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Discussion Starter #381
The New System

This is my first blog post under the new forum software. Unfortunately as part of the conversion, they had to convert blogs to threads, as this software doesn't support private blogs. After the conversion I discovered that I had, instead of one 380-post blog, 380 1-post threads. Plus a couple of responses from people. I've just finished merging them all, and I now have a super-long thread.

In the process, though, all my titles disappeared, so I'm going to have to get in the habit of adding a title at the top of each post.

I've asked the administrators to create a proper blogs section, perhaps under "Snowboarding Lounge" or something, but so far no luck.

Anyway, on to actual news.

First, I was premature about writing off the MTB season. This is a lesson for next year. Yes, the weather gets crap, and things get cold. But you can get around that with a bit of kit. And there will still be nice days well into November. In principle, I should be able to overlap MTB and snowboarding season, at both ends. We'll see how that goes in April, and next fall.

I mentioned early snows a few posts up. Well, they were an anomaly. There's been diddly since then, and all the snow from those early falls has melted. On the other hand, there's some indication of snow over the next week or so. It'd be nice if that actually happened--last year, Whistler opened on Nov 22nd, and so far that looks like a long shot for this year. But all it really takes is one good dump.

Now, on to the question of equipment. I have lots of shit, but I have to cover two locations. Things got a little mixed up at the end of last season, and whatever system I had worked out seems to have gotten broken. I'm going to have to do a quick inventory at both locations, work out what needs to be stocked up, and get to it.

So, yeah. More spending.

One last thing--a small rant. I went looking for some gloves the other day. I walked from one end of Whistler village to the other, trying on gloves. Now I know that I have larger than average hands, but I'm not friggin' Andre the Giant. How is it that I was only able to find one single pair of gloves that actually fit me? And just to be clear, I was trying on nothing but XLs. But most of them either had itty bitty fingers or a palm so small that I couldn't open my hand fully--or both. XLs for midgets? Is that what they're stocking?

Anyway, I found some gloves, and they're Goretex, but they're also a brand I've never heard of, so I'm taking a chance. Maybe there'll be more stock once the season gets going.

I may or may not be buying another set of boots. Stay tuned.

And I still haven't decided if I'm going to buy this year's Heritage. It's a nice board, but I doubt it handles significantly different from the 2019. I have enough boards. Seriously.

So that's it. Season approaches, hilarity ensues.
 

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Discussion Starter #382
A few updates

Whistler has announced their opening day to be November 28th. I thought that was mighty presumptuous since they had no snow and no prospect of snow at the time. However, freezing levels are dropping, and there are some encouraging predictions coming up. Still, it'll probably be beater-board-only for a while.

None of the locals have announced anything yet, and none of the predictors are looking encouraging. If this turns into one of those years where there's sweet diddly on the locals until January, I'll be spending the holidays up at Whistler. Even if I have to go alone.

I've moved equipment and soft goods around, and I think I have good representation at both locations. I've decided I'm not going to get the new Heritage, at least not yet. I want to spend some quality time on each of my existing boards this year. I'll decide if I want to get rid of any of them before I think about bringing in a new one.

We were up at Whistler the last couple of days, and there are still people mountain-biking. Definitely I jumped the gun there. Well, I know better for next year.

Hmm, that looks like about it. It's all about the waiting game, now.
 

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Discussion Starter #383
Late season biking

After all my earlier kvetching about having put away the cycling stuff too quickly, I decided today to do something about it. I went to Trek and bought some cold-weather gear (which worked well, BTW) then went for a ride. Nothing particularly aggressive or ambitious--I did the basic two-lap Bert Flinn ride and left it at that. However, I was unpleasantly surprised to discover that I've already lost fitness, just from a couple of weeks of relative inactivity. I guess it's an age thing. I'm still way more fit than I was six months ago, but still, I had to shift down sooner, I couldn't do laps as quickly, and I was more tentative on the trails.

Actually, that last bit might not be fitness. Everything was still pretty wet, even after a couple of dry weather days. The waterlogged trail surface, at least in Black Dog, was noticeably dragging on the wheels, making steering harder and dragging down speed, and therefore requiring me to pedal through sections I'd normally coast through.

