Thursday, December 31, 2009

Reflections on Snow

As 2009 winds down to a close, I thought I'd end it with a poem by my friend, Cathy Quaglia, owner of Aspen East, a terrific ski shop in nearby Killington, VT. I love the peace and imagery of it. Enjoy, and Happy New Year!

Reflections on Snow

Snow's origin, not so obvious
as glancing in a mirror
catching your image in a puddle
or standing at the edge of a lake.

Snow possesses more depth and magic
falling flakes slowly pile up
like minutes and months and miles
nature's glistening white story.

Each unique shape, a cold ornament
artfully decorates the forests
roofs, hillsides, brooks all transform
into one resting blanket of silence.

Sun warms and combines invisible crystals
rising moon provides a vast night light
wind pattens the landscape
and the elements play their game.

Past child imagines and excites in the wonder
creates and plays out an adventure
now skillful gliding curves renew the freedom
as we soar over varied frozen surfaces.

Drifting thoughts suggest balance found
in snow's purity, truth and promise
reveal meanings in winter's bright gift
ever grateful for mountain life.

-- Cathy Quaglia

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, December 27, 2009

In the negative.

Ever had negative thoughts while skiing? Times when you're less than confident or when you beat yourself up for not skiing as well as you think you should?

You're not alone.

This was the subject of a thread on, and I thought I'd share a few of the ways our members have of dealing with this:

  • Pump up the jams, baby: Listen to music. It'll distract you from feeling nervous or uneasy. If you don't have an iPod, sing! 
  • Take a break, do something different: It might help you break the cycle.
  • Reassess: Figure out what's causing the negativity.  If it's the cold, go in and warm up. If it's the people you're skiing with, head off by yourself for a while. In short, think of a positive way to change the situation.
  • Remember that it's not a competition. You're not in the Olympics. You don't have to be the best one out there. Just be yourself.
  • Repeat positive affirmations. Give yourself a pat on the back for the things you can do, rather than beat yourself up for the things you can't.
  • Pack it in for the day. It's okay to quit. There's always another day.
  • Take a lesson. Improving your skills is a good way to set yourself up for future success. And make it easy for yourself to learn. Don't try to learn to ski bumps when they're icy hard, or learn to ski crud when it's like a coral reef out there.
  • Find a comfortable run and hang out there for a while. You don't have to ski the most challenging stuff all the time. It's okay to relax and back it down.
  • Adjust your expectations: Realize you can't be an expert skier in a day or even a week. Set realistic goals for yourself, and work to achieve them.
  • Visualize: Envision that you can do it, and picture how it should be done. Getting the right way set in your mind's eye can do wonders.
  • Don't try to control the things that you can't: The weather is not up to you. Neither is the grooming or the light or a million other things. Accept what is and only change what you can.

    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, December 22, 2009

    The reviews are in....

    And so far, so good.

    I'm talking about reviews for my debut novel, DOUBLE BLACK: A SKI DIVA MYSTERY, coming January 5 from Minotaur Books.

    Here's what Publisher's Weekly had to say:

    For all its fluffy powder and Green Mountain gemütlich, Vermont's Spruce Peak has a decidedly sinister side in Clinch's easy, breezy debut. Bostonian Stacey Curtis, a grad student turned ski bum, quickly discovers that when she finds a dead man with “the jagged oily chain from a chain saw yanked tight around his neck.” Though she has headed for the hills in hopes of lessening the drama in her life (think cheating fiancé), spunky Stacey's amateur sleuthing efforts send her schussing into fresh intrigue, danger, and just maybe romance with hunky ski patroller/trust funder Chip Walsh. Clinch, a Vermont resident who runs a popular Web site for women who ski (, clearly knows—and loves—the terrain, conjuring the kind of bewitching winter wonderland and endearing New England characters that will leave readers antsy for a return visit.

    There are more, too. recently ran a review that partly said this (for the full review, go here):

    You'll love Double Black if you ever ski bummed awhile, you'll love it more if you only wished you did. Wendy Clinch gives us the personality of a small ski town and all the personalities that live there and that the mountains draw there, and the subtle animosity of ski town locals to the flatlanders that they can't make a living without. Clinch presents neat crispy skiing times on bluebird powder days and full moon nights that will have you tuning skis even if it's summer.

    And there was a feature about DOUBLE BLACK that ran in this past Sunday's issue of The Rutland Herald/Barre Times Argus. You can see it here.

    Hard for me to believe the book will be out in just a couple weeks, though it's already available for pre-order at,, and

    And if you're looking for an autographed copy, you can order it from my favorite bookstore, Northshire Books in Manchester Center, VT. When you order, just note in the Comments field that you want a signed copy.

    Happy reading!

    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, December 17, 2009

    Bailing on a ski day (or how to avoid frostbite).

    Have you ever bailed on a ski day?

    I did this morning. I heard it was going to be cold, so I bundled up and felt pretty good as I headed out. Even though the thermometer in the car read 5°F, I've skied in worse. But the closer I got to the mountain (I only live 7 miles away) the windier it seemed to get. And when I got out of the car, the wind was blowing so hard I could hardly make it up to the lodge. Still, I did it, carrying my skis, wondering just how quickly it takes to develop facial frostbite in what seemed to be 40 mph gusts at frigid temps.

