Shirley Sundt is my hero. She came to skiing later in life, but once she started, she never stopped. Now she’s in her 80′s, has battled cancer three times, and most recently she wouldn’t stop for chemo to save her last breast because she’d already bought her season’s pass. Instead, she told the doctor to, “just lop it off.” She didn’t want to miss a season at Crystal Mountain.
I recently wrote a story about Shirley for Powder Magazine. Check it out here, and see if you don’t just feel a little more inspired. I dare you.
Ingrid Backstrom in Chamonix
Ingrid Backstrom is one of the most influential skiers in the world. But you would never know it if you met her.
Kind, humble and exploding with integrity, Ingrid never boasts or brags.
In fact, if you ran into her at the bar after a day on the slopes, you’d never know she probably spent the day ripping the biggest, gnarliest lines on the hill.
Her professional ski career started unassumingly. After ski bumming for a year out of college, Ingrid entered a freeskiing contest at Kirkwood, and placed a very respectable third place. She realized people were actually getting paid to ski, and she wanted to be a part of it.
Her big break came in 2003 when she filmed Yearbook, a Matchstick Productions movie, which launched her career into the stratosphere. Since then, Ingrid has been on a tear, slashing huge lines, appearing in countless ski movies and raking in the awards. At the 2013 Powder Magazine Awards, Ingrid won her 8th Reader Poll award. She has also taken the Best Female Performance Award 6 times, and, in 2005, took away the Breakthrough Performance award, an honor most often given to a man.
Don’t miss my guest on The Edge Radio this week, Ingrid Backstrom, as we talk about big mountain skiing, pushing the edge and the ingredients of a perfect day. Her skiing defies logic, and her low-key attitude demonstrates her humility and grace. Tune in Wednesday May 1st on The Edge.
Scott Macartney spent 10 years racing World Cup speed events on the US Ski Team. To understand what motivates someone like Scott, you must first understand the mind of a Downhiller. Downhill racers ski in excess of 90 mph, on slopes as steep as 40 degrees, over conditions as slick as an ice-skating rink.
The difference between winning a World Cup Downhill and coming in 20th place is so microthin it can be only .08 of a second.
Scott Macartney laying it out in Val Gardena
Macartney grew up skiing at the Crystal Mountain, where his parents were members of the volunteer ski patrol.
During his twelve-year tenure on the National Team, he also attended Dartmouth and earned a degree in Economics.
Macartney competed at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City as well as the 2006 Winter Olympics in Torino. He had two World Cup Podium finishes., one in Super-G in Garmisch, Germany and one in Downhill in Val Gardena, Italy.
On his 30th birthday in 2008, Macartney competed in the Hahnenkamm downhill in Kitzbühel, Austria. The second racer on the course, he had an excellent run going until he suffered a spectacular fall just five seconds from the finish line. After descending a high-speed section and reaching a speed of 87.7 mph Macartney was challenging for a top ten finish. At the final jump he was twisted left while airborne and could not recover. During the high-speed crash he impacted hard on his right side; his skis released, as did his protective helmet after a direct impact with the icy course.
Macartney recovered from his injuries and was named to the “A Team” of the U.S. Ski Team for the 2008-09 World Cup season, before he retired in 2010.
The sport of dowhnhill racing requires supreme physical conditioning, razor sharp skis and a willingness to put it all on the line. Scott knows what it takes to stand on a World Cup podium: above all else, it takes absolute confidence. Listen to my interview with Scott Macartney on The Edge Radio this Wednesday April 24th at 8AM Pacific.
“The mountains will always be there, the trick is to make sure you are too,” stated early Yosemite climber Hervey Voge. Climbing mountains requires patience, strength and incredible judgment. Mountains are not
climbed in a single day, and some expeditions take months to complete. Deprivation and a comfort in high places makes mountain climbing a singular experience. But the rewards often outweigh the risks. Brent Okita climbs mountains for a living. He knows, more than anyone, the dichotomy between scarcity and abundance found only on the side of one of the largest peaks in the world. Because only when we strip ourselves of material conveniences can we truly enjoy the gifts that wild places can offer. Mountain guides like Okita have learned to dwell among the permanence of these high places.
Brent Okita spends his life almost entirely in the mountains. Okita has been up and down Washington’s, Mt. Rainier over 450 times. He’s summited Denali 21 times, and been to Everest twice, with a summit in 1991. Brent’s resume includes 14 expeditions to the Alps, and one to Mt. Vinson in Antarctica. But Brent doesn’t do this for fun. This is his job. Brent is a guide at Rainier Mountaineering Inc. in Ashford, WA at the base of Mt. Rainier. In the summer he might summit this massive volcano twice a week. In the winter he is Crystal Mountain Ski Patrol’s Assistant Director.
