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Companies Responsibility to Riders

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

This past week Snowboarder Magazine held Super Park 13 at Mammoth Mountain, this unique event which brings together 3 of the best terrain park teams in snowboarding and matches seasoned pro’s and young guns is a spectacle to behold. When you’re invited to an event like this, the level of riding is pushed even further and injuries do occur. As stories started to trickle out on the internet of the carnage that ensued on these obstacles, one story stuck out. What set it apart from all the other tales?

The fact that this rider does not have health insurance, was injured, and is riding at a level that should require it. Unfortunately this is a problem that is present with tons of up and comers in the snowboard world. I know of very few people on the up and up who receive health benefits from their sponsors or that can even afford it themselves. Add to that riders for small upstart companies and the idea of insurance is one that is out of reach.

Does the blame for this lie solely on the companies sponsoring these riders? No, like it states on the back of all lift tickets and various signs around the resorts we frequent, we assume the risks associated with this sport. But sometimes the pressure of being in the limelight outweighs good common sense, especially when the photographers are right there and you are getting exposure. With the push to find younger riders every year someone needs to step forward and mentor these kids. This is where companies team managers need to step up to the plate and be a mentor.

Fortunately for Cody Rosenthal he has a community of people to help aid him in his time of crisis. I received this on Facebook yesterday: “Cody Rosenthal recently broke his L3 vertebrae on day two of Super Park 09. He was flown out of Mammoth Lakes Hospital to Renown Hospital in Reno and is currently in ICU. His surgery takes place May 10, 2009. This group is for all of us who love Cody and wish to support him and his family financially during this very difficult time. Like most talented snowboarders in this industry, Cody does not have Health Insurance. Any donations anyone can give are deeply appreciated. Just follow the link below to donate. If you don’t have a paypal account already, its FREE and EASY to get one, it only takes a second… Give a little to someone who gives a lot.”

While it’s unfortunate what happened to him and we wish him well, perhaps it will help make companies realize that health insurance should be a part of a riders contract. Other sports give their athletes insurance and as we go more and more into the mainstream it is time that companies start doing the same. This is especially true with more and more companies putting focus on riders to push the limits.

Posted in Snow | 3 Comments »

Vail Resorts, Mandatory Helmets: How Good of an Idea is it?

Friday, May 1st, 2009

helmetsOne has to question the motives behind Vail Resorts making helmets mandatory for all employees that are skiing or riding on the clock for next season. Is this result because a celebrity whacked a tree or is there an incentive from their insurance provider? It’s highly debatable as to whether or not this was a good idea on their part. This also leads to the other question of is there a chance they would make helmets mandatory for patrons?

On the positive side of things you have the stewards of the snowsports community showing patrons that helmets should be utilized. This goes a long way with promoting the safety aspect of the sport. Vail is even going to be offering the helmets up as part of the employee uniform and if an employee so wishes they can use their own helmet, “so long as it’s approved for skiing.”

Knowing how a company like Vail Resorts operates they’ll more than likely be choosing the company that gives them the best deal on helmets. While that’s all fine and dandy when you look at costs, it opens up the problem of certain helmets don’t fit certain head shapes. This then puts the employee in the predicament of having to find one that fits. Although that would then allow them to write it off as a tax expense.

Helmets are generally good for one solid impact then need to be replaced, so one has to wonder whether or not there will now be a helmet inspector working for their company. If there isn’t, does this mean that if an employee is using their mandatory helmet and injures themselves that they could sue them on the grounds of issuing faulty equipment? Living in a country that is sue happy it wouldn’t be too hard for some ambulance chasing lawyer from Denver to convince one of the minimum wage workers to go after them.

Along with making it mandatory for their employees to wear helmets, any child 12 or under in their ski school program has to wear one. All children’s rental packages next year will also include a helmet. It’s a great idea, especially for getting children to become more safety conscious. But this can also be the start of making helmets mandatory on the hill. Although I highly doubt this would ever become the case, as it would potentially set them up for revenue loss. Still all it takes is a few people with too much time on their hands and the need to have a cause to rally for and this potentially could happen.

