Sunday, December 31, 2017

When you “hit” seventy...

I recently turned 70 and had always wondered how it would feel to reach that milestone. Well, the morning of that day wasn't much different from the 25,550 other mornings I had experienced so far.

When I rolled out of bed, I fell stiff, but it was mostly because I had skied for six consecutive days with my daughter in less than pristine snow conditions.

That's why I decided to take a deep breath and repair the skis we had damaged on the thinly covered slopes during the previous days, dodging skiers and rocks.

I felt grateful to have eluded death and incapacitating accidents many time and made it that far in life as a left-handed (a category that doesn't last long), to be in great health, have a wonderful family and live in a wonderful place.

I know much more today than when I was 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 or 60, and I'm eager to keep on learning, having more fun and fulfilling experiences in the years ahead. The picture is so clear, bright and enticing that I can't really know where to start!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

In praise of rock-skis...

Any serious alpine skier should have at least two types of skis in his or her quiver. Normal skis and rock-skis.

With almost no snow this year, rock-skis are the ones that I pulled out most often, and are working wonder for me.

Ignoring snow depths (or lack thereof), honing for shale, sliding over rocks while, I hope, self-sharpening their edges, hitting stones, rubbing against gravel or loose pebbles and reminding me of all of that mineral world that lives below us.

Rocks create sound, just like rock and roll makes music. They also shake tips, delaminate fibers, crack edges, cut deep grooves into the Swiss-made P-tex as if our ski bottoms were vinyl LPs ready to play us some Rocky Mountain blues.
Bless the rock skis, they give us the strength, the audacity and the faith that no matter how thin our snow cover is, they'll always provide this finite interface between our feet and the ground.

They'll always touch our hearts of skiers, and if those aren't made of stone, they'll melt at least some of our bases and sometime bend our edges by the time we get to the bottom.

Never, ever discard your older boards, always give them a second chance by promoting them to the after-life of legitimate “rock-skis!”

Friday, December 29, 2017

Perfect resting place for presents!

Yesterday morning, as we often do, we walked through the Park City cemetery.

During the Holidays quite a few graves brighten up for the Season, either with a Christmas tree or a host of other Holiday decorations.

Today, we found this one and its trove of apparently still unopened presents; priceless!

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Quarter-century old marketing concepts

Some 25 years ago, I was working with Pre Skis, an off-shoot of K2 skis, and was in charge of international sales for a change instead of what I knew best, marketing. Back in December of 1992, we had produced a movie for our 1993 sales meeting that was meant to communicate the product marketing positioning as a “Western, big mountain ski”.

Image-building was the only thing we really could sell. Our U.S. distribution had been poorly setup and wasn't what it should have been, but I was totally powerless to changing it, given the fact that our General Manager, at the time, “knew better”.

Scott USA, its previous distributor had it set up right the first time, but this was thrown out of the window, like the proverbial baby and his bathwater. To make matters worse, K2 wasn't willing to give good or specific product to nurture that parallel brand.

So from the get-go, I witnessed a build up that I knew full well was destined to crumble and crash.

This vain effort lasted four year before K2 closed down the division after wasting a few million dollars on its effort.


Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Old talents revisited...

After I threatened to return to my old passion for illustrations, I received many comments from old buddies of mine that managed to dust off some ancient artworks of mine that they had providentially kept.

Needless to say that I couldn't remember any of them as I was all but a collector in these days, and was quite shocked when I rediscovered them.

The one I most recently got were comic strips and I must say that, upon close examination, these art samples woefully failed to meet my current standards!

This said, if I were (as I said I will) to revive that old pastime of mine, I would have to accept stepping into a phase of initial and extended mediocrity before I get closer to what my “standards” of the present day could be.

Clearly, there's no free lunch, and if relearning and all the pain it entails is part of the price to pay, so be it!

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Embracing the ski crowds!

This year with little (yet quite providential) snow, most Utah and Colorado skiers will be limited to runs covered with man-made crystals.

The foot and a half of natural snow we've received so far won't cover most of the terrain that's either at higher elevations, in the trees on or rough and steep slopes.
This means we'll have to co-exist with a multitude of skiers coming and going in all directions. Call this “white-knuckle” skiing if you want; the kind that tightens up your rear-end while making you ski more parallel, I guess.

To me, who will be skiing with my daughter during her ten-day stay with us, I see it as a healthy, steep challenge, that will call on my very best skiing and navigating skills.

Short of crossing my ski tips, I'll keep my fingers crossed!

Monday, December 25, 2017

Please, don't hang up!

Young folks seem to communicate more that older ones and I'm always puzzled as to the reason why. I'm a natural connector and social animal, but some of the people I know are not at all like me, and their openness to the outside world seems to shut down as time goes on.

Should we put this on the account of cynicism, fear, diminishing strength, social vicious circle closing down on them or all the above? I'd probably vouch of the latter, and once again, this erosion comes down to the issue of good old practice.

