Insider’s Guide to the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships

Photo by Kevin Krill

Photo by Kevin Krill

The countdown is on: Thousands of ski racing fans are set to descend on Colorado for the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships, which take place in Vail and Beaver Creek from February 2-15. For the unintiated, this is a pretty big deal in the ski community. The competition is second only to the Olympics in size, with more than 600 athletes from 72 countries making the pilgrimage to battle it out on our snowy slopes.

Learn more in my insider’s spectator guide to the 2015 Alpine World Ski Championships on RootsRated.

In Search of the Steep and Deep

Kachina Peak, Taos Ski Valley

Photo courtesy Taos Ski Valley

I’ve been an alpine skier since I was about eight years old. Until a few years ago, I hadn’t given backcountry skiing a fair shake—mostly because an avalanche safety class I took back in the mid-90s scared the shit out of me. I wasn’t sure I was up for the risk. Plus I sucked at telemarking. I bought really skinny touring skis and never could nail a good turn on them. So I retreated to the comfort of my alpine boards and spent the next 20 years happily ripping it up inbounds.

Fast forward to a couple of years ago when I had an amazing day in the Jackson Hole backcountry (on my alpine boards, bootpacking). My soul was so stirred up after that day, I thought I better give the backcountry another look. After all, backcountry gear has come a long way. So I got a sweet alpine touring setup from La Sportiva (yay, I can make alpine turns!) and retook the avy 1 class. Armed with this knowledge, great gear, and some friends who are willing to help show me the way,  I’m on my way to becoming a skilled backcountry skier. Some day. There’s a lot to learn, that’s for sure.

Yet there are still plenty of days when the lifts call. When you don’t want to deal with hiking. Or the avalanche danger is so high, you’d rather not take the risk. That’s when it’s nice to know you can hit some rad inbounds terrain without having to worry so much. (Caveat: inbounds avalanches do sometimes occur, so you should never fully let down your guard.)

The good news is that alpine resorts are seeking ways to feed that hunger for big-mountain terrain inbounds. Take Taos Ski Valley, for example, which this season is opening the Kachina Peak lift to haul skiers and riders up to terrain that was previously accessible only by a sweaty 45-minute slog. Some lament the easier access. Others celebrate it. Either way, it’s more terrain for everyone.

Other resorts are also finding ways to provide backcountry-like experiences within their boundaries. Read more in an article I wrote for Outside, my first for them: In Search of the Steep and Deep: A growing demand for big-mountain, backcountry-like terrain is prompting resorts to up the ante inbounds.

Get Your Ski Boots Dialed

Larry's Bootfitting

Larry’s Bootfitting in Boulder is something of an institution. For decades, Boulderites have been paying homage to Larry Houchen and his bootfitting prowess. Back in the day (think 20+ years ago—yikes!), when I first had Larry fit me, I could swear that he was squeezing me into a boot that was two sizes too small. Turns out, he was actually finally fitting me right, so my boots wouldn’t start slopping around after five days.

Direct power transfer to the ski: that’s what you need. A boot that fits right is snug and comfortable, allowing you to control your skis with ease.

There’s no need to suffer with uncomfortable ski boots. Go see Larry, the bootfitting legend of Boulder. His place is more like a clubhouse than a ski shop—where you go to get your boots fitted and end up sticking around for a beer.

Read more in my article on RootsRated: Get Your Ski Boots Dialed at Larry’s Bootfitting.

Train to Crush It in the Mountains

Alpine Training Center

Photo courtesy Alpine Training Center

You know those people who get all evangelical about their workouts? (Think Crossfit.) Well, I hate to admit that I’ve become one of them, thanks to Alpine Training Center (it’s not Crossfit). It all started this fall when my former ski house roommate issued a challenge to a few of us that went something like this: “I’ve been doing this really great ski conditioning class and I think you should, too. In fact, if you want to be able to keep up with me on the mountain this season, you better sign up!”

Enough said. Challenge accepted. So I buckled down and endured two months of absolutely the hardest ski training workouts I have ever experienced. And it paid off. On my first ski days of the season, when my legs would typically be burning, I felt awesome. So, of course, I thought I should spread the word of the gospel to the masses with an article.

And by the way, once you’ve tasted the Kool-Aid, there’s no going back. I am an Alpine Training Center junkie for life now. Forgive me if I talk about it too much.

Read  the article I wrote for RootsRated: Train to Crush It in the Mountains.

Getting Your Backcountry Ski Pack Dialed

womens adventure winter 2014-15 cover

Ski season is upon us! It’s been dumping in the Colorado high country for a couple of weeks now, and everyone I know is itching to bust out their boards and start carving buttery turns.

One key to a killer day in the backcountry is knowing how to organize your pack. It can make the difference between being quick, comfortable, and efficient, or fumbling around and getting flustered. In the latest issue of Women’s Adventure, I’m happy to share tips and tricks for getting your pack dialed. Read my article—How to Load a Backcountry Ski Pack.

Like what you see? Subscribe to Women’s Adventure. Each issue is packed with great articles about getting outside, exploring, and having fun, including Tech Talk pieces like this one to help you learn how to go about doing it.

Freestyle Aerial Skiing—Putting Mind over Matter

“It takes a special person to think it’s a good idea to do what we do,” says 18-year-old freestyle aerialist Mac Bohonnon.

Earlier this year I learned a lot about the life of a freestyle aerialist from Bohonnon, who was the only American aerialist to compete in the 2014 Olympics.

Aerial skiing is inherently dangerous. Skiers bomb down a ramp at 40+ miles an hour, launch 50 feet into the air, and perform multiple flips and twists before landing on a steep slope. They train first on trampolines and then jump into water pits dozens of times before ever attempting a trick on snow.

Bohonnon just released a really cool short film showing their ski training in action. It’s crazy stuff! Take five minutes and check it out:

Want to learn more? Read my National Geographic Adventure article: Mind Over Matter.