The failure of the world to explode in cataclysmic fireballs on the end of the Mayan calendar means those New Year resolutions you didn’t bother with suddenly demand a little attention. (It’s not too late!) Today, I told the Liftopia community that any Self Improvement journey should begin with a promise to go skiing. With a group of girls.
For all those she-skiers willing to take up the challenge, here’s the one piece of wisdom I developed after coaching the Roxy Women’s Clinics for a couple of years – all it takes is one simple trick to Ski Like A Man (and it doesn’t involve cojones implants.)
Evolutionary biologists say that women are trained by 10,000 years of vulnerability to saber tooth tigers and cumbersome babies, to avoid risk. Men, to protect aggressively. At the top of a double-black diamond ski run, therefore, the female will go around, and the fella will bash, flail and roar his way down.
Further, the male of a species must out-compete his fellows, in order to attract a willing and receptive mate. Hence, at the top of a double-black diamond run, the male will suddenly be driven by his limbic brain to strut, puff, prance, and throat-call, completely blind to the fact that the once receptive mate is cursing his name to the heavens.
But I do not want women skiers and riders of the world to be dictated to by Neanderthal prehistory. I want us embrace our opposable thumbs, linguistic superiority, and the way our ancestors out-witted the wild.
Do not ski around! Do not curse your beloved!
In the spirit of reportage that has seen journalists don fatsuits, change their race with make-up or go undercover as the working poor, to see how different the world is from inside a different body, I donned a mansuit and a moustache for the day.
I discovered that:
- I could park.
- I knew exactly where on the mountain I was, even when I had no landmarks or signs.
- I didn’t apologise to anyone who bumped into me or nearly cut me off.
- I took a warm up run in steep trees.
- I gave my girlfriend some tips on how to improve her technique, which basically involved, getting forward, being more aggressive, and generally “givin’ er”.
But seriously, the bottom line is that skiing like a man means one simple trick. No facial hair required. It’s just a question of managing your risk strategy.
Step 1: Determine the given risks on any run – the rock, the cliff band, the cornice, the landing, the run-out.
Step 2: Assess whether your combination of skill (with or without the added edge of bravado), makes this fundamentally do-able.
Step 3: If YES to step 2, commit. Risk analysis phase is over. ‘Assessment of risk’ button must be switched to “idle”. Not to be revisited until the run has been completed. Definitely not to be re-engaged halfway down the run, or just before the technical bit.
These are 3 distinct phases that must be kept separate. No bleed is permissible. That’s what the mo’s know. So here’s to Lucy, and her innate wisdom that keeps us alive on a daily basis. And here’s to being able to switch into override when there’s fun to be had on the hill.
Now, go skiing.
UPDATE Jan 17, Robin O’Neill’s winning show:
On timing. (In which we argue that Deep Winter 2012 was a display of both exquisitely good and bad timing.)
Deep Winter Photo Challenge returned last night, the cultural highlight of the New Year.
It couldn’t have come at a better time, socially. We’ve recovered from the onslaught of Christmas parties, we’ve shaken off the New Year hangover, we’ve officially ditched the resolutions to be better people, to get drunk less.
It could have come at a better time, snowcially. Like now… with flurries forecast all week, 10-20cm expected on Thursday and 40-90cm expected by the middle of next week. It might have been the most un-deep winter week ever. But Robin O’Neill was too tired to even contemplate the hypothetical offer on the table, to go back in time and reschedule for a different weather window, when compere Feet Banks offered to play Wizard.
Feet: “Would you rather we push back the event to next week so you can get all that snow in the forecast?”
Robin: “No. Too. Tired.”
On microphone management. (In which we argue that Feet Banks is the host-with-the-most, and we hope he went home with an Arc’teryx jacket for keepsies.)
My vote for best performance of the night goes to Feet Banks, emcee extraordinaire, for his sartorial class (vest and bow tie, quite the wardrobe upgrade since he debuted as host of the 72 Hour Filmmaker Showdown in his skivvies), his microphone management and commitment to keeping the show moving (“we’re just going to give you a second to all get off the stage and then we’ll roll tape”), his willingness to go woo-woo for a minute so we could send some white light to Sarah Burke and Rory Bushfield, and his quicker-than-a-40-year-old-virgin’s-orgasm wit. (“Did you bring the short guy into the mix so the snow would look deeper?”)
