Michael Sharwood had the last ski run of his life all worked out: a run down the Blackcomb Glacier on his 80th birthday.
Like many of the best laid plans it didn’t eventuate as what seemed to be the most innocuous of falls ended his skiing days three years short in January this year.
But Michael doesn’t want your sympathy. He’s skied 110 resorts over 52 years. He’s travelled the world. He’s made life long friends. He conceived (well, conceived of!) his only daughter on a chairlift in Aspen.
This is his story. And a thank you to the sport he loves so much.
With the start of the Australian ski season a little over three months away the combination of these words are about as welcome as Trump and presidency; Nickelback and concert and Kyrgios and Tomic.
Unfortunately in its glimpse to autumn and beyond this is exactly what the Bureau of Meteorology tends towards for the eastern part of Australia in 2017.
So, should you be putting extra storage wax on your skis or board after the northern hemisphere season? Well …
People often ask me, “Hey, The Snow Gauge, what’s the next big thing in snowboarding going to be?”
My standard response went: “Go away heathen snowboarder – I don’t care because I ski”.
Now I can actually reply with a face straighter than what their binding set-up is about to be: Euro Carving.
That’s right my snowboarding friends. Pack away the softails and your triple corks because things are about to get hard all over again!
Four people with four Epic Passes. Two thousand miles. Three states. Six resorts. One month. The unsponsored, unfiltered story of a family ski trip across the United States.
When my sister Monica told me she and her family were going to ski the US for a month I suggested getting an Epic Pass. She concurred. I also told her she had to tell me about the whole experience for The Snow Gauge readers who were thinking of doing the same.
This is what the Scells gang did, what they experienced, what was good, where to eat, how to save a buck and one thing in particular that didn’t work out so well …
The inclusion of a middle name in my booking made VietJet Air cancel my purchased ticket without refund and issue it again at more than double the price. Are airlines so hungry for profit and hitting people up with ancillary charges that common sense and customer service go out the window?
Skiers and snowboarders don’t always make the simplest of travellers.
We have a lot of gear and there is frequently confusion about how much extra any airline will charge on any given day for carrying our planks, boots and invariably heavy winter gear with us on a flight.
I always thought my worst experience would be related to such a situation.
How wrong I was.
I’ve just had the single most infuriating airline experience in my 30 years of travel with South East Asian carrier VietJet Air. The airline cancelled my daughter’s paid ticket – and then re-issued it at around 2.5 times the original price – for using her middle name in the booking!
When the Australia Day gongs were handed down I was little bit surprised to find that moguls skier Dale Begg-Smith was amongst the recipients this year, receiving a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for his services to sport.
A gold medal moguls winner for Australia in 2006 at the Turin Winter Olympics he backed it up with silver four years later in Vancouver.
Those achievements are unquestioned and from all reports he has given back a fair bit of his time to fellow skiers, his mentorship no doubt helping to pave the way for the likes of Matt Graham and Britt Cox to achieve the success they have.
But – and here comes the but …
When my sister and her family decided to spend two months travelling around the US in December/January, including a month’s skiing, my advice was simple: Get an Epic Pass for everyone.
For $US850 per adult even into late November it was a no brainer and she devised a trip taking in Breckenridge, Keystone, Vail, Park City, Northstar, Heavenly, Kirkwood and Northstar. The pass would then be valid for Perisher in Australia for the 2017 Winter.
Even so she was still aghast when she bowled up to Vail this week and saw the walk-up price for a day pass: $189 or $260 Australian dollars. Ouch.
The swirling winds and desolate snowscape immediately capture a mood.
A lone skier with alpine touring bindings purposefully cuts through the white room.
Bearded and backpacked his head is bowed, seemingly at one with his environs.
Then he grasps his smart phone and places a bet.
With the news that Vail Resorts has confirmed the purchase of Whistler you can rest assured that means one thing: more Australians in the BC behemoth this season.
If you weren’t aware the Epic Pass has been available for a few years in Australia because of the Vail Group’s ownership of Perisher in NSW and now Whistler is part of their cache or resorts, pass holders are entitled to five days there in 2016/17.
Great say the many Aussies who have enjoyed an excellent product. But if some recent stories about what Aussies are like Whistler hold true will as many Canadians be as pleased?
Australia may not have the biggest mountains, the most snow or the best facilities but there’s one thing the local ski and snowboard industry can claim – first dibs on plenty of the best new gear that comes out.
The global season release schedule sees a whole raft of stuff shown – and then effectively made available to the consumer – down under first.
I was fortunate enough to get to the Snowsports Industries of Australia trade show held in chilly Canberra (6 degrees and raining as I left – with a foot of snow on the hills for the close of the season thanks very much) and managed to park my peepers on some of the gear before the North Americans and Europeans get their hands on it!
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