Happy Pants!

Why spend a lot of time describing to your pals what your day was like when you can just point to your Happy Pants?      …’nuff said Bro!

It wasn’t an “epic” powder day.

There was no chin deep Blower…. No thigh-high Cold Smoke.

It was just another day Out West.

We usually have some kind of fresh snow to ski on. For those who take the time to look, there is always some stash left somewhere.

We didn’t have to send out a search party for the Pow today. The 6 inches of light stuff fell after the groomers had finished their dastardly deeds for the night.

Fresh tracks were available everywhere.

It was a week day so not much trackage during the day. It was cold enough that the crud and harbor chop stayed light and bust-able all day.

Totally-like dreamy-creamy all day long 🙂

I always feel a little thankful at the end of a day like this.

It takes a village to create Happy Pants!

I thank Ullr for the snow, remembering to partake of his sacred elixir and to sacrifice the ribs of his sacred swine to the fires of Kingsford.

I thank the gazillions of people involved in keeping the mountain operating and safe.

I thank Lefty the Lifty who bitches all day that the chairs arrive from his right  but who always has a happy hello and a gentle seating for me.

I don’t take lessons any more but I thank the instructors. Been there, done that, wore holes in the t-shirt. It is a thankless job that doesn’t pay even half what is worth to our sport.

I even thank that pimply faced kid who operates that Ferris Wheel gizmo they keep the hot dogs on.

I thank Warren Miller for the stoke when I hit my late 30s and wasn’t skiing much. As he  said, “I never made anyone ski better but I made them ski more.

I thank folks like John Clendenin and Rick Schnellmann at Skier Village on Facebook for their ideas about making skiing easier and more fun. They took the pain-of-aging out of skiing.

I especially thank the men and women of the highway crew who do an AMAZING job of making the road up to the mountain safe for us to travel. It doesn’t seem to matter if it is 3 feet of January powder or, a half inch of March ice they make sure we can get there by staying up all night.

Even when my pants are clean, I always hoist my first glass of apres in thanks to the hundreds of people who made the day possible.

It takes a helluva lot of people to make Happy Pants! 🙂

A heartfelt handshake and a thank-you go a long way. If you saw their pay stub, a hefty tip at season’s end goes a fair distance. A beer, or a bowl, whatever suits your style of thanks-giving…..

DO IT!!!

DO IT

Try to be demonstrably thankful to the Cru!

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Happy Feet!

Happy feet are a good thing.

Educated feet are invaluable.

Anyone who reads these tropes of mine regularly know that I am a huge supporter of educated feet.  All “Good skiing”, no matter how YOU define the terms, gegins at the feet.

I almost stayed home. It was blizzard conditions up top, 4 degrees, snowing hard, and blowing hard. I conjured the voice of Me Dear Ma and dressed accordingly. Bibs are something you wear when you mother gets cold 😉

I actually made first chair and first tracks on my favorite warm up run and, on six inches of yummy coldsmoke. That was unusual enough.

Things only got better.

After 3 runs the chair lift had to be shut down for repairs. I went to ski elsewhere. After lunch, I just happened to be first chair AGAIN when they fired the that lift back up. There was six MORE inches of powder and the wind had filled in all the tracks from the morning.

First Chair… First Tracks…TWICE…on the same Pow day!

As the legendary coach Cal Cantrell said, “It’s the feet, stupid!” Yesterday, my feet proved the value of a good education. None of my other sensory tools were available.

It was snowing at a rate of two inches per hour. The Southwest was wind at 20 mph and gusting as high as 35 mph. The top half of the run took me straight into it’s teeth.

There was no sign of the separation of Earth and Sky, nothing to mark the way ahead but the ghostly gray suggestion of pines along the fringes…only the most vague sensation of gravity provided any evidence of the effort.

There was no sense of forward motion.

The snow was so soft and quiet that only at the end of my turns, where the pressure builds, did I really feel a connection to the planet.

A feeling of weightlessness dominated my senses. It was almost as if I had ceased to be and I had became part of the storm. It was like living inside a frosted light bulb. It was college-in-the 70s all over again..deja vu…surreal. (who needs a pot shop when you own skis?)

The weather had deprived me of sight.

The wind howling in my ears robbed me of my hearing.

It was like skiing in a sensory deprivation tank. The only part of me that provided any clue as to my whereabouts, was my feet. They spoke. I listened. Call it “skiing sole-fully.

I became deeply aware of every inch of skin inside my boot. If I felt the pressure on the inside of my left foot, I surely MUST be turning right? Well, maybe but, once I decided not to care, I stepped through the Looking Glass into a world I had never experienced before.

My eyes tried to probe for obstacles ahead, trying to focus on a scene that my camera refused. The auto-focus only whirred in confusion. “Help us Landru!” (gratuitous Star Trek reference)

There was nothing out there to focus on. No objects. No light. No dark. No shadows. Just white. Opaque. Impenetrable.

I wonder if GoPro or, NASA  might mount a radar to a helmet? Infrared would be of no use. Nothing ahead but raw, white cold.

The snowing finally slowed and the sky lifted just enough to see ahead 40 or 50 yards.  The rest of the day was a joy of Freshness.

Twelve inches of uncut powder, in places punctuated by shots to the face, as I blasted through hip deep wind drifts and knee deep board slashes.

Deep Harbor Chop crud had always been a nemesis. I didn’t ski it well. I avoided it. The problem is that crud is everywhere. NOT skiing it closed off a lot of the mountain.

This year I made a goal to change that. I find the nastiest snow I can and force myself to stay in it. Learn it. Embrace it.

Discovered new ways of using this ancient body. It works.

As it turns out, that junk snow is actually a heck of a lot more fun. There are slashes and cuts and piles to provide a launching pad. I move from feature to feature as if running down a dry creek bed hopping from rock to rock.

