Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Review: Nordica Olympia Conquer

I feel like I've been on a bit of a roll lately with the Nordicas. What can I say -- Nordica had a demo tent at my local hill both last week and today. Last time I tried the Firefox; this time: the Conquer!!!!

Again, I'm an advanced skier, 5'1", 110 lbs.

Specs: Tried the 154 (126-84-110)

Conditions today were, in a word, awful. Death cookies, ice, and crud.

Did it bother the ski??? Not at all. This is one powerhouse. Even with an 84 mm waist, it handled the ice and death cookies like a, well, like a conqueror. Busted through everything, yet was able to get on edge like a champ. Grippy, smooth, and stable, better in longer and medium turns than short. A very fun ski. If you want a ski that can dominate the hill, this would be an excellent choice.

Be sure to visit, an internet forum especially for women skiers, where women skiers can connect with one another to talk about everything and anything ski-related.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Ski Review: The Nordica Firefox

This is one ski I've been dying to try, and today I got lucky! My local hill (Okemo) had a Nordica demo tent set up yesterday, so how could I resist?

So here we go:

Ski: Nordica Olympia Firefox, 154 cm, 120-70-103 (13m)

Me: Advanced, 5 ft 1 in., 110 lbs.

Conditions: 3-4 inches of fresh powder on top of bullet-proof ice. Ungroomed.

I've been very intrigued by this ski since my interview with Deb Armstrong, and learning that this is what she skis. Now I know why. What a terrific ski! Conditions were mostly powder with some ice where it'd been pushed around; ungroomed. No problem. I found the Firefox stable and quick, with good edge hold and terrific rebound. Really nice in the long turns, but nice in the shorter turns, too. Didn't try it in the bumps, since there were no bumps around. But for a fun ski that really moves, this is it.

Be sure to visit, an internet forum especially for women skiers, where women skiers can connect with one another to talk about everything and anything ski-related.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A chat with Kristen Ulmer

Some of you may already be familiar with Kristen Ulmer. A pioneer of the extreme sports movement, Kristen was a mogul specialist for the US Ski Team in the '90's and appeared in a number of ski movies, jumping off cliffs and making heart-thumping, jaw-dropping, knee-knocking descents on some of the world's gnarliest terrain. She's also been named by both the media and her peers as the world's best big mountain (extreme) skier and overall woman skier, beating out Olympic Gold medalists. And in a cover feature about her life, Powder Magazine called her "the biggest icon the ski industry never expected" and the "protoplasmic mass of the ski industry."

For many of us, it looked like Kristen was living the dream: fame, fortune, prestige, and unbelievable skiing in some of the world's most exotic locales. But then a few years ago she gave it all up. Just like that. No more of the glitter and glamour of the free-skier circuit. Instead, she devoted herself to developing a clinic that combined ski coaching with a western form of Zen teaching called Big Mind. Since then, Kristen's Ski to Live clinics have received national attention. I spoke to her recently from her home in Utah.

Q: You've stated that your work with these clinics is the most rewarding you've ever done, and that being an extreme ski champion was the prequel that allowed you to do it. Can you explain why you made the transition, and why you feel this way?
A: During my ski career, at least once a week I'd look at my skis and think that this wasn't what I was supposed to do with my life. And I couldn't figure out why. Eventually, I got to the point where I just couldn't take it any more. But I didn't have the guts to quit and I didn't know what I'd learned from everything I'd done. I don't believe you learn by experience. I believe you learn by reflecting on the experience. So initially I wanted to reflect on my experience as a professional athlete and figure out what I'd learned. This led me to Big Mind, an intense, powerful study of the self developed by Genpo Roshi. It's made a huge impact on my life. And now, sharing this with other people is what my life is all about.

Q. How does the focus on spirtuality fit in with the ski experience?
A. Big Mind comes from the Zen tradition. But it's several generations removed from Buddhism. It's not a religious program. Buddhism is the study of what the Buddha taught, but Zen is trying to feel what the Buddha felt. Basically, it's trying to embody our true nature; trying to help people access something they already know. Our clinic helps you use this awareness to become a better athlete.

Q.In one interview, you said that some people won't meditate, but they'll ski. Do you equate skiing with mediation?
A. For me, yes, but it's not that way for everyone. When I was a professional skier, there were times when it felt that way, but I wasn't in the sport for the peace of it. I was in it for its power, aggression, and self expression. Now that I'm in my forties, I don't care about improving my skiing anymore, so my feeling on this has changed. Meditation is something you have to learn how to do. Many people have different approaches to skiing, and using it as a way to mediate is one of them.

Q. In your clinics, what are you hoping people will come away with?
A. Two things. First, a greater understanding of themselves as an individual, and whether that relates to their performance skiing or just their lives, that's up to them. And second, I'm hoping they come away knowing very, very clearly their true natures.

Q. I've had the pleasure of speaking to Deb Armstrong and Didi Lawrence, and both of them mentioned that for them, skiing is a metaphor for life. I know that isn't exactly what you're saying, but it's interesting that for you, too, skiing is more than just a sport.
A. I say it's one of many choices on how to live your life. And it is one of the best things I can think of. It's beautiful, it's magical, it's social, and it brings up all sorts of stuff. But then it can also, if you allow it to, give you a glimpse of your true nature. I can see how the metaphor for life would resonate with some people. It's more than just a physical activity.

Q. What kind of people attend your clinics?
A. We get some of the most intelligent, interesting, grounded people in the country. I think many people are seeking knowledge and understanding in their lives. The choices are religion or the new age movement -- which I think has become more questioned and obsolete. Our clinic offers another way. We do, however, get a lot of religious people who just want to add to that.

Kristen Ulmer will be offering her Ski To Live clinic at Snowbird from January 3-8, at Alta from April 3-6, and at Park City from February 28-March 2.

Be sure to visit, an internet forum especially for women skiers, where women skiers can connect with one another to talk about everything and anything ski-related.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Now you're talking!

Every sport has its lingo. It's no different in skiing. Hang around enough, and you're bound to hear some ski slang.

Here are a few of the more colorful terms:

White Ribbon of Death: Seen mostly during the early season, this is the thin stripe of snow present on the trails of many resorts. Riddled with rocks, sticks, and the bodies of skiers who've hit same.

Gaper: Not one of my favorite words. A "Gaper" is someone who's clueless about skiing, ski fashion, and proper skiing etiquette. I believe the word comes from the gap that can occur between one's goggles and hat and/or helmet (though if that's the case, shouldn't it be "gapper"?), and is often used to describe someone who's new to the sport.

Death Cookies: Hard, evil chunks of icy snow that can occur when grooming machines try to break up a sheet of ice. Commonly found here in the East.

Yard Sale: A spectacular wipe-out that results in gloves, poles, and skis strewn across the mountain.

Sierra Cement: The opposite to powder. Thick, heavy stuff that'll slow you down and grab your skis.

Skiing Switch: Skiing backwards. That's why there are twin tips.

Snow snake: A mythical, invisible creature who'll grab you when you ski, pulling you down and causing you to fall.

Face plant: This is what you do when you fall on your face.

Bluebird Day: The best. Used to describe a sunny day with blue, blue skies, and white, white snow. I love these!

Be sure to visit, an internet forum especially for women skiers, where women skiers can connect with one another to talk about everything and anything ski-related.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Anyone seen the Beaver Creek Ad?

Actually, it came out a couple months ago, but I'm just getting around to talking about it now. It was in the front of a recent issue of Ski magazine.

Picture this:

A two page spread. On the left hand page, large, large type on a completely white background that says the following:

Girls will be girls.

And across from that, on the right hand page, a full page photo of an unbelievable mogul field with two skiers (sex indistinguishable, but I assume they're women) making their way down the bumps.

Kudos to Beaver Creek for recognizing that there are a lot of women skiers who can really kick butt!

Be sure to visit, an internet forum especially for women skiers, where women skiers can connect with one another to talk about everything and anything ski-related.