Avalanche Danger - Extreme

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The excitement of all the new snow in the Western half of the U.S. has caused a lot of people to flock to the mountains for their first pow turns of the season. However, it is without understatement that I say that the current snow pack with the addition of the new snow is extremely dangerous. In the last week there have been three deaths in Colorado due to avalanches, and many more people injured.

One avalanche death included one of two brothers who were snowmobiling through Buff Pass in Steamboat. Another death included a 13-year-old boy who triggered an in-bounds avalanche at Vail after ducking a rope. It happened the day I rode there with Dania, in the same area we were riding, when we were riding. It's pretty scary to think about. The trail is called Prima Cornice, which is a double-black diamond run that was closed because of the avalanche danger. Wanting to get some fresh pow lines, him and his friend decided to duck the rope, something Vail strongly discourages. It's really sad such a young life was taken, but it's a harsh reminder that even when you're in bounds, it's still a mountain.

I was pretty upset with the comments regarding Vail's lack of safety on their facebook page. The ski patrol at Vail and every other mountain out here do as much as they can to warn people of the dangers and keep them safe. This is a mountain, not a playground. The run was closed for a reason. You have to take responsibility for yourself and your kids to know the conditions and know where you should and shouldn't ride. If you don't feel comfortable with that, you shouldn't be up there. Being a local, I'm sure he knew the risks... But he was just a boy who wanted to have some fun. Horrible accidents happen, and I blame no one for that avalanche... especially Vail ski patrol.

Prima Cornice can be seen in the center of the map.

Here is a short educational video you should watch that shows just how dangerous the snow pack is right now. This video was taken in Utah, but the snow pack is quite the same. Go ahead and fast forward to :55 to see the main point of the video. It will send shivers down your spine. Stay out of the backcountry folks, it's not worth it!


Sarah Sent Snow!

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The evening of Sarah's death I had a friend of a friend print out some die-cuts I designed to put on my helmet. Me and my boyfriend had planned on going to Vail all week since he has never been, and I knew the best thing I could do to honor her was to go and enjoy it the way she would have. So the next day we went to Vail, just as we had planned.

It wasn't supposed to snow much that day... but it did, and it absolutely dumped. It snowed for hours; the biggest flakes I have seen in months, that fell from the sky like the clouds had accumulated the entire sea. It was beautiful. I haven't felt that much joy and happiness skiing in a long time, and I know it's because she was there. I couldn't stop laughing as the snow shot up into my face, turning my black face mask into a bumpy white beard. I even hucked some cliffs I wouldn't have dreamed of... I guess she left a piece of herself in everyone of us when she left. She probably figured since I had enough goofiness she'd leave me some of her courage.

Two days ago one of Sarah's best friends and teammates, and one of my dear friends, Dania Assaly flew in. She had been home recovering from a knee injury and decided  to fly in early to be with the Canadian team and us girls. We had a day to kill before all the girls got back from Dew Tour in Killington, VT and headed to XGames in Aspen, so we decided to go to Vail yesterday. We enjoyed a foot of fresh powder with more that fell all day, and had so many smiles reminiscing. Sarah started a website a couple months ago called Scarah.com with videos of her scaring her friends. She loved to scare her friends... "Okay, ask them exactly when they're going to be here!" She'd say, and proceed to stand behind the door giggling like a little kid, for as long as it took to get in a scare.

Sarah was so much more than just a friend, though. She was a daughter, an aunt, a sister, a wife. The love her and her husband shared is something I can only dream of someday having. They absolutely adored each other. She was the pioneer for woman's freeskiing - The first woman to compete. She is the reason female's are in X-Games, the Dew Tour, and is one of the main reasons men and women's freeskiing is in the Olympics. That was her dream after all, to win an Olympic gold, and she never stopped fighting for that chance. She was the backbone, the voice, and the leader of woman's freeskiing. She believed in the girls when they didn't believe in themselves... she had a heart of gold. Above all else, Sarah's talent on skis unarguably succeeded any other woman's in the world. She pushed us all to better ourselves, for ourselves... Something I know we will continue to do, but something I know will be difficult without her support.

I always believe everything happens for a reason, at least I did until Sarah died. I know it's all the emotions that come with grieving, but I can't help but feel a little angry. I feel like someone somewhere really messed up. She shouldn't have died, not yet. She did so much, and at the same time left so many things unfinished. Sarah was meant to go to the Olympics, and she was meant to win.

The girls had to compete at the Dew Tour in Killington the day after she died. They did a tribute to her before the competition by all riding down the pipe together, they called it the "Sarah Train".  I can't imagine how hard it must have been to have to drop into the pipe without her being there, but they all did a great job.

We miss you Sarah. We miss you a lot.


