Saturday, December 17, 2011

Holidays at Colorado Resorts

No matter which resort you visit during the holidays, each one will be aglow with lights and festive decor, guaranteeing a sparkly and white Christmas. Santa sightings, fireworks displays and torchlight parades have been annual holiday events for years. Besides these and other special activities going on in December, here are some you may not know about. Visit websites for lodging deals. Photo: Crested Butte Mountain Resort celebrates New Year's Eve with a torchlight parade and fireworks. 
Dusty Demerson, courtesy of Crested Butte Mountain Resort.

Aspen/Snowmass—Among many holiday-themed events, the renowned Aspen Santa Fe Ballet performs The Nutcracker on the 17th and 18th at the Aspen District Theatre in Aspen. Over at Snowmass, you can drop last minute letters to Santa in his personal mailbox on the Snowmass Village Mall Dec. 6-24. 800-679-3147;

Beaver Creek—A new tradition starts this season with Beaver Creek Loves Kids Winterfest on the 18th through Jan. 1. Interactive family activities and events will include a kids Winter Wonder Parade, disco skate nights, figure skating performances, and Animals of Winter Ice Menagerie. 800-953-0844;

Breckenridge—If you have a Santa suit and can run, join other jolly old fellows in a race down Main Street to benefit Adopt an Angel prior to the Lighting of Breckenridge that kicks off the town’s Victorian Christmas on Dec. 3.

If making snow forts is your forte, you should enter The Snowflake Challenge—a holiday snow sculpting competition for amateurs. Not to be confused with the Snow Sculpture Championships held at the end of January, this one runs from Dec. 9-16, with the snow art decorating downtown through Christmas.  800-251-2417;

Keystone—Every year Keystone’s Pastry Chef Ned Archibald adds a new feature to his Chocolate Village, the resort’s most popular holiday tradition at the Keystone Lodge & Spa. The amazing alpine village includes a moving gondola, a waterfall and a six-foot tall Christmas tree with presents—all made from 2,500 pounds of chocolate! It will be displayed from the 15th through Jan. 3. 877-204-7889;

Steamboat—Downtown’s main street closes down between 5 and 8 p.m. on the 10th to make strolling easy for The Joyous Jaunt, a tour of stores’ open houses and sampling of seasonal libations at pubs and restaurants. A light parade with entertainment, including a Fruit Cake toss, kicks off holiday cheer. 800-922-2722;

VailFamily Holidaze returns after a successful debut last season. From the 18th through Christmas Day, carolers and concerts will entertain, plus look for holiday giveaways, Santa’s workshop and lots more. On the 21st, 22nd and 23rd, champion skaters like two-time world silver medalist Patrick Chan will perform in Winter Solstice on Ice at Solaris Ice Rink outdoors in the heart of Vail Village. 800-805-2457;

Winter Park—Ski with Santa and make a memory your kids will never forget. The jolly old man will be around to take a run with kids every day during the week before Christmas. On Christmas Eve he’ll hand out presents to the little ones after skiing down in the torchlight parade. 303-316-1564;
Photo: Courtesy of Winter Park Resort

Monday, October 10, 2011

First for Colorado's ski season: Wolf Creek Ski Area

An early October snowfall allowed Wolf Creek Ski Area in southern Colorado to be the first in the state to open for the 2011-12 ski season. Typically the ski area that gets the most snow, Wolf Creek never has been among the first to open. It's earliest opening was Oct. 27, 2006. But now it has set a record, opening on Oct. 8 with a 35-inch snow depth at the summit. It will stay open through Columbus Day, then re-open for the weekend of the 15th and 16th. Conditions will likely dictate if it will stay open for the rest of the month.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Kim Kircher: The Next Fifteen Minutes—Strength from the Top of the Mountain

Kim Kircher's risky duties as a member of the ski patrol at Crystal Mountain in Washington would challenge any woman . . . or man. They are nothing compared to the challenges she faced when her husband John, the owner of Crystal, was near death's door from a congenital liver condition called primary schlerosing cholangitis.

