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Where Kids Are Concerned, It’s Safety First

Where Kids Are Concerned, It’s Safety First

Riding a chairlift, the engine that helps drive our passion for skiing and snowboarding, can be fraught with danger. Particularly for little kids. I remember a blustery day at a Tahoe-area resort some 25 years or so ago when I was skiing with my daughter Grete, my buddy Curtis and his son Matthew. The kids, who were no more than 6 or 7, would ride the lifts together — not many quads in those days for the four of us to share — while the dads would take the following chair. On one ride, along an exposed ridge, the wind really started to howl, causing the chairs to yaw dramatically. The effect on Grete and Matthew was immediate, and the two kids had to maintain a death grip on the sides of the chair — there was no restraint bar for them to pull down — to keep from being flung to the ground. Curtis and I could only watch helplessly from behind. After a harrowing few minutes, the kids reached the unloading platform, got off the chair and immediately started sobbing, knowing they had narrowly avoided a possibly even more traumatic experience. A quick exit from the ski hill and stop at the local burger joint helped bring the kids to rights. The aforementioned is an extreme example of how a chairlift ride can be potentially perilous for young children. But there are many other situations that can pose danger to kids, and to that end it behooves parents and guardians — even non-skiing or non-snowboarding parents and guardians — to teach them how to ride the lifts...
It’s Mostly Child’s Play at Tahoe Donner

It’s Mostly Child’s Play at Tahoe Donner

Life in the fast lane is not for everybody. Take Tahoe Donner, for instance. The small ski resort in Truckee is as bland and vanilla as the 400 inches of Sierra Nevada snow that annually cover its 120 acres of skiable terrain. But that’s just fine for the folks at Tahoe Donner, who proudly boast that the ski hill has been voted “the best place for families” and “the best place to begin” by readers of a local newspaper. A Gentle Place The mountain is as non-threatening as a ski hill can get, with 600 vertical feet of relatively gentle, open-bowl terrain and 17 named runs accessed by the top-to-bottom Eagle Rock fixed-grip quad. Another, much shorter lift, the Snowbird triple chair, provides access to Tahoe Donner’s expansive Learning Center and beginner terrain. And three magic carpets allow never-ever skiers and boarders to gain some uphill transport with the minimum of fuss and bother. In addition, the base area is small and simple to use and navigate, so friends and family can collect themselves before and after a day on the hill quickly and easily. And because Tahoe Donner is a short drive north of I-80, it seems far away from the often hectic and crowded North Lake Tahoe-Truckee-Donner Summit resorts to the south and west. In other words, Tahoe Donner, whose ski and snowboard school specializes in teaching first-timers and novices, is the perfect place to take young kids who are just getting their ski and/or snowboard legs under them. An Olympic Legacy Indeed, many of the world-class ski and snowboard athletes who grew up in the Truckee...
Does This Edit Make Me Look Phat?

Does This Edit Make Me Look Phat?

Capturing the antics of skiers and snowboarders on film is as natural as falling down the mountain. From the black-and-white travelogues of Otto Lang, to the droll, humorous vignettes of Warren Miller, to the outrageous stunts (and puns) of Greg Stump, to the high-res thrillers of Matchstick Productions and Teton Gravity Research, ski film makers have had an integral part in making the sport both enticing and exciting for generations of skiers and snowboarders. And now with the proliferation of smart phones and GoPros and other digital means of capturing live action, any skier or snowboarder can be a film maker. But not all wannabe auteurs have what it takes to translate what transpires on the hill into the imagination of strangers. And those that do have the chops often largely go unnoticed by a wider audience. However, there is a great way to identify the next gen of quality ski film makers and it takes place in Lake Tahoe, where every winter for the last half-dozen years the Shreddit Showdown contest is held. The Beta Developed and organized by Granite Chief, a high-end skiing and mountaineering shop in Truckee, the Shreddit Showdown is open to amateur film makers anywhere who think they can capture THAT moment, whether it’s on the slopes, in the park or in the backcountry. The rules are fairly simple: Entries must have a skiing or snowboarding theme and/or storyline, must be three minutes (more or less) in length, must be in the highest resolution possible and must be shot in 24 frames per second (fps). There are three prize categories — Adult (18 and over),...
Ski A-Basin Like a Local

Ski A-Basin Like a Local

If there is any mountain resort in North America that best defines high-altitude alpine skiing and snowboarding it has to be Arapahoe Basin. Tucked up against the Continental Divide in Colorado, A-Basin’s base lodge at 10,780 feet is higher than the summits of most other resorts. And although the lifts top out at 12,434 feet, an intrepid rider can add another 600 to 800 feet of vertical by hiking to the resort’s twin in-bounds summits, 13,202-foot Lenawee Mountain and 13,050-foot Arapahoe Basin peak. Because A-Basin is so high up in the Rockies, much of the skiing and snowboarding is above tree-line, which makes its relatively modest size of 1,458 acres — about half the acreage of nearby resorts Keystone (3,148 acres) and Breckenridge (2,908 acres) — seem so much bigger. Throw in an annual average of 350 inches of Colorado’s finest product, and you’ve got a powder hound’s paradise. Start Out Easy Since A-Basin is in such rarefied air, it’s best for a newcomer, especially those coming from sea level, to start out slow and get acclimated. Hop on the Black Mountain Express, the only high-speed conveyance among the resort’s seven lifts, and take a couple of leisurely laps on such groomers as High Noon or Sundance. Once you’ve got your legs and lungs sufficiently adjusted to the altitude, make your way to the Lenawee chair, which takes you to the summit. At the top make a U-turn and select either the Lenawee Face or Cornice Run, a couple of blue groomers that will help you get your bearings in the massive upper bowl of A-Basin. After a lap...
January’s a Good Time to Get Down to Basics

January’s a Good Time to Get Down to Basics

Attention skiers and snowboarders. Do you have a friend or loved one who is considering taking up the sport but isn’t sure he or she wants to commit the time and/or the money necessary to get started? Well, the National Ski Areas Association, in conjunction with Snowsports Industries America and the professional ski and snowboard instructors associations, have come up with an incentive to get those fence sitters moving. It’s called Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month, and it happens every January. Lessons for Less Resorts both great and small across America — from Maine to Wyoming, from Angel Fire to Wild Mountain — are involved in this promotion, which annually connects never-evers to the thrill of sliding down a snow-covered hill with a board or two attached to their feet in a safe, friendly and well-supervised  environment. For rates ranging from $35 to $100, skiing and snowboarding neophytes get rental gear, a half-day lift ticket and an introductory lesson from a certified instructor. And many resorts will let them use the gear and lifts for the rest of the day for an additional but very reasonable price. Among the resorts participating the Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month promotion are Squaw Valley, Homewood and Mountain High in California, Arapahoe Basin and Powderhorn in Colorado, Lookout Pass and Bogus Basin in Idaho, Wachusett and Ski Butternut in Massachusetts, Sunday River in Maine, Wild Mountain in Minnesota, Breton Woods and Pat’s Peak in New Hampshire, Angel Fire and Taos in New Mexico, Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe in Nevada, Holiday Valley and Windham in New York, Mt. Hood Meadows and Mt....