>SKI TAXONOMY Where the five species of skiers should migrate this spring
INNSBRUCK’S aDLERS HOTEL: CINDERELLA’S GLASS SLIPPER HOTEL
REVELSTOKE’S PINNACLE TRIFECTA Wide open: Selkirk Tangiers & Revelstoke raise the ante
THE SPECIES ISSUE WINTER 2016 $4.95 VOLUME 10, ISSUE 2
& CANADA POST PUBLICATION AGREEMENT # 42084025
APRÈS ALL DAY: ICELAND’S GEOTHERMAL POOLS + WEARABLE ART AT ASPEN + SKI TIPS: GET A GRIP! COORDINATE BODY BALANCE
IN THIS ISSUE FEBRUARY 2016
28 LIKE THAT OF A SUPERMODEL DRESSED IN COVERALLS, REVELSTOKE’S BEAUTY IS G R A D U A L LY E X P O S E D O N C E Y O U PEEL OFF A FEW LAYERS...
FIRST LOAD Wearable art, Staying
ED NOTE The Species Issue
warm, Iceland’s geothermal pools
28 REVELSTOKE’S PINNACLE TRIFECTA The super-luxurious Pinnacle package at Selkirk Tangiers Heli Skiing and Revelstoke Mountain Resort take heli-skiing to a new
Opposite page: Paul Morrison. Clockwise on this page: Jackson Hole Resort, aDLERS Hotel, Illustration by Agata Piskunowicz
level. By Claire Challen. Photography by
59 ELEVATED LIVING Cinderella’s glass
slipper hotel 64 TIPS UP Coordinate lower joint
movements for the best balance
40 COVER STORY SPRING BREAK: SKI TAXONOMY Where the five species of skiers should migrate this spring. By Ryan Stuart.
66 PARTING SHOT Après 1950s style
Illustrations by Agata Piskunowicz.
48 WESTERN STATE OF MIND >On the cover: Skiers Adam Ü, KC Deane, Carston Oliver and Johnny Collinson taking the tunnel route back to Myoko, Japan after a long day of backcountry skiing. Photo by Grant Gunderson.
Jackson Hole – where cowboys, travellers and professional big mountain athletes congregate on the giant playground called the Teton Range. By Mark Kristofic.
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spe·cies – a group of living organisms consisting of similar individuals capable of exchanging genes or interbreeding.
February 2016 – Vol 10, No. 2 EDITORIAL/ART/ PRODUCTION
THE SPECIES ISSUE YOU CAN SPOT THEM A MILE AWAY: the masters racers. Same with ski parents. Big mountain rippers too. Ski resorts are full of different groups of skiers. The differences are obvious and hard to mistake – as clear as the difference between a shark and a fish, or a crocodile and a lizard. Like the animal species, skiers’ differences are vast. Vancouver Island writer and skier Ryan Stuart had some fun (Ski Taxonomy, page 40) grouping skiers into five “species”: the masters racer, the big mountain skier, the ex-ski bum, the family and the power couple. Ryan fits into two groups. Where do you fit in? There was a time when skiers bordered on cookie-cutter specimens. Skis were standard, ski hills stuck to the lower part of the mountains and skiers had not yet pushed the envelope in terms of how they got down those mountains. But the industry has come a long way in its technology, development, ability and presence. The same is true for skier adaptation. Some skiers have the ability to cross over to another species. There must be a scientific name for this – crossbreed-pollination, perhaps. These socially and athletically astute skiers can explore parts of the mountain in different ways, like the former ski racers who become big mountain rippers or masters racers ... or those who spend their weekend mornings on the green runs with little ones in tow before unleashing the fury in the upper reaches of the mountain in the afternoon. Speaking of adaptability, Revelstoke Mountain Resort has become a mega force when it comes to big mountain skiing, especially with the triple offering of cat, heli and in-bounds skiing. It’s pretty hard to go wrong at Revy – just ask Claire Challen and Paul Morrison, who documented the Kootenay destination on a trip last spring (see Revelstoke’s Pinnacle Trifecta, page 28). Jackson Hole is also not for the faint of heart (Western State of Mind, page 48). Mark Kristofic paints a picture of this giant beast of a mountain that protrudes from the Teton Range with chutes and canyons that go on for days. And best of all, the locals often insist on buying the first round. The bottom line is that skiing is whatever you want it to be. It’s a beautiful sport that allows you to embrace your passion. It delivers an experience for all, no matter your species.
Fresh Air Publishing EDITOR Gordie Bowles ART DIRECTOR Agata Piskunowicz COPY EDITOR Christina Newberry SENIOR EDITOR Don Cameron SENIOR PHOTOGRAPHER Paul Morrison SENIOR WRITER Michael Mastarciyan PRODUCTION Lisa Crowley CONTRIBUTORS Trevor Brady, Claire Challen, Grant Gunderson, Josh Foster, Paul Morrison, Christina Newberry, Michel Painchaud, Agata Piskunowicz, Edith Rozsa, Ryan Stuart, Steven Threndyle, ACA/Pentaphoto. Publication Agreement No. 42084025 Canada Post No. 7309575 ISSN: 1913-9861 ADVERTISING Ashley Herod Tait email@example.com SNOWSPORTS MEDIA INCORPORATED PRESIDENT & EXECUTIVE PRODUCER Chris Robinson PARTNER Mark Kristofic DIRECTOR, BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT Ashley Herod Tait CONTROLLER Lisa Crowley DIGITAL Kit Redding PRODUCTION & CAMERA Steve Simons and Darryl Palmer HOSTS/CONTRIBUTORS Claire Challen, Josh Foster, Martha Lee, Edith Rosza and Steve Young S-Magazine is an independent publication of: Snowsports Media Inc. 82 Hume Street Collingwood, Ont., L9Y 1V4 Phone: 416-840-6615 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org www.snowsportsculture.com
Gordie Bowles, editor 12 S–MAGAZINE | snowsportsculture.com
Come visit us on the interweb to watch the latest episodes of Ski Television. While you’re there, gain some insight or perspective on proper technique with Ski Tips with Josh Foster and check out the latest blogs on the comings and goings of the snowsports competition world and the ski industry as a whole. Sign up for the S-Media Weekly Wrap – the most comprehensive snowsports wrap-up out there.