In The Next Fifteen Minutes—Strength from the Top of the Mountain, Kim details her and John's ordeal in an intensely personal story. She compares how she dealt with the surprises and sadness of his illness with how she faced the dangers of her job on the mountain, complicated by her own disease of diabetes.

"Each visit to the clinic, every time a nurse drew blood in search of infection, every time Dr. Gores entered the room with a dour look on his face. . .I would turn toward the terrible thing and face it," she writes.

Recovering dead bodies, throwing bombs into avalanches, cutting through deep new snow on avalanche-prone terrain, suffering insulin shock—none of this was as difficult as watching her husband's battle with life.

"At least I could hold John's had, knowing that soon it may lose its warmth. I could mourn each passing heartbeat right alongside him, worrying over the countdown. At least I could fight with him, helping him gather strength, and if the end came, I would face it with him. I would, at least, have a chance to say goodbye."

Any woman or man who has nurtured a loved one through illness, anyone with diabetes, or anyone who loves skiing will devour this book. The gripping narrative goes from hospital room to the mountain and back, each memory told "in the next fifteen minutes."

Kim's book was just released by Behler Publications. It's a paperback, selling for $15.95. I highly recommend it. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

Battle of the Skiing Sexes

Ski hills are the perfect place to test compatibility, maybe better than online dating. Take a run together (athleticism), ride the chair (personality), eat lunch (coolness and cash). But those same hills can also test patience, can even lead to outright gender warfare.

A few years ago, I wrote this "He Says/She Says" piece with my colleague and ski pal John Naye from Seattle, Washington. All written in fun for snow bunnies everywhere, but still holds true for some couples today. . .

I love to ski with men. I’ll take a ski date over an après-ski date any time. But, guys, if you want to ski with this downhill diva, I’ve got issues.

For starters, why do you think the forest is your private urinal? More than once I’ve taken cuts through the trees where I’ve run into a guy shakin’ his snake. And I feel like the intruder! Dude, it’s my forest too. I have the decency to wait until I get to the lodge. Really, my dog has better manners.

And speaking of manners: there’s no excuse for hawking up a luggie and thwacking it off the chairlift. Puh-leeze!

Don’t look like a dork. Zip up your jacket, cut off that collection of old lift tickets, and don’t even think about wearing jeans as ski pants. That is sooooo 70s!

Guys talk the talk, especially in the bar the night before. Usually the ones who brag the most turn out to ski with the grace and coordination of Chewbacca. And, of course, everything has got to be an unannounced contest: who can ski the fastest, the longest, the most runs, the biggest moguls, the steepest terrain, the deepest powder. And no matter how old you are, if you’re exhausted or even afraid, you never ever, ever admit it.

Another thing. I’m so tired of hearing, “Come on, you can handle this.” I’ll make that decision, thank you very much. If you want to get laid, don’t lead me astray.

Oh, and a bite of chocolate plus a squirt of Gatorade isn’t lunch. I want the full-on sit-down—your treat, of course. Besides marking the end of morning and the beginning of afternoon, lunch is an opportunity for a makeup check. Men don’t understand that we have to look cute at all times.

And where does it say that guys have to be the leaders? You think you own the mountain. You get off the lift, and zoom, you disappear. OK, so I may not know exactly where I am. But getting lost together can be romantic, n’est-ce pas? Why do you always rag me about it? Mountain scenery takes my breath away. If you want to do the same, stop occasionally and savor the moment. 

And, no, I do not want you to help me contribute to the panty tree.

Now, let’s go rip it up!

Ah, get over it, Claudia. If men didn't lead the snow parade, there wouldn't be enough ski patrollers to find all you tender-gender types lost out there on the mountain. When's the last time you actually saw a woman read and understand a trail map?

I love to ski with women too, but it's not unconditional love. Since when did whining become an Olympic sport? It's too cold, too hot, too steep, too foggy, too early, too late, too just about anything.

And how can there be "too much powder?" Why do women always want to have a leisurely breakfast on a powder day? Why am I the jerk if I want first tracks? You could happily meet me later. I know you’d find that trail map handy, then.