I don't know how long I'll be continuing to bike this year. Lower mainland weather is all over the place, of course, so I could conceivably be doing it all the way through to spring. Not so much in Whistler, though. Once winter hits there, it's sub-zero pretty much the whole winter season.

I ogled the more expensive bikes when I was in Trek today, too. I'm seriously thinking of having a bike here and a bike there for next year, so I don't have to keep hauling it back and forth. Good Lord, I'm lazy when it comes to athletics. Now that's irony.
 

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Discussion Starter #384
Snow. Finally.

Yeah, it finally snowed on the locals. Not that early October skim that melted immediately. This is an actual blanket. Maybe not more than an inch or two, but at least it's in the right direction.

The next week or so is all cold, and I mean freezing at street level, but clear and snowless. The next step is to keep it that cold and import some clouds. It may be time to start an Ullr dance.
 

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Discussion Starter #385
It's on, bitches.

The season has started. Whistler opened on the 28th, Cypress on the 29th. So have I gone snowboarding? Nope, not yet. Cypress's open run consists of a single track all the way down one lift. I get why people would still want to go, but I think I'll wait until there's a bit more.

Whistler is a little better, although not much. I'll probably go up next week when I'm in Whistler, just to see what early-season stuff looks like. But I think I'll bring my old Heritage for a rock-board.

I have to say I'm impressed with Whistler's snow-blowing prowess. They don't have shit-diddly for natural snow (I think they got 12 cm total) but they've managed to fill several runs on Emerald chair. They're also blowing snow right down to the village, I guess with the intention of allowing clients to ski/ride all the way down.

There are snow predictions for next week. We'll see how that goes. I'm a little concerned that we're getting into a receding-predictions kind of weather pattern. Here's hoping we get some actual results, soon.
 

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Discussion Starter #386
First Day

First snowboarding of the season!

And it started with the same rage-inducing incident as last year. Last year, on my first day, I discovered in the line-up to get on the lift that I had forgotten to bring my pass. This year, I discovered in the line-up to get on the lift that I had grabbed the Cypress pass by mistake.

Next year, I'm going to have at least two people independently verify that I have the right pass before I leave the house. Fuck!

Anyway, other than that one hiccup, it was a pretty good morning, at least until the wind and the crowds got really bad. But my legs were okay, so I guess all that mountain biking this summer helped.

I used my 2018 Heritage with the Flow bindings this morning. And I didn't realize it until I was on the way down, but I had absolutely no problem with with my hip or with flexibility. Looking good!

Now, as for the actual snowboarding. Well, I didn't expect much, and the mountain delivered exactly that. They've only got a few runs open, and it's mostly manufactured snow anyway, which tends to turn to ice really fast. So it was mostly a thin coat of fluffy stuff over polished snowcrete. Still, it means the season is officially underway for me. I'm hoping to go up for a couple of hours tomorrow morning as well before we head for home.

Meanwhile, the snow predictions are looking pretty good for Whistler, and not really terrible for the lower mainland either. Could be a good season for Days On Hill.
 

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Discussion Starter #387
Second Day

So the first fail is that I forgot to turn on Slopes when I first got to the top. Slopes does pop up a notification, but if you don't notice the notification, it's not much help. Today I was too busy being consumed by a red haze of uncontrolled rage, so I probably missed it.

Yeah, today's fiasco involved my red Volcom jacket and a missing zipper slider that later turned out to be not missing, just jammed way up at the top. Seriously, if this happens a third time, I'm just going to stay home and hide under the bed.

Anyway, today had to be a short day because we had to leave before noon to get home. Just as well. The snow wasn't any better than yesterday, despite the rosy predictions. And around 10am is when it starts to get really busy, as all the lessons hit the slopes. So that was fine, left just before 10.

I did notice that I am already more steady on the board, especially at speed. I still have the early season issue with handling unexpected bumps and tosses. That happens every year, and it takes me maybe 3-4 sessions to get over it. However, I haven't wiped out yet, which is a good sign. I'm working on the stance issues that Marius identified last year, and it does seem to help. Unfortunately, there's not a lot of room right now to really open up, but I can only do what I can do.

