2014 Competitor of the Year

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Mikaela Shiffrin,
2014 NASJA Competitor of the Year and a whole lot more.

Photo by Deanna Trevizo.

As part of my role as Vice President of Awards for the North American Snowsports Journalists Association I had the honor of presenting ski racer Mikaela Shiffrin with the 2014 Competitor of the Year Award. If there’s a no spin zone in this industry, it only exists in ski and snowboard racing. In this arena one’s own hard work and subsequent results does the talking.

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Whoa snap! Mikaela and I share a knuckle bump.
Photo by Deanna Trevizo

I first “met” Mikaela Shiffrin thanks to a photo taken by Tom Kelly, VP of Communications for the United States Ski and Snowboard Association that ran on the cover the Aspen Times Weekly during the week of the women’s World Cup held there in November 2012.

While I may not have recognized her name, the photo illustrated Mikaela’s power as a ski racer and the incredible angles she creates with her skis on hard pack snow. Her athleticism was even more impressive to watch live with thousands of other fans cheering her on to the finish line. Then just 17 years old, Mikaela finished seventh in slalom and ninth in the giant slalom.

By the end of that weekend in Aspen, not only did I know how to pronounce her name, but so did tens of thousands, and now millions of other skiers around the globe.

Now 19 years old, Mikaela is the reigning Olympic, World Cup, and world champion in slalom. In Sochi she became the youngest slalom Gold Medalists in Olympic Alpine Skiing history with a .53 second win over Austria’s Marlies Schild. Four days earlier, she made her Olympic debut placing fifth in the Giant Slalom.

Over the course of the past two winters, Shiffrin has claimed a total of nine World Cup slalom wins. In this PSA video promoting Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month, Mikaela tells us how it all started. Click Here

Wes Neustel’s Ski Trip

 

Wes Neustel and his gal Carol Cohen.

Wes Neustel and his gal Carol Cohen.

It was only seven words and eight syllables, but when I heard them, I knew it was going to be a fun ski day.

“I need a couple of old farts,” the man said to the person sitting behind the lift ticket window.

We’re standing at 6,100 feet on the east slope of Montana’s Bridger Range. There are several inches of new snow on the ground on this crisp February morning. More people begin to mill about the base area as snowmobiles churn up the mountainside and workers perform their routine series of chairlift safety checks and stops. Bridger Bowl ski area is waking up for the day.

“Ah, excuse me sir? Did you mean you need two senior lift tickets?” asks the lift ticket agent, a stately gent from Alaska.

“Yeah, two old farts for a couple of 79-year-olds,” the man replies.

As it were, I was amid a group of 250 skiers from “Da-loot” out on their annual Ski Hut Bozeman Ski Trip.

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The Burrito: A Skier and Rider’s BFF

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Photo by Beth Galton

 The words my keyboard is about to spit out might not go over well in some circles. What I’m putting down might fire up the focaccia fanatics and raise the hackles of hamburger lovers. Nevertheless, I’m throwing caution to the wind and proclaiming the burrito ­– that spicy Mexican-inspired pocket of goodness with a flavor that cuts through a cold winter’s chill like few others can – as the skier and snowboarder’s BFF (best food friend).

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12 Days to Seafood Buffet

Photo courtesy of Deer Valley

Let’s Dance! Photo courtesy of Deer Valley

The countdown began promptly at 9:47 a.m. on a Sunday. That’s when I first read those fabulous words on the meeting agenda: Farewell Seafood Buffet.

Our week-long meeting was being held in Park City, and the final reception and dinner was hosted at Deer Valley Resort. I suppose many us examine and re-examine our life’s purpose from time to time. Once I read those words, my life had a new and immediate purpose: to stuff a reef’s worth of goodness into my belly at Seafood Buffet. It was now just 12 days, nine hours, and 13 minutes away. [Read more...]