All posts by Jill Adler!

Jill Adler!

About Jill Adler!

Jill Adler, aka PCSkiGal, is an award-winning journalist and regular contributor to ParkCity.TV. She specializes in outdoor sports and recreation for a variety of print and online publications including MSN.com, Sunset and SKI. She holds a masters degree in journalism from the University of Southern California and a law degree from the University of Utah but would rather be a ski bum. Jill is also a Level 3 instructor at Canyons Resort, an actor, and voice-over talent. She lives in Park City, Utah, with her 6-year-old daughter who’s also a media ham.

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Jackson Hole Trip Report

Jackson Hole delivered. It took a couple of days but it delivered. As a major swell rocked the Rockies and Utah began to go from hardpack to divinely soft, we popped into my Honda for our annual pilgrimage to one of my favorite resorts in the world. The snow is usually better than in Utah and we hoped that the new storm cycle could finally bring on a Jackson powder experience. Even the milk toast cop who pulled us over in Evanston, Wyo., to write us up for speeding couldn’t dampen our excitement. “Where ya headed?” he asked. “Jackson Hole,” we answered as I handed him my insurance and registration. “I love Jackson Hole. It’s one of my favorite places. Drive safe now,” he said as he handed back a speeding ticket. Niiice. It was Sunday night and no one was on the road. He could have written us a warning in his zeal to bond over our mutual Jackson love, right?

We motored on. Even with the light snow and slick roads we made it to Fireside Resort in about 4.5 hours. The stable of reclaimed wood portable cabins is located just 4 miles from Teton Village. The individual one-bedroom units offered a touch of rustic luxury amid the gently falling snow. I was in a Jackson Hole portrait!

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We had everything we needed from a medium-firm king bed to the s’mores kit left for us in the kitchenette.

In the summertime, there’s an RV campground in back and the entire place is booked solid. Fireside was an ideal spot to set up ‘glamp’ so to speak. We crashed hard in anticipation of our first Jackson ski day, We woke to 1” of new. What?!

Lucky for us that one inch was on top of two inches, three inches, an inch, etc. It’s been snowing consistently in Wyoming for the past month and you can tell the difference. The wind, too, has smoothed out potential mogul fields. Needless to say it was a fluffy playground that starts with the long but fast-moving tram line and ends with beers at the Alpenhof. It snowed for three days straight. Although our clothes were drenched it never felt heavy and wet under foot. Just creamy. ‘Like butta’ my guide Karin would say. Ryan took off and hiked Headwall for three laps into the Casper Bowl area while we danced in the trees off Cheyenne Woods and South Colter Ridge. Why hike when everything was sweet inbounds? Even the Hobacks were more inspired than grueling. I almost made it top to bottom without stopping but the burn kicked in. Maybe next year.

We planned to do Headwall the next day but the winds kicked up shutting down Sublette Chair and forcing us to ski between the Bridger Gondola and Thunder Chair. No matter. The day went swiftly from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Ever ski Tower 3 without ski poles in a blizzard? Try it sometime, just to mix things up. The steeps lesson for the day was moving your hips and torso down the fallline without worrying about timing a pole plant. I was nervous at first but not only was it challenging, but fun. We did it again before grabbing the poles for the third round. Jackson Hole is a huge mountain filled with everything an expert skier could demand. And when you want more, ditch the poles.
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Though there is a sizeable amount of intermediate groomers, the staggering canyons and cliffs will intimidate newbies.

If you were ever considering a ski lesson (and even if you weren’t), this is the place. There are an unprecedented 16 PSIA DECLs (Division Education Clinic Leaders/ski examiners) on staff. Ski programs don’t get any better than at Jackson Hole.

One apres pitcher later and it was back to the cabin for s’mores, Olympics and showers. The dog was missing us too. By Day Three we were packed and planning to head home at 1 p.m. Four o’clock rolled around and we had just kicked off the ski boots. How could you cut out early when there was more than a foot of new snow on the ground? OMG it was seriously one of the best Jackson ski days in PCSkiGal memory. Rumors swirled of another 10-18” on the way and Ryan begged to stay another night. If only. Utah awaited. And as we drove through the storm, bodying buzzing and sticky from hard charging all day, we day-dreamed about buying one of those Fireside Wheelhaus units and leaving it right where it was just so we could have a place to come back to every year. I’ve said it (more than) once and I’ll say it again. There’s no place like Jackson Hole.

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Welcome to the Denver Ski Industries of America Snow Show!

Well, I made it. I walked into the lobby for the first day of the 2014 SIA Snow Show and felt the weight lifting. I was in the home stretch. Two weeks of Sundance and Outdoor Retailer take their toll. Fortunately, the atmosphere is decidedly different this year. The energy is up, the vibe fun and the products enticing. Perhaps the Show has finally found its groove since leaving Las Vegas in 2010. When you spend 37 years in Vegas any change is bound to cause groans. Retailers and manufacturers of snowsports gear must finally accept Denver as a reality. The scene is beginning to grow on me too. And at least I no longer have to walk miles through the Mandalay Bay to get my first day’s latte from the Obermeyer booth.

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The acceptance is spreading internally as well. The discord between the snowboarding end and the alpine end has tamed. Before, you could cross an imaginary boundary and enter a world of chaos and noise; where trash littered the disposable carpet and beats droned so loudly you had to shout your introductions. Dare I say, snowboarding companies themselves have aged and become more civilized?

Snowboard clothing continues to skew towards youthful tastes but even the new US Olympic Freeride Team outfits by Burton reflect more maturity, soul and groundedness. It’s as if they’re not afraid to be subtle.

Where you’ll see boldness in both disciplines is in color choice. “POP” is the buzzword for 2015.

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A color-wheel of greens, oranges, pinks, yellows and blues return us to the playfulness of the 90s. If you own a black, red or navy jacket, put it away for a couple of seasons.

The stretch pant, too, is making a comeback. You can’t deny the flattering silhouette on a shapely chica. It’s always been there. But the pant itself wasn’t functional. It’s taken this long to create a stretchy bottom that is also warm, waterproof and windproof. Even teens are begging to go retro.

Using a mix of fabrics and textures have replaced prints as the next fashion trend in outerwear. Down and wool; poly and wool, poly and down.

Hats have morphed from chunky earthtone knits to zany, brilliant statements of vibrant attitude.

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But just in case you’re not ready to walk on your wild side, Chaos’ Luxe line (designed and made in America) is retro in a classic urban way, where city folk can appreciate thin, no-nonsense beanies for a chilly walk to the office.

We’ve had three weak ski seasons in a row now but if there’s a takeaway from this Snow Show it’s that there’s always room for optimism and for turning that frown upside down.

Tomorrow, we’ll check out what’s coming in hardgoods for 2015.

(photos by Ryan Freitas)

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OR 2014

It was a lovely spring day in the middle of winter as the Outdoor Retailer Show kicked off its annual five-day convention yesterday at Utah’s Solitude Resort. Blue skies and 40-degree temperatures is the next best thing to freshies but you could tell that the manufacturers were conflicted.

Everyone enjoyed the mild weather as they ran laps on the Eagle Express lift, demoing new backcountry skis and boots (front country gear is showcased in Denver at the SIA Show next week) but the day was bittersweet. You want storms and powder to sell winter gear. No one is more unhappy about the dearth of snowfall in the west this year than retail buyers who might be stuck with expensive product if things don’t pick up. They also might be less willing to place new orders.
Gerbings featured a new heated glove but it was so bluebird you skied gloveless. Guests at the demo day were more worried about getting feet wet than slipping on ice but, good news for YakTrax, runners still surrounded their table to learn more about the running-specific ice cleats. Jambu is featuring a unique retractable cleat system in some of their winter shoes but at a $200+ pricetag it may be a tough sell.

Nearly 22 thousand people have arrived to celebrate winter outdoors and take in the gear and clothing that will hit the market next October but after three bad snow seasons it will be interesting to see how it affects retail buying. Manufacturers will pitch new and updated products to buyers and media in the halls of the Salt Palace Convention center through Saturday.
The winter market is one of the largest conventions in Utah (only the summer version is bigger) and brings in more than $20 million for the state. The money’s important but people wouldn’t attend if it wasn’t one heck of a good time- even in Utah. One thing this weak season has done is make the backcountry more appealing. Desperate powderhounds are heading out in droves says Tyson Bradley of Utah Mountain Guides. Everyone’s signing up for classes and tours hoping to find something better than what’s inbounds.

