Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Jump For Joy!

Well, it's about time -- women ski jumpers may finally be on the way to becoming Olympic competitors!

I don't know if you've been following this story, but ski jumping is the only Olympic sport that doesn't allow women to compete. And yes, you don't have to check your calendars; it really is 2006 -- not 1906.

Just last week, however, the International Federation of Skiing (FIS) voted to add an individual event in the 2009 World Championships in Liberec, Czech Republic -- a necessary step to the sport attaining Olympic status.

Why the hold up? The thought was that there weren't enough competitors to generate interest for the sport. But according to CBS News, more than 120 women from 14 countries are registered with the FIS as ski jumpers. And nearly half of them are qualified to compete internationally. That gives ski jumping more seasoned competitors than women's bobsled and skeleton had when those sports were added to the Games in 2002.

So a big congratulations to women ski jumpers like Lindsey Van, Alissa Johnson, and Jessica Jerome. These are hard working, extremely talented women who deserve to compete. Glad they may finally get their chance!

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Summertime Blues.

Okay, so it's May 27. Memorial Day Weekend. The Official Start of Summer.

Not to panic; we can make it.

After all, if you pick November 15 as the arbitrary beginning of ski season, it's only five months and 19 days away.

That's 172 days.

Or 4,128 hours.

Or 247,680 minutes.

Take a deep breath. We can do this.

Count on it.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

People are talking!

It's May 24th. Do you know where the management of your favorite ski area is?

I do! I do! They're at the 2006 National Ski Areas Association Convention in Marco Island, Florida.

And do you know what they're discussing?

Once again, I do! One of the main topics is women and snowsports. Apparently, they're as concerned as we are about the dearth of women on the slopes.

It only makes good sense to address the women's ski segment. According to Sports Illustrated, 42% of alpine skiers are female (though you could've fooled me). Nonetheless, whatever the number, it's a group that's often overlooked and extremely underserved. And not paying attention to it just doesn't make sense.

Just a couple weeks ago I was contacted by a market research firm that's addressing the convention. They were trying to figure out why more women don't ski; why women (especially teenage girls) leave the sport; and how to keep women skiing -- all interesting questions on which I tried to provide input, based on feedback I've gotten from you, my own observations, and things I've read from women posters on AlpineZone and EpicSki.

Hope the Association comes up with some good ideas. We could use 'em.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Ain't no harm in that.

I'm embarrassed to admit it, but until recently I thought the words to the Gwen Stefani song, "Ain't no holla back girl," were "Ain't no harm in that, girl." My daughter informed me otherwise. I guess I'm showing my age.

Anyway, "Ain't no harm in that" has sort of become a family catch phrase. And I'm using it here to promote exercising during the off season. After all, "Ain't no harm in that."

Keeping in shape in the off season can mean fewer sore muscles when ski season rolls around. I go to the gym 5 times a week, where I do half an hour on the ellipitical machine, and half an hour of weight training. On days when it's just too beautiful to stay indoors, I like to bike (great for leg muscles), roller blade (ditto), hike (ditto), or swim.

The most important thing is to find something you enjoy. That way, you'll be sure to keep at it. I know, I know -- finding the time to exercise with the kids, the job and/or school, laundry, errands, etc. etc. can be a real challenge. But -- and I know you've heard this before -- staying in shape is imperative not just for skiing, but for warding off all kinds of health conditions and for making you feel better all around. (It's also important for looking great in a swim suit this summer. But that's for someone else's blog.) Even if you can only exercise a few times a week, try to make that a regular part of your schedule. The payoff is incredible.

What do you do to keep in shape? Yoga? Pilates? Tennis? Swimming? Walking? Post it here. After all, the fitter you are when the snow starts to fly, the less ibuprofren you'll have to take next winter -- and the more easily you'll fit into this season's ski clothes. Ain't no harm in that, girl!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

February isn't just for skiing.

Something else exciting is going to happen, too. And although it has nothing to do with skiing or women and skiing, I'm so proud that I have to put it out here:

You see, my husband recently sold his first novel to Random House. It's called Finn, and it looks like it'll be in book stores everywhere in February, 2007. Way cool.

Here's the description from Random House's catalog:

Wicked meets Cormac McCarthy -- a masterful debut centered on one of the most notorious characters in American literature.

In this resonant, remarkable novel, Jon Clinch tells the story of Finn, Huckleberry Finn's brutal and mysterious father. Finn begins and ends with a lifeless body, the mirror of a corpse glimpsed but unnamed in Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, drifting down the Mississippi. The circumstances of the murder and the secret of the victim's identity comprise Finn's story.