Old age is no excuse for giving up or becoming lazy, if our physical world isn't under attack by ailments or other problems.

Now, get ready for this: Staying alive mentally and physically is key to lasting!

Sunday, December 24, 2017

The gift of snow

Yesterday, we magically woke up to more new snow. Sure it wasn't a few feet, but just a welcome few inches, and the Park City universe will definitely be much better for it as every little bit ends up counting.

What's even more precious than this pristine snow fall is a photo I received a couple days ago, from a Facebook friend and former schoolmate, that's a little work of art and was marrying this season's lack of early snow with two characters I had created to illustrate our Christmas and New Year video.

The work is artistic, delicate and make me want to wish all of you a Merry Everything!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Over 30 year of change in Park City...

Sometime we wonder what has changed so much in Park City in the more than 32 years we've been there. It's not so much the housing sprawl, the worsening traffic conditions or just the crowds. It's more the way people act.

Long gone are simple and unpretentious relationship within the community!

When we came to town, we were pretty much all the same; mountain lovers, driving beat-up Subarus or Jeeps and not paying much attention to the externalities of daily life, be it in the houses we lived in, the cars we drove or the trips we took.

All this has since changed for the worst. Snobbery, vanities, massive money and big egos have spoiled the landscape irremediably, we think. We'll continue to behave the same and unwittingly, we'll stand out...

Friday, December 22, 2017

The big dump

For a few days, the weather forecast had promised us some snow and the expectation was up to 7 inches. Well, we got it yesterday morning and the cover was seven times less than promised!

It was one of these quandaries: Should I sweep it or shovel it? I ended up shoveling it, to indulge my delusion about snow this dreary winter.

Without a doubt, the inch is now the new foot! To console myself I went skiing in the afternoon. It was day #11 for the season. When I got there there were huge lines everywhere and even more folks on the slopes.

It was just crazy and very cold. I didn't last very long and wondered how things would be in a few days when the crowds of visitors would add to the overall fun...

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Parallel skiing? Still not a fan!

I made another effort to watch the women's parallel slalom yesterday, and once more, I remained unimpressed.
The race is boring and borders towards some circus act than good competitive skiing.

Why did I like dual slalom when it was “Pro” in the 70s and 80s? I'm at a loss to explain, but my appreciation for quality competition must have matured a lot since those days.

At any rate, I'm no longer a fan. FIS, please get rid of it!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Burning the wood floor to keep warm

Our Republican Congress are gambling that digging a deeper hole for ourselves in giving the richest of us a huge tax break will just pay for itself when most economists and even business leaders say that it won't affect their business plans.
While our last governments, since Clinton, have been burning the furniture to stay warm, Trump and his Republican allies are now ripping up the wood floor and throwing it into the chimney.

The price we'll pay for these follies will be severe, and let's hope that we begin accounting for that huge waste in November 2018!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

"Rocket man" and the Olympics

Yesterday, in an interview from National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster on PBS, the former general said that North Korea has continued “to perfect” its weapons program and called for “swift action” from the United States and its allies to block the regime from successfully completing its nuclear program.

This said, in the rest of the interview, the top adviser couldn't walk his talk with any specific plans. My sense is that the little fat man from Korea is very mean and dangerous and probably plans to throw a monkey wrench into the upcoming Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang.

I'd worry a lot if I were Trump and, in his spot, would have already taken action. But, like he repeatedly said it during his campaign about Hillary Clinton, his mantra must be: “All talk and no action..."

Monday, December 18, 2017

The daunting job of making all that snow!

Park City Mountain (PCM) claims 7.3 acres of skiable terrain.

This is big when compared to Deer Valley's 2 acres plus. The problem is that Deer Valley seems to be skilled at making more snow to cover a lesser number of critical runs.

One could say that PCM should put its money where its runs are and focus on beefing up its woefully thin snow-making infrastructure!

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Relearning old skills

These past 10 days, I've been relearning some of my old drawing skills that were mothballed for the past half-century and I must say that the initial results leave a lot to be desired.

The tool and the talent I might have back then are simply rusted and are in dire need of extensive practice.

Hopefully, I'll work on it as time goes by, and next year we all might be amazed, starting with my very self!

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Senator Franken should move to Utah!

As some of you many know, Senator Hatch is up for reelection.

The old Orrin Hatch is also a strong supporter of President Trump who has been accused of abusing women, not to mention, boasting about it. To me that make him as bad as Trump by the mere fact he condones his unpresidential behavior.

Now, Senator Al Franken from Minnesota has been also accused of inappropriate sexual behavior, that while paling in comparison to Trump's, he admitted to. Today, a lot of Franken supporters feels that their man has been unjustly punished by being forthcoming and honest.
So to help everyone, I'm proposing a move to Utah for Franken to having him run against Hatch in the 2018 contest. He's a good politician and his moral character is probably better than Hatch's, so let the youngest and best win!