    Suffice it to say that until the friend I was meeting walked in, I was the only one there. The lifts were down -- at least for the moment, the winds were whipping like mad, and needle-like particles of snow were blowing in pain-inducing sheets. We could only imagine how bad it must be at the top. A wind chill of -30° at least. We bailed.

    I think if I'd driven, say, three hours to get there for my one and only ski day of the week, I might have had second thoughts. But the beauty of living so close to the mountain, having a season pass, and the ability to ski during the week makes bailing a whole lot easier. It's just not worth the risk of frostbite.

    Which brings me to something important: what is frostbite and how do you know if you have it? I found this online at a site called, and thought it'd be worth posting here:

    Frostbite is a medical condition that can happen to anyone. In the most basic terms frostbite is when the skin and/or the tissue under the skin freezes and causes cell damage. This is caused by exposure to cold, either through the air or through a chemical exposure, like to dry ice (frozen CO2) or highly compressed gasses. Under extreme conditions frostbite can occur in seconds. The elderly, young children, people with circulator disorders, and people from tropical climates have a higher risk factor of getting frostbite. People who have had previous cold injuries are also particularly at risk of getting injuries again in the same places.

    Frostbite comes in three levels of severity or degrees.

    First degree, also called frost nip: Most people who live in very cold climates or do a lot of outdoor activity in the winter have had first degree frostbite (just as most people have had a first degree burn when they get sunburn). Frost nip presents itself as numbed skin that has turned white in color. The skin may feel stiff to the touch, but the tissue under is still warm and soft. There is very little chance of blistering, infection or permanent scarring as long as it is treated properly.

    Second degree, superficial frostbite: Superficial frostbite is a serious medical condition that needs to be treated by a trained medical professional. The skin will be white or blue and will feel hard and frozen. The tissue underneath is still undamaged. Blistering is likely which is why medical treatment should be sought out. Proper treatment is critical to prevent severe or permanent injuries.

    Third degree, deep frostbite: The skin is white, blotchy and/or blue. The tissue underneath is hard and cold to the touch. This is a life threatening injury. Deep frostbite needs to be treated by a trained medical professional. The tissue underneath has been damaged, in severe cases amputation may be the final recourse to prevent severe infection. Blistering will happen. Proper medical treatment in a medical facility with personnel trained to deal with severe frostbite injuries is required to aid in the prevention of severe or permanent injury.

    Just what does frostbite do to the tissues? When you are exposed to cold with the extremities including your feet, hands, nose, ears, and face being at the highest risk, the blood vessels constrict. This is a natural reaction to prevent body heat loss and hypothermia. With a loss of warming blood flow (or in extreme cases where blood flow can not compete with the extreme cold) the fluid within your cells and tissues start to freeze forming ice crystals. These ice crystals take up more room within the cells then when in a fluid state, and cause the cells to rupture. Also, sudden warming can cause the cells to rupture. This is why large blisters can form when there is superficial or severe frostbite.

    Frostbite can occur in as little as thirty-seconds in extreme conditions, and even faster in the case of chemical injuries (which we won't cover here). Factors like wind chill, alcohol consumption, altitude, getting wet or being damp and how long you are exposed to the cold all impact how quickly and how severe frostbite can be. Long term exposure to moderate cold with wet boots can cause a more serious injury than a short-term exposure to severe cold with inadequate boots in the case of your feet. It is a complex equation that needs to be weighed careful when being outdoors in the cold 
    There's no shame in cutting a ski day short or giving it up altogether. I hate to miss any day on the slopes. But given the real danger from frostbite today, I think I did the right thing. It takes a lot for me to bag a ski day, but this definitely would not have been pleasant.

    And of course, there's always tomorrow.

    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, December 13, 2009

    Ski Review: Volkl Tierra

    I've spent two days on this ski now to give myself plenty of time to see how I liked it, and my verdict is in:

    It's a great ski.

    Why? It can do it all. It rides the ice like it's on rails. It has a huge shovel so it can go in the chop, the crud, and in several inches of pow without a hitch. It's stable, steady, but with great energy. And it has a huge sidecut, so it turns like nobody's business.

    The dimensions: 129-78-99. I have it in the 156. I'm an advanced skier, 110 lbs, 5'1".

    The Tierra has Volkl's new Bio-Logic system which they say puts a female skier in a more neutral stance. According to the rep I spoke with a while ago, traditional bindings have the heels jacked up. When you combine that with the higher ramp angle you typically find in a woman’s boots, you end up being tipped too far forward. To combat this, Volkl has raised the toe in the binding. The result is better balance of the hamstring and glutes and more efficient muscle use. They’ve also tapered the tail angle so it releases more readily at the end of a turn. The tip is a bit wider, and they gave the ski a more consistent flex pattern.

    To be honest, I'd be hard put to evaluate the difference between the old and new Volkl technology, unless I skied the two back to back. What I will say is that I had no problem with it. I felt comfortable, in balance, and in control.