ON THE TUBE AND WEB
FIRST LOAD >People, news, gadgets and other chair lift ramblings
Step 1: Put four top bartenders from around the world in a room for four days. Step 2: Give them free rein to create a new cocktail program, no holds barred. Step 3: Open the door to find they’ve recreated the world’s first-recorded cocktail? Doubling down on the classics, bartenders from four Fairmont hotels – Grant Sceney of Fairmont Pacific Rim, Nader Chabaane of Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac, Erik Lorincz of The Savoy and Tom Hogan of Fairmont Singapore – made 95 attempts at the old fashioned before settling on the recipe that would become the Fairmont Old Fashioned, one of six “revived” classic cocktails on the menu Fairmont bills “Classics. Perfected.” These highly dignified sippers featuring top-shelf spirits (think Woodford Reserve Distillers Select bourbon and Remy Martin VSOP Fine Champagne cognac) are now being poured at Fairmont hotels worldwide, including après spots at Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, Fairmont Tremblant and Fairmont Chateau Whistler. – C. Newberry
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FIRST LOAD // SKIBIZ
Powder Calls in B.C. The insatiable desire for first tracks and fresh powder is alive and well in western Canada, with four new licenses being granted to snowcat and heli-ski operators. Currently under construction, the Lodge at Keefer Lake is offering budget-priced cat skiing smack in the middle of the Monashee snowbelt, about an hour east of Vernon. At the other end of the scale, if you’re looking for a truly creative way to spend your lottery winnings, grab nine friends and head up to Silver Tip Lodge for heli-skiing at the east end of Quesnel Lake. Silver Tip – once operated by Canadian Mountain Holidays as an exclusive enclave for its most affluent guests – is located deep in the Cariboo Mountains, known for having the highest and best snow quality in the world. Way up in north central B.C., White Winter is launching its inaugural season by flying clients from its base on the renowned Skeena River, one of the world’s great fishing rivers. Perhaps there’s the opportunity to combine two sports in one here. Finally, as its name suggests, Yukon Alpine Heli Skiing is offering trips into some of the most wild and remote glaciers in North America, near the Juneau Icefields, where B.C., the Yukon and Alaska come together. These three new ops join established pioneers such as Mike Wiegele Helicopter Skiing, Canadian Mountain Holidays, and Selkirk Tangiers Heli Skiing, all of which have either hit or surpassed the 35-year mark. – S. Threndyle
BOND, BODE BOND The Bond-esque promo video released in October to showcase Bode Miller’s new relationship with Bomber skis, ending a long partnership with Head skis, was really quite amusing. Whether you think it was “ha ha” amusing or “what is he up to now” amusing – or just plain funny – this may be another subtle signal that the most successful U.S. ski team racer of all time is unlikely to return to ski racing. But then again, Miller has surprised us all as many times, making us marvel at his ability to let his skis and mind run wild. – G. Bowles
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WEARABLE ART AT ASPEN
WHISTLER GETS B.C.’S BIGGEST ART MUSEUM The 56,000-square-foot Audain Art Museum, slated to open on Whistler’s Blackcomb Way this season, will become B.C.’s largest purpose-built art museum. The $30 million building, designed by Patkau Architects and financed by The Audain Foundation for the Visual Arts, will house 200 works from the personal collection of arts collector and philanthropist Michael Audain and his wife, Yoshiko Karasawa. “Every time a new museum is built, it’s a huge step forward for culture in Canada,” said Suzanne Greening, the museum’s executive director. “In particular in Whistler, it’s an opportunity to introduce Pacific Northwest art to an incredible audience.” Highlights include a major collection of 19th-century Northwest Coast masks and more than 20 paintings by Emily Carr – most notably The Crazy Stair, purchased at auction last June for a record-breaking $3,393,000. “We’re really excited about engaging people who come to Whistler to ski or snowboard or hike or mountain bike,” Greening said. “It’s another dimension for them to encounter, and we want to capture their imaginations and draw them in.” audainartmuseum.com – C. Newberry
The Aspen Skiing Company’s award-winning decade-long collaboration with the Aspen Art Museum brings art to unexpected places on the mountain. A key part of the program is the annual lift pass artwork by top artists, which makes a utilitarian item into wearable art on jackets throughout town. This year’s passes feature four original images by Takashi Murakami, a Japanese artist known for his “Superflat” style that mixes pop art with manga and anime while incorporating classical Japanese painting techniques. aspensnowmass.com – C. Newberry
FIRST LOAD // SKIBIZ
FEWER LAYERS, MORE WARMTH?
Dreading the chills on the chairlift this season? A new moisturizing lotion claims to conquer the shivers by working with the body’s natural chemistry to make users feel up to 11 degrees warmer – especially during periods of rest between periods of intense activity. Co-creators (and brothers) Ryan and Alex Tattle say that the patent-pending formula – called Coldscreen – creates a thin, breathable barrier layer on top of the skin to retain the heat your body creates naturally when you’re active, re-circulating the warmth rather than letting it escape into the cold air. The dermatologist-approved lotion is made from 98% natural ingredients – including coconut oil, jojoba, aloe, artic kelp and a vitamin B complex. But does it really work? “Coldscreen flew through clinical trials, coming out with all the claims we wanted to make and more,” Ryan Tattle said. “These included efficacy, safety, irritation and toxicology, even beating some of the biggest brand names in the skin hydration studies.” In a recent study, 97% of participants felt warming effects (which Tattle describes as feeling like the sun on your skin) within five to 15 minutes, and the company has several elite athletes on board as product ambassadors – including ski cross racer Ian Deans of Kelowna, B.C. While the Tattle brothers are clear that the product won’t stop you from getting hypothermia or frostbite if you don’t dress appropriately for harsh environments, they say it will keep you feeling toasty for up to four hours for a more comfortable day on the lifts. uthermic.com – C. Newberry
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STEVE RAMEY: CLIMBER, SNOWBOARDER, HEAD CHEF
Vancouver is a city renowned for culinary excellence, and for the past five years, no room has crackled with buzz quite like David Hawksworth’s eponymous Hawksworth restaurant in the Hotel Georgia. Whistler Blackcomb hopes some of that magic has rubbed off on Steve Ramey, the newly appointed head chef at the refurbished Christine’s upstairs at the Rendezvous Lodge. Ramey is a North Vancouver native who served as Hawksworth’s sous-chef. “After four and a half years of working together, I have definitely picked up some of ‘The Hawk’s’ style,” Ramey said. “Attention to detail and ensuring that dishes play on all aspects of the palate are keys points that I adhere to. Dishes should always have different textures, flavours and ideas that ensure engaging dining. We have done our best to source ingredients from sustainable and ethical suppliers, as many local as possible.” When not in the kitchen, Ramey is an avid snowboarder and climber, making his new home base a perfect fit. – S. Threndyle
FIRST LOAD // GEAR LINDO F FUR MITTENS
Offering timeless style in sheepskin with rabbit fur cuffs, these beauties keep your hands toasty in style. $117 | lindo-f.myshopify.com
STYLISHLY CEP SOCKS
Yes, even socks experience a technology boost from time to time. These compression socks with padding mix merino wool and water-repellent synthetic fibres to manage the moisture effectively. $65 | cepcompression.ca
The two-tone snowflake pattern adds a nice touch to this jacquard knit jacket in a light virgin wool blend with cashmere. bogner.com
This 3-in-1 jacket allows for multiseason use. Fully loaded, it’s a warm and hearty winter jacket. The inner jacket can be zipped out and used separately as a light jacket. $449.99 | fjallravencanada.com
WARM ARTERYX LITHIC GLOVE
This glove designed for use in the backcountry offers solid grip and dexterity (translation: multi-use options). Its highly breathable fabric and full-taped seams keep the snow out and warmth in. $280 | arcteryx.com
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Rugged and durable, this mid boot, in rich oxbloodmahogany, may turn heads – but it’s far from a style piece. The full-grain waterproof leather keeps your feet dry and toasty in any weather. $ 150 | timberland.com
HOTEDITOR’S GEAR:PICK * WHEN I FIRST CLICKED INTO BLIZZARD’S soon-to-be frontside line of skis, I was a bit nervous. I’d been inundated with the details and nuances of the art and science of constructing a high-quality ski the previous day at a media launch in Nurnberg, Germany, where the Blizzard team hinted that these skis could be a game-changer – not just for the company, but for all front-side rippers. The marketing line that stuck with me was “Make your Mark” with the obvious suggestion that this ski will help you carve out some beautiful trenches to admire on your next chairlift upload. When I first hopped aboard the black and stealthy Blizzard Quattro RX (part of a line of eight skis that will be launched to the world in early February) for the short traverse to the T-bar at the Kitzsteinhorn, Austria (near Zell Am See), I sensed instantly that these skis were a good match for my ability. Perhaps my days of digging crazy-deep tracks on the groomers are over, but I can still carve a good turn – and these had an immediate comfort level that let me know I wouldn’t need to hold back. This is a stable ski with a radius in the 16-17 metre range, with a slight rocker and enough width (129-84-113) to take into the crud and soft snow. Overall, a fun ride. – Gordie Bowles
TECNICA MACH1 Weighing in at “very stiff” flex and in the all-mountain category, this is a high-powered boot for ex-racers or very hard chargers.
VS SALOMON X-PRO 13 Also weighing in at “very stiff” and also in the all-mountain category, this boot is for aggressive experts.
