Global warming: Winter at risk?

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Global warming means fewer powder days and shorter ski seasons. bberwyn photo.

Snow sports enthusiasts want limits on power plant greenhouse gas emissions

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Watching the snow in the Caucasus Mountains around Sochi melt away at an alarming rate during the middle of the Winter Olympics was a sobering reminder of what global warming could mean for the future of winter sports.

Already, winters in some parts of the world are several weeks shorter, with much higher average temperatures, than just a few decades ago. some ski areas in the lower elevations of the European Alps have already shut down, and in Scandinavia, where skiing is not just recreation but part of the cultural fabric, winters have warmed significantly.

“When it comes to the future of winter sports, global warming has us skating on thin ice,” said Anneli Berube, a field organizer with Environment Colorado, which teamed up with Snowriders International to release a summary of how climate change will affect winter, including increased rate of snow melt, shorter winters, drought, and a shrinking map of reliable sites for future winter Olympics. Continue reading

Are the Winter Olympics at risk from global warming?

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Where will the Olympic flag fly for future winter games as the global climate warms?

‘Fewer and fewer traditional winter sports regions will be able to host a Olympic Winter Games in a warmer world…’

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — By the middle of this century, many legendary winter Olympic cities will likely be to warm to host the games in the future, according to a new study from the University of Waterloo (Canada) and Management Center Innsbruck (Austria).

“The cultural legacy of the world’s celebration of winter sport is increasingly at risk,” said University of Waterloo Professor Daniel Scott, a Canada Research Chair in global tourism and lead author of the study. “Fewer and fewer traditional winter sports regions will be able to host a Olympic Winter Games in a warmer world.”

Only six of the previous Winter Olympics host cities will be cold enough to reliably host the Games by the end of this century if global warming projections prove accurate, and even under conservative warming scenarios, only 11 of the previous 19 sites could host the Games, the study found after tracking temperature increases at previous Olympic sites. Continue reading

Morning photo: Celebrate skiing!

Another season under way …

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Flying high in the superpipe at Copper Mountain.

FRISCO — With another ski season starting today at Arapahoe Basin, it’s time to dust off a few pictures from the Summit Voice archives to celebrate the best sport ever invented. As far as I’m concerned, skiing is the closest you’ll ever come to flying with your feet on the ground (or not), and floating through a blanket of fresh powder is pure bliss. Dream on, do your snow dances and get ready — winter is coming! Continue reading

Winter sports athletes urge action on global warming

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Winter sports athletes are urging action on climate change and energy in a letter to President Obama.

Olympic medalists, ski stars ask President Obama to speed the shift to clean energy

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — As Colorado ski areas struggle with a second consecutive season of below-average snowfall and the Sierra Nevada snowpack only about half of average, a group of 75 Olympic medalists and other winter sports athletes are warning that winter is in trouble.

Stepping up to represent the global snow sports community on the political stage, the athletes this week sent a letter to President Barack Obama, urging him to take action on climate and clean energy.

“Without a doubt, winter is in trouble … at risk are the economies of tourist-dependent states where winter tourism generates $12.2 billion in revenue annually, supports 212,000 jobs and $7 billion in salaries. Those are the jobs and businesses owned by our friends and families, generators of billions in federal and state income.” Continue reading

Winter sports gear sales down from last year

Sales of backcountry related gear grew significantly, according to figures released by SnowSports Industries America.

Dry start to season hits retailers, but backcountry gear sales still going strong

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — A warm and dry early winter hurt sales of winter sports gear, but not as badly as some retailers might have expected, according to figures released by SnowSports Industries America.

Most variance in snow sports sales can be directly attributed to weather, according to SIA, which pointed out in a press release that snow cover across the country was down more than 50 percent from December 2010.

Sales through December reached $2.2 billion, about 2 percent below last season’s record sale, but that total still surpassed the numbers from the the previous two seasons. Continue reading

Summit County: Winter remix on Memorial Day

Keystone re-opens for snow tubing and terrain park sessions; Arapahoe Basin still going strong with a 97-inch base and 70 percent of its terrain open going into the holiday weekend

This year, there was powder skiing well into May at Arapahoe Basin.

SUMMIT COUNTY — After one of the snowiest winters in recent memory, Keystone will celebrate the traditional start of the summer season with a winter remix, including a fresh rail setup, a terrain park with 20 features and some Hawaiian-flavored snow tubing at Adventure Point.

The action starts Friday, May 27 and continues all weekend long, through May 30, with access to the terrain park just $18 for pass holders and $25 for non-pass holders. Along with the snowy fun on Dercum Mountain, the resort is also opening for scenic gondola rides, kids activities in the village and a free BMX stunt show on Sunday, May 29. Mountain biking on Keystone Mountain will be limited during the weekend, as late-season snow and cool weather have delayed the season, but the Summit recpath system is clear. A full schedule is online here.

