Saturday, September 16, 2023

Ski Area Naming Department

Nakiska, near Kaninaskis. Say that 48 times fast.

They's some mighty boring names out there. Mt Snow.  I mean, come on, people.  Beaver Creek?  Copper Mountain? Winterplace? I live in Sleepeatplace, then. Willamette Pass? Is that, by chance, in Montana, near some random place? Nope. It's on. . . . .wait for it. . . . . .Willamette Pass.  Good job guys.  I know nobody gave (or gives) a toss about whether some stocky, bald, angry 40 something is going to smile ever so slightly at the lyricism of a given place name, or run name, but still.  Thankfully, not everybody went on break.

Where is it at? Mt Washington? Let's call it Mt Washington. I'm goin on break.

Herewith, some best ski area names. Fun, lyrical, weird, or otherwise interesting for one reason or other.

Nub's Nob, MI. Yawgoo Valley, RI. Frost Fire, ND. Hoodoo, OR. Mt Cheeseman, NZ, not cos it's original, as it's on Mt Cheeseman, but, dag. Good call just the same. Whakapapa.  Talk about lyrics.  That's right out of a late 50s rock song.

Bogus Basin, ID. You can't call us biased, cos there's a few conspicuous names not here.  Mt Ashland, for one. It's not bad, but, well, just a name. Crystal Mountain, Mt Baker, Buck Hill, all solid places, with great memories.  Mt Bachelor, Copper, Welch Village, all of em.  Timberline, while accurate, not interesting. Bogus, though, is fun.

How else can I make the joke about wanting real road work?

There's Trollhaugen, WI. Of course.  Craigleith, Craigieburn, and Cairngorms. Doesn't matter where they are, they sound legit. Granlibakken, Tawatinaw Valley, Rotarun, Skaneateles, Quoggy Jo, Cataloochee, Nakiska, Calabogie, Boogie Mountain, all just sound fun. Neither of us cares that Rotarun is a platter on the side of a small hill near Hailey, ID,

Some names just ring true, like SkiLand, or represent in a simple way, like Smuggler's Notch. Others are just fun, like Wild Mountain--Amy disagrees--Troll, Snow Snake, Mt Ski Gull, or Sky Tavern.

Some, however, make you wonder.  What is a Revelstoke? A Catamount? I learned recently that it's a real thing, just like a bearcat is real. It's a cougar, if you are wondering. Although it could be a lynx. Or a chupacabra. Taos, you ask? I don't know either.  Nor can Amy and I agree on how to actually pronounce it in the first place.  But it's memorable.

Many of these words and names are Indigenous words or names, some of which likely mean "Snowy Mountain".  That's fine.  They sound nice, enticing, descriptive, many things.  Certainly better than naming a giant 4300 metre volcano after Boring Admiral Peter or a ridgeline with great views and conspicuously skiable pitches after a prostitute's profile.  (Thanks, Targhee.)

Can't ski on a nighthawk, but it's a rad bird just the same, and a good name, too, also

Nighthawk, Skeetawk, Kicking Horse, Steeplechase, and Hogadon, they just roll off the tongue.  Or Loup Loup and Batawa, which is not near Matawa, WA. Or Skamakowa, WA for that matter.  Saskadena Six is a rename, but a historic name, too, much better than the interloper, Suicide Six. Even without the comparison, I wanna go just hearing the name. Same with Massanutten, although the joke writes itself with this one.  I'm pretty sure there's a there there, although it could be a mass of nothing.  Some day we'll find out. 

Mt Eyak and Hyak. Speaking of poorly renamed places, there's the dreamy Moon Valley, which is now known as a mostly boring Titus Mountain.  Hyak, if you don't know, is now "Summit East", being east of Snoqualmie Summit.  Sheesh.  No, Boyne, it just isn't.  IT'S F(*&#$)(*& HYAK AND Y'ALL CAN TAKE A LONG WALK OFF A DIVING BOARD INTO A HOT VAT OF ACID BAT TURDS.

Beartown, Owl's Head, Attitash, or as it was once, Attitash Bear, I don't know, there's just something about the words.  Jiminy Peak, Chicopea, Treble Cone.  I like ambition, too, like The Remarkables, or Big Snow American Dream.  Anyway, some food for thought.

