Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A great way to finish off 2014!

Today has been quite an exciting day. First, early morning, some workers came to fix a detail involving our kitchen hood. As always, that job was more elaborate than first thought and took the whole morning and involved getting into the attic and swimming into a sea of blown in fiberglass insulation.

Then with a -16F weather outside, one pipe froze, and one thing leading to the other, I turned off the hot water heater and couldn't restart it.

As the year came to an end, these two later problems remained unsolved with the contractor who just did the job unable and unwilling to fix them on New Year's eve and the following day!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

What's on my radar for 2015?

To keep going, stay intensely alive and enjoy life to its fullest, we all need a cause, a project, a passion. This is my overwhelming preoccupation these days.

It's not that I have too much time to pull a rabbit out of my hat with what's left of 2014, so I remain very much receptive to ideas and other forms of inspiration, but to this moment, I haven't found anything that stops me on my track and gets my full attention.

Do I need suggestions from the outside world? Not really; it's just from the inside me that the idea must spring off. So, what counts is that I'm aware of that need for a big idea, a great cause, so let it not be a mere matter of days, but rather the quality of the whole idea and if it truly is what I need, espouse it in a big way!

Monday, December 29, 2014

The richer, fuller, older life

Once we've reached our late sixties, birthdays take a much different meaning and might not feel as pleasant and welcome as they used to be, but in reality, we are extremely lucky to live in this day and age compared to our elders.

We're surrounded by incredible comfort, convenience, information and plenty of good one, if we just make the effort to look for it, we are stimulated to stay in shape, we have the tools, the standard of living and a much greater social acceptance to continue doing things that once were reserved to younger, active folks.

Besides, we are incredibly wiser and that alone is worth a myriad of wrinkles and lots of white hair while it still hangs out. Barring a debilitating disease or condition, we have the keys to enjoying our golden years and make them fun and productive.

We're so rich and so lucky that we have no choice, but get up in a morning and look forward to filling another day with achievements of all kinds, quality execution and personal satisfaction in mind. Now, happy birthday to whoever adds a notch to their walking stick on the beautiful journey of life!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Where are you from?

Yesterday morning, as I was quietly slipping from the parking lot into the Deer Valley shuttle, one of the passenger made a comment about the cold (only 5 degrees F) and I had the misfortune to respond by saying something inconsequential.

Picking up on my foreign accent, a lady sitting in front of me asked quite inquisitively: “Where are you from?” In a New York second, I thought on my feet and responded: “Straight from the North Pole, and I must say that the Arctic is much warmer than here!”
My response shut her off and it was total silence for the remaining minute of ride left. You see, I'm just getting tired of having to respond to that question, especially when its triggered by my French accent and by sheer curiosity. There is not one hour in any ski day when I'm riding a chair and someone isn't asking me about my country of origin.

I'm now just sick and tired of it!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Lasting longer on skis

I sincerely think my most powerful and carefree ski days are behind me, but I still love to ski fast, get on challenging terrain and having tons of fun on my two boards.

Now, how do I make that joy last as I'm growing older and as my frame can't take all the punishment that come with encountering nasty bumps, taking punishing falls and cruising fast down some high-risk terrain?
The answer seems pretty obvious: Tune down the excitement, slow down enough and do a bit less of everything. Simply put, turn the dial down as time advances.

The idea is to make that wonderful fun last just a bit longer and stay away from the temptation of stupid and reckless moves.

Leave these to the 25 and younger crowd. Subconsciously, I know all of that, but writing it down helps me sinking-in that survivalist philosophy!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Twenty Years ago: The end of Pre

My last ski-equipment job was with Pre skis, and exactly 20 years ago this week, just in time for my birthday, I was told by Richard Rodstein, then K2's CEO, that the Seattle ski firm was finally pulling the plug on Pre Ski to fully focus on their (now defunct) Pro-Flex mountain-bikes and K2 in-line skates.

While the news felt like classic back-stabbing to me, this lousy business decision was actually a godsend that brought me opportunities I would never have imagined. That's right, you win some, you lose some and what goes around, comes around.

Today, I know that the select group of smart guys that engineered this fateful decision are probably worse off than they ever could imagine and I sincerely feel sorry for them.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Does Jesus ski?

After all why not? Could be Mike Smith, could be Jessica Goldberg, why not Jesus Rodriguez after all? This is the bumper sticker I need for my car and to finally state the obvious. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Best ski day of the season!

One of my favorite ski run opened up today and I was among the few skiers who made first track on Thaynes on a wind swept snow that was dense, fast and challenging to ski.

It was super fun and after just 11 laps, when everything was tracked I returned home fulfilled.

Day #25 was also the best of the season.