Having a little penis envy are we? I'll try to be discreet, but if my anatomy makes me a champion of yellow snow, then so be it. French men pee along the side of the road, so lighten up. Hell, you can even participate if you want.

One of the biggest things that bugs me about skiing with chicks is when I ask them 500 times if they want to try something a bit more aggressive, they keep saying yes. Then I take them to a blue run and all hell breaks loose, and I instantly go from Mr. Charm to Mr. Mean.

What happened to that women’s lib thing—you know, all that equal treatment under the law? Does the simple fact that I invited you to go skiing mean I get to pay for everything . . . your lift tickets, ski rental, meals, spa bills, everything? Then, once I have, the first thing I hear is, “That was an exhausting first run; I'm going to the lodge.  See you at four."

That’s $60 for a one-run lift ticket.

I don’t think women realize their ability. They may be the most technically sound skiers in the world, but will they push speed a little? No way. I mean, where is the sense of adventure? They decide to stop and chat halfway down a run, then pout about being left behind. Save the chatter for the ride. That’s what chairlifts are for.

And one more thing. Don’t ask me—don’t ever ask me—if you look fat in stretch pants!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Is Dating a Sport?

 I love this take on dating. . .written by Susannah.

The Essence of Bad Boys

You’ve heard of “Bad Boys”, right? You’ve probably even met some. Ah, you’ve dated one? Then you’ve got some scars in your heart to remember him by, don’t you. You say you were his girlfriend? No, sweetie, bad boys don’t have girlfriends; they have women, lots of women. Because women, all women, can spot a bad boy a mile away, and whatever hormone fragrance she puts out when she sees one is picked up by him immediately, and bam – she’s a target.

There he is – the bad boy – standing on the other side of the room. He may be wearing a black leather jacket or not. Even if he’s not, and say you’re a beautiful, smart and enchanting female who can have her pick of any guy in the room, you want him. And only him. And suddenly you’re not thinking about relationships or marriage or kids or contentment or happiness. In fact, you’re not thinking at all; you’re operating from something other than your human mind or human heart. You are operating from what psychologists call the Reptilian Brain, that lower part of our brain where our basic instincts dwell.

It is your basic instinct that is telling you that you want him and that you have to have him, and damned be the consequences. So why does your Reptilian Brian tell you to go get him? Because he has what you, a woman, wants and needs – intense masculine energy and great masculine genes. In order to keep the species going, it takes good masculine and good feminine genes. You’re saying, “Oh, OMG, this whole attraction thing is evolutionary?” Yep. In the animal world, the males have to compete with each other for the females. And bad boys, while they’re completely inept at being emotionally mature and responsible, definitely step up to this plate. Bad boy’s good masculine genes trigger your good feminine genes, and we all know where this going…

But, you say, what about those psychologists who tell us that being abused when we were children is the reason that bad boys are bad and that some girls are attracted to them? In terms of bad boys who are actually abusive and women who are drawn to being abused, yes, there is more than something to that. However, I’m talking about the essence of “Bad Boy” here; not psychopathic nor criminal behavior. I am talking about the energy and the essence of bad boys, including the energy and essence of all the bad boys out there who are not criminals nor have ever physically or verbally abused a woman.

This energy and essence is in his genes and he’s hooked into it. He’s got it. You may not consciously know what it is, but you know that he has it. It comes across in the way he dresses, the way he moves, the way he talks, the way he looks at you. He’s confident, he’s independent, and he lives by his own rules. Most of all, he manifests that intense masculine energy, and it doesn’t show up simply in how he presents himself to the world; it is seeping out of his pores. And, in order to keep the species going, your Reptilian Brain tells you that you absolutely must mate with this alpha gorilla. 

So, you do. And then what happens? Do your human mind and heart finally kick in, telling you that you’re so totally in love with him and that you can’t live without him that you need to embark on the project of changing him into a loving and caring husband and father? Some projects in life can be completed. This one can’t be. You can’t change him. You can’t turn him from an alpha stud preying on women into the Prince Charming you’ve always dreamed about. Prince Charming he most definitely is not.

