From Russia With Pow

Reporting from Krasnaya Polyana

In the ski world, the overwhelming transformation currently underway in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia, is assuredly unmatched. In fact, it’s arguable this has never happened before. In the history of all things. There’s no way. Imagine a Whitewater, or a Bozeman even, any small ski resort you’ve ever been to anywhere, and then imagine that place overrun by some 30,000 workers and billions of dollars of investment in just a few years. It’s a makeover so extreme, so vast, so over-the-top, said down-home ski resort goes from a few fixed gripped doubles and a couple of hotels to three Whistler’s stacked together—virtually overnight. And oh yeah, the Olympics are coming.

But wait, it doesn’t stop there. Nature did a pretty epic job before the bulldozers got here. The mountains are ridiculous. And, oh yeah, so is the snow.


DEEP: The Future of Snow: Bridger Bowl

Low-elevation powder turns in Montana

There are a few things beside snowfall that differentiate Bridger Bowl from Big Sky. Driving up Bridger Canyon Road you notice there is less traffic, more ranches, more cabins and haystacks. The mountain itself is part of the Bridger Mountains, a 45-mile rocky spine that starts at Bozeman Pass, where Sacagawea led Lewis and Clark on their expedition. There’s plenty of time to get familiar with the long row of mountains, hemmed by cliff faces and thick cornices at the top, driving along it on Highway 86.

We turn left at the giant wooden skis that mark Bridger’s driveway and find a parking spot close to the base lodge. Bridger Bowl is one of the few nonprofit, community-owned ski areas left in the country, and you can feel it in the parking lot: beater pickup trucks, blue jeans tucked into ski boots, kids everywhere and people waving at one another. They’re happy to be here, happy to be paying just $49 a day for ski ticket, but really they’re happy that Ullr has treated them well this season. After a dry spell, three storms in the last month have covered up the rocks and filled in the gullies along The Ridge.

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New Hampshire’s Whaleback Closing its Doors

The small ski area with a big reputation is closing due to insurmountable debt

In a letter posted this morning on Whaleback’s website by Dybvig and co-owners Frank Sparrow and Dylan Goodspeed, the small ski area in the Live Free or Die State is closing its doors.

“Unfortunately, the positive gains that we have made over the years have not been enough to overcome our debt,” says the letter. “We have tried numerous avenues to recapitalize the business to put ourselves on surer footing without success. Our only option at this point is to close.”


Going 100 Percent East with HG Skis

Burlington-based ski company is building skis for the right coast

Harrison Goldberg started HG Skis in 2010 with his UVM buddy, Connor Gaeta, after obsessing for years over the lack of East Coast-specific ski brands and designs. The process is slowly coming along from Harrison’s first hand-built pair of skis as a senior project in high school back in 2006, and the pair now produce their skis in a Quebec factory, which was their only option to keep production within reaching distance and “100 percent East Coast.”

While HG Skis are currently available in only one model and size and available in only one Killington shop, they believe their trajectory is strong enough to allow them to leave their day jobs—designing electric plug load meters and working for a natural gas provider—and make a go as full-time ski company men within two years. They’re surprised that they’re the only people to be running a one hundred percent East Coast-focused and produced operation.


Salomon Freeski TV: Poor Man’s Heli

Finding a way to fly

“Antoine Boisselier has stared across at the Belledonne Mountains his whole life. He’s always dreamed of laying ski tracks on their difficult-to-access slopes. Two years ago, he and a group of close friends launched their paragliders from across the valley and took a chance.”


Week in Review: March 10

Proof that racing is the most hard core of ski pursuits

Teen skier Nicholas Joy is safe and sound after spending two nights in the woods West of Sugarloaf after getting lost after claiming last run. Remember kids, never claim last run. Joy credited his survival prowess—which included building his own snow cave and walking towards the sound of snowmobiles—to survival-themed reality TV shows. So which was it, Bear Grylls or Dual Survival? I have a soft spot for Cody Lundin…


Todd Ligare’s John Hughes Moment

Pretty in Pink

Picking a song when making a video is always the toughest part. There are thousands to choose from and they all give the footage a different feel. We kept coming back to this Horrors track even though there were other strong (who knows, maybe stronger) candidates. When we went forward with this song it sort of dictated the look we ended up with. I think it’s got an ‘80s thing going on, sort of a John Hughes tribute.

In this case we also chose to leave in the original audio. I think the camera clicks, hoots, and wind and snow audio give it a little bit of a raw, home video feel.
I present to you a collection of previously unreleased footage from some deep days: “RAW POWdER.”-Todd Ligare


Tiny House Tour: Episode Three

Avalanche Awareness in Utah

Every moment in the mountains lends an opportunity to learn. A lifetime education awaits those willing to explore, watch, and listen. And sometimes we meet purveyors of the knowledge, people who have made it their intention to understand the intricacies of the snow, and share what they’ve learned about the many varieties of a snowflake. These snow aficionados are our greatest educators, devoted to dissecting the element that brings skiers life and death simultaneously.

The tiny house arrived in Utah at the beginning of a storm cycle that would invigorate the mountain community with pow turns, while burying a weak layer in the snowpack that would require trepidation in the backcountry. In the two weeks the tiny house lived in Utah, many slides were seen and experienced by skiers and snowboarders across the Wasatch. Instead of playing our usual roles in this act, we became the audience and learned from a friend of the Utah Avalanche Center, Trent Meisenheimer, a passionate snow safety ambassador who grew up at the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon.

Following Trent and his father Bruce (a man who should be put in the Ski-Loving Father Hall of Fame) into the special ski stashes of the Cottonwoods (yes, they still exist), we investigated our own capacity to learn and re-learn what we already thought we knew. You’re never too experienced in the backcountry. And there is always something new to digest. -The Tiny House Crew


Squaw CEO to go on Undercover Boss

Andy Wirth bumping chairs on CBS this Friday

Anyone who’s ever bumped a chair, flipped a mid-mountain burger, or stood in a ski school line-up has likely said at one point or another that the people running the resort are idiots who could never do their job. No chance in hell they could keep up on skis or a snowboard.

This Friday, March 8, 2013, ski-serfs everywhere will get to see this dream scenario put to the test. Andy Wirth, the president and CEO of Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows will don a fake mullet and make an appearance on CBS’s Emmy-Award-winning reality show, Undercover Boss.


Junk in the Truck: Big Truck Shane McConkey Hat

35 bones and 30 percent of the profits go to the Shane McConkey Foundation

Buy a hat, go to the Pain McShlonkey at the end of the month.


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