Monday, January 9, 2012

Day 1 - SkiBlog-SkiBlog Heliskiing Video Blog Series

After arriving at the Crescent Spur lodge on Saturday evening, we were greeted with an incredibly friendly and welcoming staff and treated to a delicious dinner. The lodge, with all of the fixtures, doorframes, and woodwork homecrafted with British Columbian wood, provides a remarkably warm and amicable atmosphere to relax and enjoy the time here. I knew I was in for a luxury ski holiday.

Sunday - day 1 of heliskiing, proved to be much more than I was used to after growing up skiing on the east coast. I was not nearly prepared for the humbling conditions that awaited me in the Caribou mountain range. Crescent Spur has over 1,500 square miles of privately leased skiing area with only 20 skiers per week - if you don't get in some good turns here, you won't anywhere.

Tip 1 - Safety Orientation

Heliskiing presents a unique set of hazards you will not find anywhere else. It is very important to go over safety and emergency information to prepare for the worst. After warming up with a brief indoor presentation on safety fundamentals and learning about the types of dangers, we went outside for some on-snow training.

Tip 2 - Safety Equipment

Crescent Spur is a great organization when it comes to skier safety. All guests are provided with a two-way radio, a transponder beacon, a snow shovel, and a probe. These tools are invaluable, and the knowledge of how to use them correctly can make the difference between life and death.

Tip 3 - Feet together, skis weighted equally

Although I consider myself a fair skier on-piste, there are some essential adjustments to make when backcountry skiing. First, make sure you keep a narrower stance than normal to account for variable snow conditions. When your skis are closer together, it makes it more likely that your skis will go through the same snow condition. This also helps to keep your skis more equally weighted than you normally would on-piste. Carving doesn't exist when skiing powder. The forces interacting between your skis and the snow are substantially different in powder conditions than packed snow conditions. Basically, you want to think of your skis floating on the snow and banking against the snow througout turns. This is more of a passive turn - you are just using the snow as a bank to push your skis against than actively turning and edging your skis.

Tip 4 - Make sure your video camera is on video mode

Somehow my camera turned out to be on photo mode instead of video mode, so instead of four great videos I was expecting to find at the end of the day, I found four shoddy photographs. Hopefully the rest of this week will work out better.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

SkiBlog-SkiBlog Heliskiing Video Blog Series - Intro

Yesterday I started a seven day journey to Crescent Spur, British Columbia for a trip with Crescent Spur Heliskiing.  This video is the first of a multi-part video blog series where I will bring you tips live from the mountains of British Columbia.  I welcome your comments on the videos and format!

Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Doc's Tips: 3 Tips to Help Recover After a Day of Skiing

I recently got a chance to sit down with Dr. Julie Herman, M.D., an internal medicine physician at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. 
After a lengthy and exhausting day on the slopes, I was curious about what modern medicine says are the best strategies to recover.  Here is her advice:

1. Have a beer

You've worked hard today. You deserve a beer.

I knew I liked this doctor. But make sure that after your beer, you consume a generous amount of water. A sports drink with electrolytes also would be beneficial. Proper hydration after a skiing workout allows your muscles to rebuild properly and maintains circulation (bringing essential nutrients to your muscles and the body's other tissues). Multiple research studies have shown that when you are dehydrated, you are not able to exercise as strenuously and your muscles take longer to heal. So drink up!

2. Soak in a hot bath or hot tub

Taking a refreshing soak in a hot tub (or a hot bath if you are not staying in the chalets in Courchevel) relaxes your muscles and helps remove the lactic acid that builds up in your muscles following skiing.

The heat of the bath also increases peripheral circulation in your body (more blood flow to muscles, joints, and skin), which helps rebuild any strained tissues and cells in these areas. It's also thought to be beneficial to perform light muscle massages in the bath and to stretch after your soak. However, people with circulation/heart problems should consult their doctor first before taking hot baths or using hot tubs. Pregnant women should not take hot baths. But otherwise, enjoy and relax some hot water!

3. Eat protein

Eating foods with protein gives your body the fuel needed to rebuild glycogen (energy) stores that are lost from your muscles during exercise.

Protein consumption also increases the amount of amino acids available to the body for rebuilding and drives your metabolism to increase muscle buildup. Protein consumed through diet and food is usually more bioactive and effective than protein supplements. Foods high in protein consist of meats, milk and dairy, eggs, beans, nuts, and legumes.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

How To: Recover Gracefully From a Ski Crash

Want to know how to get back up (gracefully) from falling while skiing?  Check out this instructional video made specially for SkiBlog-SkiBlog by Ryan and John of RAWfootyfilms.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Ski Training - Functional Style

by Lauren Bunney

Ski season is just around the corner if not already in full swing depending on where in the world you are living. But, the majority of the season is still ahead so it is not too late to get into shape in order to get the most out of your season.

