First Winter Back by ccagin
Ski Blog
Feb 05, 2010 | 1901 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

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CARLOS' SKI BLOG
Telluride at its Best
by ccagin
Apr 08, 2010 | 4012 views | 0 0 comments | 32 32 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

Just over a week ago now, I wrote a post about the day of freeskiing that Jesse and I spent in Squaw Valley. And while the skiing was a pleasant surprise, and the High Camp hot tub party sounded like a good time, it was still California, and let’s just say that after a week of skiing back in T-ride capped off with a sweet End-of-Season celebration at Hoot’s Hut, it was good to be home. 

And what a great season it was to celebrate. As I mentioned in my first blog post of the winter, this has been my first full winter back in Telluride since my freshman year of high school, and it definitely did not disappoint. There are never enough powder days, but we had a few good ones, even though I missed the apparently epic, two-foot dump a couple weeks back.

To me, the annual but unofficial gathering at Hoot’s Hut perfectly demonstrates what makes Telluride such a great ski community; it really is a community. The Hot Tub party at Squaw had a couple of weak MCs, a bar serving drinks that I was scared to even ask the price of, and a heated pool and hot tub. Sweet.

But Telluride has something so much more organic. I talked to a few of the guys who apparently started the celebration six or seven years back with nothing more than a six-pack (I’m guessing of PBR), and have watched and helped it grow in the time since. In the few days leading up to the last day of the season, they lugged BOBs (boxes of beer, bags of burgers (and hot dogs and brats), and bags of buns) all the way up to Hoot’s Hut, so huge kudos and thanks to them. And from there, they grilled those burgers, brats and hot dogs, and tossed those PBRs among the crowd, all for nothing more than the tips we left and the enjoyment of hosting a group of good people having a good time.

That’s just a phenomenal thing guys, by far the highlight of a season with many highlights for me.

It was also cool to watch a group of talented skiers (and a boarder) each try to one up the last, seshin’ a pretty sweet cliff-drop off to skier’s right and to cheers and support from the crowd below.

I unfortunately missed Nick Kenworthy’s drop, which as far as I know at least, kicked off the sesh. But I did catch Kolby Ward’s Rodeo 7, and later, whoever that snowboarder was who floated that huge back flip. It was cool to see the party feed the skiers/boarder and vice versa, and really, I think that kind of dynamic lies at the heart of any great ski community.

One dilemma I’m facing in this blog post is that I think part of what made the Hoot’s Hut party so cool was that it is still kind of underground, and I’m not sure I should be the one to blow the lid. Now I am fully aware that not too many people read this blog anyway, but I would love some feedback as far as how much I should write and reveal. I’ve intentionally left the location at least somewhat unclear with the hopes that only people truly who belong will be able to find it next year with the clues I’ve given. But I do want to put a short video up, which I’m sure will give more away. So if you like or dislike that idea, or have any other feelings on how much I should tell about it, please feel free to leave a comment and/or drop me an email at ccagin@watchnewspapers.com. If I don’t hear feedback either way, I’ll just put up a short video that I think strikes a fair balance.

I left Telluride for Chamonix with my parents on Tuesday. We arrived yesterday afternoon, and what a beautiful place. Speaking of great ski communities, this is one of the first and greatest in the world. I’ll do my best to keep blogging regularly over the course of our 10-day trip so keep an eye out for those.

Happy off-seasons. 



