Wednesday, December 5, 2018


ELAN Skis, made in Slovenia - She is wearing All-Mountain Interra and he is skiing on Amphibio 84 XTi

It may be the most wonderful time of the year, but it can be problematic picking the perfect present. 

For those of us with skiers and snowboarders in the family or friendship circles, though, there is one advantage - there are plenty of ski and snowboard themed ideas to make the gift more appropriate.  

With gifting gravitating towards experiences rather than material mementoes, what could be better than the experience of wintersports? There are great packages available at all resorts for January which is also Learn to Ski & Snowboard month. Another practical present is a ski pass - perhaps the flexible Mountain Collective Pass which gives two days free skiing in 17 radical resorts or go all out with the Epic Pass which bestows an entire season's skiing with dozens of choices of ski areas. If you missed the deadlines for these, keep it in mind for next season.

Below are some other inspirational ideas to get you going. Pair with a skiing Santa Christmas card like the one above, and recycled skiing Christmas wrapping paper at the bottom, and you'll have a wonderful wintersports' winner!


Spirograph, one of my fave gifts as a kid, is still around and now you can make wonderful snowflake pictures to decorate your own handmade Christmas cards or thank you letters. Counteract the digital doldrums with this fun, creative, relaxing hobby for any age. There's even a travel sized kit to take with you on ski trips. 

The word 'elan' means energy, style and enthusiasm - what a great name for a ski! Synonyms are flair, panache, confidence and dash - again really appropriate to describe the performance of this brand which dates back to World War II when 12 engineers and craftsmen got together to make skis for the Partisan troops. Established officially in 1945 in Slovenia, Elan was the brainchild of ski jumper Rudi Finzgar who had established a world record of 95m in 1941. Within a few years Elan was exporting to the US, making 800 pairs of skis per year. Worn by legendary Ingemar Stenmark, who achieved his record-winning 86 World Cup victories on Elan, the ski brand won its own accolades in the 90s by pioneering shaped carving edges. Moving on to snowboard design, too, Elan was named most innovative sports brand by Plus X Award in 2012 and 2015. 

Elan's Amphibio technology is asymmetrical: dedicated right and left skis. This means there is increased camber on the inside edge for enhanced stability and grip, while the outer edge has more rocker for increased maneouvrability.

The Ripstick, for men and women, is a freeride ski with Amphibio technology, so it's great on and off piste, a high performance all-rounder. Buy these for the man in your life and all his ski buddies will be equally green - with envy!


Particularly for those whose ski or snowboard pants seem to gravitate downhill, Arcade Belts are perfect for wintersports. Made at Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, they are durable, lightweight, and stretchy, enabling freedom of movement in all types of ski terrain. The company's founders are a team of three piste pals from Squaw Alpine, including pro-skier Cody. The team often recruit local ski buddies for their input into the graphics and materials. "Arcade Belts was founded on the belief that belts could be designed to function better, last longer, and be more comfortable," says Arcade's Digital Marketing Manager, Kasey Wiese. "Developed from the ground up with materials that are built to go everywhere and anywhere, each Arcade belt provides a custom fit, sturdy hold and the right amount of flexibility to move with you.” Check out their blog for more background. 

Pictured is the High Alpine design but there are many different colours, patterns and mountainscapes available. For those who prefer plain, the Midnighter is a best seller. They are 1.5 in/3.81cm wide, one size fits most, and are washer/dryer safe. And, of course, they are totally suitable for everyday wear as well - a nice reminder of ski trips when you're sitting in the office. At $26, a great gift or stocking stuffer. 

Some of the vast Silverton Onyx luggage and accessories range from Dakine


Whether your budget stretches to a high-end ski roller bag or can only cope with a cute goggle stashDakine has something sensational for luxury luggage allure. I've got the frivolously-floral patterned Winter Daisy 110L split roller bag (pictured right) for check-in and the matching tote for coordinated hand luggage, which I will be using on my Aspen Snowmass trip, staying at the new Limelight Snowmass, in Feb. The Silverton Onyx range has everything matching from walletstravel kits, and hip packs to backpacks, bootpacks, carry-on, check-in, and ski and snowboard bags. And if you want to go co-ord crazy, there are tanks and beanies too. 

