ALL POSTS IN [Skiing]

Photography by Paul Morrison

Does the approaching Winter Olympics have you dreaming of channeling your inner Olympian? With the State Department issuing a travel advisory last week cautioning Americans about terrorist attacks at the Winter Games, whether or not the warning will deter attendance next month remains to be seen. Regardless, if you can’t make it to Sochi, Russia to watch the pros at the 2014 Olympics, you can take an opportunity to ski with one a bit closer to home. Host of the last Winter Olympics, Whistler, British Columbia, is rolling out their Ski With an Olympian program for the second year in a row. Sign up and you’ll get a full day of skiing or snowboarding for groups of up to 5 people with an Olympic legacy as your personal guide.

How cool is it to get access to a pro like Rob Royd – the 3-time Olympian, 6-time World Championship athlete, and head coach for the Canadian Women’s National Ski Team — to ask him for pointers on upping your all-mountain skills? Or to hear Olympic insider stories over lunch with half-pipe and freestyle snowboarders such as Crispin Lipscomb or Tara Teigenm? Hop on the Peak 2 Peak Gondola, which connects Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains, and you’ll have plenty of time to listen to those Olympic stories while taking in the view. (It’s not only the highest lift in the world, but also the longest unsupported lift span on the planet!)

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Sundance Film Festival

It’s a big year for Sundance Film Festival as it celebrates its 30th birthday in Park City, UT, this week. For the last 3 decades, the next big moviemakers, critics, celebrities and film buffs  have attended this annual event every January to be wowed by the best of independent films from all over the world.

The largest independent film festival in the US, Sundance was launched in 1978 with the help of Robert Redford’s company, Sterling Van Wagenen. Over the last 30 years, Redford has played an integral part in building the festival’s momentum and his mark is seen all over town, from his famed Sundance Resort, 5,000 acres on the slopes of Mount Timpanogos in Utah’s Wasatch Range to Zoom, his cozy restaurant located on Park City’s Main Street.

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With temperatures dropping, don’t let winter doldrums set in. Bundle up and embrace the cold (albeit the bone-chilling, artic-blasting cold of recent days) with some of our favorite things to do in winter.

1. Sleep in an ice hotel.

If you aren’t afraid of a little cold or a bed made out of ice, spend an unforgettable night in an ice hotel. Chill out in a luxury igloo full of hard-carved ice sculptures and cozy fur hides to keep you warm at night.

2. Toast with a decadent drink.

The ideal cure for a winter chill? A cocktail to warm you up. Toast to shorter days with these 10 cold-weather cocktails, from a traditional hot toddy to an innovative dry-ice-infused concoction.

3. Take an icy plunge.
What better way to plunge into 2014 than with an icy dip! There are still New Year dips taking place throughout January, or head to Finland where ice swimming is a popular custom all winter long.

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Photography by Bruce Rowles

Bravo’s Real Housewives of Orange County heads to even colder territory tonight with a visit to the legendary snow-covered ski town of Whistler, British Columbia. Newbie Lydia, the sweet Canadian girl, wants the ladies to see her beautiful country in the hopes that the mountain air (and neutral vibe of Canada) will do the hot-tempered gals some good.

The snow bunnies don’t just drink wine in the lodge fireside all weekend. On this girls getaway, the Real Housewives get physical … with mountain sports, that is (their arguments continue to remain verbal slams). The ladies brace themselves for the freezing Canadian temps and hit the slopes on Whistler Blackcomb, two of the biggest vertical drops in North America, where Lydia snowboards and Vicki brags about her days on a ski team.

In the episode that airs tonight, the decked-out-in-fur housewives channel James Bond girls with a high-speed snowmobile tour. And it wouldn’t be a Real Housewives vacation without a few fights, like the one between Vicki and Lauri on the ski slopes.

Learning to ski can cause some epic meltdowns, even if you aren’t a reality star. Whistler PR supervisor Lauren Everest says the Whistler ski team enjoyed teaching the Real Housewives how to ski, even with the drama.

