French military leader Napoleon Bonaparte once said a picture is worth a thousand words. But not even a thousand pictures could give you the feeling of spending time in Jackson Hole, WY at the Four Seasons. The views, the clean air, the incredible hospitality. Pictures will never do it justice– but until they invent virtual reality glasses for blogs, they will have to do. Here we go!
This past New Years I had the absolute pleasure of staying for a few days in this resort-paradise– skiing the hills, taking in the vistas and relaxing around the hotel lounges, pools, and restaurants.
The resort is nestled up against the Jackson Hole Resort mountain, inside the challenging and famed Grand Teton Mountains. The best way to describe skiing or riding Jackson Hole is simple: Not for beginners. It’s exhilaratingly steep, boasting some of the most insane terrain I’ve seen on piste anywhere, let alone heli-skiing in British Columbia.
Pools and hot tubs galore, with great service for hot chocolate or other drinks while you’re relaxing in the hot tub. And my favorite touch was easy– they kept your towel and robe in a heated closet so it was warm when you stepped out. It’s always the simple things that complete the luxury experience.
We spent most of our downtime in the Lobby Lounge seen here playing chess and enjoying Sushi. They actually had a great selection of sashimi, nigiri and some only in Wyoming rolls! A great way to unwind with a glass of wine from the day before you checked in for the night. I will definitely be back. Highly recommended if you’re considering a getaway in summer or winter.
A few days ago, my childhood buddy Riley sent me the lowdown on a “business” trip he just took to the interior of British Columbia. From the looks of it, he’s chosen quite a different career path than I have– maybe I should have spent all of that law school tuition money on a camera and a helicopter. I believe his story started: “I don't want to make you jealous or anything but an amazing trip just went down…” I’ll leave most of the details out, but I will tell you that the trip was a collaboration between Red Bull and Oakley called “Backcountry Bombshells.” Since he can tell the story better than I can: the trip included 2 skiers (Kristi Leskinen & Andrea Binning) and 2 snowboarders (Anne-Flore Marxer & Marie France Roy). It took place in interior British Columbia at 3 different cat skiing lodges (Monashees, Selkirk Wilderness, and Chatter Creek), and the additional crew consisted of 2 photogs, 2 filmers, 2 team managers and a very veteran bad ass guide Shin Campos (Pro snowboarder in the Whistler area for last 15-20 years). We had access to snowmobiles (Ski Doo Summit-X 1000′s, snow-cats, and of course the heli. What can I say Red Bull does it right, best trip of my life and that's saying a lot. Basically the theme of the trip was to bring 4 people closer together and progress the level of women’s riding in the backcountry. Mission accomplished for sure! Lucky bastard.
Part speed skiing, part sledneck, The Arctic Man is event I would describe as “uniquely Alaska.” I actually found out about it because a friend of a friend will be competing in this year’s event, which is taking place at mile 196 of the Richardson Highway, near Summit Lake, Alaska, from April 11-15. The format of the race is pure insanity– The skier begins at a summit elevation of 5,800 feet and drops 1,700 feet in less than two mile to the bottom of a narrow canyon where he meets up with his snowmobiling partner. The snowmobiler meets the skier, on the go, with a tow rope and pulls the skier 2 1/4 miles uphill at top speeds of up to 86 mph. The skier and the snowmobile then separate and the skier goes over the side of the second mountain and drops another 1200 feet to the finish line. Take it from someone who’s been towed behind a snow machine going close to that speed: it is rough on the body. But for a prize purse beginning at $25,000, and growing with each team entry fee of $900, the racers are more than willing to risk life and limb. I’m hoping that some video footage from this year’s event ends up on YouTube. This is something I think you just have to see to believe. For an account of one participant’s Arctic Man experience, read this– supposedly, it’s quite the party as well.
An article on the Snowboard Mag website is indicating that there may be riding/skiing (and a lot more) in Las Vegas in the not so distant future. According to one of the founders of Las Vegas WET, they’ve been exchanging offers and counteroffers with an undisclosed landowner to acquire 200 acres of land along the Strip to build a mega sports facility, that will include an over 350,000 square foot indoor water park (to be the largest in North America), and a ton of other attractions that have yet to be disclosed officially, but may include in indoor ski area (according to the photos on their website– included here). If built, this facility would be larger than the entire Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, CA. But don’t worry, the development group has decided to “expand the environmental angle” of the project to be more “conservation conscious and environmentally friendly.” (chuckle chuckle). Do we really need another water-sucking, electricity-devouring monstrosity in Vegas? I’ll stick to the roulette wheel.
