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Posts Tagged ‘snowboarding’
Desperate to go ski-ing? Wondering where to go? Look no further – Cardrona in New Zealand has had its best pre-season snow base levels in over a decade, 120 cm on the upper mountain and 80 cm in the base area.
“We’ve had some pretty extreme weather in May bringing heavy snow falls, the mountain is looking amazing, from top to bottom. It’s been great to get such a solid snow base but I know our operations team is grateful this week has brought some settled weather to continue with pre-season preparations,” said Nadia Ellis, sales and marketing manager.
“If these pre-season conditions are anything to go by then winter 2009 is going to be one for the record books. It certainly looks like we’re in for some great skiing and snowboarding from the outset, so long as the cold conditions hold,” said Ellis.
Cardrona is scheduled to open Friday 26 June. For further information, visit the newly relaunched web site at www.cardrona.com.
This picture was taken 3 days ago, 26th May 2009, by Tommy Pyatt.
Not looking too bad is it?!
Falls Creek, on Mt. McKay, Australia, on the other hand, is making snow in preparation for their opening in one week’s time – the Queen’s Birthday Weekend. Conditions are perfect for snow making with the mercury well below zero and the temperature, taking into account the wind chill component, a cool minus 7.6C. It has the country’s blackest runs over 450 hectares of snow covered fields.
But it is Mount Buller which has beaten everyone else to the opening day. 248kms north east of Melbourne (about 3 hours), Mt Buller is the most accessible snow resort in Australia and the closest resort to any international airport.
In a special ‘this-weekend-only’ celebration, Mt Buller is throwing open the resort to the public this Saturday and Sunday to share the amazing 35cm of early snow blanketing the resort.
“This is the earliest we’ve opened a lift and ski run in the history of Mt Buller resort. The closest was 45 years ago when we opened on the 16 May in 1964,” said Laurie Blampied General Manager of Buller Ski Lifts.
However, it looks like it’s be New Zealand stealing the show for the moment.
More fresh snow on Queenstown’s premier ski areas of The Remarkables and Coronet Peak on New Zealand’s South Island is delivering spectacular pre-season conditions, comparable with usual conditions in peak season.
Coronet Peak ski area, scheduled to open on Saturday 6 June, has received 50 – 100 cm of snow in the last four days resulting in an 80 cm base at the top of the mountain and a 50 cm base at the bottom.
Across the valley at The Remarkables, the ski area has received 45 cm of fresh snow in the last 48 hours and has received 150 cm over the last two weeks, resulting in a solid 120 cm base across the mountain.
More snow showers are forecast for Queenstown in the coming days…
Soon now, you, too, in the Southern Hemisphere can get up to these tricks (XTremeVideo):
After the tragic news last week from Mont Tremblant ski resort we have been looking out for news on the reactions to whether it should become mandatory to wear protective head gear whilst skiing or snowboarding. It seems as though the Canadians are going to be the first to introduce an industry standard helmet which can be certified but they are not at the moment going so far as to make legislation to say the wearing of helmets is mandatory.
So we laud the testing and certification and further suggest that it should not be a mandatory to wear a helmet – which again appears to be the direction the Canadian authorities are moving. Yes we suggest you wear them, yes we like what we are hearing about industry standards and certification but no we do not believe in taking away an individuals choice. We do not like the idea of being so wrapped up in cotton wool that an individuals ability to choose what he or she does is stripped from that individual. Such legislation would take us nearer to becoming automatons.
We have picked up this article from the Canadian Press for which thanks and present a video below which clearly demonstrates the case for wearing a helmet. Well done canada for taking a lead and we hope to see the US and Europe following suit.
‘Wearing a helmet while skiing or snowboarding can reduce the risk of a head injury by 60 per cent. But not all helmets are created equal, says the Canadian Standards Association, which is introducing certification testing under a new standard.
The CSA developed a new standard for alpine skiing and snowboarding helmets last June and will begin providing testing for certification of the protective head gear next month, said John Walter, vice-president of standards for the non-profit organization.
“This is the first such standard in Canada … specifically developed to meet the needs of Canadians by Canadians,” Walter said Monday. “These helmets are meant to sustain multiple impacts, where a number of helmets that are manufactured are only supposed to (take) one severe fall and they should be thrown out and another one purchased.”
The CSA is to formally announce its certification testing Tuesday, less than a week after actress Natasha Richardson died from a brain injury she sustained from a fall while at Quebec’s Mont-Tremblant ski resort. She was not wearing a helmet.