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TSSC UPDATE
Discoe Takes Second in Duals (WITH VIDEO)
by ccagin
Mar 28, 2010 | 3842 views | 0 0 comments | 36 36 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
Telluride teammates Wade Parkinson (close) and Zak Watkins (far) square off during their dual in the first round of Sunday's competition.
Telluride teammates Wade Parkinson (close) and Zak Watkins (far) square off during their dual in the first round of Sunday's competition.
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Joe Discoe (close) and Zak Watkins (far) launch the top air during their dual in the round of four.
Joe Discoe (close) and Zak Watkins (far) launch the top air during their dual in the round of four.
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Discoe and Watkins skied turn for turn into the bottom air. Watkins was first across the line, but Discoe came away with the win and went on to take 2nd in the event.
Discoe and Watkins skied turn for turn into the bottom air. Watkins was first across the line, but Discoe came away with the win and went on to take 2nd in the event.
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SQUAW VALLEY - After becoming the 2010 national champion in singles moguls on Friday, Telluride Freestyle alum Joe Discoe missed the sweep by a single point today, taking 2nd overall in duals after losing the championship dual to fellow U.S. Team member Jeremy Cota 18-17.

Discoe earned the top seed coming into duals after qualifying 1st overall with a score of 25.10 earlier in the morning.

Telluride Freestyle Team members Wade Parkinson and Zak Watkins also made finals, qualifying 4th and 13th with scores of 23.88 and 22.59, respectively. Their seeds meant they were paired against each other in the first round, which Watkins won to advance, while Parkinson finished in 9th. Watkins, who went on to lose to Discoe in a tight dual in the round of four, then lost to another U.S. Team member, David DiGravio, to finish 4th overall. 

On the women's side, Lindsey Cannon was the only Tellurider to advance to the finals, qualifying 10th with a score of 22.38, but she lost her first dual to Alyssa Lawson. Cannon seemed to have had the dual one until she straight-aired her bottom bottom air, something she attributed to a simple brain fart. Cannon finished the day, as she did Friday, in 10th place overall. 

Keaton McCargo again fell coming out of her top air and finished 44th overall with a score of 14.34. Lane Stoltzner also fell on the top jump, and finished just behind McCargo in 45th with a score of 13.89. 

Luke Farny, who grew up skiing with the Telluride Freestyle Team before moving to Steamboat a few years ago, had another strong showing, but failed to make finals. He finished 24th overall with a score of 21.12. 

For complete results as well as videos of the final two duals on both the women's and men's side, visit urtur.com

Also, check out these videos of a few of the Telluride skiers' duals (sorry about the long title, skip ahead to 0:10 to start the video): 

2010 Freestyle Nationals - Duals from Watch Newspapers on Vimeo.



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CARLOS' SKI BLOG
An Afternoon of Springtime California Freeskiing
by ccagin
Mar 28, 2010 | 2935 views | 0 0 comments | 35 35 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

Growing up in Telluride I’ve grown accustomed to being unimpressed by other ski areas. In my days competing, traveling and skiing throughout Utah and Colorado, I’ve almost always been disappointed, with the exception of Snowbird (haven’t made it to Alta yet).

Squaw had been pretty well hyped to Jesse and me before getting here, with its panoramic lake views and inexhaustible open bowl faces. And when I asked Caleb where the best place to ski was, and he pointed in about ten different directions, I started getting some pretty high expectations.

After an afternoon of freeskiing here on Saturday, I feel that can safely add one more ski spot to my short list of non-disappointments.

The snow wasn’t great, a mix of springtime slush and slick, and despite all the open and even faces, I couldn’t find a steady bump line for the life of me (aside from the four on the bump course on Red Dog of course), but there is plenty to ski here, and from the looks of it, if you’re willing to hike, there’s some pretty easily accessible technical terrain as well.

I’ve never seen anything like Squaw. Right from the base you can look up into three different, open faces with lifts stretching up them: KT-22 (which tops out at 8,200 feet), Squaw Peak (8,900 feet) and Emigrant (8,700 feet). Even all that fails to mention the most impressive feature visible from the base, to looker’s right; a towering formation of cartoon-like cliffs that the High Camp Cable Car climbs directly over. Word around here is that people have even started pioneering lines down the tram face through tight little chokes between the technical cliff formations. Pretty impressive to think about as you glide hundreds of feet above them in the giant tram.

