March 23, 2008

Chen Cup Cups

Yesterday, Ashley and I participated in the Chen Cup. The Chen Cup is an annual race amongst civil engineering companies, mostly in Colorado. Events include alpine giant slalom (GS), telemark GS, snowboard GS, 8K skate ski, and 8K classic ski. This year, the event was held at none other than our home ski area of Eldora. The weather was sunny and clear most of the day, which made for a very pleasant day of events.

My company, Golder, had participants entered in every category, which made us eligible for the team competition. We were hoping for a gold but ended up taking silver, losing 60 to 64 to Tetra Tec. Individually, Ashley participated in the 8K skate ski and I participated in the telemark GS. We both did our part in scoring points for the team, with Ashley finishing 3rd for females in the skate ski and me finishing 1st for men in the telemark GS! The top three finishers in each category received mugs for their efforts, so we both got to take home Chen Cup cups.

March 18, 2008

Official DoJoe Results

Ashley - 8th Place in Women's Telemark - 37:43
Keith - 11th Place in Men's Telemark - 33:37
Josh - 16th Place in Men's Telemark - 36:52

1) There were 28 women and 39 men in the race.
2) Based on time of the third place female finisher, Ashley's uphill time was about the same as Keith's, with mine being about 3 minutes slower.
3) Last year, Ashley and my tag-team time was 35:06

As Dizzle pointed out in his comment, we are a bit short on photos. Here's one taken of Smurfette by the official race photographer at the top of the climb.

March 17, 2008

DoJoe Telemark Race

Mildly disappointed with the lack of competition in the team category last year, Ashley and I decided to race as individuals this year in the 7th annual DoJoe race. Keith participated as well, and all of us were clad in festive dress.

The coarse was the same as last year, which involved hiking up from near the bottom of the Eldora ski area and skiing down the steepest run on the opposite side of the mountain. Official results have not yet been posted, but I anticipate that Keith was the fastest, followed by Ashley and then me. However, I console myself by the fact that the event is more about dressing up and helping to fund the Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) than it is about being fast. Additionally, I'm getting used to Ashley beating me in races.

Ashley smoked most of the female competition up to the top of the hill (arriving in 3rd place). Unfortunately, nearly a half dozen participants returned the favor on the way down the hill to the finish line. As for myself, I maintained a steadily pathetic pace the whole time, passing several people in much better shape than myself on the way down the double black diamond run.

March 10, 2008

Taos, Mexico

In roughly one week, the skiing community will lose one of the three remaining ski areas that have banned snowboarders from their slopes. Taos Ski Valley will no longer be uncrowded and free of 5-foot wide swaths side slipped down the mountain by one-plankers. I have nothing against snowboarders as people, but the lack of crowds and abundance of unskied powder associated with the absence of them is undeniably pleasant. For this reason, Ashley, Melanie, Russ and I drove to Taos, Mexico to enjoy one of the last blissful weekends at Taos Ski Valley.

In case you're finding it odd that I have left the qualifier "New" off in front of "Mexico", please know that this is deliberate. I see no reason to differentiate old and new when the differences between the two geographical regions are so slight.

None of us had skied at Taos prior to this trip. Based on reports from mostly reliable sources, our expectations were high. These expectations were exceeded primarily due to the quality and quantity of the technical terrain, the fact that one has to hike from the top of the lifts to access the best terrain, the severe lack of crowds, and the event our trip happened to coincide with. This event is known as the Solomon Extreme Freeride Championships. Qualifying runs were held on Friday, and the finals were held on Saturday. After skiing hard all day on Friday and not stopping to watch any of the competition, Saturday was ripe for resting and watching people ski down steep terrain at high speeds while hucking off of cliffs.

Perhaps one of the most spectacular stunts we observed during the finals was performed by a skier who happened to be from Boulder, CO. His trajectory through the air roughly followed the path of the red line in the photo above. Skier X did great in the air, but upon landing somehow became unconscious while hanging upside down from a ski stuck in the snow. An hour later, ski patrol had loaded him in a stretcher and safely skied him down from the steep slope on which he had landed. I've so far been unable to find any news of his condition. Seeing this happen helped to reaffirm my decision to stop alpine skiing, mellow out, and convert to telemark skiing.

Other trip highlights include making the drive from Boulder to Taos in less than 5 hours (it typically takes longer than this to return from the much closer Summit County resorts on a weekend day), being pulled over by an irate cop who, minutes later, told me I was lucky he had more urgent matters to attend to before speeding off, and being handed a large jug of protein powder and a few pounds of venison from a strange man in the Taos parking lot.

This closing video is of me skiing a run called "Juarez". After flailing like a wounded fawn down the first part of the run, I realized I had forgotten to fully buckle my boots.

March 02, 2008

Typical Front Range Weather

On Saturday I went on a 3.5 hour hike up Bear Peak before attending two BBQs in record setting weather (for March 1st) with a high of 74 degrees. On Sunday Ashley and I skied 6 inches of fresh snow at Eldora, as the weather went from 74 degrees and sunny to below freezing and snowing overnight (Boulder got a few inches as well as the ski area).

This type of weather swing happens fairly regularly around here, although some might argue this was a bit dramatic even for the Front Range. I personally enjoy living with the fact that you never really know what you're going to wake up to as the weather erratically transitions from winter to summer.

The summit of Bear Peak can barely be seen behind the prominent knob in this picture.

Aside from this group/flock/gaggle/covey of turkeys, I didn't see much wildlife on my hike in the Flatirons.

Views of the Indian Peaks and southern Rocky Mountain National Park from the top of Bear Peak were spectacularly clear. I took this shot of Longs Peak using most of my 18x zoom.

The first BBQ of the day was at a Dave's house, a friend of mine from work. It was here that I assisted in the brewing of my first batch of all-grain beer. It was definitely fun to brew in this primitive manner, but it takes nearly 3 times as long and I think I'm too lazy to get in a habit of all-grain brewing.

On the way home from BBQ #1, I stopped by Tony and Lisa's for a second round of grillables. With some mild coaxing, I was able to get Ashley to drive down the hill and join us. At BBQ #2, the socializing was focused around one of those above-ground brass fire thingys. Someone at the party referred to it as a fire pit, but since it sits above the ground surface, it is decidedly not a pit. The discussion was then steered towards what to call it. After a few rounds, I ultimately arrived at "fire podium dish". If anyone else has any better ideas, please let me know.

The skiing on Sunday was downright epic by Eldora standards. There was little to no wind (a rare occurance in itself), and about 6 inches and counting of light, soft, fluffy powder. Ashley tried out her new skis and seemed to get along with them quite well.