Video: “Stuff” skiers say

I’m in Lake Tahoe–California and Nevada’s premier ski destination–visiting my brother and his family. My teenage nephew, a member of the Olympic Valley Freeride & Freestyle Team, turned me on to this farcical video about things skiers say. If you’re a skier–or snowboarder–you’re fully aware that there are certain phrases ubiquitous to those who spend their days on the slopes–even if the language between the two sports differs slightly.

Even if you don’t dig snow, you’ll likely appreciate this. And if you’re a flatlander heading to the mountains for a weekend of shreddin’….please…don’t act like a gaper. “Now go get your sesh on.”

Warning: this clip contains language that may be offensive to some.

Video of the Day: Urban skiiing

Despite the oddly warm weather we’re experiencing in the Northeast right now, it is technically the start of ski season is many part of the country. However, it can be difficult to get to a proper ski destination whether due to finances, lack of time or friends who flake on planned trips. Well, this skier didn’t go anywhere but his own neighborhood to hit the slopes. He crosses streets, jumps cars and catches a local bus all while careening downhill on his skis. Granted, he’s in British Columbia, so he’s probably pretty close to some decent ski runs, but this is still a residential “trail.” We don’t recommend that you try this in your neighborhood.

Calling all single snow bunnies: Speed dating hits the slopes this Winter

Want to find love by trying something a little out of the ordinary this winter?

Bristol Mountain in the Finger Lakes region of New York has come up with a way to help singles find a compatible ski buddy…and maybe even the love of their life. On January 14 and February 11, 2012, single skiers can sign up for Ski Dating, which includes three, 45 minute ski or snowboarding dates with three potential matches. And to get daters in the mood for romance and help them get to know each other, Bristol Mountain will host a wine and cheese mixer before hitting the slopes.

If you’re interested in attending one of these sessions, pre-registration is required. The price is $15 and does not include life tickets or ski rentals. For more information click here.

SkyMall Monday: Large Universal Skate Sail (the worst SkyMall product ever?)

I want to love every SkyMall product. I mean, they’re all so gosh darn loveable. And, like the infomercials that you see when you can’t fall asleep, the descriptions of each gadget in SkyMall lead you to believe that they’re the greatest thing since the Edge Brownie Pan. Every SkyMall product that we’ve ever reviewed for SkyMall Monday has touted itself as life-changing and showcased all of its best attributes. All of that changes this week. We were embarrassed for the makers of this week’s featured product. After discovering it in the catalog, we were beyond excited to see it in action. We looked up every video that we could find only to be more disappointed than a Washington Generals fan. Each video is more amateurish and underwhelming than the last. Each video makes it look as if the product doesn’t even work. Each video makes us shake our heads at how awful the Large Universal Skate Sail must be.First of all, Sail Skating (as this “sport” is called) has the single saddest website in the history of the internet. It includes one link to a news story promoting the “sport.” That link is dead.

It features no explanation of the activity, the product or, well, anything. It includes links to buy the sail on Amazon, like the sail on Facebook (two people have done so) and follow the sail company on Twitter (it has tweeted once and has zero followers).

Most importantly, it showcases 29 sail skating videos in the most horrible video interface we’ve ever seen. And the videos themselves? None of them make the product look particularly…um, what’s the word…oh, right…good. They all show the sail flopping around in the air while someone kinda sorta glides by at about the same speed that they could achieve using just their feet.

The product description makes it seem like the creators had good intentions:

A great new way to get both adults and kids outside and moving if they’re sitting around the TV too much!

Why use your own muscles to exercise when you can let the wind do all the work? Well, as you’ll see in these videos, the wind is slacking off, too.

How bad are the videos? Let’s take a look.

I’m amazed that his coveralls didn’t create more drag as the semi-inflated sail allowed him to just barely pass a parked car.

Ever wanted to ride in a vehicle that goes slower than a walking toddler with a club foot? Then this is the product for you!

Certainly, you’d like to learn how the Skate Sail works. Perhaps this crude computer animation that is completely devoid of audio, details or realism can help you.

Yep, that answered all of our questions. Surely you must be satisfied by now, as well.

Unless, of course, you were wondering what the Skate Sail looks like while not working very well and viewed through a paper towel tube. Well then, this is the video for you:

Is this sail the worst SkyMall product ever? It’s quite possible. What’s certain is that it is the most poorly marketedSkyMall product of all-time. Well done, Skate Sail.

Check out all of the previous SkyMall Monday posts HERE.

A brief history of Telluride and its surrounding ghost towns

Telluride. The name alone conjures a variety of associations, from the debaucherous (Glenn Frey’s “Smuggler’s Blues”) to the elite (Tom Cruise is the other inevitable mention). But this isolated little town in Southwestern Colorado’s craggy San Juan range has a truly wild past and a lot to offer. It’s not the only mining-town-turned-ski-resort in the Rockies, but I think it’s the most well-preserved, photogenic, and in touch with its history. Apparently I’m not alone, because the town core (all three blocks of it) was designated a National Historic Landmark District in 1964.

