It’s Time!

DSC01948By Skimum Paula

Snowbird Skimums will hit the slopes every Wednesday starting January 7th. If that seems like a long time, well, there were reasons. Primarily, because most of us live here and are not on vacation (no, I’m not bitter, not too bitter), the demands of the holiday season were not accommodating to our little ski rendezvous.

Same Time – Same Place. We’ll meet at the Gadzoom lift at 9:30am and ski until we have to go back to work or school or home to let the dog out. If the wind is blowing over 20 mph or the visibility is terrible (Julie says I can’t write “sucks” anymore), then we’ll pass. After all, we live here.

If you’re new, Skimums is a free weekly meetup group (more like a glorified play date) to encourage Wasatch Women to explore the Bird, make new friends and, hopefully, laugh like crazy. Women just show up and collectively decide where to ski. Yes, only women could do it this way and make it work.

Skimums March, 2014

Skimums March, 2014

Last season, Skimums ranged in age from 25-65. They came from all over the Wasatch Front, Back, and occasionally Texas. They were married, unmarried, divorced, widowed, mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts and friends. They were doctors, lawyers, nurses, bankers, entrepreneurs, homemakers, community leaders, students and, of course, ski bums. Yes, the curious husband and boyfriend occasionally showed up, but satisfied that we weren’t plotting rebellion or spending money, they skied off by themselves.

Skimums is intended for intermediate-advanced skiers. However, because of high demand (yep, the word got out, and all of our friends wanted to come), Snowbird’s Mountain School is working on a “Returner’s Permit” for former skiers who want to get back on the mountain. We’ll pass along information as soon as we get it. If you want a regular gig with an instructor, then register for the Women’s Wednesday Getaway (snowbird.com/winter/mountainschool), a four-week program designed to give you lots of attention and get you to the next level.

Yes, yes, yes, the Mountain School will again provide Skimums Four (4) FREE group lessons. They are scheduled for Jan. 21, 28, Feb. 4, 11. These have been very popular, and we’re working on an RSVP system to make sure we have even more instructors this year when necessary (they really, really like the Mums). Typically, the conditions dictate what we work on. Yes, these are really FREE lessons, but a $10-$15 gratuity is suggested.

We’re trying to put more Snowbird and Wasatch Front deals on the blog and Instagram (@skisnowbird) this season. Skimums like good deals and good gear, and there are a lot of folks in town that want to help the Mums with both (they’ve recognized the power of the purse). Support the Bird and local businesses. #utahfirst

See you on the slopes!

The Mountain of Youth

Skiing into your 50’s, 60’s and…

By Skimum Beckie

Snowbird Road to Provo Skimums Women Skiers 50'sSkimum Paula recently asked if I would write a blog post about skiing tips for women over 60. I politely refused, because, as I informed her, I am not yet 60 for a few months…So, what would I know? As she quickly extracted the ski boot out of her mouth and mumbled something about 50+ women, I laughed, relented and agreed so she could save face and we could get on the slopes.

This is my first season back on the mountain after a 7-year hiatus. Skiing was always what I was going to do when I had time, or when there was great snow, or when my house was clean, or when there were no lines, or when I had more money, … sunny day, bills paid, etc. It took until I retired from 34 years of counseling hormone enraged tweenagers in local schools and found a great group of skiing women for me to remember what I was missing.

OK, confessions of a skier over 50… When I met up with the Skimums for the first time in January I admit I was a bit anxious not knowing whether my body was going to meet expectations. I wasn’t the oldest on the mountain, but I knew many of these women and wanted to keep up with them — and I did. Like riding a bike (or my Italian scooter; yes, I ride a scooter off the mountain), my body remembered the flex, the balance, the movement required to glide down the slopes. It also occurred to me that in skiing (unlike sunbathing), gravity is your friend, and good skiers of any age take advantage of it. So, I didn’t try to do too much at first, because while skiing isn’t any different at 50 (or 40 or 30 or 20 – physics is physics), it woke parts of my body that have been hibernating for some time. So, I was a bit tired and knew when to stop, but I had a great time and was hooked. Each week, I’ve skied longer and better. Aside from the social aspects (these Skimums are very, very funny – must be the adrenaline), I felt stronger and more accomplished each time. In case you’re wondering whether I’m a triathlete, GOODNESS NO, but I do work out twice a week with a trainer and keep active with the typical Salt Lake pursuits, e.g., hiking, biking, meeting friends, things I know keep me happy and healthy.

The biggest difference between skiing when I was younger to skiing now is the equipment. I skied in the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s…. I was the girl that skied in Levi’s and a matching jacket to look cool. I was cool – actually, freezing cold! Helmets were unheard of, and only geeks or racers wore goggles. Times have changed, fashions have changed, and technology has made it easier and more comfortable for people of any age to ski Snowbird. Today’s skis, for example, make flying down Path to Paradise or carving through Black Forest or floating through the powder in the Rasta Chutes much, much easier. Yes, I can do all of those things today, things I’m not sure I could do as well when I was in my 20s! My “old” skis (circa 2005) were straight, long and heavy, and the only “rocker” I knew of sat on my porch with the cats. So, while I considered myself a good strong skier in the past, the newer, wider parabolic skis have me widening my stance a bit, giving me more stability and, actually, more comfort, control and confidence. Yes, I needed to create new muscle memory, but the newer skis make it much easier to ski various terrain and are definitely on my wish list for next season.

