Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Posted By on Wed, Oct 26, 2016 at 4:42 PM

There is a tradition in the snow-sports industry that's been around for a couple decades now, and it pops up around this time of year. It's the ski film — a collection of guys and gals tossing themselves down treacherous terrain and untouched powder fields to fuel the excitement for the impending season. 

You've probably seen these — and seen a lot of them — and many look the same, have nearly identical indie hip-hop soundtracks and feature the same ski-porn shots of young athletes ripping it up and saying "stoked" in every sentence.

John Stifter, a native Spokanite and former editor of Powder magazine who now heads up Powder Productions, had seen enough of them, too. He loved to watch big-time skiers do their thing, but when he set out to executive produce his company's first film, produced along with KGB Productions, he wanted to make a documentary that featured skiing, and not just another "ski film."

The result is Monumental: Skiing our National Parks, a film that takes you deep into the history of not just the Parks Service on the occasion of its 100th birthday, but also brings us back to the early days of skiing at these protected lands. The film's premier tour brings it to Spokane on Thursday, Oct. 27 at 7 pm at the Fox Theater in Spokane.

"It’s not a hype film. It's not going to make you excited to buy a season pass, but I would hope for people to take away an appreciation and an acknowledgment of our public lands, specifically our national parks, and to advocate for their protection," says Stifter, who grew up in Spokane, graduated from Gonzaga Prep and spent some time working at Schweitzer Mountain Resort.

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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Posted By on Tue, Oct 25, 2016 at 11:30 AM

click to enlarge Join the Alliance: Getting more bang for your skiing bucks
Matt Gibbs taking in the view while using the Powder Alliance beneft at Bridger Bowl outside of Bozeman, Montana.

Three years since its inception to local skiers and boarders, the Powder Alliance is constantly growing. Currently, there are 15 resorts over nine states and three countries. Regionally, Schweitzer Mountain and Whitewater in British Columbia are among the elite list.

The basis of this "add-on" season-pass benefit is that you get three days* of skiing at partnering resorts with your unlimited pass if your home resort is in the program. This year, Kiroro in Japan was added, and that resort boasts some of the best snow on the planet.

Dig Chrismer, marketing manager at Schweitzer Mountain Resort, says “having the flexibility to get out an explore other mountains outside our region is fantastic.”

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Friday, April 8, 2016

Posted By on Fri, Apr 8, 2016 at 10:28 AM

As you might imagine given the 80-degree temperatures we're hitting today in Spokane, ski season is about to be a thing of the past. 

Lookout Pass Ski and Recreation Area announced today that Sunday will be the final day of what was a far better season than lats year. All told, Lookout got 310 inches of snow this season, was able to open at Thanksgiving weekend and had a big Christmas vacation. 

“Our guests enjoyed a number of great Powder Days, lift ticket sales are up 26% from last season and our Early Bird pass sale is doing well,” said the mountain's marketing director, Jason Bergman, in a statement. 

All four chairlifts will remain operating through Sunday, so spring skiing is around for at least two more days on the Idaho/Montana border. 

This is also the last weekend of skiing at Schweitzer Mountain Resort, Silver Mountain is going weekends-only after this weekend while there's still snow, and you can ski free at 49 Degrees North through closing day on Sunday. 

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Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Posted By on Tue, Oct 20, 2015 at 4:00 PM

click to enlarge Unexpected delights, even when winter doesn't bring a lot of snow
Joe Johnson, Canyons Resort

I was on a road trip during the winter of 2011-12. It’s hard to leave home when epic conditions are in progress, but my love for experiencing different mountains, meeting new people and discovering new stashes outweigh staying home. The itinerary for this Ski Utah adventure was to ski Deer Valley on Friday, Park City Mountain Resort (PCMR) on Saturday, the Canyons on Sunday and Monday and Alta/Snowbird on Tuesday and Wednesday.

I arrived into Salt Lake City Airport, skis, boots and my luggage in tow, on an early morning flight. Picked up my rental car and I was on my way. As I made my way up Parley’s Canyon on Interstate 80, the temperatures were rising as well as the sun.