Rediscovering the power of play. Every turn is different. Every turn has new and different vertical dimensions. New shapes. Leave the drudging, dreary sameness of corduroy turns behind and go play. Go BACK young Senior Skiers! Go BACK!

If I get to a section where the snow looks like something new or difficult, I slow down so my feet can learn to feel it. A new bit of code for my skiing app:)

And so, here they are. Happy Feet.

IMAG0496

Tired and cold feet to be sure but, feet whose “eyes”  and education made the day.

Six hours of the rich taste of fresh snow and cold air does something to the aroma of wood smoke and the flavor of a glass of Pendelton (neat) that I am sure the distillers never counted on….But then…they weren’t me…Not on a day like today 🙂

Like the golfer who makes that one hero-shot keeps going back to the grass in the hopes of making two such shots the next round. (My personal golfing goal is to play 18 holes without cursing)

Every once in awhile, Mother Nature decides to reward us and despite the prospects of another day on New England Blue…we go…and go again because…..you will just never know…unless you go. And, listen to your feet. Just because the are smelly doesn’t mean they aren’t smart 🙂

Senior Ski Lessons – When Hiking for Turns Was Life or Death

Army ski

There is no telling what the North American ski industry would be like today if American soldiers of the 10th Mountain Division had not been trained this way and seen service in Europe. Many senior skiers knew these heroes personally and their legacy will never be forgotten!

US Army Ski Training Film 1941

Here’s link to the Wikipedia on the history of military skiing 

Senior Skiers – Video Nostalgia – Edelweiss, California 1950s

I just love the days of wood, leather and wool! Maybe take some truly senior ski lessons!

th (20)

Edelweiss Travelogue 1950s

Senior Ski Lessons – Purposeful Practice: by Derek Tate

For our poor and snow-deprived friends in the southern hemisphere, it is hard to imagine skiing whilst floating about a pool in 99 degree heat. OK..no…it isn’t that hard.

Poolside-fashion-article

But, as every year before, I start wondering what that first run of the season will be like. It’s like that first tee shot in the spring. It might go down the middle of the fairway or it might well fly into the woods, ricochet off a gopher and roll into the men’s water closet. No doubt, some practice sessions will be required.

 

winter golf
I wonder where this one is going?

Here is an article from Derek Tate of the Irish Snowsports Instructors Assoc. on how to make your practice sessions more productive. Last winter I put up a series of articles on a few things I do to be more productive.

Your Skiing Sucks?

I know many of senior skiers prefer to teach themselves. Even if you do take lessons, remember..you are not with your coach every day. Most days, YOU are your own coach. Having the skills to structure your own learning sessions is absolutely essential to effortless, effective…FUN!

Horse Training Tips for D-I-Y Senior Ski Lessons

I did have to make a few small edits to Derek’s article to make it work on smart phone screen formats. The full article and many others are available on Derek’s website.

www.paralleldreams.co.uk

About the author, Derek Tate holds a postgraduate diploma in Sports Coaching and has completed the first year of the MSc Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP). He holds the BASI International Ski Teacher Diploma and the IASI Alpine Level 4 Euro Ski Pro. He is a former trainer of ski instructors for the British Association of Snowsport Instructors (BASI) and current Head of Education for the Irish Association of Snowsports Instructors (IASI). He lives near Chamonix, in France where he is director of British Alpine Ski Schools (BASS) in Chamonix and Megeve.

The man knows what he is talking about. Here’s Derek…

Purposeful Practice

Statements such as ‘correct practice makes perfect’ and ‘practice makes permanent’ are commonly used in relation to improving skills and there is no doubt that without sufficient practice you cannot expect to develop your skills to a high level let alone achieve mastery.

But practice needs to be more sophisticated than simple repetition. It needs to be purposeful and if possible deliberate.

In this lesson I will look at what purposeful and deliberate practice are and how you can ensure that the time you spend developing your skiing skills is time well spent. I will also look at what ‘mastery’ is and how you can remain motivated to achieve such high skill levels.
What is purposeful practice? Anders Ericsson (2016) differentiates purposeful practice from ‘naive practice’ in that the latter is where you simply do something repeatedly expecting that the repetition alone will improve your performance.

Purposeful practice, on the other hand, is thoughtful, structured and focused.

There are several key aspects to purposeful practice;

Well defined specific goals, focus on the task in hand, ongoing and immediate feedback and getting outside of one’s comfort zone . Goal setting is vital in so many areas of life and the acronyms SMART and SMARTER (Lockerbie & Tate, 2012) are well established pathways to both setting and achieving your goals. Your goals need to be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, broken down into chunks of time, create enthusiasm and have some kind of benefit or reward.

Focusing on the task in hand was covered in detail in the first lesson titled ‘Focus Your Attention’ (Tate, 2017) and by developing this skill you can ensure full engagement on skills that you are practicing.

Without feedback there is no way of measuring your progress or knowing how you are doing. Essentially, feedback can come from an extrinsic source, such as a teacher or watching video playback, or an intrinsic source i.e. from you, as you are doing the task. The latter is very important especially as the skill becomes more reflexive and ultimately is more likely to lead to optimal experience (flow).

Getting outside of one’s comfort zone “ is perhaps the most important part of purposeful practice” (Ericsson & Pool, 2016 p.17). It is too easy to stick with what is familiar and comfortable but in order to improve you need to challenge yourself beyond what you can already do.

There is a clear link here with the ‘challenge skills balance’ aspect of flow (Jackson & Csikszentmihalyi, 1999). What is important is that the challenge is just enough to stretch your performance rather than push beyond your limits.
Which areas of your performance do you need to practice most?

Can you allocate sufficient time to this practice?