Sounds trite, but it’s true – only he can change himself. But won’t your love change him into a caring, emotionally open guy who will pledge his undying love to you and take great care of your mutual children?  Nope. Because your love ain’t getting through to him, sweetie. He’s walled in, and his emotions are not coming out to play.

Can he change? Sure. But he’s the one who has to feel the need to change, and do all the work to change, and it’s probably going to come, with time and age, from the pain he feels from being emotionally isolated.

So, what do you do? Well, you can stay and get your heart broken, or - here comes the hard part - you leave. He’s going to dump you anyway, and doesn’t it give you some power over him to end it by your own initiative? Go home and cry, rant and rave to your girlfriends, get some therapy, start a charity, write a book, write ten songs about Bad Boys, watch all the James Dean and Marlon Brando movies you want. Just get him out of your system, chalk it all up to evolutionary influences, be happy that you’ve got feminine genes that can get triggered, and then remember your dream that you’ve had since you were a little girl about finding your perfect guy.

He’s out there and he’s waiting for you.

Copyright 2011 by Susannah

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Another Award for Lindsey Vonn

Last weekend in Bernese Oberland, Switzerland, Lindsey Vonn was honored with the 2011 Preis Herbert award, a prize given annually to any public figure who promotes the Alps through the media.  Lindsey is the first woman recipient in the award’s 10-year history. The 26-year-old ski racer is also the youngest person to ever receive the award as well as the first non-European.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Title IX opened up opportunity for girls in the 70s

With the 39th anniversary of Title IX coming up in June, I am remembering a program that I and another mom began for our daughters in grade school back in the mid-70s. 

Title IX, you may recall, was the amendment to the 1972 Civil Rights Law that prohibited sex discrimination in federally funded programs in education. Girls finally got the same assistance that boys did in school athletics.

With Title IX in mind, my friend Suzie Watts and I started GirlSports, an after-school sports program for little girls. My daughter, Kathleen, and her daughter, Dana, were in maybe 4th or 5th grade, I don't remember exactly. Suzie and I picked them up—and the other girls who signed up—after school at Cherry Hills Elementary and took them to various venues for sports activities a couple of times a week.

We'd go to a park and play soccer or softball; sometimes we went to a bowling alley; another time we did the workout circuit at a nearby park. The idea was to get them moving and interested in sports. Remember, this was way before organized sports became a big deal for elementary school kids. Soccer was just starting, and Kathleen did play on a team a few years later.

Did we get funding? No! We didn't apply for any, but it sure was fun! It would be interesting to hear from any of those girls if they continued on to pursue a sport we introduced them to.

So if any moms out there want to get something going - please revive GirlSports, and have a ball!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Women's Lacrosse Scores Big at Vail Shootout

Women's lacrosse is growing by leaps and bounds, as is the sport in general as it moves west. The most prestigious lacrosse event in the country happens in Colorado every summer. For the last 39 years, the Vail Lacrosse Shootout Presented by Harrow brings the best players around the nation for nine days of play in the Vail Valley. The dates are June 25-July 3 with play on four different fields.

The fastest growing division is the Under 19 High School Division. This year, the girls H.S. division will have 24 teams, more than the high school boys. The Women's Elite division (collegiate, post collegiate and club teams) will field 16 teams.

If you go: Girls High School games will be at Freedom Park in Edwards June 27-30; Women's Elite will be June 30-July 3, also at Freedom Park. Edwards is about 11 miles west of Vail Village on I-70. There is no admission charge to watch the games, and you can pick up a shootout program at each of the venues. Visit for a complete schedule of games and venues. Also, visit

If you love this sport, or just love humanity, make a donation to Lacrosse the Nations, an international humanitarian organization to foster education and critical life skills for children living in poverty worldwide. Just $50 buys snacks and drinks during lacrosse practices; $100 buys sticks for four students.

