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These are some big mountains, eh?

after I finished my qualifying run

I am back to work at the spa, and frankly, I am glad to be sitting around for a little while. I just spent a week in Revelstoke, British Columbia, where I was competing in the Canadian Freeskiing Championships. Now, I know that people here in the U.S. of A like to think that we have the best mountains on earth, but every dedicated ski bum really needs to set the time aside to go to British Columbia at some point in their lives.

This is the second time I have been skiing in B.C., the first being when I went cat skiing at Mustang Powder which is right down the road from Revelstoke Mountain Resort. Yet again, I was incredibly impressed by the terrain. Revelstoke mountain has 5,620 vertical feet of drop and 3,121 acres of skiable (if you feel up to the challenge) area. Let’s just say that gumbi legs doesn’t even come close to describing the feeling you have by the end of the day. This mountain is also home to my new and all-time favorite lift-serve run called ‘Kill the Banker.’ This run is probably a little under 2,000 vertical feet of endless pillows and perfect drops. When I arrived, it had just snowed two feet, so I was like a pig in &!$%. This run was the best thing to happen to me since the invention of double rocker.

In addition to frolicking around the mountain, I had to inspect my lines for the comp on the venues Separate Reality, North Bowl, and the famous Mackenzie Face. My qualifying run went well on Separate Reality.  I played it safe and stuck to skiing fast and only hit 1 8 ft. air and one 5 ft. air.  I placed third and was able to advance to the next day. Day one of the official competition was delayed due to weather but when it finally came time for my to ski, I picked a fast fluid line.

Inspecting my line on Mack Face to no availMy run was not as technical as the judges may have wanted, but I had a few good drops and finished in 7th place which allowed me to go on to the finial day on Mackenzie (a.k.a. Mack) Face. For our final run, we were dropped off on a ridge via a helicopter ride (way cool!), and as the first person to go, I served as a guinea pig of sorts. I was expecting powder turns, but as it turned out, Mack face was one giant lump of windslab. I was three big turns in when the snow literally ripped my ski off of my foot (As a 5’2 girl with my DINs at 11, this was a little strange). I was able to self arrest quickly, but took a conservative line down to the finish after I got my ski back on.

In the end, I placed 5th overall, which I am pleased with, but what I will remember more than the competition are the beautiful mountains, and my epic pillow runs I took with my boyfriend/photographer Dana and my younger brother Will.

SHOUT OUT!

Just want to congratulate Louise  and Alex for sending it in Revelstoke! Louise killed it! She placed fifth over all and qualified third! Thats CB Shred Betty’s finest right there!! We are so proud of our girls for giving it there all! Hope they have a safe ride home!

Alix

Back home…

While Louise and Alex Riedman are killing it at the BC comp , I have been finally settling down from the very busy Christmas season. I was able to get out on my snow-mo for the fist time in a couple of weeks and man was it an adventure! Of course starting the thing was a long endured process, then I put me and my doo sideways in the pow and had to stand on the uphill rail and use my body weight and my friend to tip it back over! After our awesome ski session we did a little sled-necking. I was going through the major deep pow at the Y up by Irwin, when I again tried to put my sled on its side. Thinking it was stuck I asked my friends for help. They were like, “you’re not stuck! Drive that thing out of there!” So I did and felt like I was going to eat it everywhere! That is my mini epic adventure…. to be continued.

Alix

A Trip with Vlade

Vlade the dinosaur

My butt is numb. I have been sitting in the car for about 15 hours now and am hoping that my legs will not have atrophied completely by the time I get to Revelstoke, BC.  Vlade, my brother’s soccer mom van, and I are bonding, literaly, as I am sitting in something sticky.

Vlade is named after a toy Triceratops my brother Will found in a Walmart parking lot who now sits on the dashboard, and despite what some people might think, Vlade proves that minivans are rad. We can fit at least 7 pairs of skis in here along with everything else, and I get my own bucket seat! Vlade is my new hero. In addition to lots of leg room, we get to listen to hours and hours of books on tape, and are slowly working our way through the Orson Scott Card series.

Other fun features of Vlade are:

  • At least 9 cup holders
  • my own bucket seat heating and cooling
  • windows that actually go up and down on command!!!! Even for my bucket seat!!!!!
  • electric doors (these don’t work anymore, but they once did and they were cool. I remember)

For all of you people out there who say to yourselves ‘ everyone knows that cool outdoorsy people should own a Subaru Outback’ (no offense FWT),  I challenge you to take a look in your rearview mirror. Do you have coffee splattered all over you? Are your knees around your ears? Just know that Vlade laughs at you as he travels majestically on towards the mountains of Canada.

~Weeze

Women’s Gear, The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly… installment 4 (sorry for the delay, blame the Snowmageddon)

So, as some of you may know, Crested Butte has just surfaced from what we here fondly call a Snowmageddon. A Snowmageddon is when NOAA literally states that you will be receiving “epic” amounts of snow. In the last few days it has snowed 52 inches, bringing us to a whopping 169 inches for the season so far. This is big for us here, don’t make fun if you live in Utah or Alaska. Needless to say, I was skiing a lot and did not have the time or the desire to update this blog. At long last, however, here is the fourth installment of our Women’s gear review by me, about my uber radical skis that I love when it snows and snows and doesn’t stop snowing!

Louise Lintilhac

There is one item that has changed my skiing more than anything else, and that is the Armada JJ. This is a rockered ski with regular camber under foot. The camber is important because even though the ski is 115mm at the waist, I am still able to carve up a storm (this is important to me as a former racer). The rocker is key not only for pow runs but also for faster mogul runs because I can pop over multiple moguls, which takes less time and energy in a competition than skiing each one. The JJ also helped me overcome my fear of longer skis. I am 5’2” tall and weigh about 120lbs. I can use the 175cm JJ easily.  A longer ski is a bigger platform for landings and for balance in general. Thank you so much ski industry! Now on to my next battle…body armor that fits.

Women’s Gear, The Good, The Bad, and The (pink hibiscus-covered) Ugly… Installment 3

Alex Riedman:

When I Alpine ski, I torture myself with Lange Freeride 110 boots, probably two sizes too small… but what’s a girl to do when she wants unsurpassed control in steep falling-is-not-an-option terrain?! The Langes are cold, tight and narrow, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I tele in the Scarpa T2x: great boot for going uphill and downhill. I wore them for a six day hut trip and was warm, comfortable, and able to rip narrow couloirs with precision in every turn. One thing that aggravates me about women’s ski gear is the pants. I’m young and want a modern fit to my pants without sacrificing function. It seems that really “good” ski pants, you know, waterproof and durable, are made for my grandmother. I.E., the waist comes up to your ribs. And there’s never enough pockets! I’m not talking about lipstick and compacts either… when you’re ripping the mountain and don’t carry a backpack, where can you put your Platypus, chapstick, sunscreen, PB and J, ski pass, and mouthguard??

Women’s Gear, The Good The Bad and The (pink hibiscus-covered) Ugly…Installment 2

Klara Wohlers

What I like about my gear is it is made for me, for my height, my weight, and the way I ski. My skis are light, my bindings flex well and my boots are flexible enough for me to move. I like the fact that companies like 22 Design make a binding that is exactly like the guys binding, except with less springs to flex. I ski on a guys ski so what can I say, I like the stiff flex of my skis, I don’t want a limp noodle under my feet. The only thing I would change about my gear is my boots, they are little things that pack out fast and aren’t very durable. They don’t offer a lot of support and after just one season I had already worn a hole in the bellows of both of my boots. If I could change anything about my gear I would just make aspects of it more durable and sturdy like Flylow Gear pants and jackets that are made for girls but are just as warm and durable as any guys clothes you could get, they don’t rip or tear easily and also look very cute. Also while there are a ton of guys boots and guys bindings and guys skis, especially in the telemark world, there are about half as many options for girls. Just because we’re girls doesn’t mean we have to settle for less.

Women’s Gear, The Good, The Bad, and The (pink hibiscus-covered) Ugly

For women of the Freeride persuasion, gear is a constant issue. Our sports are in a constant state of flux from a development standpoint. The bar is continuing to rise in terms of what female athletes are capable of, but the gear we need in order to keep progressing has not always been available to us. In the last few years, however, more and more companies have been making an effort to listen to their female consumers, and we are all thankful for that. We all have our own needs when it comes to gear and one of the best ways to put together an ensemble that works is to read reviews and then make an informed decision. The trouble is that not enough women test the right kind of gear, which is why our team of female Freeride athletes have put together our initial thoughts on the gear we have used or would like to use and how it has affected us. We will be posting our thoughts in installments, so stay tuned this week!

Alix Klein

The Armada JJ’s are my new ski for this year and I love them. They are playful, sturdy at speed, and solid when landing jumps. A ski is nothing without a good pair of boots, however, and last year I bought a pair of Head Raptors. I chose Head because they are designed for people with a wide last (last is the widest part of your foot). I have custom foot beds and have had work done to the shell to make them fit a little better. No matter what boot you choose, make sure that you have a foot bed that supports your arch. Boots normally aren’t perfect out of the box so don’t be shy about spending a couple extra bucks to get them to fit your foot the way they should. A challenge for me is finding pants that have features I desire. Drop seats make going to the bathroom easy in the backcountry and vents on the inside of the leg are also necessary so that swamp ass is not a concern. Finally, when buying a jacket, I want big cuffs with good Velcro to easily secure mittens in place. I also want a jacket that covers my butt to help keep out snow and keep it warm!

A San Juan Thanksgiving

A weekend with my boyfriend’s dad and step mom is never the most appealing way to spend my time, especially on Thanksgiving. We seem to have made it a ritual though, and this year I suggested we go down to Durango, instead of everyone trying to squeeze into our dilapidated shack we call home. Gravy from a jar? Sweet potatoes from a can? Bean casserole with olives? Yuck. At least Boyfriend’s dad is a skier, so ski we did.

Thanksgiving day we ventured up to Molas Pass and some mellow backcountry. The avy forecast had been high and considerable due to new snow and winds… and I have never heard this much whumphing in my life. We didn’t ski any slope higher than a 25 degree angle, but every pitch up and down gave us prominent collapsing, whumphing, and an eerie feeling usually reserved for much steeper, technical missions. It seemed that we had more skinning than skiing that day, but it was in preparation for the three pies being served up that night…

Friday was opening day at Purgatory and it was sick! Crested Butte’s opening day was a powder day, but things don’t get too exciting on green groomers… Purgatory’s opening was way better! The only thing open was steep blue runs with two feet of powder! Fun little airs, newly forming moguls, and tree skiing made our day! It was great to be able to get the skis off the snow for one of the first times this season and build up a little confidence on some 5-footers. Stoked for more!

We ventured to some more backcountry around Silverton on Saturday, as the avy hazard dropped to moderate. We picked a long tree run from unnamed 12551′ peak and skinning up through the trees. I led the skin track the whole way, and was pretty proud that I kept my pace throughout because I usually get slow as my mind and eyes tend to wander to the gnarlier peaks around. (The dog beat me to the top, like usual.) We still a little skeptical of the snowpack and as Boyfriend dropped in to ski cut the treed slope, the whole thing settled about two feet. Very Unsettling, yet we decided to continue down and play it safe. We found that though the snow was almost thigh deep in places, it was also very unsupportive. We found a few powdery gullies to surf in and some rocks to ski across at the bottom! The goofy dog get so excited to “ski” she cries until it’s her turn, at which point she bombs down the hill getting faceshots, seemingly about to go head over tail and tumble though the snow! Fun, safe ski… but won’t want to be on that terrain when it gets loaded with more snow.

Sunday we went to Wolf Creek. I’d never been there, but having heard that it gets the most snow out of all the Colorado resorts, was pretty stoked. A free AT and tele demo was also enticing. I started off in my torture boots… I mean alpine gear… only to have frozen toes after one run. It probably didn’t get above zero degrees that day and was nuking snow! I thought I’d demo a pair of BD AT boots, partially because of my interest in them and partially because they were in a warm truck all morning and my boots were like ice cubes. Bad idea. The instep was so short in the boots that my circulation was cut off almost immediately, though I managed to get through two runs. I then gave up and switched to my tele gear. With warm toes (thank god for flexy toed tele boots) and my own familiar skis, I thought of a lesson I’ve learned many times before: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. No need to demo new gear all day when all I along I already owned the best gear for me. I headed back out to meet Boyfriend and his dad and the rest of the afternoon was a blast! Tree skiing, deep powder, and hardly any other people in sight! Boyfriend’s dad left early to head back to Durango, but we kept on ripping and finally had the opportunity to chill after the weekend of canned gravy and parents. We just made the last chair ride of the day and finished it off with a stellar pow run, untracked, steep, and deep! I’ll definitely head back to Wolf Creek again, but sure was glad to sleep in my own bed and make my own food after Thanksgiving weekend. 🙂

Alex R.

Tomorrow I go to work…

On Tuesday I was not planning on skiing, but ended up going to a little boot pack kicker session. The minute I got out there I was asking myself, “why didn’t I want to come?” It was super fun and I gained a lot more confidence in the air!

Saturday was the next time I got to go play in the mountains. My friends and I were getting a late start so we decided to take the snowmobiles out to get some practice.  It was really cold, windy and snowy when we got up to the base of Owen. We boot packed up a nice pitch, made a quick transition under a cliff, and the skiing was pretty good. All and all, another good adventure and experience to add to the epic-ness.

Today was the most blower out of the 3 missions. We went to the Anthracites a.k.a “CB West”…haha, to find a very burned out skin track and many possies of people. We had another mellow day due to the fact that one of our friends had  was on his virgin back-country mission! The skiing was shin deep and felt like champagne pow. I was very happy to be taking it easy because every time I went to turn or bend, my knee was severely aching.  I made it through the whole day safe and completely in-tact! I am looking forward to icey-hot and taking it easy.

Alix