Eco Extra: Dakine luggage is made from recycled plastic bottles!

Obermeyer's Devon Down Jacket in Pink in Posy print

Sport Obermeyer has created some of their most desirable downhill designs ever this winter. Whether you prefer plain colours with hoods and faux-fur trim, the technical sporty look, or bright and bold, the 75-year-old company based in Aspen is still very much on trend. 

Pictured to the right is the Apricity System Jacket in Oblivion print. It's a two-piece - the stretchy shell has 15,000mm waterproof breathability, with insulated seams and zips and a tapered waist, and can be detached from the insulated orange quilted jacket inside. 

Men's designs are sporty, colour-blocked like the Foundation Jacket below with lots of high energy colour accents. There are pants and bib pants in cool colours, too, and a range of stylish knit sweaters, cosy baselayers and accessories including hats, gloves and gaiters. 

Bos & Co's Gabriella Boot

Perfect for après ski - whether it's patio posing at Park City or sleigh rides at Steamboat - Bos & Co boots are the best for ski resort. 

Think chunky corrugated non-slip soles and heels, waterproof outers, insulation to minus 25C/13F - and made in Portugal to the highest European standards. These will last you for many ski seasons. 

The Gabriella (pictured) comes in white, black, dark brown, or a reddish-brown and has a leather, suede and boiled wool upper, side zip as well as lacing for a perfect fit over tuck-in pants, and is waterproof, durable, cosy - and oh, so styling!

Smartwool Sweaters


Smartwool, made from sweat-wicking, warm and comfortable merino wool, make the ultimate Christmas socks - especially for skiers and snowboarders. Pictured are the men's PhD ultra light ski socks, a snip at $22.95, but they also have light and medium weights in their wide range of colours and styles for every sport and outdoor activity. 

Great for girls' gifts too - there are gorgeous pink patterns this season and a whole range of cool clothing

Scenic Route Jewellery from Big White


Based at Big White Ski ResortScenic Route Jewellery specializes in mountain-motivated handmade silver pieces. Designed and made free-hand by metalsmith Brittani Buettner, themes include Mount Currie, the Three Sisters Mountains, and scenes inspired by the Okanagan area of British Columbia. “Quite often people buy my jewellery as a keepsake of their time in the mountains," says Brittani. "It could be someone’s first trip to the mountains or a reminder of a place they hold close to their hearts such as a mountain from their hometown, their first hike, favourite ski resort and more. It’s not necessarily important to be associated with a particular ski area, but rather the mountains and nature in general." When mailing online orders, Brittani often snowboards to and from the Big White post office - showing off her unique work routine with great pics on social media


Pick up a prized bottle or two of Telluride Wine when you visit Mountain Village this season, ready to give as gifts next Christmas. 

Available in red or white, it is only sold in restaurants around the resort, such as Altezza at the Peaks Resort & Spa, adding to its ritzy rarity. 

Telluride itself is a fascinating resort to visit over the holidays with festive family fun around the slopes, in Mountain Village, and down the gondola to the beautiful historic town. 

Holiday Prelude starts Dec 15 when Mountain Village is transformed into the North Pole. Elves help visitors onto the gondola for the ride up to Santa's Workshop, where there's Christmas list-making, holiday crafts, live reindeer, hot chocolate and holiday movies.
Telluride Print available on Etsy

Lynne Harrison's gorgeous mountainscapes can be bought as paintings, prints, cards or emblazoned all over skigear. Pictured is Mt Assiniboine which can be bought on ski jackets, ski pants, down vests, ski underwear and baselayers, and - perfect for stocking stuffers: ski neck tubes for CAN$25. 

Pictured is the Three Sisters' Playground neck tube print - CAN$25. This print also comes on baselayers for skiing and biking. 
Lynne started the Mental-Aid Foundation to create awareness and raise funds for mental health initiatives and a portion of profits from Alchemy of Ride go to these programs. 

