Saturday, January 28, 2012

When to buy new gear

I know I've spoken about it before; the continued use of old gear. It's something that happens on a regular basis at every resort. Working as a greater some mornings I'm more amazed at the amount of old gear people come carrying up than anything else. Two weekends ago I was able to witness a couple carrying vintage Raichle Ski Boots in perfect condition. The bottoms looked like they'd seen very little wear, the sides still showed the original paints and what not. It was enough for me to stop them and ask how long they'd had the boots. Sadly the couple couldn't remember, but they loved the boots. As I was preparing for lessons that day in the Kids School, one of the employees from the sales area came walking back. Not terribly unusual but what was in her hand was. She was carrying the cuff to a ski boot. Apparently a family brought their child in for some ski lessons, bringing with them their borrowed gear from a family friend. Their child, once in the ski boot began to walk around, breaking the boot within a few seconds. It took less than a minute for the entire boot to disintegrate in the pay line. By entire boot I mean the plastic, the boot liner, and the buckles. All three were destroyed. The front desk employee brought the boot cuff back to give us warning that "Conan The Barbarian, Slayer of Boots" was about to be signed up for lessons, and left the boot cuff for us to inspect. We all joked about it for awhile, and the general decision had been that whoever gets this child needs an extra cut in their paycheck this week. Then the decision was the boot cuff should be mounted and shown why using old gear isn't the best idea. Ten minutes later I discover that "Conan" is one of the three children in my class. He was actually a fun student. After the class, I arrived at my locker to discover the Kids School had found some polished wood, drilled/mounted the boot cuff, and then hung it outside my locker with a name tag. The makeshift plaque now is going to be used to highlight the instructor who has had the most interesting pre-class story. So far I'm in the lead for 2011/2012.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Sometimes it is the gear

Working with children is always a challenge. Even when you ask what you think are the right questions, it doesn't always mean the children will respond with proper answers. For example in my pre-class checks I like to investigate the boot fit as it's not uncommon for people to rent boots too big. I run through a series of pre-class questions that look kind of like this:
    How do your boots feel?
    Are they too tight?
    Where are they tight?
    Can you feel your toes touching the front of the boot? (When standing up)
    Can you try to bend your ankles?
I'll also do some checks where I see what has been stuffed into the boot (socks, jeans, etc) and check space for the shin bone. Often times just adjusting a little bit of the boot tongue is enough to make a tight boot suddenly feel a lot better for kids. This past week I had a student, lets call him Brian, who ran through all of these steps and everything looked okay. As a class we took some time to prepare indoors for wedge and parallel positions, walking, getting in and out of skis, and general starting processes like that. Once the class made it outside, Brian suddenly had all kind of difficulty in moving around on the snow. It wasn't terribly clear to me at first what was going on, or why he couldn't do simple tasks like a straight glide. Some of that was because Brian was a constant ball of movement even when standing still. About half way through the outdoor segment I started to see what was going on, his left leg was inverting at random times. It wasn't clear why but at lunch I had the chance to better inspect what was going on. It was at this point Brian was showing to the other kids in the school that he could turn his boot sideways and pop his foot out of the boot. The Kids School director and I promptly got Brian a new pair of boots that were a few sizes smaller, which made all the difference in his ability to control the leg. It did not however slow down his endless motion.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Sarah Burke

This season seems to be off to an awful run. First we have had a complete lack of snow all around in the US (with one storm now dumping a lot on the ground). Now I read that Sarah Burke, Canadian freeskier, has passed away due injuries sustained in her January 10th 2012 accident. Full story can be found here.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


Just wanted to give a shout out to Justin over at for a quick recover back to a season on the snow.
For those who haven't seen it yet, Sh*t Skiers Say is making the rounds now thanks to Whistler Blackcomb.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

What Snow?

This has been a topic of conversation for most of this season. For the folks in the West coast the season started early (mid to late November) and then entered a drastic warm spell for December. For the folks on the East coast it's been a lot of warm with man-made snow being used as much as possible. Then a friend sent this little link to an article called Wheres the Snow?. It's an interesting read to see how things are going this season despite it being a La Nina season. Despite my attempts at laughing at the lack of snow, I've come to the conclusion it must be bad. CNN has published an article talking about it as well.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Back alive on the blog. This one comes from the folks at Teton Gravity Research (TGR) to remind us to take care in the back country:

Puckerface avalanche from Jamie Culp on Vimeo.

Other details on this slide according to the American Avalanche Institute include a 36-inch hard slab, on a greater than 45 degree angle at about 11:30 am. Thankfully no one was caught in the slide. TGR also provided this interesting link to the current tally of deaths due to avalanche this season: