This is our playground


It’s time to ski! Starting January 6th, Intermediate-Advanced women skiers will head to Snowbird on Wednesdays at 9:30am. For the first time this season, however, we’ll start with the super-popular FOUR FREE GROUP LESSONS by Susi and The Mountain School.  Then, in February, we’ll just meet and ski. No agenda. We ski until we have to leave. For some, that’s 10:30am, others it’s 3:30pm.  If the weather is crummy (winds 20+mph or sketchy viz), then we pass. It’s just not fun to ski in those conditions, and WE LIVE HERE.  There is no scheduled end date.  Last season, we just took off our ski boots and put on our hiking boots and played throughout the summer.

As mentioned, The Mountain School will start off the season with FOUR FREE* GROUP LESSONS for Skimums.  These have been very popular (sometimes, too popular).  The Mountain School doesn’t mind, but it wants to have enough instructors there.  So, we’re going to ask Mums to RSVP EACH WEEK through Evite.  (*Suggested gratuity of $10-20 per lesson)
IF YOU ARE A SNOWBOARDER, please leave a comment on your RSVP.  If there are enough BoardMums (we need a better name), we’ll ask very nicely whether The Mountain School can get an instructor.
IF YOU ARE A BEGINNER, The Mountain School REALLY wants you to get on the slopes and has terrific and affordable LEARNER’S PERMIT 
IF YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU WANT OR AREN’T SURE HOW TO START, contact Susi Muecke at The Mountain School, our incredible Instructor, Sherpa and Friend to see what you need to reach whatever goals you have.
Happy Holidays, Skimums!  See you on the slopes.

Mountain Tech – Ski Apps And More!

2015 Review

By Skimum Richelle

Remember the olden days when you had to stay up and watch the 10 o’clock news to see what the weather was going to be like tomorrow? These days I have an astonishing amount of information, all in the palm of my hand, and available anytime I need it. Following are a few of my favorite apps and websites that I regularly use to enhance my skiing, and beyond. Some of these are Utah, or even Snowbird, specific but my guess is you can find something that will help you wherever you live or ski.  In no particular order…

Trace Screen ShotTRACE SNOW (FREE – Android,  iOS)

Trace SnowTrace Snow (formerly known as Alpine Replay) allows you to track your day on the mountain by measuring speed, distance, vertical feet, calories, time and more.

I’ve tried several ski tracking apps over the years, but this one has remained my favorite.   One of it’s best features is that you can quickly open the app and hit the big orange GO triangle.  It takes two seconds!  Put your phone back in your pocket and then hit the pause/stop button when you are done skiing for the day.   You can also access all of your historical stats via their website and share (brag about) your day by sending your daily stats page  to friends.

I should also mention that Trace Snow also offers a small hockey puck shaped disc that you attach to your skis or snowboard. This little device augments your phone’s GPS and gives you some pretty detailed stats on tricks, spins, etc.  Since I’m not doing much park skiing these days (or ever), I don’t really have any need for the premium service.  The basic, free version provides plenty of info for my skiing style.

MyRadarMyRadar (FREE – Android, iOS)

MyRadarThis little icon holds a prominent spot on my phone’s home screen.  Wonder if that storm rolling across the Great Salt Lake is on track to hit Little Cottonwood Canyon?  Just pull this app up and watch the storm trajectory, size and speed.  Very simple to use!  Definitely a must have app!

Snowbird Mountain Report WebpageMountain Report

Snowbird-LogoI’ve been accused from time to time of being a bit obsessive, but this time of year, checking the Snowbird Mountain Report page is part of my daily (or, uh…hourly) routine .  It is a great page to give you some quick stats on weather and mountain conditions.  A peek at the mountain cameras tells me what visibility is like (and which goggles I need) and the Snowbird Snowcam snow leader board tells me which skis I should grab for that day (hopefully the FAT ones!).  Knowing which lifts are open, closed or pending can be extremely helpful on knowing where to park at the Bird.  I have this webpage bookmarked in my mobile browser (actually, it’s my homepage).

7-Day forecast

468px-NOAA_logo.svgWhen doing some longer term planning, I always check out the NOAA 7-Day forecast page.  I also have this page bookmarked in my mobile browser.

I should mention here that the NOAA just recently optimized their website for mobile devices.  Yay!  So much easier to read now!NOAA-7-Day

24-Hour forecast

468px-NOAA_logo.svgIf you want to get really geeked out on your storm tracking (like I have been known to do), you can go to NOAA’s 24-hour forecast.  It has detailed information on forecasted weather conditions at Snowbird and Alta ski resorts including temperatures, freezing levels, winds, snow water content (density).NOAA-24-Hr

Canyon AlertsCanyon Alerts (via Text, Email, Twitter, Facebook)

CanyonAlerts_LogoIf you like skiing powder, or plan to ski after a big storm, this alert service is a must have!  As you probably know, Little and Big Cottonwood Canyons are prone to being closed during and after large storms while UDOT (Utah Department of Transportation) clears the roads and does avalanche control work.  By subscribing, you are automatically alerted about canyon closures or restrictions.  The Canyon Alert system is provided by the Unified Police Department.  You can subscribe to their alerts via their website.

