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The Happen-Ens; A Sportube Blog

The Happen-Ens; #OptOutside

For many years now Black Friday has been considered the official kick off of the holiday shopping season. In the past few years, retailers have become more and more aggressive pushing their openings from Black Friday to Thanksgiving Day. Many of the stores are also keeping their doors open the entire night for consumers. Thanksgiving itself seems to be getting swallowed up by Black Friday.

REI is going the opposite route and deciding, for the third year in a row, to Opt Outside. REI decided in 2015 that they were not only going to stay closed all of Thanksgiving, but Black Friday too. As well as closing down every single location they do not process any online purchases either. REI gives all of its employees Thanksgiving and Black Friday off and also pays them for Friday as a thank you for all of their hard work. CEO Jerry Stritzke realizes how important it is take a beat: “This is going to sound New Agey, but I think it’s a time for people to pause and be intentional about, How do I spend my time? Who am I with? Where am I going? Am I in the places that matter most to me? Or am I just going with the flow?”. Over 700 organizations have joined REI and support #OptOutside in some form. This year Lyft will be offering rides to parks free of charge in 10 major US cities. Millions of people share their stories about how they are spending their Black Friday using the #OptOutside hashtag on social media.

Here at Sportube we are also choosing to Opt Out! Rather than joining in on the hustle and bustle of the retail world we too are going to be using the long weekend for stuffing ourselves silly and relaxing with friends and family. With our local resorts opening as well a dusting of fresh snow yesterday there are plenty of opportunities to get outside and do what we love!

Happy Holidays from the Sportube Team!!

The Happen-Ens; The Art of Snowmaking

Nothing truly beats a run of thick fresh powder. Unfortunately resorts cannot rely on fresh and real snow alone and still be able to give us the long ski seasons that we are used to. Thankfully, we have the tools to cover for Mother Nature’s absence. Snowmaking has been a season-saver for many resorts. There is a lot of science, work, and money that goes into being able to make artificial snow.

The key elements needed when coming to making snow are cold temperatures, low humidity, compressed air, water, snow guns, and snowmakers and groomers. Snow making requires a very large amount of water to be able to cover as much ground needed at any resort. To cover an area of 200 ft x 200 ft with 6 inches of snow you would need 20,000 cubic feet of snow which requires 74,600 gallons of water. Many resorts have the ability to be able to convert over 5000 gallons of water per minute into snow, this ends up being 20 tons of snow per minute!

Snowmaking helps to get winter on its way but there are still certain conditions that need to be met. The relationship between temperature and humidity needs to be just right in order for the snowmaking to work. This is called the wet bulb temperature. The temperature can still be below freezing but if the humidity is too high the snowmaking will not work. At the beginning of the season the snowmakers are programed to make heavy wetter snow to build a nice base off of.

Looking out the office window today there is little to no snow in sight. But thanks to the snowmaking abilities our home mountain Vail is able to be having their opening day on Thanksgiving (fingers crossed) as well as many surrounding resorts already into their 2017-2018 season.

The Happen-Ens; (impatiently) Waiting For Snow

Early Season Riding

The first snow fall of the year can be quite the tease getting skiers and snowboarders eager to ride. Once that first dusting comes around it can make waiting for the good stuff unbearable. You can only check the weather and walk around the house breaking in your new ski boots so many times. Fortunately, some of the best resorts are located at higher elevations allowing for an “early season”. Early ski season is when the mountains are partially open but still working on acquiring enough snow for the season.

Lucky for us cooler temperatures have allowed many resorts to begin their snowmaking process and allowing for early opening dates. Although early season skiing is incomparable to peak season it’s hard to pass up the opportunity to be able to get on the mountain as early as mid-October. Currently there are three resorts open in the United States with many others on track to opening in the next month.

Arapahoe Basin, Colorado

  • · Base Elevation: 10,780 ft.
  • · Opening Day: October 13th
  • · Snow Depth: 18”
  • · Runs Open: 2/107
  • · Lifts Open: 1/9

Loveland Ski Area, Colorado

  • · Base Elevation: 10,800 ft.
  • · Opening Day: October 20th
  • · Snow Depth: 18”
  • · Runs Open: 1/94
  • · Lifts Open: 1/10

Timberline Lodge, Oregon

  • · Base Elevation: 6,000 ft.
  • · Opening Day: October 8th
  • · Snow Depth: 11”
  • · Runs Open: 1/41
  • · Lifts Open: 1/5

Early season riding is a great time to get out on the mountain to brush the dust off and get back into the groove of skiing and snowboarding. One thing to remember with the early season is that everyone is just as excited as you are. With all of the skiers and snowboarders flocking to get their first runs in of the season the limited trail space can become extremely congested. Always be aware of other riders around you and be respectful of beginners.

