Archive for October, 2008


So the big question … when can we start ski-ing?

October 31, 2008

We put out a teaser yesterday – a great snowboarding vid. for all you extreme sport enthusiasts out there. All other news is so depressing right now so let’s ignore it and concentrate on bringing some fun back into our lives … and what better way than to think about getting away from it all, heading to the mountains, and losing oneself in the ultimate thrill of a downhill chase…

Fresh Tracks on powder day

Skiing in America is varied with most of the best known resorts being in the west along the Rocky Mountains — Vail, Aspen Snowmass, Heavenly and Squaw Valley are all over 4,000 acres and Aspen Snowmass, Big Sky and Jackson Hole offer over 4,000 vertical feet. However, the East Coast also has some great places such as Stowe in Vermont. Average snowfall for most resorts is more than 25 feet per season.

COLORADO has already received their first dustings of snow. In fact Loveland and Arapahoe Basin (both close to Denver) are making snow and both resorts are already open. In fact, Arapahoe Basin ski and snowboard season began on Wednesday, October 15th. For the past two years this ski area has been the first to open in the nation and this year A-Basin was determined to continue that trend.

There is something for everyone in the wide choice of Colorado ski resorts: black runs, bowls, off-piste, beginner to advanced, close to the city or remote, rowdy to peaceful.

The majority of Colorado resorts are planning a November opening with Breckenridge and Wolf Creek at the top of the list on the 7th November. Some others open as follows:

Breckenridge, Copper Mountain, Keystone, Wolf Creek – November 07
Winter Park – November 19
Eldora, Vail – November 21
Beaver Creek, Crested Butte, Monarch – November 26
Purgatory at Durango, Steamboat, Telluride – November 26
Aspen Mountain, Ski Cooper, Snowmass – November 27
Echo Mountain, Kendall Mountain – November 28
Silverton Mountain – November 29
Sunlight – December 05
Powderhorn – December 11
Aspen Highlands – December 13
Buttermilk – December 13
Sol Vista Basin – December 19

Over in CALIFORNIA, Boreal is already open, and in quite a startling way – they let 150 brightly dyed sheep loose on the slopes so that snowboarders could have a moving park to negotiate. “I never imagined snowboarding with sheep could be so fun. They really are as soft as they look. And the landings, wow, the landings were like hitting large puffs of the best cashmere sweaters you can imagine” was one comment. I’m not sure the sheep would have been quite so excited about it though – what do ewe think?

Mammoth Mountain – November 13
Heavenly,  Alpine Meadows – November 17
Northstar and Sierra-at-Tahoe – November 18
Squaw Valley – November 22 – depending on conditions and weather

Located high in the mountains of Central IDAHO, Brundage Mountain is best known for its powder-packed glades and luxuriously wide groomed runs. With over 320 inches of snowfall annually, Brundage has an undisputed reputation for the Best Snow in Idaho – however, at present there is no snow, current conditions are rock, dirt and grass!, and there is no projected opening date.

I have received an update here: Brundage has just had 1″ of snow, but what is interesting is that they never make snow – they rely entirely on Mother Nature which is great as man-made snow is always rather a disappointment isn’t it? my personal opinion anyway – but I suppose better than nothing… The average opening day is November 31st, but in recent years they’ve opened for weekend lift service as early as November 12… you can keep checking directly at

Whereas others in IDAHO have the following plans:

Sun Valley – November 27, they traditionally open on Thanksgiving Day, and received some nice snow last weekend.
Tamarack – December 12
Kelly Canyon – December 19

In MONTANA, scheduled opening dates are as follows:

Great Divide – November 26
Big Sky, Discovery – November 27
Red lodge – November 28
Montana Snowbowl – November 29
Maverick, Whitefish – December 06
Bridger Bowl, Moonlight Basin, Showdown – December 12

In WYOMING, the resorts that have opening dates are:

Grand Targhee – November 22
Snow King – November 27
Hogadon – November 28
Jackson Hole, White Pine – November 29

and in UTAH the schedule is:

Alta – November 21
Brian Head, Park City, Powder Mountain, Snowbird – November 22
Snowbasin, The Canyons – November 27
Sundance – December 05
Deer Valley – December 06