The question remains will this program last for a season or will it remain for many more? It’ll be interesting to see what happens in the next season with Vail Resorts.

Posted in Snow | 1 Comment »

Freeskiing: Is it an Action Sport?

Friday, May 1st, 2009

derek olthuisIt’s 2009 and Freeskiing has been legit for probably at least the last 10 years, ever since the first pair of yellow Salomon 1080s showed up on JF Cusson, Mike Douglas, JP Auclair, and the rest of the New Canadian Air Force’s feet. Since that time, twintips have moved from one SKU in the line up to about 70% of all skis having some type of upturned tail. Athletes have gone from ex-mogul jocks to full on rockstars sponsored by Red Bull and Target. Skis are now almost as wide as a snowboard, have strong graphic stories and have reverse camber. But the question still remains: is skiing really an action sport?

When people think of skiing, most people conjure images of the Hermanator or Picabo Street, hurling themselves downhill in a skinsuit so tight that would make Spiderman blush. Or they think of those inane Warren Miller skits where the people keep falling off the chairlift when they try to get off. Like the Virgina Slims ad, we’ve come a long way baby.

You know skiing has gained the ultimate respect when snowboard companies started sponsoring skiers. For the longest time, snowboarders rebelled against their older sibling, still sore from the jeers, taunting, spitting and banning that occurred on hills. It’s the stuff that would get Jesse Jackson in arms if he lived in Colorado. Now skiers and snowboarders co-exist in the park, on most trails and in the lift line. Companies like Holden, Von Zipper, Electric, Sessions, Eesa and at one point even Burton (through Anon and Red) sponsor or sponsored skiers. After a few very successful years, Burton dumped their skiers, proclaiming that if you aren’t moving sideways, you aren’t going to be associated with Burton. Perhaps they just got leery of seeing so many Anon goggles on the heads of people with sharp pointy poles.

To make a ruling on Freeskiing as an action sport, one needs to ask: what makes a sport an Action Sport as by definition, most sports involve some sort of action. The sports that hold the lofty “Action Sports” title seem to have a few things in common:

1. Coverage in X-games, Dew games or some other billed as extreme, made-for-TV event sponsored an energy drink. – Check

2. The potential to cause serious harm to oneself or die by being suffocated by large quantities of water or break major bones on a hard flat surface by going too fast. – Check

3. A series of movies that are great eye candy, but really have no script to speak of. – Check

4. A group of athletes that were previously marginalized, but really now are just as mainstream as football or baseball jocks. – Check

5. Equipment that requires a serious amount of cash. – Check

6. Labeled as a sport, but in reality, proper fashion is almost as if not more important than actually being good at the sport. – Check

7. Claim of being super hardcore because back in the day, it was three scruffy dudes in the middle of nowhere, doing the sport for no money just “the love”. – Maybe if you consider the 1930s back in the day

So based on my totally arbitrary ramblings, freeskiing should be considered an action sport. But there’s still this little pang in my gut that says there’s too much of “The Man” in skiing. I can’t quite shake it, and it follows me around from the hill to the house. Perhaps it’s because most skiers and skiing still have such structured, rigid rules attached to them. And you’re just as likely to see your dad skiing as you bro. All I can say with certainty is that time will tell. And I know that I’ll be mixing it up in the winter on my snowboard and skis.

Posted in Snow | 9 Comments »

Season’s Over, Summer’s here. Get your groove on!

Monday, April 27th, 2009

So right now, you’re probably crying in your beer (or soda) because the snowboard season is over. You’re scraping up every penny and contemplating hitting up Grandma to see if you can scrounge enough cash to go to High Cascades or if you are Mister Moneybags, a jaunt to Snow Park NZ. For the rest of you suckers (and I’m with ya), here are a few tips and ideas to get you through another blazing summer.


This is a no brainer. You live near concrete right? Get a board and get out there. The total cost to get preserve the stoke is about $50-$100. If you’re at all accident-prone, consider a helmet. Most snowboard helmet companies have helmets like the RED Trace, which do double duty in winter and summer. Need to road trip somewhere? Check out Burnside or Philly. Pretend your Dyrdek or Sheckler. It can’t hurt.


