Archive | October 2011

Ski Resort Review – Homewood

Homewood is a great hidden gem on the west shore of Lake Tahoe. When you think about Lake Tahoe, Homewood is normally not the first mountain that pops into your mind. Instead, others associate Lake Tahoe with bigger well-known resorts like Squaw or Northstar, but that does not mean that Homewood has nothing to offer.

One of my favorite parts about Homewood is the relaxed vibe and short lines. Homewood is a smaller mountain compared to Squaw or Alpine but it offers some amazing views of Lake Tahoe and a nice old-fashioned ski resort feel. Many of the lifts are older, as they only have one high-speed quad, which allows plenty of time to let your legs rest and enjoy the scenery. Homewood offers mainly beginner to intermediate terrain with a few expert runs that you have to traverse out to get to. This is a great mountain to take the entire family to for a mellow day.

Another great thing about Homewood is that they usually remain open when Squaw or Alpine is closed because of wind-hold or avalanche danger. I love this because when everyone else is waiting for the wind-hold to end, I can simply cruise 15-20 minutes down the road to Homewood and enjoy fresh powder all day long.

Homewood does offer a terrain park for those of you that like jumps and rails but I have spent little time in it because I normally go here to ski pow. From what I have seen, it is smaller than other resorts like Northstar or Squaw, however it still looks like it could be a lot of fun.

Overall, Homewood is a great resort for all levels of skiing and riding. It offers some of the best views of Lake Tahoe while skiing around the Lake and rarely shuts down the entire mountain. The atmosphere is very relaxed and you will hardly spend time waiting in lines. Although you might get a little cold while sitting on the chair lift, the untouched snow and beautiful views of the Lake will surely be worth the wait.

4 fun activities to keep you occupied during the off-season

Skiing is my favorite thing to do in the world and if i could, I would do it all year round. Unfortunately, I live in area where the snow melts over the summer months and I am forced to find other activities to keep me occupied while I wait for winter to arrive. Here are four great activities I do over the summer months to keep myself from going crazy:

1.) Climbing: Rock climbing is an awesome sport that I recently started doing at the beginning of this summer. Not only is it a great workout, but it’s also very exhilarating and challenging.  Climbing can be done either in a gym or outside. I spend most of my time climbing outdoors because Lake Tahoe offers tons of great climbing spots and I love being outside. In a way I feel that rock climbing is just like skiing because you can always travel to new locations and find new lines or routes to conquer. If you are new to climbing, it is probably a good idea to start in a gym and receive the proper training on how to do it safely. After this, you are ready to head outside and test your ability  on the real thing!

2.) Mountain Biking: I love mountain biking over the summer time because unlike running, it has low-impact on the joints and is a great workout for the body. Furthermore, mountain biking allows me to explore the outdoors and cover far more ground than I would be able to do on foot. Overall mountain biking is an exciting way to get some exercise and spend the day outside.

3.) Cliff-jumping: This one may sound a little crazy to some, but you can really make it as crazy or mellow as you choose depending on how big you want to go. When I say cliff-jumping, I mean jumping off a cliff or bridge into water. This a perfect hobby for the off-season because it allows me to practice my tricks and cool-off on a hot summer day.

4.) Disc-golf: Disc golf is a relatively new sport that not to many people know about. It has the same principle as golf, except instead of hitting a golf-ball, you throw a disc. Wherever the disc lands is where you have to take your next throw from. The goal of the game is to have your disc land in a basket of chains. This is a great sport to do over the summer because it’s relaxing and best of all, it’s usually free! All you need to do is buy a couple of discs and you are ready to play!

Hope these activities help give you something to do as you anxiously wait for the winter like me. Please feel free to share any more fun activities that you may do to occupy yourself over the off-season!

Ski Resort Overview – Boreal

Although Boreal may be smaller than most of the resorts in Tahoe, that doesn’t mean that they don’t have anything to offer. Every year Boreal manages to open up earlier then the rest of the resorts in Tahoe. Therefore, if you want to make some early turns then I would definitely look into buying a pass at this mountain. The fact that they are always the first to open is one of the main reasons I buy a pass at Boreal but not the only factor.

