Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday, Cyber Monday ski deals deliver savings

Black Friday has become almost a holiday of its own with Cyber Monday following up as its consumer holiday cousin. Ski gear and apparel retailers have jumped on the bandwagon to grab some of the spending. Both retail and online vendors have introduced sales for the weekend.

Sierra Trading Post: This website offers discounted prices for a relatively decent selection of ski gear. Sierra Trading Post also has a very large inventory of apparel. The site has items marked off for Black Friday at an additional 25 percent off its already discounted prices. Sierra Trading Post is also running a contest to guess the total dollar amount its customers will save on Cyber Monday. In order to win the $1,000 shopping spree, visitors to the site can submit three guesses by 5 p.m. MST on Monday.
Ski shops and online retailers are offering deals on
Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Photo: Eric Wagnon

Eastern Mountain Sports (EMS): This chain of stores located in the Northeast also has an online store. EMS is running a sale of 20 percent on almost everything in its stores and online through Sunday. Some items are marked down by 30 to 50 percent. The website is also running a series of 3-hour deals. For example, Mountain Hardwear clothing was marked down by an additional 10 percent on Friday morning. This online retailer is running Black Friday deals of an additional 20 percent off on ski accessories including hats, goggles, base layers, helmets, gloves and socks.

Peter Glenn: This website connected to a chain of ski shops in the Southeast is running a sale on certain items through Cyber Monday. This website with an extensive selection of ski gear and apparel has a "spontaneous consumption" sale of up to 50 percent off running through Cyber Monday. By using the code BLACKFRIDAY10 at this website, shoppers can receive an additional 10 percent off on Black Friday. has a very large selection of ski equipment and apparel.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Opinion: 'Ski porn' should not define ski films

I had an opportunity to watch two feature-length ski films, "Wintervention" and "The Way I See It," on consecutive days earlier this week. While I'm passionate about skiing, I can't say I'm a huge fan of the ski-film genre as it stands now.

"Wintervention" Trailer

The Urban Dictionary website defines "ski porn" as "a movie or movie clip consisting of montages of sick ski or snowboard tricks with no context, plot, or any other attempt to tie it all together." To borrow the title from the Matchstick Productions film I recently saw, "the way I see it" there is too much ski porn in today's ski films.

"The Way I See It" Trailer

Yes, I am impressed by the skilled athletes and eye-popping scenery of ski films... for about ten minutes at a sitting. At this point, I've seen professional skiers nail incredible lines heli-skiing in Alaska. I get it. They're really good. Ski porn works fine as video wallpaper in the apres-ski bar, but focusing on it for 90 minutes gets a bit tiresome.

Having spent about 1,000 days field producing and directing in an almost 20-year career as a television producer, I can also appreciate the logistics involved in capturing the stunning images in ski films. Taking the terrain and vagaries of natural light and weather into consideration, the DP of a ski film could have one of the toughest jobs in movie making.

There must be some good stories in the world of skiing, but apparently the story-tellers are somewhere else for the most part. Last year's film, "The Edge of Never" was one exception. Filmmaker Bill Kerig did try to elevate the true story of a young skier and his late father above the actual ski footage.

 "The Edge of Never" Trailer

"These other sports have their great movies and skiing has more tradition, more colorful characters than most of these other sports that really do have soulful, storytelling movies," Kerig told me in an interview last year. "All the ski porn is great and has its place. I love it. I love to hang out at the bar to watch it and not have to follow a story, but I think that story-- kind of making the myth of our little culture-- is going to be what keeps our skiing culture alive."

Although far from feature-length, a recent episode of Salomon Freeski TV available on the web told a simple, but compelling story and managed to include some rather impressive ski footage and scenery in the process.

Salomon Freeski TV

After screening "Wintervention," I watched the "Making of Wintervention" on the Warren Miller Entertainment website. In many ways, I found the "making of" documentary more interesting than the actual film, because the behind-the-scenes doc told a true-life story of the filmmakers.

For the most part, "Wintervention," itself, consists of skiing music montages tied together by rather inane segues of Jonny Moseley pretending to be a radio host. I'm not saying ski movies can't be funny and even frivolous at times. Colby James West's masterful comedic timing was probably my favorite part of "The Way I See It."

However, if the center of world-class skiing is really just a bunch of vapid-sounding dudes pursuing the perfect line with a pumping music track, then ski filmmakers might want to consider focusing in a different direction.

Michigan ski area Boyne Highlands sets opening day

Boyne Highlands in Michigan plans to open on Friday.
                                          Photo: Boyne Highlands Resort
Boyne Highlands in Harbor Springs, Mich., decided on Wednesday to open for the 2010-11 ski season on Friday. Successful snowmaking operations and a cold forecast prompted the decision.

This year's opening date beat last season's start on Dec. 5. For the 2008-09 season, Boyne Highlands was able to open before Thanksgiving.

Boyne Highlands has 430 acres of skiable terrain with a vertical drop of 552 feet, the longest in the Lower Peninsula of Michigan. Supplemented by snowmaking on 93 percent of the terrain, the area averages 140 inches of natural snow annually.

Click here for a Boyne Highlands photo slideshow 

Boyne Mountain hopes to open also

Boyne Mountain in Boyne Falls, Mich., Boyne Highlands' sister resort located about 30 minutes south, is also working toward an opening over the weekend. A few other Midwest ski areas have already opened for the season such as Ski Brule in Michigan, Trollhaugen in Wisconsin and Wild Mountain in Minnesota.

Jackson Hole plans to open all terrain on opening day

The famous Jackson Hole Mountain Resort Tram is
scheduled to be part of the resort's opening day
on Saturday.                                 Photo: Eric Wagnon

Jackson Hole Mountain Resort (JHMR) announced Tuesday that the Wyoming ski area will likely open all of its expansive terrain on Saturday. The total access marks the first such November opening day in the resort's history. 

Jackson Hole recorded 113 inches for the season on its official Tuesday morning snow report. The total should rise as heavy snow is expected to continue through Wednesday.

The only factor that may prevent a 100 percent opening on Saturday would be too much snow. A release from the resort stated that "while it is certain that there will be enough snow to open the entire mountain, the intensity of the current storm has created challenges for mountain operations that may affect what terrain can be opened. Opening-day operations will also be subject to weather and snow safety."

With 2,500 skiable acres, Jackson Hole has a vertical drop of 4,139 feet, a statistic among the largest in North America. Generally receiving even more snow than JHMR, Grand Targhee Resort opened last Saturday. The smaller Wyoming resort accessed from the Idaho side of Teton Pass reported a season snow total of 102 inches on Tuesday morning. 

Jackson Hole Opening Preview (Video: JHMR)