It’s ok to admit to your friends that you wakeboard. It’s now totally acceptable to spend your summers towed behind a boat on something that looks like a cross between a waterski and a 2×4. And it’s pretty fun, once you get the hang of it. If you’re in the Inland Empire or in the Midwest, it’s cool. I know you gotta get your fix. Most major surf/snow brands like Quiksilver are full supporters of wakeboarding. There’s even videos like Billabong’s Out of the Pond that will give you the proper 411 on wake.

Longboard skateboarding

So you suck at ollieing. You can’t kickflip to save your life. Dude, I’m there too. Go longboarding. Embrace your soul surfer-self. Chicks dig it, and it’ll help your carving and balance. The OG of longboard skateboarding is Sector 9. Check them out for some sustainable, eco-friendly love and go find the biggest hill to “surf down”, barefoot.


If you’re blessed to live near the ocean, you owe it to yourself to learn to surf. Surfing connects you to nature unlike any lift-based sport can. If you’ve in water temps above 70, check out Quiksilver’s new Diamond Dobby tech. Less rash means more waves, and no awkward conversations with the ladies. If you gotta put the rubber condom on, get the best 3/2 wetsuit that you can. 3/2 stands for 3mm thickness on the core and 2mm thickness on the limbs. It’s money well spent. For your first board, check Craigslist (not under exotic massage) or your local messageboard. Feel the waves, brah.

Downhill mountain biking

Ski resorts have started to wake up. When the snow melts, you need to have something for the people and a secure, stable revenue stream. You have lifts, you have trails, it’s only natural to have dirtbags screaming down those hills on bikes that look like mx bikes without engines. If you haven’t tried, you gotta give it a run. The features will make you feel like your in your favorite terrain park, but you’ll be peeing your pants. Most spots rent bikes, full face helmets and body protection. Sure you’ll feel like Darth Vader’s little cousin in all that protection, but it’ll save you in the long run. Pro-tec’s has got everything you need to not break your spleen on a wall ride. Head to Whistler, Winter Park, or Highland to check it out.


Do you walk sideways? Do you eat sideways? Do you sleep sideways? If you can’t stand to be moving in a non-sideways fashion, free/dirtbording might be right for you. It’s sorta like skating, sorta like DH biking in the dirt, sorta like snowboarding and has straps like wake. It’s pretty hard to explain, but the nice thing is that you can choose either street or dirt.

Oh, sure you can play snowboard games on the Xbox360, but the above are a lot more fun and have the potential to get you hurt in a big way: bonus. And before you know it, it’ll be winter again.

Posted in Snow | 3 Comments »

Winter Park Ski Train: End of an Era

Friday, April 24th, 2009

Early this week the Winter Park Ski Train was sold for an undisclosed amount of money to Canadian National Railway Company. This marks an end of an era in both Colorado and winter sports history. The Ski Train had an impressively long run.

winter park ski train

For the last sixty nine years the train made the two hour journey from Union Station to Winter Park Ski Resort. Originating as a mail train that would bring people up from Denver to Routt County to go skiing it became a iconic legend. For the last three years that I’ve lived in Colorado, I had heard numerous stories about the Ski Train. Sadly I was never be able to participate in it.

Probably the most notable memory patrons have is of the apres scene the bar car presented. Numerous friends and acquaintances told me that the two our trek back from Winter Park was spent drinking away the pains from a day of riding the slopes and reliving that days adventures. Honestly what better way could be spent traveling back from a ski resort? Rather than being stuck on I-70 in bumper to bumper traffic you’re chugging along at altitudes up to 9,000 feet through some of the most scenic views of the country.

With the economy the way it is and the remodel of Union Station it was only a matter of time before the train disappeared. Benjamin Waters a lobbyist in Denver was quoted as saying, “Phil Anshutz sold the ski train. I feel like someone just shot Santa Clause in the face.” I’m sure he’s not the only one that felt this way. Although just like Santa Clause the memories of the Ski Train can live on in our hearts. Even though it’s gone it is not forgotten.