I'll be up all next week, so 4-5 days in a row of snowboarding. Should be great. Or at least tolerable, depending on whether any of those snow predictions pan out.
 

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First Day

First snowboarding of the season!

And it started with the same rage-inducing incident as last year. Last year, on my first day, I discovered in the line-up to get on the lift that I had forgotten to bring my pass. This year, I discovered in the line-up to get on the lift that I had grabbed the Cypress pass by mistake.

Next year, I'm going to have at least two people independently verify that I have the right pass before I leave the house. Fuck!

Anyway, other than that one hiccup, it was a pretty good morning, at least until the wind and the crowds got really bad. But my legs were okay, so I guess all that mountain biking this summer helped.

I used my 2018 Heritage with the Flow bindings this morning. And I didn't realize it until I was on the way down, but I had absolutely no problem with with my hip or with flexibility. Looking good!

Now, as for the actual snowboarding. Well, I didn't expect much, and the mountain delivered exactly that. They've only got a few runs open, and it's mostly manufactured snow anyway, which tends to turn to ice really fast. So it was mostly a thin coat of fluffy stuff over polished snowcrete. Still, it means the season is officially underway for me. I'm hoping to go up for a couple of hours tomorrow morning as well before we head for home.

Meanwhile, the snow predictions are looking pretty good for Whistler, and not really terrible for the lower mainland either. Could be a good season for Days On Hill.
You mentioned you have a few boards now.
What sizes are they, all pretty close to each other?
Instead of getting a new Heritage, cause you have the years before.
Get something long, like 10 cm longer than your biggest board & get a board that excels in just carving, not spinning, not jumps, definitely not a twin.

A big ole Cadillac.
Have you driven in a big ole Cadillac Dennis?
They're a pretty nice ride, aren't they
That's what a big long board feels like.

I have a board, a few years old.
That Mig helped design, before Fullbag boards.
He told me he still has the prototype

That's only been ridden once, by me.
And I put a few strips of packing tape over the inserts.
So I'm pretty sure there's no trace of binding rash even.

This is the board you bring out on those icy days.
And first thing in the morning, on those perfectly groomed runs @ whistler
Hell, there's not many days you shouldn't be bringing this thing out.
Cadillac, I'm tellin' ya

You can't find this caliber of board for the price I'll let chya have it for.


TT
 

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Discussion Starter #389
The Fun Continues

I got up to Whistler yesterday. Did a few hours in the afternoon, on the Heritage again with the Flows. Today I went up first thing, with the Burton FA and the Burton bindings. The FA for some reason always requires some adjustment when I first start using it. It feels different in some undefinable way. I don't get that with the Yes or any of the NS boards. The good news is that it only takes part of one run to get used to it.

The FA is, I think, my go-to downhill board. It has that stable feel, and when you dig in an edge it pays attention. But it's not a nimble board, at least compared to my other ones. Still, I had a pretty good day, all in all. It was icy as shit first thing in the morning, due to the complete lack of delivery of those snowfall prediction. I think they got between 1 and 2 SFAs overnight. But it softened up over the course of the morning, or maybe the crowds just ground it down to snowcones. Not entirely sure.

I finally asked a liftey how to get to the red chair runs. Turns out you have to go left at the Chick Pea hut at the bottom of Upper Whiskey Jack. A small left takes you to the bottom of the Big Red chair, and a harder left takes you to the bottom of Franz's chair. Let me just say that Franz's chair is maybe the slowest chair I've ever had the displeasure of being on. Even the Lodge chair on Seymour isn't that bad. I think I spent half my morning going up that chair, just the once. Never again.

But once I discovered the route to the Red Chair, I stuck to that for the rest of the day. It's longer, has more variety, and is more than just a ribbon of ice.

My mojo started to come back today. It's probably a combination of two snow days in a row, and being on the mountain for longer than an hour or two. I've found this in previous seasons, but it bears repeating: nothing beats concentrated time on the mountain for improving fast. Hours on the mountain plus days in a row equals training the muscle memory.

I'm still not bombing steeps yet, although I'm starting to straight-line towards the bottom of them. Just a matter of practice and desensitization. I am really getting an early start at handling C turns on steeps, thanks mostly to that lesson with Marius last season. Both my heelside and my toeside carves are way better, and I don't feel like I'm sliding out of control down steeps.