Stone Ham, QC. Not just a pretty face.  Also hungry-making. Like Mt Packing Ham.

- -

- Joke's on you.  I know it's Stoneham.  And Pakenham.  Feigned ignorance is one of the best ways to push buttons.  I'm the youngest, so that's my job.  Pushing buttons, I mean.  Feigned ignorance is just a bonus.
- If you don't know Mitch, then you need to. Appliance Naming Department. Look it up, kids.  It, too, is on the internet.

Sunday, September 10, 2023

Annual Resort Guide Brought to You by the 80s Audi Quattro and Their Oh-So-Reliable 5 Cylinder It's THE Ski Vehicle Don't Look at That Oil Puddle It's Fine

 With all "relevant"* ski rags gone, somebody's gotta take up the slack.  Challenge accepted.

Hayrick Butte is a tuya. Tuyas are formed when there's a volcanic blorp right up into an ice sheet or a glacier's business, such that that lava blorp cools quickly into this sorta flattop shape that's rad and if you'll notice, there's skiing right in front of you in this pic, which is not even a little coincidentally at Hoodoo.

Best of the West

1) Hoodoo.  I mean, really.  Volcanoes, volcanoes, volcanoes, volcanoes, volcanoes.  Did I mention the tuya? Have you SEEN a tuya?! Rad.  Oh, the skiing also happens to be really good. Well, not "happens", it just is.  Steep, deep, closer to the Valley than Bachelor, Cascady in all the ways, you got it.  No excuses.  Also, still got them Riblets, natch.  They didn't open in the Bad Year, but you could kayak up to the chairs a few times.

2) Brighton.  Yeah, sure, whatever, Big Bad Boyne, we don't care.  It's like Crystal in the 80s. Dank basements, funky chair alignments, and frickin awesome fall line schred monster skiing.  Seriously. Milly is, like, Big Sky except you don't gots ta deal with somebody correcting you on how to say BIG Sky.  BIG Sky, not Big Sky.  Grr.  Brighton is just, well, weird.  And that's how we like it.  Did I mention they got four hundred pow days last winter? No? They did. Plus nights, so that's like ten hundred pow days.

3) Discovery. You don't know where it is, and you don't know how big it is. It's big, and it's in the middle of nowhere.  Plus, skiing is rad, and also, it's big and in the middle of nowhere and trees and lotsa skiing and no detaches and maybe a little or a medium lot weird and GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLLLLLL

4) Beaver. Amy says it's number one, and she's right, but I already put Hoodoo there and I don't know how to work this thing. Anyway, Beaver is magical.  Marge Seeholzer is (from experience) a well-spoken, kind, observant woman.  The best sort of folk whom you always want to meet at a ski joint.  And her family has been running it since the beginning, with Marge's son Travis nominally at the helm, though they still say Marge is the boss.  The skiing is good, too, long cruisers, steep trees, legendary Utah pow, views of the Bear River Range, moguls when you want em, but it is simply being there that makes it.  There isn't any adequate description, and I think that's a pretty high compliment.  When you think Utah, think Beaver.  Seriously.  You will punch me for not telling you sooner.

5) Mt Baldy. Not that one, the other one.  No, not in Canada, in LA.  Seriously.  You think I'm joking, but you forget that a) skiing is rad wherever you do it and b) MOUNT FRICKIN SAN FRICKIN ANTONIO.  IT'S TEN MILLION FEET TALL. There's old lifts, weird terrain, funky locale, and the obvious advantage of being somewhere no one will believe you've skied.  There's interesting conifers, incredible views, funk, the sheer madness of skiing thirteen feet from your front door in Ontario, don't miss it.

6) Snow King. There's a really good Korean restaurant, the best just about anywhere, and they have these rice triangles that are wrapped in seaweed and you can get either vejies or spicy tuna and they're the perfect after skiing snack and there's like a playground and a hockey rink and the sun doesn't rise until April so you know it's steep AF and the runs are narrow and

Amy at the magickest joint in all of Idaho. Nevada, Washington, Texas, too.  Any state or region except Vermont.  Then we fightin.