“Our expert snow school instructor Nadio made sure the ladies felt as comfortable as possible while learning a new sport,” says Everest. “The lesson got cut a bit short due to some drama while the cameras were rolling, but that’s what the show is all about … and why we love it when the Real Housewives come to town!”

After some heated discussions slopeside, the ladies whine and dine après-ski at The Bearfoot Bistro, one of Whistler’s hottest foodie scenes. The restaurant focuses on local in-season ingredients and features one of the world’s coldest ice bars, The Belvedere Ice Room, in which more than 50 vodkas are chilled in minus-25 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s almost as cold as one of Tamra’s “evil eyes.”

The second part of the Real Housewives’ ski trip airs tonight. We wonder: Will there be a massive snowball fight between Vicki and Lauri? Will Alexis run out of fur outfits to wear? Will Vicki’s maddening screams cause an avalanche? As Bravo says, we’ll have to watch what happens.

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With some of the highest peaks east of the Rocky Mountains, Beech Mountain Resort has long been one of North Carolina’s most popular places to go skiing. It’s now carving out an identity as a year-round sports destination with a new program that allows mountain bikers to hook their bikes to a high-speed quad chairlift and ride to the top of the mountain’s 5,506-foot summit. From there it’s an adrenaline-pumping ride down a series of trails with rock gardens, jumps, berms and wooded sections. Don’t have a mountain bike? A full line of rentals will be available. The new trails will be open every weekend from June 7 until Sept. 29. After your ride, grab a cold drink and a bite to eat (pizza, burgers, sandwiches, etc.) at the resort’s Beech Tree Bar and Grill.

Elsewhere in tiny Beech Mountain (population: 320), you’ll find the Beech Mountain Adventure Trail Park. This 8-mile network of single track ranges in elevation from 4,700 to 5,400 feet and provides unparalleled mountain vistas and overlooks. The park’s second and third phases are scheduled to open in 2014 and will encompass more than 25 miles of trails. Cycle 4 Life Bike Shop in nearby Banner Elk offers rentals and guided bike trips of the park.

After a day on the trails, reward yourself with some delicious grub at Alpen Restaurant and Bar, which features an open stone fireplace and an outdoor patio and deck where you can enjoy menu items such as burgers, sandwiches, grilled salmon, steaks and pasta dishes. For more casual fare, there’s Famous Brick Oven Pizzeria, which also has wings, sandwiches and salads. Also be sure to stop by Fred’s General Mercantile, an old-school country store that’s famous for having a little of everything, from clothes to outdoor gear, toys, tools, beer and wine. Fred’s also has downstairs deli that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Bed down for the night at The Beech Alpen Inn, which has 24 hotel rooms, some of which have fireplaces and private balconies. Archer’s Mountain Inn has 15 lodge guest rooms that feature panoramic views, rustic décor and wood-burning fireplaces. There’s also Pinnacle Inn Resort, which features one- and two-bedroom condos, as well as an indoor heated pool, Jacuzzi, arcade, sauna and pool table.

- Sam Boykin

Host city of the 1980 Winter Olympics, Lake Placid is a winter sports lover’s paradise. Although summer is its busiest season, there are plenty of outdoor adventures for visitors at any time of year. And even though it’s in the middle of the Adirondack Mountains, the compact downtown center has a surprisingly diverse offering of restaurants.

Don’t let the name “Lake Placid” fool you; the actual lake is a couple miles away. Instead, the village of Lake Placid lies on the shores of Mirror Lake. Some of the state’s best mountains are found here, making it a popular winter ski spot, while summer brings travelers who want to swim or boat. Impressive fall foliage also makes it a destination for leaf peepers.

Overlooking Mirror Lake, High Peaks Resort is one of the most luxe and extensive resorts in the area. Mere moments from all of Main Street’s offerings, this 133-room resort manages to feel both central and secluded at the same time. There’s plenty to keep guests occupied on-site, including the Aveda Concept Salon and Spa, 4 pools, a lakefront area with free use of kayaks and a modern fitness center. It lacks the private beach access and the 45 holes of golf that the Crowne Plaza offers, however. If you’re looking for value, the Best Western is a great bet. Though some areas are in need of renovations, this family-owned spot features a cozy lobby, free breakfast, and amenities such as an indoor pool, a fitness center and a game room.

- Oyster.com Staff

Big Sky Resort

You may be tempted to ride the chairlift up and down Big Sky’s Lone Mountain just to take in Montana’s spectacular snowscapes. But if you have to ski, you might as well do it here, too. More »

Warm, cold, cold, warm. Make up your mind already!

It’s safe to say that’s what a whole lot of people are thinking across the country, as they don fall jackets one day, winter coats the next. Winter, it seems, has become a little moody, and no one is feeling the brunt of its mood swings more than ski resorts.

“Rising Temperatures Threaten Fundamental Change for Ski Slopes,” reported yesterday’s New York Times. “Study Shows Warming’s Threat to Skiing,” said The Aspen Times, just a few days earlier. And this equally sobering take from Bloomberg: “Ski Areas Face $1 Billion Risk From Warming Climate, Groups Say.”

But Wait, There’s Hope!

Before you reach for your Xanax, take a deep breath and repeat: “There’s still hope for fun on the slopes this year.”

Sure, we’re all feeling a little nervous, especially with still-fresh memories of last year’s unseasonably warm winter — the fourth warmest on record since 1896 — that caused half of the nation’s ski areas to open late and nearly as many to close early. This year is seeing more unpredictable temperature shifts in areas from Mount Sunapee in Vermont, where warmer temps have turned some usually snow white trails dirt brown, to several ski resorts in Colorado that have been forced to push back their opening dates.

A Pro Colorado Skier’s Opinion

Lou Dawson — no, not a climate guy, but he is the first person to ski all 54 of Colorado’s 14,000-foot peaks — seems pretty optimistic about the whole thing. From what we can tell over at Lou’s popular Wild Snow blog, he’s got strong opinions on how ski resorts can withstand climate change.

Here’s what Lou’s saying: “If ski resorts want to deal with global warming and continue skiing as we know it, they need to figure out where we can ski as the climate warms, and build or extend ski areas into those zones.”

Snowiest Ski Resorts — Where Are They?

So where are those “zones”? Leave it to our friends over at weathertrends360 to gather the goods. Recently, these weather gurus compiled their list of the world’s snowiest ski resorts, with their selection based upon long-term weather trends forecasts.

And the slopes with the most guaranteed powder? Places such as Alta, UT, make weathertrends360’s list – and as the NYT confirmed this week, this famed ski area, now in its 75th year, is seeing trails with a base depth of 48 inches. (Translation: Anything above 15 inches is sufficient for skiing.)

What other ski resorts made the list? For the full forecast, check out the World’s Snowiest Ski Resorts.

By Oyster.com Staff

For skiers and nature enthusiasts alike, there are very few places that compare to Jackson Hole. The low-lying valley, located near Wyoming’s western border and surrounded by the Teton Mountain Range, is the gateway to some of the nation’s most spectacular national parks, including Grand Teton, Yellowstone and the National Elk Reserve. The easily available hiking, biking, river rafting, camping and skiing attracts visitors here year-round. READ MORE

Ski resorts, located along the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California, are attracting more skiers and snowboarders after record snowfalls. The Sierra typically gets snowfall in April, but this season the area has seen more than 61 feet of snow — just a few feet shy of the 65-feet record set from 1950 to 1951.

Ski patrol guides had to create tunnels to reach their warming huts, and avalanches broke out windows at two life stations at Squaw Valley, home of the 1960 Winter Olympics. According to Associated Press, almost 59 feet of snow has fallen there, breaking the old record of 29 inches.

The unexpected snowfall has sparked Squaw Valley to extend its season through Memorial Day, and Heavenly Mountain Resort, on Mammoth Mountain, may remain open through the 4th of July.

Despite the booming business at ski resorts, the snow is causing problems, including roof damage for some homeowners and businesses. The good news is that the snow has increased California’s water supply, which may spark Gov. Jerry Brown to declare the end to state’s lingering drought.

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