Friday, December 15, 2017

Spending money we don't have

Look at any advice column, whether you find it on a financial magazine, your newspaper or any popular publication, and you'll read that spending money you don't have is a lousy idea.

These articles generally give you plenty of advice on how to get rid of that flawed and terrible habit.

Evidently, this does not apply to our government and specially Trump and our Republican Congress.

They have no problem spending money we don't have as a Nation, in recklessly gambling upon the unlikely return on their foolish expense, not to mention the fact that they're just deepening the hole we're in. Are these people brain-dead or just acting as proxy for they big corporate donors?

The answer is definitely both and it's a sound reason for getting read of them next time we vote.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Is religion really poison?

I know, I keep chanting it to myself: “Religion is poison, religion is poison...” and there is much more to it than just the rhyme.

I really think it's a potent poison for the following reasons:
  • It's totally irrational, and frankly, in the 21st century, we should all know better 
  • It's promising goods it can't deliver on, like eternal life 
  • It's a form of constant pressure on people, through guilt and other forms of manipulation 
  • It's mental abuse on kids that are brainwashed when they are too young to know better 
  • It's sometimes physical abuse on many other kids 
  • It's a baby-mill, forcing women to have too many kids, regardless of the planet overpopulation 
  • Finally, it screws up your Friday, or your Saturday or your Sunday!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Don't study to be a lawyer...

.. Or an engineer or a doctor for that matte; just become a plumber! In this early winter season there's not a day that goes by, when we walk around our neighborhood, that we don't see on of these ubiquitous plumbing and heating trucks, called in emergency, as the furnace or the hot-water tank dies without warning and demands immediate inspection, repair or replacement!
Specialized manual labor is the unsung hero of hot professions that don't require years of schooling, student loans and painful start-up.

We all have home infrastructure and machinery that can't wait to fall apart, break down or wear prematurely.

Today's systems are complex and don't last, that's a shame, but that's what hoist the repair profession to the top. Simple, but so true!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Thoughts about LDS people

The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints (LDS) is a strange mixed bag. It unites some smart people at its leadership as well as in top local politics that cannot possibly believe in the bunch of crock that their religious doctrine is since they appear so intellectually refined.

This is what would make me qualify that leadership as being highly hypocritical.

Then, you have the myriad of followers that seems to be brainwashed through constant repetition of scriptures and participation into prayers and that have bathed into that set of belief, since they were highly impressionable as young kids. This approach works in any religion.

Then, as their leadership tell them to do absurd things while keeping a straight face, you have the most gullible flock ever known to man!

Monday, December 11, 2017

The French Idol Frenzy

Saturday, France bid farewell to Johnny Hallyday, its biggest rock star ever, with an extravagant funeral procession down the Champs-Elysees, a presidential tribute and a televised church ceremony filled with the who's who of France.

This kind of honor usually reserved for heads of state or literary giants like Victor Hugo, must say a lot about French culture that I can't quite understand.

To me, this behavior is in part childish, nostalgic and might have something to do with a very generous definition of what constitutes renown.

Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra or even John Lennon never reached that level of mass-hysteria in America!

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Michel Lanvers, 1947-2017

My boyhood friend Michel, known from all of his friends as “Mickey”, passed away in Marin, near Thonon, France, today.

He was born the same year I was, but got his driver's license almost one full year before me, so he would drive me in his Citroen 2cv to Isba, the best disco in Morzine when I was about 18 or so.

He was a nice guy, who when I set my sights on girls that I thought were attractive, he always rained on my parade, admonishing me “not to aim to high!” I have resented him a lot for this...

Michel wasn't lucky in the rest of his life. He was stricken by rheumatoid arthritis and died of cystic fibrosis. He had also tragically lost his first wife and two daughters many years ago. Rest in Peace, Mickey!

The “tax reform” rush job

This is what happens when projects get rushed. There is never enough time to prepare and to test, so blind angles are missed and the end-project gets riddled with potential loopholes.

The net result will be less money collected and of course a soaring deficit.
If the government pays any attention to the result of its rush job, the only levers left to actuate will be to increase people's taxes (not corporations' of course) and/or cut medicare and social security.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

American terrorists at work...

The American gun lobby is what I call “domestic terrorist” for pretty good, common-sens reasons.

This morning, I heard on the radio that the House Republicans just passed a bill, allowing licensed gun owners to carry concealed weapons across state lines, so America can feel a bit safer.

It was the first major gun bill in fact, to go before Congress since two deadly mass shootings took place this fall, and all four Utah GOP Representatives voted for it.

Hard for them to refuse, because they all got plenty of money from the terrorist gun lobby.

In the last election cycle, the “pacifist” Mia Love raked in more than $63,000 from gun rights groups, more than three other House members combined, while our Senators Hatch and Lee have lined their electoral pockets with $38,350 and $21,500 respectively since they have been “in business”.