Will you practice with others or alone?
What makes practice deliberate rather than just purposeful?

Deliberate practice includes all the components of purposeful practice plus the following; guidance from a teacher or coach, rigorous formal training methods, a well developed field with experts who have achieved mastery and effective mental representations

Guidance from a teacher or coach can not only help you to learn what and how to practice but also helps to ensure you learn the correct fundamental movement patterns from early on, reducing the need to unlearn bad habits.

For this reason finding a good teacher is important. One of the suggested defining outcomes of deliberate practice is, that because it demands rigorous formal training methods, it is not always fun! You are often required to work outside of your comfort zone and at “near maximal effort” (Ericsson & Pool, 2016 p.99).
July, 2017 by Optimal Snowsports & Parallel Dreams Coaching 2

“The right sort of practice carried out over a sufficient period of time leads to improvement. Nothing else.” (Ericsson & Pool, 2016)

Deliberate practice also requires a well developed field with experts who have achieved mastery. A sport like Alpine skiing clearly has such a field with experts who perform to an exceptional level across a number of disciplines.

Finally, deliberate practice needs effective and sophisticated mental representations that are developed over time to correspond to external reality. In skiing this takes the form of mental imagery and forming these mental pictures comes from a combination of knowledge, understanding, seeing and feeling.

Higher level performers often use mental imagery as an integral part of their practice.

What is Mastery and where does talent fit into the equation?

It has been widely publicized that to reach mastery in any domain takes around 10,000 hours of quality practice (ideally deliberate practice). The actual number of hours required is difficult to nail down but suffice to say “nobody develops extraordinary abilities without putting in tremendous amounts of practice” (Ericsson & Pool, 2016 p.96).

Mastery can be defined as comprehensive knowledge and/or skill in a particular domain.

For us, in skiing, this translates to ‘expert performance’. The are many examples of expert performers but one that springs to mind is the American slalom specialist, Mikaela Shiffrin who also epitomises the importance of deliberate practice. See 7 Keys to Drill Mastery https://youtu.be/96VN_Brmnz0.

The nature vs nurture debate often comes up when discussing ‘talent’. The best description that I have found on talent is by Scott Barry Kaufman who says, “Instead of treating talent as an ‘innate ability’, with all the knowledge and skills fully present at birth, I think talent is more accurately defined as a predisposition and passion to master the rules of a domain (2013, p. 247).

So, the good news is that no matter where you start you can get better with purposeful practice.

How do you maintain motivation?

It’s been established that to become an expert performer requires a great deal of quality practice, but how do you maintain motivation? Once again goal setting is all important here.

If you follow the SMARTER process then you are more likely to maintain interest and it is interest that shapes your motivation. Understanding your learning style will also have a positive impact on how you structure your practice and even better if you can build learning flexibility where you move through the learning cycle using all nine ways of learning (see Peterson & Kolb, 2017 for more information).

Developing ‘Grit’ can benefit your ability to keep practicing and pursuing your goals. The components of grit are passion and perseverance over the long term despite set backs and failure (Kaufman & Duckworth, 2015).

Ultimately falling in love with the activity will fuel your motivation and help give you grit. Remember: Learn it, Love it, Live it.

References:

Kolb Learning Style Inventory 4.0 to find out more. http:// learningfromexperience.com

TRY THIS Use videos of skilful skiers to develop more sophisticated mental representations of expert performance. A great place for this is https://www.projectedproductions.com

Ericsson, A., & Pool, R. (2016). Peak, Secrets from the New Science of Expertise.

London: The Bodley Head. Jackson, S. A., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1999). Flow in Sports, The keys to optimal experiences and performances.

Human Kinetics. Kaufman, S. B. (2013). Ungifted, Intelligence Redefined.

New York: Basic Books. Kaufman, S. B., & Duckworth, A. L. (2015). World-class expertise: a developmental model.

Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Lockerbie, A., & Tate, D. (2012). Ski Instructors Handbook, Teaching Tools & Techniques.

Edinburgh: Parallel Dreams Publishing. Peterson, K., & Kolb, D. A. (2017). How You Learn Is How You Live.

San Francisco: BerrettKoehler. Tate, D. (2017, June). Lesson 1 – Focus Your Attention. Optimal Snowsports.

Web links

British Alpine Ski School Chamonix http://www.basschamonix.com

Kolb’s Nine Ways of Learning http://www.learningfromexperience.com Learn it, Love it, Live it http://www.optimalexperience.co.uk

Ski Coaching & Mountain Life http://www.paralleldreams.co.uk

Ski Instructional Videos http://www.projectedproductions.com

About the author Derek Tate holds a postgraduate diploma in Sports Coaching and has completed the first year of the MSc Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP). He holds the BASI International Ski Teacher Diploma and the IASI Alpine Level 4 Euro Ski Pro. He is a former trainer of ski instructors for the British Association of Snowsport Instructors (BASI) and current Head of Education for the Irish Association of Snowsports Instructors (IASI). He lives near Chamonix, in France where he is director of British Alpine Ski Schools (BASS) in Chamonix and Megeve.

Want to improve your performance this winter and learn how to practice more purposefully? Then book a lesson with Derek at BASS. To find out more go to http://basschamonix.com/ lessons2

All photographs © Parallel Dreams.
July, 2017 by Optimal Snowsports &

Time to Get this Party Started!

Enough of this off season! Last Spring was chock full o’ news with Vail Resorts and Aspen/KSL running amok with huge bags of cash buying up resorts. We’ll be keeping an eye on how that all shakes out.

dog fighting cat

Aspen Nips the Catz Tail! Trump Saves the Ski Industry!

We have some product reviews coming your way that you won’t want to miss.

skizrider

You will likely finish reading this installment confused by the many twists and turns and incomplete directions. GOOD…You darned well should be! The ski industry is slowly killing itself and the reasons are as complex as they silly.