I skied the quintessential spring day at Deer Valley. It was warm. The forecast for the night was not looking good, with precipitation on the way and the current temperatures being so warm. But at least I was skiing. I awoke the next morning to rain. Rain that made its way to the top of the mountain peaks in the area. Looks like I was spending the day watching March Madness with friends instead of adventuring around PCMR. I still remained hopeful that the temperatures would drop so that my itinerary would get back on track.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Posted By on Tue, Feb 17, 2015 at 2:51 PM

After the recent warm spell, some ski resorts have resorted to closing their lifts until the next snowfall. Schweitzer Resort, on the other hand, is refusing to succumb to the current pseudo-spring, and is now blasting their slopes with manufactured snow. Manufactured snow is more durable than natural snow and should keep conditions ideal for winter sports for the duration of the season.
Can low night temps help salvage the ski season?
Snowmaking at Schweitzer.
For pass holders to parks that have closed up shop while they wait for a spring storm—Snoqualmie, Mt. Spokane, and 49 Degrees North—Schweitzer is also offering one free lift ticket, valid until March 1st. 

With two lifts in operation, Silver Mountain remains optimistic, offering discounted day passes—now $43—and a $10 discount for pass holders of other parks. Lookout Pass still has 3 lifts in operation and is patiently awaiting more precipitation.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Posted By on Tue, Feb 10, 2015 at 4:21 PM

Bad news, snow sport devotees. The recent insanely warm temperatures and rain has left nearby ski trails bare and is making heading to the slopes a bit more difficult.

Out of concern for the safety of their guests, Mt. Spokane will be closed this week due to unsuitable weather but plan to be up and running as soon as they get some more snow...which could be awhile. 

Fortunately, if you can't manage to stay away from the slopes for that long, 49 North Mountain Resort and Schweitzer Mountain will still be running, but with limited operations. Schweitzer plans to have just 45 out of their 92 runs available as well as 4 out of their 9 lifts. Luckily, they will be offering reduced lift ticket prices and hope to add more lifts and runs to operation later this week.

49 North is trying to cater to pass holders as well by reducing day pass prices from $54 to &39, but will be closed Wednesday, Thursday, as well as for Night Skiing Saturday. Be sure and check out which chairs are open which days here.

Silver Mountain in Kellogg, Idaho, is open with 46 trails according to its snow report, and Lookout Pass has 90 percent of its trails open

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Posted By on Tue, Jan 20, 2015 at 3:26 PM

Everyone has their own personal reason for skiing or snowboarding — exercise, fresh air, excitement, adventure. In addition to all of those, one Spokane man has another reason: Collecting trash. 

If you have spent any time at Schweitzer Mountain Resort, you have seen him. His name is Larry West. He frequently skis under the chairlifts, the Hollywood line, with that one focus in mind.

I had the opportunity to ski one morning with him and got a firsthand glimpse of what he does every day he is on skis, which coincidentally, is every day of the ski season, logging as many days per year as Schweitzer is open. The mountain's awarded him for this feat with a free season pass.

On the chairlift recently, I jokingly said, as if I was on a two-way radio, “Larry West, do you copy? There is a piece of trash located between the 5th and 6th tower on the Great Escape Quad.”

Larry responded, “I do get text messages from people alerting me of the location of trash.”

As the day progressed, and as we rode more lifts, he would talk about his different finds under the chair. Gloves, cash, candy wrappers. Later that morning, he noted a glove under the chairlift. As we got off the lift, he asked the snowboarder in front of us if it was his glove. The snowboarder said, “Yeah.” Larry offered to pick up a glove for him and the snowboarder responded, “No, it’s okay. I have an extra pair.” Larry made the mental note of the location of the glove, mumbling something about going back to pick it up anyway.

Later that morning, we rode the Great Escape Quad. As we made our way up the mountain, he pointed out the tracks under the lift and spoke about a recent successful gathering adventure. Chairlift rides, for some, are about scoping out their next run, or playful banter amongst friends and strangers. But for West, it is about checking out possible conquests for keeping the mountain free and clear of unwanted trash, or helping skiers and boarders reunite with their fallen gear.

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Monday, December 22, 2014

Posted By on Mon, Dec 22, 2014 at 1:13 PM

Making peace with a slow season start, and vowing to stay true to your mountain
Schweitzer Mountain Resort
I have had the conversation with many people about the "weird" start to the ski season.

My go-to response is, “You have to take the good with the bad.”

