Tag Archives: Sports

Over the Edge Raises Funds for Special Olympics


Last weekend Over the Edge 2012 raised $225,000 for Special Olympic athletes in Washington State, enough money to support 360 athletes at Special Olympics for one year. Each one of the 160 participants rappelled 40 stories down the 1000 2nd Ave. building in Seattle and raised a minimum of $1250. One participant, Dale Doornek, rappelled the 490 feet in a wheelchair. Paraplegic since a 1994 motorcycle accident, Dale told King 5 News, “People with any type of physical disability, mental disability, don’t let that stop you.”

Judging from the video below, looks to me like Dale had a pretty good view on the way down.

Click on photo to watch video













Special Olympics offers athletes the opportunity to develop physical fitness and demonstrate courage and joy. What better way to raise funds than to ask the same of the participants. To put yourself out there, to risk something  for the good of another, what better way to express yourself in the world?

Every year this event has sold out. It’s a great cause and an awesome event. Thank you Special Olympics for the work you do, bringing out the heroes in every one of us. High five. You guys are my heroes.

Weekly High Five Report: Bonnie Prudden, Ski Patroller and Exercise Guru


Bonnie on the cover of Sports Illustrated, 1957

Bonnie Prudden is my new hero. She was the first woman to earn a National Ski Patrol badge, an exercise expert before there was even a name for such a thing, and a champion of children’s fitness. Six months ago I’d never heard of her. She passed away in December, and I recently wrote an article about her life for National Ski Patrol Magazine (to be pubbed next Winter). Even though I never met Bonnie, after interviewing her long-time business partner and close friend, Enid Whittaker, I feel like I know her. After proving herself in the very male world of skiing patrolling and rock climbing (putting up many first ascents in the Shawagunks), Bonnie wrote articles on fitness for Sports Illustrated in the 1950s, such as “Shape up for Stretch Pants,” as well as recorded what must be the very first ski fitness album, Fit to Ski, based on television episodes of the same name. Bonnie was a few decades ahead of her time, before VCRs and Jane Fonda and YouTube.

Bonnie Prudden

She taught fitness not as a means to subsidize her own lifestyle, but knowing that fit people were happy people, she wanted to spread her message. Plus, who could argue with the title Shape up for Stretch Pants? That has to be the world’s best Sports Illustrated title ever. Bonnie went on to cofound the President’s Council on Physical Fitness which utilized the “President’s Fitness” test we all endured in P.E. classes, in which I wondered who in the world could do so many pull ups. It was probably a good thing I hadn’t heard of Bonnie back in the awkward years of sixth grade gym class. It only would have given me someone to blame (even though Bonnie’s version of the fitness test was much easier than the one later adopted by the Council). But I did live on Grape Nuts as a kid, and Bonnie was a spokesperson for them, which is awesome. If Grape Nuts needs me to be a sponsor for them, I am totally available.

Recovering from a ski injury these past few months, I can look to Bonnie Prudden for inspiration. She claimed that it wasn’t years that aged us, but rather pain. I can relate. But she had a solution for that too. She called it myotherapy, and while researching my article I enjoyed a few sessions. It was totally awesome. Even if you aren’t in pain, you can always pretend and go get some sessions anyways.

As Bonnie liked to say, “You can’t turn back the clock. But you can wind it up again.”

Weekly High-Five Report


This next week is a big one for me. I’m attending the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association Conference this weekend. Last year, I met my editor and agent there and within a little over a month I had a book contract.

At the conference last year, a group of us started talking about fear. We asked ourselves collectively, “What activity or experience would be most frightening to you?” One answered rock climbing, another said sky diving. One even looked at me, shrugged, and said the thought of strapping on skis and schussing down the slopes scared her more than anything else.

“What about you?” My new friend, Lorraine, asked. “Is there anything that scares you?”

I thought about it. I’d tried most of the activities the group had discussed, and quite frankly I didn’t find them too over-the-top scary.

