Paradise: Still Waiting

Paradise: Still Waiting

Friday night was the World Premiere of Teton Gravity Research’s new ski film Paradise Waits.  Fall is here and I am starting to get the itch to get back on my skis, so a little ski porn action to get me in the mood sounded like a pretty damn good idea, plus! Angel Collinson, one of the most BOSS individuals in skiing, is featured doing what she does, which if you haven’t a clue, is ski really fucking rad.  I bought tickets, put on some leather boots and a cool ass poncho, and headed to the village at JHMR for the outdoor screening.

Originally I wrote a whole (highly critical) review of the movie…but I decided to abandon my critique of their arbitrary movie title Paradise Waits, the absolute lack of any story line, and the use of a power point style time-line to progress the film to focus on the thing that bothered me most about the movie, the moment- the segment, that TGR lost me, a lady skier.

Here’s how it went: I’m watching the movie, and I’m enjoying it.  There is a segment of Angel and her brother Johnny in Kosovo that was pretty cool, and although her skiing time was short during the segment, it was a sick line.  I wanted more, and I was hoping for more.  The time-line continued, and about an hour in to the movie without any more of Angel skiing, the film moved on to a segment of Tim Durtschi skiing a tram lap at Jackson Hole.

The segment started with the very iconic synth sounds of Cyndi Lauper’s 1983 hit “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.”  

I was absolutely bewildered.  Stupefied.  I looked around, my jaw dropping, at the crowd that was full of women and girls, and thought to myself is this a fucking joke?

Because that is what TGR did in that scene.  They made a mockery of women’s skiing by playing a feminist anthem about female camaraderie and empowerment and pairing it with a man jibbing a line at JHMR, that I know plenty of women ski, with this sort of goofy, comedic vibe to it.  At that point in the movie, a song about girls having fun was featured longer than any girls actually having fun were featured.  And to be more critical, the film didn’t even feature girls having fun.  It featured a single girl, one woman.  Girls were not having fun in this movie, and to be honest at that point, I stopped having fun watching the movie.

Why would TGR choose that song to accompany that segment?  What was the point?  What was the goal?  Was it to make it seem funny or to make the segment feel lighter, goofy, or comical?  And if the answer to the latter is yes, which I have no doubt it is, then the next question to ask is what is so funny about girls having fun and skiing?

This is not the bullshit that women’s skiing needs.

I want to take a second to acknowledge Angel Collinson for the absolute badass that she is.  Now, I didn’t know it at the time, but Angel would go on to close the film with an incredible segment of her slaying high-speed runs with huge airs, techy turns, and big spines.  And you know what?  Her segment got the biggest cheers from the audience.  It was slightly redeeming, and my stoke levels were rising again.  The credits rolled, and as the names of the athletes appeared on screen, I was again reminded where women’s skiing is at as far as media representation.

Of the twenty skiers featured in the film, Angel is the only female. That is 95% male, and just 5% female.  That is a staggering percentage.  Maybe that’s why TGR titled the film Paradise Waits, because it isn’t going to be paradise with just one babe and whole bunch of sausages. That’s a lot of waiting.

Paradise Waits disappointed me.  Last season was the Year of the Lady Skier and it was exciting to see so many projects featuring women. The epicenter of Pretty Faces was in TGR’s very own backyard for crying out loud, and this is the best that they do?

Lady skiers, be critical of the ski industry and call bullshit…and that goes for our male counterparts too, be supportive allies. I think Jon Stewart said it best with his departing words on The Daily Show, “If you smell something, say something.”

Well, TGR, you stink.

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The end of shoulder season's shoulder season

The end of shoulder season's shoulder season

When you haven’t gotten your first summer paycheck and you fear for your life, your rent, and your bank account.

The bases on all of my skis have turned white, my lease is almost up, and my ski pants are so dirty and faded that no detergent can save them from their thrift store fate.  Spring is definitely here.

And with that, I am back to the work grind.  I, like so many other devoted skiers who are trying to do something/anything in the world of this sport, spend the spring and summer months working multiple jobs and capitalizing on the spend-happy tourists that visit our mountain and national park rich homes during the less rugged, warmer months.  My anxiety has been high.  The month of May is scary.  Winter is gone, and with it the memories of snowy months full of travel and adventure and my own spend-happy moments.  There is this two week period during May, between when I just spent most of my savings on doing happy adventure things, and when my first paycheck after starting up work again hits my bank account.  This is a terrifying two weeks.

