Tag Archives: Snowboarding

Are Extreme Sports Too Risky?

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Each one of us has our own risk/reward calculus. Or perhaps we just weigh risk differently. Some people feel the sharp tang of risk just taking a stroll in the woods. Others can surf 30 foot waves or free-solo El Cap without breaking much of a sweat.

Chuck Patterson catches some air

Chuck Patterson catches some air

Regardless of where a person is on the risk continuum, others are always standing by to put that person in a box. Thrill-seekers take too many risks for their sport, say some. The risk-averse aren’t truly living, say others.

Since when did we care so much about the risks (or the lack thereof) that other people take?

The New York Times recently published an article about the risks in extreme sports. The author cites the soaring popularity of extreme sports and claims that, “many young people eager for an adrenaline rush are trying to copy their extreme sports idols, putting themselves at terrible risk.”

Injuries related to extreme sports are on the rise, and the participants are younger than ever. Overall, the author of the article urges participants to use safety equipment—especially helmets. The article quotes Dr. Sabesan, an orthopedic surgeon from Western Michigan School of Medicine, who recently presented her findings on a study about head and neck injuries in extreme sports. Her advice to parents of young rippers is to require “children who skateboard to wear a helmet and elbow and wrist guards.” She also recommends that snowboarders wear wrist guards and that the participants for other activities wear a helmet.

This debate has been going on for some time. Most people seem to agree that children should wear helmets, either because they are too young to decide for themselves or because they are too impulsive and tend to take bigger risks.

Motorcycle fatalities on the rise

Motorcycle fatalities on the rise

But what about adults? Should adults be required to wear a helmet while skiing or riding a motorcycle? Another recent article in New York Times cites a study that as motorcycle helmet laws are weakening, deaths are increasing.

Should we require helmets like we do seat belts? What about at ski areas? Legislated helmet use at ski areas is on the rise. Should we require our customers to strap on a helmet when they strap on their skis or board?

It would certainly help reduce head injuries.

But should we require it? Or should adults have the choice? I wear a helmet. But does that mean I make my friends wear one?

We’re all adults here. We should decide for ourselves. Even if helmet use could guarantee a safe landing, should we force people to wear one? I don’t know. I always get a little squeamish when I hear about requiring helmets.

Readers, what do you think? Should helmets be required? What are the pros and cons of legislating safety equipment? Is there a difference between making kids wear one versus adults?

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When I Grow Up, I Want to Be a Mountain Man

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This is too awesome not to share. In case you can’t read my nephew’s handwriting, here’s the gist of it: “When I grow up I want to be a mountain man who runs a mountain area, like my uncle John Curcher (sic)! And my aunt Kimmy Curcher!” “The clothes I would wear would be nice clothes” (as in Patagonia and Outdoor Research, no doubt). “The tools I would use would be pencils” (because nothing at a ski area is ever done in permanent ink).

ski_area_operator

“Be careful you dang teenagers!”

But the very best part is the drawing. Notice the snowboarder dropping from the helicopter, screaming “Yahoo!” And the others saying, “Awesome!” “Super!” and “Zowee Mama!!!” Got to love the enthusiasm there.

But the best part is what I can only assume is the ski patroller’s (my) voice from the helicopter yelling, “Be careful you dang teenagers!”

When I first examined his artwork, I assumed he was depicting John and I riding down the mountain, and I thought, “Well at the end of the day, at least my nephew gets me.” But upon closer examination, I realize someone has to be the killjoy, warning the teenagers to be careful. After all, any good story has a protagonist, an antagonist and a very awesome setting. Also, I can’t help but notice the great care he took in drawing the helicopter. A mind made for machines is a mind made for mountain operations.

Bravo Jack.

Just Snowboarding at Night

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Want to hit the slopes in the dark? No need for a headlamp, just light your whole body. Not only is this short video stylish and beautiful, it’s pretty amazing. At first I figured the snowboarder, Will Hughes, must have memorized the slope, knowing he wouldn’t hit anything on a perfectly groomed slope. Then he heads towards the trees. And the powder. You have to check this out.