Trust me though, I’ll get you straightened out on it all by the end of this season 🙂

What finally shook me out of my summer doldrums were two articles from the same author and source. Both articles referenced “experts” who talked about why the ski industry isn’t growing. I am always interested in that subject and I read them both, several times.

What struck me was not the specific opinions of the two experts but how two experts could be looking at the same industry and come up with conclusions that are perfect opposites. Could it be that the industry is failing to grow because there simply isn’t anyone who knows what is really going on?

The first article I saw was posted by ISPO.com and you can read it here. READ ME. 

Basically it claims that skiing is too “elitist” and needs to find a way to get more people from lower income demographics to participate. The article didn’t say it in so many words but I had the distinct impression that the intent was to socialize or, at least, to have governments subsidize snow sport participation.

china4

China plans to grow snow sports in an unprecedented way. If they are successful they would nearly double the number of active participants in the world. I wrote about that last year in…

Senior Skiing To Grow 400% Worldwide. 

If the rest of the alpine world is to survive, they may well have to learn how to compete against government subsidized resorts in China and Russia.

From that perspective, I can sort of understand where this expert is coming from. BUT, it seems like “experts” in Japan, Korea, OZ, NZ, Canada, and the US are gearing up for what they believe will be a  Wave of affluent Chinese coming their way.

china5

Given that China has proved it can build a world class ski resort in less than a year, it is likely that millions of folks from Japan, Korea, OZ, NZ, Canada and the US will pass them in the air…on their way to China...to enjoy government subsidized, world class skiing…on a free seat on government owned Chinese Airliners.

What I am saying is that China would very easily take the decision to offer free everything from travel to lodging to meals and lifts. One or two seasons of that could absolutely trash the ski industry in most traditional alpine countries.

Sometimes I wonder if Vail Resorts and Aspen/KSL understand that the 30 some resorts they own between them will be the only ones open in 15 years and are aligning themselves to serve only the wealthiest of the wealthy from around the globe. It’s already cheaper to take the annual ski vacation in Europe than it is to Colorado. How soon before it is even cheaper to enjoy world class powder in China?

The second article, from the same author and website… different expert.….posted in the same week contends exactly the opposite…Skiing is not “elite” enough. It needs the elite and not the “masses”!

First, I am curious to know who gets to decide if YOU are an “elite” or a member of  “the masses”. That decision almost never works out for you when you don’t get to make it.

This second article I didn’t spend a lot of time with. From the perspective of industry specific knowledge, the “expert” didn’t seem to have much. It was more like the standard Google/SEO – blast the world with “branding” thing that appears 400 times a day in my Facebook news feed.

From my view, it is really just a guy trying to sell some consulting time. I based that on the claim in the article that in a market populated by fairly affluent people he seems to think that dominating Google is the strategy of choice.

My thought is that the more easily you can define a target the easier it is to hit it. You go on LinkeIn, search keyword “ski” and bang – 1,000,000 affluent skiers that you can contact directly. His claim that “targeting” is dead is foolishly myopic and “tech-centric” and flies in the face of everything we know about how people in those “elite” classes make buying decisions.

Look, I am a free market guy and if you can get someone to spend $40 for a Cheeseburger by putting it on the menu as “Boeuf Haché avec du Fromage”…congratulations! PT Barnum told us many decades ago how that works.

I will make a prediction right now that $40 cheeseburgers and $300 lift tickets aren’t going to save the ski industry. Neither will socialized skiing. 

Again, the problems facing the industry in its traditional haunts has been the same problem for more than 20 years. The number of participants isn’t growing and neither is the number of times they go skiing each season. The industry has known for a long time that they need to do a much better job of hanging on to beginners.

The woeful statistic is that 82% of people who try it, don’t come back. NOTHING the industry has tried in the last 25 years has had any significant impact on that number.

According to the 2017 global industry study by Luis Vanat, participation in snow sports has been, and still is, in steady decline in traditional alpine nations.

The only places where it is growing are in Russia and China. 

The only demographic data that tracks directly with the decline in alpine sports is the decline of the middle classes in traditional alpine countries.

This conclusion is bolstered by the fact that Russia and China enjoy rapidly growing middle class. It is also supported here in the US that of the 200 plus ski areas lost in the last 20 years  most are predominantly small, local, low cost ski areas.

The cost of a day of skiing has grown much faster than inflation during a period when fewer and fewer people could afford even the low end of the cost spectrum.

All that boils down to that the ski industry really cannot have any impact of political and economic models. If current political and economic policies are eating away at your sources of revenue then you have to do something.

There are two ways to make a million dollars. Sell one million people a one dollar item or sell one million dollar item to one person. Between those extremes there are any number of potential blends of strategy and tactics to reach that goal.

So far, all we see are companies inching their way up the ladder. The cost of participating in lift served snow sports has been rising at a rate much higher than wage growth.

At a time when part of your client base is rapidly disappearing to economic policies, driving prices in the opposite direction only exacerbates the problem. Given the shrinkage in youth participation, the industry may well be heading toward a bubble that will fundamentally alter it and leave it no means of recovery.

When I was a kid in the late 50s and early 60s there simply weren’t many ski areas around. There were mountains of surplus military ski equipment that could be used on whatever local bump kids used for sledding. Our family “ski vacation” consisted of driving up Thompson canyon west of Ft. Collins and skiing the roadside ditch. Mom would drive us up and Dad would ski down with the kids. Then Dad would drive and Mom would ski with the kids. I had been skiing 15 years before I experienced a mechanical lift at a ski area. The current growth in a return to those halcyon days of hiking for turns is a breath of fresh air

In many towns these days the local sledding hills are shut down due to legal liability concerns. Kids are less active generally. Thanks in part to the explosion of a million cliff hucking, drowning-in-an-avalanche, GOPro videos, millions of mothers are deciding that skiing is too dangerous for their children.