Now, excuse them all for a few moments; they're just washing up some blood stains off their hands...

Friday, December 8, 2017

Snow, weather and climate

This early season doesn't bode well for snow. We shouldn't get anything until – perhaps – later on this month, if at all, because that's a far a the reasonable weather models can see.

A stubborn ridge of high pressure that sits over California and the central Rockies seems to be to blame for the drought. While the temperatures stay low enough to make lots of snow, it's never going to be enough to satisfy all the visitors and me.

Droughts are not unseen events during a winter season. Back in the Alps, I remember the dreadful 63-64 winter season, and closer to my current home, I knew that 75-76 was terrible too, with no snow-making to boot!

These dismal conditions repeated themselves in 79-80, which I remember particularly well, because it was my first visit to Park City in January of that season, with no decent skiing possible. Later on, snow droughts were a bit milder, like in 86-87, one year after we moved to town.

What role has climate change played recently in our snow cover? Elevated temperatures for sure, but it remains hard to judge its effect on precipitations just yet, even though we've been promised that our region will eventually turn into some desert.

So, what will this season be? I have no idea, but have a hard time staying optimistic... aucune idée, mais j'ai du mal à rester optimiste ...

Thursday, December 7, 2017

The day (French) music died

Almost like in the song “American Pie”, yesterday the French music almost died with the passing of its national rock and roll artist, Johnny Hallyday. I was a freshly-minted teenager when I used to love Johnny's sound and this infatuation lasted for three of four year.

After these precious few yeas, the idol became a marketing product; I remember when he came to Avoriaz to show off during the days when I was a ski instructor there.

The only time I saw the man on stage was in Washington, DC, in 2014. I wasn't impressed. Well, the artist was not writing his material, was "faking" an American rocker character and as a way to compensate, was taking himself a tad too seriously unlike some of his much more famous contemporaries like Paul McCartney or Bob Dylan.

This is probably why I never found him so endearing to me. Godspeed, Johnny!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Religion's forked tongue

If looking at the past 18 month and America's political upheaval, is any indication, I can see the forked tongue of religion with its formidable force of penetration, through gullibility and its one-way fence that is hypocrisy.

Gullibility first, because when politicians address religious folks, they're having a field day. There's no critical thinking that gets in the way, so it's open season for lying and making empty promises because just like with prayer, the most vulnerable want to believe what they hope for and what they are told.

Next come hypocrisy, or do as I say but not as I do, which is this convenient wall behind which most politicians hide by promoting “moral values” to the outside, while making a mockery of them inside.

I am not asking to believers to renounce their religions, but to be wary of what they hear, be consistent in their beliefs and by all means, to think critically!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Trump comes to Utah

Yesterday, Donald Trump came to Utah to shrink down two National Monuments put in place earlier by Clinton and Obama.

This environmental disaster, engineered by our congressmen and senators, is a bloody shame. Senator Mike Lee boasted about it on Facebook and a string of angry comments immediately appear on Mike's wall.

Here is one of the best I read that I want to share with you:

“Someone really needs to do Utah a favor and get rid of you [Mike Lee], Orrin Hatch, Mia Love and all the rest of them. All you are is butt sniffers and follow in suite with your fearless, orange leader. You are lining your pockets. You are crooks and liars. PERIOD!!”

Monday, December 4, 2017

Resurrecting an old talent of mine...

Starting when I was a toddler, I loved to draw and kept on doing it until I was about twenty years old. After that, I simply gave up. Sure, I was never encouraged by my family and was never too sure to pick a career in that field.

At age ten, I even won a contest at school that sent me on a trip across Europe and gave me my first opportunity to fly (a big deal in the fifties!).

As I get older, I'm very much tempted to revive this lost talent of mine. Sure, I'm a little apprehensive that I could be disappointed, but in the end we always feel the urge to revisit something we once loved, even if it's no longer up to par to the level at which we left it off, there's always time to nurture it back into fun...

Sunday, December 3, 2017

The aftermath of the future tax reform

It now look as if the tax reform will pass, and since it was put together thoughtlessly, very hastily and in a one-sided, “Republican style”.

Pretty soon the Nation will discover all of its shortcomings and its ugly effects on the national debt.

My prediction and my hope is that it is exactly the rope the conservative have pulled at them to hang themselves during the next 2018 elections.

The bad news is that reform and its devastating consequences are likely to haunt us for a very long time and unnecessarily burden our children and grand-children.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

The face of the stock market bubble

Yesterday's stock market gyrations on the news that Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I. is an indicator of how fickle Wall Street is regarding all things Trump.

In fact, the embattled president is the true face behind that huge bubble that keeps on bulging ever since he's been elected.

The stock market analyst Morningstar pegs the market at being 3% over-valued and I would be tempted to say it's in fact closer to 5%.

So, even if Trump can't be impeached, or if the new tax bill passes, expect the market to eventually flatten and take a breather, if not drop in the 3% range or more, come early 2018...

