The action started out on Saturday
at Snowmass with "variable" conditions, consisting of
some fresh snowfall and the Addams family cloud hanging over the
mountain. The carving was pretty good, and we got some free entertainment
courtesy of Marco, a carving instructor who could weave a bow
tie at the end of a carve.
I didn't take too
many action shots, since I was using a toy camera that was thrown
in as a free gift with the vacation package. So, I will have to
make up for the low picture quality with droll commentary. Here
is a shot of Dave Keys, on a hunger strike in preparation for
the limbo contest.
The stance master at work, setting
up Gavin's board. Note the gold-plated bindings on Fin's board.
At Buttermilk on Sunday, I caught a glimpse of this museum piece. It's an old RatTrap brand freeride binding mounted on an all-mountain board. Tension is provided by a U-shaped cable when the binding is tightened.
The general consensus was that Buttermilk was like
Butter. Nils and Patrice showed up from Switzerland with a bunch
of SWOARDs and taught the international language of ExtremeCarving.
It's Monday morning, and I guess
this must be the place. We did Aspen Mountain (Ajax) in the morning.
It was a bit of culture shock for the Tahoe crew: we are used
to parking lots the size of eight football fields, but in Aspen,
everyone uses on-street parking. After a morning of carving, we
scooted back over to Buttermilk to milk the demo tent.
A closer look at
Fin's gold plated TD2s. Two pairs of gold bindings were forged
in the fires of Mt. Summit. But where is the second pair?
Eric is a carving ski patroller
at Ajax Mountain, on a Maverick no less. He was instrumental in
aiding and abetting some early morning groomer poaching.
Monday was by far
the best day, with hero groom that held up. Here is the view from
Ajax looking into Aspen from Ruthie's Run.
Tuesday was an off-day, so I went
to Breckenridge, did a few runs, and the village stroll. The altitude
in Summit County (12,998 feet at the peak of Breckenridge) makes
for some interesting business opportunities. Out of 80+ carvers,
only two passed out from altitude sickness.
Tuesday was also
open house at the Bomber factory, with plenty of historical artifacts
on display. Here you can see the ancient two-piece binding. Back
in the old days, every time you wanted to change the angle, setback,
binding bias, or stance width, you needed to drill four new holes
and add inserts. Angle markings were printed on the topsheet to
assist with the modifications. The yellow board on the right shows
the result of excessive modification. Tim Mullen with Reliable
Racing gave a tuning clinic.
The workhorse of the Bomber factory.
For the cant plates, Fin gets aluminum after it's been extruded
(think pasta machine) and cut into slices. This rig holds eight
cant plates at a time, and the milling machine takes a little
over an hour to cut them all. The CNC program that mills the plates
took Fin a week to debug, and gives new meaning to the term "program
Fin led a docent
tour of the carving museum. These blue CATEK bindings, affectionately
known as "CAT-traps," are a precursor to the World Cup
bindings. They have a heel clip instead of a toe clip, and the
toe bale consists of a U-bolt that spans the length of the binding
and attaches to the heel piece via threaded screws. In order to
achieve the proper fit, it is necessary to use a hacksaw to cut
the U-bolt to the precise length.
On Wednesday, we converged at Beaver
Creek. Helmut provided authentic Swiss accordion, but precious
little grooming, as a result of an overnight snowfall.
Yet, the day's events
held us in petrified suspense. At the limbo contest, Norm and
Dave Keys duked it out for what seemed like a dozen sudden-death
overtime innings. The Rorschach inkblot smear you see at the right
is Norm doing his subcompact style under 12" of clearance.
The ever svelte Dave Keys won by the thinnest of margins.
For Thursday, it's time to pack
up the dogs and head over to A-basin. With no pretentious village
to attract posers, A-basin is the uncrowded real deal, which provided
some of the best carving of the week. Sean Cassidy and Mark Harris
each led a carve clinic.
Summit and Fozzie.
All week long, carvers
got the white-glove, pro-gold-deluxe, VIP treatment, with Fin
and Michelle sweating it out with the T-wrenches. Note Michelle's
dog bone hat, hinting at her penchant for dog sledding.
After a terrific day at A-Basin,
we switched over to night-vision mode at Keystone. Here you can
see the village in the background. Since my camera is really crappy,
I had to "stylize" this image with the Photoshop watercolor
filter. Keystone had thin cover, and we got skier-groomed slopes,
but the carving was nonetheless pretty good.
If that weren't enough,
on Friday we descended on Copper Mountain. Great terrain and great
snow, if a bit crowded.
Carvers enjoy a relaxing day of
shredding. Note the Donek skis, which sport Bomber Bishop Tele
Another museum piece
sighting. These are the elusive Fritschi bindings, with a star-shaped
cant plate, consisting of two angled pieces that can rotate relative
to each other to provide cant and lift. The lever thingy that
sticks out of the toe piece is a step-in mechanism that causes
the binding to close.
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