Wednesday April 23, 2014
If you still want to keep skiing after the the lifts close at your favorite ski area, think about heading off to Europe for a couple of late April weeks.
Besides getting some very good lodging deals, here are ten reasons why you can find the Alps to be an excellent and affordable destination for a family ski vacation.
Many North Americans have an impression that skiing Europe is all about huge, steep, and dangerous descents. Nothing is further from the truth. Don't think Europeans were born with skis on everybody has to learn and there are some of the best ski schools in the world in the Alps. Virtually every resort has miles of beginner and intermediate terrain.
You'll be skiing the world's largest ski areas. There are destinations in France that include, under one lift ticket, more miles than you could ski in ten vacations. For example, The 3 Valleys comprises the resorts of Courchevel, La Tania, Maribel, Brides-Les-Bains, Les Menuires - Saint Martin de Belleville, Val Thorens and Orelle. These resorts are linked together by 180 ski lifts, with almost 400 miles of interconnected slopes and tens of thousands of acres of off-piste terrain.
Ski 25,000 acres of the L'Espace Killy around Val d'Isere, or start in Champéry, Switzerland and ski the Portes du Soleil - 12 linked resorts in 2 countries!
Before you start planning your ski trip to the Alps, review these skiing Europe travel tips to make sure you have covered all the basics and are prepared for your ski vacation in advance.
Read More: Top 10 Reasons to Ski Europe | Skiing Europe Travel Tips
Photo Copyright Mike Doyle
Monday April 21, 2014
This week, let's take a look at the top ten finishers in each of the men's freestyle disciplines. Of course we'll start with the Slopestyle event where it was an all USA podium. One thing to keep in mind about the Olympic slopestyle is that there are rumblings that the Sochi slopestyle course, and indeed the slopestyle competition itself, is too dangerous to be an Olympic sport and should be banned.
So says Dr. Lars Engebretsen - a Norwegian orthopedic surgeon and researcher, who is presently the head of scientific activities for the International Olympic Committee. The New York Times quotes Engebretsen, speaking to the Associated Press about slopestyle, as saying "right now the injury rate as it was in Sochi was too high to be a sport that we have in the Olympics" and that the discipline "should change -- otherwise we shouldn't have it."
Although Dr. Engebretsen, carries a big stick here, the discipline is what it is and fans, athletes and national Olympic Committee should stay vigilant and be prepared to fight to keep slopestyle in the Olympics. I've read that there shouldn't be any immediate, overt attempt to ban slopestyle competition - but the powers that be will be watching how World Cup competition goes in the seasons leading up to the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
On a more positive note take a look at the top ten men in all the Sochi Olympics Freestyle events and with a link to the complete official results and remember all Olympians are heroes:
All USA Sochi Slopestyle podium Copyright Quinn Rooney/Getty Images Sport
Saturday April 19, 2014
I talked about the semantic difference between what we generally call 'backcountry' and what we call 'sidecountry' and the most important thing to remember is that when you exit the resort through an open gate you are in effect in unpatrolled terrain not subject to avalanche control work.
Now the dilemma arises, especially in the west. There have been several strong spring storm cycles and there is plenty of good looking, tempting snow - but most of the ski areas have ceased operation.
Of course, hiking and skinning up is going to happen so, cut to the chase - no more semantics - it's all backcountry. Skiing on steep terrain in the boundaries of a closed ski area that is not performing avalanche mitigation work can be as dangerous as backcountry.
In fact, after a major spring snowstorm with high water content, the terrain that has been subject to avalanche control work in the past may be more apt to slide under the effect of a human trigger because it's now set on a relative persistent slab of snow that had been subject to sun and refreeze.
So, the bottom line after the resorts cease operations is to treat all terrain in and around a closed ski area as 'backcountry.' Check your local Avalanche Advisories, be aware of and stay clear of terrain traps, don't ski it alone and tell someone where you are going.
If you are thinking of skinning and skiing a closed ski are don't just listen to my warning. Heed this, from the Utah Avalanche Center, "Remember, most of the ski resorts are closed for the season with no avalanche control, so treat it just like backcountry terrain."
Be avalanche smart and avalanche safe, and erase that sense of imagined 'sidecountry' safety that still prompts people to exit resort gates and ski closed resorts without the minimum avalanche first responder gear - avalanche beacon, probe, shovel - and a partner.
Read More: Backcountry or Sidecountry | Avalanche Beacon, Probe, and Shovel
Photo Copyright Mike Doyle
Thursday April 17, 2014
If you are looking for a nice spring or summer project that gives you the chance to play with skis for a little bit more then check out the slotted ski rack I made. It's very similar to the racks you most often see in the rental areas - the kind where you just slide the skis in and they hang by the ski shovels.
After a few different approaches, and a tweak here and there, I finally came up with a very affordable wooden ski rack that can be made to hold just about as many pair of skis as you can come up with. So get your ruler, a drill, a saw, follow these simple directions, and in a few hours you'll be so proud of yourself you'll want to buy a new pair of skis (hint - this is really a great excuse to fill the new ski rack!)
Ski Rack Image © Mike Doyle