Dr Simon Hudson and I, wearing our Alchemy of Ride jackets at Panorama's Monster Terrain

Smith Optics latest cutting-edge goggle is the I/O Mag, available in 17 strap options and 11 lens tints. These are interchangeable snow goggles, with a rimless lens that's secured by eight magnetic points, 16 weather-proof magnets and two mechanical engagement locking devices. Just a push of one lever releases the lens to change it according to conditions. Every pair comes with a ChromaPop Sun or mirrored lens for bright light and a ChromaPop Storm Rose Flash lens for low-light and night-riding. 
The result of 53 years of technical research and innovation, the I/O Mag has a dual-lens design with a filter to prevent optical distortion during changes in elevation. The inner lens has anti-fog technology. An engineered lattice design between the lens and face flange provides a comfortable contoured face fit with any helmet or hat. Ultra plush, hypoallergenic, three-layer face foam makes for added comfort and moisture absorption. Retails at $240. 
Smith Optics I/O Mag

The Men's Society Ski Survival Kit could be a great pressie for difficult-to-buy-for guys. 
Available at Nordstrom, it's $28 for a selection of lip and skin products to prevent sun and weather damage.

LOVE this idea for recycling old skis - nifty wine rack available online from Uncommon Goods. Handmade by Michael Bellino - the 'Chairman of the Board' for Ski Chair - who recycles over 20,000 items per year from his Millbury, MA workshop. The wine racks retail for $58. With the amount of old skis you all have lying around, maybe you could send some old favourites to Michael to be re-invented? 

Mike Bellino at Burke Mountain Ski Area
Chocolate Skis & Boots $12
Chocolate Skier - $2.85


Available on Etsy, Ski Bottle Openers are a fun Man Cave accessory. At $25, they are fashioned from the tail end of a ski and the front of an old binding. Made in Vermont, each one is different, scratches, dings and all!


Vintage Snow has over 1200 wintersports' themed gifts, including this Wine Bag at $11.99 and the Boarder Girl Wine Bottle Charms at $7.99.

Including ornaments, picture frames, posters, wall decor, aprons, bookends, towels, door signs, wall art, tins, tree baubles, caps, handbags, backpacks, t-shirts, there's something for everyone in your skiing circles. 

2018 READS

If you or your friends haven't read it yet, how about a copy of my book Winter Sport Tourism: Working in Winter Wonderlands, co-written with Professor of Ski, Dr Simon Hudson? It's $48 on Amazon or you can buy it direct from Goodfellows UK Publishers

On a completely different note, Yuval Noah Harari's latest book, "21 lessons for the 21st Century" could redefine your political, economic and social understanding of the world and human nature. It may not be about skiing but it is about Planet Earth and our role in saving and savoring it. Harari, who has a PhD in History from Oxford University, spends 60 days per year meditating in silence in order to open his mind to global philosophical, political, geological and technical insights into where this world is going. At a time when we are all unsure of the future, this is invaluable information. If you don't know how infotech, biotech, and climate change is going to impact your life and the lives of our successors, this is a quick way to get up to speed, providing a realistic road map to put perplexing politics into perspective. 


Ski-Themed Recycled Gift Wrap

Don't forget to check out these Christmas-themed articles:

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Deer Valley Decadence

Hi Everyone! First blog of the 2018/19 season - a bit delayed due to volume of assignments for newspapers and magazines. So that you can see what I've been working on, here's a list of articles published so far with lots more to come as the season progresses: 

Nov 2018 DALLAS MORNING NEWS: (also featured in Inntopia Destimetrics Mountain Travel News Nov 21)


Short Turn p.8: Bright Idea

Sept 30 2018 SNOW Magazine (pages 36, 40-42, 72, 78):


Hope you enjoy my first blog all about my trip to Deer Valley last spring....

Deer Valley Decadence

OlympianHeidi Voelker, Ambassador of Skiing at Deer Valley - Courtesy of Deer Valley Resort
Live music and fondue at Stein Eriksen Lodge
Alpine après at Deer Valley's Stein Eriksen Lodge was one of the highlights of my Utah adventure this March. How on earth to choose between traditional, white cheddar with stout, or milk chocolate fondue to go with my champagne? I wanted all three! Starved of the actual Alps, I opted for the very authentic emmental and gruyère guzzle but was sorely tempted to say 'leave it here' when the waiter afterwards delivered the chocolate version by mistake. 