Friday, December 1, 2017

Next Deer Valley pass; how much?

Recently, KSL/Crown resorts' COO David Perry announced that: "I don't think there's any secret we will have a pass product on the market next year".

This said, next season's Deer Valley ski pass pricing is clearly up in the air at the moment, along with its skier's only status.

Vail's Epic Pass was created in 2008. To come up with a competitive offering the new consortium will probably have to fuse their different resorts ski passes into one, and this is likely to take a lot of creative work because, currently, pass prices in their different resorts are all over the place.
While they're generally much higher than the Epic Pass (except for Squaw-Alpine that must compete with Heavenly, Kirkwood and Northstar), they offer Senior rates which is an appreciable perk for folks like me. So what are we going to see next year?

My guess is something closer, and therefore much more competitive with Vail. Let's check next summer!

Thursday, November 30, 2017


It's a trick almost as old as the world; in order to fish for clients, real estate agents contact property owners telling them that they have someone genuinely interested in purchasing their asset.

In this example, I have been contacted twice by this Realtor (two similar contacts within a year) that, willy-nilly, sends a hand-written postcard to a group of building owners in town, inquiring about their willingness of selling the specific property.

Since I don't really like this kind of practice, I wanted to call on that person and this is why, on these two occasions, I've engaged the lady in question with text-messages in which I tried to call her bluff.

If anything, the exchange displayed here tells a lot about the intellect and the methods used by some Park City real estate agents. Yes, I still think she's a liar even though I didn't write that word in my text message...

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Ten years of continuous blogging

It's been ten years today, that I've been blogging on a continuous, daily basis, in English and in French. I generally begin writing in English before translating into French. This keeps my mother's tongue current inside my mind.

It all started when I ruptured my left Achilles's tendon and had some time on my hands to begin something I had never really done before. I've always loved to write and keep enjoying it after that first decade.

As of now, my English blog has received over one million visits while the French one has got above 550,000. Over the years the blog has evolved, but remains a place where I try to answer questions that concern me a lot or address subjects that I'm not too familiar with, or are of interest to me.

What will I do with all this material? Perhaps write a few books... We'll see!

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Trust in God?

For a few months, now, I had noticed a growing numboer of the Utah "In God We Trust" license plate. I thought this version was only available to some die-hard religious folks willing to fork up a few extra bucks.

I was wrong; this religious plate has now joined “Ski Utah!” and “Delicate Arch” as a standard license plate option for Utahns since January 2017.

The reason for this extra free choice was explained by our God-fearing Governor Gary Herbert who said: "'s a reflection of God's omnipotence and his love for us as his children, so I think this is a good reminder for us that in God we do trust... I think that will help us guide this state and help us guide this nation..."

Then he concluded his incredible statement by adding: "For example, (President) John Adams said our Constitution was made for only a religious and moral people... In a time when we see the challenge of God and worship of God and religious rights being threatened, I know that's a concern."

I had forgotten we lived in a Theocracy.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Standing up for better skiing

This weekend skiing wasn't much skiing, so as a way to compensate, I thought of some useful exercises that might spice up sliding on an otherwise ordinary and pretty boring hill.

I remembered to ski erect or “standing tall” if you will; doing the opposite of hyper-flexing or crouching, and this, I believe, is one of the best ski tips available if one really wants to get better.

As the center of mass goes up, it forces a skier to ski on the ball of their foot, with very little fore-and-aft margin and forces a centered position.

It also forces, the ankles mostly, to do their highly subtle but efficient balancing work.

Try it and you'll see what you get. You always can “crouch” on your skis later on...

Sunday, November 26, 2017

A different start to ski season #65

Friday, November 24 was my first day on skis, less than six month after I last skied Snowbird late May in some slushy snow.

The snow was even a bit worse that Friday, and to exacerbate things, it was significantly scarcer.

Still, our local resort had made lots of snow which was melting fast under a 55 degree weather. I rode the lift with a huge variety of people (very few locals, but mostly visitors) all unique in their styles and conversations...

What usually is a rather boring run became challenging as the snow was so bad and tricky, plus that huge, vicious moguls had formed in the steeper parts of the run.

Thankfully, when I showed up to ski, at around 1:45 pm, disgusted skiers had already returned home, if they had showed up at all.

A bad ski day for sure, but being a ski day, a wonderful time for me, as always!

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Why would anyone invest in the ski biz?

The recent flurry of ski resort acquisitions by Vail Resorts and the new KSL/Aspen private equity group often makes me think, “How can seemingly smart people make such terrible business decisions”? It simply puzzles me.

Let's face it. Human-caused warming trend isn't going to stop tomorrow. Today, we've reaping what 5 billion humans already demolished years ago (ca. 1988). Wait tomorrow to witness how today's 7.4 billion will worsen the situation and don't even waste your time picturing what our world will look like after 10 billion have been trampling the planet.