Enough said.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Too early to be smooth...

Son of Rattler is one of these wild runs at Deer Valley Resort. I like these schezophrenic runs a lot, because the litterally take me out of my comfort zone. Sure, skiing early in the season descent fraught with all kinds of surprises, especially when the snow cover is as light as it is this season.

The snow was highly unpredictable, windblown and breaking and turning the boards was uncertain, hard work. They were multiple stops, long moments of pauses and hesitations, but I managed to get down without falling, killing any forest animal or hitting a bad rock or a nasty stump.
This kind of run is definitely not recommended for all public, even with parental guidance, because the mere idea of accompanying any one in these woods is deeply flawed.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Rare snow at Canyons

Interesting ski day: Too much wind (50 mph) and none of the top Deer Valley lifts can operate. So I just take a few runs there and decide to drive to Canyons to see what's going. Similar scene there.

The wind forced their base chairlift to shut down and only the gondola seems opened. I ride in, but must take my gear with me to minimize swinging. I get to the town and can only see a swarm around the two chairlits open.
I ski down to an access-restricted “shortcut” lift, ski down Doc which is a true ice skating rink, making for some interesting skiing. So interesting in fact that arrived at the bottom, I repeat the two-lift shuttle and finding the routine a tad to complicated. I had a great time, but return home...

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Here comes winter!

We tend to forget that one season only lasts three month. For us, in the mountains, this feels quite differently as winter sets in in November and leaves us in May. So, winter means a good five or six months instead of just three!

This said, while this winter season's start has been a disappointment for most Utah skiers, I have never been skiing as much with so little snow. Today will be day #22 and with snow falling this time, this should be a grand day.

Yes, you're late, but welcome home, winter!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Weather forecast and me

We all have some mental fixations, and weather forecast is one of mine. Of course, the availability of fresh snow is a chief top concern for me during the entire winter season and to feel more secure, I scrutinize more than just one weather station. I generally tend to prefer the one that predicts what I want to hear and that's the one I will adopt.
I understand satellite photos as if my livelihood depended on them (it still does, to a certain degree) and I always suppress my expectations, permanently hoping for a terrific surprise but, most of the time, processing a lot of disappointment!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Sony, North Korea and the Chinese

The recent hacking into Sony seem to come from North Korea. You may ask yourself: “Are these folks sophisticated enough to achieve that?”

The answer to that question may rest on the probability that Pyongyang may have turned to their allied and master-hackers from China to do the dirty job.

After all, Xi Jinping is just a larger version of Kim Jong-un, who wouldn't appreciate a similar comedy produced about himself and his regime; besides, there is no love lost for Sony, the Japanese!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Whatever happened to Fidel?

I never was a fan of Fidel Castro, but in recent years, I liked him a tad better because he had traded his trademark military fatigue for a collection of Adidas training suits. I never saw him wearing Nike garments and I can easily understand why.

My point is that when some rapprochement is taking place between Cuba and the USA, we'll miss not seeing the legendary revolutionary. So my mind is racing, almost out of control. I'm asking myself: “Is Fidel dead?” Has he been stored inside some refrigerated storage chamber or has someone performed taxidermy on the old soldier?

These are not far-fetched assumptions as the same situation had befallen Yuri Andropov and Konstantin Chernenko before, who both died on the job at the helm of the Soviet Union. Sure, Fidel could have a debilitating illness and be taken off the view of his people.

I still believe though that he is gone and that his little brother is scrambling to find a way to explain his disappearance to his constituents. Well, he can always blame Putin!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The solution against terrorism and extremism

We get so focused by the massacres perpetrated by groups like the Taliban or Isis that we lose the good common sense to starve these organization by cutting their financing and their supply of weapons.

When compared to “fighting” them the traditional and ultra-expensive way, it would seem that spying, hacking, tricking their financial channels and using advanced technology should go a long way into chocking these groups to extinction.
The reason I assert this is simply because our own NSA is so capable of incredible, evil and illegal feats against its own people, that we certainly have the resources available to do it. We only lack the common sense and the will to implement it.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The war on fear

What is the worst world curse? Nuclear annihilation? Terrorism? Probably not. I think it's fear, non-necessary fear unlike the one that protects us from jumping off a cliff without a parachute or a jet-pack strapped on us.

It's the fear that tells us we aren't good enough, we should keep our rank, we don't have the right answer or we aren't smart, strong, or trained enough to make it.

It's the fear that's between our two ears and keeps us down, silent and inactive.

It's never too late to declare war on fear, because if we do, there will be more light, more fun and more positive action in our lives and all around us!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Seventeen is better than zero!