Walter said the announcement had been planned for about two months, but he acknowledged that Richardson’s tragic death has made the issue of protection from head trauma even more timely.
“You hear people say, ‘I wouldn’t have worn a helmet before, but I will now.’ So obviously that kind of attention will help people be aware that they need to wear a helmet.”
While the CSA committee that developed the manufacturing guidelines considers them superior to U.S. and European standards for snow sport helmets, manufacturers have no obligation to meet the requirements or submit their products for certification.
“This could be adopted by Health Canada, perhaps, as part of the Hazardous Products Act or consumer products legislation … it could be adopted by any of the provinces,” said Walter, who is urging government to adopt the standard and make testing mandatory.
“It could be simply used by particular resorts, a resort that says: ‘We want to ensure there’s a high level of safety (and) will simply insist that no one is able to ski or snowboard on their hills without the equipment.”
“The ideal would be if a government said this is part of the law.”
Currently, most manufacturers follow U.S and European standards, but the Canadian guideline involves more rigid safety requirements, spelling out which areas of the head must be protected and defining minimum levels of shock absorption, stability and strength. The guideline also applies to helmets for tobogganing and sledding.
Walter said he hopes Canadians will demand that head protection they buy for themselves or their children lives up to the CSA standard.
“Now there’s going to be something they can go into a sports store and say, ‘I want this kind of helmet, I want this CSA mark on it. If you don’t have the CSA mark on it, I’m going someplace else.”‘
Richard Kinar, a former competitive freestyle skier from Vancouver, became alarmed after reading an article suggesting that some helmets sold in Canada offered no more protection than placing a bag of milk on one’s head.
Kinar said he and others who began experimenting in the early 1970s with freestyle skiing, with its aerial jumps and flips, had no idea how dangerous it was – or would become in the future.
“We really started a sport back then that is really putting a lot of people at risk,” he said, admitting that he wore no helmet. “What the kids are doing now is pushing the limits to the absolute extreme, and extreme sport is fuelling an epidemic of head injuries.”
Those brain injuries can not only be fatal but may also lead to life-long disabilities, said Ellie Wannamaker of the Canadian Physiotherapy Association.
Such an injury can lead to physical disabilities that range from muscle weakness to paralysis and cognitive problems that include short-term memory loss and learning disorders, said Wannamaker, a member of the brain injury team at Bloorview Kids Rehab in Toronto.
She believes certified helmets should be mandatory for recreational sports, just as wearing a seatbelt is required while driving in a motor vehicle.
“I don’t see why we can’t do that. The cost of this (a brain injury) to one family, to one child is incredibly huge and forever.”
So you see its a tough argument to counter – please though don’t make it a crime not to wear a helmet – thanks to Todd1462 for the video – a good reminder of how dangerous it can be when an accident happens – and that is all it needs to be – an accident – an event without apparent cause.
The Nissan O’Neill Xtreme Freerider contest in Verbier, Switzerland from 19-22nd March is one of the most extreme contests in the world.
As skier Kaj Zackrisson of Sweden, who was the winner of the 2008 Nissan O’Neill Xtreme – Verbier and ranked 6th in the Freeride World Tour rankings, says: “The FWT is an awesome gathering of riders who love and breathe the passion of riding; I am happy to be part of it.”
Since its start in 1996 the “Xtreme” at Verbier has been considered the most prestigious event in the freeride world. To accomplish the difficult lines, these top athletes have to have mental focus, physical ability, stay smart and have the very highest level of skiing or snowboarding. There is a US$100 000 prize for the winner.
For the “grande finale” of the Freeride World Tour the elite of freeride will tackle the mythical North Face of the Bec des Rosses, a dauntingly steep and frighteningly jagged 500m rock-face. In some places the Bec des Rosses has sheer slopes of 55* – picture this… whilst standing in an upright position you could lean on the face with your elbow!
With steep and narrow couloirs, high rock cliffs, steep pitches and changing snow and terrain, the riders have to be particularly skilled and in top physical condition. They require thorough mountain experience and top placements in the previous contests. It is the perfect challenge for these skilled competitors.
Riders arrive in Verbier at the beginning of the week to study the imposing slope, and choose a line with the help of binoculars. On the day of the competition, they hike for over an hour to the summit. One by one they descend the face in an attempt to qualify for the finals.
Around 5000 spectators will join the riders at one of the most beautiful natural arenas of the Alps, the Col des Gentianes in Verbier which is just in front of the Bec des Rosses, and is the perfect place to catch the action.
Right at this moment the team are racing in Tignes and you can get a feel for the contest by watching the official youtube site of FreerideWorldTourTV .