FIND YOUR MATES Wearable technology is an overused term, but hard to ignore. SkiLynx, a new app for wearable gear, uses real-time location tracking and one-tap chat to keep you effortlessly connected with friends on the slopes through your Apple Watch or iPhone. SkiLynx launched its first version, SkiLynx California,in the App Store in December and is planning a Canada wide launch in 2016. Download for $2.99
THE DECISION: This one went the distance, with the judges’ scorecards showing a 10-10 draw.
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FIRST LOAD // SKIBIZ Unlike skiers, ski resorts get better with age. Take Whistler Blackcomb and Jackson Hole, for instance. Both mountains are celebrating the big Five-O this winter. (Hmm, the author still has his Whistler Mountain 25th anniversary pass around somewhere – seems like just yesterday, in fact). And Mt. Norquay? 90! – S. Threndyle
While most baby boomers are struggling with creaky knees and arthritic hips, Whistler and Jackson have been able to successfully re-invent themselves over and over again in the past five decades. From slow-moving double chairlifts (painfully slow in a biting north wind) and hockey puck hamburgers to the world’s longest gondola and vegan-friendly fare, Whistler has much to celebrate in its five decades. To get a flavour of Whistler’s storied past, tune in to 50 Years of Going Beyond, an online documentary focusing on some of Whistler’s legendary characters, expertly produced by Mike Douglas’s Switchback Entertainment.
RESORTS REACH MILESTONES MT. NORQUAY
90th As the first ski resort in the Canadian Rockies, Banff’s Mt. Norquay blows out the birthday candles for its 90th season this year.
MT. STE ANNE
Rising above the frozen ice banks of the St Lawrence River, Mont Ste Anne is Quebec skiing’s birthplace of cool, with its silver gondolas and snaking, precipitous fall line skiing of the famed Versant Nord (north face). This fabled resort, home to many Canadian ‘firsts’ (e.g., ‘first gondola’) marks its 50th anniversary in 2016. Ski maker Rossignol is getting into the act by making fifty pair of limited edition Mt Ste Anne 50th anniversary skis. Bon anniversaire!
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South of the border, the rompin’ stompin’ Jackson Hole Mountain Resort (JHMR) turns 50 as well. As the home of Teton Gravity Research (TGR), Jackson has an extremely well-documented ski culture. It’s worth watching Born to Be Wild, a five-part web series that shows just how crazy the last five decades have been. More wild times are sure to occur February 5–7 during the JHMR 50th Grand Reunion Weekend. JHMR is offering 50 per cent off lift tickets for the weekend and will bring back the legendary Powder 8 contest in Cody Bowl, the event that truly put Jackson Hole on the map.
40th At Whitewater Ski Resort, they’re still celebratingthe installation of the Glory Ridge chairlift (bringing the grand total of chairlifts to four), while also marking the 40th anniversary of the resort.
FIRST LOAD // GALLERY
APRÈS ALL DAY: ICELAND’S GEOTHERMAL POOLS If your favourite part of a ski trip is hitting Blue Lagoon near Keflavik Airport, named one of National Geographic’s 25 Wonders of the World.
KEFLAVIK POPULATION : 13,971 TIME TO GET FROM KEFLAVIK AIRPORT TO BLUE LAGOON: 19 minutes by car EXTRA INFO: Bathing suits and towels can be rented on the spot. You can safely store your luggage at the Blue Lagoon while bathing.
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the hot tub, put Iceland on your must-visit list. The ski hills are not the world’s greatest – most top out at 1,500 metres – but heli- skiing is catching on, providing new opportunities to ski untouched terrain into early June, under the midnight sun. The best part of a ski trip to Iceland, though, may be the chance to partake in the local hot tub culture. With plentiful geothermal energy and natural hot springs throughout the country, outdoor “hot pots” and spas are a fixture of Icelandic life: Icelanders visit the warm pools as part of their daily routine, and they’re the best places to catch up on the local gossip. Iceland’s best-known geothermal pool is the stunning Blue Lagoon near Keflavik Airport, named one of National Geographic’s 25 Wonders of the World. Its geothermal
seawater, which contains healing silica, minerals and algae, rises from 2,000 metres beneath the earth’s surface to fill the six-million-litre man-made lagoon. The nearby capital city, Reykjavik, located just a half-hour drive from the Bláfjöll and Skálafell ski hills, also offers plenty of hot bathing options – including the unique Nauthhólsvík geothermal beach, with hot tubs and a heated lagoon right on shore, and the huge Laugardalslaug swimming complex, a great spot to meet the locals. You may want to leave your skis at the hotel for a day to acquire an in-depth knowledge of this most Icelandic of pastimes. It’s an exploration of the local culture, after all. Think of it as an academic pursuit. – C. Newberry
FIRST LOAD // GALLERY
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PERFORMANCE, MEET PERFORMANCE Audi presented vehicles to five Canadian ski team athletes in Toronto in late October and then sent them on a familiar task: Go fast on a race track. The next day, the five skiers and their teammates hit the Canadian Tire Motosports Park in Bowmanville, Ont., for the Audi Driving Experience, a day-long adventure of harnessing the power of Audi with instruction and lessons from pro drivers. The lucky recipients of the new cars were alpine World Cup skiers Erik Guay and Dustin Cook; Marielle Thompson, the worldâ€™s top ranked ski cross racer; and Paralympic gold medallists Mac and BJ Marcoux, the first-ever Paralympian recipients. They each received an Audi A4 Allroad except for Guay, who received a Q7.
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R3VELSTOKE’2 P1NNACLE TRIFEC
THE SUPER-LUXURIOUS PINNACLE PAC K AG E AT S E L K I R K TA N G I E R S HELI-SKIING AND REVELSTOKE M O U N TA I N R E S O R T TA K E H E L I - S K I I N G TO A NEW LEVEL
BY CLAIRE CHALLEN P H OTO G R A P H Y BY PAU L M O R R I S O N
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L 1 K E T H AT O F A S U P E R M O D E L DRESS3D IN COVERALLS, REVELSTOKE’S BEAUTY IS G R A D U A L LY E X P O S E D ONCE YOU PEEL OFF A F E W L AY E R 2 . . .
PREVIOUS PAGE: S-Media’s Claire Challen and Ashley Herod-Tait with guides Mike Stuart and Dave Scott on lower Phogg Glacier. THIS PAGE, LEFT: Emma Mains, Selkirk Tangiers Heli-Skiing representative, takes in the sunny Selkirks alongside Ashley (left) and Claire. NEXT PAGE, RIGHT: arrival of the Bell 205 helicopter.
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F LY I N G C L O S E TO THE M O U N TA I N S W I T H
A BIRD’S-EYE VA N TAG E P O I N T, YO U ’ R E NO LONGER ADMIRING OR DREAMING ABOUT PEAKS AND SNOWFIELDS FROM A D I S TA N C E .