There seems to be a growing list of reasons to NOT participate. At least, that list is growing faster than the list of reasons to give it a go and stay with it. The high costs certainly make it easier to stay away.

There are a lot of reasons why people don’t stick with it. Costs are certainly a part of that equation. Costs won’t change until the industry feels that is the only way it can survive.

One of the reasons that shows up in the annual surveys is poor proficiency. People think their skiing sucks and who is going to spend their annual vacation money doing something they suck at?

The problem is that there is much the industry can and should do about proficiency but they simply don’t care to do them. Lessons are expensive and will remain expensive, period.

When ski resorts are operating a government granted monopoly, there will not be any competition for the monopoly ski schools. Until there is, instruction will remain as expensive as it is ineffective and customer losses to “poor proficiency” will continue. Collision accidents on the mountain due to poor proficiency and over-crowding will continue to climb.

Sure skiing is expensive. The interesting thing is that once you reach a point in your life where you have the time to go skiing and you can afford to go skiing, the industry isn’t interested in you anymore.

Have Senior Skiers Been Abandoned? The Wrinkled Irrelevants…

kotke-demographics

The outlook for increasing average proficiency is pretty bleak. Instructors with a lot of experience are “aging-out” of the profession and not enough young people are taking it up.

Instructor shortages are so severe that resorts are offering $1000 bounties to any employee who helps them poach an instructor from a another resort.

 

The outlook is so bleak, in fact, that the Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA) have taken to designing instructional programs for companies who make teaching machines.

But hey, it’s almost December and the local mountain is open. So, we’ll just keep on skiing and riding and muddle through somehow.

Kowabunga!! Tips Up Folks!

 

 

Aspen Nips the Catz Tail! Trump Saves the Ski Industry!

Tony Robbins would have to admit that backing out of the Paris Agreement is a genius leadership move…

Ya, I know what you are thinking. But really…

I already went off on Vail’s climate announcement so I won’t repeat that (read it here)

Predictably, Aspen today announced they too are “#StillInIt” and all about living up to the Paris Agreement (PA) even if the evil Orange Dragon isn’t putting the federal government in the game. I am still at a loss about why on earth they aren’t saying, “Thank goodness!”

I will get to reasons why the lift-served snow sport industry ought to be thanking Trump for pulling the US out of the PA. I promise….

dog chasing cat

Most people, meaning those for AND against the PA, have no idea what is actually in it. (many will read it and still have no idea what it says)

So, how can they make an informed decision? Truth is, most people don’t. They take whatever collection of 15 second sound bites they have from whatever sources they prefer and they follow that.

We live in an “Information Age” but most of what we consume as “information” isn’t really information. It is a collection of other peoples’ conclusions. In the same way that computer models produce conclusions NOT “data”, consuming news only gives you the chance to vote on their conclusions it doesn’t give you “information” you can use to make your own decisions.

So, I read the PA It isn’t very long. Here is a link to the December 2015 version. Paris Agreement. (I can’t make the URL link work. I found it with the search terms “Paris Agreement Document) If you don’t want to read it, I’ll just tell you that someone at the DNC photocopied the first page and used it for the party platform.

The PA does nothing less than take for itself all the responsibilities of a government. The PA is going to eradicate poverty, promote LGBT rights, fight for the ubiquitous “social justice”, “climate justice”. Lots of justice in there. They will 3D print sliced bread, canned beer and real sex partners for everyone on the planet. The only shared feature of their various definitions of “justice” is the transfer of money.

Some people say. “It isn’t binding so why not just sign it?”

The obvious answer is that if it doesn’t actually DO anything then why bother with it at all?

If you were buying a car, the PA is that moment when the sales guy says, “Just sign the work up sheet here and I’ll go ask my manager to approve you”…unh huh….

But, the reasons run all they way down to our constitutional roots. It is deeply tied, believe it or not, to the current travel ban broo-ha-ha. If you recall, a judge held that the travel ban was discriminatory in its “intent” not because of the language of the executive order itself but because of things Trump said during the campaign.

If SCOTUS should uphold that decision it sets an interesting precedent. If Trump had verbally supported the PA, any regulation that doesn’t fit the PA mold could be overturned by citing the Travel Ban decision and Trump’s verbal remarks would carry the full force and legal weight of a treaty DOMESTICALLY without ever having passed a two thirds vote in the Legislative branch. That would essentially neuter the Legislative branch and turn the Executive branch into the hand maiden of the judiciary branch and effectively give any entity foreign or domestic the opportunity to circumnavigate the Constitution by filing a lawsuit. Any Ork with a pile of cash and a lawyer can become “President of Middle Earth for a Day”

Another popular meme is, “But only Syria and Nicaragua haven’t signed it”

My Mom used to say, “Just because all the other kids are jumping off the bridge does not mean YOU should!”

Ya, whatever, Mom, but seriously..read the PA. If you are the dictator of Bumfuckistan and you get millions in free western cash and are NOT bound by the PA to spend it on anything related to the climate, why the hell would you NOT sign it??”

The world is NOT a collection of unconnected dots, people. There are NOT 195 nations overflowing with love for the planet…yer gonna have to trust me on that..

All the PA really does is establish the global pecking order and loosely define the nations who will pay the bills and which nations will receive payments. The winners and losers have already been determined.

One thing is does communicate clearly. It does NOT like free-market solutions. It prefers money raised by taxation.

MOST of the payments will go to support the massive global bureaucracy that the PA calls for. In order to manage their involvement in the PA, every country will be forced to develop it’s own bureaucracy. Ka-Ching!

