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3 Reasons to Get Avy Savvy This Winter

You know that feeling of having the mountain all to yourself? It doesn’t come often on downhill skis—last chair, maybe, or a quiet tree run around the lunch hour. If you’re willing to work for it, though, there’s a way to find that first-chair feeling all winter long—even on a sunny Saturday. Like most things worth doing, of course, skiing the backcountry comes at a price. Unlike at the ski area, there’s no one to keep you safe: if things go south, you are your own rescue party. Think you’re up to the challenge? Your local gear retailer might offer quick-and-dirty workshops or lectures, but a 24-hour Level 1 avalanche safety course is the best place to start. You’ll learn how to manage ski terrain—and your brain—to avoid avalanches, and what to do if the unthinkable happens. Head to Avalanche.org to find a course provider in your area. Need convincing? Here are three reasons you need to get avy savvy this winter. 1. Avoid the Crowds Gazing out on a snowy day. Emma Walker No lift lines, outrageous prices, or afternoon traffic: the backcountry has all your favorite things about skiing, minus the things you could do without. But it’s…
Matcha
January 26, 2021
Articles

Great Skiers, Great Tips

When it comes to skiing advice, listen to the experts. They've made all the mistakes and learned the hard way, so you don't have to. Never ask your dog for advice, and that wisdom goes double when it comes to skiing tips. To secure sound counsel, we hounded some of the world's best skiers—racers, big mountain skiers, freestylers, and telemarkers—for their insights on how to turn, jump, spin, and fly with your skis on. Pro #1: Jeremy Nobis, Big Mountain Vitals: 49, 5' 10", 180 lbs. Hometown: Alta/Snowbird, Utah Credits: Eight-time U.S. Ski Teamer, Olympian, star of 10 big-mountain ski films Worst learning experience:"It was in Alaska on a run called Test Monkey Basin. I'd done a lot of hiking and I was tired and should've called it, but I decided to shoot one more. Halfway down a 60-degree run, I let my guard down and hit some hard snow, hooked my tails, and went down. I slid for 1,200 feet and left all my equipment on the hill. I made that the last day of my season: Sometimes you're better off retreating and regrouping before challenging it again." Jeremy's Tip: See it to be it Ski Magazine Whatever success…
Matcha
January 19, 2021
Articles

Life Lessons from an Avalanche Education Course

On the first day of my avalanche education course, my instructor asked the class, “what are you hoping to learn here?” At the time, I thought it was pretty obvious: I wanted to learn how to navigate avalanche terrain. Being a resort skier my whole life, I was eager to adventure beyond the boundaries into the backcountry, so I signed up for Irwin Guide’s Avalanche Rec 1 Course, a three-day-long introduction to avalanche hazard management. I showed up eager to dive in with my beacon, shovel, and probe in tow. Reviewing the syllabus, I saw we would follow the American Institute for Avalanche Research and Education (AIARE) model, one of the most widely followed standards of avalanche education in the U.S. The AIARE framework covers how to interpret snowpacks, select routes, and practice rescue, but there is a lot more to navigating avalanche terrain than I originally thought. Research has shown that—more often than not—mistakes made in the backcountry are tied to poor decision making. So, beyond just teaching students how to dig snowpits, organizations like Irwin Guides and AIARE incorporate methods to develop decision-making skills into their courses in order to help backcountry users further manage risk in avalanche…
Matcha
January 12, 2021
Articles

Rescue Devices Explained

In late 2010, a backcountry skier on Colorado’s Berthoud Pass was causing major trouble for local search and rescue teams. Under the incorrect belief that an avalanche transceiver and a personal locator beacon (PLB) were the same thing, he’d push the SOS signal on his PLB every time he was about to drop into a run. Over the course of a few weeks, the unidentified skier pushed the button on his unregistered device six times, causing search and rescue (SAR) teams from Clear Creek, Gilpin, and Jefferson counties—most of whom are unpaid volunteers—to scramble into action. When they arrived at the location of the distress signal, all they found were ski tracks. Eventually, once the authorities figured out the signal was coming from the same unregistered device, SAR teams stopped responding to the signal according to The Denver Post. Authorities later discovered that every time the Berthoud Pass skier triggered a SAR response, he was never actually wearing an avalanche transceiver. Not only did this skier unnecessarily dispatch SAR, but he also put the rescue professionals in a difficult position: They decided to ignore the SOS calls from that particular PLB, but what if that skier had actually had an…
Matcha
December 15, 2020
Articles

Short But Sweet: How to Ski Short Turns

Don't let the short turn become a lost art. Modern skiing has lost the short turn as a trusted ally—one that was there for us when we needed a special tool to deal with special circumstances. Gone are the days of making short turns at the run’s edge, where the best snow resides until the last hours of the day. Wide skis have all but killed the desire to execute short radius turns, as skiers can now skid sideways to get through, around, or over obstacles. Unless you ski moguls regularly, you might not even know what a short turn really is. Short radius turns make for a high-tempo form of skiing. All parts of the turn happen quicker, and time between turns is minimized. This makes setting up and dialing in positions between turns tricky, which is why you tend to see mostly advanced skiers executing this type of turn. But there are still tactical benefits to short-radius turns. The best route down the mountain is rarely cut and dried, so your skiing needs to be dynamic and adaptive. When you’re venturing into steep terrain, you often don’t want to have your skis pointed down the fall line too…
Matcha
December 8, 2020
Articles