rom my king-sized downy haven at Revelstoke Mountain Resort, I gazed up the slopes of Mount Mackenzie. Feeling the after-effects of our night out at Chubby Funsters in downtown Revelstoke, I knew I needed to get out of bed, as nobody was going to make me a cup of coffee if I stayed put. It wasn’t, as you might suspect, the drinks that proved to be a little too much decadence for this lightweight, but the gigantic chocolate torte nightcap. We’d had a few drinks over a meal of perfectly roasted chicken while reminiscing with pro-skier-turnedAvalanche-Canada-public-avalancheforecaster (and former Ski TV host) Joe Lammers. It hadn’t snowed much to date, Joe told us ruefully, which was unusual for the famously snow-heavy Revy in early December. The global capital of heli-skiing was still waiting for real winter to hit. Despite the smaller-than-usual snowpack, I’d been looking forward to my trip into B.C.’s Interior, where I’d be skiing at Selkirk Tangiers Heli Skiing (STHS) and Revelstoke Mountain Resort (RMR). STHS has been in the heli-skiing business for more than 35 years and is conveniently based mere minutes from downtown Revelstoke at the welcoming Hillcrest Hotel. At the STHS headquarters, guests are set up with skis and safety equipment and thoroughly welcomed – or even heckled, as we were, by the fun-loving staff at the gear shop. The hotel is also home base for
the popular STHS classic and small group packages. Upstairs in the lounge, grand windows frame wilderness views and skiers sit fireside after a day in the mountains. The vast STHS tenure sprawls across 500,000 acres of skiable terrain in the legendary Selkirk and Monashee mountain ranges, showcasing open glaciers and old growth forests cloaked under a stupefying 12–18 metres of snowfall per season. And if sheer size and snow depth aren’t enough, the jaw-dropping scenery will make you just plain glad to be alive. For me, part of heli-skiing’s joy is in the heli-lifts themselves.Flying close to the mountains with a bird’s-eye vantage point, you’re no longer admiring or dreaming about peaks and snowfields from a distance. Dramatically exposed rock faces and tempting lines not yet skied are right there in your face as you crest one peak after another in what appears to be an endless spectrum of mountains. Travelling close to smooth meadows of white one moment, your heart leaps with excitement in the next as you watch the earth fall away beneath you. I’ve never had the greatest stomach for any kind of travel (even on the ground), but there was no way I was going to miss this to avoid a headache and a topsy-turvy gut. Rolling out of bed, I quickly donned my gear, excited for the day ahead. I met up with the crew at La Baguette, the go-to coffee shop for quick healthy eats, only a two-minute stroll along the village walkway. They were already well into brekkie. After
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N O B U M P Y VA N R 1 D E S T O MUSTER POINTS, JU2T SMOOTH, E X T R AVA G A N T T R AV E L L I N G F R O M T H 3 S TA R T. snowsportsculture.com
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PREVIOUS PAGE: Claire Challen follows guide Mike Stuart’s tracks on the Phogg Glacier. THIS PAGE: Mike Stuart loads gear for the next launch. NEXT PAGE: The Selkirks at their best.
the perfunctory greetings, we moved into planning mode over rich lattes, breakfast wraps and homemade granola. Staying on-mountain at RMR, we were taking part in the elite STHS Pinnacle package. With this dreamy package, our guide from STHS would prep us for the heli pick-up at the hotel. (At the hotel!) Then all we’d have to do is scoop up our skis in the lobby of the slope-side Sutton Place, cruise out the door and make our way to the heli sitting right there – no bumpy van rides to muster points, just smooth, extravagant travelling from the start. We began by flying above RMR for a quick tour. Off the top, I could see the resort’s snowcat-skiing roads and the days-old ski tracks, the terrain awaiting its next (inevitable) dumping. The resort was soon left behind as our pilot dropped in and we moved deep into the Selkirk Mountain Range. It’s so massive out here that new runs are discovered each year. And it’s so immense that I had no hope of keeping my personal bearings. But it really didn’t matter. When I think of heli-skiing, I imagine the wide-open glaciers and meadows shown in brochures. On my first run behind guide Dave Scott on Silver Glacier in the Selkirk Range, I realized it had been too long since I’d had the pleasure of looking down an untracked backcountry slope where I would get to make my own fresh tracks – numerous times – and not even break a sweat working for it. A senior guide at STHS, Dave counts himself beyond lucky each day he spends in the mountains. He doesn’t just charge off down the fall-line, though, instead urging those around him to look around and take in each moment rather than angle for first dibs on each line. Sticking to the vast Selkirks, we flew north to Phogg Glacier, where we were rewarded with more sun and fresh snow. Dave’s colleague Mike Stuart describes the area as “a special place … the land of the big ice and big peaks.” The sun was low in the sky and it grew incredibly quiet as the helicopter’s rotors gradually wound down somewhere far below us. Standing in silence awaiting the call for all clear, there
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was no sound other than the click of bindings and snap of backpack clips, making me so aware that we were mere specks among these gigantic mountains. Rather than feeling small and insignificant, I felt more alive than ever. We were blessed to be welcomed within the mountains’ arms. From these landing zones at just under 3,000 metres, runs are long, taking skiers all the way down the creek in the valley bottom with spectacular descents. Relaxed and calmly aware, guide Mike could comfort the greenest of heli-skiers yet tell it like it is when it comes to safety. “See those shadows down there?” he asked. “Those could be crevasses, so stay right on my tail.” I did what I was told, perhaps taking it a little further than necessary. I didn’t care if holding onto his flapping backpack straps was inappropriate as I simulated his turn shape through the terrain features. Heli-skiing is known worldwide as luxury in itself. But when you start customizing the experience for yourself and friends, things are taken a step beyond. STHS guest service coordinator Emma Mains came on board for a few runs (it’s not only the guides who love to ski here), raving about the new Pinnacle package we were experiencing first-hand. Between flashes of her infectious smile and quick meadow descents, she told us if skiers are longing for the ultimate in heli-ski luxury, the Pinnacle’s an easy choice. Groups are provided with their own private helicopter and a senior guide who works to match terrain with ability. Other than choosing a few ski buddies who can bang out laps at the same pace as you, thus maximizing your time out in the glorious terrain, you surrender all details to a personal vacation planner who moulds the adventure per your requests. Pinnacle package guests can stay at one of three gorgeous properties: the Whiteworth House, the Bighorn Lodge – 2013, 2014 and 2015World’s Best Ski Chalet winner at the World Ski Awards, or the Sutton Place Hotel at the base of Revelstoke Mountain, where I was staying. The Sutton provides comfortable slope-side rooms and even a penthouse suite
T R AV E L L 1 N G C L O S E T O SMOOTH MEADOW2 OF W H I T E O N 3 M O M E N T, YOUR HEART LEAPS WITH EXCITEMENT IN THE NEXT A S YO U WATC H T H E E A R T H FA L L AWAY B E N E AT H YO U .
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LEFT: Local skier Sean Cochrane rips up Revelstoke Mountain. MIDDLE: Heli pick up. Bottom: The Bighorn resort. NEXT PAGE: The Garnish Boutique & Studio embraces the Revelstoke’s deepest passions in its work.
with plenty of space to re-hash the day’s best runs and hopes for the next day. There’s also easy access to relaxation in the village hot pools, massages at the nearby Refinery Day Spa and dining at the adjoining Rockford Wok/Bar/Grill. Next door is the Mackenzie Common Tavern, another spot at the base of the mountain for après. RMR’s purchase of STHS in 2007 created an invaluable opportunity for guests to explore the resort either as a warm-up or on down days when the weather rules out flying. It can be difficult to downsize to lift-accessed skiing after even one luxurious day of heli-laps. And when that re-sort has only three main lifts, one might mistakenly anticipate a letdown. However, at a sizeable 3,000 acres and a vertical drop of 1,713 metres, RMR lays claim to the highest lift-accessed vertical in North America, sitting at 91 metres higher than Whistler Blackcomb. You’ll not see the crowds of Whistler here, however. Nestled about midway between Vancouver and Calgary, and isolated by often snow-choked mountain-passes, Revelstoke requires far more of a commitment to get here. Its isolation weeds out the weekend warriors and queens of the après. Revelstoke has grown famous for its incredible lift-accessed terrain and easy-access hikeable terrain, all typically receiving a whopping 12–18 annual metres of snow. And it’s steep enough that you can enjoy that snow. There’s little worse than freshly blanketed slopes that you have tobreak a sweat poling through in order to garner any speed, bouncing your body to make it look like you’re actually turning. You won’t find that issue here. There are a smattering of options for beginners, including a Magic Carpet, and a number of
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trails geared toward confident intermediate skiers, but nearly 50 per cent of RMR’s 65 runs and two bowls are advanced terrain. Revelstoke is accessible to all levels but mainly draws powder and steeps seekers unperturbed by the steep lines of the North Bowl accessible off the top of the Stoke chair, RMR’s highest lift at 2,225 metres. For those whose legs are up for it, Last Spike is the longest trail at more than 15 kilometres from start to finish, providing more thigh-burning vertical than the giant French resort of Val D’Isère. After a typical Selkirks dumping, skiers dive into widely spaced trees of gladed heaven and roller coasters of terrain features in runs like Conifers of Gnarnia. Despite the absence of puking snow and behemoth snow banks on my recent visit, I could well imagine waking up to three feet of snow burying the walkways and parking lots. There’d be the early morning scrape of the snowplow, the sidewalk snow blower starting up and people shovelling by hand, unlucky enough to have left their vehicles to be entombed by the swath of compressed snow from Mr. Plow. Like that of a supermodel dressed in coveralls, Revelstoke’s beauty is gradually exposed once you peel off a few layers, revealing more than that first impression. It’s a little backwoods upon first glance, but that’s what makes it so appealing. It’s confident in what it has to offer and doesn’t feel the need to glitz it up. If you’re looking to rip it up on the steeps and explore deep into the mountains, it’s all right here. If you’re looking for luxury, it’s also here in abundance. It doesn’t need thunderous applause or confirmation of its worth. It really just needs snow. And that, my friends, is not a problem.