Not the West

1) Buck Hill.  Just cos I grew up there.  And that's why.  And I have many fond memories.  Yeah, I mean, Lindsey Vonn, Paula Moltzan, Kristina Koznick. It's close to the Burnsville Mall, and you can watch ice fishing from all the runs.  It's just across the street. And there are fireflies, which Eino doesn't believe in cos he never seent em.  Amy claims "they aren't there in winter," which makes Eino even more suspicious.

2) Mont Ripley. It's in the UP, which is the Napa of the Midwest, if Napa were actually a cool place and if it were cold and got hit with up to 400 inches in the best years and you go places on snowmachines as much as possible, and there's Michigan Tech, and Ripley is pretty darn steep, when it comes down to it.  Also, pasty.  Did you know there's a pasty trail? It's like a beer trail, except, you know, not boring. And good.  Pasty is good. Mont Ripley is good.  I seent it once. Gramma Linnea grew up just north of there.  Lake Laurium, Calumet, somewhere thereabouts.  By the Trap Rock. Also LAKE EFFECT IT DON'T GET NO HIPPER THAN LAKE EFFECT YEEEAAAAAAAHHHH SUCK ON IT REED TIMMER.

3) Trollhaugen.  They do it right in Wisco.  Or as they say it Utah, WESconsin.  It's cold when it's not not cold, except in summer, when it's always not cold.  At least Amy says so.  It's right near the river, not far from Wild Mountain. You can turn both ways and stop there, and like we said earlier, skiing is better than not skiing.  The separation is like if you live in Florida, that's not skiing, and if you went to Wisconsin, that's skiing.  That's how much better skiing is that not skiing, and Trollhaugen IS skiing.  Right to the core, don't ask questions, just go.  In fact, why aren't you already there? You do know they are one of the only 100% Borvig-lineage mountains that isn't Bluewood, don't you? 

4) Wild Mountain.  They are sometimes the first open in October.  Before A Basin, Kidneystones, The Beast, whatever.  Just upstream and across the La Croix River, that storied, bubbly, tasty, refreshing river that raises in the wilds of North Wisco, which Amy canoed on back in the day, into which she fell, possibly, which Louis Hennepin is said to have said they called le Rîvięrë Tombeaux, which is Frenchist for Le River Tombeaux. Hennepin was Belgianist, so who knows. Anyway, Wild Mountain is tucked away nicely upcountry from the Cities, on the west bank of the the La Croix, naturally essenced by the trees and at a slower pace.  Not all that coincidentally, as recently as last year, Wild was a 100% Borvig mountain, too, but they're building a new Skytrac, so, not quite as cool as they could be.  I still root for em every October. Giver, Wild! Rip that manmade! Skiing here is better than not skiing, and to be honest, give me the choice of Vail or Wild for the rest of my turns, you know which I'll choose. Vail can take a flying leap at a rolling nuclear doughnut.

5) Perfect North. They batted 1.000 when it came to Riblets, until this summer.  A quick drive from Cincinatti, they're almost Appalachian and almost midwest, and I dig me some edge-of-the-world bordertown shit. They are at the moment a well-run org, with at least one other small area in their portfolio, which sounds like a weird thing to put in a best-of list except that they are among the only independent joints in the Eastern Midwest, so I say GIVE EM HELL, MR PERFECT. Also, they have snow, and snow is fun, and skiing on snow is fun, and lifts are fun, and if you live nearby, then ring up an afternoon of turns and Riblets and you will never be disappointed.

This is a turkey. Right down the street from the house in Historic North End BoyCee, Idaho.

