The Outside Blog

Dispatches : Jan 2013

Bode Miller Is Selling His Yacht and Focusing on the 2014 Olympics

Bode Miller's ultimate goal is to ski at full strength in the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Last February, Miller hurt his knee while skiing in a race there. When he tried to ski on it a couple weeks later in Bansko, Bulgaria, he realized it wasn't working right. In the spring, he had microfracture surgery. While early December reports said Miller might return in February, he says in the video embedded above that a recovery may take 12 to 18 months. "If I give my knee a full chance to heal, it should be very close to 100 percent, which it hasn't been since 2001," he said. "We have a chance to really finish on a super high note on that Olympic season—where I'm really focused and draw things together and try to put together a real legendary season."

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Think Small: Editor's Letter, January 2013

Keyes_januaryIt's been more than two years since Austrian BASE jumper Felix Baumgartner unveiled his ambitious Red Bull Stratos mission, a plan to free-fall from a height of 128,000 feet and become the first human to break the sound barrier without the aid of jet propulsion. That announcement gained considerable worldwide attention, including an August 2010 cover story in Outside. Not only was Baumgartner challenging a record that had stood for more than 40 years, but he was trying to execute a NASA-scale project while relying on a sponsor known more for kitschy stunts—like landing a motorcycle atop the Arc de Triomphe replica in Las Vegas—than for pioneering science.

When Stratos was delayed, many observers assumed that Red Bull had bitten off more than it could chew. As two stories demonstrate this month, that was anything but the truth. In our Exposure Special, "Bull Shot," photographer Balazs Gardi documents some of the impressive logistics that led to last November's triumphant Stratos mission, while Outside associate editor Ryan Krogh, who was on the scene in Roswell, New Mexico, the day of the jump, reveals exactly how Red Bull managed to pull it off. And in "Get Your Head in the Game," a profile of sports psychologist Michael Gervais, Brian Mockenhaupt lets us in on one of the more surprising factors that led to the mission's two-year delay: Baumgartner was afraid of his space suit. Mockenhaupt chronicles the methodical counseling that enabled Baumgartner to stop panicking and focus on his historic feat.

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Where to Ski and Party All Season Long

Last year’s pitiful snow season left skiers and boarders starving for the white stuff. Which is why we’ve dug up a smorgasbord of new terrain, fresh trips, and killer deals that will have you ripping all winter long.

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Winter Resorts for Powder Hounds

It’s not just that Alta and Snowbird average more than 500 inches of the world’s fluffiest snow each season. It’s that the snow falls on some of the most challenging lines in North America—and this season, many of those trails will be even easier to access. Over the summer, Snowbird replaced the old, slow Little Cloud double chairlift with a high-speed quad that zips skiers to the top in three and a half minutes (twice as fast as before), allowing speedier turnaround on coveted powder pitches like 1,300-vertical-foot Shireen. Just a few miles farther up Little Cottonwood Canyon at Alta—which connects to Snowbird via a high-speed quad and can be skied on the same day with the $99 AltaBird ticket—a new smartphone-friendly website alerts skiers to openings on trails with typically late post-storm rope drops. That includes the north-facing open bowls off Backside, all of which dump you in front of the Rustler Lodge’s outdoor heated pool (doubles from $352). 

Alaskan storms tend to stick around for a while, sometimes dropping up to 40 inches of snow in just 24 hours. Last season that happened a lot. When the final tally was recorded, Alyeska, located just 40 minutes south of Anchorage, was covered with 962 inches of snow at the peak. That accumulation made for never-ending powder throughout the resort’s 1,400 acres, and it allowed ski patrol to open two new chutes on a trial basis: Max’s Chute and #1 East, both of which are narrow 2,500-foot rides of pure fall line. They skied so well that the mountain’s staff expects to open them again this season. And if the weather isn’t as generous, there’s always the backcountry. Chugach Powder Guides operates heli- and cat skiing right out of the resort. We suggest you jump on this deal: four nights of lodging at the swanky, slopeside Hotel Alyeska, two days of lift tickets at the resort, and two days of intermediate-to-expert cat skiing (avalanche gear and lunch included) in open bowls and glades, all for $1,488.