Last year the snow was a little thin, but as you all know, this year has been sensational and there is currently 2m of snow at Verbier with more expected. The conditions couldn’t be more perfect for this very extreme competition.
To amuse and entertain you, here are some of the best crashes from the competition when it was in Squaw Valley at the end of February, early March. The video comes from the same source with thanks.
We were lucky enough to be in the mountains again this weekend with some great snow to be found in the mountains above the Val d’Allos – as we watched the pistes from our chairlift we saw something new – something bobbing its way down the steepest of mountains and going at break neck speed – not a snowboarder, not a skier – wait a minute that thing has handle bars and yet it is on a snowboard – it was, we discovered later, a snowscoot – the result of marrying a snowboard with a BMX.
What incredible fun it looks – you are able to experience the same sensations of snowboarding, riding a scooter and riding a BMX all at the same time. The snowscoot is the brainchild of Frenchman Frank Pitou who in the mid 1990s developed the concept of riding down a mountain on a scooter.
The first video from 8ogcrew below will demonstrate what we are talking about in a better fashion than our humble words can describe – thank goodness for Youtube. It shows the great manoeuverability of the snowscoot – how you can jump, slalom, race and scoot in any conditions.
Yes thats right, any conditions – smoothly bashed pistes to powder fresh snow and the steeper the mountain the better. The snowscoot consists of two skis, the front one being the same width as a snowboard but not much more than 35cms in length, and it is this ski which gives you the ability to turn so very sharply. The back board is narrower, being no more than the width of a monoski, but it is of course longer – the whole snowscoot being approximately 1.60 metres and weighing in at 9 to 13 kgs ( 20 to 30 pounds).
We only saw one of these snowscoots the whole weekend so it is not like we are going to be swept off the mountains by this latest toy but if it does take off – like snowboarding did 15 years ago – then you can expect to see a few more.
We have discussed this year’s fabulous snow several times, and you all know or will have heard about the numerous avalanche warnings that have been abundant throughout the northern hemisphere this season. You will have seen the signs and warnings at ski resorts – “Expert skiers only”, “This lift services only expert terrain skiers, snow conditions vary”, “piste closed” “warning – avalanche”…
So, what’s it all about then?
Skiing, and snowboarding, although extreme sports, are not inherently dangerous, but they do require you to be fit and to be conscious of where you are, where you’re going and to not take unnecessary chances.
Skiing off piste is a whole different story. To ski off piste you must be a competent skier. The most important thing of skiing off piste is – SAFETY. Every season people are killed when they ski off piste and in the majority of cases you find that these accidents could have been prevented either by skiing off piste with a qualified guide, by having the right safety equipment and/or by taking the correct precautions.
Neil McNab, a keen off piste skier has a mantra: “look up, look down, look all around…” He continues, “Amongst the high peaks, the laws of nature rule. Here slopes can shed their snow in avalanche, rocks can fall from high above and cornices can collapse without warning. The rules of engagement here are simple, you follow and respect the laws of nature, you learn from the environment around you and you heed the warning signs and guidance offered all around; and then you make your decisions based upon good judgement and common sense.”
Even though nature sets off most of the avalanches, 90% of the skiers that experience an avalanche are directly responsible for releasing them. Skiers set off avalanches by disturbing a weak bond in the snow pack between snow layers or between the snow and the ground. About 70% of all the skiers/boarders that are avalanched are caught in a slab avalanche. Slab avalanches are less easy to predict than loose snow avalanches which sometimes have more obvious warning signs, such as roller balls running down the hill or small loose snow avalanches starting to release. Thanks to mailadress222 for posting this video.
If you are going to ski off piste (or backcountry as it is sometimes known) you should never ski without the following equipment:
- a transceiver – this is a device which constantly sends out a signal which allows you to be found under the snow
- a metal shovel – NOT a plastic one
- a probe – a collapsible length of tubing that allows you to look for someone under the snow
- and make sure you know how to use this equipment!
There is some new equipment on the market which is also adviseable:
- an ABS airbag – a backpack which, when inflated, helps you stay near the surface of the snow
- the Avalung – a very clever new device. It is a zippered mesh vest with pockets and a breathing tube attached to a snow filter on the side. If you are buried in an avalanche the tube and one-way valve allows you to vent your CO2-rich breath out of the BACK of the vest. This prevents CO2 narcosis and the icing up that normally forms a fatal ice-mask sealing the porous snow which prevents you from breathing air that does exist even in the most densely packed snow. this video was posted by BlackDiamondVideo.