In the US that would have meant a new cabinet level position and many thousands of pages of new regulations. Ka-Ching!

Surely, those mountains of regulations would mean that cities, states and counties would have to have their own new bureaucracies…. Ka-Ching

Individuals and businesses (such as Aspen and Vail) would also have to pay the direct costs of compliance with all these new regulations as well as the incremental tax increases associated with the PA… Ka-Ching

Businesses such as Aspen/KSL and Vail would have to hire an army of people to cover the army of government employees who would want to see their plan, approve the plan and monitor the plan, receive massive reports on the plan. ..Ka-Ching

Because the technologies to make a huge reduction in energy consumption are not cheap, businesses would have to raise prices to customers, reduce headcount, reduce benefits, reduce pay raises…in short some pretty tight austerity measures…Ka-Ching

Or, receive massive government subsidies….KA-CHING!

We already know that folks in countries who have gone whole-hog for the renewable technologies have seen unsustainable increases in their electric bills….Ka-Ching

The price of fossil fuels, petroleum in particular, were predicted to rise 300-400% by 2030. We know that is a political target anyway. It was part of the Obama platform in 2008 and 2012. I can’t put that all on the PA.

When China surpasses the US in oil consumption, the trading currency would likely switch from dollars to yuan. The PA would simply accelerate the inevitable change. With US domestic oil production reduced and in many cases, blocked, the US doesn’t have a strategic fall back position…KA-CHING

The economic pressure of high fuel and electric prices is going to mean the end of vacation travel for millions of middle class households that currently participate in snow sports...Ka-Ching

You are maybe wondering who are all the beneficiaries of all this Ka-Chinging?

The simple answer is that if you love lift-served snow sports..it ain’t you…OK?

If you are a skier, YOU are the Ka-Chingee!

The cost of getting to a ski resort is going to go way up…Ouch

The cost lift passes and staying, eating and apres-skiing there is going to go way up…Ouch

There are going to be millions fewer customers who can afford to ski. Guess what happens to everything the resorts charge for and who will pay for that?…Ouch

Perhaps this gloomy economic outlook is the strategic driver behind the flurry of acquisitions? In the potential scenarios created by the PA, only a few resorts will survive. Only the top economic demographics will remain as customers and the dramatic increase in prices won’t affect their participation habits much. But what about all those small businesses in those ski towns who think The Consolidators are the savior returned? What about all that public infrastructure built to support twice the capacity?

Perhaps the “consolidation” craze is just preparing Aspen?KSL and Vail (who already own that market segment) for the inevitable and crushing demise of the lift-served snow sport industry. They intend to own the few resorts they believe will survive.

I was scratching my head over Vail and Aspen volunteering to live up to the PA…

But, if they can suck the budget-skiing resort owners into a “climate war” or influence legislation and regulations in a way favorable to their strategy, it would hasten the demise of those smaller  venues, that’s a win. They are already positioned financially and, as they grow larger, will enjoy more political influence. A huge chunk of the funding for the US Forest Service already comes from VR and Aspen/KSL.

If you are one of the millions of participants who struggle or make sacrifices so you can go skiing or riding, there is absolutely nothing in the PA for you to be happy about. 

 People yak about building “awareness” and take fat donations to do that. I am just wondering if the problem is awareness or “careness”. Everybody from Kindergarten on up is aware of climate change….not that many people care.

The battle cry on the slopes these days is “save our winters!”

My question is, “For Whom?”

But let’s not stop there. Let’s spin the dreidl again and see what turns up.

Even though they are not going to be REQUIRED to suffer all the slings and arrows of outrageous legislation (and YOU won’t have to pay for it all)…

Aspen and Vail just said they are going to do it anyway, which means you will pay for it in one way or another.

BUT…because they won’t have the heavy burden of regulatory compliance and exponential growth in fuel and electric bills, it makes a nice strategic and tactical windfall. They have the opportunity to take the money they had set aside for the effects of the PA in their long range plans and put that money to good use reducing their elephantine carbon clog hoppers.

 

Aspen says they are STILL in it. That surely means they were ALREADY in it before today. I wonder how they were planning to deal with all the requirements of the PA. Let’s take a look at just some of the things that Vail, and now Aspen, have committed themselves to fund. I don’t mean “support” or “signal intent” or lobby or protest…I mean PAY FOR..send money…..moola…dinero….scheckles

Payments to “The Convention” to be distributed to foreign governments to;

fight poverty…. create food-security… support LGBT rights…create climate justice, social justice..the list is really long. How will Aspen and Vail determine how much money to send off every year? Without a government to tell them how much, it should be interesting to watch. I want to see a photocopy of the checks…

Maybe we are seeing the emergence of a Vail v. Aspen Slugfest (click here to read it)“climate competition” that would blow the roof off their goals. Wouldn’t that be something if free enterprise took the lead over tax driven, ineffective government bureaucracy?!! I mean, after all, the War on Poverty and the War on Drugs worked out so well….

So, I am heartened by these announcements by various companies to toe the PA mark and soldier on alone.

As Tony Robbins has often said, “Real leaders don’t create followers. They create new leaders”

+It just might be that backing out of the Paris Agreement has lifted America from becoming a band of dogged, slogging  followers and created all these new leaders.

Rather than having surrendered “American Leadership”, the Orange Dragon just broke away from the pack of followers and unleashed these new leaders on the world.

To be fair, it just might turn out to be the most genius leadership move ever.