Located in a remote box canyon (waterfall included) at 8,750 feet, Telluride and its “down valley” population totals just over 2,000 people. I’ve lived in Telluride off-and-on since 2005, and there’s something to be said about a place where dogs outnumber residents, and you can’t leave home without running into people you know. Longtime residents burn out on the small town thing, but I still get a kick out of it after years of city living.

Today the former brothels of “Popcorn Alley” are ski shanties, but they’re still painted eye-catching, Crayola-bright colors, and the old ice house is a much-loved French country restaurant. Early fall is a great time to visit because the weather is usually mild, the aspens are turning, and there’s the acclaimed Telluride Film Fest, brutal Imogene Pass Run (Sept. 10) and Blues & Brews Festival (Sept. 16-18) to look forward to. The summer hordes are gone, but the deathly quiet of the October/early-November off-season hasn’t begun.

According to the Telluride Historical Museum, the town was established in 1878. It was originally called Columbia, and had a reputation as a rough-and-tumble mining town following the opening of the Sheridan Mine in the mid-1870’s. The mine proved to be rich in gold, silver, zinc, lead, copper, and iron, and with the 1890 arrival of the Rio Grande Southern railroad, Telluride grew into a full-fledged boomtown of 5,000. Immigrants–primarily from Scandinavia, Italy, France, Germany, Cornwall, and China–arrived in droves to seek their fortunes. Many succumbed to disease or occupational mishaps; the tombstones in the beautiful Lone Tree Cemetery on the east end of town bear homage to lots of Svens, Lars’, and Giovannis.


[Photo credit: Flickr user hubs]

The mining resulted in 350 miles of tunnels that run beneath the mountains at the east end of the valley; you can see remnants of mine shafts and flumes throughout the region. If paddling is your thing, you’ll see gold dredges runnning on the San Miguel, San Juan, and Dolores Rivers.

Telluride’s wealth attracted the attention of Butch Cassidy and his Wild Bunch, who famously robbed the town’s San Miguel National Bank in 1889 (trivia: I used to live in an upstairs apartment in that very building). But in 1893, the silver crash burst the money bubble, and almost overnight Telluride’s population plummeted. By the end of World War II, only 600 people remained.

Telluride is a part of the 223-mile San Juan Scenic Highway, which connects to the historic towns of Durango, Ouray, and Silverton. There’s only one paved road in and out of Telluride, and that’s Hwy. 145. The only other options are two high, extremely rugged mountain passes (which require 4WD and experienced drivers). There are also a handful of ghost towns in the area. Some, like Alta (11,800 feet) make for a great, not too-strenuous hike; you’ll see the trailhead four miles south on Hwy 145. There are a number of buildings still standing, and two miles up the road lie the turquoise Alta Lakes.

If you want to check out the ghost town of Tomboy, it’s five miles up Imogene Pass (13,114 feet). Don’t underestimate just how tough it is if you’re hiking; you’ll gain 2,650 feet in altitude; otherwise it’s an hour’s drive. The trail begins on the north end of Oak Street; hang a right onto Tomboy Road. Unless you’re physically fit and acclimated to the altitude, the best way to see these ghost towns is by 4WD tour with an outfitter like Telluride Outside. Another bit of trivia: every July, the “Lunar Cup” ski race is held on a slope up on Imogene Pass, clothing optional.

How to get there
Telluride is a six-and-a-half-hour drive from Denver, but it also boasts the world’s second highest commercial airport (9,078 feet) with daily non-stop connections from Denver and Phoenix. It’s closed in sketchy weather (if you’re flight phobic, just say “hell, no”), and it’s often easier and usually cheaper to fly into Montrose Regional Airport, 70 miles away. From there, take Telluride Express airport shuttle; you don’t need a car in town. Go to for all trip-planning details. For more information on the region’s numerous ghost towns, click here.

When to go
Telluride is beautiful any time of year, but avoid mid-April through mid-May and October through before Thanksgiving, as those are off-season and most businesses are closed. Spring is also mud season, and that’s no fun. Late spring, summer, and early fall mean gorgeous foliage, and more temperate weather, but be aware it can snow as late as early July. August is monsoon season, so expect brief, daily thunderstorms. July and winter are the most reliably sunny times; that said, Telluride averages 300 days of sunshine a year. If you want to explore either pass, you’ll need to visit in summer.

Telluride tips
The air is thin up there. Drink lots of water, and then drink some more. Go easy on the alcohol, too. Take aspirin if you’re suffering altitude-related symptoms like headache or insomnia, and go easy for a couple of days until you acclimate. Wear broad-spectrum, high SPF sunblock, and reapply often on any exposed skin or under t-shirts. Wear a hat and sunglasses, as well.

[Photo credits: Tomboy, Flickr user Rob Lee; Mahr building, Laurel Miller; winter, Flickr user rtadlock]