This week I had the chance to try out a SnowQ ski carrier, and I was impressed with its ‘utility per simplicity’ factor. While the folks at SnowQ advertise the product as a ski sling that allows you to easily transport your skis, boots, and ski poles on your back while you walk from your car to the lift, or trek about the backcountry while keeping your hands free to deal with other stuff, I recommend only using it for the latter– otherwise you may look like a Texan. I do give my stamp of approval to this product for on-piste hikes where you don’t necessarily need a pack with all of your avalanche safety gear (because ski patrol has safety controlled the area), but want to free up your hands for balance during the climb– the hike to Highland Bowl at Aspen Highlands is the first place that comes to mind. The sling is easy to use, folds up to fit in your pocket during non-use, and even has a built-in whistle on one of the plastic clips so you can send out cat calls to that girl that just kicked your ass up the mountain. SnowQ also makes an ‘Accomplice‘ snowboard carrier that works like the ski carrier for you snow surfers out there. You can buy directly form their site for a meager $20– well worth it if you ask me.
I know it’s only February (almost March), but I wanted to pass this piece of news while the snow is still falling… before you’ve gone into beach mode. Throughout this coming summer, the 2007 DNA Evolution Tour will be coming to a ton of locations throughout Utah, Colorado, Idaho, and Montana, giving urban jibber types (both skiers and snowboarders) the chance to strut their stuff in a warm summer setting. Now I know a lot of you out there are thinking: “why in the hell would anyone want to ski or snowboard in the summer, especially in an urban setting?” I don’t have a good answer to that question, but I can tell you that a lot of kids out there are really into this stuff. They’re pushing the bar higher and higher, taking their skills to insane features like the Big Rig (pictured above, right), the honorary DNA Evolution Tour feature. The first event will be on May 26th in Ogden, UT, and the final event will be right on our front step at the Jibij Pro Shop in Boulder on September 1st. This tour should be fun for both spectators and competitors.
Those of us who live on the Front Range in Colorado have had no shortage of snow this Winter. But thanks to the erratic weather patterns associated with Global Warming, we probably won’t have any snow next winter. To all of you urban-assault jibber types out there (with a few extra grand laying around)– don’t fret. The SG5-LED Snowmaker kicks out the highest volume of any home snowmaker on the market– connect it to the pressure washer you gave pops for Christmas this year or a dedicated snowmaking pump, and you can generate up to 180 cu. ft. of gnar per hour. With the high-end set up, you’re looking at dropping close to $2500– not to mention the drastic increase in your water bill– but for some of you out there, that hefty price tag may be well worth the hours of DFD kinked rails and sick video footy that follow.
Unity is a company that, until now, only made snowboards. Their entrance into the ski industry is going to be big– literally. Their new line just got pressed, and I had the chance to see some of the skis up close and personal last week. The new range of Unity skis span from a 175 park ski with dimensions 121-86-111 (for those of you who don’t know, that refers to 121 mm at the tip of the ski, 86 mm at the waist, and 111 mm at the tail– it always helps to think of a pair of skis as a woman) to the massive Trevor Hiatt Twin with a colossal figure measuring 155-140-155– the photo here doesn’t even come close to doing the size of the ski justice. Lets just say the Hiatt big mountain powder ski is eating three or more very big meals per day (possibly from McDonalds). The things look like they’re made for use in water; maybe that’s why one ski has a mountain on it, and one has a huge wave on it. All Unity skis have P-Tex Sidewalls, Full-Length Maple Wood Cores, and Kevlar Damping in the tip and tail, thoughtful features that took the Unity engineers and athletes a full three years to develop. As far as cost, I don’t know what to tell you– best bet is to track down a Unity dealer and ask them.
At the center of my weekend in Aspen, which was filled with every sort of sensory overload imaginable, was the competition itself. This was the 11th Winter X Games, and it was the most innovative and impressive to date. Attendance records were shattered– there were a reported 31,200 people at Saturday night’s snowboard superpipe qualifying round alone. The name of the game at Winter X is high speed, big air, crazy crashes, style, power, finesse, and infinite combinations of these elements. The evolution of this competition over the years has been a pleasure to watch. Where it was before somewhat marginalized and unknown to the world at large, it is now mainstreamed and respected, lending its ideas to other vaunted competitions like the Olympics. Because I know many of you weren’t able to view the X Games (whether in person or on T.V.), I’ve decided to compile my picks for ‘best trick.’ After the jump, you will see a small slice of what makes the X Games the juicy and delicious pie it is. Enjoy…
As Josh mentioned earlier today, The Sundance Film Festival is going on in Utah right now. Yes, it’s hyped beyond belief, and yes, you can see a lot of the action online. But I thought it’s also worth mentioning that the X-Dance Action Sports Film Festival is going on along side Sundance this year, from January 19-22. I am a huge fan of action sports films of any type– I get excited to see athletes pushing their boundaries to the utmost, regardless of what sport they’re in. I especially recommend viewing snow-sports titles ‘Slednecks’ and ‘Push‘ if you are in Park City this Saturday (schedule here).