What Women Want

I’ve been skiing for 27 years, most of those on men’s or unisex skis. That wasn’t a conscious decision—it wasn’t a decision at all, in fact. That’s just what I had to work with. With an older brother involved in ski racing and a ski instructor dad well versed in high-performance gear, more often than not I found myself on hand-me-down race skis—stiff planks with two sheets of metal, unyielding core materials, and a traditional mount point. When I couldn’t bend the ski or carve like my brother, I thought nothing of it. I figured I just had a lot to learn still. Over time, I discovered how to move my stance forward to better access the front of men’s skis, and as I grew stronger, I was able to apply muscle and sheer will power to make these skis bend to my will. It wasn’t until seven years ago when I got on a pair of women’s-specific skis for the first time—my mom’s Völkl Flair 76—that I realized how effortless skiing could be. I was skiing with an instructor friend on this occasion, and I distinctly remember his incredulity that I was skiing on such “soft, flimsy skis.” “Those…
Matcha
December 1, 2020
Articles

Gear Glossary: Ski and Boot Terminology

Ski gear terminology can be overwhelming, even for those who have been skiing for years or their entire lives. Gear and technology are constantly evolving, and with those changes come new terms that can turn skiing into a foreign language. Never fear—we've broken down the most common and current need-to-know terms so you can translate gear reviews, walk confidently into a ski shop, and come away with exactly what you were looking for. Ski Terminology . Ski Magazine These days, most skis have some sort of rocker profile to make turn initiation easier and make the ski more versatile. CAMBER : The curvature of an unweighted ski on a flat surface. A ski with traditional camber has a slight arc through the mid-section of the ski. Camber makes for poppy, responsive skis and encourages solid edge contact. ROCKER : Shape that shortens the camber of a ski and reduces the amount of effective edge contact during turns; makes skis easier to maneuver and more versatile. Can especially enhance skiing in powder, crud, and steep terrain. BASE: A sheet of plastic, usually high-density polyethylene, that’s “structured” with microgrooves to promote glide. SIDECUT : Also referred to as dimensions. Sidecut is the…
Matcha
November 4, 2020
Articles

Bashing Gates and Staying Healthy – How the US Ski and Snowboard team is adapting to the new normal.

August marks a time when the U.S. Ski Team usually sends athletes to South America for on-snow training to test new equipment and get ready for early season competitions. This year, things are different. In early March the FIS World Cup Tour came to an abrupt end due to COVID-19. April and May are normally off-months for the athletes, but this year the team worked tirelessly through those months to organize extensive protocols, including reworking their online athlete platform to check and monitor coronavirus symptoms. Thanks to these efforts and the hospitality of domestic resorts, the athletes have not missed any days on snow this summer. Copper Mountain in Colorado, plus Mt. Bachelor and Mt. Hood in Oregon, are among the ski areas that have found ways to accommodate the U.S. Ski Team. “ have allowed our athletes to have largely successful camps with great snow conditions,” says Troy Taylor, High-Performance Director of the U.S. Ski Team. Taylor has been with the team for five years as the High-Performance Director. The job entails oversight of every aspect of athletic performance, from sports psychology and medicine to conditioning plans. Taylor is constantly finding new ways to enhance the athletic performance of…
Matcha
November 3, 2020
Articles

10 Eco-Friendly Ski Resorts That are Leading the Way for Sustainability in the U.S.

“Sustainable” and “ski areas” are traditionally not things associated with one another. However, since climate change has reached a tipping point, many outdoors enthusiasts have become more concerned about preserving the natural places they recreate. And since ski areas’ financial futures depend on having solid snow pack, they’re increasingly adopting eco-friendly attitudes. The National Ski Areas Association has helped pioneer the effort, launching its sustainable slopes program in 2000 by outlining ideal environmental standards for ski areas. In 2012, it issued a climate challenge, asking ski areas to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Some are upping their efforts beyond reducing carbon emissions, ramping up programs and initiatives that focus on recycling and reducing water use, as well as partnering with conservation groups. Many of these efforts are virtually invisible to skiers, so visitors still have a seamless experience on the slopes and in the lodges. Here are 10 ski areas excelling in sustainability. 1. Alta Ski Area, Utah Taking up the NSAA’s climate challenge, the Alta Environmental Center is guiding efforts to reduce the ski area’s greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020. It’s replanting Douglas fir to cover the installation of new lifts, installing a solar array, and encouraging…
Matcha
November 2, 2020
Articles

The Ultimate Connection

There’s a day in mid-March that will live in infamy in our household. On this day, the ski season came to an abrupt end because of a pandemic. We started hearing about COVID-19 in early January as we crisscrossed the state of Colorado, moving from ski resort to ski resort. It seemed far away then—an extra worry for our friends going to Japan to ski or for an acquaintance ski racing in Italy. I was extra cautious about washing my hands when my daughter and I flew to Maine for an event at Sunday River. But I had no idea that the disease was jumping from host to host at ski resorts in Austria and France, and on to U.S. mountain towns like Aspen, Vail, and Crested Butte. People from all around the world are drawn to the sport of skiing and the mountains that offer access to it. I’ve always seen this as a blessing, but now the speed of travel seems like a temporary curse. . Ski Magazine I think my friends would say that my husband, daughter, and I are really into skiing, which might be a nice way of saying obsessed. I’ve cobbled together a career in…
Matcha
October 7, 2020