I think starting tomorrow, I'm going to start practicing things like ollies during my runs. Time to step it up.
 

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Discussion Starter #390
Better Day

There was some new snow for Thursday's ride. Not a lot, but enough to cover the ice, and enough to produce a soft-groomed run. It was revelatory, though, all out of proportion to the actual amount of fresh. For my first run, I headed down to the Red Chair from the top of Emerald, and had a fantastic run. I was fast, I was aggressive, I was hitting all the turns. But as the morning went on, and the runs became more scraped and more chopped up, I became slower and more tentative.

Now obviously to a certain extent this is normal and expected behavior. Unless you're a total crazy, you'll be more circumspect in cruddier conditions. But I think I'm dialing it down a bit more than is really necessary. Caution? Timidity? Lack of skill? Dunno. Maybe some of each. There was one point towards the end of my day where I got into a rhythm or something while going down Orange Peel, and just hammered it! It might be as simple as needing to aggressively attack the slope.

I took the Peak-to-Peak over to Blackcomb partway through the morning. The first thing I noticed is that the snow is better--dryer and fluffier. However, it isn't any less crowded or any less chopped up. It might even be more of both on Blackcomb. After a couple of runs I moved back to Whistler to finish the day.

My legs are definitely in better shape this year. Having said that, though, I still had to stop and rest from time to time. Interesting thing, though--I ended up with more leg burn when I wasn't squatting enough on heelsides. It looks like holding myself up into a high squat is more work than just going low. Something similar happens with toesides. If I do the hip-thrust thing, it's a lot easier on my thighs than if I try to dig in with my knees out.

And one last item--heelside chatter. Three things contribute to that problem: 1) Turning too sharply into a cross-hill vector; 2) putting too much weight onto my forward foot; 3) not enough edge. I'm working on all three aspects, and it's showing results.

So, one last day of snowboarding before I have to head home. Unfortunately there's been no overnight snow, although there's supposed to be some morning stuff. On the plus side, that should mean a smaller line-up at the gondola.
 

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Discussion Starter #391
And wrapping up the week...

I forgot to mention it in the previous post, but yesterday and today I used the Yes PYL. It is definitely a lively, responsive board, far lighter than the FA and even more responsive than the Heritage. It is, however, kind of squirrelly on hardpack or, even worse, polished snow. After using all three boards this week, I'd say the FA is the best on hardpack, and the PYL is the better board for just playing around when the snow is reasonably soft. The Heritage is kind of a compromise board, somewhere in the middle. I'm still waiting for an opportunity to try the FA in deep, new stuff, so the jury will remain out for the moment.

I also used my Ride Lasso boots today. I've moved away from the big, stiff 32 Focus Boa boots. I have K2 Maysis boots and the Rides up in Whistler, both of which are a softer boot with a considerably smaller profile. The K2s are very comfortable, but they don't stay tight around the ankle and lower calf because the inserts are only held closed by velcro, and that's just not good enough. The Ride has an actual tensioning lace, which seems to make just enough difference to make the boot feel more solid. Not quite as comfortable, though.

Today on Whistler was a bit of a madhouse. No new snow, so more of the hardpack and polished sections. Fog with freezing temps everywhere below the bottom of Emerald express meant constantly wiping my goggles. And busy! I think they must have booked every lesson class they could for today. The slopes were as crowded in some sections as the base area normally is, where everyone is walking around.

I put up with it for two hours and a bit, then decided it wasn't going to get any better. I was feeling pretty good about my progress for this week anyway, so might as well leave on a high. And one plus is that, although I was starting to get a bit of burn here and there, my legs still had plenty of gas left. That bodes well for the rest of the season, assuming we ever get any proper snow.

Actually, on that subject, we've gotten a good 15 cm on the locals in the last 24 hours--not enough to open Seymour, but enough for them to start making noise. Another dump or two is all it'll take. Meanwhile, if I'm in town during the week, I can go to Cypress and ride the beginner slope and practice switch and stuff. So I'm in good shape, all things being equal.
 