Posted in Snow | No Comments »

Loveland Keeping it Real

Thursday, April 16th, 2009

Originally I had written a piece about Loveland Ski Area that sounded more like something you would read in one of those airline magazines that fills that void from one airport to another. Sure it might have done the resort some justice but after reading and rereading it numerous times, it just didn’t capture the true majesty of Loveland. Something that only a visit to the ski area could really capture.

loveland ski area

What separates Loveland from the others in Summit County? The answer to that question is the rustic charm. When you roll into the parking lot in the morning you’re not greeted by ten story slope side condos, a spanning gondola that only carries you to a base area, and multiple high end shopping centers. What you get is the true meat and potato’s of resorts. It takes you back to a time when running a resort was about just that and not being a real estate entity that turns skiing or snowboarding into a Disney Land like experience.

Is going there for everyone? For certain people probably not but if you’re looking to ride some of the sickest terrain in Summit County, do it. For the last three seasons I’ve been in Colorado, I’ve made it a priority to ride there as much as possible. This season has been no exception.

In the preseason when everyone flocked to A basin to stand in 2 hour lift lines for a few minutes of snow sliding enjoyment, I was over at Loveland with no lines, no crowds, and a run that was three times longer. When peak season hits you can roll over there and find you’re getting a lift ticket for half the price of the bigger guys, more terrain, and a higher average snowfall. Sure the park is lacking in comparison to Breckenridge or Copper, but the mountain is one giant fun zone, drops, chutes, and trees.

So if you find yourself in Colorado heading up to those resorts closest to Denver. Spend a day at Loveland and experience what snowboarding and skiing were once like. Think of it as going to one of those historic old town settlements.

Posted in Snow | 1 Comment »

Smells Like Free Contests

Thursday, April 9th, 2009

It’s spring time. The air is getting warmer, the sun shines a bit longer, the hits are a little softer and you can dump a few more layers as you slide through the slush. As part of this annual ritual, we see the usual pond skimming comps, bikini-clad skier chicks and serious keg parties on the deck of the lodge.

Now we can add a new trend to the mix. Spring has now become the season of free contests: Win a free pass, win a VIP trip to a contest, win a free snowboard, win some skate shoes (well you get the picture).

The combination of overstocked inventory, hay fever and some serious good vibes results in an onslaught of ocular opportunity for you. Since we’re good Samaritans here at 5ones, we wanted to give you a quick list of spots for free loot.

Stoked, a NY and LA based non-profit that promotes board sports to at-risk youth through mentoring, coaching and shredding. They’re raffling off an Autographed Roxy Ally Snowboard. Tickets are $5 each. The board is signed by Roxy Team Riders: Amber Stackhouse, Erin Comstock, Torah Bright, Alexis Waite, and Kjersti Buaas. You can find more details at: http://www.stoked.org/wordpress/2009/04/06/roxy-raffle/

South of the North
Jonny at South of the North is having an Easter Egg hunt in the DC area for free skate shoes from Vans, Nike SB and DC. Who doesn’t like free skate shoes? Plus he’s having a Twitter-based contest for those of you not in the DC area. http://www.twitter.com/southofthenorth

Sierra Snowboard x Mountain Dew
Mega-online snowboard store, Sierra Snowboard and Mountain Dew’s new flavor, Voltage are offering a free snowboard and a bunch of schwag to the best video that displays “Snowboard Virgins” explaining different snowboard slang. Oh and I’m helping spread the word. If you mention 5ones.com in your entry, you’ll also be in the running for a free Analog sample jacket. Shameless plug – check.

Mt Snow
Local East Coast hill and home of the Winter Dew Tour, Mt Snow, is offering a free season’s pass for next season if you find the Golden Egg hidden on the hill this weekend for Easter.

If I missed any, please feel free to add them in the comments section. Happy Spring time shredding and good luck winning some free sick gear.