(Give the dude an Arc’teryx jacket. It’s hard to throw love all night to the sponsors, and not get any warm fuzzy affection back. I’ve got an idea, Feet. Ask Robin for a jacket. I think she might have a few extra…)
On being bold. (In which we commend the photographers for having the cajones to enter the Deep Winter challenge and for inspiring and entertaining us.)
The stakes of this contest seem to have gotten so high that more established photographers are demurring the invitation to compete. All the more reason to give a shout-out to the six photographers who took up the challenge: Reuben Krabbe, Steve Lloyd, Mark Gribbon, Mason Mashon, Jussi Grznar and Robin O’Neill.
As Vince Shuley tweeted: “way to make hard snow look good.”
Their shows did not disappoint, although the line-up of fresh faces did come with a less intense, angsty vibe than last year‘s Deep Winter Photo Challenge, when Robin O’Neill stepped up for mountain women everywhere, competing alongside Blake Jorgenson, Ilja Herb, John Scarth, Tim Zimmerman and Andrew Strain.
Child prodigy, Reuben Krabbe, who has his sights set on breaking Jordan Manley’s “youngest photographer ever to win the Pro Photographer Showdown”, made an impressive debut, (ultimately coming in 3rd AND taking Best Photo) with an action-packed show jammed with “banger shots” captured with the help of Dan and Dave Treadway.
Utah native Steve Lloyd brought the fresh eyes of an outsider to the game – reminding us not to overlook the everyday beauty of the Canadian flags lined up at the top of Whistler gondy. Mark Gribbon brought the snowboarders into play. Mason Mashon (who proves his version of “lifestyle” means not taking your ADHD meds: “okay, we rode bikes to the hill, we’ve been skiing all day, who wants to go skate on the frozen pond?”) landed a shot of rime-encrusted bikes in the back of a pick-up truck that might be the Best Most Unlikely Cover for Bike Magazine.
Jussi Grznar put together an emotive show that started in bed and came full-circle for a 2nd place finish… And what says “and they all lived happily ever after” more powerfully than a guy and girl spooning in bed, with the dog booted to its rightful place on the floor.
But Robin O’Neill’s storytelling about Lifers was the most powerful. With stark portraiture, a few recurring motifs (back-to-back shots that pulled from shallow focus to long focus to tell instantaneous stories about movement and perspective, and triptychs that would fall away to reveal one full frame), and a confident delivery, O’Neill ((#robinneedstwitter) follows her Deep Summer win, deserving her title as All-Season Queen of the Lens.
On the Zeitgeist. (In which we try and read the tea-leaves.)
This year, there seemed to be more love in the air. (Is this a Zeitgeist thing?) There was more ice-skating than Deep Winter has ever seen. We also saw a preoccupation with injury, with the physical and emotional toll that a dedication to the mountains can exact. We saw bigger vistas, that only a stormless Deep Winter week can offer. We saw athletes working incredibly hard and bagging some stellar action shots. And we saw that what makes a photographer a cut above is more than technical proficiency and an eye for a well-composed shot, but the ability to create a mood, even without the moodiness of a storm.
On hard work. (In which we note the concentration of talented passionate hard-working people who make this place, as they say over at WIA, awesome.)
So here’s to hard-working mountain-loving people of Deep Winter. To the marketing and PR peeps at Whistler Blackcomb who work their asses off to come up with fresh and creative ways to engage people with the WB community, to bring people here, to represent this place as authentically as possible. To the athletes who, judging from the recurrence of images shot at the physiotherapist, are pushing themselves to the very edge. To the photographers who are brave enough to step up and showcase their work. (In a 72 hour time frame, the deadline bears down on you so hard, you don’t have time to think, to censor yourself, to second guess. Your naked work is up on the big screen.) So kudos to you all. Thanks for a great night.
Spent Monday night chasing the light, working with photographer Robin O’Neill, to capture the second “story” for a campaign for the Pemberton & District Economic Development Commission. This shot of our kick-ass local models was eliminated from the final cut, mostly because of the vertical orientation, but it sure fit the branding requirements of showcasing Pemberton’s “natural beauty.”
Verbal snapshot of One Mile Lake at 6pm on a Saturday: a 6 year old boy casts for fish beside his dad off the floating dock. Half a dozen kayakers paddle across the lake. Dog-walkers enjoy the new boardwalk. A family gathers around a fire in the great metal fire-pit. Someone sits in meditation as the light over the mountains shifts and softens.