For 2014/15, expect lighter skis with carbon, and more boots with a ski/walk mode. The challenge is in the binding system. Marker still leads the way for traditional alpine skiers who would prefer to use one hardshell boot for everything but models like the Baron are still heavy beasts for touring. Dynafit spent the day outfitting ‘testers’ with the stiff but lightweight carbon Denali ski and their Beast binding. Trouble is, you have to wear their boots to fit the pins in the system so for resort skiers it doesn’t make sense to have a whole separate setup.
In the end, a bluebird day is a bluebird day and you can’t complain about that. The sun softened the snow and backcountry mountain lovers (for whom this show is traditionally focused) are psyched to head indoors to see what’s in store- literally.

Today’s indoor portion kicks off with a keynote breakfast by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, former CEO of REI, where she’ll discuss engaging Americans in the outdoors. The rest of the week is filled with seminars, events and parties.

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Park City Gets a Facelift

Is it bad that I’m not missing skiing right now? After my EPIC and I mean EPIC day of pow at Alta on Monday I put away the skis and got ready for Sundance. It’s like the circus came to town and with zero fresh and 50 degree weather, skiers and non-skiers alike have a decent excuse to take in the sights and sounds of a newly ‘converted’ Park City Main Street. More than two decades ago, Sundance organizers and Park City collaborated to move the Sundance Film Festival to the historic resort as a way to bring business to town during a traditionally slow time of year. Then came the World Cup Freestyle at Deer Valley Resort and MLK weekend and now January is insane in this tiny town. Driving’s a hassle, parking non-existent unless you like extortion with your entry pass, the restaurants are booked and your favorite dining galleries are “lounges” and “suites”. Yet, still, there’s plenty of room to ski. But I can do that any old day.

Park City businesses must feel the same. Many on Main Street pack up their stock, their paintings, their dishes and get out of town for the first four days of the Fest; choosing to take a huge chunk of cash to walk away and let sponsors like Chase Sapphire and YouTube take over their spaces. For most, those rentals amount to a couple of months’ rent in just four days.

J Go Gallery rents to Variety Magazine for a celebrity interview lounge the first five days of the festival. (eg. Good Stargazing Spot). “The first weekend is mostly people in the film industry seeing movies, networking and having coffee. They are not spending a lot of time shopping,” the Gallery owners told the Salt Lake Tribune. “The second weekend is more of our clients — film lovers and skiers — who spend more time shopping.” They tried not renting last year and lost money so they’re back in the game this year.

YouTube takes up residence at Root’D (596 Main St.) where the public can grab coffee, listen to live music and view film panels. They will host private parties in the evenings.

I can’t wait to swing by Udi’s this year. Last year, they treated invited guests to an amazingly tasty breakfast, lunch and dinner menu t their showcase their gluten-free products. The pop-up café takes over 501 Restaurant.

My little one love swinging into the Festival Co-op where L’Oreal does face and hair makeovers. She walked with lipstick and shampoo. The space is open to the public 10 a.m.- 6 p.m. daily at 608 Main St.

You can’t miss the giant white ‘cabin’ at the corner of lower Main. And just in case, there’s a huge HP plastered on the sign. The Sundance House presented by HP showcases interactive experiences that will allow you to explore the ways in which technology works with film. You can also get out of the cold- if it ever gets cold this week!- for free Wi-Fi, laptops, and printers use. The HP Live Lounge is the heated tent you see on the corner. It’s earblowingly loud in there when various local artists play so bring your earplugs. Open daily from 9:30 a.m.

If you like cars, the Acura Lounge is right across the street for chances to win a ride-around, gourmet movie snacks and music.

One of the hardest public spots to get into is the Sundance Channel HQ at the top of Main. Well, it’s not really public per se. It’s open to credential holders or you can go online and rsvp for a day pass. The line swings up the street and you basically count on standing there until the event ends and you’re turned away. The invite tickets go before they’re even posted. The café hosts panel discussions and private events at night but the best event is CATDANCE sponsored by Fresh Step kitty litter. The party is also an awards show for cat-related short films.