Personally, I receive only critical text alerts.   You can subscribe by texting “canyonalerts” to 553535.  There are a number of subscription methods to choose from, however.  Pick the one that is best for you and stay informed!

What’s on your phone?

Did I miss a great app or website?  The app world changes fast and there are great new ones all the time.  Please post a comment and let me know what you use and why.

What a Difference a Tune-up Makes

TwinPeaksby Skimum Denice

This summer I purchased a demo pair of Rossignol Soul 7 skis. I was pretty stoked about finding them since my husband bought a pair the season before and loved them!

The first day I took them out, however, I was pretty shocked and upset about my purchase. I could ski in the moguls okay with them, but as soon as I got on groomers it was like I had never skied before!  I had heard that they might be a little harder to ski on groomers, but I had no idea it was going to be this hard.  I wanted to go one way and my skis would go another.  My experience was so bad that on my drive down the canyon I had decided to sell them and hopefully get my money back.  My husband suggested that I go get them tuned just in case they weren’t done right. I couldn’t imagine a tune-up would make that big of a difference, but I decided to give it a try.

I took them to Twin Peaks, a local ski shop, and they had them ready for me the following day.  I went to Snowbird to give them one more try.  I literally was scared to death to ski on them, for fear of hurting myself in a fall.  Oh my goodness!!!  I can’t even tell you how excited I was as I took my first run down.  I could ski again!!!  Not only could I ski, but I felt like I skied pretty well.  The groomers were no problem at all.  I actually felt more
comfortable on them than I ever have.  I love my newly tuned Soul 7 skis. Needless to say, I am sold on regularly tuning your skis.

Make Your Own Boot Warmers


By Skimum Richelle

As we learned in a previous blog post, putting your ski boots on in the morning can sometimes be a chore.  A cold pair of boots can make it all the more difficult.  When cold, your boot’s plastic shell becomes very stiff.  Well, now that chore can be a bit easier.  In just a few short minutes, you can easily make your own boot warmers that will warm up your liners, and even your shells, while you are driving up the canyon.  Introducing Richelle’s (soon to be famous), home-made, microwaveable boot warmers!  Follow these five simple steps to make your own boot warmers.

Step 1

Find some scrap material.  I prefer a mid-weight fabric, like a light denim.  Something durable enough to take a beating, but thin and flexible enough to work with.  Cut your fabric into two rectangle strips measuring 5 x 16 inches each.


Step 2

Fold your strips in half (inside out). Pin it if necessary.


Sew two lines about 1/8 to 1/16 inch apart and about 1/8 inch from the cut edge of the fabric.  (I double or triple stitch everything on my boot warmers.  You don’t want your filler material to fall out!).


Step 3

Turn the tubes right-side out.  You will now have to fold in one of your open ends, about a ½ inch (see photo below) and then sew it closed.  Boot_Warmers_Step_3B

I like to use a tight zig-zag stitch and then I run a single stitch on either side of the zig-zag stitch.  Be creative and come up with your own pattern.  I also like to use a fun accent thread color.

Boot_Warmers_Step_3CStep 4

Fill the bag about 3/4 to 4/5 full with your heating medium.  You will need between 1 and 1 ½ cups per tube.  I use a funnel to fill mine with rice (just regular rice).  Be sure to leave about 3 inches of room at the top.  I prefer rice, but I have also used wheat.  I’ve heard of other people using various dried beans, barley and even cherry pits.  You can also add some aromatics such as lavender, rose petals, ground cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, mint, or even, essential oils to make it smell yummy!.


Step 5

Carefully fold in the open end about 1/2 inch, as you did in Step 3, and sew it closed with a series of stitches as before.



But what if I’m not the best seamstress, you may ask?  Who cares!  They go inside your boots, for crying out loud!  It’s not like you are wearing them (although you will be tempted to – they are so nice and warm!).  The above photos prove that I’m certainly no artist with a sewing machine.  Make them as pretty or as ugly as you want.  Just make sure you at least double stitch everything to ensure you don’t end up with a boot full of rice.

That’s it!  Now go throw your new boot warmers in the microwave for about 2 to 2 ½ minutes on high.  Remove from the microwave and then carefully tuck the warmers inside your boots as far as you can into the toe area.  Your feet will love you when you slide them into to those cozy, pre-warmed boots!