Along the way, Clinch introduces the reader to a mesmerizing cast of characters: Finn's own fearsome father, known only as the Judge; Finn's brother, the sickly, sycophantic Will; the hermit Bliss, a blind moonshiner; the strong and quick-witted Mary, a former slave who becomes Finn's mistress; and of course young Huck himself (and the mysterious secret regarding his birth).

Finn is a novel about race, about the stain of slavery, and about the burdens of paternity. Written in a style both precise and thunderous, understated and violently elemental, it draws from our literary heritage to create something original and new. Finn is a hypnotic, completely original, distinctly American story.

Sounds intriguing, doesn't it? I have to say, too, that it's one of the best books I've ever read. And I'd say that even if it wasn't my husband who wrote it; it's that good. What's more, Jon's a great skier and a terrific guy. ( I know that's totally unrelated, but I thought I'd throw it in.) Film and foreign rights are for sale, too. Anyone interested?

By the way, you don't have had to have read Huckleberry Finn to enjoy Finn. It's great all on its own.

Jon has a blog you can visit, too: The Horsehair Couch. Be sure to drop in.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Here's to you, Ski Moms....

...for all you do. Making sure everyone has the hats, goggles, ski pants, boots, etc. etc. they need on the slopes. Dressing and undressing the kids. Assembling the lunches. Hauling the equipment. Harboring a secret stash of tissues/sun block/chap stick/energy bars for that unavoidable emergency. Accomodating multiple bathroom breaks and all the dressing and undressing that go with 'em. Providing encouraging words after a fall. Driving to and from the ski slopes. Attending ski races. Wiping noses. Wiping tears. Administering first aid. Putting on and removing boots/jackets/gloves/helmets. Making sure nothing gets left behind. Arranging ski lessons. Making sure the kids wear helmets.

For all you do, ski moms, for all your unwavering love, devotion, and support -- we salute you!

And to my own mom, who doesn't ski and never did, here's to you, too. Thanks for supporting my skiing when I was growing up, and for continuing to support it -- without ever asking 'why' -- now that I'm an adult.

Happy Mother's Day!

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Tech Talk: Summer Storage

Are you a techie? Do you tune your own skis? I don't know any women who do, and I don't think I've ever seen a female techie in a ski shop, either.

Someone may call me on this, but I think I'm pretty safe in saying that ski maintenance is still predominately a man's world. I wonder why...but that's a topic for another entry.

Anyway, whether you do it yourself or have someone do it for you, it's important to take a few precautions when you store your skis for the summer. A survey of a few local ski shops resulted in the following advice:

1) Coat the bottoms with a base conditioning wax to keep them from drying out. If you want to try this yourself, there's a great article in Skiing magazine that shows how it's done.

2) Store them in a dry environment. This means keeping them off a concrete floor, which can hold moisture and cause the edges to rust. I also read somewhere that coating the edges with Vaseline can help prevent them from oxidizing over the summer.

Anyone have any other tips? If so, post 'em here. Remember -- take care of your skis, and they'll take care of you.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Risky Business.

Granted, there are a number of women who ski with no fear -- who have the skills and nerve to tackle just about any situation on and off-piste without a second thought.

But for all of those with no fear -- and I salute you -- there are dozens of other women who are reluctant to push themselves to the next level, or who may even give up skiing, for fear of getting hurt.

Is it that women are more averse to risk than men? Do we know that we'll still have to go to work, take care of the kids, do the laundry, cook the meals, clean the house, and so on and so on, even if we've torn our ACL or fractured our tibia? Or is it some macho thing that causes some men to turn into super competitors who are willing to try anything on the slopes, even if it's beyond their abilities, no matter what the cost?

I know I'm generalizing. I know there are plenty of men who'll do the housework and take care of the kids, and many women who'll rip down the slopes, launching themselves off frozen waterfalls and zipping down untracked couloirs. Of course the whole concept of what's risky -- and what isn't -- is purely personal. It probably has a lot to do with past experiences, social conditioning, upbringing, role models, expectations, and so on.

But still, when I see how male dominated skiing seems to be, it makes me wonder. What do you think?

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Don't Forget Mom!!!!

Mother's Day is May 14th. So this year, instead of getting your mom the traditional flowers and perfume, how about trying something different:

Ski gear!

Of course, this only works if your mom skis. (My mom doesn't, so this would go over like a lead balloon. Then I'd have to take the stuff off her hands, and....hmmm......maybe I'm onto something!) But if your mom does ski, there are some great end-of-season deals at your local ski shop. And it's never too early to plan for next year.

If you're a mom who skis, be sure to send a link to this post to the father of your children. Sometimes all it takes is a friendly reminder to get the season's pass/gloves/skis/helmet/pants/boots/boot bag (I could go on, but you get the picture) you really, really need.

Remember, when Mama's happy, everybody's happy.

Need I say more?