Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Picking up life-changing habits

When I ski, I need to remind myself of body motions that are counter-intuitive in the hope, that someday, these movements will become second-nature. Without getting into these ski-related details, anticipation of turns is one crucial one.

In my life, and from now on, I see two key habits that need to become ingrained. One of them is seeing every adversity in a challenging opportunity that I can't wait to tackle. This isn't obvious, as we seem inevitably dragged down by negative thoughts and overwhelmed by difficulties.

A second one is to adopt an assertive body language that will influence the actual impression made on others as featured in a recent blog post. Two worthwhile areas of improvements that are worth focusing upon (at least from my vantage point...)

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Who ever knew Straver skis?

I certainly did, and that's because I only lived 45 minutes away from the tiny factory, in Perrignier, France, not far from the shore of Geneva Lake where Paul Peillex, turned his plastic plant into a ski production facility.

I don't remember exactly the year when I got my only two pairs of Straver. Could have been in 1966 or 1967?
I had bought a pair of Straver 28 Slalom in 207 cm, these new, revolutionary fiberglass skis were a compound of fiberglass and polyester. The skis skied wonderfully well for a week before they would delaminate around the edges.

That's how I got two pairs; the second one was replaced under warranty. Polyester wouldn't bind along the steel edges. Epoxy was the only material that could.

Later, in 1973, Mr. Peillex would throw in the towel and sell his factory to Daniel and Léo Lacroix...

Monday, April 28, 2014

Last (?) April snow

Our Rocky Mountain springs are also our snowiest months of the year. Now that ski areas are closing down, snow wakes up and suddenly falls upon us...
Sure nearby Snowbird is still open but we now need to respond to the calendar and pretend it's spring. If we don't, it will be summer before we now it, so time to shovel that last serving away and enjoy the moment. Carpe diem!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

The mountain spring blues

If you live in the mountains, you may have experienced that phenomenon which has a little bit to do with seasonal transition, skiing withdrawal and has hit me almost each season I've live in the mountains with some alarming (?) regularity.

This is the only time of the year I feel that something's missing and a deep sense of void. That's what I call the “mountain spring blues”.

It lingers for a few days or weeks, but after all it's also filled with reminiscences of the past, of my youth and has become a regular fixture in my life, so why not embrace it and enjoy it!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

April powder

This is not an oxymoron. It just is a piece of elusive matter as evidenced by our experience yesterday when my friend Dirk took me skiing to Snowbird.
The first three runs were – almost – out of this world (read heavenly), while the last ones seemed to come right out of Dante's inferno. Do I need to say more?

Friday, April 25, 2014

Good neighbor?

In the 29 years we've lived in Park City, we always had good neighbors. This was until we built our new home; one of our next door neighbors didn't appreciate that the vacant lot bordering his home was growing a house of its own and decided to make our life difficult through the construction process.

A few days ago, he complained bitterly to me that the wire used for his dog fence which, by the way, was sitting on my property, had been torn apart by the workers. Yesterday, in a similar scenario, he accused me of throwing deadwood on his lot.

I responded quite forcefully by telling him I wouldn't be bullied by his tactics and my reaction seemed to be enough for shutting him down. At least for the moment.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Preserving enthusiasm

As we move into the years and sail into comfort, natural enthusiasm quickly becomes under siege and begins eroding. How do we keep it healthy and noticeable? That's always an important question and the response to it represents another big challenge.
For me, it tends to submarine and I need to remind me constantly of the importance of enthusiasm and make sure it stays on my personal dashboard. I promised to do my very best to remain enthused this entire day!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Life's miracle

When I get to think about it, life is pure, concentrated luck. First, it took our parents to meet; most of the time randomly (at least, in our western society), then the biggest luck of all was to become the egg who became us.

These thoughts alone should be enough to give us pose and realize how lucky we are to just breathe. Did I mention that my birth was an “accident” as my parents did not intend to have any more children? I need to remind me, now and then, about this surreal aspect of my existence.

With this in mind, nothing is ordinary anymore. Our lives are a continuous miracle. Enjoy every moment!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Ted Ligety and me

When I begin searching for commonalities between our local, two-times Olympic Champ and me, many easily come to my mind, so for today we'll just focus on the major ones. For one thing, we both live in Park City, Utah, and in the same Park Meadows neighborhood.

We also both share the same initial in our family name, we both drive four-wheel drive cars (not the same brand, but that's okay) and most importantly our home use the same numbers – in different arrangements – for our street address!

Now what about skiing? We both ski, right? Yes, but this is where the comparison ends. We don't quite share quite the same talent!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Is your snow cleaner?