For lodging near Edwards, I highly recommend:
Westin Riverfront Resort and Spa
126 Riverfront Lane
A short drive on Highway 6 takes you to the fields in Edwards. Each room of this luxury hotel has a kitchen plus every amenity you could want. Restaurant Avondale, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner; plus a mountainside outdoor lounge and a swimming pool are welcome spots after the games.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Top Game-Changing Female Athletes of All Time

I was asked to share this link to the site naming the top 10 game-changing female athletes of all time. I agree with the editors choices with one exception: they did not mention U.S. alpine skier Andrea Mead Lawrence.

Andrea was the first American skier to win two Olympic gold medals in giant slalom and slalom events. This victory was huge, finally placing an American for the first time on the podium formerly dominated by Europeans. She did it at the 1952 Games in Olso when she was only 19 years old.

Andrea was picked to be on the U.S. Olympic team when she was just 14 years old. Her first Olympics was 1948 (St. Moritz) at age 15. She was a three-time Olympian, competing in the 1956 Games after having three children. Andrea was inducted into the National Ski Hall of Fame in 1958. Later in life, she was an outspoken advocate for  conservation in the Sierra, founding the non-profit Andrea Lawrence Institute for Mountains and Rivers. She died in 2009 at age 76.

I met Andrea at her home in Mammoth Lakes, California around the late 90s when she was passionately involved with her environmentalist group—Friends of Mammoth—to preserve the natural beauty of the area she loved so much. This seemed much more important to her than her gold medals, though she acknowledged her celebrity was an asset "to doing something really good in this world."

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Women's Ski Jumping Is a Go!

For five years, women ski jumpers have waited to get their sport into the Olympics. After an unsuccessful legal battle to get into the 2010 Vancouver Games, women's ski jumping is fianlly set to take its place at the 1014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, as ruled by The International Olympic Committee executive board this week.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Fog ruins Lindsey's chance for Alpine World Cup title

The battle for the Alpine World Cup title between Lindsey Vonn and Germany's Maria Riesch is over. In the end, weather determined the winner: Riesch by three points.

The much-anticipated finale that would have given Vonn her fourth straight overall World Cup title was canceled by officials due to fog and soft snow in Lenzerheide, Switzerland. She never even got on course.

"Win or lose, I just wanted the chance," said Vonn. "I feel devastated. But I'm extremely proud to have been in the fight in what was one of the most exciting seasons in ski racing history."

Such a shame! But anyone who has skied in Europe knows that weather is a huge factor. Fog, clouds, rain can deteriorate snow conditions in an instant. As I write this from my beautiful Colorado where fog and rain are virtually non-existent in our winter mountains, I wonder why the FIS stages most of the races in Europe. Well, I know why—Europeans support ski racing like we worship football. In the U.S., ski racing is a niche sport, and it's too bad. Because we offer the best playing fields in the world!


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Women and Alaska's Iditarod

In 1985, Libby Riddles became the first woman to win the Iditarod Sled Dog Race. A year later, Susan Butcher won the race and became the second four-time winner in 1990 and the first woman to ever place in the top 10. Soon after, the motto going around Alaska was: "Alaska - where men are men and women win the Iditarod."

Sadly, Susan Butcher died of leukemia in 2006. Two years later, then Governor Sarah Palin declared the first Saturday of every March—the traditional start of the Iditarod—as Susan Butcher Day.

With no special concessions for gender, the playing field is equal in this grueling race over 1,150 miles across jagged mountain ranges, frozen rivers, dense forests, desolate tundra and miles of windswept coast between Anchorage and Nome. Temps dip way below zero, winds can interfere with visibility, and there are long hours of darkness.
"The number of women in the race has definitely increased," said Carolyn Muegge-Vaughan, who was the 49th woman to run in the 49th state in 1987, and her bib number was—49! "I always think women have more stamina, maybe it's the extra fat we carry around; but women always place in the top 20." Carolyn raced in three Iditarods, having moved to Alaska to be a dog handler for Col. Norman Vaughan in 1986 whom she later married. 