During these weeks, I walk on eggshells.  I scrape the bottom of the peanut butter jar and pull the bladder out my almost empty box of wine and squeeze the last drops out by hand.  Every dinner invitation is accepted, no matter the company.  Only very calculated risks are taken for fear that something costly will go wrong.  This is the time of year that you really don’t want to bring your car in for a routine, end of winter oil change and end up getting a phone call from your mechanic who tells you that your drive shaft is fucked and you’re going to need to replace that because your Subi is, straight up, unsafe.  You guessed correctly, this is a real life situation.  This is when my anxiety really skyrocketed and I started volunteering for extra shifts even though I was already working 60 hour weeks.

Now let me tell you about that, the going back to work thing.  It is hard to spend 5 months playing every day doing the thing you love most in this world, and then suddenly, spend every day doing something that you love a whole lot less.  Disclaimer: this is not a plea for sympathy.  I’m just saying, it is a rude awakening, and one that haven’t fully adjusted to yet.  It is however, what I have to do to do what I want to do.  You feel me?

I choose this life.  I love this life.  I spend every day in the winter doing amazing things.  I am acutely aware that I am alive.  I know that I have a pulse and that my lungs and my heart and my body all work.  I speed down mountains, fly through the air, and slash pow turns like a boss.  But this girl has gotta work to keep that dream on spinning.  So, get to work work work work.

Of course, the end game is to spend the not so snowy months doing something that I love too.  I’m working on figuring that out, and it’s ok that I haven’t yet.  I’m still having a pretty great time, and I sure do love my life.

The drive shaft is fixed, there is food in the oven, wine in my glass, and my paycheck goes through to my bank account at midnight.  I made it.  Goodbye anxiety, see you next year!

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A great first date doesn't mean shit.

A great first date doesn't mean shit.

Because these people are strangers and they have skeletons in their closet and maybe a drug problem.

Dating can definitely be fun, and light, and exciting.  It can also be a heinous nightmare from which it seems impossible to awaken from.

I am writing this to remind myself, and remind anyone else out there who has ever been on a great first date that a great first date does not equate to successive dates and a promising future, because of this one often overlooked fact: when you go on a first date with someone, you know nothing about this person.  Even if your date goes incredibly well, conversation is good, and you can make each other laugh- you still know basically nothing about this person.  And it is important to remember that everyone has a bag of stinking shit that they are hiding from the world stashed in their closet.

Lately, I have been having a bit of a bad spell, and am starting to think that I might be a “one-date-wonder.”  One really good date, and done.  No más.  I don’t know why, maybe as Patty Stanger would say, my “picker” is totally fucked, but I kind of think that with the high concentration of douche lords and pricks that live in ski towns, I have just succumbed to the statistics.

I have been out in this new town where very few people know me smiling at different men, starting conversations with people I have never met, riding the chairlift with guys I think are cute, and handing out Valentines to strangers.  As a result, I’ve also been going on a lot of first dates.

The first dates have been good, too.  Nothing awkward and generally, lots of fun.  There’s been romantic first kisses, I’ve listened to vinyl records in a cabin in the woods, called into the night for owls, gotten helpful tips on how to sink pool balls, and high-fived because women’s rights.  I know- all of that shit sounds awesome!  Great first date activities!  We might even have more fun in the future!

But then…nothing.  No calls, no texts.  Radio silence.  

What the fuck?

I have been on bad dates, when the guy and I don’t click.  It is evident when that happens.  It is uncomfortable and you can both feel it.  When a guy goes in for a kiss, and I pull away or pretend like I don’t know what he’s doing- it is very clear: this is not going to work because I am not into you or you are not into me.  But what has been happening to me lately was making no sense to me at all.

Most recently I went on this great date.  The guy called me and asked me if we could go out.  He used the phone number I gave him to actually call me, which impressed me, since pretty much every other man I have ever given my phone number to has only ever texted me, or worse, Facebook messaged me, to see if I want to go out on a date.  He picked me up from work, opened the car door for me, took me skiing, and kissed me in a room with a giant fireplace.  It did not suck.

He was traveling after our date, which is a totally valid excuse to be out of contact, except he called me almost every day for a week while he was out of town.  He even lined up another date for when he got back to Jackson.  And then he fell off the face of the fucking planet.  I actually thought for a moment, maybe he flew Malaysia Airlines and is at the bottom of the Pacific somewhere.  It was weird.  I was confused, and a friend of mine postulated a couple theories as to why he Houdini’d on me- like maybe there is another girl, or he has a drug problem.