We simply forget that there's a significant time lag between what we witness at a given moment and the time it took place. Even the best intentions and the Paris Accord won't reverse, let alone make a big dent into that gloomy scenario.

This mere thought reminds me the story of that Dutch boy who saved his country by putting his finger in a leaking dike...

These Accords can only slow down and delay the damage, as the end-result is certainly guaranteed to get far beyond what we're experiencing today.

Even though I continue to benefit from the ski industry, I'm so relieved I'm no longer part of it and count on its benevolence to make a living!

Friday, November 24, 2017

When speed helps ski technique

Skiing on my own, that is, well after my ski instructing career, has taught me a lot about the essential role of speed and momentum in skiing.

While technique is extremely important and must be learned at some point or another, in order to reach proficiency in the sport, there are many times when speed can accelerate the process or bridge a certain lack of technique.

Of course, speed entails a certain degree of confidence or fearlessness, hence the main paradox of skiing: Daring to embrace the risk created by speed in order to ski better and more efficiently. Nothing exemplifies that quandary better than skiing crud, for instance.
Yet, while speed is the elephant in the room, as few talk overtly about it when it comes to technique, its role and appropriate use remain what fuels most of the fun found in skiing!

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Mugabe, then Putin, Trump...

The worst tyrants never last forever, and this week, even a tough one like Mugabe was ousted before his natural “expiration date”.

I hope this is a preview of things to come, and that following the likes of Napoleon, Hitler, Stalin and a bunch of other less famous, rotten leaders, the next departures will include Putin, Trump and Kim Jung Un, and not necessarily in that order.
So why they last, be patient, just observe these bullies and learn something about their devious behavior.

In the meantime, do something, get involved and work hard so that their replacement is likely to be a huge improvement upon them...

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

A refreshing dream

I've never skied in the nude and was quite surprised a few nights ago when I dreamed I was schussing without any clothes on, as fast as I could, as if I was trying to evade something or someone.

Was it the embarrassment I felt or the ski patrol that was on my tail? I really couldn't tell, but it sure gave me wings. True, I was skiing as fast as I could and while I didn't remember feeling the bite of the wind or freezing my rear-end in the process, I felt incredibly stressed out.
As I reached the bottom of the run and with nowhere else to ski to, I had no other alternative but wake up. As I did, still in a delirious state, I thought that skiing naked Park City from top to bottom might be an interesting feather to add to my cap this season, especially on a day when attendance was at its peak.

I need to look into that...

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Trump Toolbox

I'm not offering a crash course on how to become Trump, should anyone be inspired by the character, or if someone aspires to becoming a modern-day's Frankenstein or wants to build a contemporary monster.

I'm just simply inventorying some of the implements he's using as part of his daily routine. If America's 45th President happened to inspire anyone and if there were a toolbox of sort to becoming just like him, I've tried to inventory the tools that likely would be found inside it: 
  • Complex of superiority 
  • Ego-centrism Natural 
  • Bullying 
  • Racism 
  • Misogyny 
  • Plain meanness 
  • Allergy to apologies under any form or fashion 
  • Permanent attack mode 
  • Ten-fold aggressive response to any attack 
  • Dividing in order to control 
  • Doubling-up on a sparse vocabulary 
  • Waking up the worst in his followers 
  • Total absence of compassion 
First, I'll check if any of these tools are left in my own toolbox and will use my very best effort to discard them as soon as possible. If, in the meantime, I've forgotten something on the list, please don't hesitate to share it on this blog; I'll add it gladly...

Monday, November 20, 2017

Tax reform in a vacuum

For the past few weeks about half of the United States' politicians have been concocting a tax reform without asking for their citizens' input and without working with the other half of Congress.

The result is a joke or a monster depending on one's sense of humor.

Like in many countries, our tax code is unnecessarily complex and is the end result of countless compromises and back-room deals between special interests groups and politicians.

It's not fair and has never been good for the taxpayers as it has been created on their back and without any of their own input.

Instead, the process should take time, garner a full critique of what works and what does not withing the current system versus what's needed in terms of revenue, and strive to deliver a plan that all American PEOPLE can live with, but certainly not the United States' corporate world.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Park City needs access to Big Cottonwood Canyon

As I've said before, early season comes with its endless anguish about snow cover, not just on opening day, but throughout the ski season.

Last week, Park City decided to postpone its opening by six days, because it couldn't make enough snow, given the prevailing balmy temperatures. You see, Park City sits fairly low at 6,900 feet (2 103 meters) while Deer Valley's base is just at 7,200 feet (2 195 meters).

Compared to the other nearby Utah resorts, this is quite low and certainly even lower than most Colorado's ski areas situated under about the same latitude. Beside being higher up, Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons receive also more snow than the so-called Wasatch Back (Park City & Deer Valley) because they face and block most of the eastbound precipitations and also benefit positively from lake effect conditions.

