The Teva Winter Mountain Games begin today

The Teva Winter Mountain Games Being TodayThe first-ever Teva Winter Mountain Games get underway today in Vail, Colorado, where some of the top pro and amateur outdoor athletes have gathered to compete in a variety of sports. The event, which lasts through the weekend, will also feature a number of concerts, gear giveaways, clinics, and more.

Some of the sports that the athletes will be competing in including ice climbing, Nordic and telemark skiing, snowshoeing, and on-snow cycling. Even man’s best friend can get in on the action, as there are several events for dogs to compete too. But the biggest event of the weekend is the Ultimate Mountain Challenge, which features three different sports spread out over three days. In order to be crowned the King or Queen of the Mountain, a single athlete will have to fend off all the competition in a Nordic Freestyle race today, than follow it up with an up-hill cross country skiing competition tomorrow. On Sunday, those same competitors will then square off in the toughest stage of all – a skiing race up, over, and back down, Vail Mountain.

A large group of spectators are expected to be hand over the three-day event, cheering on their favorite athletes. That crowd won’t have to sit on the sidelines without getting the opportunity to join in on the fun however, as they’ll get the chance to take part in photo competitions and clinics, test out some gear, and hone their own winter outdoor skills. They can also enjoy an adventure film festival, listen to some live bands, and join the celebration at several parties.

The inaugural Teva Winter Mountain Games is a natural extension of the summer Mountain Games, which will be taking place later this year. If you’re an outdoor enthusiast who loves to run, ride, or climb, you’ll certainly find a lot to love at both events.


5 great spring break ski destinations

5 great spring break ski destinationWith spring break just around the corner, many of you are no doubt looking for one last blast of winter fun before the warmer temps set in. With that in mind, here are five great ski destinations that will make your spring break a memorable one.

Big Sky Resort, Montana
Big Sky bills itself as the “Biggest Skiing in America,” and for good reason. With over 150 runs to choose from, the longest of which is 6 miles in length, you’ll never run out of mountain to explore. And thanks to a strategic partnership with nearby Moonlight Basin, visitors have more than 5000 skiable acres to shred. The resort is so large in fact, that you’ll rarely have to wait in line for one of the 22 chair lifts and once you do get to the top of the slope, you may not encounter another skier until you get back to the bottom again. Throw in dramatic Montana skyline, a host of other on site activities, and over 400 inches of snow per year, and you have a skiers paradise to say the least. Complete your Big Sky experience with a Yeti Dog and thank me later.

Whiteface Ski Resort, New York
East coasters who can’t make it out west this year have plenty of options for hitting the slopes as well. Whiteface Ski Resort, located in upstate New York, is the perfect example. With 22 miles of trail, spread out over 86 runs, Whiteface truly has something for everyone. The mountain even boasts 3430 feet of continuous vertical drop, which is not only the most of any resort in the east, it is also more than Aspen, Vail, or Park City. Surrounded by the spectacular Adirondack Forest, the trails offer a remote solitude, but when you’re ready for some fun off the slopes, nearby Lake Placid has plenty of bars, restaurants, and shops to keep you busy too.

5 great spring break ski destinations Mammoth Mountain, California
Skiers and snowboarders on the left coast will no doubt already be well aware of Mammoth Mountain, a fantastic destination for everyone from beginners to experts. Located in eastern California, in the Sierra Nevada range, Mammoth offers up 3500 skiable acres that are covered in more than 340 inches of snow on an annual basis. Of the 150 or so runs available, about a quarter are rated for beginners, while a third of the remaining trails are rated as a Black Diamond or greater. The place is a popular destination for the snowboard crowd as well, thanks to its 18-foot Super Pipe and 22-foot Super Duper Pipe. Known for its long season, (the resort was one open for an astounding 10 months in a row!) Mammoth is likely to have great conditions not just for Spring Break, but for weeks to come as well.

Sun Valley, Idaho
Sun Valley Lodge, located in north-central Idaho, has been a top ski destination since it opened all the way back in 1936. At the center of the ski and snowboarding culture that has developed there is Bald Mountain, or “Baldy” as it is affectionately known. Baldy offers 3400 feet of vertical drop, with an excellent consistency to the terrain, that has made it a favorite for skiers from around the globe. It also offers some of the finest powder you’ll find anywhere and miles of trails with few crowds to contend with. Throw in a great freestyle park and a Super Pipe for the snowboarders, and you have an amazing destination that will keep everyone happy.

