Research on how to ski better from Montana State University:
Another two-part study examines how powder skis behave in deep powder versus groomed runs and also determines the energy expenditure of skiers on groomed runs versus deep powder. The study relies on the use of accelerometers, tiny instruments the researchers mount above a ski binding that measure tilt and acceleration of the ski.
Seifert has found that skiers’ heart rates are from five to 10 percent greater when they ski groomed runs on powder skis instead of on skis of normal width. Meanwhile, acceleration when using powder skis on groomed runs is, on average, about 50 percent greater.
“Large stresses are incurred by a skier using powder skis on groomed runs,” Seifert said. “It’s a lot harder to make turns, and the skiers have to do something to deal with increased acceleration. They either have to ski faster or produce more force to slow the skis down.”
His conclusion is that powder skis should be used on powder runs, not on groomed runs.
If I ever get my ass back on the slopes, I’ll take some of this advice.
Days skied this year: 0
You just have to love Ski Cross (aka skiercross or Skier-X). It’s crazy. It’s insane. It’s wicked and wild and wooly and just so much fun to watch. I really don’t know how these guys do it. It’s the sport of tube-fed, genetically-modified (oft alcohol fueled) adrenalin junkies.
If you’re not familiar with it, this is how it goes. Four skiers race simultaneously down a winding snake of a course filled with bumps, jumps, and steeply banked turns. Competitors are not supposed to push, shove, or elbow each other, but in a sport that’s like roller derby down the bobsled run, you won’t get penalized if you don’t get caught.
Naturally, the risk is high and the crashes can be severe, but these guys are tough and probably little mental. American Daron Rahlves, previously an Olympian in the Apline events, crashed horribly just three weeks ago at the X-Games and dislocated his hip. But that didn’t stop him from competing in Vancouver.
Skicross has long been a part of the Winter X Games but was added as a full-medal sport in the Olympic lineup for 2010 after it received recognition from the IOC. I highly recommend checking out the vids on the NBC website, if you didn’t catch the broadcast.
*If you don’t get this reference it probably mean you’re weren’t a male teen in the mid-80s. sorry
It’s really beyond the pale how bad NBC is at covering Alpine Skiing at the Vancouver Olympics. The latest joke the Men’s Giant Slalom. NBC only bothered to show 4 of the runs in the first round (each skier gets two runs): Carlo Janko, who finished in first, Aksel Lund Svindal, third, American Ted Ligety, in eigth place, and Bode Miller, who caught a tip and didn’t finish. They failed to show Romeo Baumann, second, Massimiliano Blardone, fourth, Marcel Hirsher, fifth, Benjamin Raish, sixth, Cyprien Richard, seveth or any other skiers.
They showed all of three skiers on the second run. Three? Three is all we get? Bode crashed out so they didn’t have to show him again, but why not show Ligety? Why not show the first run of the eventual silver medalist, Kjetil Jansrud of Norway? Other Americans? Anyone? Bueller? It’s on tape delay, so they can program it anyway they want. They show qualifying for freestyle skiing, yet they won’t show the meat and potatoes Alpine events. What gives?
They must really, really suck or not care.
Some good news on the skiing safety front:
Helmet use has increased rapidly over the past few years, in large part because of the attention brought by a rash of high-profile accidents involving celebrities. Michael Kennedy, Sonny Bono and Natasha Richardson were all killed in ski accidents, and none of them were wearing helmets.
These days, the National Ski Areas Association says, nearly half of all skiers and snowboarders in the United States wear helmets, up from 25 percent in the 2002-3 ski season. Helmets are selling at a record pace this season, according to SnowSports Industries America, a trade association. And helmets, once viewed as clunky and awkward looking, are starting to be seen as hip.
“Helmet styles and fitting options have come a long way in the last five seasons, particularly for children,” said Troy Hawks, a spokesman for the ski areas association, which recommends that all skiers and snowboarders wear them. “You can look more like a professional athlete.”
It used to be that the only helmets you’d see were on young kids with no poles bombing down the mountain. Nowadays, they are everywhere. I’ve been wearing a helmet for a several years now. It took me a long time to find one that didn’t make me feel like Kazoo, but once I did, I was really happy. I ski under control, so I wear it in case some idiot snowboarder crashes into me. Plus it keeps my head nice and toasty on those cold, cold days on the slopes.
Who would have guessed that resorts would be less than truthful about their snow levels?
Researchers at Dartmouth College have confirmed something that skiers and snowboarders have long suspected: Resorts sometimes boost their snowfall reports to attract more customers.
Eric Zitzewitz and Jon Zinman are both associate professors of economics and fans of snow sports. In their report, Wintertime for Deceptive Advertising, they found that ski areas report more snowfall on the weekends, and that there is no such “weekend effect” in government weather data.
Zinman says they gathered snowfall totals from ski area Web sites and then compared those numbers with government weather data. According to Zinman, resorts reported 23 percent more snow on weekends. And the resorts that had the most to gain by fluffing up their numbers did more of it.
At the end of the day, resorts are profit making businesses with an eye on the bottom line. So what’s a little deception to their customers if it helps the bottom line? Whatever.
It saddens me that I only skied two days last season and I’m not sure how much snow time I’m going to get this year.
So my day of skiing at Sugar Bowl, my first of this season, is in the books. It was a spectacular ski day, Mid 50s, sunny and not a cloud in the blue sky. The snow wasn’t fantastic, but as it hadn’t snowed in weeks, it was as good as you could expect. As long as we stuck to the groomed runs, it was fine. It was a perfect day for cruising, which is exactly what I like to do anyway, so I was really happy.