A drug problem?  Naaah.  I mean, I know we had some drinks and almost everyone in a ski town smokes a little weed, but a real drug problem seems ludicrous.

Then I remembered, we went on one date.  I don’t really know this person.  My friends don’t know this person.  I have no idea what the bag of shit they have hiding in their closet is actually made of.  It could, very well indeed, be a giant bag of blow.  One of the hazards of dating is that you have no fucking clue who this person is.

Sure enough, a couple weeks post-first date, I saw him.  He wasn’t actually at the bottom of the ocean with a bunch of plane wreckage.  He was, however, out of his fucking brain.  Granted, I was at an EDM concert, but he was still next-level shit housed.  My friend and I watched him for a minute, and it was there, right in front of me.  Maybe, he actually did have a problem and he’s just a smooth-talking party boy.

Or maybe, not so smooth talking.  When the show was over, he approached some of his friends standing near me at the bar, one of whom remembered me from the one night I actually went out with this dude.  The guy that I had had such a nice first date with just two weeks earlier looked at me, sweaty, with unfocused eyes, and slurred, “Do I know you?”

(Head tilts back, shakes side to side, and as I am recalling this moment I swear out loud, “Fuck.”)  Talk about achieving a new low.

Good thing I rebound like a bouncey ball thrown hard into the cement.  There is no lying, it didn’t feel awesome to have this happen to me again, but it was a good reminder:  a great first date doesn’t mean shit until you find out more about the stranger you’re dating.

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no champagne, no hangover!

2014, done and dusted. Welcome to the new year!

Today I am hangover free, thanks to some good decision making and an early bed time.  This morning I made pumpkin pancakes, read the news, and am headed out to pick up my newly mounted skis and go for a little ski before work.  I can't say it was the most glamorous new year's celebration, but I feel pretty good about it.  Something about going out in the -7º weather, spending too much money, and waking up with a hammering headache didn't appeal to me this year...and that is totally ok.  This new adventure I'm on is enough for now, and it shall continue.

I don’t know what is going to happen in 2015, but I can guarantee that something will happen, and to that, I say cheers!  To whatever happens next.

(and the next thing will be good, and soon)

Catch you out there in the singles' line!

Man Down

Today, at 7:35 am, I did not wake up to my alarm.  Instead, I jolted out of my sleep coma to an incredibly large sounding bump and crash.  Our room shook.  Earthquake?  No, it definitely sounded like human pinball.  I was having some weird dream about Taylor Swift autographing a picture of me skiing (secret fantasy?…maybe…definitely), and I was feeling the morning-after effects of a couple whiskey gingers so I was in a disorientated and weird state already.  But nevertheless, the sound of a human possibly bleeding out right outside my motel room was worrisome.

Worrisome as it was, neither Sophia or I got out of bed to investigate, or even acknowledged the noises that we had just heard.  We just stayed silent and listened.  Hopefully for signs of life.  They came, in forms of moans and whimpers.  It sounded like an adult male, really struggling.  In my brain, I imagined he had just eaten shit off the balcony above me and onto my car.  Yes, it actually sounded like that.

Then I thought, wait, what if he is just lying there on my smashed windshield bleeding out of his eyeballs?  Shit.  I wonder if that’s covered in my car insurance policy.

I think he called for help, or called the name of his friend?  I'm still a little delirious.  Is this a dream?

After maybe 4 or 5 groans, I finally couldn’t contain it anymore, this was actually happening.  “Dude, is there someone dying out there?”

And we laughed.  Not because we are terrible people but because fuck.  We are living in a motel, and this kind of thing happens.  So much weird shit happens.

I contemplated getting up and looking outside, but I’ve lost my glasses in the big move and it is a whole process to put my contacts in and I am completely blind without them.  So it’s not like I would have been able to see what was going on anyway.

Then, another man’s voice.  “Hey man, are you ok down there?”

He managed a reply.  “Yeah, I’m ok…No, no.  I’m not.”

At this point the other guy asked if the man, who was presumably lying in a pool of his own blood somewhere close to our motel room door, needed help.  Then the rescuer called to his friend, “Hey Doug! We got a man-down out here!”  I’m pretty sure Doug&Co. were the camouflage brigade I saw check in the other day with big beards and twangy voices; hunting trip.

So Doug&Co. came to the rescue and it sounded like they helped the man-down get up off whatever surface he had come to rest upon.  The man-down sounded wasted, but able to articulate that he was in room 430.  Doug&Co. helped him to his room.

And then Doug shouted this enigma, “Hey man, don’t forget your dog!”

What?  Seriously?  

20 minutes later there was no longer a groaning body outside our window, and I heard the camouflage brigade talking to one of the housekeepers who maybe saw what had happened.  She said she looked in to his room the other day and there were empty bottles of mouthwash everywhere.  Seemed like he was drinking them.  They discussed their biggest concern, the dog.

That made me sad.  And it made the whole living-in-motel thing feel even more desperate than before.  Thank baby Ski-Jesus that we are outta this place in 2 days.

Then, we went skiing.

Note:  When I did eventually open the door and look outside, I was relieved to find the Subi in excellent condition, except the ding above the right front wheel from a runaway shopping cart many years prior.  And perplexingly, I did not see a single drop of blood.  I will never know, and always wonder, what exactly happened.

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Tonight Sophia and I did things like wasted an entire box of matches trying to light them with our teeth, made gold grills out of Reese’s peanut butter cup wrappers and snap chatted pictures of us wearing the aforementioned grills to everyone we know, and made dinner on a camp stove in my Mom’s vintage Girl Scout pots.  In our motel room.

Yes, we are still here.

I have stories and words to share - really it is all happening, but I am feeling so bounded by this room.  I maybe thought that living in a motel might be this cathartic experience that makes all the feelings come out in some romantic saga that is this vividly real and inspirational experience.  Like leaving on a journey to tackle the PCT, or boarding a plane with only your passport and a backpack.  But I feel stifled.  Like what can come out of me is limited by the confines of this space.

It feels less like a motel room and more like waiting room.  We have arrived, checked in, and are sitting in our seats with months old magazines to read, just waiting.

Call my name.  Let me in.  I’m ready.

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I am living in a hotel.  Correction: I am living in a motel.

To clarify; I am not an heiress.  This is not the Chateau Marmot.  There is no kitchen.  The tub does not have jets.  This is the Painted Buffalo Inn and the rates are weekly and the fridge is mini.  Turn down service is not an option, and continental breakfast is an additional three dollars per day.

I went to the grocery store today to stock up on microwaveables.  I realized that buying organic is not conducive to motel living.  That shit needs to be prepared and unless you are one inventive SOB, you cannot prepare an organic meal in a microwave.  You need pots and pans, boiling water, maybe even a fucking cutting board.  For me, this is the hardest aspect of motel living because I love food and unfortunately, I not the descendant of the French’s Mustard fortune and I cannot go out to eat 21 times a week.  I have bananas, tortillas, and a $15 jar of almond butter (still, not an heiress).  This is just a part of it.  It is not forever.  Suck it up, Princess.

My paddle board is still strapped to the roof of my car, my Yakima box is still inside my Subi, and I still cannot locate my hiking shoes.  I knew it would take a second to get everything sorted.  It has been a week, and yes, I had a moment.  I drove into a public lot, put my car in park, sat there in the driver’s seat while I left the engine idling because it was cold and I needed to feel the warmth of something, with all of my belongings closing in on me, eyes welling with tears, and thinking what the fuck am I even doing?

And then a not so funny thing happened, something that if you know me, is unsurprising.  My convictions came storming back.  There was clarity and I realized that my confidence is still there.  I have made a good decision and this is a good choice for me.  Also...there was one fantastic Halloween party, and that definitely helped too.  I’m serious, I didn’t even see one offensive costume and there were even other people celebrating #FeministHalloween!

It is late and I’m going to bed.  I’m smiling.  This is epic.


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step 2: throw a party, step 3: go

step 2: throw a party, step 3: go

My journey to Jackson started so rushed.  I was delayed, mostly because goodbyes are hard and take longer than expected and more alcohol is consumed than you go into the whole thing thinking you’ll consume.  I meant to leave on Monday, but ruined my Sunday that I was suppose to spend packing by sleeping until noon and suffering through a hangover (thanks, Brad).  Sunday evening was my “farewell” party, which I smartly chose to start at happy hour, 4PM, thinking I would go home relatively early.  Needless to say, I was home early.  On Monday.  The enduring effort of farewelling on Sunday (which might I add- ended up in the local paper), made packing on Sunday slow and sluggish.  Monday night was reserved for a special goodbye dinner at Nevados with my roommate and wonderful friend, Jamie.  Things took a turn (a different story for a different time) and again, my departure was delayed.  I wanted to leave by 2PM, an ambitious goal made more difficult because at some point between 8AM and 10AM, our electricity went out.