“Improv.” I said. The thought of standing in front of an audience and trying to make them laugh makes my palms sweat.

So when Lorraine told me that she does Improv, and that I should join her, I smiled nervously. I’m a writer. I communicate best through the written word. I don’t, to be honest, even like talking on the telephone. I’d much rather have time to contemplate my words, to massage them into just the right meaning and phrasing, in order to evoke the proper response. And, of course, in order to avoid sticking my foot in my mouth.

So when Lorraine asked if I wanted to co-present a workshop for this conference on using Improv skills in boosting one’s writing career, I’m not sure why I wholeheartedly agreed. But here it is. This weekend I will teach others how to promote themselves and their writing through Improv skills. The workshop is aptly titled, “Self-promotion for the Introvert”.

You might be asking yourself, what does this have to do with the weekly high-five report? I’m getting to that. You see, I’m crossing two things off my “scary-list” this week and that’s pretty high-fiveable, in my book. I’m confronting my fears of Improv and I’m talking about self-promotion. It’s almost a dirty word around our house, so just invoking the idea of promoting one’s self is pretty scary. But it’s a necessary evil in modern publishing.

I have a blog and a Facebook fanpage, an Amazon author page as well as a twitter feed and LinkedIn account. Oh, and I just got on Google+ just in case that becomes the next big thing. But what I thought at first was just murky self-promotion–a necessary evil in a world with low-budget book marketing campaigns–has turned into something else entirely. I’ve stepped into the Community (with a capital C) that bloggers always talk about. And funny thing is, I’m liking it. I’ve met people here and felt the support of friends and cohorts. It feels like one big high-five.

So with that in mind, this weekly high-five report is about conquering fear. High-five to me for crossing a few things off my “scary-list”.

Below, is a time-lapse video of some beautiful Patagonia scenery. For whatever reason, time-lapse videos are the new black. Everyone’s doing them. But this one is especially lovely. And the music isn’t bad either. So here’s some visual high-fiveability:

Patagonia Time Lapse Video from Adam Colton on Vimeo.

What about you? Have you crossed anything off your “scary-list” lately?

The Skiing Gender Gap: Another Perspective


After such a great response from last week’s post offering a little advice to would-be women ski bums, I’m offering here another side of the coin: the politics of relationships on the slopes.

Fellow ski journalists John Naye and Claudia Carbone put together a “He said/She said” on the sport of skiing and I’m reprinting it here with permission. I’d be thrilled to hear your reactions to this one. Here it goes: (kk)

Ski slopes can be fertile hunting grounds for the sexes, but that Mars/Venus thing can also turn those slopes into a battlefield. Ski hills are the perfect place to test compatibility, but they can also test our patience. Can you survive taking a run together, riding the chair together, and agreeing on lunch together?

Not too long ago I was discussing this subject with a female friend of mine, who happens to currently be the President of the North American Snowsports Journalists Association, a position I also held a few years ago. Claudia lives in the Colorado ski resort town of Breckenridge, and because she works as a skiing ambassador for the resort, she sees her share of skiers and riders trying to work out their gender based differences. For fun, I asked her to write some comments about skiing with men to which I could write a counter point about skiing with women. Here’s a part of that.

She says:

Just try to keep up with Christina, photo by Andrew Longstreth

I love to ski with a man. I’ll take a date on the slopes over après-ski every time. But if you want to ski with this downhill diva, then pay attention. For starters, where does it say that guys have to be the leaders? You think you own the mountain. You get off the lift and zoom, you disappear. Okay, I may not always know where I am, but getting lost together could be romantic, could it not?

Guys love to talk the talk, especially in the bar the night before. Usually the ones who brag the most ski with the grace of Chewbacca. Of course, everything has got to be an unannounced contest: who can ski the fastest, the longest, the most runs, the steepest terrain. It seems that no matter how exhausted or frightened you might be, you’ll never ever admit it..