It would never have occurred to me that you could ski in NEW MEXICO – when you say the word ‘New Mexico’ it conjures up images of cactus, deserts and dust, but snow? Taos Ski Valley is certainly the most well-known area in this state and is a must-ski experience for experts seeking challenge in the southern Rockies. From the intimidating face of Al’s Run just above the base to “The Ridge” which you have to hike to,  Taos offers up plenty of challenge, but no snowboarding allowed! Apologies to all you down there for my ignorance… In fact conditions must be pretty good as all but one resort has an opening date:

Sipapu – November 15
Red River – November 26
Ski Apache, Taos – November 27
Pajarito, Sandia Peak – December 19
Angel Fire – December 20

Sunday River in Newry, MAINE opened for skiing and riding yesterday ahead of their projected Halloween opening as the first resort in the northeast U.S. to offer lift servied skiing and riding for the 2008-2009 winter season. The resort is still planning to offer skiing and riding for the second consecutive year on Halloween, offering free lift tickets to anyone who arrives in costume. Sounds like fun. Lift access will open at 10.00 a.m. Friday morning and the resort will remain open on Saturday and Sunday, before temporarily closing for the following midweek period.

Meanwhile, over in NEW HAMPSHIRE, these resorts plan to open on the following dates:

Attitash – November 22… if not sooner
Waterville Valley, Loon Mountain – November 22
Ragged Mountain – November 28
Wildcat – November 29
King Pine – December 12
Granite Gorge – December 13

The only ones with opening dates so far in NEW YORK STATE are:

Mt. Peter – November 19
Whiteface – November 23
Windham Mountain– November 26 … and due to recent snowfall maybe even earlier.
Bristol Mountain – November 27
Belleayre, Gore Mountain, Holiday Valley, Snow Ridge, Swain – November 28
Greek Peak – December 01
Plattekill – December 06
McCauley, Tuxedo Ridge – December 13

I have by no means covered all the ski regions of North America, but hopefully enough to give you something to think about this weekend, and of course, all dates will be subject to weather conditions.  If you need more incentive  … take a look at this video, thanks to benahum21 for posting it! Ye gods!


Winter’s just around the corner…

October 30, 2008

It’s coming up to that time of year again… all you guys in the northern hemisphere will be blowing the dust off your snowboards and gazing hopefully at the clouds.  I believe it snowed last night here in France…   pearsonkid thanks for this video which certainly sets the mood…


Extreme sport accidents

October 29, 2008

OMG – what is it guys – just check out this video (thanks vntidc) of what you nut balls get up to and what happens when you get it wrong.

Seriously though all these sports are a lot of fun but take it easy – all you are doing when you have a dreadful accident, as depicted in the video, is keeping the medics in gainful employment.

I reckon some of these guys must have been touched by some phantom to even attempt these stunts – really wicked. Enjoy……….better to watch than practice……..but respect to those dudes who did practice, certainly takes some…….


Sports Adventurer of the Year – Lewis Gorden Pugh

October 29, 2008

On 27 May in Paris, the French Sports Academy announced that Lewis Gorden Pugh had won the Sports Adventurer of the Year Award. However, he doesn’t think of himself as an ‘adventurer’ (nor a tree hugger) –  but as a new breed of a hands-on, act-now activist.

“As a maritime lawyer, I have decided to combine my legal skills with a deep commitment to get my message through to decision makers and the media to achieve change within our lifetime.  Because I’m not sure there will be another,” he says.

“Each time I return to the Arctic, I am shocked by how much ice has melted and how rapidly it’s happening.”

Lewis Gordon Pugh is an explorer and environmental activist who is quickly becoming a Voice of the Arctic. Do you remember the article I posted in September re his Arctic swim? 1 km in 18 mins, 50 secs. Brrr… I also mentioned how he was about to start kayaking to the North Pole.

He said he was undertaking the herculean task of paddling 1,200 kilometres to draw the world’s attention to the rapid loss of sea ice in the Arctic.

One of his sponsors for this expedition, and for others in the past, was Investec Asset Management. CEO of Investec, Hendrik du Toit, said “Our philosophy as a business has always been that ‘ordinary won’t change the world’. Lewis Gordon Pugh personifies this attribute, and it is an honour to support him in both his physical expeditions and his quest to raise awareness of the way climate change is affecting our world.”

