"Bump Club" Update
It’s been nice to get away from the tight mogul competition schedule, and enjoy some relaxing time in Telluride. For the past few weeks now, we’ve taken a break from traveling to Rocky Mountain and World Cup events. We’ve used our free time to shoot some of the beautiful landscapes around town, getting Ski Watch up to speed, and taking filming days and free skiing with Telluride ski legends like Caleb Martin, Hugh Sawyer, as well as one of the first bump clubbers, Dylan Brooks.
While Dylan is coaching a co-ed group of 1st and 2nd graders and Hugh is coaching a group of 5th and 6th grade girls, Caleb is still busy training, traveling, and teaching a talented team of teens.
The Ski Club’s annual Ski-athon took place last Saturday, and we met up with Dylan and his group, who were all adorned in extra long fake beards in memoriam of Captain Jack Carey. Dylan’s Group, part of Team Gravity, consisted of three boys (Christian, Julian, and Aden) and two girls (Maile and Ruby), all of whom are little shredders. Carlos and I spent the morning pseudo coaching Dylan’s Group, talking to the kids on the lift, filming, and trying to keep up.
It was cool to get a new perspective on skiing from them. Carlos and I typically keep to Lift 9, Gold Hill, Prospect hike-tos, and the occasional Run on Lift 6, but we got out of the norm skiing with Dylan’s group, racing the Nastar course, skiing the mini-park, and the devo bump course on Smuggler.
Our day with Dylan was capped off by a run on Buzz’s glade where Christian took one of the better falls I’ve ever seen, tumbling over a small band of rocks and through powder for about 30 feet, double ejecting skis and poles. When I skied down to Christian, he looked up at me glazy-eyed. I asked him if he was ok, and he responded, “What just happened?” Christian wasn’t hurt in the crash.
Saturday evening, Carlos and I stepped outside of his house with camera in hand to get a time-lapse of the sunset to the west. After Carlos pointed out the snow waterfalls that had been happening all day, we started talking about the volatile snow conditions and the massive fracture lines in Bear Creek Basin in days past, and about possibly seeing Ajax slide.
We got into the car, and drove to the valley floor to shoot the golden sunset, and upon arriving, I was hit with phone calls from my brother, Greg, and David to tell us that Ajax had just slid. That’s just how it seems to go with filming, at the perfect moment, the camera always seems to be pointed the other way. It’s too bad we didn’t get to see or film the Ajax slide, but we still got to watch a beautiful orange sunset over the valley floor.
It’s been a really quick winter. There’s still plenty of snow to fall, and skiing to be had, but the winter is winding down day by day. Carlos, David, and I are off to Steamboat for the Final NorAm Event of the year to film locals Keaton McCargo, Lindsey Cannon, Wade Parkinson, and Zak Watkins. Locals Lane Stoltzner, now skiing for the Steamboat team, and Joe and Jimmy Discoe, will also be competing in the event. Wish them all luck!
A Powder Day (WITH VIDEO)
It appears that the collaborative snow dances of Telluridians have pleased Ullr (the Scandinavian god of skiing and snow), and he’s rewarded us with 29 inches of fresh powder. Of course, the naysayers may say that Ullr and the snow songs and dances we do for him have nothing to do with our recent storm, rather that it was simply a result of atmospheric disturbance in the Pacific Ocean.
For the last month, every time a weather report called for snow, Carlos and I have sung a snow song to Ullr hoping for a powder day. He wasn’t answering our prayers though, and admittedly, I, along with Carlos, was beginning to lose faith.
But then it started to snow. Friday was unexpectedly good (at least 8 inches of fresh on lift 9), it dumped on Saturday (13 inches reported), again on Sunday (6 inches reported), and the storm finally ended with a bang on Monday (another 11 inches reported).
Catching a few runs on Mammoth on Friday was enough to get me waiting in the lift-8 powder line on Saturday, and Saturday was one of those days that completely restored my faith in Ullr, my love for skiing, and my optimistic perspective on life.
Telluride just feels right on a powder day. Our first ride up 9, Carlos, David and I passed over Awesome Rock as my brother Greg skied into it without stopping and dropped over the edge. We ran into him later on our way to Prospect and tried to keep up with him for a few runs. Greg absolutely rips, and it was awesome to see him pushing his limits. Later in the afternoon he skied over to the cliffs on skier’s left near the base of Revelation, and stomped a 30-plus-foot hit (see video below). The next run we went over to Gold Hill, and Greg straightlined a thin crack in the cliffs on skier’s right of the liftline.
After a near-first-tracks run on Genevieve that included a pretty great double ejection by myself, a woman at the bottom perfectly captured the beauty of a big powder day in a few words. “The best thing about powder days is that everyone’s smiling,” she said.
