The Outside Blog

Skiing and Snowboarding : Dec 2012

Ligety, Vonn Control Races

Utah skier Ted Ligety crushed the competition at this weekend's Birds of Prey giant slalom in Beaver Creek, Colorado, beating defending World Cup champion Marcel Hirscher as Lindsey Vonn pulled off a similar feat in Lake Louise, Alberta. Ligety won his race by 1.76 seconds, wrapping up his second win in as many giant slalom races this season.

“It's great winning in front of the home crowd, especially by that kind of margin,” said Ligety, who took home a gold medal in combined at the 2006 Winter Olympics. “It's so nice to have so many friends and family here and on this slope."

Meanwhile, Vonn swept the women's competition at Lake Louise, winning the super-G and downhill ahead of fellow Americans Julia Mancuso and Stacey Cook. The two-time Olympic medalist had been struggling following a hospitalization for a stomach ailment and a lackluster 21st-place showing in the giant slalom at Aspen last weekend. "I was definitely feeling extremely low after being in the hospital and my poor result in Aspen. But I knew if there was a place to turn it around, it was Lake Louise," she said.

Via Aspen Business Journal

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A New 360-Degree POV Cam For Catching, and Controlling, the Action

The next revolution in POV cameras and viewing software allows the watcher to control the view. Red Bull has teamed up with the tech company Making View to release a series of action sports videos captured with the ViewCam 360, a modular camera that records a really, really wide view. The company says that the camera can capture 360-degree, 4K x 2K equirectangular video at 25-50fps. The whole contraption weighs around 600 grams, or 1.3 pounds. The recordings are added to playback software titled the Making Viewer, which allows the online watcher to pan and tilt the footage for the view they want.

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Publication Reveals McAfee's Location With Photo Data

On-the-run software designer John McAfee seems to have made a mistake in trusting a pair of journalists from VICE magazine with his whereabouts: The risqué online publication published a photo of the fugitive earlier today with the headline, "We Are With John McAfee Right Now, Suckers." But it seems they failed to wipe the photo's GPS data, which a hacker on Twitter noticed pinpoints him at a location in eastern Guatemala. McAfee, who is wanted in connection with the shooting death of a neighbor, was presumed to still be hiding out in Belize.

UPDATE: The VICE photographer and McAfee have each come forward on social media to take credit for deliberately manipulating the geotags to keep their location secret. But—VICE has also deleted the original photo and replaced it with one without GPS data....

Via Gizmodo

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Wilderness Therapy: Editor's Letter, December 2012

1212_159A week ago, as the page proofs for this issue started landing on my desk, I found myself staring at the photo that appears on pages 80 and 81. I wasn't mesmerized so much as paralyzed: I was so completely drawn in, it almost seemed like I couldn't move.

And as I sat there staring, I began to wonder what exactly was so absorbing about the photo. It's a simple image of the ocean, equal parts water and ski, stripped of any other elements. Gazing at it placed me on an empty shoreline, and I didn't want to leave. I could actually feel my neck and shoulders relaxing.

I assure you I'm not losing my mind. In fact, the article that accompanies that photo ("Take Two Hours of Pine Forest and Call Me in the Morning") goes a long way toward explaining the physiological reaction I had to that picture. Humans possess an evolutionary craving for nature, not simply because it's beautiful to look at but because it's incredibly therapeutic. Last December, in our cover story about biologist Wallace J. Nichols, we came across some emerging theories that link time in nature to a person's overall well-being. The notion was intriguing, enough to make us want to return to the topic a year later with a second cover story. What if spending time outside was the antidote to the ills of modern life: cancer, obesity, stress, and the constant, stupefying intrusion of technology into every facet of our existence?

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How Running Explains the World

Krasnodar, Russia -- Russians, it would seem, do not particularly like, nor do they expect, a jogger to be trotting along the side of one of the narrow streets that wind through this city of 750,000. Admittedly, this is a rather rash generalization, but I've nearly been hit twice during the first five minutes of my morning run. One time, I'll admit, was at least partially my fault. Apparently, it's legal, or at least socially encouraged, to go right on red without making any attempt to slow down out here. Noted. But the other driver—the one in the old, dirty BMW—I would swear that dude (that comrade?) was aiming directly for me. I avoided him by jumping over a ditch onto the barely-there sidewalk, but it was touch-and-go for a couple of terrifying milliseconds.