“I hope I don’t get all the way to the North Pole because if I do get all the way to the North Pole, then that’s very worrying,” he said.

This information is a little out of date as the expedition did not take as long as was forecasted. However, if you read about his swim with interest you might like to hear that his trip ended at 81 degrees north, about 1,000 km from the Pole… He was stopped  by a barrier of sea ice which blocked his route north, after a week-long, 135km paddle from the Norwegian Arctic island of Spitzbergen.

And if that ice barrier had not been there… if it had not been too difficult to manoeuvre around – how close does he think he would have got to the Pole? More on that later…

The expedition lasted 9 days in total – including a day returning to dry land.

They, Lewis and Robbie – the kayakers, and the members of the team on the back-up boat, assembled nearly 200 flags on the ice sheet to represent the fact that the Arctic belongs to no-one in particular but to all of us – and it’s importance to all of us is paramount to our survival. It was to demonstrate to us that this region, no matter how far away it seems, is an area that we all have to protect. It was to make us aware of the fact that in the Arctic, sea ice is disappearing up to 30 years ahead of predictions… that no matter how distant our home is from this place, we will be affected by what goes on here… that it is a matter for the entire world to sort out.

They then took the flags down, packed up and went home…


Asian Beach Games

October 28, 2008

The inaugural Asian Beach Games came to and end on Sunday with a closing celebration meant to “Inspire the World” one last time.

Over 4000 athletes and officials from 45 countries and regions converged on the island of Bali to compete for the top honours in 17 sports – Beach Handball, Beach Kabaddi, Beach Pencak Silat, Beach Sepaktakraw, Beach Soccer, Beach Volleyball, Beach Wrestling, Body Building, Dragonboat Racing, Jet-ski Sport, Marathon Swimming, Paragliding, Sailing, Surfing, Triathlon, Windsurfing and Woodball. The events took place in several venues around Bali, namely Sanur, Nusa Dua, Benoa, Jimbaran and Kuta.

The games were closed last night with a spectacular display of Bali at its best – a one-of-a-kind combination of harmony, beauty, culture and nature. It included a collaborative presentation of Indonesian traditional dances and songs from the five major islands and Bali performed in contemporary traditional style by 150 dancers and musicians.

The top scoring countries were as follows:

Rank Country Gold Silver Bronze Total
1. INA 23 8 20 51
2. THA 10 17 10 37
3. CHN 6 10 7 23
4. KOR 4 7 10 21
5. JPN 3 3 3 9
6. HKG 3 3 2 8
7. IND 3 0 2 5
8. VIE 2 5 3 10
9. MYA 2 3 0 5
10. MAS 2 2 6 10

Gliding competition : Jingin Wei of China competes in the paragliding competition in Jimbara:

Jingin Wei of China competes in the paragliding ...

Enjoying the ride : Japan’s surfer Akiko Kiyonaga performs in the inaugural Asian Beach Games woman’s surfing competition in Kuta:

Japan's surfer Akiko Kiyonaga performs ...
And Kumi Igarashi of Japan flies during a paraglide accurate competition at Timbis beach in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia, Sunday, Oct. 19, 2008
Kumi Igarashi of Japan flies during a paraglide accurate competition ...

The Asian Beach Games’ torch from was handed over from Indonesia to Oman, which welcomes the Games to Muscat in 2010…


XC, freeride or downhill – what current biking jargon means

October 28, 2008

Here is an explanation for the wiser members of our readership of what the contemporary biking terms are all about and how they are practiced. For this I am indebted to the Independent who recently produced an article called ‘The Complete Guide to Mountain Biking’.

After each of the descriptions of the three fashions of mountain biking: XC, freeride or downhill I have added a brief video of how the art should be practiced.

XC or cross country:  involves pedalling up and down hills and through forests, double-track farm lanes and bridleways – all of which are known as “trails” within the mountain-biking fraternity. XC riding is the equivalent of a nice, long walk, and many trips are possible on an “ordinary” bike.

Thanks to iamfreetofly for the video – as you will see it is not as easy as you might think.

Freeride or freestyle riding: involves cycling over purpose-built jumps and obstacles – often in a setting no larger than a few acres – repetitively testing one’s nerve, skill and cartilage. For those old enough to remember Kick Start with Peter Purves, this is the motor-less version.