RIP Sarah Burke

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September 3, 1982 – January 19, 2012

My hero, my inspiration, my friend. Words cannot describe my grief. I am so blessed to have been graced with your presence during your short time here. Your passion, drive, and dedication is the sole purpose for where female freeskiing is today. You will forever be the icon, the goddess, and the guardian angel of our industry. Your legacy will live on. My thoughts are with you, my prayers are with Rory and the rest of the family. Every run, I'm taking it for you...

Until we meet again.


Ullr - Pleased by Ullr Fest?

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I made another entry dedicated to someone special below this one. Don't forget to check it out!

This past weekend was Ullr Fest in Breckenridge, which is the wackiest festival here all year. Ullr is "the God of snow", so of course we have to throw him a festival to please him. Usually I'm not stoked on Ullr Fest because of all the crazy people dressed as Vikings running around. This year I wanted to go down and watch the opening Ullr parade because we need all the support for snow we can get, but of course my car battery decided to die.... Anyway, the festival is filled with bonfires, crazy floats, "Ullympians" flinging frying pans for prizes and much more.

*Photos courteous of Nathan Bilow at Westworld.com, view the rest of the photos here.

I think we may have please him because on Monday we got hit with a pretty good unexpected snowstorm. Breck and Keystone only faired with 5" because of the wind, but Vail got up to 10" in spots. I decided to ditch everyone (as the saying goes, 'There's no friend's on a powder day!') and made the drive to Vail yesterday... so glad I did!!! Apparently it was as windy as a hurricane in Breck all day, but it was a sunny, beautiful, calm day over in Vail with hardly any lift lines! I'm really learning the mountain well now... It's by far my favorite mountain period. Here are some pictures from my day.

 I dedicate my shred day to you Sarah!!!

On another note, school has started again for the semester! I'm taking Accounting II, Consumer Behavior (300 class), Avalanche Safety II (extremely excited for), and I still have to sign up for another... (Yikes and Oops!)

Believe In Sarah

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As you may have heard, since it has turned into national news, professional skier Sarah Burke is in a coma at a Salt Lake hospital after a crash in Park City's pipe. After talking to a few people who were there it sounds like a freak accident, since most have said it wasn't an extravagant fall. She landed her trick, caught an edge in the bottom of the pipe, and fell over hitting her head. Unfortunately it twisted her head in the perfect position to tear her vertebral artery causing a brain hemorrhage. She had a successful surgery, but we haven't heard much since.

Sarah is my idol, she has been ever since I started skiing. The last time I saw her was during the with Grand Prix at Copper this year. She was telling to me about how excited she was to go visit her sister and nephews in Denver, and it's hard to know that the Sarah we knew might not be that Sarah anymore... especially because of the impact she has had on the industry. She is, in all actuality, the reason female freeski exists. She is also one of the main reasons female freeski is now in the Olympics, and she pushed so hard because it was her dream to get a gold medal... My heart is breaking for her.

Please take a moment to watch this short excerpt from The Ski Channel's feature film, Winter.

Keep her, Rory (husband), her family, and friends in your prayers! Believe in Sarah!

I have other things I want to blog about, but I felt she deserved an entry all to herself. We love and miss you Sarah, hope you're shredding pow in those dreams. Please wake up soon!


Where's the snow?

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A belated Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, etc to everyone! I guess I'm just updating to say that there's officially nothing going on in the western half of the U.S, including Summit County. I was just skimming some of my favorite snow sport enthusiast websites and a few of the headlining articles were: "Snowboarding on Sand | It's That Bad in Utah", "Alpine Meadows Conditions, Welcome to June-uary", and "Reno = Driest December Since 1883". This is where I could whine for a good paragraph about how bummed I am that I spent $600 on an Epic Pass to ride powder at Vail and Beaver Creek all season. But when you live in the mountains, you're at the mercy of mother nature. You have to take what you get and go with it, that's what makes mountain living so exciting, through the good and the bad.

When all is said and done, it's the tourists (particularly the ones from overseas), I feel bad for; Who spent thousands and thousands of dollars only to come and find 30% open terrain with crusty, wind-blown snow, and hour-long lift lines. I'm especially sad for those from Europe, seeing as they've been getting dumped on over there.

While driving through town I saw a number of trailers with dirtbikes. It seems like a lot of the locals are trying to find other activities to do so they can leave the mountains to the tourists. We had plans to go to Jackson Hole and Silverton this winter, and I think we're going to be canceling both. Both places are among the few places with snow, so it seems like a good idea, until you consider the immense amount of people who are probably flocking there in storms.

What's wrong with this picture? From Copper Mountain, CO

On another note, I've been trying to make the best of it and enjoy what open terrain I can. I decided to put my GoPro on the end of my ski pole on Christmas Day and take some footage at Copper Mountain. It's nothing special I guess, but it's a fun perspective for those who aren't skiers/snowboarders. I'm still working on trying to figure out how to upload higher quality videos... I'm kind of video-illiterate.


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