And once you reach the top of the tram, elevation 8,200 feet, which also boasts a swimming pool, hot tub and skating rink in true California style, there’s another towering face of Granite Chief which tops out at 9,050 feet, offering a total of 2,850 vertical feet back down to the base at 6,200 feet.

Jesse and I started our day with a ride up the Red Dog lift, which took us to the summit of Snow King, the smallest of the five peaks in total, elevation 7,550 feet. It was pretty fun skiing, a bit too much in the shade at that time of day, but good technical skiing that took us right back into the base.

We then gradually worked our way up the mountain and into more sunshine, starting with a few on KT-22, and a few more off the top of Squaw Peak. We ended the day with a ride up the tram to check out the freestyle pool party up at High Camp. It was a bit much for us, a palpable taste of California ski culture at its...finest.

In all it was a great day and enough to prove that there is skiing to be had in the U.S. outside of Telluride, but after hearing about the two feet of pow we missed over the weekend, I think I’m ready to come home. 



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TSSC UPDATE
Discoe Wins Nationals at Squaw (WITH VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS)
by ccagin
Mar 26, 2010 | 3614 views | 0 0 comments | 37 37 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
Joe Discoe (middle) poses in the finish area during the flowers ceremony after winning the moguls event at Nationals, in between fellow U.S. Team skiers Jeremy Cota (left) in 2nd, and Michael Morse (right) in 3rd.
Joe Discoe (middle) poses in the finish area during the flowers ceremony after winning the moguls event at Nationals, in between fellow U.S. Team skiers Jeremy Cota (left) in 2nd, and Michael Morse (right) in 3rd.
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SQUAW VALLEY, Calif. - Telluride Freestyle Team product Joe Discoe won U.S. Nationals today at Squaw Valley, beating out fellow U.S. Team mates Jeremy Cota in 2nd and Michael Morse, who competed at this year's Olympics, in 3rd.

The win just about wraps up Discoe's recent torrid streak to close out the year. He finished a career-best 11th overall at the final World Cup event of the season in Sierra Nevada, Spain last week. And before that he placed 14th in singles and 8th overall in duals at World Cup events in Are, Sweden.

Wade Parkinson charged out of the gate in finals after qualifying 16th, just making the cut. His second run held down the top spot through almost half of finals. He finished 6th overall. Zak Watkins qualified 15th, and had a ripping run going in finals before blowing out in the middle section. 

Lindsey Cannon qualified 10th and finished 10th after finals. Keaton McCargo stumbled out of the gate during her qualifying runs, and missed the cut in her first Nationals appearance. Lane Stoltzner also failed to make finals. 

The team will have a day of training tomorrow before duals on Sunday. Halfpipe and aerials go down tomorrow. 

 



WATCH these videos of the middle sections of the Telluride skiers' runs:

Nationals, Day One from Watch Newspapers on Vimeo.



Find complete results at urtur.com, including videos of the top 5 runs on both the men's and women's side.

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CARLOS' SKI BLOG
Off to Squaw
by ccagin
Mar 25, 2010 | 2792 views | 0 0 comments | 30 30 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

Jesse and I are flying out to Squaw Valley for the weekend for nationals. Telluriders Zak Watkins, Wade Parkinson, Lindsey Cannon and Keaton McCargo will all be competing at the event, as well as Lane Stoltzner (skiing for Steamboat, but always a Tellurider) and U.S. Team member Joe Discoe. 

For weeks now we've heard from everyone, from Mike and Debbie Stoltzner to Telluride Freestyle coaches Caleb Martin and Kris Pepe, how beautiful and fun nationals at Squaw is. We weren't planning on going at first, but at their insistence, an offer to stay with the team from Caleb, the encouragement of a free dinner with the Stoltzners, and round trip tickets out of Telluride for just $280, we decided it might be worth it. Keep an eye out for updates; moguls on Friday, halfpipe Saturday and duals Sunday, as well as a blog or two about skiing at Squaw.