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The Happen-ens- The Perfect Powder Day 1/20/2015

Many have asked what the biological make up of a perfect powder day is. Of course the answer has multiple variables that have to be considered. Since its dumping in the Rockies this week, Sportube has analyzed those variables and drawn a conclusion of our perfect Powder day.

Imagine it being 5pm on a crisp, cool Friday night. The quitting bell rings and it is weekend time. Plans are pre-set to hit the local watering hole for a quick Friday destress with your friends. As you step outside the office you are greeted with a few snowflakes which are a welcoming sign as you are set for a ski day in the morning. Fast forward 3 hours, and you have replenished the tanks with some calorie intake and a couple micro brews to wash down dinner. As you step out of the pub you are greeted with an even more beautiful sight than that lamb Gyro that was just inhaled by seeing a fresh 7.5 cm of light snow on the windshield of your car…. It’s on!

As the evening progresses there are a variety of things one must accomplish to prepare for the day ahead. Pack the boot bags, brush a touch up coat of cold wax on the sticks, monitor the forecast, dessert, night cap (if that’s your thing), check the weather again and hit the sack so you are well rested for the day ahead. Through the night, Mountain OPS completely gives up and bags the grooming operation for the following day. It’s dumping at this point 2.54 cm per hour- Primed for something Epic.

The alarm goes off at 0600 as the sun is rising and you take a quick peak out the window. Madness- greeted with a remarkable 46 cm (18”) of fresh champagne powder which makes you consider getting out the skins so you can absolutely ensure first tracks. Better judgement kicks in however and it’s time for a breakfast that will sustain through the day and some coffee to get the mind moving. All of a sudden your phone buzzes and Christmas just came early. (The pass is closed- Locals Only this morning) There’s no question now; this will be a full day of skiing keeping your secret stashes in your back pocket till the rest of the hill gets tracked out. Time can’t go fast enough at this point, it’s time to SKI!

As you arrive at the base you are greeted with the other powder hounds yipping and yelling in anticipation of getting on the first chair. The temp is right around the -10 C mark which will make for light, fast snow. As if it wasn’t already magical, the perfect storm culminates when you buddy informs you that the snow only has 8% water content... Brilliant! At this point the skies have opened up and we are looking at a blue bird day with a fresh foot and a half of snow. 0830 FINALLY rolls around you load onto the first chair while picking your first line on the way up. As you move up the hill you crank the tunes up, check the phone one last time and prep yourself for a day to remember. As you unload you take are hard right turn, skate as fast as you can and….. Well you should be able to take it from there!

Christmas Special: 12/23/2015

It is that time of year again- Tis the season for family, friends, traditions, Christmas dinners, spiked egg nog, Christmas shopping, crazy Uncle Jerry and stretchy pantsespecially stretchy pants. So what are your Christmas traditions? Personally, I always have had fond memories of this winter holiday that is all about giving, skiing, holiday parties and cheer. Mix in some family time, appetizers, libations, prime rib dinners, winter activities, and the occasional cousin that hits Grandpa’s cough syrup a little too hard and you have one memorable holiday. Regardless of your traditions and memories, Christmas gives us as Americans the opportunity to reflect on our past, be thankful for the opportunities and freedoms that we have and look towards the future. Oh, and of course shop… Because what is holiday shopping without battling someone else’s Grandma for the last pair of tube socks listed at 50% off? Hey, it’s a great deal right? Jokes aside- Christmas is a time for family, happiness and over indulgence. A time where elastic pants, online shopping and splurging on that Sportube that you have had your eye on over the past few months are 100% acceptable.

Cheers to a joyful Christmas to all,

~The Sportube Team

The Snowbird Season: 11/19/15

How does that Zac Brown band song go again? “I got my toes in the water, ass in the sand, not a worry in the world, a cold beer in my hand, Life is good today. Life is good today.” – Ahh the glorious life of a snowbird. With steady snow in the forecast and one of the largest predicted winters ahead airlines are fueling up the birds to accommodate the old timers as they flock south. Heading to warmer climates for the winter seems to be a fairly common trend as individuals get older. It makes sense to me- why be cold when you could be warm? This especially makes sense if you aren’t partaking in winter activities on a regular basis anymore. The question then in-lies, what do you have to look forward to during winter? Well… Zac hit the nail on the head- Toes in the water? Ass in the sand? Beer in your hand? - Life sure does sound good today.

If you are a snowbird, future snowbird or pondering the idea of whether you want to go down that road or not, then another logical question will pop into your head. What happens when I get board of sitting in the sand with a beer in my hand? Well, luckily the southern communities have done a great job accommodating and providing activities for just about everyone. Perhaps its golf, shopping, sunbathing, swimming, walking, running, hiking, paddle boarding, sipping Mai Tai’s, snorkeling, diving, or who knows- you could even be the next pickle ball phoneme coming straight out of 34 degrees latitude… Whatever you choose, it will surely beat chattering your teeth in 34 degree weather right? Simply put- Tis the season all you snowbirds. Pack the bags, stuff the sportube cases with your snorkels and diving gear, plane, train or motor home automobile, you better get moving because winter is here!

Top 10 Ski Towns in North America Continued- (#5-#1): 11/4/15

Well Folks, it’s that time of week again- welcome back to the Happen-ens where we will hash out Sportube’s Top picks (#5-#1) best ski towns in North America. This week features some truly phenomenal destinations that are worth checking out for any seasoned skier or rider.- Enjoy

5- Park City, UT- Any resort and town that has the capability of hosting an Olympics speaks for itself. Park city is a staple in the ski community. With one of the largest grooming operations in North America, Park city caters to skiers of any level. With major infrastructure changes in the works and a future gondola that will connect both Park City and Canyons, this is a resort that has to be in the top 5. Throw in all the usual’s (and more) that ski towns have to offer and Park City makes for one epic ski destination. Of course with the relatively recent influx of cash flow from the Vail Resorts, Park City is expected to bump up a notch of two in the coming years.

4- Telluride, CO- This little city located at the base of several surrounding mountains is not just a visual spectacle but rather a force to be reckoned with in the ski community. Incredible steeps, elevation change, cold light Pow and great access makes Telluride a ski vacation to remember. Offering up some of the best skiing in North America is just the start of what Telluride brings to the table. With lists after list of attractions, activities, festivals, eateries, parties and events Telluride has something to offer any time of the year. Mix in Heli and cat skiing and Telluride brews the perfect storm that is definitely top 4 worthy on the countdown of North Americas greatest ski towns.

3-Jackson Hole, WY- Do you like Backcountry, chutes, steeps, cliffs, and adrenaline? Jackson Hole Wyoming is the spot to be. Jackson in nestled deep in the Grand Teton National park making this world class resort one of the greatest in the ski community. Culminate all of that with incredible snow storms, friendly locals, a party scene unlike any other and accommodations that will knock your socks off and you have the second greatest ski town in North America. If you plan accordingly, have a little bit of luck and pack the powder skis, Jackson has the big play potential to offer up some of the steepest and greatest powder skiing on the planet. This number 3 is not only a bucket lister for all you ski/snowboard junkies- it is a must!

Co #1- Vail Valley, CO- You can’t mention top 10 North American ski towns without throwing the Vail Valley into the mix at one of the top spots. Although, I as the author have never skied the mountains in the Vail Valley I would be remised not to put this gem as a Co-top lister. Vail has been home to Sportube’s headquarters for the last 20 years so there may be just a bit of El-Hefe bias in this review. On the other hand, I like and want to keep my job. The Valley offers two world class ski resorts in Vail and Beaver Creek as well as the towns of Vail, Eagle Vail, Avon and Edwards all within a few miles of one another. After a day floating in waist deep powder or ripping a world class groomer there are a variety of activities to indulge in after a day on the slopes. Both Vail and Beaver Creek offer a wide array of Après ski destinations to wind down a day on the slopes as well as ice rinks, fine dining, beautiful lodging and nightlife options for every generation that visits the resorts. Vail and Beaver Creek are also famous for their winter time events such as the World Cup, Snowdaze™ and Spring Back to Vail™ which offer winter events any time of the year.

Co#1-Whistler, BC- With an extensive mountain range that sprawls for as far as the eye can see it makes one feel as if they are in the European Alps. This extraordinary mountain operation allows one to shred a vertical mile worth of terrain that descends into a vibrant ski-tropolis at the base. The incredible Peak to Peak gondola allows vacationers to ski not one but two world class mountains in a timely and efficient manner. This feat of engineering has opened up the future of big mountain skiing and makes for an experience that one will never forget. It allows you to spend the morning on Whistler Mountain before heading over to the Blackcomb bowls in the afternoon to find your secret stashes away from the masses. After a full day of skiing one can easily access the village at the bottom which plays host to patrons from around the globe. One cannot forget the fine dining, world class accommodations, incredibly friendly locals and the vibrant nightlife which inevitably tips the scales in favor of Whistler Resort coming in as our #1 ski town in North America. Whistler is truly an experience of a lifetime.