 

 

Katz Steps in the Litter Box

Copied from the Vail Resorts Facebook page…

We are deeply saddened by the decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. As a global company, Vail Resorts believes we have a unique responsibility to protect the incredible natural landscapes and environment that surround our mountain resorts and those across our planet. Climate change is a global challenge that requires global cooperation, and it is disheartening to see the United States pull away from working with the other 194 countries that were part of the Agreement. Vail Resorts will redouble our efforts to find significant ways to minimize our carbon footprint through reducing our energy use to help address one of the most serious challenges facing our worldwide community.” – Rob Katz, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Vail Resorts”

Before I launch into the rest of this rant, let me offer full disclosure. I LOVE lift-served snow sports and I intend to keep on using the hell out of the mountain environments as long as I can. I simply refuse to be a hypocrite about it. Meanwhile, Rob Katz, CEO of Vail Resorts, seems to have no problem exposing just how hypocritical he can be.

whack a mole
We know it is fashionable for catz to Dump on Trump. Just make sure your own shoes are out of the way!

 

First, let’s get the math out of the way. Roughly half of voters just voted for Trump. It is statistically probable that half of Vail’s customers voted for Trump. Katz just told half his customer base that he doesn’t like what they stand for. THEN he turns around and tells the other half of his customers, who might be receptive some Trump-hating, that Vail Resorts hasn’t been doing all it can to save the planet. Bad math, bad optics Rob.

Second, here is where I stand. Whether or not man is causing climate change is completely irrelevant to the job at hand. We each and every  one of us ought to be PERSONALLY doing everything we can, every day to reduce our impact on the planet. Only a change in personal habits make a difference. Use less gas. Recycle, re-purpose reuse..

It is beyond comical to say one will change man’s impact on the planet by waiting for someone to create a global governing body that then builds a massive bureaucracy, that imposes new taxes so they can write, promulgate and enforce mounds of laws and regulations that then come knocking on YOUR door to tell you that you must now do what you have ALWAYS known you SHOULD do but have NOT done. It’s frigging moronic.

The problem with subsidized “green” energy is that it does not MOTIVATE companies to develop technically, economically effective products, only politically effective, fashionable technologies. Government involvement, only and always, serves to make things much more expensive than they need to be.

On with the rant…Without giving it any critical thinking, Vail Resorts’ CEO Rob Katz just stuck his foot in the political doo-doo. Rather than thanking President Trump for giving him a 4-8 year reprieve from predatory environmentalism, Katz excoriated the President for his decision on the Paris Accord.

It is like tying a rope around a sapling and the noose around your neck and then watering the tree. It may take a while but, eventually you are gonna hang.

There simply is NO individual recreational sport with a larger carbon footprint than lift-served skiing & riding.

Math Quiz:

How many gallons of jet fuel does it take to fly 10 million people an average of 1,200 miles with 200 people per flight? How many tons of CO2 and particulate matter does this produce?

 

Every day in the winter, all around the world, tens of millions of people get into cars and buses and trains and airplanes and travel. They get into rental cars and trains and buses and planes to get to a resort. There, they walk down streets lit 24/7 with millions of twinkling lights. They climb into boots made from carbons.

They strap boards to their feet made of carbon. They slather carbon waxes all over the bottoms of these boards and get into chair lifts run by a LOT of carbon to ski on snow that uses even MORE carbon to make artificially…some even add getting into helicopters or cats…then they reverse the process and go home.

It’s completely ridiculous and intellectually dishonest to go after the President for stepping out of an agreement that may well have spelled the end of Mr Katz run. Trump just saved your Friskies Mr Katz. Be grateful.

manure

The Paris Accords would have placed heavy burdens on the US, Canada, Australia and Europe to dramatically..DRAMATICALLY reduce emissions. The ski industry, as represented by Vail Resorts and, now Aspen KSL, makes a very easy target for predatory environmentalism.

To boot, the cost of compliance would have meant spiraling, nearly unbearable financial burdens on that portion of the middle class that may well make or break the lift-served snow sport industry.

Factor in the ski industry’s poor record on diversity and it’s a cauldron full of social and political trouble. Like the old COPS theme..”Whatcha gonna do when they come for you…?”

A 1500 acre ski resort uses as much fuel in a day as a WWII US Navy Destroyer, at cruising speed…just to make the snow. The US ski industry, as a whole, uses enough carbon- based energy to power the navies of  several nations..And Katz wants to attack the President? Katz is a carbon guzzling capitalist, serving capitalist investors all while doing the absolute minimum for the “environment”. I am fine with it! I just detest a hypocrite.

Do I know I am not doing the planet a favor when I ski? Sure I do,but like any well meaning sinner, I do my best to make it up.

Katz just announced that, up until now, Vail hasn’t been doing all it could do to reduce it’s emissions. Just now he vows to “redouble” his efforts. What took you so long? Did you think that if Trump decided to stick with the Paris Accord you wouldn’t have to “redouble”, that you could just cruise along doing less than your best? Only now, when you feel you could make some marketing hay by jumping on the hate wagon, you suddenly become fully committed? That is the ultimate in hypocrisy…and disgustingly obvious.

It’s like putting up signs everywhere asking your customers to tip more so you don’t have to pay better wages. It gets old.

Let’s face it. There are hundreds of millions of “environmentalists” out there. Only a relative handful are snow sport enthusiasts. As “Corporate Skiing” grows into “Big Skiing”, it makes the entire industry an ever larger target for predatory environmentalism. Activists LOVE going after deep pockets and VR’s pockets are deep and bulging.

vail at nite
All that glitters may not be gold, but it DOES burn a heck of a lot of fuel!

Stock holders of VR ought to be truly concerned about a CEO who doesn’t understand the very basics, who so seriously misreads his constituency. This is nothing more than the global version of Chuckie Cheese Whack-a-Mole. Katz didn’t just stick his head out of the hole, he JUMPED out with a bulls-eye on his nose.

People ski and ride to get AWAY from all the madness. If you turn participation in the sport into a political statement you will find that a lot of people don’t care to make the statement. Others won’t care to confront their own hypocrisy.