Good luck.  Let me know how yours turn out.  Send me some photos!

Good Skiing Part 3

By Susi, Instructor at Snowbird Mountain School

5 Secrets to Managing Powder Gracefully

The Powder came right on time for our Wednesday morning coaching session.  The Skimums ventured out to lower Old Ladies (don’t read anything into the name; we don’t judge the guys when they ski Baldy) then to Hoop’s and found some nice creamy powder to play in!  Skimums found 5 simple rules to turned them into serious powder hounds.

1.  It’s all about the flow: Think about flowing down the mountain in a smooth line making round turns with little edge angle. Create a rhythm!
2.  Patience is key: In powder it takes more time for the skis to react to skier input. Steer your legs to create open round C-shaped turns, so that the skis keep flowing. Z-turns are harder to manage and interrupt the flow.
3.  Speed is your friend: The skis are buried in the snow which creates more friction compared to groomed terrain. Powder slows you down and you need speed to keep moving!
4.  Stay balanced over your feet: Contrary to common belief, you don’t lean back in powder. Ski in a balanced position (think “crouching tiger”).  Conditions change with every turn, so you have to work constantly to stay in balance!  Backseat skiing is not healthy for the knees and way too tiring!!
5.  Build a platform:  It is very helpful to narrow your stance, so that the skis build somewhat a single platform and are easier to turn.  Most importantly, to become great in powder you have to keep skiing powder!Hopefully, we get another powder opportunity this week and we can even explore other secret places on the mountain!!

Come out and join us for the last coaching session for the Skimums this season!!  RSVP by Tuesday afternoon so we can have plenty of Mountain School instructors there.
If you did not have a chance to join us, check out this video:
PSIA Alpine Technical Manual

Good Skiing Part 2


By Susi, Instructor at Snowbird Mountain School


Skimum Nicole gains greater control by pointing that Belly button downhill, getting the weight on the outside ski and “schmearing”

 Leg rotation and skiing bumps efficiently  

Our technical focus in our second coaching session was turning our legs more than our upper body… What??? Yes, it is the truth: a turn starts with the body parts closest to the snow: the feet and the legs. Often times we use our shoulders or our hips to start a turn, we are twisting shoulders and arms uphill at the end of a turn, we flail with our arms to help us stay in balance… These movements are not very efficient and not always graceful  😉.

The Skimums worked hard to keep their upper bodies disciplined, rotate their feet and legs to steer their skis through the turn, while keeping their belly buttons – and other body parts – directed towards the tip of the outside (or downhill) ski. We realized that the release of the energy created by twisting the lower half against the upper half of the body made it much easier to start a turn and to point the skis in the opposite direction.

We also put our “schmearing” skills to use.  We’re not carving into the turn.  As Skimum Denice visualized, “It’s like spreading cream cheese on a bagel — the schmear.”  As we release energy placing weight on that outside ski, gravity allows the entire bottom of the ski to coast downhill. More contact means more control over our direction and speed.

To apply the new skills we found some crusty and then soft bumps, where we POINTED our belly buttons into the direction of travel, rotated our legs on TOP of the bump, SCHMEARED down the back side of the bump to control our speed, then GLIDED up the next bump!  Like magic, Skimums found they had total control.  Turning and shmearing, turning and shmearing… In control, with grace and efficiency!!

If you did not have a chance to be with us or you want to review turning the legs under a stable upper body and bump technique check out these videos

Good Skiing: Pro Tips for Skimums


By Susi, Instructor for Snowbird Mountain School

DSC02112What is good skiing? The definition of good skiing is different for everybody. I like this one from David Oliver, PSIA (Professional Ski Instructors of America) Alpine team member: “…. The idea of good skiing is about the ability to make a choice about where you want to go at any moment – whether its forwards or backwards or in the air, or moving down a race course at 70 miles per hour…”

Whatever the intended and desired outcomes are: skiing is based on a common set of fundamentals that can be universally applied.

What does that mean for the Skimums? During our ski lessons at Snowbird we are working on improving our skiing to enjoy this beautiful mountain and all it has to offer even more! In session 1 last Wednesday, we focused on directing our balance toward the outside (or downhill) ski. Why? The outside ski is our workhorse. With the outside ski we get stability and we control the shape of the turn.

If you did not have a chance to join us on Wednesday or if you want to review the one footed drills check out the video with Katie Fry and Nick Herrin.

Join us next Wednesday for more tips and tricks to improve your game!!  To make sure Mountain School sends enough instructors, please RSVP by Tuesday for the January 28th FREE Group Lesson (gratuity suggested) by sending comment below.  

IMG_2026Sources:, PSIA Alpine Technical Manual