Whether you are a skier or snowboarder or even a snow "Bunney" (pun intended), everyone can stand to get into better physical conditioning. If you caught the Resort Guide 2011 edition of Ski Magazine, they featured a few variations of functional training exercise methods that will help get you into ski shape.

Functional training is by definition exercising in proper biomechanical form using the same movements you do in your every day function of life. For example, you sit in a chair and stand up, you are doing a squat. You pick stuff up off the floor, you are doing a deadlift. In a more traditional form of training, you might find yourself on a leg extension circuit training machine but, in real life you never sit in a chair and kick a ball, right? That's what I mean by functional training.

Every day all day long, you are constantly moving your own body weight through space so, why not train for your favorite sports and activities by lifting your own body weight? Use your overall body weight as your resistance as opposed to putting a pin in a weight stack and setting it to 40lbs, when you are lifting way more than 40lbs all day long.

Enough said, I'm not trying to beat a dead horse and you should get my point by now.

While skiing and boarding, we are standing on our feet moving through space resisting the effects of gravity and unstable ground. We sit and stand in and out of the chairlifts as well as a bigger range of motion should we fall and have to pick ourselves up off the ground.

We need to use our body for our own exercise training resistance by changing the angles of our body with gravity, self adjusting, or scaling the intensity of the various exercises we are performing for our training program in a commercial or home gym.

Here are a few exercises and their variations of scaling to meet the various needs of each individual based on their age, medical history, and current fitness level.

Let's start with the Air Squat. The Air Squat is a basic movement we use to sit in a chair and stand back up moving our ankles, knees, and hips similar to the movement and absorption of skiing and boarding.

Once we have met proper form and range of motion of the air squat, we can increase the intensity by doing a Jumping Squat - jumping off the ground at the end of each rep trying to defy gravity just as you would through a mogul field or turning with the fall line of the slope.

We can then take the air squat and the jumping squat to the next level by using weighted resistance and doing an exercise such as a Thruster or Wall Ball.

You can even take the same concept as the air squat and apply it to a Lunge movement. Great for telemark skiing.

Then we have to look at upper body training that believe it or not has a lot to do with skiing and boarding. There is stability and balance you have to worry about if you actually want to enjoy your ski run and not fall. Your upper body also plays a role as the timing mechanism for a pole plant for skiers, hip rotation, balance, and upper body stability for boarders.

Using your body weight for resistance works your core and improves your stability. You don't have to do 100 crunches a day to work your abdominals. Your abs work every rep for your body weight movements. We'll get back to your core in just a bit.

Moving right along, or I should say upwards, double jointed pushing and pulling movements will work your entire upper body. Yes, I am talking about Pull Ups and Push Ups. Everyone can do push ups and pull ups. You heard me right, EVERYONE!! All you have to do is learn the scaling options of those exercises to learn how to do them at your level.

You can also perform Shoulder Depression exercises to build up strength in your upper body which in turn you will see a direct effect poling across the flats.

Now that you have done a pulling movement for your upper body, you have to do a pushing movement to balance it out, working both the front and back of your torso. I'm talking about a simple Push Up scaled to your level.

Okay, so I mentioned that you do not have to do 100 crunches in order to work your core. But, I know there are still plenty of people out there who will still insist on doing a traditional sit up or crunch. So, if you are going to do them, do Ab-Mat Sit Ups.

Cardio training - do it!! But there is a variety of ways to get your cardio in. Yes you can go for a run or a bike ride but, you can also get a bigger bang for your buck, or time, by doing CrossFit.

CrossFit by definition is high intensity functional training with varying modalities where you merge your cardio and strength all together and it is completely scalable for all levels.

So let's take the exercises I just gave to you and put them together in a CrossFit training program.

             AMRAP = As Many Rounds As Possible of

                        1 round =
                               5 pull ups
                               10 push ups
                               15 squats

Start with AMRAP for 8 minutes then build to 12, 15, then 20 minutes. Keep repeating the 5, 10, 15 rep scheme as fast as you can for as many times as possible in the designated time. Be sure to maintain proper form or don't count the rep. It's about quality and integrity for the best benefit.

There is a wide variety of exercises that you can expand on but, the few that I mentioned will give you a good jump start.

Get fit and enjoy your season!!

Think Snow!!

Lauren Bunney is co-owner of Arenal Fitness, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.  She is an instructor in mulitple CrossFit specialties, as well as a certified specialist in conditioning exercise, post-rehab exercise, and medical exercise.  She is also an instructor and Senior Level Ski Patroller with the National Ski Patrol.  To find out more about Lauren and Arenal Fitness, visit

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Ski Egypt - Creating Slopes Other Than the Pyramids

Have you ever wanted to spend the holidays in Egypt, see the pyramids, bathe in political crises, and bake in the exhaustive sun? Me too, except the lack of skiing has always deterred me. However, this may soon be a possibility in a few years time...