Thanks to Caleb for putting us up with the team, we're really excited about that, and to everyone else for convincing us to make the trip. 

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CARLOS' SKI BLOG
Help Send Gus Kenworthy to the Jon Olsson Super Sessions Contest (WITH VIDEO)
by ccagin
Mar 02, 2010 | 4135 views | 0 0 comments | 50 50 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink
(Photo courtesy of Tristan Shu)
(Photo courtesy of Tristan Shu)
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Coming off three major wins in less than a week, Telluride professional freeskier Gus Kenworthy needs your help. Last year, pro freeskier Jon Olsson created the Jon Olsson Super Sessions (JOSS) film and photo contest in conjunction with Team Newschoolers. The contest allows teams of three competitors each (three pros and one rookie) to compete for three weeks in Are, Sweden. The teams are selected through an online vote. Entrants post their videos at newschoolers.com, and the top-rated videos are selected. Today is the last day of voting, and our very own, Mr. Kenworthy, is lagging a bit behind, and I'm not sure why or how. Check out his video entry here:

It's easy to vote: create a newschoolers account, go to Kenworthy's video entry and rate the video a 10. Good luck Gus, do it big for us in Switzerland. Kenworthy is if off to compete in the European Freeski Open in Laax, Switzerland from March 3-6.

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CARLOS' SKI BLOG
Doin' What You Love
by ccagin
Feb 23, 2010 | 2550 views | 3 3 comments | 53 53 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

Over a week ago now, I, along with Jesse Hope and my friend David Rabin, had the pleasure of meetin’ up with the Bump Club at the Corner House Grill to watch the Olympic women’s freestyle moguls event.

It was bittersweet. I couldn’t help but get nostalgic for my own Bump Club days, traveling with the team, joking together over meals, talking freestyle. It was hard because it made me realize what I left behind when I left Telluride for boarding school; the people, the camaraderie, but mostly the passion. It’s an invigorating and rare experience to be around a group of people who are all so passionate about the same thing.

It also reminded me just how small the freestyle world is. Caleb Martin and Kris Pepe, both Telluride freestyle coaches, cheered half-sarcastically whenever a U.S. Team coach, all of whom they knew, came on the screen. Joe Discoe, a Telluride freestyler turned U.S. Teamer, told us funny stories about each American skier. It made me feel like I was part of the event; brought me back into the freestyle world.

That was the sweet; the bitter is that not-so-deep-down I know that I left that world six years ago. I can only kind-of float through it now, and that’s sad to me. My time on the Telluride Freestyle Team was the best of my life, and now it’s long gone. I can kind-of reconnect, and the documentary has definitely helped with that, but it’s not the same. Being in the Corner House with my former coaches and teammates, Joe and Wade Parkinson, and new faces like Zak Watkins, and some of the younger guys and girls who have come up, Ryan Parkinson and Keaton McCargo, I envy them.

As I touched on in my first blog, I lost the passion my freshman year of high school, and I had to move on. To devote yourself to something like freestyle skiing, it has to be about the passion. You have to love every second, the training, the successes and the failures. You have to want it, but it has to be about the passion because there is so little room at the top.

The Olympics are a poignant reminder of just how little room there is; it is the fleeting culmination of all that passion and devotion for everyone involved in the sport. Four years of work and anticipation, and it’s over in an afternoon and night, aired between rounds of short track and luge. Each run is over in less than 30 seconds, botch the first and you won’t even get a second.

Most skiers will never make it. Even Caleb, ranked third in the world and first in the country at his peak, never skied in the games due to untimely injuries. Aside from tremendous skill, passion and hard work, it takes a bit of luck. You can’t devote your life to that kind of crapshoot unless you love it.In our interviews so far I’ve been struck by each person’s infectious love for skiing. From Caleb, to Joe and his brother Jimmy Discoe, both on the U.S. Team, and Wade Parkinson and Zak Watkins, both currently on the Telluride Freestyle Team hoping to earn spots on the U.S. Team next year.