Join me on The Edge as I talk to Brent Okita about mountain guiding, ski patrolling and living life in the world’s highest places. Have a question for Brent? Leave a comment here and I’ll ask him on the show. Or call in live Wednesday at 888-346-9144.
Let me introduce Kala. She’s one of the avalanche rescue dogs at Crystal. Not just any dog can be an avalanche rescue dog; it takes a special kind to do this work. Any breed will do, even mixed breed dogs have been part of our patrol. Yet they must be keen to work (aka “play” to a dog), strong and a little bit obsessive. That’s Kala.
If I ever get caught in an avalanche, I want Kala coming for me. Notice how she keeps digging and trying to get to the victim. Instead of waiting for her handler to do the work, she just keeps going. I love that persistence. Keep it up Kala.
Snow for the foreseeable at Crystal
Several feet of snow forecast by next week
Winter is back. After over a month of spring-like weather in the Cascades, it looks like we are about to return to a cold, snowy forecast, and I, for one, am excited. Don’t get me wrong, a little sun and high pressure in the middle of the season can be a nice break. But now I’m ready for deep snow, light fluff and powder turns. Without this change in the weather, I might just continue to poke my fingers in other people’s eyes, and that’s not good for anybody.
Here’s the forecast:
Friday should be a pow storm day, with wind and sideways snow filling in tracks between laps. High wind could also shut down upper lifts, but with a little luck and a lot of snow, it could be stellar. Snow levels could go up to 4,000 feet, but that shouldn’t be a problem at Crystal. Fingers crossed on that.
Saturday will offer a brief break in the action, with another storm arriving Sunday. Beyond that, the NOAA forecast discussion is calling for continued stormy, cold weather with mountain snow. Now that’s what I’m talking about.
For more information on how to read the forecast and watch the telemetry check out How To Predict Good Snow Conditions.
A few weeks ago the NSAA came out with a study suggesting that snowboarding is in decline. This is big news in the ski industry. A segment of the population that was in double digit growth for many years is now declining, or as some commenters pointed out, at the least flatlining. I wrote a post here reflecting my personal thoughts on why that might be the case. Based on the comments both here and elsewhere I can see that the snowboard community is thriving with a vengeance.
I’ve taken down the original post, although I’m sure it’s still out there somewhere. I didn’t intend to offend anyone, only to spark a debate on why fewer people are snowboarding now. I’ve left the comments below, but closed further comments. I think we just need to let this one go. While the debate started off as lively, it quickly degenerated into name-calling and vitriol. By taking it down I’m not apologizing for my opinions only trying to put an end to what’s become a vicious, unhealthy debate. Some might react negatively to me taking down this post, saying that I’m backsliding and not owning my opinions. I can already hear it now. But like I said above, I’m just trying to stop what’s grown into a tool to fuel the skiing vs snowboarding debate, and no one wants to go back to the bad old days. Instead, I think we should stop hating each other in front of our computers and get out in the mountains more.
My personal opinions don’t reflect those of Crystal Mountain. This is my personal blog, where I write about my experiences and opinions. That’s the point of a blog. I’ve also been known to use sarcasm and hyperbole in order to get my point across and spark debate. I did that here and the results got out of hand. I tried to explain my original intentions in the comments. But you can’t squeeze the toothpaste back into the tube. Therefore, I decided to just take it down so we can all move on and everyone can stop taking this personally. It was not an attack on snowboarding, but rather my observations as to why the sport is apparently in decline.
Sliding on snow in any form is a worthwhile activity. Regardless of how efficient or difficult the sport, being out on the mountain is a great way to spend the day.
Think there’s not enough women in a ski town? Think again. Over 100 women have signed up for tomorrow’s event, including me!. Get ready for a takeover, Crystal.
get the girls out from Lynsey Ann Dyer on Vimeo.
Get the Girls Out is a national campaign to unite women as they support, challenge, mentor and inspire each other in the outdoor sports world. This event cultivates community for women to have fun, connect with new and old friends AND creates opportunity for women to share the love to ensure younger generations can continue to shred, storm mountains and develop the life skills necessary to succeed on the mountains and in life! We are excited to bring this event to Crystal Mountain on Sunday February 10th. For more info check out the She Jumps webpage.
Pre-registration: Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org by 12pm on February 9th to register for a discounted lift ticket. First 10 ladies to register get a special prize!
Sunday, February 10th:
9am-10am: Pre-registered ticket pick-up at the yurt (in the base area)
10am: Meet at the bottom of the gondola
1pm: Beacon practice at Campbell Basin Lodge with me, Kim Kircher
2pm: Head to Chair 6 to Hike the King as a group (for those who want to)
3 – 5pm: Apres in the yurt (or on the patio if it is sunny)
3:30 – 4pm: Raffle prizes and giveaways
Dress in your favorite onesie, neon, tutu or anything else creative!