Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Conway Road Gap

I've always wanted to do a road gap, ever since seeing a skier jump a train in some 1980's Warren Miller movie. I've never done it, never even been to a road gap jump before.  Now I use the excuse that I'm too old.

Then I saw this, doesn't change that I may be too old, but certainly puts a smile on my face as it's local and pretty cool.

Enjoy.

Conway Road Gap.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Frozen

I just got back from watching Frozen with the family. It’s a cute movie and one that has shown me the ultimate super power- the ability to make snow- lots of it! And we’re not talking the styrofoam type of man-made snow (no offense as we’d be screwed without that stuff)- but legit powder day type of snow.

The funny part was that the winter conditions she was creating were an issue in the movie, and I get why, but I couldn’t help but think that there was another whole storyline that was being missed. That and when the characters RAN down these perfectly filled couloirs I was losing my mind- SKI THEM! The worst part there was a reindeer in the movie- and his name, Sven.

Still it was a cute movie, and as we drove home I could see the lights on at Shawnee Peak as they are cranking up the snowmaking over their way to get open in a couple of weeks.  And it’s been all manmade snow out there thus far this season (well except the Jay Cloud storm from a couple weeks ago that I missed, grumble, grumble)- and those guys that are out doing the work of hauling hoses and checking lines and moisture content are doing it all without magic- so hats off to them! I’ve snuck up to Sunday River a few times to get in a pre-dawn climb and ski, and I’m itching to get out for a full bore day on the hill. I’ve even snuck out on the athletic fields for a bit of fast grass Nordic skiing just to try and get the legs moving. Soon, soon- I keep telling myself.

Anyway- the ski season is here. It’s starting with a bit of a whimper- but that’s ok, it’s starting. But soon we’ll be enjoying snow just like I saw in Frozen- and I can’t wait.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Staying Stoked

It can be tough to stay stoked during the ski season when it looks like you might need to go out and mow your lawn in early February, but the reality is the resort skiing is still really good.

When I look out my window I don't see snow, so it's easy to think of other things than skiing. Yet I can look out another window and see the mountain and that brings me back. At times it can feel like a tug of war of emotions. I then jump on Facebook and see photos of friends over in Europe or out west and see pics of epic powder days and I'm quickly reminded that we are still in the middle of ski season. What I know will happen is we will get our shot here in the east. It will come. We may have to wait until March, but it will arrive- so keep the stoke going. Get out and enjoy the resort skiing (it's really good the snowmaking and grooming crews have been doing their magic). Keep your skills and your legs ready for when the big storms hit. We may only end up with a couple weeks of backcountry skiing this year, but it will arrive and you just need to be ready.

Ok- so that was my pep talk for myself and now it's time to go take a few runs.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Congrats Dad!

I just wanted to publicly congratulate my Dad for being named to the Maine Ski Hall of Fame as a member of the Class of 2013. He's been a ski hero of mine for my entire life, but he's also my father so I'm sure some of my views on him are skewed a bit due to my vantage point. To see others recognize him for what he's given to the sport is pretty cool.

Now let's see if we can get some snow to fall!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Knickers and Other Fun

I recently caught up with a former teammate from my high school ski team and during our conversation we began to wax poetic about many of our experiences out on the tracks and trails.

Before long we began talking about the equipment of the day, and even about the equipment that we remembered from our youth. The stories became much grander than the reality ever was, but that was ok. But it got me thinking about the evolution in Nordic ski gear that I’ve seen in my several decades of trying to glide across the snow.

As what often happens, I began to think back lovingly on much of the gear that I’ve used over the years. It’s like I was remembering them in Norman Rockwell type paintings, very upbeat, quasi romantic, and not really remembering how awful some of that gear was. I then tried to think if I’d want to use that gear again, the answer- NO!

Starting with my boots. I had some boots that looked awesome. They looked like a really cool pair of soccer cleats. The reason they looked that way was that they were a pair of hand-me down soccer cleats that had had the soles ripped off and replaced with a three-pin sole. The sole didn’t really line up quite right so my left heal didn’t aline properly on the ski- but that was fine, they looked cool. Then there were the laces. Flat, white laces made of cotton, the snow would ball up and the laces would freeze. Meaning you’d better tighten them right when you headed out because they couldn’t be untied until you came inside and sat by the fire for some time. Oh, and in case you were wondering- converted soccer cleats were not very warm, nor water resistant.