A bite of chocolate and a squirt of Gatorade isn’t lunch. I want a full sit-down meal. Besides marking the end of morning and the beginning of afternoon, lunch is an opportunity for a make-up check. You men do understand that, don’t you?

Mountain scenery takes my breath away. If you want to do the same, stop occasionally and savor the view. And speaking of scenery, don’t dress like a dork. Zip up your jacket, cut off that collection of old lift tickets, and don’t even think about wearing jeans as ski pants.

Another thing: I get so tired of hearing “Come on, you can handle this.” I’ll make that decision myself, thank you. If you lead me astray on the mountain, I’ll cut you off after dinner!

Now, let’s go rip it up.

He says:

Ah, get over it Claudia. If men didn’t lead the snow parade, there wouldn’t be enough ski patrollers in all of recorded history to find all the tender-gender types lost out there on the mountain. When’s the last time you actually saw a woman read and understand a trail map?

This guy can ski, photo by Kim Kircher

I love to ski with women too…but it’s not unconditional love. Since when did whining become an Olympic sport? It’s too cold, too hot, too steep, too foggy, too early, too late, just about too anything.

And how can there actually be “too much powder?” Why do women always want to have a leisurely breakfast on a powder day? Why am I the jerk if I want first tracks? You could happily meet me later, couldn’t you? I know you’d find that trail map handy then!

One of the biggest things that bugs me about skiing with chicks is when I ask them 500 times if they want to try something a bit more “aggressive” and they keep saying yes. Then I take them to a… BLUE run and…. HOLYMOTHEROFGOD… it all hits the fan, and I instantly go from Mr. Charm to Mr. Mean.

What happened to that women’s lib thing, you know, all that equal treatment under the law. Does the simple fact that I invited you to go skiing mean I get to pay for everything…. your lift tickets, ski rental, meals, spa bills, everything? Then, if I do, the first thing I hear is “that was an exhausting first run – I’m going to the lodge. See you at four.” Not much value for that $60 lift ticket, is it?

I don’t think you women realize your real ability. You may be the most technically sound skiers in the world – but will you push your speed a little….no way. I mean, where is the sense of adventure? Then you decide to stop and chat half-way down a run, then pout about being left behind. Save the chatter for the chairlifts, that’s what they’re for.

And one more thing. Don’t ask me – don’t ever ask me – if you look fat in stretch pants!

Thanks John and Claudia for offering your perspectives. I, too, often witness this push and pull on the slopes. Now dear readers, it’s your turn. How far has the sport tested your relationships? Hit the comment button and tell us your thoughts.

Reach Out and High-Five Someone


High-fives aren’t just for frat boys anymore. Anyone can do it. Whenever you accomplish something unexpected, something glorious, a single moment of celebratory awesomeness–you hook a 30 lb. salmon, you lay down 30 perfect tracks through 2 feet of powder, you drop into the pocket on a glassy wave, you bite into a crispy-perfect grilled cheese sandwich–these moments are all high-fiveable.

Kids learn to high-five at a young age. And well they should. Learning to stoke the fire of appreciation for life’s brief moments of glory is a skill we should all learn early and practice throughout life. Also, high-fiving is contagious. Like a sneeze, the power of high-fiving is subtle and yet powerful. It makes us feel good.

There are very few rules to high-fiving. The only one I can think of is this: don’t leave a fellow high-fiver hanging. No matter the reason, even if the hanger is a tool, it is simply bad etiquette and bad high-five karma to leave someone hanging. Anyone. You never know. You might be out there, wanting to celebrate your triumphant balance across the slackline or your first time up on a surfboard, and someone could leave you hanging. I’m telling you from experience, it doesn’t feel good. It stinks. Any time you see someone with that goofy look on her face, her palm held up in the gimme a high-five pose, do her a favor. Even if you don’t think her feat was all that awesome, give her some skin. It’s the kind thing to do.