Meanwhile, at Arapahoe Basin, the ski season is still in high gear, with some of the best late-season conditions in recent memory. The ski area is reporting a 97-inch base with 70 percent of its terrain still open. On his blog, A-Basin chief Alan Henceroth said the ski area will keep as much terrain open as conditions and demand warrant. Continue reading

Breckenridge: Get an extra hour in the park on Thursdays

Resort extends hours, hosts video contest with a season pass as the prize

Breckenridge powder. PHOTO COURTESY BRECKENRIDGE SKI AREA.

By Summit Voice

BRECKENRIDGE — With the longer days of spring upon us, there’s no need to waste daylight at Breckenridge Ski Area, where terrain park enthusiasts will get an extra hour each Thursday, starting April 7. During “5 til 5” park happy hour, 5-Chair will run until 5 p.m.

The extended opening is part of the resort’s spring festival season and includes music, free food, swag giveaways and jam contests. Registration is free, starting at 12 pm. each Thursday at the top of Park Lane.
Breckenridge is also hosting in a video contest with a free 2011-2012 season pass up for grabs for one skier and one snowboarder.

If you’ve been filming all season long and have some great footage from Breckenridge, now is the time to put together that best Breck edit and enter to win. It’s as easy as filming mad skills at Breck, creating a video showing off those mad skills and/or personality, and posting the edit to the Freeskier or Snowboard websites — then getting your friends to cast their votes, because the video with the most votes wins.

www.freeskier.com/breck5til5 and www.snowboardmag/breck5til5.com — video with the most votes wins!

Frisco Nordic Center: Ready, set … skate!

Skating and waxing clinics, crosscountry ski racing on tap in Summit County

At the start of the 2010 Frisco Gold Rush.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — January’s near-record snowfalls have set up near optimal conditions not only for downhill skiing and riding at lift-served areas, but also for local cross-country ski areas, where the season is also in high gear, with all trails open and a slew of events and races coming up.

This weekend features Frisco Cup racing at the Frisco Nordic Center, with 16K and 32K skate and classic races on what promises to be a bluebird day. Wax could be the key, as the forecast is predicting highs to soar up near 40 degrees.

If you’re not in racing form yet, consider joining the Level II skate skiing clinic series at the Frisco Nordic Center, beginning Feb. 7 and continuing for three subsequent Mondays, 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Contact the Frisco Nordic Center at (970) 668-0866 to see if there are still some spots open for the clinics.

You can learn to unravel some of the mysteries of Nordic waxing for skate skiing at Feb. 5 one-hour clinic, which might help if you’re planning on participating in the Big Enchilada of Summit County Nordic events, the Feb. 6 Frisco Gold Rush, billed as Colorado’s oldest cross-country and snowshoe event and benefiting the Summit Nordic Ski Club.

Gold Rush racing begins at 9 a.m. with 5K and 10K classic races, followed by 5K and 10 skate races at 9:45 a.m. and the 20K skate at 10:30 a.m. Snowshoe racers hit the course at 11:30 a.m. for the 7K TUBBS snowshoe contest. Click here to register online.

Visit the Nordic Center online for a full schedule of events.

Steep shots: Skiing confidence helps in other parts of life

Emily Palm is back in the saddle with a new column about on-mountain confidence.

By Emily Palm

Last Sunday after the coldest (and first) chairlift ride of the day  at Arapahoe Basin, I caught an edge and found myself skidding down the icy top of Pallavicini’s cornice. I’d never slid so far before self-arresting, catching myself just before the drop into The Spine.

Despite intellectually knowing that falling is an integral part of trying and that my tumble was low-consequence (had I not caught myself, I most likely would have slid to a non-icy spot to more easily stop), it certainly shook my confidence first thing. Rebuilding the assurance necessary to charge down the hill, drop that knee, and have fun playing with the mountain got me thinking about the vital role confidence holds in skiing.

To clarify, confidence is not recklessness. Sometimes the latter mingles with bravado and muddies our perceptions of what it means to extend beyond our comfort zones. Rather, self-assurance in our abilities — and taking calculated risks that lead toward growth — is what I’m talking about here. In this regard, skiing changed my life, as lessons learned on the slopes can’t help but transfer to daily existence. Continue reading

Public accountability needed in ski safety discussions

Ski safely!

Standing commission could help promote dialogue and develop recommendations

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY — A couple of weeks ago, before putting my 12-year-old on a Breck-bound Summit Stage bus for a ski day with his friends, we went over the skier responsibility code together, not just reciting the napkin bullet points, but talking a little bit about why it makes sense that skiers and riders ahead of you have the right of way, and what the consequences of rope-cutting might be.

I’m not sure how much of that stuff stays in his head once he’s on the mountain, but I’m hoping some of it has started to sink in. In the end I tell him that it’s his responsibility to make the right choices, just like in every other aspect of life.

The subject has been near and dear to me ever since a sad day in Angel Fire, New Mexico back in the early 1980s, when I served as pall-bearer for a teen friend who hit a tree and died. Continue reading

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