy is going to be in a world of hurt later today,” said Lauri. “Frostbite is no fun.”
That’s one of the most insidious things about frostbite, and several other winter-related maladies, like altitude sickness, dehydration and hypothermia. Pain isn’t the first indicator that something has gone wrong. Once you start hurting, you’re already in deep. So you’ve got to be aware, and be prepared, for anything that Old Man Winter can throw at you.
Now, consider that skiing and snowboarding often involve hurtling down a mountainside at a good clip, with lots of other folks, and you can add the threat of impact injury. Suffice to say, it can be dangerous out there on the slopes.
A big part of the Skier’s Responsibility Code is being personally responsible for your own well-being. That means skiing conscientiously and within your abilities, dressing properly for the elements, and knowing when to come in from the cold. These problems can happen at fully staffed resorts, or in the backcountry. In short, they can happen anywhere.
My brother Sean, an orthopedic surgeon, is a member of the medical staff at Loon Mountain in New Hampshire, and he’s seen ski-related injuries that run the gamut, from dehydration to ACL tears and concussions (and worse). Most, he says, are preventable. So with that caveat in mind, it behooves anyone heading to the hill to understand the possibility of injuries.
First, dress properly (helmets, while not required, are highly recommended), in layers, with good eye protection (polarized goggles are superior to sunglasses). Balaclavas, neck gaiters, glove and boot liners, and hard and foot warmers can be the difference between a memorable day on the hill and misery (and a great reason to invest in a boot bag, so you can easily carry these accessories). While you’re at it, toss in some lip balm and sunscreen. Make sure you’re properly hydrated. And have your equipment, especially bindings, checked routinely by a qualified ski technician.
Finally, remember that accident avoidance is the best option. Adhere to the general rules of skier etiquette (uphill skier must avoid the downhill skier, etc.). Most skiers and snowboarders – especially beginners – have suffered their fair share of bumps and bruises. Those are just a rite of passage. But more serious injuries, whether inflicted by Mother Nature or self-inflicted, require special care.
When body parts – typically extremities like toes, fingers, earlobes, chin, cheeks and nose – are exposed to extreme cold for a period of time, the blood vessels in those areas constrict. When body temperatures drop, the fluid within the cells can begin freezing and forming ice crystals, which can cause cells to rupture. Pretty gruesome, right?
The good news is that frostbite is far more uncommon than its lightweight cousin, “frostnip.” Frostnip occurs on the surface, where exposed skin can feel stiff and numb and takes on a whitish hue, but the underlying tissue remains warm and soft. While relatively benign – frostnip doesn’t require medical attention – it is usually the first step to developing frostbite. So check often. To treat, warm the exposed skin by rubbing, and covering with extra layers.
If frostnip remains unchecked, it can lead to superficial frostbite. This condition is described as hard, frozen skin that looks bluish white. While the underlying tissue hasn’t yet been affected, superficial frostbite can cause blistering, and proper medical attention is required to prevent permanent injury. Further exposure can lead to deep frostbite, which affects the tissue underneath. The skin is white/blue and completely frozen, and the tissue is hard as well. Deep frostbite should be treated immediately, which if can lead to permanent injury to nerves and muscle tissue, amputation, and even death.
Continue to: Altitude sickness, impact injuries and hypothermia.
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January 4 in Skiing Insights by Brion O'Connor Comments Off on Skiing Advice for Adult Intermediates
How to Ski Ice, Steeps, Trees and More…
Sometimes the most daunting obstacle facing adult skiers is simply getting started. It takes a certain measure of courage, fitness, and sense of adventure to hit the slopes once our athletic prime is in the rear-view mirror. But the next big obstacle often comes when a beginner gets comfortable on easier trails, and looks to take that next step.
Let’s face it – there is something alluring about challenging yourself, pushing past your limits. But coming to grips with those limitations can also be unnerving. That’s totally understandable. Nobody jumps out of bed one morning and finds they can rip a line like Michaela Shiffrin or Ted Ligety. It takes time, and repetition, to develop that skill set.
So, to get you to the next level and new terrain, we reached out to a few old friends from across North America who are also ski instruction experts. Here are their tips for transitioning from tentative novice to daring intermediate over a variety of conditions. If you have any doubts about getting in over your head, sign up for a lesson.