**Next week we will take an inside look behind the psychology and beauty of the elusive Snowbird!

Top 10 North American Ski Towns (#10-#6) Sportube’s Editor’s Picks: 10/28/2015

Choosing the top 10 North American ski towns- Sounds like a relatively simple task right? Wrong… North America is chocked full of big mountains, epic lines and ski towns that offer a little “somthin-somthin” for everyone. This year, Sportube took on the daunting task of choosing our editor’s pick of the top 10 ski towns in North America.

10- Bend, OR- The small community of Bend, OR has a lot to boast about. Great food, fantastic microbrew, friendly people, stunning views, premier lodging, a river that flows through downtown and did I mention great beer? Yes- Bend seems to have it all. With Mt. Bachelor sitting only 22 miles west of Bend there is easy mountain access for both locals and tourist making Bend, OR a popular destination to spend some time in the winter months.

9- Stowe, VT- This little hidden gem is nestled deep in the mountains and is called home to only 5,000 full time residents. With that, Stowe relies heavily on the tourism industry but with good reason. Not only does the mountain offer great skiing that can challenge even the most advanced skiers but the town of Stowe offers a wide variety of food, beverage and entertainment for the whole family. Kids clubs, shopping, fine dining, excellent restaurants, and a combination of both summer and winter activities make this a resort town worth looking into.

8- Heavenly, CA- Clearly this is a place that makes the top ten list with a name like Heavenly. With good reason too- Heavenly is the place to go for non-stop fun and entertainment. (It’s not for the faint at heart). When visiting South Lake Tahoe one better be prepared to rise for first chair, ski their butt off, but still maintain the stamina to enjoy the exuberant nightlife that Heavenly, CA has to offer. This is a non-stop spot for high octane adrenaline junkies and will surely offer a trip to remember with the buddies or girlfriends.

7- Aspen, CO- Simply put, it’s a place where the beer flows like wine! Aspen, CO is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to the ski and snowboard community. With Snowmass also located just down the road this little slice of heaven is a town that should be on your bucket list to visit for a vacation. Expect to see and experience mind blowing real estate, luxurious lodging, fine dining, stellar nightlife, four exceptional mountains and the high mountain air that truly makes this place electric. Tucked high into the Rocky Mountains, Aspen, CO sees an abundance of champagne powder day’s as well tightly groomed corduroy cruisers which make for a phenomenal winter vacation any time of the winter. Of course be on the lookout for famous movie and rock stars while visiting Aspen as it often plays host to the rich and famous.

6- Banff, Alberta- If you crave big mountain skiing, epic views, northern latitudes and a town literally in the middle of the mountains, Banff is the destination for you. The combination of great local accommodation’s, outgoing Canadians and the sheer beauty and vastness of the surrounding landscape will leave you in pure awe. Mix in beer, great food, a lively culture and the fact you are deep in the Canadian Rockies makes this experience second to none. Sounds pretty great eh? One quick google search will leave you salivating and chomping at the bit to schedule your next winter trip there.

Stay tuned for Sportube’s #5-#1 greatest ski towns in North America coming next week.

The First Chair Outlook: 10/21/2015

With winter quickly approaching many of you have questions on your mind for this year’s 2015/16 snow index. Questions will arise like: Is El-Niño really just Spanish for The-Niño? The answer is yes, and it is showing promising signs of an epic winter ahead. The first chair outlook for the Rocky Mountains is, in fact looking positive. Although there have been years in the past where there has been a solid snowpack by the middle of October, this is not one of those years. On the other hand, there has been significant moisture in the air and the overnight temperatures have been steadily dropping which is a tell-tale sign for snow flurries ahead. In fact, the week of October 21-28 shows steady overnight snowfall in the forecast with a high pressure influx of anxious skiers and snowboards indulging in various local microbrews after their leg workouts. So what does this all mean?

If you are a meteorologist or trust their judgement, the consensus seems to be fairly consistent for the upcoming winter. With one of the largest predicted El-Niño’s in history approaching from the Pacific Ocean the questions is not IF there will be snow but rather how much snow there will be this year. Regardless, El Grande Niño or The Large Niño for you non-Spanish speaking folks is coming and it’s coming quickly! This means one thing for all you skiers and riders. Its time to get out the shred sticks, tune them up, give them a wax and prepare yourself for several epic champagne Pow days this winter as the forecast for the 15/16 winter is shaping up to be one for the record books. Simply put- Call your buddies, buy your plane tickets, dust off your Sportube cases, prep your equipment and get ready for bicep curls and après-ski sessions when the snow starts to accumulate.