In preparation for this post, I kept track of all the high-fives I hit lately. Here are a few: I high-fived a fellow ski patroller after agreeing that skiing on 4th of July weekend was a new kind of awesome, I shared a high-five with nine-year-old Sasha, my teammate for the fourth of July dinghy race (even though we came in dead last), I high-fived my five-year-old niece, Alicia, just because (hint: kids under 6 don’t need a reason to high-five, just an invitation).

Every time I hit a five, I felt better, lighter. High-fiving is a way of saying you think this is awesome and so do I. Here’s the thing: high-fiving makes it awesome. By reminding ourselves of our small triumphs we actually elongate them, stretch them out a few more moments. So don’t be afraid. Reach out and high-five someone.

Now it’s your turn: Keep track of your high-fives this week. My unscientific study showed more high-fives occur between 5pm Friday and 10pm Sunday than any other time of the week. However, if you live with young children, you’re in luck. They high-five every day of the week, and like I said, never need a reason. Think about it. When was the last time a 4 year-old didn’t give you a high-five when you asked for one? So keep track of your high-fives and report back here. How many can you get?

If you haven’t checked out their website, the High Fives Foundation, you should. They offer fundraising and awareness to snow-sports athletes that have suffered life-altering injuries. If that isn’t high-fiveable, I don’t know what is.

How To Live 15 Minutes at a Time


“Living in the moment” has become such an oft-touted mantra that it’s almost commonplace. The idea is pretty simple. The past is over, so no amount of worrying about

The easy moments

it now can change it. The future isn’t ever really going to get here. Always just around the corner, tantalizing us with both hope disguised as promise and fear dressed up as dread, tomorrow is merely an illusion.

The only moment is now.

I’ve heard this so often that it carries the strings of cliché, little webs of truth still clinging to empty strands. Perhaps, because it is so challenging, I tend to roll my eyes when I hear yet another strident student talk of “living in the now”.

Thing is, staying right here, right now is pretty hard to do, especially when you’re not surrounded by mountains or at the edge of the ocean, basking in nature’s antidote to our rushed lives. It’s not easy to stay in the moment when you’re angry or scared or merely busy bustling through the TSA line at the airport, weaving your way around yet another gravel truck on your daily commute, feeding the kids mac and cheese, or jolted out of bed by the alarm from the obnoxious clock radio at your bedside. We’re wired for thinking about the future, checking off tasks. Get this done first and then that and then, maybe you can have a moment’s rest.

But what if that moment of rest never comes? Why delay our gratification, holding off the reward for some future date that (if you listen to the moment-livers) won’t ever come? Many of us postpone our passions, our ski days, our savings for retirement. But what if you never reach retirement? Maybe all those moment-livers are onto something.

This is all well and good when things are going smoothly. When our biggest struggles are really minor hassles—the car needs a tune-up, the bills are overdue, the coffee pot broke—that’s one thing. But when the doctor tells you that your husband needs a liver transplant in order to live, it’s difficult to just stay in that moment. And then, when he puts his hand on your husband’s wrist and says the problem, really, is that it’s cancer, and cancer patients usually can’t have transplants, it’s even harder.

When I was faced with the most difficult double black diamond moment of my life, I told myself I could get through just 15 minutes more. I could forestall the panic for a few more minutes, listen to the doctors words so I could scrutinize them later, be present to my husband’s shock. It took great effort not to create lists of questions and solutions, a diet plan to match the cancer treatment, a plan of any kind that could whisk me away from the “cancer talk” moment and put me somewhere, anywhere else.

As an EMT and ski patroller, I had experience with emergencies. I could stop major bleeding, affix defibrillator pads, search avalanche debris with my rescue dog. I had learned to hold off the panic and simply act. I had learned to be okay with uncertainty, with the tenuous nature of our hold on life. And it was these lessons that I brought with me into the hospital room where Dr. Williams sat on the corner of John’s bed and asked him if all of his family members were present. He wanted John to gather us around him like armor against the bad news. He probably wanted to only have to say it once, “it’s cancer”.