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Discussion Starter #392 (Edited)
I am getting lots of days

We're up in Whistler again. I went boarding yesterday and today, so I'm def getting the hours in.

Yesterday was a really good day overall. The snow wasn't great first thing in the morning, but it snowed all day, so it was getting gradually filled in. The snow schools were out in force between 9:30 and 11:30, as usual, creating something reminiscent of the village square just after the mountain closes. At one point I thought about stopping and getting a picture, and I now regret that I didn't. But once they break for lunch, it clears out significantly. And most of the classes seem to be half-day, so they don't come back.

My skills continue to improve. I can now:

  • handle steeps in control. By which I mean I can do C turns and stay in control rather than sliding sideways down the slope.
  • handle ice without dying (as long as it's not a skating-rink-sized patch, anyway).
  • do toeside and heelside turns properly. On toesides I didn't used to be able to get enough edge, and on heelsides I always did that stutter-slide thing.
  • handle trashed slopes. I'm more able to see the slope ahead of me and react, and I'm also able to use the state of the snow to my advantage, banking off moguls and such.
  • bomb down steeps. Not right from the top, quite yet, but I can start straightlining a lot sooner than I used to. This is mostly about desensitization, but also about feeling confident in my ability to handle uneven snow.
On my turns, I still wouldn't say I've conquered my problems, but I have at least identified the issues and the solutions. Now it's just a matter of practice. And when I'm concentrating on doing it right, it works.

And a small bonus -- halfway through the day, they opened the ski-out from Olympic station, so I could go all the way down to the village.

Today, unfortunately, was far less fun. Mostly I think I overdid it a bit yesterday, and my muscles started protesting on the third run. And there's maybe a little bit of getting tired of the same couple of runs again and again. Hopefully by the next time we're up, they'll have a lot more open.

I tried my Rylo with my special backpack today. I'll write a separate post about that.
 

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Discussion Starter #393
Rylo - Not so much

The Rylo camera has been a bit of a disappointment all around. Between the battery dying, the camera being apparently unable to record more than a twenty-minute video (even in summer conditions), the poor technical support, and the terrible remote control app, it's become kind of like beating your head with a hammer.

First, the battery--I grant that this is probably at least partly a technology issue, since I know for a fact that GoPro has a similar issue. But the Insta sells a battery that is cold-weather-optimized, so I have some hope.

Second, recording time--I can't even begin to explain this. Even though I have a 128 GB card that is more than big enough for hours of video, the Rylo terminates a recording after 22 minutes. I tried it several days in a row, being careful to start with a fully charged battery, and it cut out at about the same point each time. So it's not random. My theory is that the battery charge drops too low at that point and the camera stops recording, then the battery recovers. So by the time I notice and look at the status panel, the battery is showing two bars. No mention is made of this limitation, and it's a huge problem.

Third, the technical support issue was about my attempts to upload a 360 video to youtube. The quality was terrible, and tech support couldn't help at all. They just kept telling me to try the same things over and over. I finally gave up.

Fourth and last, the remote control app. First, using an app instead of having a hardware remote is a fail. I don't want to have to pull my phone out every time I want to start or stop recording. Between having to remove my gloves, the zippers I have to go through, and having to unlock the phone then move to the right app, it's a huge PITA. Add to that the problem that sometimes (like today) you simply can't get the app to connect to the camera no matter what you try, and it's just a total fail.

An additional fail, but one that wasn't a surprise to me, is that you can't review your footage in any way on the mountain. In order to look at footage, you have to physically connect the Rylo to your phone with a cable and fire up the app. It doesn't sound like much, but it can create issues like recording an entire session with the lens covered in crap, and not realizing it.

So anyway, I've gotten an Insta360 One X for an early xmas present. I ordered the remote control fob as well.

I will be the first to admit that I don't like the form factor of the Insta. It looks like the designers went out of their way to make it as awkward-looking as possible. Sure as hell, no one is ever going to put that Teletubbie accessory on a helmet.

But the specs are good. The Insta has a hardware remote available, as mentioned. It allows you to review your footage with your phone via wifi--it'll even allow you to monitor what's actually being recorded. That's a huge plus. It has a PC-based version of the editing app. And it has more setting options, including things like a timer.

