Hip hop's self-proclaimed "Baddest Bitch" singles one of skiing's baddest ladies out of the crowd.
I just received an email from Grete Eliassen. It read simply, "I've attached 3 photos from one of the most amazing nights of my life!"
That amazing night was a recent Trina show promoting her new album, "Still da Baddest." Grete's quick memorization of the lyrics to the new album and her exuberance at the show got her onto the stage to sing a song with hip hop's Baddest Bitch.
Grete is a surprisingly ardent hip hop fan, and practically a fixture of the front rows of shows. Grete's own blog provides a few Lil' Wayne show photos as evidence of that. In addition to Lil' Wayne, and Trina, 2 Live Crew also ranks high among Grete's favorites.
Tanner's legendary crash has gotten a new look on YouTube.
Fans of the celebrated time killer, Line Rider will love this one. Tanner Hall's infamous Chad's Gap crash in 2005 introduced a new phrase into skiing's sparse sound-bite vocabulary. Chilling to some, hilarious to others less empathetic, "My ankles are broken" now conjures the same image in the mind of anybody in the ski scene. Unsympathetic jokesters frequently scream it out for an easy laugh when they miss a landing in the terrain park. One particularly bold comedian even subjected the originator himself to a driveby "My ankles are broken!"-ing while Tanner was filming for his new movie on a rail in Salt Lake City, UT.
Through the rabble of all armchair skiing comedians, one Tanner Hall crash/Line Rider enthusiast has emerged with what I consider the funniest homage yet to that memorable crash. Enjoy.
Things I Learned
At The Event Formerly Known As The Ski Tour
12 February, 2008. 5:40 p.m.
JP Solberg goes huge -- and looks like he's going small, thanks to the fisheye lens -- at the Squaw stop of the Event Formerly Known as the Ski Tour.
I just returned home from competing in the first superpipe contest in the Jeep Ski Tour, or 48 Straight, or whatever they call it now. Last year, when it debuted as the funnest (I know that's not a word, but try saying that sentence aloud with "most fun" in the place of "funnest") ski contest series I'd ever been a part of, its name was simply the Ski Tour. So with a hint of sentimentality, I will henceforth refer to it as the "Ski Tour," or the "Event Formerly Known as the Ski Tour."
Now that I've unnecessarily qualified my terms, here are a few things that I learned this weekend at Event Formerly Known as the Ski Tour:
JP Solberg Has a Sick Straight Air
Sure, he has a lot of other great stunts, too. But JP Solberg (the skier, not the snowboarder) is the master of halfpipe straight airs. This is worth mentioning because it's a highly underappreciated talent. After all, a straight air is just a straight air, not a sunt like a 900, or something. However, most pro halfpipe riders will admit that there are few things scarier (and more difficult to execute with confidence and style) than a great, big straight air. A 9 (or any other stunt) occupies the skier's air time with something besides the raw, unmitigated acrophobia of a straight air. When 15 feet out of the pipe, most pros prefer to be doing a trick. And pros flailing wildly in straight airs is a much more common sight than you might think. Not JP. He boosts huge straight airs, and he always does it smoothly.
Simon Dumont Is Effing Tough
Two weeks after a horrendous quarterpipe crash in Aspen, CO that left him with a level III AC joint separation, Simon was blasting in the pipe at Squaw. Despite being only two weeks into a recommended four to six weeks of rest, and doubtless in eXcruciating pain (anybody who's been through an ac separation can attest to that), Simon's first hit in practice was 12'+ 900. The pain started to slow him down in the afternoon, and caused him to sketch out in the finals. But in the morning, when he was fresh, it was pretty tough to tell he was injured.
Skiercross Isn't That Lame
As a freestyle skier, I still have to toe the line and maintain an air of something between indifference and contempt. But I sat down and watched a little bit of the skiercross, and it was, ahem, er, um, pretty, ah, entertaining. Really. I was sitting next to an inventor of the sport, Electric/Skullcandy team manager, and former Fastest Man Alive (really, as a downhill speed skier), Jimbo Morgan. So I had that going for me. And if you just think back to Hot Dog, and call it a Chinese Downhill, how can you say no to skiercross?
