On deck at Timberline Lodge
IT ONLY TOOK ABOUT A DECADE for 4.3 million Americans to switch from skis to a snowboard. Now, youth-driven skater culture has upped the ante again. Enter the snowskate, a skateboard deck mounted on a tiny dual-tipped ski. Skilled snowskate riders can simulate skateboarding's quick moves, and no cumbersome bindings or leash get in the way. Last season, Oregon's Timberline Lodge and Ski Area opened one of the country's first snowskate parks, and for $10 per day, riders get a board and access to a playground of bumps, berms, and rails. No lift ticket required. 503-622-7979, www.timberlinelodge.com.
Life in the Fast Lane
Colorado's Copper Mountain is continuing the BeeLine Advantage program, first instituted last year, which rewards guests who've booked their vacations through the resort's central reservations number (888-263-5302; www.coppercolorado.com). When checking in, guests get a card that can be scanned for entry through a separate lane in busy lift lines. Local skiers dying to make first tracks on a powder day can buy into the program with a $124 lift ticket (normally $57). You might not make a lot of friends cutting the line, but it's a legit way of getting up the hill faster.
Pay to Play
DURING LAST YEAR'S SKI SEASON, two people died in the backcountry near Jackson Hole Ski Resort in Wyoming. To pad your own life insurance, when leaving the resort's boundaries hire a backcountry guide at the Jackson Hole Ski and Snowboard School ($435 per day; 307-739-2740, www.jacksonhole.com). He or she can take and show you and up to four other riders the safest way down the Green River, Pinedale, No Name, and Jensen Canyons, offering 4,000-vertical-foot steeps just south of the ski area proper.
Park City, UT
Beer, bands, and Bogner suits are part of the fun of this event, which opens America's annual World Cup ski racing season. Contact: Park City Chamber of Commerce (800-453-1360, www.parkcityinfo.com).
New Year's Eve Bash
Squaw Valley, CA
Take the High Camp Cable Car to Squaw's High Camp at 8,200 feet for a giddy night of skiing and champagne. ($28, food and spirits not included). Contact: Squaw Valley USA (800-403-0206, www.squaw.com).
JAN 30-FEB 2
Winter X Games
Freeriding's elite compete in rough events like UltraCross and the Superpipe. Contact: Aspen Skiing Company (800-525-6200, www.aspensnowmass.com). FEB 5-9
Steamboat Springs Winter Carnival
Steamboat Springs, CO
Recalling its Wild West roots, Steamboat's 90th annual Winter Carnival includes horse-drawn skijoring races on Lincoln Street. Contact: Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club (970-879-0695, www.sswsc.org).
The U.S. Open Snowboarding Championships
Riders of the world, unite! Join 10,000 of your kind and cheer on Ross Powers and Kelly Clark in the Superpipe. Contact: Stratton Mountain Resort (802-297-4000, www.stratton.com).
The World Ski and Snowboard Festival
Check out the snow-focused photo and film contests and the hyped-up, invitation-only ski and snowboard competitions. Contact: Whistler/Blackcomb (800-766-0449, www.whistlerblackcomb.com).
The Easter Sunrise Service
This nondenominational service convenes at the top of the gondola. Give thanks for the hour of free skiing (plus coffee and doughnuts!) before the rest of the mountain opens. Contact: Stowe Mountain Resort (802-253-3000, www.stowe.com).
To spree or not to spree? Whether you pay top dollar for a ski vacation or scam free lodging and eat ketchup soup for lunch, here are high/low lodging choices for three resorts we love
|where $per night||what you get||bonus||feast or famine||star power|
|HIGH LIFE||Stein Eriksen Lodge
|Luxury room with Scandinavian woodwork, balcony, and a jet-powered bathtub||Down comforters, terry-cloth bathrobes, and overnight shoe-shining service||$21-$31 entrees like sizzling Szechuan-crusted duck breast served to the melodious tunes of a jazz band||The perfectly coiffed Stein himself, a 1952 slalom gold medalist for Norway|
|LOW LIFE||Hidden Haven Campground
|A patch of ground for your tent, car, or RV (with full hookup) with views of Interstate 80||Coin-op laundry, hot showers, and loads of Twinkies and Doritos at the Hidden Haven General Store||Crackers with Cheez Whiz, served with Châ teau du Coke 2002||No celebrities reported or expected. . . ever|
|A suite with a king-size bed, his-and-hers sinks, and a bathtub view of the Snake River Range||Woven cowhide chairs, 35-meter swimming pool (no, not in your room), and seaweed treatments at the Health Center||Stoli martinis at the zinc-topped bar, and seared onaga with gravlox at The Grill||VP Dick Cheney and his tycoon pals|
|LOW LIFE||The Hostel
|A private room for some quality time with Spot (pets welcome)||Ping-pong and pool tables||A burger at The Rocky Mountain Oyster (307-734-9438). . . sorry, they're not on the menu||Three guys vying to be extras in a Warren Miler movie|
|HIGH LIFE||The Inn at Lost Creek
|950-square-foot two-bedroom suite with two master baths and a fireplace||Rooftop hot tubs, ski valet, and "hot-stone" massages||Single-malt scotches in the Lobby Bar and the 9545 Restaurant's poached Alaskan halibut with sun-dried tomatoes||Hollywood action figures à la Clint Eastwood|
|LOW LIFE||Oak Street Inn
|Room for two, bath down the hall, and a five-minute walk to the slopes||Sauna, TV lounge, and VCR (BYO movies)||Takeout pizza from Baked in Telluride (970-728-4775)||Author of this chart stayed there once|
Strengthen the Muscle Between Your Ears
FOR YOUR NEXT WORKOUT, carry a card with six sets of random numbers, starting with a set of five and increasing by one to a set of ten. Start with the five-number set. As you begin your exercises, look at this set once and try to memorize it. Then move up to the six-number set, and so on throughout your strength routine, until you can recall each set of numbers. Once you've memorized them all, try it backwards.