The next piece of gear that I saw as my mind basked in a golden light, a pair of wooden cross country skis that I had when I was about 10 years old. They certainly were beautiful, although I’m not sure I felt that way at that age. Being wood, they needed to be pine tarred each season. Now I know I’ve written about the romance of applying pine tar to skis, but it really isn’t that much fun. It smells funny and is messy, and you’re skis are never really fast. Back to the skis, the camber was awful and not evenly matched, so you got great kick on one ski- but terrible glide, and the other glided great but I never could get any kick. I think they were straight cut, so they didn’t exactly turn real well. They really were terrible skis.

I’ll never forget a pair of gorgeous bamboo poles that I got when I was about 12. They had the big round baskets with the leather spokes reaching out to the large steel ring. The poles weighed about as much as a pair of today’s back country skis. We didn’t think about things like “swing weight”. The round baskets loved to get stuck under the crust when we’d be out skiing in the woods (this was long before I started skiing anyplace that was groomed). These poles couldn’t be broken, in fact I believe they are still down in my parents basement, likely being used to hold up the house. Great poles- but certainly nothing I feel a need to bring back into my quiver.

Next up- knickers. Ahhhh, knickers, the most useless ski clothing I’ve ever owned. Now I feel bad as maybe it was just the knickers I had weren’t very good. I know this will come back to haunt me, but my Mom made my knickers and the performance material of choice- corduroy. Now while they looked pretty cool, the offered zero warmth and even less water resistance. Keep in mind I was around 8 or so, meaning I spent a lot of time IN the snow, not just on the snow. I also don’t think my Mom built them to handle the abuse I put them through, as she often had to re-sew blown out seams. Add to that socks that never stayed up and a cranky 8 year old I was. I did like the look, but wouldn’t go back to the lack of performance!

I write this not only to give me a moment to smile back on my youth, but also to remind some of us that maybe it’s time to upgrade our gear. Some of the things I mentioned above are still seen out on the trails on a regular basis, and while there’s nothing wrong with that, there’s also a lot right with the current gear out there today. Ski shops are in the mood to sell there gear at steep discounts right now, and this might be your chance to upgrade you equipment and clothing. Now I’m going to go and search for a pair of large knickers.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Fog

January Thaw? That must be what is going on. I'm watching the snow slowly sink into the Earth as water, and I can feel my attitude starting to sink as well. This always happens and I'm not sure why it catches me off guard, but it always does.

Yesterday I woke up and it was foggy, I mean really foggy. My skiing partner and I had planned to climb that morning and I figured what the heck. So we headed out into the pea soup thick fog and made our way to the mountain. I was joking that I could just sit in the car and enjoy my coffee and then take a nap, but Chris wouldn't let me off the hook and we kitted up to head up the hill.

Chris kept telling me it would be clear when we got up higher, I wasn't so sure. The climb is only 1300 feet, so it only takes about 35-40 minutes, but after 15 minutes we were still in the dank fog. Then we began to see a bit of pink in the air as the fog thinned and the sun began to approach the early morning horizon. We then broke through and were treated to a spectacular sunrise with fantastic undercast.

As we climbed above the clouds I could feel my spirits begin to rise. The snow was a bit crusty, but it was snow and it wasn't melting. By the time we got to the summit I was full on giddy to get my skins off and to enjoy the trip down. The snow was better than it had looked and soon I was full on smiles. Of course what lay beneath my feet as we descended was more fog, but it no longer mattered as I had seen the sun.

Now I've gotta go watch the Weather Channel and see when we can get back into a storm cycle again!

Get out and ski.





Sunday, December 30, 2012

Great Day

There are times I wish that I lived out west. Big mountains, consistent snow, epic trails, but then there are those days when I'm pretty stoked right where I am.

This morning my wife joined me and our friend Chris for a pre-dawn skin and ski up Shawnee Peak. We got to enjoy fresh snow, first tracks, and that sense of satisfaction that goes along with a fun adventure before most of the world has even woken up.

I then spent some time in my shop working on skis and getting them ready for their next adventure, which it turned out was just this afternoon. I took a tour of Rog's trails and enjoyed a hour of XC skiing through snow laden pine trees and along babbling brooks (literally babbling). As I finished up the sun was setting behind Shawnee Peak and I realized how full circle the day had been, and how lucky I had been to have been right where I was to enjoy it.

I can't wait for tomorrow.