Without a “refresher” now and then, it doesn't take very long for spring snow to look dirty. I was observing this yesterday on Park City's closing day. We all know what soiled snow does; it doesn't reflect sun-rays as well and hastens snow melting. 
What causes all this it is a mixture of airborne pollution and soil particles that end up dropping on snow. If the polar caps are melting so fast, or if our snow-pack doesn't last as long as summer begins, it's simply because of the dirt that 7 billion consumers are projecting into the upper atmosphere and that's eventually falling back on the remainder of our snow and ice reserves.

Now that we know that, it's a good time to measure and compare how our respective snowfields stay clean or which ones are the cleanest. This might rekindle in our minds these detergent commercials from another era...

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Remember: Every adversity is a challenge!

If there's one element life is filled with, it's adversity. This pesky reality can be found everywhere and it's up to us to see in it a wonderful challenge in disguise. We only have to think: “How can I overcome it?” It's that simple.

We just don' remember often enough to see it that way, and if we did, our lives would literally be transformed. We just need to get that notion embedded into our own psyche so we never forget it and it can become second nature.

Bad stuff is plentiful and the opportunity to challenge ourselves is endless!

Another end of season in Park City

No much snow left, that's all I can say in this closing ski weekend at Park City. Shadow Lake at Jupiter is showing up through the snow, with its remaining ice ready to break or melt away.

The snow is dirty and melts fast. Another lackluster season is moving behind us. Skiing was great though, but I shouldn't write this. Skiing is always great, regardless of the circumstances...

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Vail-Park City conflict

Today, as a personal challenge, I'll attempt to put in a few words my take about the leaders of Park City Mountain Resort, that about 4 years ago missed a deadline to exercise an option to renew their ridiculously cheap lease on thousands of acres of ski terrain.

Even though these folks were clearly at fault, they thought that the best defense would be some form of offense or some kind of bullying, took their dispute with their landlord to the court of public opinion and ended up with eggs on their face instead.

Those leaders, rich kids with a super rich dad, have been milking the resort they bought in the mid-90s without making any significant investments and have now lost their battle. Now, Vail Resort has become their de-facto landlord. The new operator is big, knows the business well and will be much better than the greedy, egoistical investor-family for the long term of the community.

Time to be reasonable, realistic and bow to the victors, guys if you are better business people than stubborn egomaniacs!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Perseverance, priceless ingredient!

As a follow-up to yesterday's blog, I wanted to expand a bit on the virtue of perseverance. Doing something new, different, not just for fun and that, on top, demands learning, is a toll order that no one really takes lightly or even enjoys.

Like disgusting medicine, it must be taken in small doses, get assimilated by the body and eventually it may (no guarantees!) grow on you. Let's see if my personal terrain is still capable of nurturing something new and different!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Learning to landscape in 3D...

Back to school and back to learning. Not my favorite endeavor, but someone has to do it, right? After drawing architecture interior plans in 3D, I'm ready to do it again with landscaping now.
No, it's not easy and the video tutorials have turn from great to awful. I guess I just need to persevere!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The mighty avalanche

This morning I received a video from a friend of mine, showing a monster, slow moving avalanche that happened on February 6, somewhere in South Tyrol, and that was captured by a local fellow who was busy shoveling his own roof...

Even today is tax day in America, I can vividly go back forty-four years ago, day-for-day, to remember witnessing a similar avalanche ripping off houses in my French home village of Montriond...

Times change, but avalanches remain as potent as ever...

Monday, April 14, 2014

Spring skiing surprises

Skiing in the spring is chock full of surprises. It can either be terrible or glorious in just 24 hours. For a few hours, today fell into the “glory” category.
A surprising 2 inches of powder snow had fallen the night, creating a micro-miracle and – as usual – contributed to making that day super special at my favorite Park City ski spots. Elusive, but priceless moments!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The “closing day” video...

What makes a good “last day” or closing day video? I'll soon find out as I'm on my way to shoot one for Deer Valley Resort, as today is their last day of the season.
Some skiing following other people, some overhead views from the chairlifts and a few sound bites from folks who are either sorry to see the season come to a close or are still enjoying sliding down the hill. We'll see!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Spring skiing limitations...

Sure spring is fun, but like many pleasure, that kind of fun is both elusive and fleeting. Even since spring arrived in Park City, that is on April 8, our “quality time” on snow has shrunk considerably and now, skiing is on ly good from opening time in the morning until about 11:30 am.
After that, time to call it a ski day and go home. Short but sweet and with good high speed lifts, logging some 20 to 25,000 vertical feet in that concentrated amount of time is quite possible. Limited stuff works well when highly concentrated!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Seeing the end of a long project...

We're almost done with the new house. We still have a few finishing things to be done that perfectly illustrate the law of diminishing returns, but with only one big chore left – landscaping – we're almost there and we should reach that point early summer. I can't wait!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Stopping ski chatter?