As promised, I brought my GPS along with me. I wasn’t sure it was going to work from my jacket pocket, but it did, like a charm. The Garmin 705 has a feature which lets you record data for each lap so when I started, I would create a new lap every time I got back down to the lift. After a few rides up, I started a new lap at both the top and bottom of the lift so I get a better reading on how fast I was skiing. So starting at lap 8, you can see the lap that average about 8 mph—those are all the lifts. Lap 18 was a mistake, you can ignore that. Lap 23 includes part of lunch and can also ignored.
The remaining data is really interesting. Now Sugar Bowl, at least the part we were skiing, is not all that steep, and my average speed is somewhere in the 18-25 mph range. The GPS stops recording when my speed drops below 1 mph, but these averages include all the starting and stopping time on a run. On the faster runs, like lap #9 at 30 mph, I’m guessing I didn’t stop.
For top speed, I hit 52.5 mph. My buddy Russell thinks this is way too fast—that I need a speed suit to get up that velocity. Perhaps. There were some steep short sections down at the bottom of Mt. Lincoln where I was cranking pretty hard. Seems fast, but the data doesn’t lie*.
There are some really interesting things to look. Garmin has added a player to the their website.
You can really get a sense of my ski day by loading up the player. Because of the conditions, only a few runs were “skiable” and it really shows when you hit the play button and see us repeating the same lifts and runs over and over.
Another fascinating thing is that it’s possible to export the GPX data from the Garmin and import it into Google Earth. Then you can adjust the camber on the view and get something like a 3D view of the mountain and the path we took on it.
It was a fun experiment and I’ll try again on a day where I can ski anywhere on the mountain at a larger resort, maybe Squaw or Heavenly.
* except when it does
I’ve got to try this. Unfortunately, my GPS device doesn’t mount on my wrist, it’s meant to mount on my bike, but I’m going to try it anyway. I haven’t yet been on the slopes this season. I was supposed to go today, but the trip was cancelled since I have to be here when my new washing machine gets delivered. A sure sign of getting old is giving up a day skiing to wait for the installation of a major appliance.
My brother Brian flew in from DC to close out the 2007-2008 season with a few days of spring skiing in Tahoe. Unfortunately it didn’t work out exactly as we planned.
It hasn’t snowed in Tahoe in about a month, which normally would be no problem, but this weekend was unseasonably cold, it never got above 36, so we’re talking ice. Serious ice. Like Ice Capades, ice. And then there was the wind.
When we ddecided to go to Squaw I was hoping for day like this, but it wasn’t to be. The tram was closed for high winds as were most of the lifts. There were 4 lifts running. Each had one run that was groomed. Groomed flat into a sheet of fricken ice. The wind was hard, it was blowing over skis and poles in the racks by the ticket window. It didn’t look very promising.
We skated around the mountain for most of the morning. If you’ve never skied on ice, it’s pretty horrid. Worse than the sliding around without being able to grip anything is sound. Skis sounds like some kind of industrial wood chipper. Snowboards sound like jet engines. It’s nightmaarish.
The best run was off Red Dog. KT-22 was a nightmare, as was Exhibiton. The crowds were miniscule, which was a saving grace. No waiting to risk your life skidding down the hard pack.
Around 11, the sun started to warm the piste and it started to loosen up. The other lifts started to open. First Gold Coast Express, then Shirley Lake, Siberia and finally Granite Chief. The snow was so much better higher up the mountain and we had a brilliant afternoon, that is until the last run. It’s always the last run.
The last run of the day, we were crusing down from mid-mountain, basically on a large flat cat track. It was after 3, so the snow was really soft at this point. I wasn’t paying attention, clearly, and lost balance while going a little faster than I should have. Once I realized I was listing, it was too late to right the ship and over I went. I lost one ski, probably a good thing, but as I flipped around and the hit the snow with my stomach, a piece of sharp ice got under my jacket and gashed my stomach.
The odd thing is that I didn’t notice it until we got on the lift (we actually decided to take one more run when we got to the bottom, so I guess it wasn’t really the last run of the day). My stomach was bothering me and I when I lifted up my jacket, Brian said, Holy shit, dude, did you see that? I took off my googles and saw the splotch of blood on my lower abdomen. It was stinging a little, but I thing the cold made it feel less worse than it was. I shrugged it off.
At the end of the day I was left with an abrasion that looks like an apendectomy scar. Pretty crazy, but I’ll live.
On Sunday we headed for Heavenly. Again, crowds were very light. I hadn’t been in a month or so, and it was hard to fathom the damage the many 60 degree days have had on the bottom of the hill. Gunbarrel was a mess. Exposed trees, bushes, rocks, snow-making pipes. Seriously ugly. Highly up, it was better, the snow was good, mostly, and while it was sunny with gorgeous views, it was chilly and very windy. Not as windy as the night before when it felt like the house would blow over into the lake, but cold nonetheless. We got in about 15 runs, a good day, before we called it and headed home to have dinner with our sister and 3 year nephew.
All in all it was a pretty decent ski season. The snow was fantastic. I got in 15 days at Heavenly, 4 at Vail and one each at Squaw, Kirkwood and Beaver Creek for a total of 23. Not the best year, but far from the worst.
The resorts are still open, but I think I’m done. Time to move on the cycling and put the tyranny of the ski season in my rear view mirror.
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