Ruby Mountains, Nevada
For a completely different skiing experience, consider going to the Ruby Mountains, located in northeastern Nevada. There you’ll find Ruby Mountain Heli-Experience, a company that specializes in offering heli-skiing opportunities in the pristine backcountry. Unlike the resort options listed above, you won’t find any groomed trails or ski lifts here, just 200,000 acres of fantastic powder that is only accessible by helicopter. You don’t have to be a world class skier or snowboarder to enjoy the Ruby Mountain experience either, as you can choose to take on long, slow, shallow bowls or adrenaline inducing slopes that will have your heart pounding out of your chest. At the end of the day, you’ll return to the lodge for an amazing home cooked meal that will be the perfect end to a perfect day.

The calendar may say that it is turning spring in just a few weeks, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have just a little more winter fun. Enjoy one last blast on the slopes before putting the skis and snowboard away for one more season.



Colorado ski resorts prepare for ski season, introduce social networking to slopes

Skiers and snowboarders who have been eagerly waiting for the Colorado ski season to begin, had their patience rewarded last week when Keystone Resort opened to the public for the first time this year. They’ll soon be joined by Breckenridge, which fires up the lifts tomorrow, followed by Vail and Heavenly, who kick off the season on the 19th, with Beaver Creek finally joining in on the fun on the 24th of the month.

It may still be early November, but the snow has already been flying on the mountains, with several of the resorts receiving in excess of 7″-8″ of snow in the past few days alone. That means that skiers can already expect a good base of powder when the gates open over the next few weeks, and considering these resorts average 300+ inches of snow per year, you can bet that the season ahead will be a good one.

Fantastic lodges and beautiful powder aren’t the only thing these resorts have up their sleeves this year however. They’ve also managed to bring their lift tickets into the 21st century by incorporating an RFID chip right in the passes themselves. That technology opens up a host of new opportunities for visitors in what can only be described as an Epic Mix.

Epic Mix is a unique blend of outdoor fun, social networking, and technology that comes together in an online environment or on a mobile app for the iPhone and Android devices. As you spend the day going up and down the mountain, making great run after great run, the RFID chip is busy keeping track of how far you’ve skied, how many vertical feet you’ve dropped, and so on. It then allows you to share that information online at the Epic Mix website, as well as on Facebook and Twitter. You can even earn special Epic Mix achievements for completing certain goals or attending specific events. Those achievements can be shared with friends and family in the form of badges that can be prominently displayed on your Epic Mix or Facebook page. Examples of some of these achievements are the Snow Turkey, which is awarded for visiting a resort on Thanksgiving Day or the Three’s Company badge for skiing more than 3000 vertical feet in a single season.

As of this writing, the Epic Mix mobile apps are not available yet, but the website promises that they’ll arrive “by Christmas.” Android and iPhone users will find plenty to love in these applications, as they’ll not only allow you to access your Epic Mix account while on the go, they’ll also show you exactly where your friends are on the mountain at any given time, and allow you to message one another to set up when and where to meet. The apps will also give you real time weather and snow reports, traffic updates, and information on the conditions of your favorite run.

For more information on what Epic Mix can do, check out the video below and be prepared to have an even more social experience on the slopes in Colorado this season.

[Photo credit: Breckenridge Lodge]

Kids fly free to Vail this winter

Skiing is not a cheap hobby. For those who don’t live close to the slopes, just getting to their favorite ski resort can cost hundreds of dollars, especially for families. But those going to Vail may find it a little more affordable. . . well at least for the flights.

American Airlines, which operates several nonstop routes to Eagle Airport (30 minutes from Vail and Beaver Creek), is offering free flights for kids traveling with adults this winter. Each paid adult can bring one child for free on flights departing Sunday through Wednesday and returning Monday through Friday, from December 1 to 17 and January 3 to February 10. Within the selected date ranges, there are no blackout dates.

The offer is good on connecting flights to Eagle Airport as well. Kids also ski free on the day of arrival and get free transport to Vail or Beaver Creek from the airport.

Alternatives to skiing: spa, anyone?

In the interests of disclosure and transparency, I don’t ski. I did a little bit of snowboarding 15 years ago, but it didn’t amount to much. So, when I write about the ski deals that come across my desk, it’s not lost on me that some people don’t hit the slopes. The latest package from The Lodge at Vail, a RockResort, has something for those of us who don’t stumble down the mountain. The “Spa, Savor & Snowshoe” deal is for everyone else. Guests can work up some hunger while snowshoeing, get those taxed muscles rubbed down at the spa and tie off the day with a three-course dinner at the Wildflower restaurant.

At $423 a night, the savings is around 25 percent, but you need to book a three-night stay. You’ll get a $300 spa credit, half-day guided snowshoe tour and daily breakfast for two (along with the dinner at Wildflower).

It looks like you don’t need to be a skier to enjoy winter in Colorado!