The release of The Grey, an action-packed thriller set in the Alaskan wilderness that pits man against wolf, could not have arrived in theaters at a worse time for OR-7 (a.k.a. Journey) the male gray wolf that left his pack in northwest Oregon late last year and moved into California, solo, looking for a mate. In doing so, he became the first wild wolf to enter the state since the species was exterminated there, more than 80 years ago. And he’s been greeted with scorn from Northern California ranchers, some of who have expressed interest in finding, killing, and burying the animal. (Wildlife officials are tracking the collared animal via GPS, but delaying the release of the data to keep would-be hunters on a cold trail.)
The film’s release is also bad timing for wolf advocates who are trying hard to get wolves back under the legislative protection of the Endangered Species List. In Oregon, WildEarth Guardians has launched a boycott of the film based on its negative portrayal of the animals. The gist of the film: massive, bloodthirsty wolves terrorize survivors of a plane crash. Liam Neeson’s character fights back with makeshift weapons that seem better suited to a gang fight. The takeaway: wolves hate us and want to kill us. Another takeaway, via Outside’s Brad Wieners: It’s a dumb movie.
But how much can this movie do to inflate the image of the big bad wolf? Will it actually sway the many ongoing debates between wolf advocates and ranchers, who want more freedom to protect their livestock and want to pull wolf management duties away from the federal government?
A couple of months ago, I caught up with 21-year-old pro surfer and youth activist Kyle Thiermann. Possibly the world's most upbeat environmentalist, Kyle's spent the past five years surfing his way through Indonesia, Chile, Peru, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Sri Lanka, Australia, and Hawaii, shooting documentaries to draw attention to urgent social and environmental problems around the globe.
His latest short, “Surfing for Change: J Bay Nuclear Plant,” is out this week, and in it Kyle interviews world champ Kelly Slater and enviro A-lister Van Jones about the dangers of a planned nuclear power plant in pristine Jeffrey’s Bay, South Africa, the most famous surf wave in the world. Inspiring to say the least. Check it out and spread the word:
Riding the trainer sucks. It's about as mindless as Fox News and as excruciating as a trip to the oral surgeon. But unless you're a Cancellara doppelgänger who thrives in the cold and wet or a cycling snowbird who winters in Arizona, time on a spin bike or rollers is an evil necessity for a good racing season. Like a nightly visit to Fight Club, you plug in your workout, take your lumps, and (hopefully) get stronger.
In full suffer mode.
In the past few months I've discovered a way to get through the trainer torture. The SufferFest, a series of short, brutal training videos, makes the winter sessions if not fun, at least tolerable. The Singapore-based upstart offers 10 videos that target specific attributes, from pyramids of short intervals that build max power to long threshold sessions. Visuals are a mix of race footage from the world's biggest events (Paris-Roubaix, World Championships) and helmet cam rides through bucolic mountain settings (mostly for the recovery). There are visual directives (including a cadence and perceived exertion commands), audio queues (a gunshot for an attack, screeching brakes when you can relax), and a thumping soundtrack of rock, punk, and techno. It all adds up to good, hard, fast motivation that never failed to get me going, even on the evenings where the only training I had in mind was Bourbon-related liver strengthening.
This past weekend I was in Alta with my friend Mary for a mindset skiing camp called Ski to Live, led by former Olympic mogul and big-mountain skier Kristen Ulmer (more on that soon). It was my first time skiing at Alta, and while the powder wasn’t as ample as the hype—500 inches on average a year—it was still pretty great, and it’s impossible to beat the convenience. Our flight landed at the Salt Lake airport at 12:30 PM and by 2:30, we'd checked into my room at the slope side Goldminer’s Daughter, changed into ski clothes, bought a $30 late afternoon pass (good from 2:30 til 4:30, gotta love that), and were halfway up the mountain on the Collins lift. Which begs the question: Why would anyone travel anywhere else to ski?
To be fair, Alta isn’t the most family-oriented of Utah ski resorts. It’s steep and the base area is 1970s-minimal, with a couple ski shops, three or four lodges with basic double-bed motel rooms, and a few rental properties. You won’t find a jumbo trampoline, tubing hill, ice rink, indoor swimming pools or kids clubs for après-ski playtime, and the dining room at the all-inclusive Goldminer’s Daughter (world’s friendliest ski hotel, by the way) was filled with dads who’d left their wives and kids at home to ski with the guys. But—and this is a big but—if you get there early enough, you can practically park right next to the lift. Which, when you’re schlepping major amounts of gear and kids, is huge. Huge! Who cares about kiddy terrain parks? Please let me drive our crap directly to the lift line!
Ski-in, ski-out/drive-in, drive out @ the GMD [photo: GoldmIner's Daughter]
There's nothing like a mountain community scorned. As Colorado's Fremont County weighs its decision on whether to grant a land use permit to public artist Christo so he can hang a series of translucent fabric panels above the Arkansas River, hundreds of opponents and supporters gathered at two public meetings this week, in Canon City and Cotopaxi, Colorado. The county's board of commissioners could decide on whether to grant a temporary land use permit for the project as soon as its February 28 meeting.
Christo and his vocal supporters say the art will draw tourism and dollars to the communities along the river. Opponents say the work will hamper traffic on Highway 50, endanger public health and hurt wildlife along the river, and they've escalated their fight this week, filing a lawsuit that claims the Bureau of Land Management violated federal land management and environmental laws when it approved the project late last year. Christo says it's all part of the process.