“Your instructor will gradually move you along to harder terrain as your ability improves,” said Robert Shepherd, an instructor at Brighton in Michigan and Beaver Creek in Colorado, and an ambassador for the National Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month organization. “Asking your instructor which hills would be best for you is a very appropriate question. Don’t be disappointed they didn’t suggest the most advanced hill. They want you to be safe, and keep coming back.”
The over-riding factor, no matter what the terrain, said Kevin Jordan of Snowmass Mountain in Colorado, “is to have fun.”
Sounds like a solid plan to me.
In the Northeast, ice is ubiquitous. In fact, it’s so prevalent that long-time New England skiers jokingly refer to ice as “New England powder.” Not just those occasional scratchy patches, but sheets of blue ice, or boilerplate, that can instantly take you from nice, comfortable turns to a nerve-wracking rollercoaster ride. So, before you even hit the hill, visit your local ski shop and get those edges tuned.
“Learning to improve your turns on icy conditions can be challenging with skis that have dull edges,” said Heidi Ettlinger, producer of GearingToGo.com and a member of the Professional Ski Instructors of America‘s National Alpine Team. “The first step to greater confidence on ice is having your skis sharpened. Over time the edges of your skis becomes dull and there is a noticeable difference particularly when the conditions are firm.”
Second, keep breathing, and relax.
“The best thing to do here is not panic,” said Keri Reid, assistant director of the Ski + Ride School at Okemo Mountain Resort in Vermont. “Keep calm and ski on. Many beginners will instinctually try to throw their skis on edge faster to slow down, but this can put them off balance. Continuous motion is the name of the game here. Don’t hold on to a turn. Keep turning your feet until you’ve completed an arc then move on to the next.”
Anyone who has driven in winter can appreciate the comparison.
“Skiing on icy trails is a lot like driving on slippery roads,” said Ettinger. “You want to adjust your movements to make them progressive, just like slowly turning the steering wheel around the corner versus making a quick sharp turn.”
Feeling the need for speed? Unlike ice, the steeps allow you to go fast, but in control, provided you’ve got good technique.
“Steeps can be intimidating,” said Jordan. “Many skiers and snowboarders lean too far up the hill. Stand on your outside ski and face down the hill. Use your turn shape, such as skid or elevation loss, to control your speed.”
If you’re new to steep terrain, don’t make a beeline to those trails for your first turns.
“Before heading to steep terrain, use a blue groomed run for some warm-up activities,” said Ettlinger. “Your goal for steeps is to combine shorter turns that are quicker from foot-to-foot, leg turning to direct the skis across the hill for speed control, and engagement of the edges to help with accuracy to stay in a corridor.
“Begin with practicing a few hockey stops, where you work on twisting your legs across the hill while engaging the skis edges at the same time until you come to a stop,” she said. “Slowly transition to linking these hockey stops together but rather then coming to a stop begin the new turn once you start to slow down. When you develop some confidence with these movements find a steeper blue trail or a groomed black trail to practice these movements.”
For my money, moguls are the most fun you can have on the hill. Even though my enthusiasm for moguls has been tempered by the passage of time, I still like to test my quads in the bumps. If you’re new to the bumps, start small, and find a trail that allows you jump onto some groomed terrain to recover.
“The goal for skiing the moguls combines short turns with knowing where to turn and how to link turns together,” said Ettlinger. “A good warm-up activity for getting started is taking your hockey stop with a solid pole plant and applying this to the moguls. Start by placing your skis on the top of a mogul where it feels easy to turn your legs or pivot the skis.
“Using the movements of a hockey stop combined with a pole plant, practice linking these movements together by starting on top of the mogul for the pivot, and then slowly engaging the engages the edges and planting the pole as the skis are turned across the hill moving to the next bump,” she said. “Once you develop some confidence with sequencing these movements together, begin looking ahead to map out and anticipate moving to the top of the next mogul and applying these movements.”
My brother Mike, one of the best mogul skiers I’ve ever watched up close, always talk about “soaking up the bumps.” Jordan takes a similar tact.
“I tend to focus on pressure control with students,” said Jordan. “In other words, we focus on absorbing the terrain and absorbing the moguls. It is mostly about flexion and extension of the body to absorb the bumps. However, other skills like rotary, or turning, and edging come into play, too.”
Ah, this is where the real adventure is. Even if the glades are squeezed between a pair of groomed cruisers, skiing the trees gives us a taste of the backcountry. But skiers beware – except for baby pines, trees represent one incontrovertible truth.