East of the Beast

1) Sugar. I mean, really.  There's turns, there's lifts, there's a big college with some rad football history, and one of the ugliest buildings in any mountains which you can hate and complain about or actually do something positive about, like firebombing.  Anyway, the skiing does get steep, and I totally know a guy who skied there in college. The summit is higher than any skiing in Vermont.  Which makes me laugh.  Everybody's like "skiing? When you list skiing, Vermont is like top ten." But yeah, Sugar's higher than Mansfield and all of Vermont--which literally means Green Mountain, so like Vermont the Green Mountain State is like Boise, City of trees, which is Trees, City of Trees--and within spittin elevation of Marcy and Katahdin, otherwise known as the tallest hills in Maine and New York, or something like that. Anyway, back in 2002, me and Brian Terwilliger of App State and Sugar Mountain agreed on a race cos he banged gates and I was a ski bum and he thought he'd be faster.  I tole im I'd race on any ski, and he could also choose the race, and he told me to grab whatever I thought was faster and we'd tuck from the top of 5 to the bottom; in good Baker fashion, we were turning for directional purposes only.  I've weighed north of 200 my entire adult life, and I had a pair of 197 Igneous givin er skis, and he was on his 165 cm slalom sticks, all 145 pounds with gear.  Somehow, I won.  Musta been skill.  Not physics, nope, not at all.

2) Yawgoons.  You just gotta.  If you don't this year, you'll be one year older when you do.  And if you can ski here, you can ski anywhere.  Also, there's some snowboarders there who done got some creativity like no other.  And a questionable obsession with corrugated pipe. Rhode Island, man, it's the future.

3) Saddleback.  It's frickin gorgeous, and it's frickin independent. And big, imposing, steep, varied, everything us snobby Westerners claim we are. They get all the Mainer weathers, the peak is exposed, and they ain't nut'n like it. I'd be more effusive, but it's unnecessary. When you think Beast Coast, if Saddleback isn't on your radar, you're wrong, and I don't know you. You probly drink apple juice that isn't from Washington and think Crystal Pepsi was a genius idear that just needed the right marketing touch.

4) Owl's Head.  It's named after a guy who looked like an owl. Not that the hill looks like an owl. It's in the Cantons de l'Est, which is Canadian Frenchist for Cantons de the East.  Picture yourself in France around the time of the Revolution.  Heads are rolling in the streets, there's barricades, Jean Valjean is singing to Penelope Cruz, things is happening. Anne Hathaway just got a haircut, and Jean Reno is driving a Renault. Y'know? Anyway, say you're on the Left Bank of the Seine, selling loose joints to tourists. These tourists don't know French Fries from French Toast, nor why those terms are both incorrect. Now, within this hallucination, sit down at a cafë, that one right there.  Close your eyes, and imagine all of this is gone and you're in the countryside, with spotty but impressive hills surrounding you at distances, and snow on the ground, and skiing. Now you're feelin it.  There's Jack Chirac over there, in a sweater and cap, Gauloise hanging jauntily from his lower lip like Andy Capp, skis slung over his shoulder. In the distance you can see Sylvain Soudan and Tessa Worley and Johan Clarey rippin the grooms under the Panorama quad, just layin them tracks like they was Leland Stanford scamming the US taxpayers.  Something like that.

5) The Jay Waterpark. Nothing says skiing like not skiing.

6) Titus.  This one is real.  I mean, I'd rather it was still called Moon Valley, but I ain't the one owning it.  Titus is upstate, basically in the Eastern Townships of QC, but not really cos it isn't l'Est enough.  Situated kinda like a farm where one farmer stitches together pasture from a few different plots and makes do with walking his cows across the street every so often cos that's just what you gotta do sometimes.  Spread across three knolls--with a gravel pit at one end å łã Number 4 in The Rockies Tee Em Terry Peak and the Wharf Mine--it takes a little imagination and perseverance to ski everything in one fell swoop.  It gets cold up north on the Salmon River, which, by the way, unlike that one out west, doesn't have sharks, and that's what skiing is for. Titus isn't huge, 200 acres, give or take, but they have 1200 or so vertical and a good variety of tree-lined runs, both cruising and gettin after it.  Lastly, and probly like third most importantly, there's an Owl's Head nearby.  That counts for something here in BoyCee, as does the maple syrup operation that serves up 5000 gallons every year, according to NY Ski Blog.  Pancakes, man. The best way to eat syrup.  Unless you count waffles.  Maybe doughnuts.  Anyway, get some.

Not skiing doesn't get you here.

The Lower Left

1) Somehow, people don't consider California to be the Southwest, even though they are the southest and westiest. So this'll be the "American Southwest", or, like, whatever we say it is.

2) Spider Mountain.  There's no skiing here, but there's a used Poma quad that came from the degens upcountry in Taos. You slap them berms on yer 180mm schredd sledd. The chair spacing is stupid close together, so you can, I don't know, toast yer buds.