My plane landed in this southern Russian city eight hours ago in the pitch black of the Eastern European night. It's lighter now, but only marginally so. A thick fog replaced the inky sky around 6:30 this morning. I'm running—taking my life in my hands, or feet, or something—because I find it's the best way to get a feel for a new place. It's too much to say that a five-mile jog through an unfamiliar location offers any hard truths, but what, other than a sustained life in a certain place, actually does? On faster-than-walking foot you will gain plenty of initial impressions you wouldn't in a car, a taxi cab, or any other means of transportation. Running forces you to pay attention in a very specific way, one that forces some kind of insight into your immediate situation.

Under normal circumstances, these self-psychologizing observations are generally focused inward—the zen of jogging or some such—but strange, unfamiliar territory forces you to focus on what’s around you—the different buildings, the unsuspecting local pedestrians, the unexpected cracks and bumps and depressions. It's helpful and, quite frankly, a smarter way to run. After all, you never know when a car will come flying unexpectedly around a corner. (Pro tip: Leave your headphones home. You need all your senses about you.)

Krasnodar is cold and grey, both the buildings and the people on the streets; it's the stuff of James Bond films and Cold War stereotypes. It's an initial impression that is confirmed over the next 48 hours when countless citizens, or at least pretty much everyone who speaks English, ask me whether the United States–Russia soccer match I'm in the city to cover is important back home because of the non-war war our countries fought more than 20 years ago. I don't have the heart to tell them most Americans care even less about the Cold War than they do about the beautiful game.

In Thiruvananthapuram, India, the capital city of the country's Kerala state, however, citizens very much do care about football. They wear jerseys everywhere, Lionel Messi's blue-and-red Barcelona kit mixing with Wayne Rooney's only-red Manchester United top. The owners of the uniforms may support different clubs, but they are united in the quizzical looks I got while jogging through the streets on a midsummer day last year. No one does this. No one really does anything in the middle of the day. It's too hot.

There's also too much construction. I expected the Indian city to be bustling, a growing center of commerce like much of the rest of the country, but this is ridiculous. Workers dig up something on nearly every road. Traffic backs up and cars careen through narrow lanes. This is mid-progress—a town in transformation. The reality is even more apparent on foot where you can really feel the non-stop pulse of the change. It continues, mile after mile, turning a normally confusing network of roads into an unnavigable mass. The transition to a first-world country comes at the expense of jogging paths, it appears. Not a bad trade, except for yours truly. (It also makes recording the run in Daily Mile an absolute nightmare, albeit an amusing one.)

Running in strange cities helps a newcomer like myself understand the tenor of the citizens and gives some general insight into the socio-economics of a place, but it also helps with the geography. In Guatemala City, the surprisingly thin air at the high altitude was noticeable. Mexico City was even more dramatic. It took half-an-hour to regain my breath after a morning jog, although being 8,000 feet above sea level wasn't the issue; it was the pollution and smog.

Really, what running does is it gives you a different perspective on the same place. You have no option but to observe your surroundings, to get a sense of where you are. If you do it right, you move relatively slowly but consistently down streets, across parks, and over bridges. The never-ending tableau changes faster than it does when you are walking, allowing you to cover more ground, but not in the fits, starts, and sensory depravation that comes with motorized transportation. Running might be an abnormal way to travel through a city, but for me there's no better way to begin to understand one. It doesn't always work, and the lessons are limited by the nature of how they are learned, but it's effective. San Francisco, Mendoza, Honduras, etc. all made more sense more quickly than they otherwise would have. I'll trade Lonely Planet for a long run any day.

Back in Krasnodar, I had one more main drag to cross before reaching my hotel. Instead of going alone, I waited with a elderly man in a Russian army uniform. Cars flew by. Finally, we saw an opening, and then sprinted across the street together. There's strength in numbers. You learn something every day.

Noah Davis (@noahedavis) is a freelance writer living in Brooklyn.

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