So anyway, I have all the parts I want, so I'll be testing it out over the next little while. More news as it happens.
 

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Discussion Starter #394
Seymour is opening

Tomorrow (Thurs Dec 19) at 1 pm. It's just snowing like stink up there, and the snow-forecast prediction says days of the same. Woo hoo!
 

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First Seymour Day

Seymour opened yesterday, but I wasn't able to go until today. The snow was kind of soggy, and the stuff in the parking lot was melting. I think the temps had come up and there'd been some rain either overnight or in the morning. But it started snowing as I arrived, and snowed for the rest of the time I was there. Unfortunately, the damage had been done. The soggy surface snow had a bad case of stiction going, which kinda ruined the day.

They had Mystery and Manning open, as well as the bunny hill, but there wasn't enough depth for any off-piste activity. And this year, they have the new RFID lift gates to check your pass. Quite neat, actually.

I brought up two boards: the Chairman and the Proto. I think the Chairman needed a wax--it suffered from the stiction a lot more than the Proto. But other than that, I noticed the difference in handling between the two boards immediately. The Chairman is definitely better in choppy conditions. I'm still not convinced it's as battleship-like as the Heritage, but it definitely has it over the Proto. The Proto is probably better for quick turns, trees, and moguls, but I didn't really get a chance to test that.

I think I did 8 runs, which really doesn't take long on Seymour. And it confirmed my theory that the short runs and long waits are the reason why I rarely had a leg-burn problem when Seymour was my main mountain.

Anyway, all the mountains are looking at more snow over the next several days, but I won't have any free time until after Christmas.
 

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Discussion Starter #396 (Edited)
Whistler and first lesson day

I did a trip to Whistler and boarded Thursday and yesterday. Thursday was good, in that there was a good supply of new snow, but not great in that there wasn't enough to open most of the closed runs. They did open a few new ones, but not the real performers.

I did some rope-jumping to get on one of the almost-ready runs, and didn't regret it. Lots of fun, and I handled the ungroomed terrain well. All in all, I enjoyed Thursday.

Friday was my first full-day lesson with the Max-4 season pass. Unfortunately, the storm that has been bringing all this snow decided to bring some truly impressive winds as well. I had gone up with the First Tracks pass, but by the time the mountain was due to open, the winds were just too strong. We ended up standing around for about 3/4 hour, watching the mountain staff discussing things on their radios. Even the gondolas from the village were on hold for a while, so no one could get to the top.

One of the effects of this was that maybe half of the Max-4 students weren't able to get up the mountain in time. I'm sure most of them would have cancelled and rebooked for another day. But it meant I effectively got a private lesson. One-on-ones are both good and bad. Good in that you get an instructor's concentrated attention. Bad in that you don't get a lot of opportunity to rest. On top of the instructor being able to put all his attention to torturing you on the way down, you're able to skip most of the line-up at the bottom, thus ensuring more torture more often. To say that I was tired at the end of the day would be a significant understatement.

However, Andre gave me some good pointers, which made a difference as soon as I tried them. The best items were:
  1. I tend to rush my turns, in that I shift to the downhill edge and immediately start a hard turn. This is both a major source of my getting tossed around on chunder and a reason for loss of control. Instead, he had me shift edges and ease into a more sweeping turn. I immediately felt myself get tossed around less.
  2. I still tend to go bent-over on my toeside turns if I stop concentrating. One of the reasons for this is how I initiate my turns. Instead of starting the turn from my upper body (not a counter-rotation, but still problematic), he had me start the turn from my hips. The physical mnemonic was achieved by keeping the lead hand slightly behind my board axis on the turn. This forced me to keep the shoulders still. It was immediately smoother and less work.
  3. Another technique that keeps me from sticking my butt out on toeside is to try to keep my horizon level. This forces me to keep my head level, which forces me to stick my chest out, which forces me to stick my hips forward, et voila!
So all in all, well worth it. Also, we went down Dave Murray Downhill, which was my first black (as far as I know). So now I feel a lot better about that.

Unfortunately, the freezing level rose in mid-afternoon, so by the time we rode down to the village, it was raining from about the bottom of Emerald Express. Still, that's just one run.