So, if I’m being honest with myself, I can always wonder what if, dream of the path not taken, but I know it was the right decision to leave competitive skiing. It’s just not worth it if you’re not completely sure it’s what you want to be doing. And life has led me in a new direction to this documentary. I’ve found a way to reconnect with competitive freestyle skiing in a way that I’m truly passionate about. Because if you want to do something and do it well, you have to want to commit yourself entirely to it. You might as well love doing it. 

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deb kees
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February 25, 2010
nice post, Carlos. can you email me gus kenworthy's phone # or email so that i can interview him for a story? my email is debbiekees@gmail.com

(deb dion kees)

CARLOS' SKI BLOG
A Community Forum
by ccagin
Feb 12, 2010 | 3265 views | 0 0 comments | 53 53 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

First, I want to take this opportunity to thank all the readers we’ve had so far, especially those who have responded with comments. We really want Ski Watch to evolve into a forum to discuss the role of skiing in this community. Everyone in this town is connected to skiing in some way, and we are all united through that.

 

So please use this space to share your experiences and relationships with this mountain and community. Whether it’s just a quick paragraph responding to something someone else wrote, or a longer opinion piece on why you think the ski area should or should not expand into Bear Creek. For example, check out Jesse Hope's post this week about skier safety. Everyone can benefit from something you contribute. Enlighten the public discussion.

 

On that note, I would especially like to thank dylandb, who commented on my first blog post from last week.

 

Dylan wrote about his experience on the Bump Club from its inception in the 70s. It’s funny, because just last week Jesse and I were filming with Hugh Sawyer and his group of all-mountain rippers. I had always thought that Hughey and Will Wasson, the head coaches who I grew up with, had founded the Bump Club, only to learn from Hugh that the Bump Club was already up and running when he and Will moved to Telluride.

 

And that is an incredibly important aspect to our film about the Bump Club that we have not yet explored, but plan to with the remaining winter. I especially appreciated dylandb’s anecdote about competing in his first competition in 1979, when he was just 7 years old, and now watching his own 7-year-old son competing with Team Gravity, a leg of the Telluride Ski and Snowboard Club that is committed to introducing young skiers to a wide variety of skiing disciplines, including alpine racing, freestyle moguls and free riding. What a beautiful metaphor for the evolution of the Bump Club and skiing in general over the last 31 years.

 

Also, speaking of competition, I’m not sure if this is the same venue that dylandb made his competitive debut in ’79, but Telluride will host a Rocky Mountain Freestyle divisional event this weekend on the daunting Lower Plunge course. Singles moguls will take place throughout the day on Saturday and Sunday, and duals will take place Monday. The contest will feature a strong group of Telluride skiers, including Wade Parkinson, Zak Watkins and Lindsey Cannon who recently returned from a two-week trip out East on the North American Cup (NorAm) tour. There will be around 90 skiers from throughout Colorado at the event.

 

Head Coach Caleb Martin is looking for course volunteers for the competition on Monday; duties will vary, but run along the lines of chopping landings and helping set up the course. If you are interested in volunteering for one of these positions contact him at 970.708.3996 or freestyle@tssc.org. 


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CARLOS' SKI BLOG
First Winter Back
by ccagin
Feb 05, 2010 | 4015 views | 5 5 comments | 41 41 recommendations | email to a friend | print | permalink

This will be my first full winter back in Telluride since my freshman year of high school six years ago. For someone who spent his childhood on the ski area, that’s pretty crazy to think about.



As I think is true for most people who have lived and grown up in Telluride, skiing has defined who I am, and the Bump Club lies at the heart of that. The decision to leave Telluride and competitive bump skiing was the most difficult and defining choice of my life.