Something about the horrible weather, blistering cold, and icy snow of the East turns people into avid skiers. To be more accurate, something about the horrible weather, blistering cold, and icy snow of the East makes avid skiers want to move west. Every year, Boulder, Colorado receives a huge shipment of new college-aged people who think they like skiing (and know they love to drink and party). The skiers who actually love to ski (and did their ski destination homework) end up a little farther west in Salt Lake City, Utah.
The guys from 4bi9 Media are standouts from one of the latest Utah-bound migrations. A group of creative kids who love to shred from Vermont, Pennsylvania, New Hampshire, Maine and Maryland, 4bi9 Media's website displays entertaining video updates from the winter of quite a few exuberant and talented riders. And 4bi9's 2007 release "Look It Up" was nominated for Best Amateur Video at the 2007 International Freeski Film Festival. Look below for a little taste of what 4bi9 is all about. Then check out 4bi9 Media for more of it.
Paris Hilton might have been skiing double black diamonds since she was three. Or maybe she learned online from Max Lifestyle.
Paris Hilton took a few runs at Park City Mountain Resort while she was in town for the world-renowned Sundance Film Festival. She says that she's skied since age 3. I'm happy to hear that the elite still do it. This is my favorite celebrity ski sighting since my youth, when Idahoans chirped excitedly to eachother about Arnold Schwarzenegger's breaking his leg at Sun Valley. And Paris's skiing gives us credibility with all the young people who weren't won over when Snoop Dogg told Jay Leno that he wanted to try skiing (you know). As everything else the famous young woman with a masculine name does, her ski outing was controversial. Despite her claims to "double black" descents, a Park City local reported that she was a "crap skier." (I can say "crap" as long as it's a quote, right?)
Joysticks and Power Gloves
5 February, 2008. 10:55 p.m.
I caught up with Anthony Boronowski of Joystick this morning to talk with him about making gloves.
EXPN (9:13:29 AM): want to do an "iChat with Anthony about his glove company"? Anthony (9:14:02 AM): yeah Anthony (9:14:23 AM): great Anthony (9:14:33 AM): let me go grab some coffee EXPN (9:14:38 AM): ok Anthony (9:16:13 AM): ok Anthony (9:16:14 AM): back... EXPN (9:20:37 AM): how long have you been working on joystick? Anthony (9:21:14 AM): 3 years i guess.
A sneak peak at Joystick's new gloves, the Edgar, the Jeffery, and the Oscar.
Anthony (9:21:29 AM): really only gotten serious in the last 1.5 years Anthony (9:21:30 AM): but 3 total EXPN (9:22:08 AM): what originally made you decide to start joystick (besides the desire to ruin your life by starting a business)? Anthony (9:22:27 AM): just over the poles that were available Anthony (9:22:34 AM): looking like sh!t. costing too much Anthony (9:22:50 AM): being pissed i had to buy those ugly things, and that there was no good option EXPN (9:23:44 AM): what about leki telescoping trekking poles? Anthony (9:23:55 AM): they're cool Anthony (9:24:01 AM): and the one you can drink out of EXPN (9:24:10 AM): the coldpole Anthony (9:24:14 AM): that's cool too. Anthony (9:24:14 AM): yeah EXPN (9:24:21 AM): it is featured in my blog EXPN (9:24:53 AM): what about skiing without poles? Anthony (9:26:35 AM): that's cool too EXPN (9:28:15 AM): a kid at the open ate serious sh!t without poles, and while he was picking up his gear, the scott team manager handed him a pair of poles EXPN (9:28:27 AM): the kid just hung his head in shame and accepted them Anthony (9:28:40 AM): haha Anthony (9:28:43 AM): that's kinda funny EXPN (9:28:49 AM): very funny EXPN (9:29:56 AM): so, disappointed in the pole options available, and not yet ready to give up poles entirely, you started joystick about three years ago, right? Anthony (9:30:10 AM): yep that's bout it EXPN (9:31:21 AM): now that you're making gloves, is it because you're disappointed in what's out there, but not yet ready to give up gloves entirely?
Joystick's top of the line leather glove, the Edgar. It goes for $84.99. That's in US dollars, so it's really cheap for Anthony's fellow Canadians.