Yet, Park City is where the action is, where the good restaurant are, where the après-ski happens and a massive lodging capacity is ready to make its guests welcome. We just could say the opposite about Alta, Brighton, Snowbird and Solitude.

Add to the equation the fact that our climate is fast becoming much warmer than anyone ever predicted, we have a “perfect storm” of sorts in which Park City needs to access at least its Big Cottonwood Canyon neighbor to the south in order to enjoy better and greater amounts of snow from season's beginning to end.

The good news is that it would work perfectly as Park City Mountain and Brighton are, technically speaking, bordering each other and it would just require two ski-lifts to join them. In addition Brighton is already interconnected with its neighbor Solitude to the West and the whole canyon, by also serving Park City skiers would finally gain its development potential that's currently impossible to reach with its lack of visitor “pillows”.

The bad news, or the challenge if we look at it positively, is that Park City Mountain should make an agreement with at least Brighton and ideally, Solitude too, to interconnect, or better yet purchase the two entities. This would be a terrific insurance policy against climate change!

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Follow your Members of Congress on Facebook!

I'm not a fan of my two Utah Senators and my Representative, but when all is said and done, they're supposed to “represent me” in Washington. I wish they really did their job of representation, but they don't.

What they vote for makes seldom sense, but I guess what these politicians believe and common sense are diametrically opposed, through the irrepressible undercurrent of hypocrisy. Why in the world would a well-grounded individual accept to increase the Federal Deficit by $1.5 billion in exchange for a give-away to big corporations, pretending they will create job and pay for the cut over time?

If this not total hypocrisy it is incompetence or pure insanity. This said, I now get the Facebook Feeds from Mike Lee and Orrin Hatch and Rob Bishop and I focus not on what they say, but how their constituents react to them.

What's remarkable is how rare are their constituents who like what's being done to them, which goes a long way to saying that they're clearly on the sides of big money and large corporations, not their own constituents'.

Find your Senators or Representative on Facebook and follow them to check what they say and more importantly to see what their bona-fide constituents say (beware of “trolls” – check the presence of a “constituent badge” next to the name).

In the case of my Senators and Representative it shows a real disconnect between what they do and what their constituent feel about it. Clearly, these folks aren't on our side and we need to tell them about it. Now, that I've given you the tools, use them!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Can we afford to downgrade safety?

The tragic death of French skier David Poisson reminds us that downhill racing is very dangerous and requires a solid set of safety rules to minimize the risks to the athletes. Season after season, competitions have gained in safety, following lessons learned from all the tragic accidents that have occurred over the recent alpine ski history.

On race day and the during any training sessions preceding a downhill event, the hosting venue spends a lot of time, attention and money making sure that the conditions are safe for all racers and are meeting the standards set forth by the International Ski Federation (FIS).

Now what happens when ski racers train outside of officially sanctioned races? Many of them suffer accidents, as training is precisely the only time when an athlete is mentally free enough to “let go” and give it their all. It's therefore fair to assume that risk-taking will be significant, speeds will be higher and protection should be at least the same as during competition.

It would seem to me that diminished safety measures are woefully unacceptable. Is this always the case? Probably not most of the time as slope conditions are not as perfect as they are on race day, and seemingly not in this last instance.

According to some reports, skiers were traveling well over 60 mph in that particular curve and after losing one ski, Poisson went through two 25-meter nets before crashing into a tree. Should there have been the larger, 40-meter nets anchored with cables in that particular spot? Who decided on the safety infrastructure; the Team coaches (French, Italian or Swiss) or Nakista, the resort hosting the training?

Were Nakista's deliverables including the type of safety equipment, budgetary constraints that influenced the coaches and the final types of nets that were picked for this area? At this point, it seems that there are no clear rules emanating from FIS that would govern safety measures used during general training outside of downhill training runs and race days.

In the absence of fast rules, it is of course too easy to assign blame on anyone (team directors, coaches, resort) and this is why FIS needs to come up with some clear regulations regarding training in general.
Only then, will David Poisson's terrible accident will not have been in vain.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Trails for aging riders

I feel pretty remiss about my mountain-bike riding this year. I tried to find excuses for a spotty participation, but the main reason for my low mileage is simply pure laziness.

Sure, as one gets closer to seven decades, there's always a tinge of apprehension, a drop in VO2Max and an eroding muscle tone, plus also the fear of falling hard and getting hurt plays a huge role in slowing us down.

Even during my rare outings (still in the twenty range), I've discovered two new trails that are perfect for older folks like me. They're just behind my house and their names are “Pork-U-Climb” and “Down Dog”.
They are wide-single tracks, mostly covered with dirt with very few rocks, nice banked turns and their average grade is a sweet seven percent. On top of that, both are one-way, so there's no fear of colliding with another mountain-biker and the views are just spectacular.