For years, and since the 60's, I've always held that ski chatter was a fact of (ski) life that could only be solved if you tuned your skis right or had the best possible pair of boards for hard snow. In more recent times, the advent of carving skis has shed a new light on this age-old question.

Chatter can be kept under control if you advance – let's say slide forward – your uphill ski in relation to the downhill one. This move was highly disapproved of in the mid-20th century French technique, but who cares today?
This forces you to shift your weight earlier and let go of the over-edging and lateral buttressing that creates the chatter in the first place. This requires more angulation, is more athletic but works perfectly. Try it!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Finally, spring is here!

Yesterday we went skiing, as usual, and for the first time this season, we didn't freeze our rear-end and other sensitive body—parts. The sun was up and someone finally turned up the thermostat!
As usual, we skied the whole morning, had a great deal of fun and discovered when all was said and done that slush still existed as a springtime commodity. I felt reassured; I had begun to worry!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Not particularly happy...

This picture of myself was taken against my will early November 1967. I was just enlisted in the French Air Force for a mandatory 16 month and obviously wasn't looking forward to being held against my will for so long.

Did I learn anything good during that incarceration of sorts? Perhaps a few skills like firing a gun and an automatic weapon during the first month of basic training, but after that I was just doing menial work like filling up fighter jets with jet-fuel and cleaning up parts and the like.

Yes, I learned something, but that was achieved on my own volition; it was English. I “killed” all that idle time by re-learning English following an evidently unsuccessful eight-year attempt at learning it in school!

Monday, April 7, 2014

My first manufactured skis

Fifty years ago, I was skiing for the last season on the first pair of skis that my parents bought for me in a ski shop. Before that, I skied on boards handmade by my Dad. The place where we bought the new skis was in Les Gets and the shop was Berthet Sports.

The skis were a pair of 185 cm, blue Duret skis that had the “Contreplaqué” model name stamped on them. The base was hard, brown celuloid, didn't slide that well and had full width edges screwed on.

The skis were too long for me when I first got them at about 12 years of age, but they served me well and helped me learn how to ski down steep runs and get into parallel skiing.

The bindings were a combo made of a Ramy Wiki toe piece and a PS Emile Allais cable. This is by far the ski I used during the greatest number of winter seasons (at least 5) and that was a harbinger of my long relationship with Michel Duret, who would eventually take over the company and produce a wide variety of snow equipment ranging from alpine and touring skis as well as monoskis and snowboards...

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Park City, the new Vail?

After World War II, the American ski resort was Sun Valley, Idaho. In the early eighties, this prestigious mantel of honor shifted to Vail, Colorado.

Shortly, I predict, it will be Park City's turn as Vail Resort, the future operator of Park City Mountain Resort and Canyons, will run the largest and most accessible ski resort in North America, planted in the midst of a genuine Western mountain town.
The equation will be extremely hard to come close to, and Park City is now positioned to ride to the top!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

What makes a great artist and a great show

Last night we went to see the famous radio showman Garrison Keillor, live in Park City. Some of his monologue was expected fun and the rest was downright boring. Missing were two key ingredients: Some sparks of enthusiasm or passion and a total lack of crowd engagement.

These two elements are critical if an artist is to earn the respect and adulation of his public. Garrison Keillor failed on both counts and was just using up his dwindling celebrity momentum. Too bad, but it stands as a forceful reminder that in order to maintain anything, you need to keep fueling it or else, you just go down...

Friday, April 4, 2014

Three cold springs in a row...

For the past three winters, our Park City snow hasn't been super-abundant, but our winters have lasted well into mid -April, with steady powder skiing and cold temperatures keeping the snow close to perfect even in the late season.

Nowhere seems the “warming trends” too visible in the Wasatch Mountains. Let's hope it lasts!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Playing around

Yesterday was a day for playing around. The heavy snowfalls from previous days were still there, but only light in higher elevations, while both heavy and tricky at 8,000 feet.
It was the perfect opportunity for rediscovering tree skiing around Lady Morgan lift, exploring, cutting between cliffs and dropping down Daly Chute #4 in Empire and appreciate all the snow we've received in March and these first day of April.

A challenging, but fun ski day!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Winner take all!

… or almost. Did you know that Marcel Hirscher and Ted Ligety earned respectively 345,865 ($391,453) and 287,741.50 ($325,668) in FIS price money this winter season. This doesn't account for their personal contract and incentive schedule for equipment, special endorsements, etc.

Bode Miller did okay at 107'308.25 ($121,452), but the next American, Travis Ganong had to make do with 38,794.50 ($43,908). Tough way to earn a living for many...

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Spring skiing, best season in Utah

Yesterday morning was the last day of March, my 70th ski day and was also a powder day to boot, with some 10 inches of new snow, I had a blast.

Come to think of it, the best of Utah skiing begins in earnest in April, so I'm not giving up yet!