The day before yesterday, I ran into some neighbors and I asked them if they had skied yet. They said “No, we're waiting for the conditions to improve...” I responded, “I have skied 16 times already (yesterday was #17) and if things don't improve, sixteen is definitely better than zero!”
Will it ever snow again? I don't know for sure, but what I'm certain of is that I've skied enough to amortize my season pass and skied more than picky skiers ever do. If you've read so far, you'll agree with me that one bird in the hand is better than two in the bush.

So, please, don't delay, go skiing now, as if it was your last day on this planet!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Racism in America

We've observed racism at work during the entire Obama presidency, so why should we pretend to be shocked that the curse still thrives in America today?

What will it take to eradicate it? Generations (yes, plural) and, most importantly, the current white majority becoming a clear minority – Something like no more than 40 percent. So give the process at least another good half century...

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Television, time, sports and me

When it comes to sports, I'm a terrible spectator.

I will watch a few events (mostly ski) during the winter and summer Olympics, part of a golf tournament in April when my eyes are beginning to be tired of just seeing snow around, and a few ski races when they can be seen at some decent times in the day, namely when they happen in North America or in the European evening. In fact,

I am quite grateful that I live in Utah, because I don't have to watch all these addictive ski races. It's too time consuming and I rather do the sport than watch it and waste my precious time in the process...

Friday, December 12, 2014

Thoughts about Holiday message

Traditionally, I produce a Holiday video that I send to friends and family to mark the end of one year and the beginning of another.

To date, I don't know what it will be and, if not a video, what form it might take and was message might be included. I don't want it to boast, I'd rather make the piece short and fun.

Most importantly, I'd like create something that is heartwarming and makes everyone who sees it feel good. Worst case scenario, there will be nothing! So with that warning in mind, stay tuned...

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Why endure future pain now?

I've written a lot about the uselessness of worry and while I'm sold on the idea, I still worry about certain things upon which I have absolutely no control and that might or might not happen. A total waste of my time, thinking and energy.

Then there is that nagging worry about events that will happen for sure, like the end of the world, death, snowy, rainy and sunny days. These things, big and small, will happen for sure and for the vast majority of them too, there's strictly nothing I can do.

Yet, they grind me, grab my focus and establish their unwanted and polluting presence inside my mind. I hate this so much that today, I've decided to chase these useless demons from my mind and attempt to focus solely on the here and now and these millions of elements, big and small, I can still control and change.

Why haven't I thought about this a long time ago?

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Where's innovation in the ski biz?

If there's an industry in which innovation isn't exactly the modus operandi, it's the ski industry. Marketing 101 teaches us that the art of that skill is to address problems and make everything easier, when possible.

True, skis have undergone some positive evolution, but what about ski boots, the elephant in the room. Is getting in and out of ski boots easy? Is walking in them easy? Absolutely not.

Has someone attempted to do anything about it? Partially, but with little if no success. Hanson invented the rear-entry boot and Salomon kept on improving it until it was voted down by a small but vociferous clique of industry insiders.

Look bindings, through a tenuous alliance with Nordica designed the Integral boot-binding system that was chocked by the Look's bankruptcy and Nordica's lack of interest. Bottom line, there's plenty of room for improvement, so where are the innovators hiding?

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Park City to become the largest US ski resort...

Yesterday, Vail Resorts announced that it will connect the two resorts it now owns in Park City for the 2015-2016 winter, and merge them under one name “Park City Mountain Resort” as part of a $50 million worth of upgrades.

This will create the largest ski area in the U.S.A. with more than 7,300 acres of skiable terrain and bring it very close to Whistler-Blackcomb's 8,171 acres, still the largest resort in North America. Should Deer Valley decide to connect with the greater Park City and participate in a common ticket, this would push the entire Park City ski terrain well above Whistler-Blackcomb with 9,326 acres.

Even a (possible) connection with tiny Brighton Ski Resort would also surpass the British Columbia giant with 8,350 acres, but – once again – I'm getting ahead of myself!

Monday, December 8, 2014

A tough race

While I enjoy watching the downhill, what I like most in Beaver Creek is the GS event. It's perhaps because Ligety manages to win most of the time? At any rate, and even though this wasn't largely reported in the media, the snow conditions, towards the end of the second run were quite challenging and made winning the whole contest that much more difficult.
The snow looked soft and the deteriorating course was slowing down the best in the last third. Ligety had to pull a super-human feat to regain control of the situation and climb on top of the podium. Another wonderful race by my Park City hero, Pinturault and Hischer, the other “usual suspects...”