    The ski is fun, fun, fun. What could be better than that?

    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.

    Monday, December 07, 2009

    Rad Boob!

    No, I'm not calling you a name or commenting on your appearance.

    "Rad Boob" refers to a calendar put together by a group of kick-ass women skiers to raise money for breast cancer. Organized by skiers Sarah Frood, third place finisher in 2008's Overall Canadian Freeskiing Tour and the Lake Louise Freeski Competition, and Tessa Treadway, third place finisher in 2008's Canadian Freeski Tour, the calendar features top women skiers in some amazing action shots, along with personal stories of how breast cancer has affected their lives. It's a calendar that everyone -- Ski Divas and non-Ski Divas alike -- will want to own. And with the holiday season approaching, it makes a great gift, too!

    Here, Sarah gives us some background on this remarkable calendar.

    Q: What was the inspiration behind the calendar? How and why did you decide to do this?

    A: It seems like everyone has a breast cancer story, whether it’s personal, a friend, a mother, an aunt; it affects so many people. My mother had breast cancer about two years ago and is still going strong as a survivor, but it was a terrifying experience for my family.

    We had a group of girlfriends that would ski together at Kicking Horse a couple of seasons ago. We were all wearing pink one day for a promo video we were filming and we randomly came up with the idea. It took a couple of seasons of talking about it, but last year we finally went into action. The support we’ve received from our friends and families has been amazing!

    Q: The women in the calendar are incredible. How did you select them? And how'd you go about getting the pictures?

    A: The women in the calendar are all friends or women we’ve met through skiing. The ski community is pretty small out West so it was easy for us to think of twelve girlfriends that rip! They were all excited to be a part of the project as soon as we mentioned it. We basically sent out an email to everyone asking if they would be willing to donate photos from their ski season for the calendar. We started collecting photos February of last season and it’s been ongoing since then. It’s definitely been a learning process. Luckily the photographers were happy to donate their photos to our project and we didn’t have to organize any photo shoots. We have photos from Jordan Manley, Dave Mossop, Re Wikstrom and so many more! Holly Walker put hours and hours into the design of the calendar (she’s Ms. December too!) and she did an amazing job.

    Q: How are people finding out about the calendar? What's response been like?

    A: Most people are learning about it through We’ve been trying to spread the word through a lot of social networking. We’re trying to encourage blogs to write about us and forums like TheSkiDiva have really helped us out. So thank you for all of your support! Also, I bring it up in every conversation I have. I’ll throw in a “…speaking of….have you heard about the rad boob club calendar?” We’ve had some articles written about us on,, and some local newspapers as well.

    Q: How did you choose "Rad Boob" as the name?

    A: The name "Rad Boob" actually came from a group of female skiers in Golden, BC. We used to ski with a group of guys called the Rad Dude Club who wouldn’t allow girls to join, so we started our own! We basically just ski around together and have fun.

    Q: Where's the money you raise going? Do you have a specific goal?

    A: We’re aiming to raise $10,000 for Rethink Breast Cancer. Here’s a short description about them from their website:

    “A charity helping young people who are concerned about and affected by breast cancer through innovative breast cancer education, research and support programs. Rethink is a national volunteer-driven registered charity. We are thinking differently about how to beat breast cancer.”

    We chose to donate the money raised to Rethink because we felt like it would be an effective use of the funds. They support some exciting research in the field, but they also encourage prevention and awareness. They were also very supportive of our project and gave us a lot of advice along the way. As skiers we all lead fairly healthy lifestyles and it was important for us to support an organization that would have similar values.

    Q: Is this a one time only thing, or is it something you plan to do every year? Also, I see on your website that you're planning to travel around to raise awareness of breast cancer. What do you plan to do, and where?

    A: We’re not sure if we’ll do it again next year. I think we want to get through this year, make sure we sell all our calendars and raise a big chunk of money for Rethink and then go from there. It’s been a lot of work, very rewarding but we’re not ready to think about next years project until this one is done!

    As for travel plans, these are our confirmed dates:

    Sat Dec. 19 Kicking Horse
    Sun Dec. 20 Lake Louise
    Thur Jan. 7 Whistler "Deep Winter Photo Challenge"
    Sat Jan. 9 Revelstoke

    We’ll also be selling the calendars at various stores throughout Whistler and Vancouver and Squamish, such as:

    Surefoot in Whistler
    The Zephyr Café in Squamish
    Steed Cycles in North Vancouver

    And more to come!

    Q: Are you planning any other fundraising events?

    A: Nothing as of yet, but we’ll keep you posted!

    Q: Do you and Tessa coach or instruct anywhere?

    A: Yes, we both coach for Girls Day Out. It’s a really fun weekend. I recommend it to all women out there! We’ve both done some big mountain ski competitions, as well. Tessa skis for Carrera, Faction and Peak Performance and coaches for Extremely Canadian in Whistler. I’m getting support from Rossignol and Smith and am still searching for that “perfect job."

    # # #

    To order your own copy of the Rad Boob calendar or to see these amazing pictures -- after which you'll definitely want to order this calendar -- go to

    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.