I’M A SUCKER FOR A SMALL TOWN
GARNISH BOUTIQUE AND STUDIO
Kick-ass skiers reside in Revelstoke, obviously, but it’s also become known as a community that supports its artists and their work. Garnish Boutique and Studio in downtown Revelstoke promises to “decorate, adorn and embellish” clients with unique and fresh pieces created by its featured Canadian jewellers. Opened in 2012, Garnish attracts locals and travellers to its beautiful space. Jeweller and owner Arleigh Kurucz’s Snowflake Series is a delightful example of a subject that embodies one of this community’s deepest passions. Kurucz’s pieces reflect the distinctiveness of each snowflake, so each client cherishes a piece unlike any other. With Revelstoke still in her heart, former resident and die-hard skier Ashley Herod-Tait loves her one-of-a-kind snowflake pendant. “Intricate and delicate, like a
real snowflake,” is how she describes it. “I love the way it brings a bit of the mountains and skiing into my everyday life.” Goggles and neck gaiters may be your go-to accessories, but you may want to think about a special piece for that mountain lunch or après session. When the helmet comes off to expose a drastic case of helmet-hair, some eye-catching earrings could divert the crowd’s attention. Or, perhaps, a necklace would be fitting when the half-zip base layer is unzipped to reveal blotchy white mid-winter skin or the uppermost edges of the man-pelt. While rolling up your sleeves to dive into some gooey ski lodge gluttony, the words “nice bracelet” might draw attention away from the gravy dripping off your jacket-chafed chin. Even if nobody else sees your bling on a ski day, you’ll know it’s there.
I’m a sucker for a small town; all your nutritional needs and sundries are in one condensed area. There’s also less traffic, a slower paced lifestyle and generally friendly folks. Turn off at the Shell truck stop beside the Columbia River on the Trans-Canada, and the Welcome to Revelstoke sign beckons you onward. Turn right again onto Mackenzie Avenue, and you’ll enter a town that’s visibly funky and quaint. Victorian heritage homes with their distinctive corner towers and brick buildings dating back to the 1880s now mix with new age art, coffee and clothing shops. It’s an unassuming little place that just over 7,000 (2011) souls call home. The town was founded as a railway centre – in 1885, the last spike of the Canadian Pacific Railway was driven in just under 50 kilometres west of Revelstoke. During this boom, many Scandinavian families were drawn to the area, bringing skiing with them. In 1915, the first ski jump in North America was built on the outskirts of town, drawing thousands to the area for competitions until the 1970s. Today, the town appeals to artists, blue collar workers, and families young and old with its interesting history, mining and forestry economic base and incredible open space for contemplation and recreation.
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SKI TAXONOMY WHERE THE FIVE SPECIES OF SKIERS SHOULD MIGRATE THIS SPRING By Ryan Stuart Illustrations by Agata Piskunowicz
Scientists divide the Earth’s 8.7 million species of life into five kingdoms. Using statistical regression and advanced gene sequencing, we’ve done the same with Canada’s 2.5 million skiers. Here’s our field guide to the five kingdoms of skiers and where they should migrate this spring.
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P OW E R COUPLE LATIN NAME: Dinkus maximus DESCRIPTION: Male and female sport similar markings, often same brand, distinct from other pairs. Coats and equipment are luxurious and expensive. Enjoys shopping and splurging on experiences. Nests at most exclusive hotel in area. CALL: “Where should we go for dinner after our couple’s spa treatment?”
PRIME MIGRATION DESTINATION: Home to the Winter X-Games, four ski hills, the most expensive real estate in North America and a long list of celebrities and billionaires, Aspen provides enough experiences in a day to feed conversations for a year. Start at the Little Nell, Aspen’s only five-star and five-diamond hotel, right at the base of Aspen ski hill and in the heart of the historic downtown. It’s like an art museum, jazz club, trendy restaurant and luxury villa rolled into one. Aspen’s the obvious choice for turns, but each area has its own personality. Get the inside knowledge with former extreme skier Chris Davenport, who leads private tours around the mountains. The hotel’s concierge can also hook up snowcat driving lessons. Off the snow, check out the Aspen Art Museum, browse the shops of downtown, and
experience live music at the Wheeler Opera House. Or stay in, visit the spa, eat at element 47 and wind down the night at the JAS Café series, the jazz program held inside the hotel. aspensnowmass.com HONOURABLE MENTIONS: Sun Valley – another playground of the rich and famous with immaculate grooming and tonnes of sun. sunvalley.com Park City – the home of the Sundance Film Festival, the U.S. Olympic team and Utah powder. parkcitymountain.com Yellowstone Club – negotiate an invite to this members-only Montana resort and then hire legendary extreme skier Scot Schmidt to show you around. yellowstoneclub.com
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M A ST E R S R AC E R LATIN NAME:
DESCRIPTION: Plumage includes all the top picks from this year’s buyer’s guide. Frequents any racecourse but prefers GS style, and gathers in packs of other Masters Racers. At some point in winter will migrate to a heli-ski lodge for a week. Frequently roosts with an expensive scotch in hand. CALL: “My time would have been faster but my tuner used the wrong wax.” Sometimes seen yelling into Bluetooth-equipped glove. PRIME MIGRATION DESTINATION: Whistler Blackcomb: The resort’s world-class reputation extends beyond the hype. For proof, look to the home-grown talent, including Rob Boyd, Ashleigh McIvor, Davey Barr and a host of others. So, what better way to experience one of the great ski resorts than by following one of its great products? That’s the idea behind Whistler Blackcomb’s ski or ride with an Olympian program, which matches Whistler Olympians with visitors for a day of skiing. Imagine carving down the Dave Murray Downhill in Boyd’s literal tracks, or working on banked corners with McIvor. Whether by osmosis, copying or direct coaching, the experience is sure to pay off with faster, smoother arcs and a hell of a story back home. whistlerblackcomb.com HONOURABLE MENTIONS: Big White – when she’s in town, team up with ski cross champ and hometown girl Kelsey Serwa. bigwhite.com Mont-Sainte-Anne – former national team members JP Roy and Patrick Biggs lead a three-day race training program in April. olympianskiracing.com Beaver Creek – test yourself against the hardest course on the World Cup circuit, Birds of Prey. beavercreek.com
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BIG M O U N TA I N RIPPER LATIN NAME: Straightline neanderthal DESCRIPTION: Both sexes sport a single GoPro antler, year-round mask of goggle tan, eyes hidden behind oversized sunglasses, ontrend and coordinated outerwear and fat skis even on groomer day. Off slope, male is identifiable by soul patch of facial hair, female by hair stuffed in ball cap or tied back in ponytail, possibly revealing Celtic tattoo on neck. CALL: “Duuuude! That was soooo sick!”