Hamilton's Lin-Manuel Miranda chatting to Qualtrics' co-founder, Ryan Smith

Tony Hawk, performing at Qualtrics' X4 Summit in March
I'd been staying in Salt Lake City, attending the Qualtrics X4 Summit with research partner, co-writer (and hubby) Dr Simon Hudson, and needed to slip in some sensational skiing to counterbalance all those mind-blowing, thought-provoking Ted-Talk presentations. Think Lin-Manuel MirandaMagic Johnson, Ariana Huffington, and Dr Peter Lovatt. It was a star-studded lineup all week, with Maroon 5 entertaining all 7,000 of us conference delegates (plus hangers-on), preceded by a Tony Hawk and team pro skateboarding spectacular which was set amid a fairground atmosphere created by bringing 20 food trucks into the Salt Palace Convention Centre (Qualtrics always know how to do wow). Adam Levine, whose voice live sounded even better than his recordings, was remarkably humble, saying his evening was made when he got a photo with Tony! By the way, I do hope Tony makes the Olympics - despite his age, I thought he surpassed his younger co-stars in both skill and athleticism!

Private performance by Adam Levine with Maroon 5

Karen Ordel sporting Obermeyer at Deer Valley Resort
Before the decadent après, I'd had a great ski day zooming around Deer Valley's sensationally smooth slopes with Emily Summers who knew exactly how to follow the sun in order to maximize the softening spring conditions. Never underestimate local knowledge! The bluebird day was brightened up even more by bumping into Karen Ordel, sporting a lovely lime floral Obermeyer ski suit. It's the Aura Jacket paired with a matching Malta pant - which you can still buy in a variety of prints. Definitely one for my proposed piece on bright and beautiful ski suits next season. Looking delightfully dazzling in her finery, Karen told me Deer Valley had been her fave piste playground for the past 30 years.

Emily Summers, Deer Valley Resort
Another takeaway from this trip was Dalbello boots, recommended by Emily. Second time they've come up this season, the first being Dr Kim Hewson's tip in Telluride - you remember him, the orthopaedic surgeon-turned-ski instructor. Apparently, they are eminently suitable for skiers with finicky feet and mine incorporate all the elements of a podiatrist's nightmare. My customized Nordica Dobermanns are just about functional after a downhill decade, but I have that advance dread of having to start from scratch with a new pair in the near future. Emily's Dalbellos were customized with a footbed and heat moulding at nearby Christy Sports and she loved them from her first foray: "They were absolutely perfect right away, with no need for follow-ups at the shop. I've had no pain at all and I can't believe it took me so long to replace my old ones." 

Deer Valley - Courtesy of Deer Valley Resort 

Stein Eriksen Lodge, at Deer Valley Resort
Our visit to Stein Eriksen Lodge later that day was actually a first. Heard so much about it but never experienced its Alpine elegance and five-star flair. We met Guy Morris, SEL's vibrant VP for Sales & Marketing for a chat about the challenges of running a 'hotel on snow' for an article Simon was writing for Foremost among these was staffing - the hotel has to find, and train, 100 extra employees every winter with all the language, visa, and cultural concerns of recruiting from multiple nations. And, then, when they are all trained up to SEL's exacting Five-Star Forbes award-winning service standards, the hotel also has to house them and keep them happy in order to encourage them to come back the following season, rather than starting all over again with another batch of newbies.
Troll Hallen Lounge, Stein Eriksen Lodge
He told us about a new phrase coined this year by guests for the après hour: “It must be Stein-thirty” - meaning, it must be time for Stein’s lively après. "It is more or less of a tribute to the overall ambiance of the après-ski tradition that the staff at Stein’s creates for the guests," Guy explains. "We provide live music seven days a week throughout the ski season." His pick for the peckish: Swedish Meatballs and Mashers: "This recipe comes from Chef Zane’s grandmother. After one bite, it will be difficult to share with anyone in your party."