3) Mt Lemmon.  They have a stuffed bear secured to a chair that the internet mistook for a real bear.  Also, the southern-most lift-served in the Lower 48. Also named after a delicious summer beverage that is best when accompanied by raspberries.

4) Lee Canyon.  It's basically in downtown Vegas, except you'd never know it cos there's ridiculous cool mountains and big canyons and it's steep and it snows and unfortunately, it gets hit by hurricanes from time to time. I think Kimberly-Clark would call that "unique complexities", but then, real skiers aren't corporate asshats who take their kleenex and leave the entire country of Canada to rub snot off on their sleeves. If you are a corporate asshat and also happen to ski, then you probly aren't who acquaintance of the blog and powder pontiff (powntiff?!) Jackson Hogan is speaking to.  Next time you're thinking of throwing your money away gambling, plan it for winter, bring yer gear, and forget the slots.  Once again, skiing in one of the least likely places to ski is worth its weight in kruppsu.

5) Cloudcroft. Named after a local town, the name of which I can't remember, it's a joint Peter Landsman calls "small but mighty". It's the southernmost ski area in the Lower 48 that isn't Mt Lemmon, it's got a single, steep Von Roll double, and it's near White Sands, which is, like, a Mad River Glen for crazies. Cloudcroft is pretty high, and also it's up there in elevation. (Huh huh. That's a joke, cos like, hippie lettuce is legal in NM.) There's some pine, some aspen, which you can tell because of the way that it is, and meadows that look like they'd make nice pasture land for Angus and Hereford. Just remember, if you can ski here, you can ski anywhere.

6) Brian Head. The name strikes fear into paranoiacs and LSD lifers alike.  I mean, what is a Brian Head? Is it a human dude? Does he work for the NSA?! HOW DO I GET AWAY FROM THE MICROWAVES!!!! There's some rad skiing, not as close to Vegas as Lee Charleston, but a doable day trip. Giant Steps should attract them mythical "experts", with its complex references to Coltrane and Sting when they were on Apollo 11 with Michael Collins.

7) Hesperus.  It's the Smallest Skiing in ColoRADo tee em. Unless somewhere else is, like maybe Kendall. You can see it from the highway into Durango when your Subaru is Death Rattling its way along, sounding like a fireplace poker in a steel tube, which, not coincidentally, is basically what is actually going on. Built to Last will slam a new engine in there for you if you ask nicely, but it'll cost a bunch. Plus, you'll probly need a clutch, cos that's buried between the engine and the transmission (go figure, right?) in an inaccessible way such that no matter what, you gots to yank one or the other to get to it, and like, your "warranty" won't cover it cos you changed your own oil, and you'll just be stuck in town, too scared to ask the neighbourhood bike joints if you can build bikes for cash so you don't have to take the Greyhound home, which, just so we're clear, takes about 34 hours and is super boring, and there's ex-cons in some of the seats but they got good stories and seem harmless which hopefully they are, and one rodeo cowboy from Ontario, and when you switch busses in Stanfield, near the melon places, it ain't in some fancy bus stop like it was in Salt Lake, it's literally the side lot of a Pilot next to Interstate 84, comfortable as a burnt sticky bun in a Finnish sauna, and the only seat is yer backpack, and there's STILL eight or nine hours to go.

Large pumpkin the size of a small pumpkin.  Some pumpkin farmers in Enumclaw and Sumner would like a word.

The Best Ones We Didn't Put Elsewhere

1) Mauna Kea. You know you dream of flying to the subtropics on a whim to hitchhike with Science Hippies up to the Observatory to get thirteen mediocre turns before the snow melts. Wait. That is exactly what I want right the heck now, more than just about anything besides kruppsu with lingonberry and gravlax on the side.  Bring on the tradewinds!!!!

2) Hilltop. It's in Anchorage, which is like, almost BC, so get to it.  You fly into Ted Stevens--don't ask me how, cos he's dead, but that's what they claim; Alaskans are weird--and then start yelling YO WHERE HILLTOP AT and eventually you'll be skiing in a nice urban park. There are huge mountains in Alaska, and tons of snow, and Hilltop is skiing on neither of those, but it's skiing and we all know that skiing is absolutely frickin worth it, every time.

3) Sundown Mountain, Iowa. Like many good Midwesty ski houses, there's an ambitious name, some fun groomers, a little history, trees, and it's situated on a big river bank.  In this case, it's the Little Maquoketa River. Bring your slalom sticks, and make lots of turns.  They'll be fun, you'll be skiing, and you'll probly more than a little smug about it.

You probly like weird sports, too.

* Ski Journal is still around, still doing good stuff, at least as of {checks the Instabox} 31W ago. It's just not as popular as Ski/Skiing or Powder were.

The turkey stared me down, got me to back up and take another street.  Urban wild turkeys got no fs to give, man, I swear to Tyler Childers.

Saturday, September 2, 2023

I know you were probly just acting polite.

Dwight Yoakam tells a story about mayonnaise, that ends with him offending his aunt.  It's harmless, and best told by Dwight himself, who is a master storyteller if you can follow his tangents. He has a show on the satellite radio thingie in my car. I'm sure it's archived somewhere on the magic internet rectangle, should you want to find it.  The gist is that he grew up thinking Miracle Whip was mayonnaise, and when he finally had actual mayonnaise, he got uppity like little kids do and may or may not have spit it out in disgust.

Supposedly yer not skiin' if yer not draggin yer hands and stuff. Credit Daniele Molineris, Storyteller Labs.

A parallel story would be about my uncle Eddie.  (I have two Uncle Eds, one of whom was married to my oldest aunt, Jerrilyn.  Sadly, we lost him a couple years ago.  This is about Eddie, who may have some day wanted to be called Ed, but he likely could not make that choice cos he is 19 years younger than Jerrilyn, enough that by the time he was in school, give or take, she was already married to Ed, and a logger in his 20s with a big beard and a patch of land and a truck ain't changin his name for a 1st grader.)  Anyway, when Eddie was young, his ma, my grandmother, would cut the crust of his pasty.  Or rather, scoop the guts out of the pastry shell.  Now, pasty--rhymes with past and ee, not paste and ee--is a Cornish meat pie that miners would take to work.  Allegedly, it was a nice size to heat on a shovel over a coal fire.  If this is true, one hopes fervently that they were not in an underground shaft while sitting around this mythical coal fire, or any fire, at the time.  At any rate, while I don't know the exact travel of the pasty recipe from Cornish miners in the UP to my grandmother in Puget Sound, I do know that like any good Lutheran, when she made pasty it was in a casserole dish and was not a small hand pie.  Coincidentally, my paternal grandmother did grow up in the UP, and she likely had contact with Suomalainen miners who knew the Cornish miners, but this is my other grandma we're talking about.

Anyway, you got me distracted.  So, one day, Eddie is at some other family's house and they're servin mad pasty, and when he gets his plate, he gets all pouty and looks at my grandmother and says "THIS AIN'T PASTY" cos the crust is still on.  Cut to now, and gosh darn if I don't want me some real Cornish pasty, the hand pie sort.  I don't need that coal fire or a shovel for authenticity, but neither do I want Beef Wellington "pan gravy" like our old neighbour Christine used to make.  I want a Cornish pasty.  Ketchup, Heinz 57, Tobasco, whatever is at hand.  Must be dinner time.


So, you're probly wondering, "just what in the heck does this have to do with skiing?" I'll tell you in a minute.  One further important thing, though, is that pasty is, in what I believe to be its purest form, a dense, but flaky pastry shell stuffed with leftover hamburger, potatoes, and whatever root vegetables you have on hand.  Ma always used carrots, but one could in theory throw in a rutabaga, or celery root, or parsnip, whatever's in the crisper.  Since we're talkin roots, some folks get confused about potatoes since the food part is underground and sort of on a root, but science hippies argue that they aren't roots at all; they're tubers.  Like, I've heard that some folks call a potato a modified stem, but really, it doesn't matter.  It's a tomato, which is a fruit, and that's that.  Or an eggplant.  Kinda like Joshua trees are asparagus.  The science hippies said so, so it must be true.  At any rate, it's hearty, mild, easily digestible, and an absolutely gorgeous receptacle for sauces.  Pasty, I mean.

Alright, I'll tell you what.  Perspective, that's what.  I'm always goin on and on and on about how people don't have enough.  Too many little bubbles, like this silly city we live in, and especially the people who grew up here.  They think that whatever experience they have is all there is to, um, experience.  Truth is, and I'll quote the legendary Satchel Pooch here, things mean different things to different people.  What one person, say, a racer, thinks of as an "all-mountain ski", is to another, say, a marketing elf for a ski publication, a skinny ski that's probly only good at banging gates and looking cute in PSIA photo shoots.  They're both wrong, of course, and I brought them up to be diametrically opposed for illustrational purposes.

The ski in question.  Closing Day Poles for scale.

I saved money for over a year to buy the Blizzard Firebird HRC.  It's funny to say it that way, cos in another way, the ski was a whim.  A very expensive whim, the most expensive ski and binding combo I have ever owned, but a whim nonetheless.  Spoiler alert, it's rad.  My perspective, as a not-racer-not-freeride-jerk? It's a very skilled, very skinny all-mountain ski.

There's always argument in all sciences about everything.  The pertinent argument here is whether words mean what the dictionary and/or what some past word person said, or if they mean what is illustrated through usage alone.  Further along this line, if a given phrase can be defined prescriptively or descriptively.  Such as, does "all-mountain" mean what the word pairing suggests, that one can ski this ski all over the mountain, or what the marketing elves say, which is whatever they want at a given moment, or, like 95-115mm underfoot exactly cos "that's what it means!"?  Over the years, I have slid toward a more ecumenical, descriptive view of language.  As such, since folks who aren't industry folks tend to see "all-mountain" as a literalist term, simply a ski one can ski wherever on the hill one can ski it, well, then, so do I.  Which for me is damn near everywhere in many conditions.  I do not, say, have the skill to ski this thing on those legendary AK pitches, but then again, I don't really have the skill or stones to ski most of that stuff on any ski.  Still, I love me some underbiking, and also some underski-ing.  As such, like many a PSIA nerd, I will ski this thing in as many conditions on as many slopes as I am able.  I believe somewhat firmly in horses for courses, and then ignore it all and just jump on this very orange ski as often as possible.  Chalk moguls, slush days, hardpan, smooth and mythical groomers, steep, shallow, Riblet double or Leitner-Poma 8-place.  Well, I've never seen the latter, but still.

Okay, maybe not all the mountain.

Now, forthwith, heretofore, Important Details you probly stopped caring to look for: the Blizzard Firebird HRC is like 75 or whatever underfoot, and mad fast. 17 metre beer-league radius at 182 cms, with the requisite metal base sheet and binding sheet.  (I'd be fine if it was just two full metal sheets; more on that later.)  It's offered in other lengths, but I didn't bother to demo any so I don't know how the length changes the ski. Also, I weigh pounds and that means 182 for me.  It's got that good box section sandwich construction, the classic shape. Much camber, many oomph.  Blizzard offers it with two binding plates, one a demo whatever that's stupid cos I said so and one that is--I think, I didn't mount em, which is pretty embarrassing--pre-drilled for the old Comp pattern.  Don't waste time on the demo plate.  Get the real one, it's got a piston, which is like, hashtag Marker History Tee Em.  Also, you can snag a 16 or 18 or 20 din XComp binding if you don't have a classic Comp 18.0, which is nice cos otherwise you'd be Markering out all over the mountain.  All my anti-Marker hubris to the side, the Comp race binding they've made in a couple iterations over the decades is actually damn solid once you get up into the nosebleed dins like 18 or 45.

The base slides like it's some sorta race-room material, and the edges are a claimed somewhere around 1 by 2 degrees.  This is not super important, cos obvs you should get em ground flat when it's time for your first tune and hand file em to hashtag half by four and moonstone that shit to a polish.  I imagine you'll be waxing them, but I forgot this year and the base burn didn't hold me back none.  Don't hate.

