Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New year resolution?

I'm not good with new year resolutions and last night as I stood half-awake, I was thinking that it would be great, timely and rewarding if I took up a big cause for the last third of my stay, here on earth. See it, if you will as my last hurray.

It's not really what we'd call a new year resolution, but rather an end of life commitment, a grand finale of sorts. Yeah, I know what the deal would all be about, you don't and let's leave it at that!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Phase III: Lasting

I see life as 100% that could be equated to a one hundred year living potential. In it, I see one-third for learning, another third for blossoming and performing and the last tier for enjoying and lasting. So, when all is said and done, after 66 or so, it's all about lasting.
Making sure the machine doesn't breakdown too much and let us enjoy the remaining years that are in store from us. For that later act in life, lasting or survival is, for most folks, pretty much what existence is all about.

Can there be any room left for a little more blossoming and performing? I think so, but we need to remind ourselves constantly about that dormant, but so rewarding option!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Is there a God?

It's amazing how many existential and spiritual questions a simple ski day brings to a mind. In this busy Holiday Season, when I watch skiers traffic, I can't help but believe that there's a God, up above, directing all that insane traffic.

I'm not talking about the possibility of life after death or after skiing, but simply of the wonderment that comes from observing these little ants sliding down the hill and, just like micro-puppets, connected to the invisible network of nylon wires held up by the Grand Puppeteer...

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Afternoon skiing

I already know that I am not quite a conformist and this trait of mine extends of course to my skiing. I am one of these rare birds that will go skiing late in the afternoon.

Today for example, that also happens to be one of the busiest of the year on the slopes, I dressed up as a skier a 1:43 pm, drove to the ski area found one single spot to park my car, and at 2 pm was riding up the chair.
I skied until 3:43 pm, escape the heavy traffic through my usual shortcuts and was home at 4 pm. I had skied 11,664 vertical feet and didn't suffer any crowds. Pretty slick isn't it?

Friday, December 27, 2013

The art of surviving

For most of his life, my brother has been fighting one handicap upon another and most recently his predicament has turned into surviving one ailment upon another.

Against all odds, he did quite well for himself and his family and today, having one of the wost health situation anyone could dread, he's still rolling with the punches and excelling at what it does best, surviving.
In fact, no matter how dreadful the situation presented to him is, he always appears capable of surmounting it and carrying on. There are many sorts of heroes in life, but by my book, my own brother stands at the very top of the category and will never stop to baffle me!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Shooting (good) ski video

After trying the helmet mount for too long, I've finally come to the unmistakable conclusion that using a chest mount is by far the most stable way to shoot ski videos.

There's perhaps one caveat in the fact that the skier's arms get a little in the way, but there are obviously ways around that if the skier is skilled enough.

The helmet isn't secured enough around the head, plus this one bobs and turns just when you don't want it and the mere inertia of the camera weight makes it always worse. Case closed!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Early season snow...

In this era of instant response and universal availability of almost everything under the sun, it's hard for skiers to realize, let alone accept, that snow isn't always available in huge quantity, early in the season.
Yet, when I look back upon six decades of personal skiing experience, I can attest to the fact, that whether in the Alps or in the Rockies, snow isn't always falling “en masse” that early in the season. There's a very important ingredient that is needed and that is call “patience” that all devoted skiers must muster.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Early season, gnarly runs

A few days ago, always as curious as I tend to be, I ventured into “Son of Rattler” a passage in the woods and into a creek bed that I have skied many times at Deer Valley. Even if this was the last day of Fall (Yeah, December 20, who's ever heard of “Fall skiing”?) the snow cover was thin and thinner yet in the woods as the surrounding trees were still hoarding tons of snow to themselves and not letting it down onto the ground.

At the opening clearing, on top of the run, all was good and smooth, but as soon as the forest canopy closed in, rocks, stumps and obstacle of all shapes, forms and origin reared their ugly heads, slowed me down, and made me loo twice where I was going. My take-away from that experience is that tree skiing should always be left for latter in the season.