Boreal offers a great terrain park and is one of the only resorts, besides Squaw, that offers night skiing in Tahoe. Even though the park laps are short, the high speed quad allows you to make quick laps. Normally, I prefer a long park run that has many features, but it’s also nice to be able to quickly get back to the top of a run to work on what you might have missed on the previous lap. One of the best parts of Boreal’s terrain park is their half-pipe, which is the best in Tahoe in my eyes. Even though I am not a huge half-pipe skier, I always enjoy dropping into Boreals perfectly cut half-pipe.

Another plus about Boreal if you enjoy riding park is the fact that they recently acquired an air bag. This state of the art technology allows skiers and riders to practice their tricks that they aren’t quite ready to bring to snow on a big soft bag filled with air. Currently, Boreal is the only resort in Tahoe that offers this feature to the public. Therefore, if you want to try and learn some new tricks this season but aren’t quite confident, Boreal might be a place you want to go.

Boreal has terrain that ranges mostly from beginner to intermediate. There are not many advanced runs and there are only one or two very small cliffs that can be found on the mountain. As a result, this is a great resort to come to if you are just learning how to ski or ride or you enjoy a high quality terrain park. On the other hand, if you are someone who enjoys big mountain lines and tree skiing then Boreal is not the place for you.

Check out this short edit that I made with Billy Durden last season at Boreal:

Lack of Social Media in Skiing

I have been involved in the social media world for about two months now and one thing I have noticed is the lack of good social media campaigns for many ski resorts and companies. There are definitely some exceptions to the rule, but for the most part, companies in this industry should look at improving their use of social media. Here are the two biggest problems that I noticed:

1.) Lack of blog or fresh/relevant content: I noticed that many companies either fail to have a blog or to keep the content in their blog fresh and relevant. A blog is a great tool to pull customers into your site and keep them coming back. Many blogs that I have looked at, either have not been updated in months or lack relevant content. The point of a blog is to establish your expertise and show your value so that the customer can gain something from reading your posts. Therefore, if you are a company that is in the business of selling ski’s, then you may want to create a post about how to properly maintain your ski’s throughout the season or how to decide what ski is right for you. Whatever the case, I feel that many business’s in the skiing industry need to create more effective and up-to-date blogs that demonstrate their value. As a result, they will receive more traffic and sales at their website.

2.) The second problem that I noticed, was companies failure to use twitter correctly. Many companies that I have tweeted about have failed to tweet me back or thank me for re-tweeting their content. To me, this is an immediate turn-off to that company. Twitter is all about a two-way relationship where someone can receive real-time answers and comments to their questions and feed back. Therefore, companies need to put more effort into creating a better personal relationship with their customer. By simply taking the time to thank someone for the re-tweet or write a short personal message to them, it will create an ever lasting loyalty that will never be won through simply broadcasting your message out to the masses.

Ski Resort Overview – Alpine Meadows

Alpine Meadows is one of my favorite resorts in the Lake Tahoe area and here are three reasons why:

1.) Great Terrain: Alpine Meadows offers a wide variety of terrain from intermediate to advanced. Whatever your skill level is, Alpine Meadows has something to cater to your ability. So Whether you are looking to send it big off some cliffs, ski a nice open bowl, get some adrenaline pumping in a tight chute, or just have a mellow day on the groomers, Alpine has the terrain for you. Another great thing about Alpine is that they have lots of extra terrain that is not lift accesible, but you can hike to if you have the ambition. This is one of the greatest things about this mountain because you can escape from the masses and find some fresh powder all to yourself. If you do dedcide to do this, make sure that you know what you are doing and never go out alone.

2.) Less people, great atmosphere: One of the main attractions for Alpine to me is the mellow atmosphere. Everyone is out there having a great time and you never feel like you are out of place. Furthermore, on a powder day you are not spending all of your time waiting in lines and can spend more of your day enjoying the fresh snow. If you are like me and hate sitting in lines, then Alpine is definitely the place for you.