I read a bunch of misguided hype before buying this ski, most of which ran to line of "you better have your will updated cos this ski kicks mortal a$$." Or "get on board the train." Or Jeff over at Greenwood's more subtle "yeah, with the Piston Plate, it's just. . .more." I'll admit that I got behind the ski a little on the first day, but once I got my mass settled into the centre of the ski's balance, aka WHERE YOU SHOULD ALWAYS BE, then things just kinda worked out.  All the reasonable platitudes apply here, carves like a gelada baboon, rebounds like a turkey on acid, changes edges quicker than a ground squirrel, has a smoother ride than a pika's hay in March in the back of the den when the only plants left in the larder are the toxic ones and hopefully Ma and Pa laid em in early enough last summer so the toxins leached.  You get it.  Ask it to make you a sandwich, and it'll eat your breakfast.  Tell it to make you a sandwich, and it'll be the best dang thing you ever et.

And it can do this!! (It's like one a them eye puzzles.  Stare long enough, you'll see it. Yeah, I'm pretty good.)

Any good race or frontside ski should hold an edge from exactly the moment you set it, and release it only when you start your transition.  The HRC does this, with aplomb, at speed, as though there is no other calling.  Some folks won't care.  If you are them, just walk on by, don't wait on the corner.  I am most definitely them, and every time I roll up on edge, wherever that may be, I smirk just a little.  Folks say a good ski should do some of the work for you, and that's true, but a great ski will reward you for doing as much work as you are able.  That same great ski may not forgive you for getting it wrong.  You should not expect it to.  Being tossed about in the back seat on a really great ski is not a knock on the ski, nor should you take it as anything other than not-so-gentle encouragement to git that centre of mass over yer base of support.  It's okay to need to be on your game, cos when you are, holy shieldbacks, you can get after it.

If I have a gripe, and I'm paid to*, it's that there's not enough orange and not quite enough metal, and that the binding plates are not blank for mounting not-Markers.  I mean, orange is fast, and metal is fast, so more is faster?!  This is the first ski I have ever skied where the carbon--in the form of "C-Spine" (two vertically lain sheets in the core's horizontal laminate) and "C-Armour" (a horizontal plate under the binding plate)--doesn't even announce itself, let alone throw its weight around.  If you told me it was a schredmetal ski in the vein of an old 90s Atomic DH sled, I'd be like, "bruh, no shit!" and anyway, did I say it's orange?  All that taken as a given, I still think this ski would be 15% better without the carbon and with the second full sheet of metal.  Other skis with carbon tend to feel a little or a lot undamped, so my theory is this could be even smoother.  I could be wrong, but there's no avenue of comparison since they don't offer an old-school version.  I'm sure some ogre in the engineering basement would push his glasses up his nose and say "well, then you'd lose the rebound," in a nasally Jeremy Clarkson voice and I'd be like "shut up, nerd, moar metal."

A moving portrait with a stunning background.

Important deets, TL;DR:
2022 Blizzard Firebird HRC
- Skier: Eino, not of the Toivo and Eino jokes, 42 years old at time of publication, 119 kgs, 175 cms, knees on the mend some of the time, but not all.
- Length, 182 cm.
- Skied the Piston Plate with the XComp 16 binding.
- Tested at Bogus, Bogus, Bogus, and Bogus.  Maybe Tamarack, but I don't remember.
- Retail was like eleventythirteen thousands. **
- By all-mountain, I mean I literally skied as much of Bogus' claimed acreage as possible, even Coach's Twelve Foot Bunny Hill and Chair 7 Extreme.  Groomers, of course, but also much steep and chalky off-piste even though this is marketed as a race ski.  Everything that isn't the more adventurey bits that tourists think aren't skiable but I think are.
- Two full seasons, likely 40 days. I woulda got more days last winter but it was too big to let friends ski groomers.

You're welcome.

- - 
Liner notes.

The new one isn't really orange.  It's black and gray.  That's a travesty.  We all know orange is the new black and gray.

Somebody at Bogus took the pic of Hiding from the Eye of Sauron near Lake Chair 2 back in May.  If I knew who, I'd credit them.

Title from Dwight Yoakam's Sorry You Asked?, from back in the day. People who know me will be surprised when I say you should check out the video, but you should.  It's kinda funny.  Conceptual, even.


** The internet says $1410, or not.

Thanks, Eben.

Told ya.