The goal is to spread the word that Pemberton is a place worth investing your time, your money or your enterprise.
One of the community’s most outstanding assets is its social capital. It’s a hot-bed of creative, enterprising, fascinating folk. Home-based studios and cottage industries are producing some niche, but highly acclaimed products. A good number of these creative enterprising people just happen, simultaneously, to be ridiculously good-looking. So, we didn’t have too look too far for models to infuse the campaign with genuineness and local character.
While the kids stole our hearts during the shoot, the silent star of the session was Andy Lambrecht’s hand-crafted custom stand-up paddleboard.
A surfer and a wood-worker, Andy has brought his passions into alignment in a way that also serves his values – to tread lightly, to do no harm, to liberate the inherent value in material things by not casting away what is still valuable, to have, as William Morris famously proclaimed, nothing in life that is not both both beautiful and useful.
All Andy’s hollow wood surfboards are built with reclaimed wood.
Andy built a custom board for Norm Hann, who is paddling an epic 300km stand-up paddle journey in the Great Bear Rainforest to protect the region from a proposed oil pipeline. With BP still spewing 40,000+ barrels of oil a day into the ocean, the potential risk of running pipelines and supertankers into pristine environments is apparent to everyone.
I took a cruise once. I needed to interview the ship’s doctor for a travel article I was writing for a lifestyle magazine for physicians. He dodged me. He demurred. He point-blank refused.
I persisted. For days. I thought about feigning illness. Or poisoning my mother. But eventually, I prevailed upon him to speak to me, sans recorder, off the record, deep background.
And the stories he told, as if he’d been waiting, all this time, for someone to pull the stopper out of his mouth… Stories of staff members falling overboard, of dead bodies stored in the freezer until the boat got back to port, of family members who would check their elderly ailing parents onto back-to-back cruises as a sort of subsidised assisted living.
Of course, they didn’t make the article.
As Porter Fox, a writer who has contributed to The New York Times magazine and Salon, laments, real narrative is disappearing from travel journalism, replaced with top ten lists and spa service beta.
So, Fox is dishing up an alternative. Nowhere magazine is about getting lost, about disappearing and discovering a real sense of place – places as uncensored as the anonymous co-pilot who reveals just what pilots and flight attendants get up to with all that duty free liquor.
Places like my favourite little patch of nowhere, Pemberton BC… which our feisty mayor defends in this month’s British Columbia magazine. The highway doesn’t end in Whistler, he pronounces. Whistler is tinsel. In Pemberton, the adventure really begins.
When Bob and Sue Adams were told they were the 2009 Lifetime Members of the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers, they had to take each other’s pulses. “Life membership?” they joked. “Are we that old?” “I guess it’s the end of the road…”
I sat down with them this summer for a hilarious tag-team conversation, which served as the basis of a profile about them for Grocer Today magazine.
1. At the end of the day, (once you’ve learned the acronyms) any business is about people. “A good grocery store in a small community can be the cornerstone of the community, and we knew that’s what we wanted to be,” they recounted, of the opportunity to open the Pemberton Valley Grocery Store, otherwise known in P-ton as ‘where the beautiful people shop.’ Partners Mark and Carolyne Blundell say of the Adamses: “Selling groceries is not the hardest thing to do. The hard thing is managing people. For Bob and Sue, people are never just a number.”
2. Give your staff the freedom to grow and they will flourish. For Tanya Ewasiuk Goertzen (who is running in the torch relay next week), the manager for the Adamses’ Upper Village Market, that meant selling her the business when she felt she could go no further as an employee. “They just want to see everyone succeed,” said Ewasiuk Goertzen.
3. When you get to the top, make sure you keep sending the elevator back down. “We’ve been very successful because of the resort and the local community,” said Sue, “and I think we have a corporate responsibility to give back.” The couple have contributed to too many community causes to count.
4. Being small means being flexible and able to experiment. “That is why independents get into business in the first place,” said Bob. “To be independent. And creative. And enterprising.”
5. Think partnerships. You can achieve more, and don’t have to do everything yourself. And have the confidence to ask dumb questions. “I’ve never had trouble asking people for help,” said Sue. “And offering to help other people. It’s all a people business.”