I moved to Sandpoint in 2002 and it was a couple of years later, the season of 2004-05, that Schweitzer Mountain Resort closed in early March, for the first time, and then reopened at the end of March after a late season storm cycle. Since then, all of the resorts in the Inland Northwest have had some great snow years – nine great consecutive seasons.

Although the season is far from over, I thought I would concoct up a vow to my ski resort and mountain town to let them know that I my heart is still with you – even in warm temps and low precip. I have left it generic so it is adaptable for your unique situation:

I, (insert ski bum’s name), take you, (insert your local ski hill or the mountain town you swore an oath to, two years ago, when the snow fall was off the charts and so many powder days that ‘best days’ were replaced with new ones on a regular basis), to be my ski hill and mountain town, secure in the knowledge that you will be my constant friend, my faithful partner in life, my one true love, and the best place to be on those epic powder days, whether bluebird or not.

On this serious lack-of-snow season, I affirm to you in the presence of Ullr and my fellow ski bums my sacred promise to stay by your side as your faithful ski bum and loyal powder skier in sickness and in health, in joy and in sorrow, as well as through the epic seasons and the bad.

I promise to love you, be the first in line on the epic powder day and to comfort you in times of distress, encourage you to achieve your snowfall and sunny day goals, laugh with you and cry with you, grow with you in mind and spirit, always be open and honest with you, and cherish you for as long as my knees will hold out.

(Raise 16-ounce PBR tallboy), Cheers!

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Friday, December 5, 2014

Posted By on Fri, Dec 5, 2014 at 3:43 PM

Opening Days have come for a couple area resorts and as December progresses, so will the rest.

Schweitzer bagged the first opening in the region with opening day falling on Saturday, Nov. 22. According to its director of marketing Sean Mirus, “We look forward to getting open as soon as possible, as with all skiers and snowboarders. But it was our off-season brush-cutting and our snowmaking capability that made it possible… Literally, without those two things, we wouldn’t have been able to open when we did.”

The cold weather in early November assisted Schweitzer with making snow but Mother Nature put her foot down last weekend with a short warm and wet weather system that passed through over the holiday weekend, delaying opening days for Lookout Pass, 49 Degrees North, Silver Mountain and Mt. Spokane.

Lookout Pass was able to open on Sunday, November 30. And Silver Mountain announced that it plans to open on Saturday, Dec. 6. The weather appears to be back on track and more typical for early December. Expect to see more mountains opening, as well as additional acreage at all area ski resorts over the course of the next several days.

Here are some shots of happy opening day skiers at Schweitzer: 

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Posted By on Wed, Nov 26, 2014 at 11:45 AM

The Sports Creel is celebrating a birthday that most specialty sporting good stores never see.

Harry Larned first opened the doors to this Spokane Valley staple on March 19, 1954. Throughout the years, the store has remained family-owned and operated – three generations of Larneds have worked there, in fact. Harry’s daughter, Lin, would eventually take over the operation and marry Herb Genteman. One of their two sons, Micah, would follow the family legacy, growing up and making the store a big part of his life. He would eventually meet his wife, TJ, in the store. Currently Herb, Lin, Micah and TJ are the core members of the Creel team.

The location has hardly changed and as Micah describes, “The original location was pretty close to our current location. We’ve always remained within a stones throw (near the intersection of Sprague and Pines).”

Over the past 60 years, the Sports Creel has adapted to the incoming big box stores, other specialty retailers opening and closing and the growth of the Valley. Through the 60 years, they have carried everything from high-end fly-fishing equipment, Chris Craft wooden boat kits and was at one point the largest Hobie cat dealer in North America. “We have sold everything,” Micah says.

But from day one, they have always sold snow skis. “We are now focused on selling stuff for the things we do (and love to do),” Micah adds. The Sports Creel has made its footprint in the Inland Northwest as one of the best special ski and water sports shops.

Throughout the years, the Sports Creel has remained competitive with stores that have the budgets and staff to be open day and night, seven days a week. Herb adds that the last 60 years have been “a survival of the specialty ski shops. Lots have come and gone.” But the Sports Creel has remained a fixture. Happy Birthday, thanks for helping spread ‘the stoke’ for the last 60 years, and cheers to 60 more!

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Jurassic Quest @ Spokane Convention Center

Fri., March 1, 12-8 p.m., Sat., March 2, 9 a.m.-8 p.m. and Sun., March 3, 9 a.m.-7 p.m.
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