Skiing as Craft: Falling In Love With Skiing

Getting the ski bug, one yellow school bus at a time

Like a lot of people that love this sport, I owe my life as a skier to a yellow school bus. My mom’s ski bus went to Multipor Ski Area, a 500-vertical-foot hill on the flanks of Oregon’s Mount Hood with an A-frame lodge operating as a base area, a rope tow, and a T-bar. After countless pileups and torn gloves from that rope tow, my mom got good at skiing. She loved moguls. She met my dad in college, and then they too took the ski bus, from Corvallis to Central Oregon’s Hoodoo Ski Area near the summit of Oregon’s Santiam Pass. They fell in love, and they fell in love with skiing. Ultimately, they shared the sport with me and my siblings.

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All Time: Mid-May Blower in Colorado

The phantom storm that came through at the last hour

By 3:30 p.m., we could take it no longer. It was still dumping and visibility was poor above treeline, so we packed our bags and headed to the ski area. I felt like a werewolf finally emerging under the full moon. Trees were caked. The air was still. Main Street was empty. Temps were in the teens.

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VIDEO: Candide’s Last Run

Because he literally couldn't ski any farther

Just another 45-second POV from Candide ripping down a silky spring snowfield to a sliver of snow between dirt to… grass? And that’s the season ender.

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VIDEO: Spring’s Rite of Passage on Tuckermans

Meathead Films wraps up this season with a tribute to the famous East Coast backcountry zone

If you’ve never experienced the circus that is a sunny spring day on Tuckerman’s Ravine, this edit from Meathead Films gives you a pretty good idea. Massholes and fat suits, dogs and skiers of all ages descend on the popular backcountry zone off Mount Washington. Some stomped their lines, others left with stitches, but all in all, it’s easy to see why hiking en masse to ski off the top of Tuckermans is something every East Coast backcountry skier must do.

That’s a wrap on Meatheads’ webisode series, Working for the Weekend, this season. To watch a few more episodes, Ben Leoni hiked into the Green Mountains in Vermont, scored in the White Mountain Chutes, and skied lines beyond Tuckermans off Mount Washington.

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VIDEO: The Edge of Impossible with Tony Schmiesing

A quadriplegic skier’s return to the glory of powder in Alaska

This spring, Tony Schmiesing migrated, as skiers have for decades, to Alaska with dreams of flying in helicopters to deep snow. A quadriplegic skier, Schmiesing’s journey was documented and funded by the Tahoe-based High Fives Foundation. Following his return, we spoke with Schmiesing about deep snow and taking his own path to Alaska.

First off, how do you pronounce your last name?
Tony Schmiesing: It’s Schmiesing like “sneezing.” Through school a lot of teachers would be like, “Tony…ugh…errr…ummm.” It’s one of those names.

I enjoyed watching your story. That looked like a hell of a trip to Alaska. When did the light bulb go off that this trip was possible?
You know, it’s funny. Once I started skiing again, Alaska was always this carrot hanging out in front of me. I was told the bike ski, the equipment wasn’t very good. It’s good for what it does, but it isn’t for powder. It’s meant for groomers. I didn’t want to settle with that.

For me, being a quad, I’m used to having a lot of attendants that work with me so I can live independently. Brian [Sheckler] and I did a little storm skiing these last three years in California. It was enough snow to see that powder is possible the way I ski. After a deep day last season, we said, “Okay. This is on.”

Alaska is logical because it’s a dream place. As a kid, a thing I always wanted to do was ski powder. In terms of equipment, paras [paraplegics] get all the good stuff. As a quad, I had to modify my gear.

Powder skiing is about feeling. It’s emotional. How does that work when you, yourself, do not have sensation from the chest down?
Because I’m so strapped into the ski, that floaty sensation is so immediate. It brought back so many memories. I am the ski. I’m so strapped in. I have no trunk or back muscles, so I’m so harnessed in that…[sighs] It’s so hard to describe. It brought back a rush of feelings…I mean…this is it. Powder skiing is what I’d been missing for so many years.

It’s so different. It’s just…wow. It was like coming home to a true home.

When did you sustain your injury?
I was injured in 1980. I broke my neck in a diving accident at the beach. I was 16.

How old are you today?
I’m 49.

Nice, man. You got up there before you turned 50. That’s sort of everyone’s Alaska goal.
There were a couple 70-year-olds out there charging. Age and disability is a funny thing. There are these paradigms out there about what it is, but despite my situation, I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in. I think age and disability tends to set bizarre false limits. They’re out there as roadmaps, but they are nebulous at best.

Something Beautiful: Three skiers that suffered life-altering hardships have helped others through the High Fives Foundation.

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Week In Review: Winter Won’t Quit!

Plus: Snowbird sold! Camp Benchetler! Fat-biker hero!

Winter won’t quit! Snowbird sold! Camp Benchetler! Fat-biker hero!

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VIDEO: Comeback Kid Eric Pollard

Evo releases exclusive unreleased edit of Pollard's comeback ski late last winter at Mount Hood

In February 2013, Eric Pollard suffered a near-career-ending injury while on assignment with POWDER in Russia. Last last season, he miraculously returned to snow, boosting hips, slashing wavy Mount Hood cornices, and skiing switch, all with his signature style.

Seven months ago, Nimbus released “Four Day Season” and this unreleased footage adds to the comeback portfolio.

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Skiing as Craft: First Tracks

Whatever it takes to beat the crowd

It’s a Monday, a Tuesday, or a Wednesday. The details are blurry. Schools are closed. Cars are buried. Streets are chaos. The weekend annoyances of yeehaw cowboy characters from Calgary have vanished like ghosts. When we finally make it to the base of Fernie’s Elk Quad, snow hangs from every conceivable tree and roofline as a thick whipped frosting. The entire town is standing in line.

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Honey, There’s an Avalanche At the Door

Urban avalanches happen; how one couple protected their home

A Tahoe couple finds their dream home down the street from a ski area. There was only one catch—the house was located in an avalanche zone.

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Junk in the Trunk: Garmin Fenix 2

A watch built with skiers in mind

I have to say, though, that devices like Garmin’s Fenix 2 multisport watch have finally started to suck me into the wide world of data. That’s because the Fenix 2 can track information that I, as a skier, care about, like how much elevation I’ve gained and descended.

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