What was nothing more than a backcountry spot for local skiers just six years ago has grown into a major resort. Last season, Revelstoke began using another new tool to help skiers and riders better navigate the mountain: sensors placed in key areas send minute-by-minute updates to the resort’s website, reporting wind direction, humidity, and temperature. Using that information, you can determine where the trails will be most wind-loaded with powder and how dense that snow will be (the denser the snow, the fatter the ski you’ll need). And when the lift-serviced terrain is totally skied out, guests can ride a cat (from $300 per day) to 5,000 acres of mostly gladed sidecountry terrain. Another great perk? Everything is within walking distance of the chairlifts, including your digs at Sutton Place and its new outdoor heated pool (doubles from $560).

There’s a reason the locals prefer mega-fat skis. The resort’s damp ocean air can yield some heavy snow, which is why the resort has built a rental fleet full of fat, rockered skis like the Rossignol S7 and Salomon Rocker 115. And to make sure you don’t miss out on fresh tracks after a big dump, Whistler upgraded its smartphone app with alerts that let you know when ropes are dropping on some of the steepest, longest lines in North America, including the 1,300-foot couloir and the 43-degree Big Bang, located on Blackcomb Mountain. Added bonus: beginning this season, Extremely Canadian guides will run daily backcountry clinics inside Garibaldi Park, an area that holds snow weeks after a storm. For $199 (avalanche gear not included), clients hike and ski as much as 20,000 vertical feet on intermediate-to-expert faces, all while receiving instruction on powder-skiing technique. Later on, grab a massage at Fairmont Chateau Whistler and splurge on one of the rooms overlooking Blackcomb Mountain (doubles from $389).

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Winter Resorts for Families

For years, Okemo, Vermont, has had a firm grip on the title Best Family Resort in the East. But this year, consider Stratton. It’s a little pricier, but there are reasons for that. For one, Stratton’s village, full of upscale lodging and a wide variety of restaurant choices, offers the convenience that Okemo’s sprawl does not. Stratton also serves up miles of intermediate and beginner terrain and a state-of-the-art ski school, complete with a lightly trafficked learning area and a mini terrain park. For the older kids, there are new rails and jumps in the Sun Bowl portion of the mountain, as well as a new boardercross course that will host a snowboarding camp run by Olympians Ross Powers and Lindsey Jacobellis. At night, opt for dog-sledding, full-moon snowshoe hikes, snowmobile tours, or tubing. The best part: kids 17 and younger ski and stay free when two adults purchase a lift and lodging package for $111 per adult per night.

There are lots of resorts on the I-70 corridor, but no place merges fun for the kids and relaxation like Keystone. There’s the access—it’s the closest major resort to Denver. And the deals are tough to beat: grab a room for two nights or more in a place like River Run Village (condos from $255) and kids 12 or younger ski free. That means pro bono rides down the brand-new Burton Riglet Park (built for younger groms, featuring miniature rollers, bank turns, and flat boxes), as well as concerts, parties, and parades, all of which are part of Keystone’s Kidtopia program. For you there’s cat skiing with Keystone Adventure Tours ($240 per day), which delivers a surprisingly rugged backcountry journey down moderately pitched, powdery bowls. Afterward, opt for one of the finest meals in any ski town at the Ski Tip Lodge, five minutes from town.

No, seriously. Though Squallywood’s reputation as a haven for hardcore ski bros hunting powder off the KT-22 chairlift may endure, CEO Andy Wirth, formerly of family-friendly Steamboat Springs, has been pushing for a serious transformation at Tahoe’s most famous resort. This summer Squaw added three new lifts, all of which access intermediate and beginner terrain. They also increased snowmaking on those trails, ensuring that parents always have a mellow area to ski alongside the kids. In addition, Squaw added the SnoVentures Activity Zone, where everyone can tube and kids can race mini snowmobiles along a quarter-mile course. And last fall, Squaw merged with nearby Alpine Meadows (hop between the two on a free 15-minute shuttle), a marriage that gives jibbers access to a new mile-long terrain park. At night, families can regroup at the Village at Squaw Valley, one of the resort’s newest hotels, complete with fire pits for roasting marsh-mallows (doubles from $189).

Though it’s flush with luxury lodging, exquisitely groomed trails, and five-star restaurants (try the seared bison fillet at the Mariposa), let’s be honest: Deer Valley caters to kids. Youngsters even have their own trail map, which charts the candy-cane-gated race course and the rolls, dips, and mini half-pipes of Bucky’s Backyard and Frontyard. Children 12 and under ski free with purchase of a lodging package. The ski school offers obstacle courses for little ones and group lessons for teens. At night, indulge in the pinot noir at the Lodges at Deer Valley while the kids sled, roast s’mores, and guzzle hot chocolate (doubles from $395).

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