Frame of Mind, a Chris Benchetler Video Edit

Dragon releases webisode series

Creating a collection of short films starring its snow team riders, Dragon has released another installment of its revealing Frame of Mind webisode series, this time starring Chris Benchetler.

Shining a spotlight on the multi-talented skier, the film short follows Benchetler through powder fields and steep rock climbing ascents as he describes what drives him to achieve his goals.

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All-Time: Italian Couloirs

Following Chris Davenport toward the light

As I went toward the light, it felt like I was emerging from the womb. Eventually, I came out of the huge, tight walls of the 750-vertical-foot couloir and entered a wide-open world of powder. A born-again skier.

It had pissed rain all day in Asolo in northern Italy the day before, and as we loaded vans at the SCARPA factory for the drive to the mountains that night, we learned the pass closed due to a fresh meter of snow and high avalanche danger.

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The 2013 Pain McShlonkey

The world's preeminent small mountain competition

The Pain McShlonkey Classic saw its third iteration go down at a very springy Squaw Valley this Saturday, and it marked the only time of the year where people can snowlerblade down KT-22 without getting ruthlessly heckled, and can celebrate said snowlerblading by slurping from a giant bottle of Jack Daniels at the base area sans problem. Two separate events made up the meat of this contest/drunken costume party for adult skiers/memorial for Shane McConkey: the top-to-bottom Chinese Downhill off KT-22 at the burly and boilerplate hour of 9 AM, and the Extreme Small Mountain Invitational through the moguls and double stage “cliffs” of Enchanted Forest.

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Week in Review: March 31

Talisker is claiming that it has no plans to develop anything else along the route of the proposed Canyons-Solitude gondola, with The Canyons Managing Director reasserting that there will be “No residential, no commercial, and no ski infrastructure beyond the lift towers.” The contentious project still needs the approval of the federal government, as the planned route cuts through 30 acres of Forest Service land.

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Voice: David Wise

Embrace the opportunity

Just after his daughter Nayeli was born, David Wise started a season that would take him from relative obscurity to established pro. The Reno, Nevada, native became the first father to win Ski SuperPipe gold at Winter X. Then, Wise, 22, went on a roll, winning men’s halfpipe at the Snowbasin stop of the Winter Dew Tour and the U.S. Grand Prix at Mammoth, and finishing third at European Winter X in Tignes, France. Wise’s U.S. Freeskiing Halfpipe Coach Andy Woods saw his rise coming. “It was a bit of a pleasant surprise that he figured it out so quickly and suddenly, but the talent was always there,” says Woods of the skier who, in 2008, was the first to throw a double cork 1260 in the pipe. “He was one of the big reasons I took this job.”

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This Must Be The Place: Boreal

A skate park for skiers

At 500 vertical feet, Boreal, at the peak of Donner Pass on I-80, would be a mere blip, literally and figuratively, on the radar as readers of this magazine power toward Lake Tahoe resorts with bigger terrain and several times more vert. But the 380-acre ski area deserves some attention for two reasons. The first is the outrageously fun skatepark-style terrain park that can be lapped off the high-speed quad, 22-foot pipe run included, in well under 10 minutes. The second is that Boreal has established itself as a legitimate and affordable beginner breeding ground—an unappreciated phenomenon in an industry with anemic growth.

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Those Who Would Be King (and Queen)

Crowning dirt bag royalty at Crystal Mountain

It’s 7 p.m. and Sid Kurtz is still wearing his ski boots and a bright orange hat, emblazoned across the front with the words “Dirt Bag King 2012″. He motions to the Snorting Elk bartender for another beer. As elected Crystal Mountain royalty, Sid drinks for free. In the 32 years here, Sid, age 53, has figured out how to slime the system. He’s never worked for the ski area but he once spent an entire season living in the employee-only cat crew dorm, claiming he worked as a “grooming inspector”. His job, he claimed, was to ski all day and check his roommates’ work. They believed him. Thriving in a ski town, where resources and housing are limited and expensive, requires a certain amount of low-profile couch surfing. Dirt bag royalty like Sid, who spends most of his winter skiing, not working, have perfected the lifestyle.

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Highlights from the FWT Championships

If you needed proof that Verbier's Bec des Rosses is gnarly...

Highlights from the final stop of this year’s Freeride World Tour in Verbier

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Week in Review: March 24

Pop Tarts and Rails

Rails: The Decider

While I had a suspicion that rails were going to be a bigger part of the X Games scoring this year (although I offered the botched piece of advice to “keep your eyes on the jump line” for the men’s final), it appears that the rail scores determined both the men’s and women’s winner this year. With most of the men’s field about to pull off three doubles cleanly with grabs, it was McRae Williams’ rail game, and likely his nosebutter 450 in particular, that put him in first. On the women’s side, Kaya Turski put together an average (again, for her) jump line (what happened to that switch 10?), but threw a switch 450 disaster onto the top kinked rail and a switch 270 on, 270 out of the rainbow at the bottom that was the most tech women’s rail run yet seen at X Games. Tiril Sjåstad Christiansen’s upper rail section was a close second, and these two rail performance clearly vaulted their scores into the 90’s.

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Where Them Girls At?

Those women’s-specific skis are not exactly designed by a woman

The most male-dominated corner of the ski industry isn’t the park or the bar at the Peruvian. It’s ski engineering. Women’s skis, the ones with the turquoise and purple topsheets, the lady-specific flex pattern, and the mounting point set for child-bearing hips, are all engineered and designed by dudes.

According to SnowSports Industries of America, women-specific gear makes up 28 percent of the products bought in the ski industry, and 41 percent of skiers are women. Despite the significant female footprint in the sport, ski engineering is dominated by men. A few brands, like K2 and Salomon, have women in lab testing, product marketing, or graphic design, but no major company has a female ski engineer or designer.

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