Being precocious with that forms of skiing rarely yields good dividends!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Elks Crossing

A large herd of elks winters just above our neighborhood and when I run early in the morning, I often see them as the retreat to the top of Quarry Mountain, the hill that overlooks the Park Meadows area of Park City.

These hungry elks go down to the golf course and with the thin, early winter snow, still manage to find a few blades of green grass for breakfast.... Who could blame them; everyone has to eat!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Should Ligety refocus on GS?

This season, Ted Ligety saw an opportunity in capitalizing on his win in Super G as last year's world championships as an opportunity to aim for the overall World Cup title and a repeat performance in Sochi for 3 Olympic medals.

Yet, by spreading himself a little bit too thin, he's been somewhat “blinking” and his GS supremacy stands now in question. Granted, he's the one everyone is after, but by trying to do too much with such talented rivals like Hirscher and Pinturault, he has taken his keen eye off the ball.

A strong refocusing on GS might be a timely idea, after all...

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Before you shoot: Have a plan!

Before you shoot any video, think it through before starting to create your material. Just see the story, if not in your mind's eye, at least down on paper.

I should know better, but I always forget and spend too much time improvising, starting from scratch, scrambling, making up and patching up. A tiny bit of planning always goes a long way!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Why I won't go to Sochi...

Even after Mr. Putin is pardoning everyone left and right, I'm still not going to Sochi. First, I don't have any business there, but even if I did and was an athlete worthy of the trip to Russia, I don't think I would go.

These incredibly expensive games have been highjacked by the ex-KGB oligarch and even is all look good on paper, I sense trouble with the events and don't think it would be wise to go...

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The sleazy face of real estate...

I recently went through another real estate transaction and it confirmed to me, once more, that something is utterly rotten in that industry.

Not only is the six percent commission excessive, especially when we compare it to the low cost of closing, at least in Utah, that stands at less than half a point, but in the last throes of the negotiation, when we asked both realtors to lower their commissions a measly two-third of a point, they found no better way than ask the other party to absorb most of it.

It left me with the solid impression that all realtors do it solely for their commission, and absolutely not to help other people. I long for the day when someone smart Alec will find a crack in the system and successfully challenges the cartel-like structure of the association of realtors all the way to the Supreme Court.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Is shame outmoded?

In my youth and culture, shame played an important role in regulating behavior. Over the years, this social element has lost most of its bite, to the point that nowadays it has virtually vanished from our lives.

Granted, promoting a healthy self-image among our youth has probably led to the slippage of that virtuous demeanor, but I suspect that it has also given society a free-pass about getting rid of what might appeared to have become an outmoded sentiment.

Liberal acceptance and continuous forgiveness have eradicated that feeling once and for all. Makes me want to say: "What a shame!"

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The power of persuasion

Many times, when we think about selling, we think about building rapport, saying the right words, asking pointed questions and using techniques like mirroring and the like. Too often, we don't even think of the most fundamental sales function that is to convince.
That's right, the act of convincing is something that demands that we plant ourselves right in the midst of the soul of the person we want to win. It means that we must first identify, then understand the individual main concern and speak to it in terms capable of literally turning that human being around.

More on that crucial subject later, and of course, easier said than done!

Monday, December 16, 2013

The dark side of Facebook

Social media isn't so great as it often appeals to many negative traits that most of us – humans – embody. Vanity and jealousy are some of them and are possibly worst offenders.
Just like for emails, there should be a (voluntary) code of conduct that would suggest that only interesting topics can be brought forward, but “selfies” and pictures of Tahiti where we might happen be when our brothers and sisters are stuck in some sh... hole should be definitely off-limit. Do you agree?

Sunday, December 15, 2013

A job in North Korea?

It's not everyday that you get a letter from Kim Jong-un, the supreme Leader of North Korea. As a matter of fact, I got one last week. Kim Jong-un is offering me a job as director of his new Masik Pass Ski Resort that should open any time now.