“Trees don’t move,” said Shepherd. “You are moving. You don’t want to run into one. They hurt, a lot.”
To avoid those immovable objects, experts agree on one all-important technique – focus on where you want to go, not on what you want to avoid.
“Ski the spaces and not the trees,” said Jordan. “How many times have you been driving, looked at the passenger, and notice the car veer to the right? We go where we’re looking.”
The trees also reward skiers who are versatile, and can make quick, short turns.
“Skiing in the trees requires shorter turns with accuracy to negotiate corridors through the woods,” said Ettlinger. “Your goal for the trees is to master shorter and more accurate turns on ungroomed trails without trees before taking these skills to skiing the trees.
“Begin with areas where the trees are spaced wide apart, and find areas where you can clearly see a ‘lane’ or corridor,” she said. “Visualize a line down the middle of this corridor where you will plant your pole. At the end of the corridor, stop, and then visualize a second corridor to begin another set of turns. Once you develop confidence skiing shorter corridors you can begin to combine these into longer stretches.”
Most skiers dream of a big, overnight powder dump, with the promise of untracked terrain for those willing to set the alarm clocks early and grab the first chairlifts. But the reality of deep powder can turn those dreams into a nightmare for the unprepared.
“Powder is one of those relative terms,” said Shepherd. “Two inches of fresh fallen snow on top of groomed snow will be sought after by everyone coming down the hill until it’s all skied over.
“Twelve inches will provide some floating but you will still feel that groomed slope beneath,” he said. “Now, three or four feet of new snow, and you can’t feel the ground. It gives you the sensation of floating or flying. And it is wonderful.
Reid agreed, with a caveat.
“Powder is serious fun,” she said. “That being said, it can be difficult to navigate as a beginner. The skier will be best served with a narrower stance and a more open turn shape to keep up momentum.”
Jordan said he borrows “an approach from the popular television show, ‘Mythbusters.'”
“I like to ‘bust’ the myth that you have to lean back in powder,” he said. “Nowadays, with modern ski design and technique, you can be more centered. Sure, you do not want to be levered forward on the skis, but you do not need to sit back and “wheelie” down the hill. Instead, we teach people to get some momentum either by pointing it down the hill or skiing steeper terrain.
“Once that momentum is developed, students can work on getting a rhythm,” he said. “Plus, since powder will slow people down due to the resistance of it being compacted under the ski, it’s good to have a little more speed.”
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December 30 in Powder Trekker, Product, Reviews by Steven Abramowitz Comments Off on Powder Trekker Review – TheSkiDiva.com
Kulkea ski boot bag is “The best one yet.”
After a long quest for the best boot ski bag, The Ski Diva’s (TSD) journey concluded successfully with Kulkea’s Powder Trekker. The feature rich, durable and comfortable bag earned, “two ski poles (way) up” from the avid skier’s discerning eye and appreciation for quality ski gear.
TSD’s review of the Powder Trekker included an illustration of the bag’s ingenious Intuitive Packing System, “engineered to keep you from losing your stuff while keeping it readily accessible. For example, there’s a zippered compartment on top that’s half lined with fleece to protect your goggles, the other half unlined for keeping your gaiters or balaclava. And there’s a wide-mouthed main compartment for your layers, ski pants, and bulky items. “
On storage capacity and accessibility, TSD articulated why the Powder Trekker’s is better than that of Transpack’s. “Unlike other bags that hold your boots in a triangular pattern that encroaches on the inside, Kulkea bags keep your boots at right angles in two side-zipped outer compartments that are easy to get to and don’t squish your other stuff.” Further, “the retractable sling that holds your helmet on the outside…which opens the interior for your other stuff and keeps your helmet well ventilated.”
Providing insight on the superior craftsmanship and weight of The Powder Trekker, “it’s made of durable, water resistant nylon which is much lighter than my previous bag, and it’s extremely well made. All the seams are double reinforced, plus there’s generous amounts of high quality tarpaulin on the bottom, sides, front and back of the pack for water protection and durability.”
Finally, in her review on the comfort of the Powder Trekker, “the straps are padded so they’re comfortable and don’t dig into your shoulders. There’s a quick release buckle that lets you unclip the straps rather than trying to remove the bag by lifting it off.”
The Ski Diva’s verdict: “I’ve been through a number of bags and really, this is the best one yet. It’s well made, easy to pack, easy to haul, and I love all the compartments.”
Read the full review on TheSkiDiva.com
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