PICK ONE OF YOUR REGULAR run/hike/bike routes. Memorize small landmarks along the waythe numbers or design of a mailbox, the branches of a certain tree, a license plate number, or the number of pine trees along a certain stretch. Each time you proceed through the route, add more and more details. In time, try visualizing and describing to yourself each object along the route before you reach it.
BRING ALONG A SMALL SCRAP of paper with a list of ten words or phrases on it that you can turn into anagramswords, or series of words, that when rearranged create other words or phrases. Example: Big Bend National Park = Abandoning bleak trip. Now try to create another word or phrase. You can find more anagrams at www.anagrams.net.
PICK A LETTER AND THEN name all the animals you can recall that start with that letter; use your watch or bike computer to clock 60 seconds. (Restak says the norm for those younger than 70 is 17 to 24 animals.) Once you've tried this with animals, move on to movie stars, food items, ex-boyfriends/girlfriends, body parts, or geographic locations.
WHILE BIKING OR RUNNING, select a span of timesay, 15 secondsthen set your watch timer. Look away from the watch and try to anticipate when the alarm will sound. Progressively increase the amount of time. This exercise will enhance your powers of attention and concentration.
Testing the gravity of the situation at Vail
EAST: Stave off weekend prices and save about $35 per day by skiing midweek with Vermont's Ski the Valley program. You get two ski areas in the deal: Sugarbush and neighboring Mad River Glen. The three-night/three-day packages start at $177 per person and include lodging, breakfast, and lift tickets (at both areas) and your choice of 15 different lodges. Contact: The Chamber of Commerce for Mad River Valley (800-828-4748, www.madrivervalley.com).
ROCKIES: In midwinter, resorts team up with major airlines to offer supercheap packages. Example: The Steamboat Springs Value Season Package ($669) flies you into Denver from Dallas-Fort Worth on United Airlines and offers five nights at Steamboat Springs' bare-bones Alpiner Lodge; the Canyons Value Season Package ($749) flies you into Salt Lake City from Chicago or L.A. and offers five nights at the Red Pine Condominiums. Both packages include four-day lift tickets, airfare, and airport transfers. Contact: Ski Vacation Planners (888-822-6754; www.skivacationplanners.com). FAR WEST: In California, Heavenly Ski Resort's Build Your Own Package program lets you choose from 14 lodging options ranging from three to ten days. Example: Starting at $315 per person, stay three nights at the Tradewinds Motel-Heavenly, located next to the new gondola, and ski for two days. Contact: Heavenly Ski Resort (800-243-2836, www.skiheavenly.com).
The one-year-old Rossignol International Test Center at the top of Vail's Lift 4 is leading a movement by ski manufacturers to get you out of the rental line and onto the mountain faster. Present the Rossi Test Center with a free coupon from any Rossignol dealer in the country (www.rossignol.com) and try out skis, boots, snowboards, and telly gear, gratis. BUZZ
IF YOU TIRE OF SHARING the mountain, consider renting (or buying) your own resort. Turner Mountain in Libby, Montana, is available Monday through Thursday for just $2,000 per day. The lone chair lift climbs 2,110 vertical feet and accesses 800 acres of trails (406-293-4317, www.skiturner.com). Lookout Pass Ski Area in Wallace, Idaho, is available Monday through Wednesday for $3,000 a day. One lift and one rope tow access 850 vertical feet and 360 acres (208-744-1301, www.skilookout.com).
Or, what the heck, why not just buy your own ski area? This summer, eBay listed Laurel Mountain Ski Resort in southwestern Pennsylvaniawith snowmaking, five lifts, night skiing, and a base lodgefor a brisk $9.5 million. At press time, the resort was still up for grabs.