Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The high cost of extreme risk-taking

Late January, a French mountain climber and her Polish companion got stuck on Nanga Parbat, a 26,657 feet (8 126 meter) Kashmir peak, and she was finally saved after her mate died on their winter climb.
Elizabeth Revol who survived the ordeal was recently interviewed by a French TV station for their “Envoyé Spécial” news show, and lamented about the poor Pakistani response to their call for rescue. To address the lackluster response, Masha Gordon, an Anglo-russian climber organized a crowd-funding on Facebook that garnered 157,000 euros to pay for part of Revol's rescue costs.

What's amazing to me is that First World nations like France and Poland keep on selfishly be counting on developing, poor countries like Pakistan, to pay for the likely consequences of their extreme whims.

While Revol didn't strike me for her smarts, Catherine Destivelle, an other famous French climber interviewed on that show, seemed to concur with her, suggesting that Pakistan should have done better.

My bottom line is fairly simple: If someone is so inclined to take extreme risks, they should purchase insurance. This ought be the First World way to play with privileged westerners that come to play on their territory.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Winter (finally) begins in earnest!

Almost two months after winter solstice, snow is beginning to fall all over Park City.

I don't know who placed the purchase order for powder in Utah, this season, but that guy should be fired!

Well, as most say, better late than never, and with a good cover, we might be able to finally leave our rock skis on the rack.

They deserve some rest!

The changed GS technique

The Olympic men's GS was one for the history books. Imperial for Hirscher, inspiring for Kristoffersen to produce a huge come back in the second run, and impressive for Pinturault and the French Team that placed his four racers in the top seven finishers.

It must have also been humiliating for Ted Ligety who saw his own star fade precipitously during what will probably be his last Olympics. During his absence for almost two seasons due to repeated injuries, the GS technique has changed drastically and has become much more aggressive.

Instead of “milking” long, fast curves, racers (and Hirscher in particular) are now pivoting at the last minute over the gate, cutting it as close as they can, while carving the bottom portion to the next “pivot”.
This new approach seems much faster, particularly in steep terrain. Ligety is one of many racers that seem to have a difficult time adopting this new approach, sticking to his old ways, which look smoother and nicer, but have cost him an invaluable amount of time and a decent finish.

Change is always hard to absorb, especially when a method has been so productive and rewarding in the past. I can guarantee you that adapting to Hirscher's fast and furious approach is likely to be on everyone's agenda during this spring and summer...

Sunday, February 18, 2018

A refreshing Olympic story

Without any question, my favorite Olympic moment happened on Friday night, when long after the favorite racers had crossed the finish line, Ester Ledecka from the Czech Republic came and stole the Super G victory from under them.
She sure wasn't expecting to win, as she only ranked 43rd in Super-G.

While she was a known entity in snowboarding with multiple championship wins to her credit, she showed that without “celebrity-media-pressure” and heightened public expectations, as well as an absence of “helicopter parents” to screw her up, she could get to a surprise victory and set an example that many more athletes should follow.

At any rate, a deep lesson in humility for most.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Who am I spiritually?

Sometimes, I get confused when I need clarify my belief system into a neat, well defined cubbyhole.

While I reject organized beliefs like the Abrahamic kind, there are aspects of Taoism or Buddhism that I like, but at the end of the end, I'm straddling somewhere between Humanism and Pantheism.

If, like me, labels keep on confusing you, Humanism is a system of thought relying on the importance of our humanity instead of counting entirely on some divine or supernatural force. Humanists generally believe in the value and goodness of humans, favor their needs, and only look for rational ways of solving human problems.

Pantheism, on the other hand, is a doctrine that identifies God with nature and the universe, or see them as a manifestation of God.

Which side of that debate are you?

Friday, February 16, 2018

Another School massacre

The NRA, Congress and Trump clearly have blood on your hands. I must be the only American who really believe that we have outgrown - and abused - our Second Amendment which allows people to purchase, carry and use their guns on a whim.
Time to rejoin the community of "Civilized Nations" and go "cold turkey" on guns like Australia just did.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Big air vs. snow contact

Some folks assert that “while catching air, there's no way someone can get hurt skiing”. Another great truism, right?

I was reminded of it during a family discussion that got started as we were watching the Olympic men's half-pipe event. I've never liked snow-related events when athletes spend more than 10 percent of their competitive run, gesticulating and flying up in the air.

In those instances, contact with snow is so short that skiing or snowboarding skills becomes totally accessory to the performance. This is obviously true with freestyle aerials, half-pipe and slope-side (both on skis and snowboard).

In my opinion, these athletic prowess belong to the circus and not to winter sports. What's your take on this?