Anthony (9:33:05 AM): haah Anthony (9:33:12 AM): no not really Anthony (9:33:15 AM): i think there's good options out there. Anthony (9:33:21 AM): but I want to do my own thing. Anthony (9:33:35 AM): make something better for the ski market EXPN (9:33:36 AM): you visionary, you EXPN (9:35:42 AM): what gloves are you making this year? and when will they be available to the anticipating public? Anthony (9:36:13 AM): well all the gloves will be in stores Sept. 1 2008 Anthony (9:36:29 AM): so The Edgar, Jeffrey and Oscar EXPN (9:38:25 AM): Simon Dumont has become a real icon in our sport, and lots of kids emulate the things he does. Does your decision to expand Joystick into the gloves business have anything to do with emulating Simon? Anthony (9:38:47 AM): yeah 100% Anthony (9:38:56 AM): i'm going to make a shirt with a chick on it too EXPN (9:39:11 AM): and a lewd rap lyric Anthony (9:39:12 AM): and have it say "the hottest chick in teh game be repping my chain" Anthony (9:39:15 AM): that's amazing EXPN (9:39:26 AM): is that what his shirt says? Anthony (9:40:22 AM): yeah Anthony (9:40:24 AM): it's insane
In the world of hip hop spinoff ski apparel, I much prefer the Joystick RUN JOY sweatshirt.
EXPN (9:40:28 AM): yours should say "i check cheddar like a food inspector" Anthony (9:40:43 AM): haha EXPN (9:40:52 AM): and have a skier launching a huge backscratcher off of a big, orange cheese wedge Anthony (9:40:54 AM): we'll put a mouse on it Anthony (9:40:56 AM): haha Anthony (9:42:57 AM): there's another too EXPN (9:42:19 AM): yeah, Simon's new one says "don't take 'em to the crib unless they bonin'" EXPN (9:44:00 AM): I definitely prefer your RUN JOY hoodies, in the world of hip-hop spinoff shirts. EXPN (9:46:47 AM): any info on what the gloves will cost, where they'll be available? Anthony (9:50:54 AM): yeah Anthony (9:51:02 AM): the leather Edgar is 89.99 Anthony (9:51:12 AM): the mid range Jeffery is 54.99 Anthony (9:51:16 AM): and pipe glove Oscar is 44.99 EXPN (9:51:32 AM): CAD, or USD? Anthony (9:54:40 AM): USD EXPN (9:54:55 AM): that's cheap for you canadians EXPN (9:56:15 AM): back to copying simon, have you started your training program yet? Anthony (9:56:24 AM): haah Anthony (9:56:32 AM): no that's once the filming is over for this year Anthony (9:56:36 AM): end of april Anthony (9:56:40 AM): but that's top secret
US Open Big Air
3 February, 2008. 8:25 p.m.
The latest in an illustrious tradition of switch 1080 contests, the US Open big air happened last night at Copper Mountain, Colorado. The event had plenty of talent, stunts, grabs, and, of course, switch 1080s. Despite a jump that was smaller than normal, a cast of hungry youths and seasoned stars dazzled an awestruck crowd with a gamut of tricks ranging from switch 1080s to switch 1080s.
The "Flying Circus" is one of the few great fixtures of US Open Big Air that survived this season.
This year's US Open big air was still a spectacle. But despite all the switch 1080s -- rather, in part because of the switch 1080s -- this year's event looked ominously like what might be the end of an era. Since its debut in 1997, the Open has held skiing's premier big air contest. Huge jump, lights, thousands of fans, and unknown kids doing theretofore unknown tricks. The US Open big air unveiled tricks like the 1260, the switch 900, the switch backflip, and the switch 1440.
Did I mention that it was a switch 1080 contest? That was the trick that won the 2003 US Open big air. Since then, as competitors have realized (and judges haven't) that it is easier than a switch 900 and a regular 1080, the switch 1080 has become something of a running joke among skiers. But I guess when the "big air" jump is only a 50-foot table (a bitter disappointment at an event whose previous courses have been 70- to 90-foot launch ramps), and the "hardest" trick possible is a switch 1080, what can it be besides a switch 1080 contest? In defense of the winner, Colby West started the night uniquely with a switch misty 7 mute (a trick nobody else in the contest could do); but the trick that nobody else can do wasn't enough to move him to finals. To win, he had to "step it up" to the trick that everybody in the contest could do (you know what trick it is).