LED Snowboarder

Click to go to Jacob Sutton’s site and watch the video

Carving Moments: This Film Makes Groomers Look Fun Again

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Check out this trailer for the new Russian film Carving Moments. It almost makes you want to become a snowboarder.

No one ever admits they enjoy skiing groomers anymore. An enthusiastic, “I love the groomers!” is usually met with a snicker on the chairlift and a sideways look of pity. Everyone knows that Alaskan spines are where its at. Long swaths of deep uncut snow is all that’s worth skiing anymore.

Unless you’re not a sponsored pro. If you’re one of the 99% that spend most of their time within the ski area boundaries, then you probably haven’t skied an Alaskan spine in a while. Nor have you skied 2,000 feet of untouched powder, not at least since January anyway. Or done a front flip off a cornice. Or built a thirty-foot kicker in the backcountry.

But you probably have skied a groomer this season. Even if it was just a means of getting from one off-piste run to another. You might have even enjoyed it.

Even though I don’t have carving skis, I still like ripping long, fast turns on easy groomers occasionally. I’ll admit it. Sometimes I even seek these runs out. Not always, but sometimes.

This trailer makes me want to go out and do it again.

Thanks to Gregg over at www.slopefillers.com for turning me on to this film. I look forward to seeing it in full.

Get the Girls Out

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SheJumps.org announces GET THE GIRLS OUT, a campaign to bring the community of female skiers and snowboarders together on mountains across the country, if not the world, for one day. On February 11, 2012 women all over the country will be encouraged to utilize the resource of the SheJumps community to celebrate their love for the mountain lifestyle by taking the mountain by storm with new and old friends in a safe and supportive atmosphere. Once per month for the remainder of the ski and snowboard season, SheJumps Chapters across the United States will be hosting informal gatherings on the slopes, both with and without costumes, to GET THE GIRLS OUT and grow the community of women in the outdoors! You don’t have to be a member of SheJumps to join in. This is a great way to meet new friends too.

Check here for participating locations. This page is updated often. Even though it’s not listed yet, I do know that a Get The Girls Out day will be happening at Crystal. Meet Megan Michelson and Ainsley Close at the base of the Gondola this Saturday at 9am.

Unfortunately I will be at Brighton for a book signing, so I will miss the Crystal day. This is unfortunate because I have a killer costume bin that’s just itching for a day on the slopes. All you ladies will have to represent.

For those of you interested in meeting up, use the comment form below to contact Ainsley and let her know you want to join in the fun. Even if you’re not able to attend, please share this post with others who might be interested.

Foot of New Snow This Morning

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Like I said. Today will be the best day of the week to ski at Crystal. High Campbell Chair and Northway will both be open. See you up here.

Weather Report: The Four Ws

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Storm Crystal

All Quiet on the Rainer Express

It’s been a wild 24 hours here at Crystal. According to the telemetry, we’ve picked up 3.7 inches of water in the last 24 hours and most of that fell as snow above the base area. John and I drove in a snowcat this afternoon up to the Campbell Basin Lodge and found 36″ of new snow. The snow was quite dense–great for base building, but not necessary for skiing. Now, the temperature and wind have spiked again. It’s raining in the base and gusting to 100mph at the Summit. The power was out for a while but has come back on.

We call it the Four Ws: Wild, wet, windy and wacky. It’s the perfect Cascade storm. My fingers are crossed that we wake to cooler temps by morning.

If anyone is wondering when to come skiing, my bet is on Friday. Temperatures are supposed to cool tomorrow and another storm is set to arrive on Thursday. Friday provides a break between systems, so I’ll see you on the slopes. And a much improved slope it will be–this snow has already packed in around the rocks and creeks. We’ll be up to full operations in no time.