Today, I took my wife after a two-year hiatus and she fell back in love with it. If you live in Park City, ride these two trails before the snow makes them impassable with regular tires, and if you like them as much as we did, make sure to mail your donation to the Mountain Trail Foundation!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Stress in the ski business

Snow is what makes or breaks a ski season; more so than a country's economic situation or any other possible reason.

No wonder then, that ski resort operators become obsessed with any form of snow when November rolls around.

In the past, it was always a tad colder, so if we didn't have the real, natural stuff, you could fairly easily make it, if you didn't mind the cost of pumping water, turning it into solid and spraying it all over the mountain.

These days are different, because even November isn't as cold as it used to be, and mountain operators can no longer “play chicken”, waiting for a very long, cold spell to blow snow.
Every seemingly cold night is now worth a shot. Park City is slated for a November 17 opening and if there's a continuous white ribbon, it's likely to be thin, narrow and overrun with people!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Paradise & Panama Papers are costing us...

Unless you fell into a deep coma on May 5, 2016 and just woke up today, you have heard about both the Panama and Paradise Papers scandals, uncovered by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and showing us how tax evasion and so-called tax avoidance are standard business practice all around the world.

Our complex, yet poorly regulated tax system allow multinational companies and wealthy folks to hire their fortunes in offshore paradises, in an effort to skip paying taxes in their own countries. The obvious losers are taxpayers like you and me.

As they stash about $700 billion every year into tax heavens, the ultra-rich and the large corporations are dodging the tax-man in the countries where they do business and earn their money. The United State Government alone lost $111 billion in 2016 because of these schemes.

These maneuvers deprive governments of the resources needed to provide vital public services and infrastructure like transportation, health-care and education among others, which means either cutbacks, runaway deficit or increased taxation.

The current government says that corporate taxes are too high; well, they counted for one-third of our Federal expenditures in 1952 and a measly 10% in 2015. So don't tell me that there's a need to cut corporate taxes when what is required is some vigorous legislation banishing the use of tax-haven for multinationals and super wealthy individuals.

By just doing this, we get more than $1 trillion in extra tax revenue over 10 years. Before re-doing the entire plumbing, take care of the leaks! Another good reason to call your Representative and your Senators today...

Monday, November 13, 2017

A biased ski boot salesman

Last Friday, as I was shopping at REI, I overheard a conversation between a shop employee and a customer that was being fitted a pair of ski boots. The salesman was complaining that European ski boot companies were unable to offer stiff boots that were wide enough to fit wider feet.

He said “European feet tend to run narrower than Americans' and that's why we can't get the products we need on this side of the pond”. How does that sound to someone like me that used to be marketing and selling ski boots for a significant portion of my career?

It meant quite simply that the sales guy, around 45 years of age, had a few biases and had little idea about what he was talking about. Let's try to see where the reality lies; stiff racing boots are used by better skiers that have someone (a tech) working on them, or get fitted by a professional boot fitter and in all instances, the boot technician is quite likely to modify the shell and/or the liner.

Proficient skiers generally want as close a contact as they can get between their foot and the shell, and will always begin with a narrow shell and make room for the foot by either grinding or heat-forming it. This is why racing boots essentially come in the narrowest size.

Now, with Caucasians representing 85% of the US skiing population (2015 industry study), chances are that feet very similar to them will be found among Austrian, German, French and Italian skiers and this debunks this salesman's grossly preconceived notions...

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Why don't you have a dog?

We don't have a dog, never have and probably never will; so, it's become a habit for people we know to ask us every time they see us: “Why don't you guys have a dog?”
While we are used to hearing the question, we don't necessarily enjoy it, as we often perceive it as meaning: “What's wrong with you folks for not having a dog?” This sneaky question infers that if we don't even have a dog, we must be bad people because only mean creatures don't love dogs; well, you catch my drift...

In fact, the more I think about it, the more I feel this particular question is the same as asking couples “Why don't you have kids?” to which the inevitable answer should be “None of your business!” right?

So when someone will ask us why we don't have any dog, will answer it by a question (always a wise strategy) that will confront the enquirers by asking them if they would dare asking a childless couple why they don't have any progeny. This exchange might sound a bit harsh, but I promise to test it and let you know how it flies.

An alternative answer could also take the form of a statement like “We'd love to have dogs, but with so many irresponsible dog owners that let their pooch roam around without a leash or don't pick up after them, we would hate to be perceived as joining their ranks; we know what we're talking about, wandering dogs have already banged our cars twice and we pick poop everyday around our house...”

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Firearms and me

The only time I've ever handled firearms was when I was in the military and during boot-camp, just 50 years ago this month.

We learned how to fire rifles and machine guns for perhaps a dozen of training sessions. I did okay with these target shooting exercises, didn't harm any of my comrades, but wasn't hooked on the experience.

It was in late Fall, the weather was foggy, damp and cold and my mind was completely filled with all the others things I could have done instead of that stupid training, like early season skiing for instance.
It's in fact quite probable that my lack of interest at this time, is the main reason why I don't have a closet full of guns at my house..