I did have to call it about an hour early, partly due to being totally out of gas, exacerbated by my boots starting to hurt around the right heel. I think I'll have to get them heat molded.

Couple of other items:

I asked Comor to try to bring in a Rome Blur for me. They'll call me back.

I wasn't thrilled with my Union Force bindings. They're significantly harder to strap into when there's lots of snow. I'm not talking about the obvious stuff like snow getting on the base-plate. It's more about the rather flimsy toe-straps getting interfered with, and the relatively small buckles being hard to thread. I'm not going to panic and replace them, but I will be paying attention to this when choosing new bindings for the Blur.

I used the PYL for the lesson, and in retrospect I'm not sure if it was the best choice. The FA or the Heritage might have handled the deeps and chunder better. Certainly the FA would have floated better. We'll see how that plays out over the rest of the season.
 

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Discussion Starter #397
Seymour, blech!

I have a love/hate thing going with Seymour, as anyone who has read my blog can see. Well, today did nothing to reduce the hate part.

The snow predictions showed excellent weather for Seymour today. The freezing level was to be way down, and lots of snow was predicted. On the plus side, the predictions were right. It was snowing down to halfway between the parking lot and street level, so no issues with rain.

Knowing that it would be a busy day (weekend, last day of xmas holidays), I left home at 7am and got there by 7:40. No problem getting a parking spot. Again, going well. The mountain was due to open at 8:30, which would have meant some extra time before the late-morning crowds started showing up.

Yeah.

So right at 8:30, they announced that Mystery chair had a problem and would be delayed an hour. And what happens when Mystery chair is closed? Everyone goes to Lodge. And what happens when everyone goes to Lodge? The line-up at the bottom becomes a minimum 20-minute wait. For a 2-minute run. And what happens when the Lodge chair line-up gets that long? Everyone goes to Goldie, creating a 20-minute wait for the magic carpet. And what happens when there's a 20-minute wait for all the still-working lifts? Everyone goes back to Mystery to stand in line, on the assumption that it's moving almost as fast as the line-ups for the working lifts. (Not wrong, BTW). At that point, there's no point.

Went home, cursing under my breath.

There will be some discussion about next year, but my immediate feeling is that I'm going to get a Gold pass for Cypress so I'm not locked out of some days. I'll still buy a Seymour pass, since the senior pass costs like two day passes. But I want the option to go elsewhere.

On a different subject, since I'm writing a post anyway, I'm beginning to think I should go down a half-size on my boots. They've packed out, and there's toe room, so I may need to go boot shopping.

And my Anons really got fogged quickly this morning. I recognize that the air and snow at Seymour is very wet, so if I'm going to fog up anywhere, that'll be it. Still, it concerns me. I was able to get some short-term relief by running the lens through the hand dryer, but a better solution would be to bring some spares in the future. And maybe look around for some alternatives, like those goggles that have a fan built in.

It may also be time to replace my camo jacket. It got wet pretty fast. Mind you, given what happened with the goggles, it may simply have been a very, very wet day.
 

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Discussion Starter #398
Whistler part-day

We're up in Whistler, and I went up the mountain for a morning's snowboarding. I've booked a lesson for tomorrow, so today was going to be a bit of prep and some random testing.

For one, I took the FA just to see how it would handle the conditions. There's been no snow in 24 hrs on Whistler, and the temps were down to about -12 c, so the ground was pretty hard first thing. Also, the groomers for some reason leave golf-ball-sized snow gravel on a lot of the steep parts. The morning confirmed two things for me: 1-I don't like icy conditions, and 2-I don't like the FA. Number 1 is no real surprise, but number 2 just mystifies me. It is definitely a slightly heavier board--you can feel it just lifting it. But the feel of the board is also weird. I've mentioned before that it seems to really prefer to be heelside--it takes significantly more effort to go toeside. Of course, going toeside is my Achilles Heel, so this just amplifies my riding issues.

As usual, I did better where the snow was less 'crispy', but even so, I always felt like I was fighting to bring the FA into position. I checked the binding setup after the session, thinking maybe it was still set up biased to heelside, but no joy. My bindings are literally as far toeside as they can go. It is still possible that the board has a place in my quiver for deep snow days, so I'll hold onto it until I have the chance to test that. But if it doesn't shine, I think I'm going to be getting rid of it.