The game of Tetris I played against my Subaru was exhausting and fucking difficult.  Paddle board, Yakima box, tupperwares, boxes, bags, so many vintage ski outfits— it was hard to make it all fit.  But I did!  Mostly.  I forgot things, naturally.  There were things I didn’t need immediately and decided it was okay they couldn’t fit.  There are things I will go back for.  Honestly, I think it is pretty impressive when you can fit your whole life into your car.  There is a sense of freedom that comes with that ability, an impermanence in where you are; leaving is always an option.

My visibility was pretty good, considering.  I had full use of both side mirrors, the entire windshield, and half of the front passenger side window.  I put my blinker on for long periods of time before I merged, and when I merged, I did so very, very slowly.  I only had one person throw their arms up and their mouth mimic silent obscenities at me when I didn’t see her peel out of the Starbucks drive-thru.  Sorry, not sorry.

Highlights of my drive included the following:  Perfecting my imitation of Chris Martin’s falsetto in the song Paradise, chewing two packs of bubble yum original flavored bubble gum in 9 hours, my paddle board not flying off the roof of my car, two very delicious grande skinny vanilla lattes from Starbucks, one truly unbelievable sing along to the Cranberries’ Zombie that was immediately followed up by an even more powerful duet between myself and Alanis Morisette not only singing, but really meaning the words to You Learn, two evenings in Truckee, CA visiting my dope-as-fuck friends Drew and Jdubs, a housekeeper in Twin Falls, ID finding my Macbook charger in my vacated room just before I drove away from the Motel 6, NOT eating any McDonalds, one epic gopro selfie on the Perrine Bridge overlooking the Snake River, buying gas in Winnemucca, NV for $2.99/gal without using any Safeway rewards points, laughing with Lena Dunham as she read me her newly released book Not That Kind of Girl, several very interesting anti-meth billboards in Idaho, and finally, not using my GPS and not getting lost.

I never had any tears.  I thought maybe the long, contemplative drive and all of that open road across Nevada would enable me to think really hard about my entire time in Mammoth and be overwhelmed by sorrow for leaving.  I did have a lot of time to think but mostly I just feel good about my four years in Mammoth.  Glad that it has happened, thankful for the friends that I have made.  Driving into Jackson I was smiling ear to ear, looking for moose, and full of excitement.

I made it to Jackson just before 5PM on Friday.  By 9:47PM I had found a “local’s” bar, made three friends; two of whom are bartenders and the other a scraggly haired native, tasted two local beers, had a delicious steak, and was invited to one Thanksgiving dinner.

I think that this will work out okay, but I’ll be sure to keep you posted.

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step 1: make a decision.

Today I got cold.  I woke up, and felt the smooth chill of my summer sheets as my toes stretched to the end of my bed.  I saw a yellow leaf swirl through the air as a sudden gust tore through the September air.  Winter is coming.

But maybe not to here.

California remains in the grips of a terrifying drought.  The water levels in the Lakes Basin are depressingly low, leaving the dry and cracked lake beds exposed to the always beating sun.  The bears have been wrestling with the dumpsters for months now, sniffing out any scrap of food.  While it rained a lot in July, the short storms made no improvements to our dire water situation.  We rely on the water that is released each spring from the cold, white snow, and for the past three winters, mother nature has simply not provided.  I see no immediate end to the drought.  Locals are muttering hopeful predictions that this winter doesn’t look like it’s going to be that bad, and that El Niño is coming!  That bad won’t do it for me.  The drought will not end over night.  Climate change is happening and in California, winter isn’t so white anymore.

In the vein of self preservation, I have decided to leave my home here in Mammoth and make a new one somewhere where it still seems to snow every once and a while.  I fear my heart turning jealous of cold fronts and pressure systems bringing huge dumps of snow to the Rockies, the Tetons, and even to my first home, the Northeast.  I am afraid of resenting this beautiful, amazing place for keeping me from a deep, snowy winter.

I have made incredible friends, unforgettable memories, and had some pretty awesome ski days.  But there are a lot of ghosts roaming around this town too.  Friends that have packed up and left, moved on to new chapters in their lives.  Too many reminders of a man that taught me about love, and then took it away.  The smoldering remains of my failed relationships and attempts to move forward.  I’m ready for the sun to set on this part of my story.

