Friday, April 29, 2011
Monday, April 25, 2011
Residents in and around Winter Park have been reporting occasional sightings of the "Thoub-Skier" schusching down the slopes in authentic Middle-Eastern garb. The Obsessive Skier obtained these photos over the weekend from an anonymous source. Upon closer inspection of these photos, I don't think the "Thoub-Skier" is really an Arab after all.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Torin Yater-Wallace likes the ring of it: Olympian.
Aspen's homegrown halfpipe-skiing superstar will be 18 when his sport debuts at the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, in 2014.
When the International Olympic Committee announced last week that it was embracing ski halfpipe for the 2014 Games in Sochi, an army of young ski-shod aerialists raced to the pipe and started spring training.
In three years, their sport -- which has long endured in the shadow of board-riding rock stars such as Shaun White -- will debut on the world's greatest stage with higher airs and smoother spins than the side-saddled snowboarders.
"I'm really excited," Yater-Wallace said last week. "I'll be in the prime of my career, the top of my game and close to being the best out there."
The skier's soaring airs and clean landings earned him a silver medal at the Winter X Games this year and a gold medal at the FIS freestyle World Cup last month in La Plagne, France.
The IOC's announcement was somewhat expected, with many of the pipe's top skiers already honing their FIS cred by traveling the globe to compete in halfpipe contests that still don't pack nearly the punch of their sport's top event, the Winter X Games in Aspen.
Skier Sarah Burke, Canada's perennially podiumed halfpipe queen and last year's World Cup halfpipe champion, won last month's halfpipe World Cup in France. At age 28, Burke shows no signs of loosening her grip on her "world's best" status. But when Sochi arrives, the pioneer of women's pipe skiing will be 31.
"It's definitely intimidating. The way it is right now, I'm competing with teenagers," she said, declining to mention that she's also still winning. "I don't bounce as easily as I used to or like the younger kids do. But I'm definitely up for the challenge. This has been a goal of mine for a long, long time."
Helping Burke -- as well as the countless teenagers in her wake -- is the proliferation of airbags and foam pits in training. Without threat of bone-shattering mistakes, athletes can use the airbags and foam pits to dial-in a trick's muscular mechanics.
The new training tools as well as the Olympic horizon promise a population boom in halfpipe skiers. Look for more 22-foot Olympic superpipes across the country and definitely more high-flying, Olympics-focused crowds in those pipes.
"People are going to start showing up next year and start skiing halfpipe. But it's not like they are going to be popping up and winning. It takes a long time to get good at halfpipe," said Simon Dumont, 24, a decade-long veteran of competitive pipe skiing with six X Games medals.
Training facilities such as Woodward at Copper Mountain and clubs such as Yater-Wallace's Aspen Valley Ski & Snowboard Club and the Ski & Snowboard Club Vail already are hosting Olympic-ready pipe skiers who are barely teens. And there are pipe veterans in Colorado who help blaze trails and inspire the crop of up-and-comers, including Carbondale's Pete Olenick and Dumont, who both train in Breckenridge.
"If we continue on the path we are on right now, we have a good chance to really put some local kids on the 2014 team," said Ben Brown, director of Woodward at Copper.
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
A 12-year old Swedish boy has quite a tale to share after he accidently skied into a bear den last Friday, much to the ire of the inhabitant, who was home at the time.
Ollie Frisk and four of his friends were skiing in the backcountry at the Härjedalen ski resort, located in northern Sweden, at the time of the incident. Frisk unwittingly skied over the den, causing it to collapse under his weight and sending him tumbling inside. The female brown bear slumbering beneath the snow, woke up at the sound of an intruder in her home, and immediately pounced on the young man, who says he thought that he was dead for sure.
"I accepted death, that was the feeling, let it come," Frisk is quoted as saying.
But Ollie didn't die. Instead, he says, he quit struggling as he accepted the inevitability of his fate, and when he did so, the bear simply stopped attacking him. A few moments later she wandered out of the lair, where Ollie's friends made loud noises to scare her away. They then helped Frisk from the den, and back down the hill to safety.
The boy spent the night in a hospital, where he was treated for bite wounds on both legs and scratches on his back. Although he is lucky to be alive, Ollie is recovering quite nicely now and has returned home with his family.
The bear's cubs might not be so lucky however. After being scared off, the female hasn't returned to the den and the cubs have now been left alone for several days. If they aren't fed soon, wildlife officials may need to step in to save them. They're still hoping that mama will return home to her kids, but they are prepared to act if she doesn't.
[Photo credit: HBarrison via WikiMedia]