- before heading off piste, obtain and read the avalanche report where one is available
- and speak to the Ski Patrollers
Improvements over the last 20 years in boots, skis and bindings have also made the sport as safe as possible, but you still can get hurt whether on piste or off.
So, another thing to take note of: there’s a world of difference between getting hurt in the United States or Canada and getting hurt in Europe and that difference is all about money!
You are very well protected if you get hurt in North America. There is no charge for the ski patrol, no charge for the services of the clinic. US and Canadian skiing resorts are like that. Medical services are readily available almost everywhere and the volunteer US Ski Patrol is a class act and one that skiers are grateful for.
However, getting hurt in Europe can be another story. When you purchase a lift ticket in France, Italy, and Switzerland, you may be asked if you want to buy insurance. Say “yes” – always. There is no equivalent of the free US Ski Patrol in Europe. Should you need to be taken off a mountain, you’re going to pay for time and services of those who got you down.
This insurance is a minimal charge – the equivalent of about US$3.00 per day, so that the cost of the helicopter, the on-board doctors, and the lift attendants etc will be covered. But if you don’t take out this cover, and you have an accident, expect to pay at least $1,500-$2,500 for the helicopter ride alone – and that’s before everything else…
However, it is also adviseable to be sure that you understand the terms of the insurance cover you have bought. Make sure you are getting the cover you think you are paying for – check the small print.
Different countries and even different resorts have different rules. Know what they are and what local conditions and customs are. Information is readily available and every ski area has a tourist information desk or office. These people are there to help you enjoy the sport and to make sure that you’re safe, and not sorry… like this story I am about to recount:
Two snowboarders, who were killed off-piste in 2006, had insurance cover to go off-piste. However, the company refused to meet the claim, citing a clause in the policy which negates cover if there is “exposure to danger which is reasonably foreseeable”. At the time, there was a Factor Three warning of an avalanche, which meant, to the insurance company, that the risk was “considerable”.
Both men were extremely competent snowboarders who were well within their capabilities to go off-piste. The ropes and warning signs were only the standard markers which are there all season to warn less competent skiers away from the off piste area.
“Our argument is not with the rescue teams, who did a great job and deserve to get paid for what they did,” said the father of one of the young men. ” It is the insurance company that is to blame. They are just trying to wriggle out of their responsibilities by claiming that the pair were acting dangerously. I just want people to be aware that insurance for skiing and snowboarding is not necessarily cut and dried. Policies should be changed to make sure there are none of these grey areas.”
The insurance company refused to cover the claim, and the respective families were asked to cough up the £10,200 per snowboarder…
The above was all rather serious, so I thought I’d end on a chuckle – tho’ perhaps not for the flick-flacker in the video. Thanks dxtinct for posting it.
There used to be a lot of animosity between snowboarders and skiers, but nowadays that seems to be less the case -which is the way it should be. The trend does seem to be swinging back to skis though with far more people hiring skis than boards this year – according to the ski shops.
However, snowboarding is, and always will be, a very popular adrenaline pumping extreme sport.
The Scandinavians call snowboarders ‘seals’ which is an apt description when you see them sprawled over the slopes in little colonies, flapping and clapping about on mittens and knees!
However, before you are able to ride like a pro, you have to master the basics. Here are a few suggestions that will make your snowboarding a much more enjoyable experience:
- Always choose a board that’s the right size for you. The board should reach somewhere between your chin and collarbone; if you are a beginner, choose one that’s a bit shorter, as this will make it easier to manoeuvre. For the width, the board should be as wide as your boots standing across the top.
- The equipment you choose depends on whether you are intending to do the freestyle/freeride style or alpine/carving. The alpine board is thicker and heavier to give a smooth ride, while the freestyle board is shorter and easier to manoeuvre.
- The clothes you wear are equally important. They should be fitting but still comfortably loose, waterproofed and properly insulated – bear in mind how much time snowboarders resemble seals please… Trousers should be high in the back to protect you from getting bucket-loads of snow down your back! In direct contrast to ski boots, snowboarding boots should be comfortable and not too tight… a definite bonus!
- Goggles, good gloves, a hat or helmet are essential and if you want extra protection you can get padded trousers to protect your coccyx and bumb.
- It is also a good idea to take a lesson or two. This will save you from many unnecessary crashes, bumps and bruises – and will keep you considerably dryer in the long run!
Another good tip is to board with friends and to practice tricks in company rather than on your own. Even if you have been snowboarding for a while and know a few tricks it’s a good idea to have someone nearby so that you can look after each other.
So get on out there – go extreme.