Not sure you really understand the “industry?” YouTube on Main (596) hosts screening, panels, happy hours and parties – most of which are open to anyone. Daily 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. Click here to see a complete schedule of events and programming.

Ever use Airbnb to book your Park City lodging? Now’s your chance to learn about the service. The Airbnb Haus is a nice place to chill and discover rentals from treehouses to castles. Open daily at the bottom of Main in the old Blue Iguana space.

Next stop is the Canon Lounge (aka Rock and Relly’s Pub) next to Park City Live (which itself is the Park City Live Lounge). But at Canon they’ll host panel discussions, screenings and parties for filmmakers to spotlight the Canon Cinema EOS line of professional digital cameras and lenses. My Canon Rebel T4i may not qualify but I’m an actor. I can fake it.

The Utah Film Commission is hosting The Hub. For sure drop in and see what’s cooking in our fair state with regards to film production. The spot at 751 Main will have hot drinks, snacks and hands to shake. Open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

One of the busiest addresses last year was the MorningStar Farms Veggie Burger Bar. Who can resist free food even when it’s veggie burgers? To be fair, they have veggie sliders, veggie chili and chik’n buffalo wings and vegan options as well. Located in the Eating Establishment (317 Main), the Bar is open to the public through Tuesday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.

The SkyLodge becomes the ZenDen for exclusive morning yoga workouts (7 a.m! Ouch.) bodywork appointments and private parties co-sponsored by the Awareness Festival and Lulelemon. It’s an eco-friendly retreat for VIPs from the usual crazy scene at Sundance.

Another retreat for VIPs, the EcoHideaway, is the not so much of a gifting place as it is a spot to take in live music. This year’s lounge is back on Main after relocating to Stein Eriksen Lodge for a few years. Expect over 40 musical performances over the three days they’re there. Park City’s Whole Foods gets involved. Last year, I collected some sweet lotions and eye cream. The Spa at Stein Eriksen Lodge will do mini-facials, Utah’s Minky Couture will gift their adorable, uber-soft blankets and scarves; looks like they’re doing OC Hair and Makeup too. Other sponsors touted are LAMO Footwear, Fur Frenzy, OC HAIR and MAKEUP, Bula (yay for a ski connection!), and Under Canvas Glamping Trips to Yellowstone, Moab Desert, and Montana).

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Sundance Stars of 2014

Sundance credential approved! But just as important as checking out the independent films in Park City, Utah, this week is checking out the independent filmmakers themselves. The buzz on the street is this year’s Sundance Film Festival is going to blow up. Which means you should expect to see hundreds of indie darling celebs- actors, musicians, producers and directors. You’ll catch them at the movie premiere QnA’s but it’s way cooler to run into them on the street –literally.012112_0920_facesofsund5

I’m not really a ‘star’ gazer but when a friend of mine told me I needed to get photos of them at Sundance, I accepted the challenge. “You can’t just take a picture,” Scott followed up. “I don’t want to see that. I can see those anywhere. I want to see YOU with them.” Game on.

Last year, a very hammered Eric Roberts swayed outside Flight Boutique, corralling passersby for photos like Cinderella at Disneyland. That one was easy pickings.

So buckle up and grab your camera because Park City is going over to the dark side starting Thursday and you won’t want to miss a moment. Here are just some of the faces to play Where’s Waldo with:

(P.S. If you don’t recognize a name go to IMDB for stats and photos)

Michael C. Hall
Sam Shepard
Don Johnson
Vinessa Shaw
Wyatt Russell
Anna Kendrick
John C. Reilly
Molly Shannon
Paul Reiser
Elijah Wood
Tom Sizemore
Maggie Gyllenhaal
Philip Seymour Hoffman
John Turturro
Zoe Saldana
Mark Ruffalo
Kristen Wiig
Luke Wilson
Ty Burrell
Rachel McAdams
Willem Dafoe
Robin Wright
William H. Macy
Billy Crudup
Anton Yelchin
Selena Gomez
Ryan Reynolds
Gemma Arterton
Brendan Gleeson
Chris O’Dowd
Nicholas Hoult
Elle Fanning
Michael Shannon
Aaron Ashmore
Gilles Marini
Diane Kruger
Rose McGowan
Zach Braff
Kate Hudson
Ashley Greene
Glenn Close
Flea
Liv Tyler
Kevin Smith
Kristen Stewart
John Lithgow
Alfred Molina
Marisa Tomei
Cheyenne Jackson
Bill Hader
Elizabeth Banks
Jesse Eisenberg
Felicity Huffman
Jason Schwartzman
Amy Poehler
Paul Rudd
Ed Helms
Aaron Paul
Juliette Lewis
Brit Marling
Katie Couric
Anne Hathaway
Mary Steenburgen
Josh Gad
Joey King
Jim Parsons
Mandy Patinkin
Ashley Greene
Elisabeth Moss
Morgan Spurlock
Brooke Burke
Big Boi from Outkast
Effie Brown
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Happy Hunting!

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Snowbird Debuts The Only New Chairlift This Season

The only new Utah chairlift this season is now up and running at Snowbird. The high-speed detachable replaces the old Gad 2 double chair built in 1971 and cuts travel time in half. Snowbird re-graded the hill at the top of the new lift to make it easier for skiers and snowboarders to hop off the chair and also re-graded the bottom of Bananas trail to ease traffic flow.

I scooted over to The Bird for a first look and to chat with fellow locals about the upgrade. Now, all we need is a fresh dose of snow to ride it the way it was meant to be ridden.

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Sundance Film Fest Premieres Kids Program

Proving you don’t have to be edgy to be a Sundance Film, a new slate of kids options will debut this January at the Sundance Film Festival. The Sundance Kids program is being launched in conjunction with the Utah Film Center’s Tumbleweeds Film Festival.

“This unique collaboration between the Utah Film Center and Sundance Institute is a great opportunity to elevate the profile of international and independent films for kids,” said UFC’s Patrick Hubley. “We launched our Tumbleweeds programming four years ago with the goal of fostering the next generation of filmmakers and film fans, and we hope this programming will inspire the creativity and imaginations of young film-goers not only in Utah but across the country.” UFC’s Tumbleweeds Film Fest features content for children and teens and is the only one of its kind in the intermountain west.

This January, kids 8 and older will have the chance to see the world premiere of “Ernest & Celestine,” a film about a mouse who forms an unlikely bond with a bear, and the U.S. premiere of “Zip & Zap and the Marble Gang,” a movie about twin brothers who uncover a hidden secret at school.

“The addition of Sundance Kids allows us to engage younger audiences around the power of independent film,” said Trevor Groth, the festival’s director of programming.

The 2014 Sundance festival runs Jan. 16-26 with films, documentaries and shorts in Park City, Salt Lake City, Ogden and at the Sundance Resort. Visit sundance.org/festival for more information about screening dates, times and locations.

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Powder Magazine Award Winners Head to Snowbird

They got kind of buried among the hype surrounding the Sundance Film Festival last year so this year Powder Magazine stepped out of the shadows with their own blowout tonight in Salt Lake City.

The 14th Annual Powder Awards at The Depot downtown celebrated the best in cinematography, photography, and athletic achievement in ski films at The Depot downtown.

Congrats to Sweetgrass Productions’ Valhalla for Movie of the Year. Tim Durtschi won Best Male Performance in TGR’s Way of Life, and Elyse Saugstad took Best Female for her work in TGR’s Co-Lab. Sherpa Cinema’s Into The Mind won for best cinematography and McConkey
was named Best Documentary.

“This was one of the most challenging years to be a judge of the Powder Awards,” says POWDER Editor John Stifter. “Between Best Jib and Best Line alone, we had more deliberation with the panel than ever. It really speaks to the high level of skiing and cinematography in our sport.”

In addition to recognizing ski porn and pro athletes, the Powder Awards also showcased readers’ favorite skiers with the annual Powder Poll. Seth Morrison and Ingrid Backstrom rose above the rest. Click here for all of the results.

It makes sense to hold the event in Utah where the best of the best not only patron but park it. The Powder Awards attract a who’s who of the industry, including professional skiers, ski legends, ski film production crews, industry brands, media, and celebrities and they’ll be at Snowbird tomorrow for the Morning After sesh.

The day appropriately begins at the crack of noon Saturday, December 7, where you can rub elbows with your favorite athletes and filmmakers on the Tram Plaza or even stalk them on the hill. There’s a BBQ and DJ music planned until 2:30 and “the largest athlete signing in the world” at 3 p.m. Dress warmly. The forecast calls for a high of 10 degrees in Little Cottonwood Canyon.

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Banff, Brrs and the Canadian Rockies

I wore my Athleta tightsKuhl dress and ‘broken-foot ‘ for the occasion. There’s just something fancy and girly about the Fairmont Hotels but with this particular outfit I was both girly and mountainy- even with the boot. The boot was to get me through the long-ass walk from Delta’s check-in to the international B Gates. I’m walking (and skiing) but the foot still throbs and slows me down when I’m walking on it for too long. It also doesn’t hurt getting pushed through security in a wheelchair and being first on the plane.

The dress didn’t clash with the boot, btw. I was on my way to the Banff Springs Hotel tucked up in the Canadian Rockies and I wanted to dress for the occasion. After all, I was staying in a castle. Plus, the flight was a surprisingly short 2.5 hours from Salt Lake City to Calgary. I wouldn’t need sweats to be comfortable.

Delta’s direct on a Skywest Canadian Air Jet was nothing like my trip to San Diego last week. First, I arrived two hours before takeoff as per the international directions (actually it said three hours but come on, no one needs three hours on a Thursday?) rather than the 10 minutes to door close on the SD flight. My heart didn’t stop pounding for that trip till we landed. Second, the amazingly nice gate agent upgraded me to an economy comfort seat today meaning that my knees wouldn’t have to be glued to my chest. Only one hour more and I could have been skiing in Canada rather than eating Turkey with Mom and Dad, I considered.

Of course, my bag barely made it on- 49 pounds. The weather forecast in Banff is no warmer than in Utah. Minus 6 as a high! I packed for layers upon layers. Without a man’s “fur” or a thick ring of winter fat, I am woefully unprepared for this cold. In went the climate-control Helly Hansen outfit, the wool Krimson Klover tights, the mile-high stack of hand warmers, Kamik boots that I pretty much wear only to snowmobile, thick neck gaiters, etc. I still won’t be warm enough. You would think that I would leave the frigid temps of Park City, Utah, for a warm, sunny plot of sand somewhere. But it’s finally ski season. The waves can wait.

I called the rental shop in Lake Louise last night. They’re not letting their high performance demos out until they get more snow. That’s not a good sign. I had heard they were getting more snow than us? Maybe that’s B.C. (British Columbia) and not this region. Calgary is more middle-west Canada. B.C. is the west coast where the snow can turn to rain and slush in an instant; where the mountains are rockier and the temps are warmer.

But I was able to talk them out of a pair of Salomon Q105s. Looking forward to testing those. I told them I was a ski instructor on a media fam and I would not thrash them. I’d rather not haul around my gear (other than boots) even though Delta allows a ski bag and boot bag to count as your one checked bag. The problem with depending on a ski rental shop in another resort to provide you comparable gear is depending on them to provide you with comparable gear. I’m 5’6″ but ski above an intermediate. Rarely does a shop have a beefy ski in my size (170-175) or- if they do- they have one pair that’s already been rented. Since I’m the first to take these skis out this season, I was in luck. The Dynastar’s stay home in my garage.

We’re landing. More to come.

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Holiday Gifting Furreal

We leave a plate of cookies out for Santa. We wrap gifts for a newborn. Why not put some things under the tree for your best friends? Cats and dogs may not know what Christmas is but they know a new toy or treat when they see it. Get them super excited with these cool items this holiday season.

Ruffwear Cloudchaser

A romp in the mountains could send a chill through their bones if they’re not a fluffy St. Bernard. The softshell Cloudchaser hugs your pooch all the way around his body and insulates him from cold, wet, inclement weather. The waterproof, windproof, breathable three-layer soft-shell upper fabric has four-way stretch and a zippered closure for a snug fit and easy on/off. The belly panel is coated to repel water, snow and dirt. It also has reflective piping for afterwork strolls. $79.95, www.ruffwear.com.

Orvis Toy Box

In a nutshell, this piece of reclaimed wood is gorgeous. The medium-sized box should fit into anyone’s home décor and despite its compact size will handle every toy in the house. Now you don’t have to hide that unsightly pile of squeakers and tugs. The antique mountain look will be a conversation starter. Add a personalized name plate and your dog just may clean up his own toys. $129-149. http://www.orvis.com/store/product.aspx?pf_id=8R93

Petprojekt Squeaky Snowman

It’s easy for Fido to celebrate the holidays when he’s trotting around with a Snowman in his mouth. The squeaky toy is made from 100 percent non-toxic, durable materials and should last you well past New Year’s. Get the Reindeer and Santa Claws Cat designs for extra stocking stuffers. $8-12, www.petprojekt.com

SnugglePuppie

When you’re gone all day skiing, let the SnugglePuppie take your place. This soft, cuddly pup makes a best friend unlike other toys that beg to be tossed, chewed and dragged aroundA removable plastic heart beats in the middle and the pocket for handwarmers provides the comfort a mother’s body might. But your pet doesn’t have to be a newborn to discover the warmth of a best friend. Children, seniors and adult dogs too will cuddle with this slipper-sized softie. Heartbeat comes with batteries, it’s machine washable, and because there’s nothing small to chew off it’s safe for all. $39,
http://www.snugglepetproducts.com/snuggle-pets/snuggle-puppies

Dog-e-Glow

OK, a collar is more for you than her but you’ll both feel motivated to take those winter’s night strolls with a Dog-e-Glow. The light-up collar and matching leash come in all sorts of cute designs and stand out even in the dead of night. Whether it’s the bones, plaids or a Cougars or Utes style you’ll love how the little LED bulbs shine along the entire length and can be seen up to 1000 feet away. The weather-resistant collars and leashes can be set to flash, steady and off mode so the replaceable lithium coin cell batteries last up to 150 hours. $9, www.petsmart.com.

Bravo Cat treats

Cats too deserve healthy snacks and with those carnivorous attitudes, Bravo! will surely please the king and queen of the house. The Feline Healthy Medley treats of 100 percent pure muscle meat are freeze-dried to lock in flavor. They’re grain-free and created specifically to nurture the nutritional needs of cats by providing ingredients filled with easily absorbable vitamins and minerals. Use them to train your cat to come indoors, get off the counters and maybe even take that cupcake out of your hand. $8, www.BravoRawDiet.com

Power Paws Socks

Therapy animal owners can tell you dogs’ paws can pick up all sorts of nasties from the floor. So a pair of Power Paws is not just about protecting pads from cold days and slippery floors. The “Advanced” style is a non-slip, reinforced-toe canine sock for indoor/outdoor wear to prevent frostbite, improve traction, keep snow from clumping between toes without sacrificing dexterity and avoid germs at your next trip to the vet. When you don’t need the beefiness of a dog booty try the Power Paws. $24.99; http://woodrowwear.com/.

Go Get It

Move over Chuck-It. The Go Get It is no ordinary ball launcher. The retractable, ergonomic handle extends and retracts for maximum portability. Never touch a slobbery ball again. Hook the thrower to a belt loop or leash handle with the convenient end clip and there’s no excuse not to take it out to play with your buds. $17, http://www.amazon.com/Petmate-Go-Get-ball-launcher/dp/B000R7XPSA/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

Aussie Floppie

If you’ve ever witnessed the mess your dog makes shredding the insides of a stuffed toy you’ll appreciate the Floppie. This 2 in 1 rodent is filling free, and has two squeakers and a braided cotton rope hidden inside for all sorts of all-day fun. $8, http://aussienaturals.us.

Dreamables Bone bowl

Serve up his 2014 meals in this stylish, fun, playful food and water feeder. Two generous removable stainless bowls sit snuggly inside the brightly colored plastic ‘bone’ for easy washing and filling. Non-slip rubber feet keep the whole thing from sliding around at dinner time. Pick the color that matches your room or opt for black which goes with everything. The bowl comes in two sizes so cats and small dogs can have a taste of personality as well. $25-35, www.bedbath http://www.prestigepet.com.

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Alta and Park City Open For The 2014 Season

It won’t be long before the resorts are in full swing so it’s always sweet to bust out for a few early season runs whenever a resort first opens. The pressure to rip is tempered with caution until there’s more coverage so Alta’s opening day was the ideal chance to test out the newly healed foot.

As of this weekend, Park City Mountain Resort, Brighton, Solitude, Snowbird and Alta are servicing anxious riders. Canyons Resort opens this Friday (Nov. 29). It’s supposed to be dry through thanksgiving with only a slight chance of snow next weekend so take advantage of the restricted terrain to get your ski legs back. Rein in your enthusiasm, however. Nothing worse than wrecking before the season even gets going.

Folks lined up for first chair of PCMR’s 50th Anniversary this morning.

Here’s a taste of opening day at Alta. It sure was fun. The groomers on the Collins side were firm and fast (Sugarloaf side was a bit better) while the open spots of off-piste were surprisingly soft and safe. We didn’t hit a single rock – after navigating the traverses of course.

 

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Chains In Winter. Thule K-Summit Crushes It.

Photos by Ryan Freitas

I requested a jack. I was sure roadside assistance would laugh if I told them I needed help putting chains on my tires so I figured “fixing a flat” was close enough. I hate feeling like a total chick but there were six inches of snow on my driveway, I hadn’t mounted my Blizzak snow tires yet and I needed to get Sage to school.

It wasn’t supposed to snow this much in one day- the first week of November. I was excited. Not about the new snow (ok, kinda that too) but about finally getting to test my Thule K-Summit XL chains. They’ve been in my garage jonesing for just this occasion but I’m usually ahead of the game with the snow tires so I don’t need chains.

You use snow tires or studded tires from November to April around Park City. You use chains if you live in a valley or basin like Salt Lake City or Los Angeles. Rarely do the twain meet unless you experience an in-between moment like this one. I’m spoiled by my Blizzaks. I swear by them. You can do 70 mph on snowy highways with confidence and you can get up my ridiculously steep driveway even if it’s covered with snow. And now I’m spoiled by these ridiculously expensive Thule chains. I have to admit, however, that I was intimidated by its visage that was like something out of Transformers. How the hell did these things actually work? I only needed to watch the mechanic install one side to get it.

The first thing the ‘rescue’ mechanic said? “These are slick. I’ve never seen anything like them before.” No more laying under your car on your back and sliming up your clothes. No more backing over the chains hoping you’ve lined them up correctly. No more last minute surprises where you realize you need a few extra links to make them fit. No more tinkering for so long you can’t feel your fingers. No more wrapping them around your axle by accident. Simply slide the two brackets on the K-Summit over the outside of the tire, crank the center ratchet, roll forward, place the last two brackets on, crank some more and voile.

Repeat on the other tire. The chain will automatically self-adjust and tighten as you drive away. The geometric design keeps the chain from slipping off the tire while at the same time avoids touching (and scratching) your alloy wheels or ABS brakes. To remove, you loosen the ratchet, wiggle the plates and the chain practically falls off by itself. It all folds up neatly into a carry bag.

So let’s talk about the price. Are you sitting down? The K-Summit runs around $600. Yes, for chains. But remember: you spend way more than that on a pair of skis you might use for 25 days. These chains should last a lifetime (they come with a five-year manufacturer’s warranty) so long as you drive cars with approximately the same tire size and keep your speed under 30 mph. Plus, if you’re at the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon, with the sheriff moving chainless, non-4wd cars to the side of the road, you’re not going to want to waste time tinkering as all those ‘equipped’ vehicles get to the hill before you and chew up the powder.

Like any tire chain, the K-Summit is meant only to get you from Point A to Point B on snow-covered streets. You’re not going to leave them on for weeks unless you plan to drive slowly every day during the winter and never on clear freeways. In Park City that’s not practical. But I sure wish I had them in high school for those weekend roadtrips to Mammoth. And I was damn glad I had them today.