Several recent stories have highlighted the bold / interesting / controversial sartorial choices of several teams at the fast-approaching 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic games.
You’ve probably seen the Opening Ceremony uniforms for the US Olympic Team.
Designed by Ralph Lauren, some have praised the loud sweaters (“confident,” “bold”) for their patriotic theme, evocative of a homemade quilt, and for being both designed and manufactured in the United States.
But others have compared them to “hideous Christmas sweaters,” called them “eye-poppingly awful,” and said “my grandma could probably knit something cooler.”
Then there’s the Norwegian curling team.
I think USA Today said it best: “Cancel the Olympics because Norway’s curling team has already won.”
And, last but certainly not least, there’s Mexico’s Prince Hubertus von Hohenlohe (yes, he’s a real prince. Of a place in Germany that no longer exists. But, still, technically a prince. And he’s barely ever lived in Mexico: He was raised, lives and trains in Austria.) As the only winter olympian representing Mexico, and, at 55, the oldest athlete competing in these games, he already stands out. But wait until you get a hold of his mariachi themed racing suit:
What do you think? Are these outfits fun, creative, bold and representative of the Olympic spirit. Or are they definitely not contenders for the fashion gold medal?
(If you’re looking for something a little less flashy, or even if you like to stand out in a crowd, the Butternut Ski and Board Shop has got you covered.)
I recently spent two days on the slopes with my little brother. While we can agree on our love for snow, we don’t see eye-to-eye on our on-snow choices: I ski. He rides a snowboard.
And while he won’t take a run unless he’s got headphones in and some intense hard rock or hip hop music playing, I’m a purist: I like the muffled sound of the wind through my helmet’s earflaps, the soft whoosh and purr of the snow as my skis arc a turn (or, in harder pack, the somewhat louder crunching and scraping), and the voices and sounds of other skiers in my vicinity.
But, especially if I’ve got a long drive ahead of me before hitting the slopes, I like to put on some good, mood-boosting music to get me pumped and energized for the ski day ahead.
It got me wondering. Do a lot of skiers and riders at Ski Butternut listen to music while they’re on the lifts or the slopes? Or during the car ride over? And what are your favorite genres / artists to listen to get psyched and motivated? Are there actual athletic benefits to listening to music before skiing or while on the slopes?
It turns out that recent scientific research has discovered a link between listening to music and increased athletic performance. A 1994 study found that participants who listened to 1 minute of music before riding a stationary bike rode more mileage than those who listened to no music beforehand. It didn’t even matter if the music was ‘frenetic’ or ‘mellow,’ just the brief exposure to music improved performance. A more recent study in 2012 found that people who listened to their favorite music during competitive athletic activity enjoyed the activity more and felt more ‘in the zone’.
Maybe that’s why US snowboarder Danny Davis (member of the US team going to the 2014 Sochi Olympics) listens to country music to relax before hitting the halfpipe and Hannah Teter, going to her 3rd Olympics this year, says that she listens to music so she doesn’t have to listen her “own pressure-filled head.“
Google “ski playlist” or “snowboard playlist” and you’ll find hundreds of suggested adrenaline-boosting musical options. Spotify has a whole section called “Conquer the World of Snow with a Perfect Playlist,” including 4 playlists supposedly custom-tailored to different skiing levels (Green Circle, Blue Square, Black Diamond, and Double Black, all embedded below).
So, do you like the sounds of nature or the sound of music when you’re on the slopes? How about during the trip at the beginning of the day to warm up, or the end of the day to cool down? What do you like to listen to most?
Besides a good attitude, the most important thing for a skier to have is a properly fitted pair of boots. Even more critical than well-tuned skis of appropriate length, the right boot, fit right, provides a strong foundation to give skiers and riders the solid balance and precise agility needed to translate small movements into big, beautiful arcing turns. Plus, a well-chosen boot can also be surprisingly comfortable (after a few days of break-in) and even warm.
Ski Butternut is fortunate enough to have one of the best certified bootfitters around, Penny Spoja, the hard goods manager at our Ski and Board Shop. In addition to setting you up in the right boot for your age, size, ability, and skiing style, Penny and her well-trained staff can also help you further customize your boot, adding special insoles to match your instep and arch, adjusting the cant to improve your alignment, and even accessorizing with electric boot heaters to keep your toes happy on cold days.
With some boot models, she can even take an additional step: molding the boot liner to exactly conform to the unique shape of your foot and ankle. In the photos below, Penny is customizing a pair of Dalbello ski boots with custom fit I.D. Thermo liners. She uses the shop’s brand new Dalbello Intuition machine to heat the liners to very high temperature, effectively ‘melting’ the insides. Then the skier, Alex, steps into boots and stands motionless in proper athletic stance as they cool. About 10 minutes later, Alex’s liners have hardened permanently into the shape of her feet and, just like a snowflake, her boots are unique, unlike any other pair, specifically designed for her.
Though the calendar says spring, and the ski season is drawing to a close, we’re not quite done yet! As of today, Wednesday, March 27, 2013, we’re still skiing and riding on all 22 of Ski Butternut’s trails, most with excellent edge-to-edge snow coverage, and we still have 32 features in our Twisted Terrain Park. It’s springtime, though, so come prepared with the sunblock, a laid-back attitude, and an appreciation for the heavier spring snow, especially on warmer afternoons.
And we’re gonna make sure that we roar through this spectacular March like lions, right ’til the end, not timidly melt away like lambs.
On that note, we’ve got 2 FUN EVENTS planned for this weekend:
On SATURDAY MARCH 30, we’ll celebrate the joys of spring skiing by getting downright tropical for our annual PARROT HEAD FESTIVAL. Come dressed in your best Hawaiian shirt, and be prepared to kick back on the deck of our main clubhouse lodge. From 12 noon to 2PM, we’ll be blasting some Jimmy Buffett tunes, serving up Cheeseburgers in Paradise and other beach-themed treats, and, if you’re lucky (and 21 or over), we might just roll out the blender and offer some more ‘adult’ beverages. As a family-friendly mountain, of course there will be stuff for the kids, too: A limbo contest, deck bowling, and an on-mountain scavenger hunt for colorful parrots (if you find a parrot, please turn it in to the main office to claim a prize. Please, only one prize per family per day.)
Then, on EASTER SUNDAY MARCH 31, a rare treat: an Easter that falls during ski season. To celebrate the day, we’ll have an on-mountain EASTER EGG HUNT, with colorful plastic eggs hidden around the mountain. Find an egg, turn it into the office, and claim a prize! (Please, only one prize per family per day.)
And lest I forget to mention: Tickets are only $25 for adults, $20 for juniors, and $15 for kids every day for the rest of the season, including this upcoming weekend. Or, if you buy next year’s season pass now, you can start using it immediately.
Come get some turns in while you still can!
Reflections on a Powder Day:
Yesterday, when the governors of Massachusetts and Connecticut declared states of emergency, our hearts sank a little. While they might see a major snowstorm as a problem, we welcome it with open arms.
So at 4PM yesterday, as our lifts stopped turning for the day and the storm clouds descended, local businesses shut down and all the roads that lead here closed, we were just starting to prepare for the excitement to come.
And no statewide shutdown or funny Disneyfied storm name could dampen our spirits!
So our groomers worked through the night, taming the deep swells on beginner and intermediate terrain, but leaving them untouched for the experts on the steeper stuff (not to mention in countless powder stashes that I am obliged to keep secret). And employees across the mountain, who were determined to show up for their early morning shifts, found nearby couches to crash on, sacrificing a little bit of comfort for the promise of a powder day tomorrow.