Saturday was one of those special powder days that with each face shot, and each cliff drop, I got a bigger smile on my face. And at the end of the day, even though my neck gator was frozen stiff, and my legs were telling me to stop, there was no way that I was leaving the mountain until the lift ops said no more. It’s these kind of days keep me doing snow dances and singing snow songs, and remind me of the true beauty of skiing, and how a powder day can not only restore your love of skiing, but also your love of life.
P.S. Snow reports are calling for a 70% chance of snow Wednesday night and Thursday morning. We all know better than to put too much faith in any weather report, so let the singing and dancing begin.
Check out this video of Greg stomping a cliff drop in Revelation Bowl:
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Skiing in Control
Growing up skiing in Telluride has ingrained a few major safety protocols in me: the downhill skier has the right of way, look before merging, and ski in control. I've skied here for 15 years now, and following these rules I've never collided with another skier.
After an unexpectedly busy winter break on the mountain, Telski has stepped up efforts to crack down on reckless skiers, posting Ski Fast Lose Pass” and “Slow Skiing Zone” signs around the mountain. Ski Patrol has begun enforcing ski safety act laws more aggressively than in years past. Along with new signs, Ski Patrol has stepped up penalties for at-fault-skiers in collisions. A no-injury collision warrants a relatively skimpy 30-day suspension of one’s pass, but collisions causing injuries warrant 1-year revocations, and second time and hit-and-run offenders will lose their pass for 5 years.
While Ski Patrol’s new approach to reckless skiing is clearly appreciated by tourists and locals alike on the mountain, I feel that these new regulations have become over enforced, and enforced in the wrong ways.
Late in the day at the bottom of at the cat track before Kid’s Hill, I’ve seen patrollers camp out by the gondola lift towers, blowing their whistles at skiers who they deem to be skiing too fast and out of control. Some signs, such as the “Ski Fast Lose Pass” sign between the top of Gold Hill lift and Tempter house, are out of place and they miss the point. Skiing fast is not necessarily skiing out of control. Often, the pizza-wedger cutting across See Forever is more dangerous than the skier carving GS turns.
I don't disagree with the ski area's efforts to cut down on reckless skiing, but I think it’s important that we make sure we define what reckless skiing is. With the recent tragedy of Kevin Greene’s death, there may be no more appropriate time to step up these regulations. But punishing skiers who are in control and maybe going a little faster will not help this mountain become a safer place, and it will make it less enjoyable and free for local, more experienced and in-control skiers.
I personally feel that if you’re skiing on your edges, then you’re in control, and that doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with speed. Youare the best judge of whether or not you’re in control, so be mindful, be aware, and ski within your limits. That's safe skiing.
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First Six Weeks
Carlos and I have been filming “The Bump Club” for six weeks now, and for six weeks, I’ve been experiencing déjà vu on the regular. We’re following a path I vividly remember taking my eighth grade year. That year, a close-knit group of eight of us began our ski season in late October with dry land training at the base of lift 7. As winter arrived, we took advantage of the limited opportunities that we had, making zip turns on misty maiden, and building a jump on upper plunge as soon as ski patrol let us, practicing helis and twister spreads. Caleb and Harold drove us to see some world-class mogul skiing in Deer Valley, where we watched Jeremy Bloom dominate duals and Bump Club product Kate Reid compete in Aerials. We followed the Rocky Mountain Circuit through Steamboat, Winter Park, and Aspen. We built the course on Lower Plunge, the first time a Rocky Mountain event had been hosted on LP since the Bump Club left Rocky some years back.
But then eighth grade ended. Carlos and Page moved on to boarding School (but Page returned back a year later). Jimmy and Joe reached the next level, earning NorAm spots. Lindsey, Lane and Wade kept training with Caleb and Harold, but I chose not to go back to competing. I lost a lot of my passion for skiing after eighth grade. I felt out of place with ski school, and didn’t feel comfortable rejoining the bump club without the full crew.
I graduated from Telluride High School in 2008, and moved on to Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. My first winter back from school, Powder healed me. Two foot deep powder days after my return, my love for skiing was reinvigorated. I told Carlos I’d join him in making “The Bump Club” this winter.
This past September, I had surgery to repair my torn labrum in my hip. Then, my winter started in October this year. I began doing physical therapy daily at the base of lift 7 (Peak Performance Therapy). Once I was healed, I moved on to lift 4, where I started making zip turns again. I moved on to shooting the bump club hit the annual upper plunge jump. Carlos and I went back to Deer Valley for the World Cup this year. We’ve been traveling to Rocky Mountain Events, filming the new Telluride talent. The Lower Plunge mogul course is being sculpted, the Rocky Mountain event is back this weekend.