The room was silent for a moment, all of us breathing in so sharply that the air seemed to escape. I searched for a private tile on the floor to study. My mother held my hand and squeezed it gently. Dust settled onto the molding around the floor, into the metal Kleenex dispenser and onto the instruments ready at the head of the hospital bed. I told myself, you can do this. Just get through the next 15 minutes, don’t panic, do not cry, listen to Dr. Williams explanation. Listen to the plan to kill the cancer, to save my husband’s life. I knew that I had to stay in the room and just be there. I couldn’t run out and leave John to take in the diagnosis alone. I could not hyperventilate into the panic.

Sometimes in our darkest hour, life, the universe, God, whatever you call it, steps forward with a gift. In that moment, I received enough grace to be strong. It happened all in an instant, this skill in breaking down life into 15 minute increments. I suddenly learned how to calm down and just be there for whatever the world presented to me.

Mt. Rainier view from a "euro-chair"

But even now, I keep it with me. It’s a little trick I hold in my pocket, fingering it gently, like jean-pocket lint, rubbing it into a ball. But now, after John’s miraculous recovery, the trick is to use it during the brightest moments, to settle into happiness and joy, to let it wash over me and hold it there, not let it seep away into the cracks of my to-do list.

This weekend I skied Green Valley, the moguls as soft and breakaway as any I’ve skied. The wax on my bases kept me going across the flats and I sailed over the next lip, everything working in unison: ski edges, hips, pole plants, smile. I concentrated on my skiing, on the moment of turning, on the warmth of the sun on my shoulders and the backs of my knees. It felt so good to be there in that moment. I didn’t rush through it, or think about the line at the bottom of the chair or even a strategy for the second half of my run. Instead, I carved from one side of the run to the other, letting my body momentarily feel the joy of flying.

I’m not sure if it’s possible to learn to break life down into smaller moments without experiencing the kind of ordeal John and I went through. Sure, I’d paid lip service to the notion since college, but to really live that way took a difficult passage through sheer terror where those skills became a matter of life and death.

What about you? Have you learned to hold onto each moment or even to endure each moment? Is it possible to take the lessons someone else has learned and apply them to your own life?

Moving to a Ski Town: What you should know


Ski towns are awesome places. To live in a place where others go for vacation has a lovely and romantic swagger to it. In fact, it’s something I think most people (at least skiers and snowboarders) should do once in their lives. Before the complexities of life push you along the merry-go-round of conventionality, try stepping off for a little while, create your own definition of success and give ski-bumming a try.

You might hear that ski bumming isn’t what it used to be. Have a look at Jeremy Evans’ book In Search of Powder: A Story of America’s Disappearing Ski Bum or Dick Barrymore’s “Last of the Ski Bums”, which in 1969, portrays the supposed heyday of ski

View from the Summit House at Crystal

bumming just as it was simultaneously vanishing. I’ll wager, however, that most of that retrospective nostalgia is simply 20-20 hindsight. You can still be a ski bum. Perhaps not in Aspen or Beaver Creek, or even Park City, simply for the lack of affordable housing. But look beyond the big resorts and you just might find a little piece of heaven. Crystal Mountain, for example, is not even a resort and the small town of Greenwater could hardly be considered a ski town. However, many of the perks of ski town life apply there. And contrary to what Jeremy Evans or even Dick Barrymore might put forth, ski bumming hasn’t died.

Some of the rules of conventional society are simply ignored in ski towns. Upon first glance, ski town life might almost seem utopian. What’s not to like about daily access to skiing, a tight-knit community of like-minded individuals and the shifting of social norms?