This is going to be a cool place with 70 miles of ski runs catering to all ability levels, with a hotel, heliport and plenty of ski lifts. Kim also told me that it will be a great job, that might open up many doors for me in the near future. He said: “In two years, you can ascend to being the Number Two man in North Korea.

The bad news is that my wife doesn't like the idea, she has a funny feeling, and tends to be negative about Mr. Kim. She says she doesn't trust the man, that she's unsure of my future with him, which strikes me as being a bit unfair. I hope she turns around, because I would hate to lose such a great last career opportunity before I retire for good!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

How Ligety finds his limitation

Up until today, Ted Ligety has dominated the field in GS competition. The question was how much more margin of superiority could he gain? Well, today, on a both steep and icy Val d'Isère run, he found out quickly when his extreme angulation suddenly became too much as ended up edging on his boots. We generally find the upper limit by an occasional failure and that's how we keep on becoming even better. Easy for me to say, right?

Friday, December 13, 2013

The complexity of technology

Learning technology techniques takes time and willingness to learn. Both commitments are essential to acquiring knowledge and we need to jump with both feet into the process, or if we do it half-hardheartedly, if will cost us even more in wasted time and frustration.
I learned even more about this principle this week as I was learning about subjects as diverse as streaming video capture and fixing a two-way electrical switch. While I succeeded at the former, I still have some work to do on the later, but I remain hopeful and convinced that it can be done. Thank you, determination!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Future Ligetys in training?

Long before down Park City's Payday ski run is illuminated to allow our youngsters to train and – who knows – step into Ted Ligety's ski boots some day.
Question is, will there even be a replacement? Well, the odds aren't so good as exceptional skiers like Ted are not created, they are born through superior and unwavering passion for the sport. They only come once in a long while and we ought to enjoy them while they shine.

They can't be manufactured or reproduced at will. This is what uniqueness is all about!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Costly choice of words...

Back in November, a Park City mayoral candidate ran on the slogan “Park City, Planet, Profit, People” which was a take on the popular triple bottom line (TBL) approach that takes into account social and environmental performance in addition to financial performance.

This was created in 1981 by John Elkington,. The problem with that formula, when it's moved out of a strict business context, is that “Profit” sounds a bit crass, which I told that candidate. I suggested “Prosperity”instead.

Yet, he declined, saying it was too late in the game and that he was “recycling” older campaign signs. He lost the election and proved that a poor choice of word never fails to be costly...

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Negotiating: Not for the weary

Who will blink first? That is the key question in many negotiations. Usually, the party less patient, less determined, less experience and more weary. Negotiating takes lasting power and this quality falls like a rock at some later point in the process.

Don't get me wrong, this isn't all about negotiation technique, but steadfastness plays a crucial role, doesn't take secret skills, is available to us all, but remains the most determining factor in losing – or winning – a negotiated deal. Keep that in mind; don't be the first one blinking!

Monday, December 9, 2013

American nicknames...

Ever since I came to America, more than 36 years ago, I've puzzled with nicknames in this country. The usage of nicknames is much more widespread than in France and my mind was dazzled with the Teds, Neds, Kims, Dicks and other Kips that were waltzing around my astounded ears.

Today, I know what most of them mean or at least come from and by sheer solidarity have long adopted one of my own...

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Skiing with style and... without!

Yesterday World Cup GS in Beaver Creek was an awesome show mixing high-wire tricks brought to us by Alexis Pinturault and Body Miller, while Mr. Ted Ligety was winning quietly, by doing what he always does wonderfully well, skiing in the middle of his skis and controlling the ride down the hill instead of fighting it like most of his competitors.
I watched the event on Eurosport UK and the female commentator who didn't know what she was talking about was talking about the need for “attack” and “aggressiveness”. Ligety wasn't neither attacking or aggressive. He was just placing his skis into the right trajectory and following them to victory. The true essence of skiing!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The complete alpine skier

In watching the early winter races in Lake Louise and Beaver Creek, I was thinking, “where are the 'complete skiers' of yesteryear?” By complete, I meant men and women who could win slalom, giant slaloms and downhills just like Toni Sailer, Jean-Claude Killy or Annemarie Moser-Pröll.