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Deer Valley Resort ski opening day

I haven't shot and edited a great many videos lately and was a bit apprehensive yesterday when I went about to film the opening day at Deer Valley. My fears were unwarranted, I got the footage I wanted and ended up with a pretty good piece. By now, I should know that I don't need fear in my life.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

The 25 year old present

As it always happened, I ran into an old associate of mind on Deer Valley Resort opening day. This one was a former sales representative of mine when I was the Koflach distributor in the United States.

He was then a good salesman, and still is I guess, since he's still in the game and has no intention to retire any time soon. I had organized a contest to push our sales and had won it with another rep. Their prize was a Rolex watch and he showed me that he was still wearing it and everyday was still thinking positively about his experience with me.

Thank you Tom!

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Ikos assembly game

Remember the Rubik's cube? My next door neighbor just developed and began to market Ikos,  an assembly game that is reminiscent of the Rubik cube, albeit simpler and of spherical shape instead of a cube.

The concept that originally was that of collapsible water tank evolved into a toy, but will that be able to capitalize on the design originality?

Thursday, December 4, 2014

What's a grand Jury?

Following all the recent, racially-tainted police incidents, a vast majority of people doesn't even know what a grand jury is, so today, I'll attempt to fill this gap and share my feelings about it. A grand jury is used to investigate potential criminal conduct, determine if criminal charges are appropriate and performs both accusatory and investigatory functions.

Technically, it's meant to screen out incompetent or malicious prosecutions. Interestingly, the United States is the only country that still uses grand juries and only half of the states actually use them. As it can be composed to up to 23 citizens, it gets its “grand jury” name from the fact that it's larger than the 12 people usually found in a traditional jury.

One of the biggest problem with grand juries is that jurors are not a representative sampling of the community and are not necessarily qualified to understand what's expected of them. Further, unlike potential jurors in regular trials, grand jurors are not screened for bias or other improper factors. Finally, grand jury proceedings are held secret; no judge is present; only a prosecutor leads the proceedings and the defendant has no right to present his case.

All of the above doesn't sound quite right to me and might suggest an urgent review of the practice leading perhaps to its abolition. At least, that's my two-cent...

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Testing skiers' patience...

It's almost a routine; early in the season, skiers are all glued to the skies and the weather forecast in an attempt to reassure themselves about the next snowfall. We all would love to get 3 feet of snow early in November, but winter and snow cover are, more often than not, a slow and gradual process as it's not rare to see marginal skiing for Christmas and even early January.
To a large degree, snow making is masking this reality, but snow cover, like the rest of our daily lives, is not a guaranteed commodity. As I continue to make my living from the ski business, I know the uncertainty, the anguish and the constant worry about getting or not getting snow at the right moment. Would I have it any other way? I don't think so; it wouldn't be fun.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Another ski contraption...

Yesterday, as I was talking to my brother in France, he mentioned that his 2 year old grand daughter would soon hit the slopes using a device I never heard of, called the Babysnow, a modified monoski equipped with a handlebar for a toddler to hang on, while the whole is guided by a parent or an instructor holding handles similar to that of a baby-carriage.

The individual who controls the toddler can then bank the board to the right or the left and make it carve a turn while the baby enjoys the ride and gets use to a motion similar to that of sliding on snow. On the way uphill, adult and toddler can either use a magic carpet or a Poma-lift, but riding a chairlift isn't an option. In addition to alpine skiing, this device could be used while cross-country skiing and walking on snow either by foot or with snow-shoes.

Invented by Eric Arnold, a French ski instructor, this unique product seems to lack the necessary funding, might have remained too close to its creator and doesn't have the marketing support it needs to optimize its distribution and its development. While the concept has some definite potential, it still seems overly complicated, and in addition to some clever marketing, it could also use a substantial amount R&D to make it more user-friendly and much more universal.

Monday, December 1, 2014

The perfect snow car...

As shopping season has officially begun in America, I've been torn between my upcoming Christmas present wishes. On one hand, I'd love to have a brand-new sports car to address a late, mid-life crisis, and on the other, my old snow blower needs to be replaced.

I've since communicated my desires to my spouse, who always very pragmatic and regimented, just said: “You just can have one, but not both”, knowing full-well that I would have to settle on the more mundane, snow-removal tool.

That's when Luigi Tuttofari came into the picture. You see, this man knows his way around Italian-made sports car (he's worked on Fiats all of his life) and he volunteered to modify the rig I had in mind, so it could meet both of my want and need.
He's managed to fit a snow-blower in the front of that little Lamborghini Huracán, that not only will help me clear the snow around the house, but also address the car's low ground clearance if I get stuck and will add some power to the front wheels when roads are slick.

You may object to the size and look of the discharge chute, but I personally think it adds to the character of the automobile and besides, I'm the only one using it!