Posted in Snow | 4 Comments »

Torah Bright Interview

Monday, March 30th, 2009

With an amazing win at the 2009 U.S. Open pipe finals and a previous first place at the ‘09 X-games, Torah Bright confirmed that she is the one to watch (if you didn’t know) in the Superpipe for the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. Torah also won Amp Energy Best Trick award for a sweet lil switch backside 720. As a little history factoid, Torah now ties Kelly Clark for most pipe wins at the Open. Torah talks reverse camber tech, her sister as a role model and more in our pre-Roxy Chicken Jam interview.

torah bright

Leading off, what’s the U.S. Open mean to you?

The US Open is one of the most prestigious events in snowboarding. It has been around from the beginning and is still going. It is just so special to be a part of and carry on the tradition in snowboarding.

As a quick follow-up, what’s your favorite Open moment?

Not sure which one or what has been my favorite moment(s). But the two years that I took out the Global Open series were pretty good!

Looking back, what were the 06 Olympics like? Representing Australia? Your sister was in the 2002 Olympics for skiing. Did she give you any tips?

Representing Australia in the 06 Olympics was amazing! The only tip my sister gave me was to “have fun”… And I did.

Coming up, you must have had a role model. Is there anybody snowboarding today or in the past who you look up to?

I have always admired my sister Rowena (Olympic skier for Australia), in every aspect of her life, from her career to the way she lives her life.

Ok let’s talk gear now. What’s your current set-up, waist width and angles on your board?

I ride the Roxy Bright Edition, Eminence Board 149. I am goofy, and I ride – front foot: 18” and back foot: -9” stance width is 21 inch.

I know that you helped design your own line of Roxy gear including your snowboard. One of the hottest trends in snowboarding right now is reverse camber technology. Tell me your thoughts: Real deal or cheating?

Nothing is cheating, these technologies just enhance the how much fun you can have on the mountain! I love to ride the BTX on every sort of terrain!

Roxy is well known for its surf products. As a perk, do you get to do a lot of surfing and traveling with other Roxy athletes like Kjersti Buass, Sarah Burke or Sophia Mulanovich?

I get to see Kjersti and Sarah quite a bit. Sophia not so much, although I would love to go to more tropical destinations with them and do some surfing! (writer’s note: looks like Roxy needs to send these girls surfing.)

If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you be and who would you be with?

I would be soaking in some sun on some tropical island with my family, boyfriend and friends!!

In regards to travel, how do you like to travel? Any special requirements?

I just require a teleporter!

You must have a lot of gear to schlep around. Any travel tips?

Pack as little as you can!

So picture this. It’s right before the big contest. Any pre-competition rituals?

No rituals or superstitions of any kind.

I’m sure everyone wonders this: how do you psych yourself up to keep trying new tricks after taking a big slam like the one Elena Hight took (Good vibes to her)?

It all part of the games, taking the slams. And taking those knocks while you are learning new things too. I think what makes me keep trying new things is just wanting to be the best I can be.

How has the recent economic downturn affected you? Contest changes, sponsorships being cancelled for sick new riders, things that you watch out or are worried about?

Companies are all suffering from the economic state right now. But everyone seems to be managing. Budgets are tighter right now, but that is not necessarily a bad thing either, less wasted money in the world.

What is the biggest thing you miss about Australia when you’re traveling? Take-away fish and chips? Rugby?

Tim tams and meat pies, but mostly just everything about Australia!

OK. It’s word association time. Tell us the first thing that comes to mind.

Europe – Cheese
Chicken – Jam
Powder – Fun
Vermont – Cold
Pipe – Super
Skateboard – Hard
Facebook – Silly
Kjersti – Buaas
Bright – not so

Posted in Snow | 1 Comment »

Why do People Need a Cause for Helmets

Saturday, March 28th, 2009

helmetsIt’s funny how when something bad happens to a celebrity, suddenly everyone is rallying for some cause or another. These are the same people that are oblivious to the same bad things happening day in and day out. Perhaps it’s part of the celebrity obsessed society that we live in, or perhaps its like an Ostrich with its head in the sand, if we can’t see it then it doesn’t exist.