These days, it has become much tougher to be such a “jack of all trades” because of the intense training demands With that in mind, you end up with two groups of skiers, on one hand, the “speed skiers” who do well at Downhill, Super-G and GS, and on the opposite end of the spectrum, the “technical skiers” who can handle both slalom and GS like Marcel Hirscher. Some even specialize into one single event (GS in that case) to focus their efforts, like Massimiliano Bardone, Davide Simoncelli and Cyprien Richard...

Friday, December 6, 2013

How cold can it get in Park City?

Always a hard question to answer. I remember that years ago, at the end of January 1989, we hit -39 F or something like this. Boy was it cold!

This week looks like it will be arctic too. Yesterday was -14 and today is – 11 with very little relief in sight. Then my wife asked me, how cold was it last winter? I've kept tab of weather and temperatures since 2006, so I look it up and said that it went down to -16 last January, and then began reciting the stats for the other years.

If I didn't write it down, how would I be able to tell. I have yet to find a repository of temperature history on the net...

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Acting timely and perfectly

Of the three ski resorts that Park City counts, two like to open early with limited lifts, runs and scarce snow while the other one – that stands as the standard for quality in the largest ski town of Utah – prefers to open up a little later, but do it right, with enough lifts and plenty of snow.
The resort is Deer Valley of course and its struggling rival that rush doing too little, too early remains Park City and Canyons...

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Staying unshakable

Life is a constant alternative of good and bad feelings, ups and downs, pat in the backs and slap in the face and those of us who survive that treatment without flinching are the ones that generally can go the distance and feel the best about themselves. Talk about being unshakable; what a wonderful gift!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Cherishing setbacks...

Sometimes, when events don't go the way we would like them to go, we need to turn them around by looking into them as challenges that will serve as yardsticks to our ability to cope.

Whether situations are created by our own mistakes, miscalculations or are simply bad luck, we can find a formidable source of strength in facing them head-on, measuring ourselves directly to them and looking at them as a blessing in disguise, a way of challenging ourselves.

I've been a long believer in that kind of approach, which doesn't mean that I have applied it all the time and under all circumstances, but now, in the midst of my construction hurdles, I will endeavor to take them as such, and turn each one of them into a source of strength and self-satisfaction!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Is Canyons “Epic” yet?

Yesterday was cloudy and dreary, so I set my sights to ski Canyons for the fist time this season. I wanted to see if the Epic transformation that is part and parcel of Vail Resorts' culture, had begun to positively affect the place.
In reality, little had changed, except that the employees, still dressed in their vintage “The Canyons” outfits, that were shooting at me to read my pass with their digital guns. One might see this as unfriendly, but I guess, it's technology.

As for the snow conditions, they were as limited as ever, as more man-made snow had not made its appearance yet. Sure, Vail has to pay a hefty, $25 million annual rent, so you can't have everything at once, but I feel confident that in the absence of a serious “plan B”, plan A remains the annexation of Park City Mountain Resort in the very near future. This, would really be “Epic!”

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Training for tree-skiing?

Tree-skiing is not natural; it demands plenty of guts and even more training. You might also add that good training for skiing trees requires plenty of trees, of course, a great attitude an some snow on the ground. Well, this is still early in the season, so instead of plenty of powder, there are tons of skiers on few ski runs.

Which brings us back to our subject matter: You can use all of these skiers and pretend they're tree. Like you would in the forest, you'll tree not to hit them, but to make our training session worthwhile, these pretend-trees on the slope are also... moving! Rarely does this happen with aspen or spruce trees unless it's early morning and you had too much to drink the night before.

With God's help, who's playing the ski-traffic controller, you'll get to the bottom avoiding collisions and will become a little bit more better trained for tackling real trees. With more of this routine, you'll be able to see the forest from the trees and zoom through the aspen groves!