PRIME MIGRATION DESTINATION: Some want quantity, others quality. At Revelstoke Mountain Resort there’s no need to choose, with at least nine metres of snow every winter and a North-Americaleading 1,713 metres of vertical. Ride the Stoke quad to the sub-peak and then hike to the summit of Mt. Mackenzie. From there, the options spill off in all directions. Drop into the North Bowl on the same face used in extreme skiing comps. Pin it down the front side and feel the burn of a kilometre of turns, or tour into the backcountry for guaranteed untracked. There’s also cat and heli-skiing available right out of the ski area’s base. To supplement POV footage, download Paparazzi Pass onto a smartphone. The app pairs with remote cameras that catch action shots, including a cliff stomp in North Bowl. Off the mountain, rip up to Rogers Pass for a classic ski tour, like the Tupper Traverse, and sample the creations of Mt. Begbie Brewery, the local micro. revelstokemountainresort.com
HONOURABLE MENTIONS: Banff – Sunshine’s Delirium Dive and Lake Louise’s Back Bowls protect some of the best fall line skiing in the country. skibig3.com Jackson Hole – for legendary steeps and some of the raddest rippers around. jacksonhole.com Bridger Bowl – hike the ridge terrain to the steepest inbounds runs in North America. bridgerbowl.com
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THE FA M I LY LATIN NAME: Filiafamilias DESCRIPTION: Lives in packs made up of alpha pair and offspring, sometimes joined by outside BFFs and significant others. Comes in all shapes and sizes, though packs have steadily shrunk for unknown, possibly global-warming-related reasons. Frequents all parts of the mountain, gathering at cafeterias and buffet lines at precisely noon. CALL: “The family that skis together stays together!”
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PRIME MIGRATION DESTINATION: Sideshows should by definition be a bonus, not the main event. However, heading to Vermont’s Jay Peak with the family in tow, it’s hard not to get excited about the waterpark. Right at the base of the snowiest ski hill in the east, the wave pool, slides, climbing wall and surfing wave sit under a windowed dome, like a piece of the tropics imported to the Canadian border. It’s one of many signs that Jay’s got something for everyone. The highest peak in the area, Jay sucks about 950 centimetres of snow out of the northern Vermont sky, laying it down on a mix of steeps, glades, fun intermediate runs, an improved beginner area and a progression of four terrain parks. And when the day’s done, the base area contains everything one could ask for in a ski holiday. Along with the waterpark, there’s an NHL-sized ice rink, a Nordic area and a spa. Within walking distance are shops, restaurants and bars. Take them all together, and Jay never feels like a compromise. jaypeakresort.com
HONOURABLE MENTIONS: Smugglers Notch – for innovative, flexible and inclusive family ski programs smuggs.com Marmot Basin – the whole family can ski together off almost every lift. skimarmot.com Sun Peaks – Canada’s second-largest resort offers a busy village with all kinds of après fun. sunpeaksresort.com
EX- S K I BUM LATIN NAME:
Homo humbilis DESCRIPTION: Plumage includes a one-piece ski suit bought used in 1988, rear entry boots, newer skis bought at a ski swap for cheap and work gloves. Often sports patches of duct tape. Frequently spotted hitchhiking to and from the mountain. Always friendly. One of few species that will ski in all types of weather. Often inhabits way fancier house than you expect and skis way better than you. CALL: “When I was 20…” or “Anyone want a toke?” PRIME MIGRATION DESTINATION: The soul of skiing is found in the Kootenays. It’s not about heated lifts or fancy restaurants, rubbing shoulders with the glitterati or keeping up with the Joneses. You won’t find much of that here, thank God. The skier’s resorts of Red Mountain, Whitewater and Fernie are home to Kootenay smoke, some of the lightest snow around, and the perfectly steeped tree skiing to complement it. A good day skiing here is picking up a hitchhiking local who then offers to show you around. It’s lap after lap of powder, an on-the-move granola bar lunch and then catching the last chair for one more untracked whooping. Afterward, you might join some new buds for suds at the local watering hole, like Rossland’s Flying Steamshovel (where you play a game of neglin) or bingo night at Fernie’s Northern Bar and Stage. And then it’s on to wherever it’s snowing. In the Kootenays, that’s never far away. redresort.com, skiwhitewater.com, skifernie.com HONOURABLE MENTIONS: Hudson Bay Mountain and Shames – Northern B.C. charm naturally translates to guiding outof-towners to abundant resort and backcountry stashes.hudsonbaymountain.com, mymountaincoop.ca Mount Baker – slightly scary lifts, no snowmaking and massive dumps scare away the punters. mtbaker.us Mount Cain – off the grid, boundary-to-boundary tree skiing and easy-access backcountry make up for the two-T-bar-lift network. mountcain.com snowsportsculture.com
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H E A R T- S T O P P I N G S K I I N G M A K E S J A C K S O N H O L E A P R I M E P L AC E T O C OW B OY U P BY MARK KRISTOFIC
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PREVIOUS PAGE: Skier carves out a perfect line on the Rendevous Bowl. BOTTOM: Horse drawn sleigh tour at the National Elk Refuge. TOP: The weathered wisdom of a local guide explains how refuge in the Bridger-Teton National Forest was established to protect habitat for one of the largest elk in the world. RIGHT PAGE: Enjoying face shots at Jackson Hole in the Grand Teton National Park.
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Clockwise from top left: Mark Kristofic, Jackson Hole Resort (2)
“...ON BIG POW DAYS, LOCALS WILL BE HUCKING THOSE CLIFFS, LAYING DOWN ‘SUCKER LINES’ THAT SKIERS WHO DON’T KNOW BETTER WILL NATURALLY FOLLOW – SO YOU NEED TO KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING OUT HERE.” – DAVE MILLER JACKSON HOLE, WYO. Cowboys, travellers and professional big mountain athletes congregate here on the giant playground called the Teton Range. It’s a bucket list location for any passionate skier, and I remember when it made its way onto my list. The year was nineteen-eighty-something. Tapered skinny jeans were cool (kind of like now), we were all sporting Oakley Frogskins (kind of like now) and mullets ruled the day (not like now, thank God). I was in a high-school auditorium for a screening of some WarrenMiller-type movie when a segment came on featuring mulleted, neon-wearing freaks on 210 GS skis doing crazy moves into a run called Corbet’s Couloir in some place called Jackson Hole. A few days before I finally got to see it in person, I was showing my kids some YouTube videos of Jackson Hole, and of course Corbet’s. Those cute little rapscallions looked at me with those innocent eyes. “Are you going to drop in there, daddy?” I tussled their hair and said, “Of course I am – do you want daddy to do a backflip in or drop-in switch?” I must admit I assumed that Wyoming would not be the easiest place to access from Eastern Canada. However, a reasonably priced plane ticket (read $500-ish) bought an early morning departure from Toronto that saw us greeted by mimosa bearing cowgirls at Jackson Hole Airport by noon. We were on the tram with Johnny Cash blasting through the speakers by 1 p.m. and had skied 8,000 vertical feet by 3:30. Not bad for a travel day. Of course, with any U.S. destination, it’s natural for Canadians to be concerned about the exchange rate. Fear not, as Jackson Hole loves their Canuck friends. Their Canadian dollars at par package covers lift tickets and lodging, and includes $200 to $300 in flight credits per person: plenty of reasons to get your “yee-haw” on.