Enough about switch 1080s. I have another, more serious beef with this year's Open big air. Until this year, about half of the big air roster was filled with invited pros. The other half of the spots -- the open spots in the US Open big air -- got filled by the best slopestyle competitors who hadn't yet been invited. This year, contestants participated in the US "Open" big air by invitation only. Half of the slopestyle's top ten finishers couldn't get themselves onto a big air list that was densely populated with Colorado locals, and reputed halfpipe riders (many of whom had no slopestyle or big air results to justify their invitations). The coolest thing about the US Open big air of the past was that the open spots pitted qualified ams against established pros under lights in front of thousands of people. It was skiing's "call up to the big leagues." In a sport where the talent pool is still exploding, why not keep it that way?
Steep and Deep
1 February, 2008. 6:00 p.m.
Skiing is getting bigger and has now grown to the point that Hollywood notices it again. Sony Pictures Classics took notice of freestyle and big mountain skiing and enlisted pro skiing icons like Glen Plake, Ingrid Backstrom, Seth Morrison, and Shane McConkey to make its frozen follow-up to its own dazzling successful Riding Giants. Steep, Sony's foray into eXtreme sports' next frontier serves up beautiful imagery of expert skiing on terrain that ranges from mouth-watering to pants-watering. It captures the danger, exhileration, risk, fun, you-name-it, of shredding turns, launching cliffs, and pinning chutes in the cherry pow pow. I could watch it over and over again.
However, I hadn't even watched the movie yet when I got the feeling that it wasn't only skiers making this movie. Halfway through the teaser, the voice flipped from adulation of the badass nature of skiing to that of a Hollywood type asking, "Nice skiing, but where's the hook?" I guess it's a valid question if you're trying to sell skiing to the gen pop. People who haven't skied need more than hardcore action, they need an angle. And quotes like "I tried to become a normal person and have a normal job. But that didn't work," confirm that the angle is set for the time being. Skiers -- and more generally, eXtreme athletes -- are a breed apart. They are not normal people. And their eXtremeness is the most constructive way in which they can cope with their maladaptation to a bland society. That characterization elevates the picture from an eXtreme sports spectacle to an anthropological study: what makes these maverick renegades tick?
Oops. There's the hook. I just talked my way right out of any argument against it. If the job is to get more people in front of the screen, then the way to do it is with sound bites of Glen Plake's saying, "Soon as I got out of jail, I went skiing." Nevertheless, for this hardcore skier who wants skiing action with as little filler as possible, the theatrical insinuation that badass skiers are unfit for regular society is a little annoying. Then again, if that's what it takes to get my heroes in front of a helicopter-driven movie camera, so be it.
Freeskier Magazine's luxurious 10th Anniversary Tour bus.
Freeskier Magazine launched its Ten Year Tour yesterday with an overnight motorcoach ride from the recently ended X Games in Aspen, CO to the SIA Trade Show in Las Vegas, NV. Peter Olenick, the foremost party instigator in attendance, was still exhausted from his valiant participation in the X Games slopestyle earlier that day. Consequently, the trip started out somewhat quietly and uneventfully.
Freeskier Online Editor Dave Amirault welcomes visitors to the magazine's opulent motor coach with a wave and a smile.
A tour bus fit for a famous rapper and sponsored by 888 Distillery and Red Bull couldn't stay quiet for long, however. As people began to drink whatever was available, the chatter ramped up into a reverberating rabble, with each person raising his voice to be heard over the drone of others doing the same. Way louder than necessary, we discussed skiing tricks and freestyle judging for way longer than necessary. Once everybody ran out of the will to shout, we all quieted down for some glassy-eyed TV watching and Guitar Hero playing. Have you ever been on a cross country booze cruise with your fraternity? Not being in a fraternity -- besides the great fraternity that is humankind -- myself, I haven't. But I imagine it wouldn't be appreciably different from the first leg of Freeskier's Ten Year Tour. Thus, I have gained an increased appreciation for globe-trotting frat boys. Fortunately for us, we didn't pick up any mustachioed hitchhikers on our trip to Vegas.
TJ Schiller flutters his lips like a snorting horse as he does a most impressive raspberry.
House real big. Bus real big. Belly real big. Errything real big.
The bus has two flat screens, a video editing suite, and Guitar Hero III, which Peter totally wailed on while preparing for a session in the bus's recording booth.