Ask Kapernick where he will be working next year, or the laid off employees at ESPN. You are always free to be as political as you choose. You are NOT free from the consequences of your choices.

His post on the VAIL Facebook page got HAMMERED with negative responses. Share holders ought to be damned concerned about  a CEO who so seriously misreads his social media base.  He might want to give that some thought next time before he texts.

One would at least hope that the leader of skiings’ global-corporatist movement would be a bit more wise. You don’t stand up and condemn Trump for his Paris Accord decision while happily taking money from Trump’s kids (Ivanka skis Whistler) and polluting the hell out of every resort town you touch as you expand its carbon footprint and strain its infrastructure.

ivanka whistler

Or, if the suspicions are true and Katz is really care if he drives out the “middle income riff-raff”. Does he simply believe that his interests will always be protected from intellectual honesty and people will always be available at the Vail milking stool? Who gives a shit about Joe the Plumber and his family when Leonardo and Al are due in on their separate private jets? Hey, Ivanka dropped 30-40 grand at Whistler. Who needs a truck driver from Houston?

I recall a rant on LinkedIn recently by a Food and Beverage manager complaining bitterly about all the people who buy an Epic Pass but bring their own lunch. How ungrateful! Oh the temerity!

One person responded that in the first YAA (“year-after-acquisition”)the 25% increase in food prices made him decide to bag his lunch. He could easily afford to buy his lunch on the mountain but they just made him mad, so he won’t.

Years ago, the catch phrase was “Think Globally, Act Locally” meaning, think about the planet but change YOUR personal behavior. Here, Katz takes the toddler approach, “Think selfishly and cry loud enough and long enough for an adult to solve your problem for you”
 
It is not up to Trump or anyone else to change VR’s soiled diaper or anyone else who wants to strike some moral equivalency. If you want to save the planet, grow up and stop using lift served resorts..period..or make some kind of sacrifice. Katz makes no attempt beyond the cosmetic “green washing” and from the other side of his rant, admits that VR hasn’t been doing its best to reduce its footprint.
But, now…NOW waving his mighty Excalibur in one hand and a severed head held-on-high in the other, our hero bravely sallies forth to do battle with the evil Orange Dragon. What pure twittery.
 
cat whack amole
There was a saying when I was in the military. “If you wait for the drill sergeant to find something for you to do, you probably won’t like it”
So Rob, as you kick your arms and legs and hold your breath and cry and whine about Trump, be aware. Be aware that demanding the government do something that you can easily do yourself may have consequences you have not considered.
 
Should the Trump administration save the planet? You say yes so, you must be willing to accept any or all of the following;
Are you willing for a government to tell you the Epic Pass is only good for 15 days a year per customer?
Or, that you may not travel more than 100 miles to ski?
Or that your resort can only be open 4 days per week?
How about opening on January 1st and closing on March first?
How about a mandatory 50% reduction in snow making?
Multi Resort passes incentivize more carbon guzzling travel. Those should be made illegal. You know, to save the planet. Think globally, Ski locally!”
No, you won’t take any of those steps to save the planet, will you? You think grabbing a keyboard and frothing at the textual mouth is sufficient to the moment.
Like every other self serving child you demand that someone else take action, someone else make the sacrifice. There is no courage in your alleged convictions, no moral clarity, no action, just more solar cells and green paint.
Well screw that. If you believe in saving the planet so much that you are willing to alienate customers, close one resort next season or each resort one day per month..or something..or shut up about it.
The US goal was a 25% reduction in energy consumption so tell us how you are going to do that. You better have a plan. If you supported PA you must have already planned a 25% reduction, right? That crazy bastard Trump just might make you do it anyway. Right? Just because he pulled out of the PA does NOT mean he won’t do something unilaterally. 
 
Of course you won’t do any of those things voluntarily, but when you leave it up to a government to solve your problems for you, when you put the decision in someone else’s hands, those are only a few of the obvious solutions governments can implement. You put yourself in the position of the lazy recruit and the drill sergeant. You may not like the outcome. You put the entire industry at risk.  
 
As I said previously, perhaps Katz should be thanking Trump for sparing his enterprise for another 4 or 8 years from the ravages of predatory environmentalism.
 
If I were him, I would shut it down to a whisper and enjoy skiing while I can. Stop talking and DO something meaningful. Flying around talking about what OTHER people should do is not a productive action. Posting on Facebook is not productive either. It’s just one can of green paint in a world that needs 10 million solar panels…
Only about a third of the nations that signed the accord have lift served snow sports. The other 130 could care less about the ski industry. The global powers envisioned by the authors of the Paris Accord put the industry ONE edict away from shutting down the Alps or Whistler or…..ONE edict…one moment of brain gas….one bribe from a foreign government
If we look at the recent tumble by the NFL, and ESPN, the catz may well have just stepped in the litter box. Share holders in Vail Resorts have to be concerned that their CEO may create that “Dixie Chick” moment. Time will tell.
In the mean time wipe your paws and leave them off the keyboard. You aren’t doing anything positive for yourself, your shareholders, your customers, your employees, the industry, the country or the planet. I know that now because you just told the whole world on Facebook that you haven’t been doing your best.
America has been busily exporting it’s middle class and it has already had a negative impact on the numbers. What middle class that remains is quickly being priced out of lift-served snow sports. Pissing off a large chunk of the remaining available market makes no sense.The King may be handsomely dressed, but from here it just looks like another naked ass…

 

 

 

Senior Skiers Remember!

A great Memorial Day article from The Ski Diva! And a great old movie, Roger Corman’s “Ski Troop Attack!”

Link to The Ski Diva – http://www.theskidiva.com/memorial-day-ski-style-6/

Learn More about the 10th Mountain Division click here