The other big gear issue was that my old boots killed my feet. During one of Skimums’ lessons, our Mountain School “coach” said something incredibly profound, “It’s hard to ski, especially ski well, when you can’t see and your feet hurt!” Well, this may seem like a “duh” statement to most, but the only “duh” was why was I waiting to do something about it. Some Skimums introduced me to Chris at Incline Foot Science where he custom fit my ski boots, which may seem ridiculous for a non-competitive 50+ skier, but I’m exactly the person who benefits the most from a fitted boot (or liner or insole) in terms of comfort, warmth and performance – things that will keep me skiing into my 80s and beyond. After a few days on the mountain, they started to feel pretty good, and my skiing started to look even better.

Snowbird Women Ski Lessons SkimumsWhy is skiing so important to me at this time in my life? For three decades, I’ve been working with teens, and now hospice patients, and their families trying to help them find their power and positive paths during life and their dignity at the end. For me, living in a town where I can get on the slopes within 30 minutes, get to the summit in another 12 and just stop, breathe and sail to the bottom with friends, many of whose children I watched grow, fills me with a sense of peace and wonder. It’s like being a kid again. Skiing has brought this to my life. This is the Mountain of Youth.

3 Quick Tips on Keeping Toes Warm

By Skimum Paula

“What’s that on your boot,” asked a fellow Skimum while getting off the lift.  “Duct tape,” I said.  Yes, I have duct tape on the toes of my new-ish custom-fitted Lange ski boots.  No, I didn’t break them.  As many Snowbird instructors, patrollers and skiers will tell you, it’s one the secrets to keeping your feet warm.

Ski_Boot_Duct_TapeEvery boot has a hard moulded shell, which is impervious to water, but at the seams under the toe buckle, snow and water can stick and collect or, worse yet, melt and seep in leaving you with cold feet.  By putting some duct tape across the toe seam, you can make this gap more water resistant, and because it is stretchable, you can still get your boots on without tearing the tape.  With duct tape coming in so many cool colors and patterns, local skiers (and not just the munchkins) are opting more and more for the crazier ones.

Another way to keep your toes warm is to go all out and get boot heatersThis is a bit more expensive than duct tape.  Running north of $200, this might seem a bit extreme, but cold feet is one of the principal complaints among skiers no matter how often or how well they ski.  Yes, you can shove the disposable adhesive warmers into your boots, but local boot fitters will tell you that you shouldn’t have that much room in your boots!  Snug boots not only affect your ability to control your skis (if they’re too loose, forget about skiing powder or steeps well), but they also keep your feet warmer!  If more air is getting in there, your feet will get cold.  The other consideration is that as we get older, circulation issues develop making it harder to keep your feet (especially your toes) warm while skiing.  So, if cold toes are nagging you or, worse yet, keeping you off the slopes, think about investing in some boot heaters.

Ski_Boot_Heaters

Finally, one of the other boot tricks locals will share is to unbuckle your boots when you’re on the lifts.  No, they’re not going to fall off.  If they do, then your boots are too doggone big!  The reason is circulation.  Here’s a very simplified explanation — Circulation is best when you’re standing sending lots of blood from your heart to your extremities.  It decreases while sitting.  Tightened boots inhibits it further.  If your boots are tightened while sitting on a lift, then circulation is impeded even more causing your toes to scream and swell and, because fresh warm blood isn’t getting down there very well, get cold.  So, pop those boot buckles as you get on the lifts, let the toes wiggle for a few minutes, and then lock them down before heading down.  You’ll stay warmer and stay out longer.

Live Like a Tourist:

A Relaxing Staycation at Cliff Lodge 

By Skimum Paula

Snowbird_Paula_Family_SkiWhen you have over a half dozen ski resorts in your backyard, it’s tough to leave home.  OK, before you out-of-towners start throwing snowballs, know that one of the problems is that you Californians, Texans and Floridians take up all the seats on most flights!  Honestly, many Utahns choose to stick around during the winter months to play in the snow.  We throw our ski gear in the car, head up to Snowbird for a few hours (no, we don’t ski all day; someone has to pick up the kids from school), and then head back to make dinner and go to a varsity volleyball game.  While it’s fun – a lot of fun – it’s not a vacation.

Snowbird Premium Pass holders who purchased early got a special treat this season – a free night at Cliff Lodge.  Family Pass holders received two nights or two rooms.  So, after cleaning up the Thanksgivmakkah dinner, we piled our gear, PJs and toothbrushes into the car and enjoyed a staycation at the Bird.  It was very, very different and very, very good.

