2005-06 Season Underway in Midwest

Talk about riding in the Midwest, and arrange meet-ups.

2005-06 Season Underway in Midwest

Postby John » Thu Nov 17, 2005 7:08 pm

Whoo yeah!

Today, Wild Mountain (http://www.wildmountain.com/skisb/skisb_home.html) opened for business. It is the first ski area to open in Minnesota, and perhaps the midwest.

I got there about an hour after opening and stayed for 3 hours.

The conditions were less than ideal, of course, but consider that last week I could have played golf, and the snow guns in the state didn't get going until Tuesday evening. There was only one trail open, a little rough at one edge. I was told that sometime in the afternoon three others would open. I left before that happened.

Regardless of the limits of the day, it was STILL a snowboarding day--the first time for me since mid-March. The session left me with lots of different thoughts for the web site, and for my future experiences on the hill.

Here are a few observations:

* I saw about 6 guys standing near the bottom of the (one) trail (that was open. They were all on skis. They were there for 20 minutes, or so it seems.

I thought of going up to them and saying "Hey guys, didn't you get the memo? It's snowboarders who are supposed to be blocking traffic." But I'm not a snowboard punk (in fact, I ski as well), and I did not think I could pull it off with the right amount of humor that I would have had in mind.

* Dude Lives. I was unbuckling my back binding near the lift entrance when a young guy on a board ever so gently crashes his board into mine. "Sorry Dude," he said.

Dude isn't passe? My wife said in jest that I should have told him "That's 'Excuse me, sir,' to you."

* Padding helps. In my haste to leave the house, I forgot to take my butt guard. It would have come in handy on the chair lift--those wooden slats are cold!

* I love my Flow bindings. Still. I would descend from the lift and see a lot of riders sitting on the ground, buckling in. I never had to do that. Stop. Insert foot. Snap heel plate into place, and go.

* Having a sm all screwdriver can be useful. About two-thirds of the way through my time there, something told me to check out the binding screws. They were loose. This is not unusual for the first day of the season. I was able to use the bench tools provided by Wild Mountain, but it would have been nice to have my own pocket-sized tool. Unfortunately, I left it at home.

* Fitness training does pay off. I've been working out on a regular basis for about a month now, and felt pretty good. After the first trip down the hill I was a bit winded, but after that was a different story. I also realized how useful core (abdominal) workouts can be. There were a few times when I did those akward snowboarding moves, such as hopping with both feet in the bindings, that depended on the core. I don't think I would have done so well with those movements last season.

* Work and play? I saw signs around saying that Wild Mountain has free WiFi in the lodge. This isn't the first I've heard of someone doing this, but it's the first time I've seen it in person. I didn't have my computer with me, but it is an interesting prospect: ride for an hour, go inside to work for an hour, go back and ride for an hour, and so forth. But where do you put the computer when you're on the board? Don''t lockers get wet?

* Sunscreen! (Yes, I had some, and I'm fine. I'm just glad I had it.)

* Neck gaiters. Great move.

* It pays to get your stuff together before the day you head out. I did, but unfortunately, forgot to inspect everything. I had forgotten that my gloves are shot--after one season. The lining has pulled away, meaning that wearing the gloves would wear my hands raw. Fortunately, I had an extra pair of gloves with me. They are not snowboarding gloves, but they work.
Last edited by John on Fri Nov 18, 2005 10:09 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby mannymr » Fri Nov 18, 2005 2:10 am

I figured once the temps dropped, the guns would be making snow. Now I just have to get my board and boots (got my bindings at the end of last season).

Who do you recommend in Minnesota? REI? The House? Eric's? One of the big guys (Dick's or Sports Authority)?

I'm excited to get out there.
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Re: Ditto

Postby John » Fri Nov 18, 2005 7:54 am

Yep, the guns are making snow .... Get your gear and get out there!

* Wild Mountain opened (sort of -- one run) yesterday.
* Afton opened last night, 4pm.
* Buck Hill opens Saturday the 19th, 9am. If you're willing to drive a ways, * Lutsen says they are open then, too--but I'd suggest calling to see just how much of it is open before leaving.
* Hyland Hills opens Monday the 21st, 3pm
* Welch opens Friday the 25th (day after Thanksgiving)
* Spirit Mountain and some of the western UP resorts project opening the same day.

mannymr wrote:I figured once the temps dropped, the guns would be making snow. Now I just have to get my board and boots (got my bindings at the end of last season).

Who do you recommend in Minnesota? REI? The House? Eric's? One of the big guys (Dick's or Sports Authority)?

Well, my setup is a combo of stuff from several sources. My board came from a ski swap at the state fairgrounds. (Oh yes, Wild Mountain is having a demo day tomorrow. You might want to check it out.) Depending on what we're talking about, my other gear came from one of two ski shops, SportsMart, or even Target. (My knee pads came from Target. They come in handy for when I want to take a rest and dropping to my knees is the easiest path.)

I did find one ski shop that really is, well, a SKI shop. They don't sell boards, and when I mentioned to the manager that I ride as well as ski, she was horrified.

I did stop by REI last year, and noted that they did have a series of what appears to be useful informational sheets to help you think through the variety of boards and boots. If you're talking chain stores, I would check them out before anyone else; they seem to have a better selection and at least from one experience I had, more experienced staff.

If you have some time, I would go to REI for a baseline on prices, and then check out a smaller shop. It may (or not) cost you more there, but you may also get better service. I've had pretty good luck with Hi Tempo, in White Bear Lake. I know of Eric's and The House, but I have not been to either.
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Postby JohnnyB » Tue Nov 22, 2005 9:13 am

Hey John,

Good to hear someone is getting out.

Our local hill should be open in a couple of weeks.

It's just now getting cold her in central Ohio.

Can't wait.

"Winning isn't everything, but wanting to win is".

Vince Lombardi

C. 937.869.0677
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Postby Kathee » Wed Nov 23, 2005 10:03 am

What's a neck gaiter?
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Postby John » Wed Nov 23, 2005 12:27 pm

Kathee wrote:What's a neck gaiter?

A cloth tube that goes around your neck and chin. Much safer than a scarf (no loose ends to get caught in the chair), and a real friend on a cold day. Dollar-for-benefit received, it's one of the best things you can buy for riding.

See, for example:
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/searc ... 60-4270526
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Postby Sherlock » Wed Nov 23, 2005 1:58 pm

Hello everybody & whoo-hoo!

Had my 1st night out on the slope(s) Monday night @ Afton Alps. Ok it was primarily instructor training for the Otto Hallaus Ski School(found an easy/fun way to get some free lift tickets!), but I did manage to sneak a couple runs before & after. It was theraputic to get back on the slopes. Ahh the adrenaline :)

Afton is still has a little ways to go blowing snow, they had lifts #4(bunny hill), #5 & I think #7 may have been running. They had blown enough snow on #3 for people to make some jumps & stuff, my guess is that lift #3 will be up n running by the weekend(one of my favorite spots there).

New gear for the year so far just consists of a helmet(Giro G10), just got the order placed so I can't wait, it should be nice.

Need to get one of those pocket board/binding tools.
The more I learn, the more I know, theres a lot more I don't know.
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