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Clockwise from top: Jackson Hole Resort (2), Mark Kristofic
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: A short hike up a colouir off the Headwall. The Mangy Moose Saloon in Jackson Hole uses locally sourced meat and game and the house made donut holes with vanilla ice cream and huckleberry sauce are to die for ... and of course an impressively stocked bar. Edith Rozsa and Tommy Moe admiring their tracks.
Our first full day on snow, we headed into the backcountry, where the 3,500 skiable acres add to the substantial 2,500 acres of in-bounds skiing. To maximize the experience and avoid getting cliffed out, we had a guide take us through the out-ofbounds terrain, as is highly recommended for safety. “You need to know where you are going, as there are a number of fall lines that naturally lead towards 60- to 100-foot cliffs,” Dave Miller, Jackson Hole’s lead guide told us. “And, of course, on big pow days, locals will be hucking those cliffs, laying down ‘sucker lines’ that skiers who don’t know better will naturally follow – so you need to know what you are doing out here.” A first-rate professional’s knowledge of the backcountry, keeping you safe and showing you where to find the optimum lines, makes the $600 US per day for a guide, a worthwhile investment. With one guide able to take a group of up to six people, the price becomes a downright bargain for a day of epic backcountry skiing. We were joined by mountain ambassador, passionate local and professional big mountain skier Jess MacMillan, a true ripper chick who was easy to pick out thanks to her bright pink suit and infectious smile. A skier phenom dressed in green, who casually introduced himself as Tommy, also jumped in with our
group at the last second. Between storm cycles, skiing with a guide made sure we found the fresh goods. The backcountry skiing in Jackson Hole was outstanding, with five canyons and seemingly endless chutes and bowls to choose from. While marvelling at what an amazing skier I am (please note the sarcasm in my tone), I noted that this Tommy guy was not so bad, either. Something clicked in my head, and I skied over to him. “Tommy, right?” “Yeah, that’s right,” he said, pulling up his goggles to reveal a killer goggle tan. “As in Tommy Moe?” “Yeah, that’s right,” he said, smiling. “As in Tommy Moe, men’s downhill Olympic gold medalist?” “Well, only by the skin of my teeth,” he said, referring to the 0.04 margin with which he took the gold medal at the 1994 Olympic Games (Canadian Ed Podivinsky was 0.13 seconds back for the bronze medal). Tommy is also a Jackson Hole ambassador, but his completely laid-back and modest attitude, which included jumping in with our group because he wanted to get a few extra turns in, is completely in keeping with the overall casual and relaxed feel that typifies Jackson Hole. Of course, the cowboy country feel was only re-enforced with après beers at the Mangy Moose, with its live music, wall-towall denim and plaid, and locals insisting on buying the first round.
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CORBET’S COULOIR DAY
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TOP: S-Media’s Ashley Herod-Tait pulling the line. BOTTOM: Jackson Hole’s Kevin Brazell and Ski Television’s Darryl “LG” Palmer preparing to shoot inside Corbet’s Colouir.
Clockwise from top: Mark Kristofic
In 2006, Skier magazine published a list of the top 50 things skiers need to do before they die. Skiing Corbet’s was number 4 on that list. It is arguably the most photographed, iconic and intimidating in-bounds run in the world. Not only does entrance include a narrow 20-foot drop with little room for error, but the whole run is also in view of the tram – which could either bolster or destroy the ego. I had decided to go with the backflip entrance, so after an evening consultation with my sport psychologist, carrot juice for dinner and a good night’s sleep, I woke up at 5:30 a.m. for a little warm-up jog. As I was limbering up with some basic stretching exercises and doing some visualization, I got the call that visibility was bad and the snow was hard, so no – we weren’t dropping into Corbet’s that day. Damn. That was the bad news. The good news was that we could still film in Corbet’s by lowering in with a rope. We assumed this meant being lowered in on some kind of harness, kind of like a rock climbing wall. Not so much. Our patroller, Kevin Brazell, told us to grab the rope, commit and go. No harness, no carabineers and no strong professional doing all the work for you. And with that, he was gone, disappearing into the fog like a ski patrol dream. One by one, we lowered ourselves into the famous couloir, scaling down the face and skiing into glorious infamy in our own minds. Number 4 on the top 50 things skiers need to do before they die was officially crossed off my list.
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HOME ON THE RANGE A trip to Jackson Hole wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the National Elk Refuge. Just 10 minutes from Jackson Hole Resort, and just a few minutes outside the town of Jackson, the refuge has more than 5,000 elk and 500 bison on more than 25,000 acres of intermountain valley land. With Snow King Resort towering in the background, true throwback cowboys will take you on a horse-drawn sleigh ride so you can get up close and personal with the animals in a natural and stunning landscape. The National Elk Refuge was established by various acts of Congress, executive orders and other documents to provide, preserve, restore and manage lands for wintering elk, birds and other big game animals when development grew in the Jackson area at the turn of the 20th century. Livestock competed with elk for natural grasses, and elk often raided ranchers’ haystacks. These changes and a series of harsh winters led to the starvation of thousands of elk. The community of Jackson grew concerned the elk herd would not survive without human interven-tion. “We support wildlife viewing and photography, environmental education and interpretation,” said Lori Iverson, who works with the National Wildlife Refuge. “It’s a fantastic wildlife viewing opportunity, and when you can combine your skiing vacation with other activities like this, you’ve struck gold.”
TOP: Edith drops backcountry lines with the town of Jackson in the background. BOTTOM: The National Elk Refuge is home to 7,500 elk each winter. RIGHT: Even a few corduroy runs on the lower mountain.
The third day we woke up to low-hanging, cloudy skies. When a local asked about my long face at breakfast, I simply pointed to the window with a glum look. “Not to worry,” I was told, “that is an inversion. Expect sunny skies, breathtaking views and perfect conditions up top.” Perfect. For our morning on snow, we decided to hit some ripping groomers, using Jackson Hole’s famous tram to make sure we got up early for some pristine conditions. Taking out my trusty ski app, I decided to lay down some killer super G turns (I am, after all, a legend in my own mind). After hitting 107 km/h on my third run, I spent the next six runs trying to match that speed. My legs turned to rubber on run 9, and I never
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got over 103 km/h again. But with endless groomers pristinely prepared, I had plenty of opportunity to give it a try. For our final evening, we went into the town of Jackson and hit the famous Silver Dollar Bar and Grill in the iconic Wort Hotel. Nothing says Western like line dancing and a live nine-person bluegrass band. Being the modest guy that I am, I pulled out my app to show off my 107 km/h speed, gloating for approximately six seconds before another skier in our group pulled his out and showed his top speed of 126 km/h. Noticing my face fall, one of the skiers that had been with him that morning noted that he had spotters and was straight-lining. That didn’t stop me from crying in my beer.
Clockwise from top: Mark Kristofic, Jackson Hole Resort (2)
Living the mountain high life
C I N D E R E L L A’S
GLASS SLIPPER HOTEL
BY MICHAEL MASTARCIYAN
INNSBRUCK’S aDLERS HOTEL
is a perfect fit for location, libations and views
nce upon a time, there was a beautiful shimmering city in a land of snowy mountains with majestic palaces and towering cathedrals as far as the eye could see. Nestled between some of the most impressive alpine mountain ranges in Europe,
Innsbruck, with its colourful baroque buildings, gothic arches and ancient cobbled streets, has been the home of kings and queens, princes and princesses for hundreds of years. It’s also been home for decades to intrepid travellers hungry for big mountains and the cultural charm of old-world skiing in Austria’s Tyrolean Alps. The fairy-tale vibe in this imperial city and the region that surrounds it has not gone unnoticed by Hollywood. Mad King Ludwig II’s incredible Neuschwanstein Castle, in nearby southern Bavaria, was Walt Disney’s inspiration for the Cinderella Castle he would build at his theme park in Florida. Now, in a town full of gorgeous buildings, including a full-on palace called The Hofburg, you can stay at the aDLERS Design Hotel – a spectacular golden glass structure that not only looks like Cinderella’s slipper, but feels like it too, especially for skiers who choose Innsbruck as the hub for what locals call a ski safari – something I’ve been doing every year since 1998.