Snowbird_Check-inInstead of swinging into the Gad Valley parking lot, we pulled into the heated entrance of the Cliff Lodge, gave our keys to the valets who unloaded our suitcases, handed them off to the bell captain and then whisked away our ski gear to Lodge’s private locker room.  Our hands were not only warm but empty leaving us to proceed to check-in with ease.

As hubby was getting the room keys, I was chatting with the concierge, who not only told me about mountain conditions but what was going on inside the Lodge – big screen movies, board games to borrow, game room downstairs, heated family pool and hot tub next to Chickadee.  My non-skiing teen stopped moping; my other skiing kids starting planning their après ski activities.  Of course, the Cliff Spa is on the roof (I’ve written about that in a prior post), but I wouldn’t make it there this trip.  I can come up anytime for a stone massage.  Put that snowball down!

After getting settled in our adjoining rooms, we all … relaxedtogether.  The TVs stayed off and everyone just took a few moments to read, text a friend, listen to music, and even talk to each other!  It was surprisingly peaceful though.  No fighting.  No whining.  No, “I’m bored!”  We were entering vacation mode.

By the way, the beds in the rooms are amazing!  Super comfy.  Almost Heavenly.  Great pillows.

Snowbird_Sushi

We decided to have dinner upstairs at The Aerie Restaurant.  I always forget how much I like The Aerie.  The food and service are terrific.  It’s beautiful with its two-story windows facing the mountain.  Oh, and to please the kids or sports fans, there are a few “TV Tables”, booths with a screen discretely placed behind a curtain.  While I’m not normally a proponent of “tech at the table,” if it keeps the peace and keep everyone at the table longer, then why not?  It’s vacation!  Hubby and I planned to sneak to the Aerie Lounge, an incredibly stylish, adults-only refuge, after the kids went to bed, but we fell asleep early!  J  I guess we’ll just head up during the week some time.  It has a yummy après ski menu as well as a sushi bar and is open to everyone.

Snowbird_Paula_Family_Dinner

The next morning involved more food, of course.  The Atrium Restaurant has a fantastic buffet as well as a la carte items giving you plenty of fuel for a big ski day.  I must admit that the hit was the hot chocolate – rich chocolaty yumminess with a thick mountain of whipped cream on top.  Ridiculously good!

Snowbird_LockersWe hadn’t seen our ski gear since we got out of the car.  They were stowed in the Lodge Locker Room on the first floor.  Big tall private lockers are available to guests free of charge.  The attendants are very … attendant!  They’ll even help you put on your boots.  From there, you ski out the door to Chickadee.  How easy is that?

The skiing was great, but when one kid was done, it didn’t end the day.  He went in to meet the non-skiing sibling, and they had lunch at El Chanate, the Mexican restaurant on the lower level of the Lodge and then hit the game room next door.  They were happy, we were happy.  We met them there, played some video games together and even winning a few (we did grow up with Donkey Kong, after all).

Snowbird_Arcade

Maybe the best part of the trip was that it only took us 20 minutes to get home.  No airports, security, traffic or potty stops.  While Warren Miller famously said, “The family that skis together, bitches at one another.” I doubt he was talking about those who vacation or staycation at Snowbird.

Iron Man of Snowbird

By SkiMum Valerie

I had the pleasure this morning of riding up the Little Cloud lift with an
enthusiastic young man named Joe Wale.  His first words to me were, “Do you mind if I put the bar down?  My legs are killing me.”  Turns out I had actually seen Joe earlier that morning on my drive up little cottonwood canyon.  I had passed him near the Red Pine Trailhead as he was riding his bike up the road with his skis strapped to his back.  “That is one ambitious guy”, I thought to myself as I passed by.  Little did I know, that wasn’t half the story.  Joe explained that it had always been a dream of his to bike up the canyon and ski Snowbird.  In the early, early hours of  Friday morning  Joe decided to make his dream a reality.

Joe_Wale_Snowbird_2

It all started Thursday night when he and his friend decided to ski the backside of High Traverse at Alta.  They took off at 11:00 PM and got back home at 3:00 AM.  Joe slept for 30 minutes during the car ride home.  After collecting his ski gear, 3 liters of water and a pile of Cliff Bars, he took off on his 20-year old Cannondale mountain bike in search of snow.  It was now 4:30 AM under a full moon.  Joe reached the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon at 6:00 AM and arrived at the Snowbird Center at 8:15 AM.  After skiing for 2 hours, he loaded up his gear and headed back  down the canyon.  The roundtrip was 40 miles with a 4,600 vertical gain.  Impressive!

Joe_Wale_Snowbird_4
End of the story?…not quite.  I emailed Joe the photos I had taken of him at Snowbird.  He replied and gave me an update on his day.  After returning home from skiing he slept for 2 hours and then got a call from some friends asking him to go mountain biking with them.  Naturally, he accepted the offer and biked from 7:30 PM to 9:00 PM.