My last full winter in Telluride, I decided that either I’d finally hit my breakthrough, and gain some ground on the unsurpassable Jimmy Discoe, or I’d go to boarding school. It was by far the most frustrating winter I’ve ever spent on skis. My priorities were off; I was no longer skiing for the love of skiing and it was time to move on.



So I left for Exeter. I went from skiing six days a week, to six days a year. Coming home for Christmas and Spring break, it was a struggle to force myself up onto the mountain. I didn’t know how to free ski. I tried to ski the same lines that I spent my childhood training and got frustrated when I couldn’t hang in them. I insisted on keeping my 180cm Volkl Dragonslayer competition mogul skis (66mm underfoot), even though my feet would ache unbearably after three runs. I occasionally saw my former teammates and coaches ripping through the Mammoth gully, embarrassed at my own regression and wowed by their improvement.



But it came with time. In ’07-’08 I moved on to NYU, I moved on to a pair of Volkl Mantras (96mm underfoot), and with both of those things came a fresh perspective on skiing. It didn’t hurt that we got pounded with snow throughout the month I was home for Christmas break that year. There’s nothing quite like the healing power of powder.  

That also happened to be the year that I decided I wanted to make a documentary. And there are many layers to that. Probably above all others, I realized that I wanted to have another full winter at home to ski. Initially, my plan was just to make a traditional ski porn movie with my friends.



But I thought more and more about my time with the Bump Club. I realized that more than shaping me as a skier, the Bump Club shaped me into the person I am today. I thought again about my former teammates and coaches. We’ve all gone in different directions. The Discoe brothers have moved on to the U.S. Team and are breaking in to the World Cup circuit. Wade Parkinson has managed to stick with competing while studying engineering at CU-Boulder. Gus Kenworthy moved out of the bumps and is now traveling around the world competing in slopestyle and halfpipe events, and shooting segments in some major ski movies for Rage Films (or at least he will be again once that collar bone heals up). Lane Stoltzner started studying at Colorado College this year, and is now competing with the Steamboat team. Lindsey Cannon has stuck it out in Telluride, and is still competing this winter. Page McCargo has put her ski career on hold as she wraps up her studies at Colorado College.



Then there’s Jesse Hope and me. We both gave up competing in high school, but the Bump Club has stayed with us, and now we’re all reconnecting again through this film project. At the most base level, our common link is the Bump Club.



And now there’s a new generation. Zak Watkins moved to Telluride from Durango five years ago, and has emerged as one of the top skiers in the Rocky Mountain division. Keaton McCargo, Page’s younger sister, is breaking out this year as one of the best skiers in Rocky Mountain on the women’s side, earning her first overall victory this past weekend in Breckenridge. Along with Nicki Jones, Ryan Parkinson (Wade’s younger brother), Bridger Johnson, Benni Solomon, Zach Nunn, and Kealey Zaumseil, there looks to be a strong core of Telluride freestylers for the years ahead.



Telluride has produced several generations now of elite freestyle skiers. From Will Wasson and Hugh and Andy Sawyer pioneering the unique cross-trough, Telluride brand of skiing, to Caleb Martin, Harold Ehnbom and Justine Van Houte, all of whom competed on the World Cup circuit and narrowly missed making the Olympics. And now the torch has been passed to our generation. The Discoes are making their mark on the World Cup circuit as some of the youngest male skiers competing, and with some of the prettiest turns. Zak, Wade, Lane and Lindsey are all competing on the North American Cup (NorAm) circuit this winter, with hopes of earning U.S. Team spots for next year.



And Jesse and I are hoping to make a new kind of ski documentary, by exploring the role of the Bump Club in shaping generations of elite skiers. While most ski movies search out pristine powder pockets in the backcountry, we’re shooting most of our footage right on the ski area. This is bigger than the Bump Club; it’s about this mountain and community. We’ll do our best to post regular blogs and videos documenting the progress of the documentary, and we would love feedback from anyone and everyone.

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anonymous
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February 12, 2010
that was absolutely beautiful.