In the end, the choice is easy.  Go.


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back in action

How about we try this again? 

THE SINGLES' LINE is back for Winter 2014/2015.  More stories, more skiing, more everything.

The first time around I had good intentions for TSL, but life got in the way.   I am in a better space to focus and produce some killer content.  I'm moving on and moving forward.  Follow the journey.


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Undateable Volume 1: Straight Liners

Undateable Volume 1: Straight Liners

An ideal day is waist deep, champagne powder, endless refills and good friends.  Another ideal day is a few untracked groomer runs followed by drinking champagne and eating endless amounts of gravy smothered turkey with good friends.

Thanksgiving was awesome.  There was delicious food, good wine, and great company.  However, Thanksgiving was also crazy on the mountain.  7,000 people on 5 lifts and 15 trails is a little tight.  All of us skiers and boarders are forced together onto a few runs, and at any given point the cross section of the population on the snow is pretty diverse.

However, there are a few people that really stand out to me during these holiday periods when the hill is jam packed with skiers and riders, and I would like to highlight some of them in a new feature by The Singles’ Line that I’m going to call Undateable.

Let’s begin, shall we?

Undateable Volume 1: Straight Liners

You know who I’m talking about.  We have all seen that little speck that crests over the horizon, traveling in a direct line down the hill at mach 10 and B lining towards an unsuspecting person, that somehow always seems to be a small child or an elderly skier. 

If you need a visual, check out this guy.  Or this person.

A straight liner is usually out of control.  They have trouble stopping.  They will hurt you.  They are undateable.

Don’t get me wrong, I myself go for the occasional straight line.  The difference is, I am in control and it’s appropriate for the situation.  With that being said, here is a list of circumstances when one might be straight lining and what can be considered dateble or undateable.

Straight lining...
·      tight couloirs: Dateable
·      into a 4 year old: Undateable
·      to get across a large puddle or to win a pond skim:  Dateable
·      into a packed lift line and producing results similar to bowling a strike: Undateable
·      to get enough speed for a jump/cliff/drop: Dateable
·      because you’re skiing drunk and can’t turn and don’t care: Undateable
·      to try to break a world record for speed: Dateable
·      through a really choppy area where if you turned you might also have a ski explosion: Still Dateable
·      at the finish of a world cup downhill: Dateable (Axel, I’m talking to you.)

I don’t really want to date you if you lack direction and control.  I don’t want to date you if you are headed full speed into a disastrous crash, and may take me down with you.

Just throwin’ that out there.


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Opening Day Is Awesome...But Also Terrifying

Everyone out there who experienced the opening of the 2013/2014 ski season Veteran’s Day weekend, or if your mountain just opened this past weekend, let’s raise a glass: opening weekend is over and it is time for ski season to begin.

I will toast to that.

Don’t get me wrong, I was out there on opening day really excited, cruising around on my equipment still wrecked from last spring, enjoying the free beer, making some nice arcs across a couple of cat tracks, and hanging out with all my friends who were doing exactly the same thing.

And that is why opening weekend is also one of the most dangerous weekends.

Firstly, excitement is running high.  People are amped.  The first lift ride up the mountain is like waking up on Christmas morning and you just want to tear through every single present.  Everyone wants to get to the top, and then be the first one to the bottom.  It is guaranteed that on every opening day there is that one guy who gets off the chair and skates super hard past everybody else and immediately drops into a tuck and bombs straight down to claim first run of the season.

Cool, bro.  However, had you eaten shit anywhere along the way, I would be the first to tell you that you are a fucking idiot, and you would be permanently on my dating blacklist.

I didn’t load the lift until about 9:30, well after most of the knuckleheads had done enough straight-lining to get bored, and some of the go-getters that were out there for first chair needed to take of their boots and grab a drink.  I had stored my skis in the Thule box on my car all summer.  The last time I opened it was when I put my skis in it at the end of the season in May.  I pulled out a pair that I thought would be acceptable for opening day conditions.  I didn’t really note the condition they were in until I was actually on the snow, pulling them apart.  Then I remembered, I left town in such a hurry last season I didn’t even put a coat of wax on them for storage and definitely didn’t touch the edges.  They were kind of a train wreck, but I just shrugged my shoulders and though, “well, good enough.”

By my third turn on the very variable, man-made, and surprisingly hard surface, I realized that maybe it was a poor decision to not take my skis out at any point over the summer and do some work on them.  The combination of death cookies, bulletproof ice, hidden rocks, and a dusty skier does not work in conjunction with railed skis and super dry bases.  It is just scary and unsafe.

You know what else is scary and unsafe?  2,000 people skiing on one trail with less width than a two-lane highway.  Usually on opening day the whole mountain is not open, and we are really lucky to have more than two trails.  Everyone gets funneled to the same runs, and with all other opening day factors to consider, it is hazardous.

I did about an hour and a half before I had to take my boots off.  Then I headed to where most everybody else was making frequent stops: the bar.  Let’s just recap why opening day is dangerous; most of us haven’t skied in about 6 months, we are super excited, the conditions are not good, there is not a lot of snow, and our equipment is still destroyed from spring skiing.  Now, add alcohol.

Booze makes every day activities like using the phone or driving, into almost certain disasters.  Skiing is no exception.  Mammoth always has a toast to kick off the season with free champagne for everyone on opening day.  This year was a little different; Mammoth Brewing Co. brewed a special 60th anniversary beer for the mountain in honor of the 60th year of operation.  Everyone got their beer, and Rusty made his annual speech, and with glasses held in the air we all wished for a season full of deep pow.  And then people kept on drinking, and kept on skiing.  No thanks.  I took my boots off and watched from the Sun Deck.  I do not want to get ruined on my first day out, because really there is nothing sexy about your first day of the season also being your last.

Really the biggest thing that makes opening day the most perilous is that it’s everybody else’s first day of the season.  You can control yourself, but you don’t know when the last time the other guy tuned his skis, or how many celebratory drinks those girls had, or if that dude is going to be able to stop after bombing down a run. 

I’m glad the first couple weekends are over.  I’ve tuned my skis, they’re making more snow, more trails are slowly opening up, and there is white stuff in the forecast.  Now we are playing the waiting game.  When will we get our first big dump?  When will they open the gondi to the top?  When can I take out my good equipment?  One thing is for sure though, the best is yet to come.


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Fat, Ugly, Mean...Say WHAT about ski town women?!?

It has come to my attention that there was, and perhaps still is, a bumper sticker out there that reads:

Fat, ugly, mean?  Move to Mammoth, be a queen.

What?!  I take offense!  Is this really a perception held by people about Mammoth, or ski towns in general?  Skiing is an industry dominated by men and ski towns are dominated by the industry, making men the majority.  So does this demographic situation allow for women to rule over ski towns like royalty?

Let’s first look at the facts.

According to Census data from 2010, the total population of people in Mammoth Lakes over the age 18 is 6,180 and is split 55.2% male, 44.8% female (3,411 males/2,786 females)*.  Compare this to the 2010 data from California, where women narrowly rank in the majority at 50.2% of the total population.  Initially when I read the figures for Mammoth, I was pretty surprised.  I always thought women were way more in the minority.  But then I thought about it some more. 

Mammoth is a resort town, and there are a lot of transients that plant themselves here just for the winter, spending the season in the mountains before moving on to their next adventure.  When you go to the bar, people cling to their origins, “check out my Alaska ID- it doesn’t even look real!”  A lot of the people that are here for the ski season do not change their residency, register to vote in California, or even at the very least maintain a year-long lease.  So I am going to guess that a vast majority of the twenty-somethings in this town is unaccounted for in Census data.  And from personal experience living here, a lot of those twenty-somethings are guys.

There are more men in town than women, to the extent that it is noticeable.  It is not uncommon to go out to a bar and upon setting foot inside, getting steamrolled by the musky smell of ski town men (a mix of cheap cologne, multiple days old ski socks, and PBR).  I swear sometimes I can actually feel my estrogen levels dropping, as I am overwhelmed by the presence of male testosterone.  When a prominent bar in town offers free bottle service to any group of five females that comes in together, you know that maybe there’s a ratio problem.

So back to the question, can women reign free in ski towns?  I have definitely had my moments when I play my gender to my favor.  I readily allow men that I am completely uninterested in to buy me drinks.  On days when I have finally made the great skate to Chair 1, only to realize I have left my pass in my other jacket, I put my goggles up, bat my eyelashes at the liftie and explain that I just need to lap around and grab it, so pleeeease could you open the RFID gate for me?  I have grabbed the hand of my best girlfriend, and stormed to the front of long lines to get into Laka Nuki (where we go to dance) and proclaimed, as if it is my birthright, that I should be let in because surely they need more females inside.  And you know what?  It works.  Because it’s true; women in ski towns can let the numbers play to our favor.

But, like with anything, there is a tipping point.  You can only lead someone on, or act like a diva for so long.  As an ex-boyfriend of mine likes to say (obviously, not about me), “No matter how good looking a woman is, there is always someone out there that is sick of dealing with her shit.”  And I agree.  If you want to be mean, or act like an entitled princess, it’s your choice.  However, chances are, you will eventually end up endlessly in the singles’ line, unable to find any takers.

I have definitely seen women who walk around town like there is a crown bestowed upon their heads, but I don’t know if people really respect that, and I don’t think girls do it because there aren’t many other women around.  Some people just aren’t always nice. The majority of the women that I know are good, classy, and interesting people.  And the other thing about that bumper sticker- Fat, ugly, mean-  I don’t see a lot of fat and ugly in this town.  We are young, fit, and doing what we love…and that is beautiful.

Yes, we get our share of free drinks.  Yes, when I forget my pass in the cafeteria, I still get the employee discount.  Yes, sometimes the parking lot guys let me park in the $20/day lot when I’m running late.  But you know what?  I take those niceties as a

reward for succeeding in an industry dominated by men, for listening to countless unattractive dudes slur creepy pick up lines at the bar, and for living in a town that doesn’t have access to cheap mani/pedis.


Ladies, the odds are good when you are living in a ski town.  And while you will definitely be able to use your feminine mystique to your advantage, it does not also give you the ability to abandon all civility and kindness.  Just be awesome, be kind, and rip.  You won’t need to act like a queen; you’ll be treated like one.




*2010 Census data for a few other ski towns: Truckee: 47.9% female, Steamboat Springs: 45.8% female, Jackson: 48.9% female, Aspen 47.9% female



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The first day of ski season is coming.

But if you have a Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, you already knew that.  My minifeed is jam packed with all sorts of pre-season hype, and I have been just as guilty of filling up all my friends’ feeds.  Instagrams of new goggles, tweets of Instagrams of new boots, and Facebook posts of tweets of Instagrams of 2014 season passes.  Why do we feel an overwhelming and intense desire to share with everyone we know that we have been hitting the gym, that we’ve been watching the leaves turn from green to yellow to brown to white, that we’ve have been wearing our new boots around the house in an attempt to break them in, that the temperature displayed on our dash now allows for snowmaking, and that last night all we dreamt of was having deep conversations with snow white (you guys it’s totally a metaphor, for like, wicked deep pow, right?)?

For those of us waist deep in our passion for winter, pre-season is a magical time filled with new gear, new ski films, new goals, and new dreams.  It gives us the tingles all over, the good kind, not the pre-frostbitten-toes kind of tingles.  It is a time of transition, from the sun soaked days of summer, to the crisp days of autumn.  The trees give their offerings of orange, red, and gold to old man winter, to impress him and to ask for a bountiful and healthy season.  During this wonderful, transitory period, we are filled with eagerness and anticipation.  We read weather reports like prophecies.  We zip up our jackets with sweet satisfaction.  When we see our breathe in the air, we smile.  Winter is coming.

With all of this anticipation and excitement building up inside of us, we also feel a lot of hope- for deep, blower pow, for silky, wind-buffed drifts, and for the best winter ever (or at least a really good one).  This also being an Olympic year, I feel an extra little bit of hopefulness bubbling up near my heart.

I am so charged with this electric excitement; it just ends up emanating out through my fingers and toes as happy manifestations on various social media outlets.  I want to share my excitement, and my hope, and my joy.  When people like my Facebook posts, tweets, and Instagrams about the upcoming winter, it makes me even more excited.  The good feelings inside of me grow.  It makes me happy.  And isn’t that the point?  Why we ski?  It makes up happy.

So go on, tweet your heart out.  #NoFilter a pic of your sweet new jacket and show me how amped you are!  Ski season is almost here.



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PROGRESS is happening...slowly.

I dropped out of my html class in college, so undertaking the task of building my own website (even with the help of a super swanky, easy to use website builder) is hard.   It is slower than molasses in January. 

However, progression > regression. 

So...stand by.  Think of this as "all lifts on hold."   It won't be much longer until lifts are spinning and the singles' line is moving.



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