Thanks to watanidiot for the video, which does also include some downhill.

Downhill riding: perhaps the most exhilarating version of the sport, in which mountain bikers use gravity to propel themselves through forests, down hillsides and along rock-, root- and obstacle-strewn trails. It sounds dangerous, but it is no more so than skiing or snowboarding, and offers similar thrills: fantastic views and fast action.

Thanks to Bistecot for the video.

So as you can see there is plenty of room for choice in terms of which form of biking you practice. Each form has its own bespoke and specialised bike for when you become an expert. In the meantime a good all round mountain bike should be able to handle most of the obstacles and terrrain that you put in its way.


Was Buck Rogers the first wing suit flyer?

October 27, 2008

Arnie Schwarzenegger once famously pronounced ‘I’ll be back’ in one of his Terminator movies – well I am back and this leaves me with a dilemma – my co editor and family have fulfilled their part of our ‘deal’ – they bungee jumped at Victoria Falls! Congratulations – and I am pleased to say they are all fit and well and smiling.

You must understand that as a blog which writes, reports and does all things about extreme sports we feel we are somewhat obliged to have experienced as many of the extremes about which we write as possible. My co-editor and her family, having agreed to the bungee jump, then helpfully pronounced that my part of the ‘deal’ would be to wingsuit fly! Here you should note that I was not allowed to comment and have steadfastly refused to be a party to the deal.

However in understanding that to get even close to becoming a wingsuit flyer you have to have many hours of tuition, training, practicing, parachuting and free diving I thought I could at least do a little research – please note that this in no way suggests that I accept the deal.

And the results – well it seems that we can date back the first wingsuit flyer to 1928 when Captain Anthony Rogers – otherwise known as Buck Rogers – first appeared in a sci-fi story in a popular pulp magazine. Manned flight has long been in mind – the legend of Icarus, Leonardo da Vinci’s helicopter – but it was Buck who really fired up the imagination.

Steve Kramer of the Wall Street Journal reports on a book just published called Jetpack Dreams by Mac Montandon:

‘Nevertheless, a few obsessed engineers and enthusiasts keep trying to achieve lift-off. In “Jetpack Dreams,” Mac Montandon tours this wreckage-strewn territory and sketches some of its fanatical inhabitants………

At the Army Ballistic Missile Agency, Thiokol Chemical and, most notably, Bell Aerospace, engineers inspired by Buck Rogers spent years and fortunes designing jetpacks. Then as now, the contraptions featured strap-on tanks filled with volatile fuel, usually hydrogen peroxide, that powered thrusters for propelling the pilot skyward. Then as now, most of the jetpacks flew about as well as ostriches.

The partial exception was the Rocket Belt, developed by an appealingly monomaniacal engineer at Bell Aerospace named Wendell Moore. Mr. Montandon tells this part of the story well. After Mr. Moore shattered his kneecap in a crash, he surrendered the throttle to other test pilots but kept refining the Rocket Belt. Success, when it finally arrived, was modest: In April 1961, a pilot scudded 112 feet in 21 seconds. Mr. Moore and others improved the device’s maneuverability but couldn’t extend that 21-second duration. Funding dried up.

Mr. Montandon earnestly recounts the Rocket Belt’s high points: an exhibition for President Kennedy, cameos on the TV show “Lost in Space” and in the 1965 James Bond movie “Thunderball” (“one of the most profound pop culture touchstones for jetpack junkies,” Mr. Montandon writes), and a flight at the opening ceremonies of the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles. The device was also popular at state fairs and sporting events.

Mr. Montandon strains to portray these 21-second displays as triumphs and the use of jetpacks in ads and videogames as significant cultural markers. But in truth his examples show the jetpack dwindling from a potentially world-shaking invention into a high-tech toy for entertaining but irrelevant stunts.’

So you see – when I read words such as ‘ostrich, shattered knee cap and wreckage strewn territory’ you will understand why I might spend quite a long time in the research department!

Of course on my return to Europe I was greeted by the very exciting news of Yves Rossy’s successful powered wingsuit flight over the English Channel – La Manche – and to keep up the spirits I have added a very good video by  Atika Shubert CNN’s NewsRevue who interviews Rossy before his successful Channel crossing.