North side of the King, Crystal Mountain

It’s incorrect to assume that ski towns do not have social norms. In fact, the norms are just as real in these towns as anywhere else. They often have their own monetary system. A good ski tune can be purchased with a six pack of beer. (Click here to read Adventure Journal’s article on beer-based gratitude in ski towns). Ski towns have their own dating rules (guys, watch your girlfriends!) and their own social hierarchy (the better you ski, the more respect/dates/free gear you get). But like anything, there are pros and cons. Here are a few to consider:


  • Great skiing. You can be there when the snow descends, not the crowds. While

    Photo by Andrew Longstreth

    not every day is bluebird, living there means you’ll be on the slopes when it is.

  • Nightlife. From après to afterhours, many bars and restaurants offer “locals” prices.
  • Commute. If you’re lucky enough to live close to the ski area or on the bus route, you just might not ever need to shovel out your Subaru.
  • Sense of community. Walking into a ski town bar is just about as close to Cheers as one can get. Ski towns are small towns, and participation in local events, politics and happenings brings the community together.


  • More dudes than chicks. This can be good for the gals, if they’re picky enough (I will do a follow-up post for the ladies about this very subject soon). This is usually bad for the guys, except those that would rather just ski and not worry about messy things like relationships.
  • Expensive. Unless you’re a trustafarian (and many many supposed ski bums having ditched it all in favor of the zen-like truth of a trailer in the parking lot, actually get a regular check from a fund somewhere), you’re going to have to suck it up. Many ski area employees are underemployed. Best thing to do before ski bumming is to not strap yourself with too much school debt. That fancy education isn’t going to help you get a job at a ski area.
  • Some ski area employees get a job that doesn’t let them ski/snowboard. This is

    Photo by Chris Morin

    purely insane. If you move to a ski area, do yourself a favor. Ski (or snowboard, if that’s your thing). Having said that, many of the “good” jobs are hard to get, so apply early. It’s better to have the right job that lets you ski and no place to live than the other way around.

Other Advice:

Buy a sleeping bag. You never know when you’ll have to crash at a friend’s house. Better yet, trade your car in now for one that you can sleep in. I always had my Toyota Tacoma with a topper on the back. It was like the taj mahal back there.

Don’t invest in expensive ski gear. Good deals can always be found. Look for lightly used gear from friends that are upgrading. Shop the sales. Find a connection. Don’t, however, be a gear whore. Just find the best deals on the best gear and leave it at that. Contrary to what ski manufacturers want you to believe, you do NOT need to have the latest ski or snowboard in order to make the perfect turn. It will be just as good this season as it was last season on the same board(s).

When it’s good, appreciate it. That’s why you are here. Don’t wait to be happy until you’re situation is set, until you have the right skis, until you find someone to share your happy life with, until your housing comes through. Instead, when the sun shines, lift your chin towards it. When the snow falls, tuck your chin into your collar and ride through it. When you find yourself at the top of a peak and the view opens up momentarily, just for you, stop and look at it. Nothing lasts forever.

Skiing on the 4th of July


The weather forecast is looking up. Fireworks stands are popping up in Safeway parking lots. Bags of charcoal, stacks of paper plates and hamburger buns are flying out of the grocery stores. It can be just one thing: 4th of July weekend is coming.

Mt. Rainier from the top of the Gondola

How about something a little different this year to celebrate our country’s independence and the freedom to skyrocket colorful explosives into the night sky? How about, instead of the traditional backyard BBQ, going skiing instead?

That’s right. Crystal Mountain is still open for skiing. We will be open Saturday through Monday for downhill skiing. The gondola is also open every day for sightseeing. And if you haven’t been up there yet, it’s definitely worth the trip. The vista from the top of the gondola is spectacular. Just think of the Christmas card photo you can get with your

Another enthusiastic skier

family. And the views of Mt. Rainier. And the chance to shuss down into Green Valley on perfect corn. Plus, with mountain temps in the high 50s and low 60s and sunny skies predicted for this weekend, you can ski in your hawaiian shirt. And you cut-offs. Or even your bikini for those truly adventurous types.

So forget the backyard and instead ring in the celebration on the slopes.