Stein Eriksen LodgeDeer Valley Resort
Up until 2009 Stein Eriksen was "the grande dame of luxury" at Deer Valley, Guy told us, but within 18 months the Waldorf Astoria Park City, the St Regis and the Montage Deer Valley were added to the extravagant equation: "It is great competition, but they are all brand new so we have had to completely renovate our rooms and we’re just finishing another 14 million dollar renovation at the moment." SEL's latest wow factor is a unique 60-person theatre which will be accompanied by a Champions Club this May - a gaming and entertainment centre - and by a second swimming pool in July. Another signature aspect of SEL is that no two guest rooms are the same. With 72 percent repeat guests, this creates competition to book earlier each year in order to secure your choice. The next project will be the entertainment area of the lodge, with the décor dilemma of keeping the assuring authenticity while upgrading. 
Sleigh rides at Stein Eriksen Lodge
Stein Eriksen Lodge Ski Valet

The SEL Ski Valet is one thing that won't need any improvements. There's a substantial skiers' buffet breakfast, then guests are walked to their lockers, where their warmed-overnight boots are put on for them and then guided to their skis perched on the snow, and helped to snap into the bindings. "If someone has new boots or is a beginner and has very sore feet, we bubble wrap them! We help soothe the sore spots, help them dress for the slopes and literally put them on the snow. Fetch, carry and pamper – it's almost disgusting," quipped Guy, who would like to extend this five-star experience to mountain biking. One of the best comments ever from a guest came two years ago with this ditty: “There are plenty of places to ski and stay, but for a truly unique experience, you can’t beat the Stein way”. This guest was in love with SEL valet services, loving the lavish luxury and carefree start to the day.  

Sensational views from Stein's Way, Deer Valley - Courtesy of Deer Valley Resort 
Guy's favourite run at Deer Valley is, of course, Stein's Way: "It is such a signature run. Named after legendary Olympic skier Stein Eriksen, it is long and steep and designed for Stein’s classy, giant-slalom-style turns. It begins at the top of the Sultan Lift and winds down through some of the resort's most scenic areas. It alternates between steep pitches, rolling inclines and gentle platforms perfect for wide, sweeping turns." The trail, which drops 1,300 vertical feet and is 4,500 feet long, is mostly intermediate, except for one pitch with a 70-degree slope, which is a double black diamond. "Intermediate skiers can bypass the steep, ski around and ski back on the run where it returns to intermediate terrain," Guy says. But he also likes Nabob, another fun blue, always groomed, with a wide variety of terrain and good grade. "It faces north, which preserves the best snow on the mountain, and offers some special vistas of Park City," Guy points out. And, for off-trail skiing, he recommends The Daly Chutes in Empire Canyon. 

Stein's Way, Deer Valley - Courtesy of Deer Valley Resort
One signature thing Guy mentioned about the area was the program at the local schools in ski textiles: "Park City schools offer Sports Sewing Classes as part of the curriculum which involves making their own ski pants and jackets. My son is thinking of getting his masters in textiles because of doing that class. He has been making ski gear for himself and the family ever since." Locals and visitors celebrate the end of the season with the Gapers Festival – a fun retro event named after the gap between the helmet and goggles. "Everyone wears crazy outfits and does crazy stunts," said Guy. "Even me - I still jump!" 

Salt Lake City framed by mountains that feel close enough to touch! Courtesy of Ski Utah
Having discovered Utah only five winters ago, Simon and I try to include it every season in our ski schedule. The area around SLC is actually one of our top three picks in North America for a potential ski-resort based retirement due to its unbeatable accessibility, snow record, affordability, transit system, gorgeous scenery, and closely-linked resort variety - think Deer ValleyPark City, Alta, Solitude, Brighton, Snowbird, Sundance, Snowbasin and Powder Mountain. A collection of rare, rugged, ritzy and radical resorts that should feature high on everyone's bucket list!

Chilling at Deer Valley - Courtesy of Deer Valley Resort
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My husband, Dr Simon Hudson, and I are currently researching for a Worldwide Guide to Retirement Destinations, mainly because there is a huge lack in the market for a one-stop shop on this subject and also partly for our own interest! If you have any recommendations for places or people who have nabbed the perfect spot for an active retirement (summer, winter or year round), send me an email at: