Snowcat Skiing – An Awesome Alternative

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snowcatAccessibility: ‘Cat operators are easier to find and get to than heliskiing operators – big resorts like Colorado’s Aspen and Steamboat, Utah’s Deer Valley and Wyoming’s Grand Targhee all offer snowcat trips, as do numerous smaller outfits.

Shred factor: By definition, a snowcat, sort of a lumbering giant snowmobile, can’t cover as much ground as a helicopter. That means more waiting and access to less terrain. But you won’t mistake the experience for waiting in a lift line at a resort, because a good snowcat operator can provide access to 15,000 or so feet of untracked powder on a good day. That’s plenty challenging, trust me.

Weather factor: OK, they’re slower. But snowcats, unlike helicopters, operate when it’s snowing or socked in. This is huge. There’s nothing more glum than a helicopter lodge on a bad weather day when the birds are grounded.

Danger factor: Avalanches are always a risk in the backcountry. A good operator will provide transceiver safety training and an experienced guide.

Do it if … you …

Love That Heliskiing

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heliskiingOn a good day, says TLH president and general manager George Rosset, heliskiing guests can expect to ski 30,000 vertical feet on 10 to 12 long runs. The riding is serious, and so is the price. But that’s not my thought as we strap in close on the big bird. I stare out the windows at the gorgeous etched mountains, and as we take off and skim low toward our first run, I sense both the fear of performance that looms ahead and the desire to get into it.

The helicopter lands and my eight-person group huddles as guide Glen Wortley performs an avalanche safety check. The great, fresh snow that’s ideal for riding is also highly unstable; for that reason, TLH has an almost obsessive approach to safety. Our first day begins with a half-hour of training on Orthovox avalanche transceivers – if a slope lets go, we’ll have only minutes to find and unearth a buried comrade. The concern carries through to every run, in fact. Wortley will …

Snowboarder Pros Take Advantage Of Fashion Trends

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snoboarderThanks to the increased exposure of televised events like the X-Games, The Vans Triple Crown of Snowboarding, the U.S. Open of Snowboarding Championships and the Goodwill Games, pro snowboarders are becoming more well known.

Add the prolific snowboard-video-game market, where kids get to play an electronic version of their favorite extreme athlete, as well as the large number of underground snowboard movies released featuring these stars and the result is a huge demand for snowboard products and pro-athlete paraphernalia.

By no means are women excluded from this phenomenon. According to SnowSports Industries America, the nonprofit trade association representing the ski, snowboard and other winter outdoor industries, among the growing trends are professionally endorsed boards, technical freestyle boards and offerings for the women’s equipment category.

Last year, world-class professional snowboarders Cara-Beth Burnside, Leslee Olson, Roberta Rodger, Janna Meyen and Tomo Yamakoshi came together for a concept that would push their sport forward, while at the same time ignite a growing industry.

It started in August 2000, when Olson, the only …

Kelly Clark: How Is It Possible To NOT Love Her?

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olympicsNothing about Kelly Clark screams pop star.

Humble, soft-spoken and shy, yes, but raucous? No way.

Yet, her gold-medal performance Sunday in women’s half-pipe snowboarding caused crowds to erupt on the hill, in this historic ski town, as if she were Britney Spears. When she arrived unannounced Tuesday night at Mountain Logic, a ski specialty store just steps from the Park City Ski Resort where she had struck gold the day before — her medal now firmly planted around her neck — the mostly male crowd of riders cheered and whistled wildly. The 18-year-old waved and lowered her head in embarrassment.

In an unlikely combination of sports and music, Spears surprised Clark, a serious fan of the “I’m Not So Innocent” songstress, on the “Tonight Show” Monday night. Clark told host Jay Leno that she planned to hang her medal near Spears’s autographed picture that says “Rip It Up.”

Unaware that Spears was sitting in on the taped-delay segment and had watcher her Olympic performance during the limo ride to …

Snowboarders Looking Good

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snowboardersA tribe of daredevils stormed last weekend’s U.S. Open Snowboarding Championship and the event’s sponsors pulled a few stunts of their own.

During Sunday’s slope-style competition here at Stratton Mountain, a skydiver sporting a parachute emblazoned with SoBe, one of the event’s sponsors, leapt from a helicopter imprinted with Anon, an offshoot of the title sponsor Burton. After the half-pipe finals, the afternoon before, Anon staffers hurled goggles, T-shirts and hats like grenades from a makeshift military tower.

Throughout the weekend, fans logjammed the sponsor village, waiting not-so-patiently to take on the Ross Powers figure in a video game at the FHM booth, to get hair highlights at Feria’s area, and to answer trivia questions to win orange baseball caps in Volkswagen’s den.

Despite the unexpected pitches, the event marketing was loud and clear. Announcers plugged riders’ sponsors as if they were their last names, and talked up the event sponsors regularly. They would occasionally tone it down, as in, “I wish I had on a Gore-Tex jacket,” a nod …

Greco Made ‘Em Look!

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whitney-museumLeonard Greco did the unthinkable in a crowd of snowboarders: He made them do a double take.

During the opening night of last month’s U.S. Open at Stratton Mountain, Vt., he was as much of a show-stopper as the riders on the quarterpipe. The 21-year-old art student marched around in an army helmet with cameras strapped around a “Listen to Johnny Cash” T-shirt, holding a Giorgio Armani eyewear ad spray-painted with “JRNL.” What he was getting at — and many wanted to know just that — was some guerrilla marketing for the Journal, a nonprofit photography magazine with its eye on snowboarders and skateboarders between the ages of 15 and 35.

Grecko’s kamikaze approach made Open fans find out what he was doing and see how they could pick up a copy of the magazine. That kind of word-of-mouth advertising is what Journal is about and captures what big brands are trying to do with teens. The free, biannual magazine is available at coffee shops, skateboard stores, art stores and, …