The Majid Al Futtaim group, resposible for the creation of the revolutionary Ski Dubai, announced earlier this spring that it is looking to take it's indoor ski resort within-a-mega-mall idea and transplant it into the heart of Egypt, according to an article in the The National.

Indoor skiing? Yes, this incredibly cool new fashion has popped up all over the globe - in addition to Dubai, cities in the Netherlands, Germany, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, South Korea, Japan, Russia, Poland, and China among others, have opened indoor snow resorts, in which a special technology carpet is installed on a man-made slope. Usually, these ski areas also supplement the slopes with artificial snow, a common luxury in outdoor snow resorts where snow is not as naturally abundant as desired. These indoor ski areas have been quite a popular hit, especially where people see snow for the first time at these science-fiction filled fantasy worlds. Ski Dubai has been one of the most notable and successful indoor ski resorts, complete with a mountaintop lodge to warm up in.

What can you expect of the skiing? Reports have been that its surprisingly like natural snow skiing. Considering the base layer is carpet rather than snow, expect the riding to be a little bit slower, emphasizing the importance good balance. Additionally, since the artificial snow can create patches of snow, maintain a closer stance. This makes it more likely that both of your skis will travel through snow of the same consistency, decreasing any slips that occur from uneven frictional forces on your skis.

Lesson of the story: the next time you think of traveling to Africa, think of skiing in Africa. As if I had to tell you to think about skiing...

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Avalanche Awareness and Kits

by White Blancmange - Alpine Experiences

A properly prepared avalanche kit could be the difference between life and death (and the life you save may well be your own). If you are thinking of heading off-piste, you need to know that you and everyone in your party are as safe as you can possibly be. This means hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst. When taking the road less travelled you are inevitably at greater risk than you would be when staying on the beaten path, primarily because you are further away from other skiers and the established infrastructure for dealing with mountain emergencies. Off-piste adventures can be extremely rewarding, but being ready for the challenge is of the utmost importance. When you are on the other side of the mountain, far away from your VIP ski chalet, you have to know how to react if things go wrong.

Advances in modern technology have led to the development of all sorts of innovative safety gadgets, but topping the (low-tech) list of must-have off-piste accessories are the humble snow shovel and avalanche probe. Fortunately, advances have also been made in the field of ultra-portable manual snow moving tools. This means that your collapsible (or foldable) snow shovel will take up less space and add less weight to your gear than ever before. For gadgetry, the number one high-tech device you will want to take with you off-piste is a working set of avalanche transceivers.

Avalanche transceivers are your best hope of being found/finding someone after an avalanche occurs. You should make certain that every member of your group is wearing one before heading out onto the slopes. You should also check that the batteries are charged and that all devices are connected and functioning correctly with a standard dry-run test. When setting out, all transceivers should be set to “transmit” and left that way for the duration of an uneventful trip. If the trip becomes eventful (in the negative sense of the word) you will be glad you’re wearing your transceiver.

All transceivers need to be worn as close to the body as possible to avoid them being torn off should you find yourself taking a tumble. If an avalanche occurs, those not caught in the deluge are able to switch their transceivers to “receive”, giving the best possible chance of finding those trapped in time to save their lives. Because approximately 90% of people found within 15 minutes of being buried will be found alive, quick action is vital. To impress this upon you even further, only 25% of buried people are found alive after 45 minutes. (These figures apply to those trapped in snow only).

Snow shovels and avalanche probes are both incredibly important pieces of equipment, but it is even more important that you know how to use them. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that you don’t need them, because you may live to regret it. Modelled on turn of the century entrenching tools, modern collapsible snow shovels are light-weight and compact. Your probe is a long collapsible pole, not unlike the white sticks used by the visually impaired but extending to a length of around 2 ½ metres. Probes make it easier to determine a person’s exact location beneath the snow to better inform rescue efforts, and are also useful for creating air-holes to help them breathe.

Simply having this equipment is not enough, you must make sure you know how to use it and have a pre-planned response in mind should an emergency occur. There are a number of other items at varying levels of technological ingenuity (and financial expense) that are certainly worth considering, but the top three must have items are those listed on this page. Another necessary tool (which can’t be kept in your back pack) is training. Taking VIP ski lessons will help you prepare for the challenges you might have to face off-piste. Where ever your ski holiday is in the Alps, from Avoriaz to Zermatt, expert ski instructors will be on hand to help you advance to the off-piste level.

Based in the Alps at Chatel Portes Du Soleil, White Blancmange specialises in creating the ultimate Alpine experiences for corporate customers, private groups, couples and individuals during the ski season and throughout the rest of the year. Find out more at