Monday, February 05, 2007

Squaw Valley

I was just looking through my blog material. This is a story about when I tried downhill skiing for the first time. Should have posted it earlier with some pictures but they ended up on some other guy's camera and haven't made their way to me yet. Oh well..

This December, I experienced snow and cold for the first time in quite a while. Me, my German colleague Jan and the guys from the house went to the Sierra Nevada mountains, to Lake Tahoe. The YSC owns a cabin there that members can rent fairly cheap. Early December is early in the season, and we were the only ones there that weekend.
It turned out that the snow conditions were really poor on the day we arrived. Most of the ground below the mountains was barren. We went to a nearby town to rent skis and were advised to wait for a front that was coming in later that day, hopefully bringing more snow to the slopes.
A fifteen minutes drive from the cabin brings you to Sqaw Valley, where the winter Olympics were held in 1960. We went there to check out the conditions, just to make sure.
We inquired skiers about the state of the slopes and decided to wait until the next day before renting equipment. Instead we spent the day at the cabin drinking beer and playing poker and trivial pursuit.
In the evening we crossed the border to Nevada, were the gambling laws are more liberal than California. Surely enough, right after the border, near Lake Tahoe, there are a few casinos. Not very fancy, but still interesting. So we lost some money, and got a bite to eat.

Soon it had started to snow, and it snowed all night. In the morning there was maybe 15 cms outside of the cabin and we got out equipment and went to Squaw Valley.

Having never skied downhill in my life, and only done cross-country skiing some 13 years ago, at Squaw Valley, I started out in the beginner slopes where there are instructors to help you out. They, and the other participants, were puzzled by the fact that there are Swedes that can't actually ski. Luckily, it went quite well for me compared to some of the others. There was this Chinese girl that despite many attempts failed to get very far up the hill, or on level ground either, before plummeting to the ground.

I was not so bad myself though. During the beginners introduction I managed to ski backwards into a tree (the only tree around). And also to cut the power to the lift by accidentally grabbing hold of the cord, effectively unplugging it.
Never the less, after lunch that day, I decided that it was time to try the blue slope (the only other slope open at the time). The hills were low on snow, and some parts were icy. We had to sign when renting the gear that we understood that skiing in low snow conditions was risky and
that we shouldn't sue the renters if we hurt ourselves.
Anyway, I pushed myself out on the slope.. and down I went. It took a while to get all the way down, and I fell maybe two dozen times. But during the last part I had improved a lot. well at least I had learned how to turn, break, and (most of the time at least) to stop and to get up quickly. It was fun. I will certainly go skiing again when I get the chance.
Any takers (preferably rookies like me) who wants to go to Chamonix for a week and get some practice? Wouldn't that be awesome.



Anonymous said...

Nice detailed post, glad you were able to make it up to ski at squaw. Check out Unofficial Skiing Squaw Valley next time you head up to tahoe ... it has some great local resources.

Arvid said...

Skiing sounds like a lot of fun, and Chaminox sounds good for me. What the hell, let's go there next year ;) Or why not our swedish mountains? Markus arranged a trip to some snow hills for about 480 kronor per captia for students at his school in Eskilstuna... That's hella-cheap ;)

Robert said...

Thanks anonymous.

Arvid: From what I hear there is not much snow in our Swedish moutains. Otherwise that's of course an option (cheap is good) until we have the skills (becuase I know we have the balls) to do some real alpine skiiing :)

Karl Oskar said...

Oh no, we have our first commercial blog spammer! :-) It's pretty cool, and annoying, how they search for blogs which mention their business or something related, and post a seemingly well-meant anonymous comment. Let's hope this does not turn into a blogosphere flame war. I remember once when I mentioned "Ulf Ekman" in a forum post, which months later, when we assumed the thread was dead, was picked up by Livets Ord haters, retributed by Livets Ord members. The members finally after a couple of weeks sent us an email curing our obliviousness of the extremely strong language flame war going on in our forum. Pretty funny, and we had to try to explain that we didn't know anything, apologize and take the thread down.

Arvid said...

This year there is little snow in the Swänska fjällen, but I'm sure there will be more next year. Unless the global warming continues, that is ;) We can always go to Dubai and do some hard core sand skiing otherwise ;)

Robert said...

Karl Oskar: Cool. It's pretty elaborate too considering they have to tailor it to blogger and use image processing (even if not much worse then regular OCR in this case) to defeat the "word verification" and get anything posted. And this from such a specific buissniess. They had me, I am impressed.

Karl Oskar said...

Nonono... it wouldn't make sense to try to do that automatically. Considering it's anyway some manual stuff involved, and the "marketing" is so targeted, I'd be surprised if people like that even create spreadsheets over which sites they have commented and should or should not revisit. Have you had the priviledge to listen to anyone lecture about various types of web-business? It used to be sufficient with "magnets", I.e. messed up lists of keywords, but nowadays they're really sneaky bastards. Some person found this site, cut'n'pasted and possibly slightly modified his message to fit your post. :-)

Robert said...

I'm amazed that stuff can actually pay if you have to do so much of it manually. I mean, regular e-mail spam is one thing, that's efforless. And directed scams that require effort but have a high payoff in case of success is another. But this stuff is just weak :)

Karl Oskar said...

Not really, consider the efficiency of this, which is already quite targeted (all visitors to your blog might actually be tempted to visit Squaw Valley) compared to the poor bastards handing out leaflets or whatnot on town. Not only can this person sit in the comfort of his own broadband, usually he/she is received as the anonymous friendly stranger he/she actually not is at all.

Oh, and Chamonix would be brutal. When I and baby have the money and time for it? :-)