Wednesday, December 13, 2017

All I want for a Skiing Christmas....

At last - Ski Resort LEGO
The kids are going to love this year's latest LEGO: Snow Resort including a mountaintop restaurant, working ski lift, ski slope sliding function, rock climbing wall, ski hire stand, trail map, a bear with his own slope and mountain cave, and two mini-doll skiers/riders. There are many different sets, priced from $14.99 - $59.99, including an Off-Roader and a Hot Chocolate Van at the more affordable end. Actually, even adults might find this cool! Read to the bottom of this blog to see more about the range as well as LEGO's ski safety reminders.

Here's a mountain of mouthwatering ideas for all ages:

Ultra cool - but also ultra warm merino
Corbet 120 Pattern Jacket by Smartwool
'Tis the Season for Smartwool:

When it gets cold you can still cover lots of ground. Grab our Corbet 120 Pattern Jacket on your way outside. Designed from the inside out, this jacket starts with Merino, for great breathability and temperature regulation, then adds heavyweight 120g SmartLoft insulation for sleek, comfortable warmth. Strategically placed polyester panels with a protective Durable Water Repellent finish repel the wind and keep wet at bay. Zip pockets keep hands warm and personal items secure. Price: US $200.00. Available via

Innovative geometric design: Isto women's stripe
sweater from Smartwool

"If it's February, it's a ski day. Whether you're carving big turns on a groomer or touring through the trees, you'll be loving the day in our Isto Sport Stripe Sweater," says the Smartwool Team, based at Steamboat. "Made with a Merino blend, this sweater breathes well and helps regulate your core temperature. A tall ribbed neck with an asymmetrical zipper gives you venting options depending on your activity level. Thumb holes at the cuff keep your hands covered." Bonus: it's machine washable. Check out lifestyle pics and great ski footage on the Smartwool Facebook page.

Women's Geant Oxford Jacket by Rossignol
Rossignol has always been a fave brand of mine, whether it is the skis, the boots or the amazing range of designer dudsThis grey/orange ensemble pairs the Geant Oxford Jacket - love the asymmetrical orange zipper! - with fab bright orange pants (Elite). The bright pants give a high profile on the slopes so you will never be lost in a white-out, while the grey of the jacket tones down the potential for looking like you have been Tango-ed! (If you remember that 90s ad). The jacket is $500 CAN and pants $350 CAN. Available at Ski Cellar, Le Massif, Sail, Grand Bazar de Granby, Sports Bromont.

This photo was taken on a shoot in Ste Foy, by the way, in the Tarentaise area of France, near TignesVal d’Isère and Les Arcs

The Rossignol X Tommy Hilfiger Collection
Richard Jacket with Roan Pants

Rossignol launched a new collaboration with Tommy Hilfiger this year, hence the nautical colour-combo on this men's outfit. The Rossignol X Tommy Hilfiger Collection is all navy, white and red with distinctive colour blocking. Adore the different sections on the pants ankles. Available at : Sporting Life, Simons, Squire John's. It's a capsule collection featuring four men's looks from the ski-mad designer. 

“Skiing and winter sports have been a passion of mine since I was young,” Hilfiger said in a November press release. “I’ve wanted to develop this capsule collection for a long time, and Rossignol was the ultimate partner to bring the concept to life in a really iconic way. With our shared values on quality, perfect fit and merging fashion with technical function, we’ve designed a signature red, white and blue collection that works from the ski slopes to the international metropolis.” 

Look out for an expanded fall collection featuring womenswear, too, and accessories.

Now 60 % off - Zeal Optics HD Camera Goggles are $149 US/$189 CAN
Ride.Record.Share - I REALLY want these HD Camera and Video Goggles for Christmas! No more scrabbling for my bulky camera, forgetting which pocket it is in or struggling with zippers and press studs futilely with fumbling fingers encased in bulky ski mitts - and then missing the photo opp anyway because the whole process took too long. No more tearing off the mitts in a fit of piste pique and getting frozen fingers just to get a shot! These goggles have an integral camera with an in-goggle viewfinder with magnifying glass so you always know when and what you're filming. They produce 8-megapixel pics - James Bond style - and they also record 1080p HD video and sound. A micro USB connection downloads photos and video and there's also a temperature gauge and playback in the viewfinder. The goggles come with an 8GB micros SD memory card, award-winning Optimum lens, lithium-ion battery with up to 8hrs of battery life. Check out information, user-generated videos, social and testimonials at Offer of 60 % off is only while supplies last!

Kari Traa Åkle Long Sleeve and Matching Leggings - nice enough to wear anywhere!
Beautiful Baselayers:

Love Kari Traa's designs! Everything is so colourful and beautifully made in sumptuous, soft merino. If you haven't heard of the company (yet), it is the fastest growing brand in Europe, with a focus on happy, healthy outdoor lifestyles. Inspiration comes from founder , Kari Traa herself, an Olympic freestyle champ. Ravishing ranges work for anything from outdoor and indoor training, to baselayers, to midlayers, sweaters and accessories

Obermeyer's Tuscany Jacket in snow-fire floral

Obermeyer Outerwear:
Bliss Pant by Obermeyer
Loving the daring flower power of this jacket! Especially paired with the darker fur trim. Can see it with either red or black pants. Or a light teal even. The Tuscany - also available in plain colours such as polar blue, crimson, alpine rose, white, black, charcoal - retails at $259. The Bliss Pant is $189 and comes in coordinating shades. As PR rep Molly Early says: "It's an alpine sporty fashion look that can take you from the slopes to the street." And I can see myself swanning around resort towns in either the snow-fire floral or the gorgeous polar blue or even the white! 

Obermeyer is an established Aspen based-brand, specializing in sporty outerwear since 1947, and really hot on technology. Owner Klaus Obermeyer, who just turned 98, is one of the oldest CEOs in North America. But there is nothing old about Obermeyer's style or construction. Klaus recently said in an interview with The Denver Post that he is the policeman of performance, dedicated to working with suppliers to find the right materials to keep Sport Obermeyer on the cutting edge of technological advances. The Tuscany jacket resists up to 10,000mm water-penetration and has a removable hood, stretch inner cuffs, interior electronics pocket, interior google pocket with detachable scratch-free cloth, and integrated Snap-Away™ powder skirt.

The Bliss is equally high tech, fully seam-sealed with an active stretch fit. A super technical Thinsulate® Platinum Stretch 40 gram insulation allows for additional unrestricted movement while maintaining comfortable protection from the cold. The fabric utilizes HydroBlock® Pro 15,000mm waterproof/breathable lamination with a Full-Motion® stretch core lining. Features include, Ski Contour™ articulated knees, Skier Critical® venting, adjustable waist with fleece waistband, reinforced inseams, and hydrophobic powder cuffs. Available in special sizing - regular, short and long as well as sizes 2-16.
Gogglesocs Christmas Edition - goggle protective cover
Pretty pink pina colada by Gogglesoc
Gogglesocs are a fun, functional and funky way to protect ski goggles in pockets or bags (or even when they are hanging off the back of your helmet and thrown in the trunk of the car). They're made from stretchy microfiber in a dazzling range of prints, including a limited edition Christmas collection and lots of unique themes. They retail for $14.95 at Brand ambassadors include Simon d'Artois, a Canadian skier from Whistler, British Columbia. A member of the Canadian National Halfpipe team, Simon competed at the Winter X Games XIX, getting gold in the Men's SuperPipe. He is looking forward to gaining his spot on the Canadian Olympic team, with the opportunity to represent his country in the PyongChang Winter Olympics in Korea this winter. 

Check out Drysure Extreme – the ultimate non-electric footwear dryer. Use in ski or snowboard boots to remove moisture 12 times faster than air drying. It retails for $36.95 USD ($39.95 CAD). As well as drying, these are also odour-eaters! They last for around 10 uses and then you reactivate them either by heating up on a warm radiator, leaving in direct sunlight or by putting the bead bags from inside into the oven at 212F/100C for an hour or two.
Drysure Extreme Boot Heater - The sausage-shaped thingee goes inside the boots to dry them super-quickly! 
Did you know? Wet feet lose heat 25 times faster than dry feet, whether moisture is due to rain and snow or built up sweat. And the average person sweats between 3-6ml per boot per day, according to Drysure. Plus, sweat that builds up inside shoes and boots can turn into a breeding ground for dangerous bacteria such as E. Coli, Meningitis, and Klebsiella. Air-drying overnight only dries 2% of moisture from shoes and boots. Drysure not only dries your footwear properly, but restricts the growth of bacteria and fungi. Unlike other boot dryers that require batteries or need to be plugged in to a power supple, Drysure requires no electricity, making it portable and safe to use. Drysure is made from moisture-absorbing silica oxide beads surrounded by a shell that helps airflow. 

AIM Cream for muscle recovery
Mountain Muscles:

AIM Cream F1 - stocking stuffer for after-ski muscle relief - $19.99. 

This could be your best buy this season! The natural cream - with a coconut oil, mint oil, lanolin and camphor base - targets skier and snowboarder muscular strain and pain in order to ease the soreness ready for the physical onslaught of the next day on the slopes. 

Snowboarder, Chris Rasman is an advocate of this, having suffered from a medial meniscus tear. 

Buy online or check out various Canadian dealers at: 

Ski Canada: The ultimate coffee table mag
for skiers!

How about a Ski Canada subscription? Only $15 for 2 years! 

Phenomenal features (including one from yours truly a few years ago about Banff Lake Louise), motivational photography, amazing gear guides, ski tests, inspirational resort write-ups, and lots of onhill humour. 

Vertige Light Ski Sock by Bridgedale

Christmas Stocking Stuffers: 

Vertige Light Ski Sock - For technical piste or powder skiing - and Nordic too - the Vertige Light is the ideal sock choice. A lightweight construction with targeted padding in key areas ensures comfort all day without compromising the performance of ski and board footwear. Merino is twisted together with Polypropylene (not layered) and the sole of the sock is knitted with a micro-terry for better moisture management. The shins feature Tactel nylon for reduced friction against the boot - MSRP: $24.95

POCito Kids Helmet -
Courtesy Backbone Media

POC’s new POCito Auric Cut BC SPIN helmet has kids' safety in mind. 

Not only does it have POC's rotational protection system inside to try to combat the effect of an oblique fall, but it also features a set of integrated LED lights on the back that flash to make the child more visible on the ski slope. 

The bright colours - orange or pink - help too.  

Medievel Blue Weekend+ Jacket
By Salomon

Scintillating Salomon:

Salomon's 2017/18 jacket range includes the Weekend + Jacket - love the white fur trim! 

Combining elegance with high performance, there are pleats and an elasticated waist drawstring to create a cunningly contoured, fitted silhouette. 

Primaloft® insulation gives warmth and Motion Fit technology aids movement. No need to overdo the underlayers just to find you can't move your arms!

The high degree of waterproof protection and heat sealed seams ensure full weather protection even in the harshest storms - bring it on!

If you thought Salomon just did skis and boots, it's time for you to check out their ski clothing.

Ski-Themed Gift Certificates:

Some ideasThe T-Bar at Steamboat, the gift of après ski; Liftopia Gift Cards starting at $5, lift tickets to 250+ ski resorts; Sugar Mountain Resort redeemable on lift tickets, rentals, lessons, tubing, ice skating, snowshoe tours and merchandise; License to Shred - Ski The East gift card from $25; help fund a fabulous fondue experience at Fondu Stubli, Lake Louise's posh Post Hotel & Spa; Resorts of the Canadian Rockies' Gift Card - use at FernieKimberleyKicking Horse and Nakiska; buy a gift card for a Winter Ziptour at Sundance, Utah; or how about a resort discount card? The Lake Louise 'Louise Plus Card', for example, costs $109 (+ GST) and covers skiing at Lake Louise, Castle, Panorama, Revelstoke, Schweitzer, RED Mountain, and Silver Star. Three free tickets are included and there are savings of up to $20 on additional lift passes plus savings at hotels and restaurants.

Snowy Owl Mukluk
Bucket-list Boots: 

Always wanted an après ski boot like this! Made by indigenous-owned Manitobah Mukluks, they are waterproof suede, sheepskin-lined, and come in black (pictured), charcoal and brown. 

The AuthenTEC Waterproof System is inspired by pine pitch and spruce gum, traditional waterproofing materials. 

Really warm, too - rated to -32ºC. $249.99 and they come with a certificate of authenticity.

James Geddes is Canadian rep for Manitobah Mukluks and gets to ski a lot in Alberta when doing his rounds of various ski shops: “I love going through the sticker wood tunnel shack entry, back bowl Lake Louise, sunny day after a big storm! Followed by a winter cocktail at the Pub at the Post Hotel après ski finishes the day great," says James. 
Holiday Hardware:
If you can stretch to skis, how about the Maiden 101 by Icelantic? For the more adventurous skier, retails at $749 CAD ($649 USD) and, for men, the Nomad 105 $799 CAD ($699 USD) - both bestsellers for Icelantic. "These skis are more free ride oriented with rocker tip and tail....a little burlier and crud busting for the resort skier," says Scott Stevenson from 
Sparrow Outfitters. "As for other gift ideas, for Icelantic I would say Pioneer 96 for men and Oracle 88 for women. Both are $699 CAD and $599 USD. They are intended as a intermediate ski everywhere ski though obviously more front side oriented due to waist width." I saw a quote I liked from Icelantic on Facebook recently: "Here at Icelantic, we reject the industry’s 'Shrink It and Pink It' model. Our women's skis are meant to rip, charge, and shred the mountain just like any men’s ski on the market."

The Aspen Way 
The Aspen Way:
Aspen Snowmass launched a new line of merchandise on Dec 7 around The Aspen Way campaign and will donate a percentage of all sales of this merchandise to Protect Our Winters (POW). Ten percent of each #TheAspenWay product sold will go to POW, and an additional two dollars will be donated when purchasers post a photo wearing the product on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook and tag #TheAspenWay. See more of the range at:

For uphillers:
Epic Wipes - Recommended by Ryan Weese, these are massive total body wet wipes that come in a tiny pack. Could be good for heli-skiers, too! 

LEGO chalet

"I love these sets because not only do they create a fun play experience for children, they are also a great conversation starter for introducing ski safety and easing children into their first pair of skis," says LEGO's Jenn Eiskamp (quite a relevant last name, coincidentally!) 

The Friends Snow Resort collection includes the sets listed below:
LEGO downhiller
The LEGO Group also put together a fun video that explains the top five ski safety tips illustrated by LEGO Friends minidolls

5 Tips to Make Your Ski Trip Awesome
Tip #1 – Grab a map, agree to your goals for the day, and remember to pace yourself. Some people head right for the black diamonds, but a real pro warms up before cutting loose on the tougher runs!
Tip #2 – Wait your turn at the lift and try not to step on anyone’s skis. And, don’t forget to mind those ski poles!
Tip #3 – The mountain is beautiful, so enjoy your ride on the lift, but give yourself enough time to be prepared to exit. The lift waits for no one!
Tip #4 – Your fellow skiers and shredders want to keep moving! If you need to stop, move to the side of the slope.
Tip #5 – At the end of the day, make time to unwind at the lodge. Recap your favorite moments and celebrate each other for a great day of active fun, but don’t be that space hog in the lodge; we’re friends on the slopes.
LEGO Ice Hockey

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Tales from the T-Bar

Dick's Tea Bar Val d'Isere, France
The T-Bar lift may be almost extinct but the name is immortal: 

While most resorts have replaced their old T-Bar lifts, others ‘hang on’ to the nostalgic vibe with bars and nightspots named after them. I've been checking out T Bar memorabilia around North American resorts over the past few seasons.

Morph back to 1973 and I actually remember very clearly riding my first T-Bar lift in Seefeld, Austria, shared with my sister, Jo. I can even remember what we were wearing - coordinating all-in-one ski suits, mine lime green from head to foot, Jo’s bright yellow. 

Couldn't find a pic from the 70s but here I am circa 1990 on the climb up to the Grand St Bernard Hospice
on the border between Switzerland and Italy (still have the hat and only got rid of the suit this year!)
Coincidentally (and without my knowledge), it was also the first time I was ever captured on the film on the slopes (cine film back then). And unfortunately, at the tender age of 12, it was also the first time I was caught out swearing when what I considered Jo's ineptitude caused us to fall off! In retrospect, it might have been me as I have never felt comfortable sharing a T-Bar and typically choose to go it alone these days. 

In the 80s I was also a regular at Dick’s Tea Bar, Val d’Isère, when I was working at ski resorts in France. That Tea Bar has really stood the test of time – it is still there now, and my nieces (sister Jo’s daughters) managed to jump the New Year’s line last season when they used my name to convince the bouncer of their elite status! 

Champagne train at Dick's Tea Bar Val d'Isere, France
Val d’Isère still has an actual T-Bar lift - on the Montet Glacier. That was where I first appreciated the need for really good ski mitts. It was a frigid January day in 1984 and the T-Bar kept stopping, by the end of it my badly-gloved fingers were literally stuck to the bar and I had difficulty getting off! Later that day I skied down to the ski shop and bought my first pair of mitts (white leather) and I have always worn mitts rather than gloves since. 

Dick Yate-Smith opened Dick’s Tea Bar in 1979 and had turned the one time game hall into a winter jet set and celebrity hang out by the mid 80s when I visited. From 1997 onwards Dick's was taken over by a host of UK tour operators and has only just recently gone back to independent owners. Entrepreneurs Seb Hall and Alex Fateh acquired the business in summer 2010 when they embarked on the rebuilding of the once famous name. It's open everyday from 4pm for the après ski session with live bands and DJs and has its own shuttle bus. Decadent drinks include mulled wine, homemade hot chocolate and draught Bombadier along with bacon butties for the peckish. Plus furry slippers for the foot sore! From 10pm, there's live music for the 'After Supper Set', transforming into a full nightclub at around 12:30. 

Fernie's Haul Back T-Bar (Courtesy of Resorts of the Canadian Rockies; Photographer Matt Kuhn)
Fernie, BC, Canada: There's just one T-bar left at Fernie Alpine Resort. Now called the Haul Back T-Bar, it was originally named the Deer T-Bar when it was installed in 1975 - back then it accessed the present Deer Run which since then has had a lift upgrade. 

Castle Mountain T-Bar 
Everyone goes to the T-Bar
Pub at Castle Mountain
Castle Mountain, AB, Canada:

"We have two fantastic T-Bars," says Jason Crawford, Sales & Marketing Manager for Castle. "T-Rex which is a 50-plus-year-old beast of a T-Bar. We still use it on storm days and busy days. It services over 1730 vertical feet and it’s a real thigh burner, but the amount of terrain it accesses is totally worth it." 

Infamous in a different way is Castle's T-Bar Pub and Grub. "Originally our maintenance shop, it has since been transformed into our local watering hole," says Jason. "The walls are decorated with memorabilia from the past 50-plus years. If those walls could talk…oh the stories they could tell: from tall tales about steep and deep lines, to raunchy parties, table traverses, to legendary mouth-watering thin crust pizza, to our signature Give’r Lager. The T-Bar’s been there, done that, night after night after night."

Cosy camaraderie at the T-Bar Pub & Grill, Castle Mountain

View over the town from Breckenridge's T-Bar  
T Bar, Breckenridge
Breckenridge T-Bar: As well as the mountaintop T-Bar which accesses the highest terrain at Breck, the resort sports The T-Bar après ski venue at the base of Peak 8 inside One Ski Hill Place. Located slopeside with great views from the patio, the T-Bar restaurant seats up to 150, with amazing food and topnotch service. There are après ski food specials and a fun, friendly atmosphere. And with the BreckConnect Gondola located right outside, no need to stagger home! 
Panorama's T-Bar
Panorama's T-Bar is THE après ski spot, always hopping and often hosting bands. I always go there when visiting and had many an evening there in the past, sipping wine, gorging on nachos while filing stories to the Calgary Sun when I was their SnowScene writer for three winters. This season they are featuring icy cold, craft beer from the Arrowhead Brewing Company (based in nearby Invermere) on tap.

Tempting stop off on the way home - Steamboat's T-Bar
Steamboat: At the foot of the slopes on the BC Ski Way everyone skis past - and many visit - the 'five-star dive bar', known as the T-Bar Steamboat. Specializing in stiff drinks, bountiful beer, and amazing après appies, the laid-back environment and great views scream out authentic ski culture. It was also included on the Elevated Après Tour set up by Freeskier last year. Owner Tres Holloway creates amazing flavors from the tiny kitchen. A few favorites: Empanadas, Chicken Ramen Noodle Soup and Crawfish Mac & Cheese. This cute, almost European-looking T-Bar hosts events, private parties, Taco Tuesdays and Happy Hours, selling gift certificates, too, so you can share the signature experience with friends and family. Bit more fun than when it was a Ski Patrol trailer!

North Face T-Bar Lift at Crested Butte
It's always tea time at the T-Bar International Tea House at Crested Butte
From Tea-Bar to T-Bar Terrain at Crested Butte: The T-Bar International Tea House celebrates T-Bar culture at Crested Butte with tea and tiffin (food). It's downtown on Elk Ave, offering dozens of drinks and teas from around the globe.  Stemming from a true passion for providing excellent teas and a ritual of preparation for each cup or pot, the T Bar individually measures and weighs tea leaves according to the size cup or pot that is ordered. It's also a great place to grab a healthy bite to eat for breakfast or lunch before heading off to the hill. The resort has two skiing T-Bars, North Face and High Lift, accessing 542 acres of Extreme Limits Terrain. To help tackle this tricky terrain, CBMR has CB Steep Guides and also Butte Camps, providing technical and tactical coaching on the resort’s heralded Double Black Diamond T-Bar territory.  

Teas, tonics and tiffins at the T-Bar International Tea House Crested Butte - courtesy of Andrew Sandstrom
T-Bar Trivia: In my research, I've discovered that T-Bar is used to name a wide range of products and places. For example, the T-Bar Market in the Granite Peak Lodge at Stevens Pass; the T-Bar gourmet restaurant at Lake Como in the ritzy Grand Hotel Tremezzo; the T-Bar M summer camp in Texas; the Bar T-Bar Ranch, Arizona; the T-Bar Steak Lounge, New York; the T-Bar shoe (low cut shoe with two or more straps forming a T); the T-Bar Dairy in California; T-Bar Airport, Tahoka, Texas; T Bar T Ranch Vineyard, Napa Valley; T Bar Films, specializing in outdoor movies; T-Bar rows, a type of bent-over row done on a T-bar gym machine; the T-Bar lock for shelving; the T-Bar visualization exercise; and the T Bar LED smart light. Looks like there's a T-Bar for everyone!

Snowbasin, UT - opened today with top-to-bottom skiing!
News Today!

Snowbasin, UT is opening today (Dec 7). With the recent snowfall combined with extensive snowmaking, it will offer trails accessed by three lifts: Needles Gondola, Littlecat Express and Middle Bowl Triple. The open runs include Sweet Revenge, Porky Traverse, Middle Bowl Traverse, Bear Hollow, Snowshoe, School Hill, Powder Puff and a small terrain park. The Grizzly Center will be open from 8:00am 5:00pm for tuning, shopping and rental needs. This past summer, Snowbasin Resort upgraded the Wildcat triple chair to a high speed 6-pack now known as Wildcat Express. This historic improvement will be formally celebrated on Dec 16 with a ribbon cutting ceremony.