3.) Best jumps in Tahoe: Every year I come to Alpine they continue to impress me with their perfectly built jumps. One downfall is that it takes a while for these jumps to get built due to the lack of funding in the terrain park department, but once they are up, they are unbelievable. Jonahs, the terrain park manager, sculpts perfect jumps that have smooth take-offs with huge landings. I love these jumps because they flow really nicely and the landing are endless so you can take them as big or as small as you please.

Overall, Alpine Meadows is one of the greatest resorts in Tahoe. They offer great terrain all around the mountain, a relaxed atmosphere, and the best jumps around. For me, this is all I could ask for and that’s why I spend most of my season skiing at this amazing slice of heaven.

Ski Movie Review – After Dark

This weekend I got a chance to view Level 1 Productions new movie, After Dark. I have been watching Level 1’s movie’s for many years now and they always give me tons of inspiration for the upcoming season. After Dark was no exception to this and left me feeling anxious to get back on the snow. This movie had a quality soundtrack with a wide variety of music that I felt complimented the skiing very well. Although I was not all that keen on the theme for this movie, the skiing definitely made up for it.

One thing that I was worried about this year was the fact the Phil Casabon and Henrik Harlaut were no longer filming full-time with Level 1 due to the fact that they were working on their own project with Inspired Media. Casabon still managed to put together a very short segment and Harlaut had one unreal shot. Although I was a little disappointed that I did not get to see more of their skiing, I feel that Chris Logan, Parker White, and Alex Bellemare did a great job in stepping up to the plate and filming some of the best segments in the movie. All three of these kids are relatively unknown and definitely underrated, but are sure to be remembered and anticipated in years to come after their performances in After Dark.

Some other standout segments included Ahmet Dadali, Mike Hornbeck, Sun Valley Idaho jump segment, and Wiley Miller. I was surprised to see that Tom Wallisch had a shorter than usual segment but still showed off his rail skills in his urban segment with Mike Hornbeck and Ahmet Dadali in Russia.

Overall, I feel that Level 1 did a great job this past season in producing After Dark. I would recommend this movie to someone who enjoys seeing a majority of park and urban skiing but also likes to see a few big mountain shots as well. However, if you prefer strictly big mountain lines and massive cliffs then this is probably not the movie for you.

Ski Resort Rundown – Northstar

Lake Tahoe is an amazing place partly due to the fact that they offer so many different places to ski all within an hour driving distance of each other. Therefore, if you are new to Lake Tahoe, it may seem a little overwhelming when you are trying to pick a place to buy your season pass for the upcoming season. Here is a quick overview of what you can expect from Northstar At Tahoe.

Northstar offers a large variety of terrain that mostly ranges from beginner to intermediate level. One of the great things about Northstar is that when other resorts like Alpine Meadows and Squaw close down due to wind-hold, Northstar usually remains open so you still have a place to go and enjoy the pow. They have some great tree skiing on the backside but the only problem is that sometimes it can be hard to find steep enough terrain to ski in when the snow gets really deep. Therefore, if you are a skier that loves big mountain lines and sending cliffs then Northstar is not the mountain for you.

Although Northstar does not host the most steep terrain, they do offer one of the best terrain parks in North America. The terrain park crew makes sure that they are constantly maintaining and changing their parks so that it stays fresh and you are never bored with the set-up. They have five separate parks (Burton Progression Park – beginner, Moonshine – beginner/intermediate, Pinball – intermediate/advanced, DC Straits – advanced, The Stash – intermediate/advanced) for different levels of riding so no matter what your skill level is, Northstar has something for you. If you enjoy riding park then I would definitely suggest that you invest some money in a Northstar season pass to take advantage of one of the best terrain parks in Tahoe. The one downfall to Northstar is that it can become very crowded, especially on weekends, so you may want to look into spending the extra money to get a vertical plus pass so that you don’t have to wait in long lines.