And, boy, did that powder day arrive! Ski Butternut was blessed with more than a foot of freshies, 30+ centimeters of pow, 12-16 inches of the sweetest of sweet gnar.
While we didn’t get the nearly yard-deep drifts that paralyzed some of New England’s coastal cities (and from which they’ll be digging out for days), we got more than enough to have an EPIC POWDER DAY, quite possibly the most natural snow that we’ve received from one storm in the past 2 SKI SEASONS!
Our base is deep, and conditions are the best they’ve been all year. Downspout is an endless sea of powder. The terrain park has big hits, natural Organix features, gladed powder stashes, and some nice, soft landings. And Pied Piper, Main Street, and Lower Applejack, amongst many other runs, have miles of silky smooth packed powder corduroy — with even more of that in store when we groom tonight.
Tomorrow, the early and the clever may still find a bit of pristine untracked snow here and there, and everyone will enjoy the buttery goodness of Ski Butternut’s signature grooming.
See you on the slopes! rj.
My New Year’s Resolution
My New Year’s Resolution
is not to eat better
or look svelte in a sweater
it’s not to be nice
or to give up a vice
I won’t learn a new tongue
nor go places far-flung
nor improve as a cook
I won’t read a good book
Won’t take classes in etiquette
nor move to Connecticut
(even though I hear that Connecticut is a great state in which to live)
I won’t set goals that are bolder
’cause as I’ve grown older
I’ve learnt that I’m likely to
just let them molder
But I promised myself just one thing, yes indeed,
where success is 100% guaranteed
Because great resolutions are ones I can keep
without moving a muscle, without digging deep
I’m sure you must wonder what I have resolved
that I can achieve with no effort involved
Without further ado
I’ll divulge the details:
I’VE RESOLVED TO ANNOUNCE
“SKI BUTTERNUT’S OPENED ALL 22 TRAILS!”
(and tubing, terrain parks; fun on and off rails!)
Skiers, Riders, and Tubers: Thrilled
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
from RJ, and all of us at Ski Butternut
Something’s not right in Great Barrington. (But you can do something about it: Scroll down for contest info!)
UPDATE: Things are looking up…and Ski Butternut is OPENING ON SAT DEC 15, 2012!
A few days ago, I checked my calendar, and it said “December.” But I checked my thermometer, and it was more like December in Bermuda.
A fluke, a freak accident of nature perhaps?
But then, for several days, more of the same.
On Wednesday and Thursday night, winter teased us with its brief presence, and we fired up the snow guns and hoped for the best. But today, another warm spell has been cast.
I’ve got my skis waxed and sharpened, Keith over in food services has ordered several tons of hot cocoa mix, and our snowmaking crews have got all the equipment in place to get started.
But we’ve got nothing to do. And things are getting quite boring here. Our head of operations, Jeff, is visualizing mini golf holes (complete with a windmill and other fun mechanical contraptions) on the bunny hill. Keith has allegedly built himself a hot chocolate hot tub, rather than waste all that precious beverage. And I’m this close to taking up crochet.
This madness must stop!
But what should we do?
Could we summon the power of collective prayer, pleading with God to put on a sweater, turn down the thermostat a bit, and, for good measure, throw in a blizzard or two?
How about organizing a snow dance, like the one that saved the 1960 Squaw Valley Olympics?
Then I thought to myself, “What Would Einar Do?”
Einar, of course, is Einar Aas, Butternut’s beloved ski school director for almost 40 years, until his passing a few years ago. Einar was, amongst other things, a phenomenal skier, a special character with his own unique habits and sayings, and, unmistakably, a Norwegian.
He was, and remains, an important part of Butternut. A stone with a carved Norwegian flag sits in our base area as a monument to his legacy.
And so it occurred to me…
You know who else comes from Scandinavia?
ULLR! A Norse god, considered the patron saint of skiers.
And I realized we’ve been remiss. We have failed to make the appropriate sacrifices to Ullr, and he has punished us for this transgression.
So I need you all to help us out. And do it quickly, please, for the calendar tells me we’ve got not a moment to waste.
You need to prepare your best sacrifices to Ullr. Stat.
I hear he is partial to steaming cups of hot cocoa, with precisely 42 miniature marshmallows in each one, and at least 6″ of whipped cream on top (each inch of whipped cream translates into an inch of fresh, powdery snowfall, so I’m told). He also quite likes mittens, hats, and sweaters of the hand-knitted variety, and especially if they are bedazzled and contain beautiful winter motifs. And he has a real soft spot for adorable pets in full ski attire.
I’ll post the best/most creative/most snow-inspiring ones that I receive on this blog and/or facebook, and if any of you are successful in appeasing Ullr and bringing on winter, I will award one voucher good for a FREE LIFT TICKET to the person who makes the most awesome sacrifice, and two vouchers good for a FREE TUBING SESSION to the person who makes the second best offering.
But do it fast. Or I might just knit you a really embarrassing Christmas sweater (if I can figure out how these needle-things work). (Please submit photos by THU DEC 13, 11:59PM EST). -rj
Fine print: By submitting a photo entry to this contest, you grant Ski Butternut non-exclusive use of this photo for contest and other promotional purposes. Winners names will be announced on our blog and/or facebook page(s) on or after FRI DEC 14, and winners will be contacted by their original form of entry (i.e. facebook or email), unless other contact info is provided. The contest is open to everyone, but kids 13 and under must seek parental permission and have their photos submitted by a parent or guardian.
GREAT BARRINGTON, MA – Continuing a massive, multi-year, multi-million dollar capital investment in snowmaking upgrades, Ski Butternut made several additional improvements during Summer 2012, all in pursuit of bringing you MORE SNOW FASTER.
In 2007, our mountain operations team oversaw the construction of a new, state-of-the-art pump house, designed to accommodate water pumps capable of sending up to 5,200 gallons of water per minute throughout the miles of snowmaking pipe that serve 100% of the trails, terrain parks, and tubing lanes at Ski Butternut. This summer, we added 2 more new pumps to that pump house, a high-pressure 600 GPM pump ideal for reaching upper-mountain trails, and a lower-pressure 900 GPM pump optimal for making snow on lower trails. This brings Ski Butternut’s total water pumping capacity to the pumping facility’s maximum, an impressive 5,200 GPM.
To put that number in perspective, this marks a 41% increase in water pumping capacity since just last season, and, as part of ongoing upgrades, more than TRIPLING of our pumping capabilities since 2006 (5,200 GPM vs. 1,600 GPM).
The improvements don’t stop there. All this extra water needs someplace to go, which is why nearly every old 6″ pipe on the mountain has been replaced in recent years with newer, wider 8″ and 12″ pipe. This summer, over a mile of old snowmaking pipe on Cruiser and Hob Nob was replaced with the new 8″ and 12″ pipes.
Once the snow is laid down by our snowmaking team, the groomers get to work, finessing it into the fine corduroy and packed powder that skiers and riders expect at Ski Butternut. We added another Bombardier groomer to our modern fleet this year to help make that task easier.
All of this adds up to MORE SNOW FASTER. Ski Butternut doesn’t rely on Mother Nature’s fickle New England winters to cover the slopes. As long as it’s cold enough to make snow, the snowmaking team can now work harder and faster than ever to open up trails. Increased pumping capacity gives us the ability to make snow on more trails simultaneously, reducing the number of cold hours required to cover all 110 skiable acres, and, weather-permitting, speeding up the rate at which we can open more trails, even when there’s little or no natural snow.
Ski Butternut is extremely grateful to its guests, who have rewarded us for our snowmaking efforts not only with their visits, but also by ranking Ski Butternut #1 in Massachusetts and #7 in the entire northeastern US for snowmaking in SnowEast Magazine’s 2012 Reader Survey.