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The aDLERS Panorama Bar
The Ultsch family has been in the hotel business for more than 100 years and currently operates a large chain of luxury hotels in Germany, Austria and Switzerland (Zurich opens in 2018) under the Harry’s Home Hotels brand umbrella. The aDLERS is the jewel in the family’s crown. The aDLERS is run under the watchful eye of Florian Ultsch, a tall, blond and handsome Austrian you’ll likely see mingling with guests morning, noon and night in the hotel he affectionately calls his “baby.” He also runs the more traditionally Tyrolean sister hotel in Innsbruck, the Hotel Schwarzer Adler. From an aesthetic/design perspective, the aDLERS is pure architectural eye candy. Influenced by Zaha Hadid’s famed ultramodern Bergisel ski jump (2002), one of Innsbruck’s most iconic buildings, the aDLERS opened its doors in 2013 and is currently the city’s tallest hotel. Being tallest also means unbelievable views of the snow-white peaks that guard this alpine town, and a night-time show of stars, cars
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and twinkling city lights from the panoramic restaurant, bar and rooftop terrace at the apex of the hotel on the 12th floor.
is definitely a draw for me, but so is a little lime-green cocktail called storm at patscherkofel. But jaw-dropping views aren’t limited to dining and drinking experiences at the aDLERS. Every room at this hotel has a giant, postcard-perfect, wall-to-wall view of the mountains and the city. I can honestly say I never watched a second of TV while in my room, as I was completely mesmerized by the real-life show out my window. Even more mind blowing than my view was the cityscape that hypnotized me in the sauna every night during my post-ski wellness ritual (hot sauna/cold water/warm
lounge chair). You can go all out and pamper the heck out of yourself at this hotel: Massage options range from aromatherapy to hot stone to a real-life Shaolin monk who will kung fu massage your body into post-skiing bliss before you hit the sauna or steam room (which also has a view). Believe me, there is nothing more relaxing than a good old-fashioned schvitz with a massive window showcasing starlit mountains and twinkling winter night skies. The aDLERS sauna with a view is now the standard by which I judge all others, and I still dream about it on chilly Canadian nights. But enough about aesthetics – it’s the Cinderella glass slipper fit of the aDLERS that really turns my ski tripper crank. My addiction to/love affair with Innsbruck and the ski safari concept began in 1998. I’ve been to the city every year since, and have skied all the ski areas at its doorstep (Axamer Lizum, Mutters, Schlick, Igls, Patscherkofel, Nordpark) as well as nearby Kuhtai and the famed Stubai Glacier.
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THIS HOTEL IS SO CLOSE TO THE STATION that i describe it to friends as
austria’s best “train-in/train-out” accommodation for ski travellers who want to play on the slopes during the day and in the city at night.
Nowadays, I focus on Kitzbuhel, St. Anton and Lech when I visit Innsbruck because they are vast in terrain, full of history and super-accessible by train. The aDLERS is about a one-minute walk from Innsbruck’s main Hauptbanhof train station, and that really works for me when I have boots dangling off my backpack and skis on my shoulder. This hotel is so close to the station that I describe it to friends as Austria’s best “train-in/train-out” accommodation for ski travellers who want to play on the slopes during the day and in the city at night. The location of the aDLERS Panorama Bar and Restaurant is also amazing, especially after a long day of ripping. When I’m not in the mood for the five-minute walk to the enchanted streets of Innsbruck’s Altstadt (Old Town), with its hotels, bars and restaurants frequented by Mozart and a host of other really famous old-timey Europeans, I stay in and take a short elevator ride for a night out.
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The Panorama Bar is one of the most popular nightspots in all of Innsbruck and is always hopping. The incredible views are the most obvious draws. The scenery is definitely a draw for me, but so is a little lime-green cocktail called Storm at Patscherkofel. Patscherkofel is one Innsbruck’s “home” mountains. It hosted the men’s downhill at the 1964 and 1976 Olympic Winter Games. Austrian ski legend Franz Klammer won gold at Patscherkofel in 1976, as did his countryman Egon Zimmerman in 1964. The “storm” in this excellent cocktail, which is served on the rocks with fresh kiwi, vodka,
vanilla syrup and lemon juice, may very well be a nod to the earth-shaking wave of joy that engulfed Austria when those gold medals were captured. The Panorama Restaurant’s five-star breakfast buffet and six-star view provide the ideal start to any ski day, but my favourite choices are on the dinner menu. I’m not ashamed to say it – my favourites are the gourmet hamburger when I’m homesick for a taste of North America, and an uberdelicious ribbon pasta dish with shrimp and cherry tomatoes. There’s nothing quite comparable to good food with a view, and this restaurant has an ample supply of both.
Suggestions and tips from the pros
BY JOSH FOSTER
GET A GRIP! I’ve often said that inner weirdness comes out when people start to think about edging their skis. There can be a myriad of strange twists and turns, pushing and pulling, tipping something here, lifting something there, all in the name of more edge grip. The internal cues also vary; it could be a roll with the knees, or pressing down the big toe and lifting up the little toe. There are probably as many ways to look at edging as there are skiers on the mountain! I’m a firm believer that there’s no wrong way to ski, as long as you get to the bottom of the slope with a smile on your face. That said, more efficient ways will get you a better result, which usually amounts to a bigger smile. From an efficiency point of view, the most effective amount of edge for any given situation is the least amount you can use. That’s right, the least. How does that work? When I’m skiing, I don’t really ever think about edging. I just think of being balanced and trying to coordinate movements. Try this at home: Roll your knees from one side to the other. Does that feel
64 S–MAGAZINE | snowsportsculture.com
Coordinate lower joint movements to achieve the best balance
good? Does it feel balanced? I don’t think so, because your knees don’t really work that way, and putting them to the inside like that puts you out of balance. Now try to pick up your baby toe on one foot while pushing down the big toe on your other foot. Does that feel like you’re balanced? I don’t feel balanced when I do that; I feel like my shoulders want to fall to the inside. I don’t think that either of these approaches works because they don’t include all of the lower joints. Moving to the inside to get edge grip on your skis needs to involve all three: the hips, knees and ankles. Try putting your right hand against a wall and putting your left hand on your left hip while making a finger gun, pointing your index finger at your right knee. Now feel as though you’re bending slightly forward, in and down. Bending from your left hip through your right knee, your index finger moves towards your right knee. When I do this, I feel balanced because all three lower joints are working together. Where does this happen in a ski turn? Have a look at the picture (above).
THERE ARE PROBABLY AS MANY WAYS TO LOOK AT EDGING AS THERE ARE SKIERS ON THE MOUNTAIN! I start to move to the inside just as I pass through the middle of the turn. The move to the inside starts from the hip and follows the path of the arrow through the inside knee, ensuring that all three lower joints work together. How much you move inside depends on speed and your turn shape. You could say that this approach creates grip with your hip. By starting with the hip, I can move to the inside of the turn in balance because my movements are coordinated. All three lower joints are complementing rather than opposing each other. A parallel edge angle is another good indicator of balance and just the right amount of grip. In the photo, my skis are tipped over the same amount, a great cue that things are coordinated and well balanced.
PARTING SHOT APRÈS CHILLAXING 1950S STYLE
Skiers enjoying the bright winter sunshine at Gray Rocks, near Mount Tremblant, Quebec, in 1956. Gray Rocks was a year-round privately owned resort in the Laurentians and was first developed as a ski destination on Sugarloaf Hill, but closed in 2009 and most of the hotel was destroyed in a 2014 fire.
66 S–MAGAZINE | snowsportsculture.com