I have some stuff to get rid of, then. I'm going to be dumping the NS West--I've given it lots of chances and it consistently fails to impress me. I'll likely get rid of my 32 Focus Boas as well. I don't wear them anymore, and they're just taking up shelf space.

On the subject of boards, I mentioned last post that I was wondering if my Ride boots were too big. Today I went into Showcase and bought a pair of Ride Lassos in a 9.5 . They felt really good, especially after heat-molding. I'm going to take a chance and use them tomorrow with the Heritage and the Flow bindings, and if it works out, I guess I need another pair for Coquitlam. I've also got the K2 Maysis boots, which are also unfortunately a 10, but they haven't packed out yet so they still feel pretty good.

I also bought all the fixings for waxing my boards, plus wax for Whistler temps and for lower mainland temps. All set in that dept.
 

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Discussion Starter #399
Another lesson day

I took my second group lesson on Whistler yesterday. It was an exercise in humility (and humiliation). The day started out well enough--kept up with the instructor no problem, and was feeling pretty good about myself. Then we went over to Blackcomb and started hitting some of the 'less travelled' stuff. First, let me say that was a lot of fun. Unfortunately, it was also a lot of work, whereupon I discovered just how out of shape I really am.

First, I'm old. Let's get that out of the way. Fitness declines with age, and recovery declines with age. Second, I'm overweight. That means the muscles work harder to do the same job. And third, I'm just plain damned out of shape, in terms of cardiac capacity. Maybe not for my age, but that's really not reassuring.

The problem is that when you start to get tired, your form starts to suffer, and your ability to catch and recover starts to suffer. You fall more, which means more work digging yourself out and getting back up (especially in the shitloads of new snow we had yesterday). It becomes a death spiral, feeding upon itself and making the situation worse and worse. By lunch, I was pretty much done.

On the other hand, I had a blast, and discovered some really cool areas that I didn't know anything about. I also tried some terrain that I would never have gone near on my own. That's really what I was hoping for when I bought the lesson pass, so I can't call it a fail. The conditioning thing? That's on me.

I'm really discovering the value of the Slopes app now, as well. I have a complete record of everywhere we went, so I can replicate it (carefully) at a later date. I just have to transcribe the run names from a trail map, since Slopes doesn't include that handy little detail on its maps.

One thing that really surprised me was the lack of crowds on Friday. Thursday had been a real shitshow of overcrowding, despite the snow quality being much lower. Weird. I asked about it, and got several answers that really were not convincing. Paul, the instructor, commented that Blackcomb is the better side for avoiding crowds. Probably true, it was definitely less crowded on the Blackcomb side, but I've been on Blackcomb when it's crowded. And that doesn't explain why Whistler was less crowded than expected. Someone in the group commented that it's a weekday. Um, I only snowboard weekdays, and I've seen plenty of shitshow days. Like Thursday. So I dunno. Interestingly, I checked the Sundial webcam this morning (this is a Saturday) at about 8am, and there was almost no line-up at all. So something else is at play, but I don't know what.

Oh well. All in all, it's better than the opposite problem.

I rode on the Heritage with the Flows, and my new, smaller boots. Boots were a good idea. Much nicer fit, although my toes started to press on the front partway through the day. I think that might have just been lack of tightening. Paul wouldn't stop long enough for me to do any adjusting. Friggin' energizer bunny, as soon as he had all of us, off he went.

I had a discussion with Andre (my instructor from last week) on the way down at the end of the day, about levels. If you use fractional levels, the Friday class was probably doing level 5.5 stuff, and I'm probably a 4.5 . So, definitely being pushed. Again, that's not a complaint, because that's exactly what I want from the lessons. But my two main focuses for the short-term future are going to have to be conditioning/weight-loss and working on my toe-side turns and general form. Especially when it gets steeper, which is when I seem to fall apart.

We're back up here next week, and hopefully the conditions will continue to be as sweet. Meanwhile, it snowed 42 cm on Seymour overnight, and the temps are still below zero and it's still snowing. Yeesh. Pretty good season, if a little late starting.

More next week.
 
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