Nearly ten years have passed since the deaths of Sonny Bono and Michael Kennedy. In that time, people have forgotten or moved on from the idea that helmets need to be mandatory at ski resorts. A subject that has been left to the theory that it’s one’s personal choice. Now once again with a famous celebrity dying from a head injury on a ski slope, more people are fired up about this topic.

At any ski resort in North America there is a disclaimer that states something to the effect that skiing and snowboarding are inherently dangerous sports and you could die from them. It is a risk that anyone that touches the slopes takes. Why is it suddenly a huge ordeal with a celebrity’s death? People have died for decades doing snow sports, it isn’t anything new by any means. Granted, now people have a face to associate to an accident that resulted in a death.

Do helmets save lives? They can definitely reduce the risk of serious injury or death. But what people are failing to realize is that with something like Natasha Richardson’s death, is that a helmet doesn’t always make the difference. She was the one that turned medical help away for whatever reason. This is where good common sense should have come into play. Maybe the helmet would have saved her, maybe it wouldn’t. Who are we to say different?

A helmet will never replace good common sense which is something that needs to be used when on the slopes. Rallying to have it become a mandatory piece of ski apparel will only go so far. At the end of the day if more people are cognizant of their surroundings perhaps less injuries will occur.

Posted in Snow | 2 Comments »

Interview with Pro Skier Luke Van Valin

Saturday, March 28th, 2009

At the early age of four, Luke Van Valin clicked into his first pair of skis and everything after that is history. Luke has his hand in many aspects of the skiing community, whether it is throwing down in the park or grabbing the mic and taking on the announcers booth. From filming, to competitions, to magazines, Luke has done it all. Recently he sat down and answered a few questions for the 5’s team.

luke van valin

Luke, what have you been up to this winter and what are your future plans?

This winter I moved out to Dillon, Colorado to live with Pete Olenick, Colby West, Tim Russell, and Simon Dumont for a little change of scenery. So far it’s been quite nice. I spend my weekdays shredding keystone and Breck and I feel that I have my feet back underneath me in the park again. On the weekends, if there is a comp, I usually hop on the microphone for some on-sight or NBC announcing followed by some righteous celebrations. So far with the Dew Tour and everything else, it has been a really fun year and I’m going to Aspen today to get ready for a huge weekend of Winter-X. I’m quite excited.

I don’t really have any future plans, I just want to keep skiing and make occupational choices based on whatever pops up.

When did you start skiing seriously?

I started getting good at skiing about my junior or senior year of high school and after that when I moved to Tahoe and eventually Mammoth, but I wouldn’t say I was ever really too serious. My personality doesn’t do too well when I try to make something fun into something serious.

The ski industry is growing so fast and there are so many up and comers. Who are your idols in skiing right now?

I would say that I Idolize the skiing of Candide Thovex particularly. I have a lot of respect for TJ Schiller’s skiing as well as Simon Dumont’s and T Hall’s. But Candide is like a different animal.

Skiing has changed so much in the past 10 years, where do you think skiing is headed, do you think the progression will slow?

I don’t really know. I can’t possibly imagine that a time could come where an average Joe could see some skier at Mammoth dump a backflip off of top of the world, or witness a kid in the park carve into a floaty switch misty 1080 and not be truly amazed and inspired. To me, that’s what this is all about. It’s not a business or an unsatisfied thirst for something new, it’s skiing. It’s all new.

You have any shout outs you want to give?

Sure, my folks for sure. God for making me able to do all of this and opening the doors. My brothers Tim and Nate. The hometown Crew, My GF Caitlyn, Mr. Chris Eachon for stomping a 3 before me and giving me some hunger, Matt Sterbenz at 4FRNT skis, Josh loubek, Cody Lynge at Orage, GT and Brian Harris at VZ, Jenny Naftalin, Empire, Jimbo Morgan at Skull Candy, TJ, Bibby, Simon, Sammy, Peter, Mikey, T, Candide, Jon Olsson, Timmy, Craig, Stefan, Liam, and all the boys who have inspired me over the years.

This interview was conducted by long-time reader and loyal friend, Mr. Cade Adams, aka The Goat.

Posted in Snow | No Comments »

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