As of this writing, DeeDee Jonrowe, 57, is in the top 10 for the 2011 "Last Great Race." A cancer survivor and crowd favorite, DeeDee, her dogs and their handlers were decked out in pink at the ceremonial start in Anchorage on March 5. "The volunteers and residents of rural Alaska are an important element of the experience, and I am blessed to continue participating in this race."

DeeDee is just behind Jessie Royer, 34, from Fairbanks running 9th. Jessie got her first sled dogs at age 15; she won Montana's Race to the Sky when she was just 17.

Good luck, DeeDee and Jessie! To see how they and the 13 other women fared this year, go to for all updates.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Kim Kircher: Using ski patrol skills to deal with personal crisis

The hardest challenges Kim Kircher has dealt with in her 21-year career as a ski patroller at Washington's Crystal Mountain have helped her get through the toughest time in her personal life.
Photo by Chris Morin
With her mostly male mates on ski patrol, Kim, 40, is required to do three important tasks: Snow Safety, Skier Safety and Rescue.

Snow safety involves avalanche control. On days following a storm, she's up at 4:30 a.m., on the lift by 6, and throwing bombs by first light. When all avies have slid, the mountain is safe to open. Here she attaches a bomb to a piece of bamboo for an air shot.

Skier safety means she does everything possible to make the mountain safe, such as putting up signs and rope lines, padding lift towers, marking hazards and controlling speed of skiers and snowboarders.  

Photo by Chris Morin
Finally, in her job of rescue, she aids injured skiers and riders as an EMT, helps those who are stuck on a cliff or otherwise can't get down the mountain, and "sweeps" the mountain at the end of the day for lost or missing people.

Needless to say, she puts in long days under stressful situations. She must stay strong and tough in the face of crisis. "The hardest part is not crying when things get hard," says Kim. "I've learned to toughen myself up; be strong when I have a patient who's not breathing, come across a bloody scene or find someone who is dead." Kim is also a diabetic, a condition that makes her physical demands even greater. She's won awards from the National Ski Patrol for her life-saving efforts.

When Kim's husband John (a member of the Kircher skiing family dynasty that owns and operates 10 ski areas in the U.S. and British Columbia ) became ill and needed a liver transplant, Kim drew upon her experiences as a patroller to help them both get through the ordeal together. "I kept saying 'I've done hard things before, I can do this,'" she says. "I knew the health issues, but beyond that, I knew I could get through it."

Today, John is cancer-free and the two are enjoying their active lifestyle. You can read about Kim's life and work in her memoir The Next Fifteen Minutes to be released in November. Check it out at I had the privilege of meeting Kim at a North American Snowsports Journalists Association annual conference at Alyeska Resort. I can tell you she is one inspiring woman—all 6 feet of her!
John and Kim Kircher of Boyne Resorts

Monday, February 21, 2011

Quebec City's Winter Carnival is the Winter Olympics of Fun

The Québécoise call it "the real winter game." I can see why. . .it's not for anyone timid about being in cold and snow! Carnaval de Quebec is the grandest celebration of winter and has been on my bucket list for years. I finally made it!

For 57 years, Quebec City has thrown this 17-day party that includes day and nighttime parades, music, dancing, fireworks, ice sculptures and lots and lots of sport activities. It's an ambitious, fun and beautiful fete to winter. Entrance to the Fun Park is a mere $12 for the entire 17 days; the street parades and many other events are free.
The gang at the night parade. Photo/Dino Vournas

Everything one can do in snow and on ice is here: from popular activities like ice skating, snow rafting, ice slides, Nordic skiing, dog sledding and sleigh rides to crazy adventures like snow baths and canoe races in the icy St. Lawrence River to exciting spectator events like the St. Hubert Derby (horse racing with sleighs). People come from all over the world to revel in winter like the Quebecoise!
St. Hubert Derby
A Snow Bath at -10 C

Tim Johnson, a journalist from Toronto, rides the Zip Line high above the Fun Park.

Reigning over it all is the lovable, ever-present larger-than-life mascot called Bonhomme. He is Carnaval's Rock Star, appearing everywhere—skating with the children, cheering with the crowds, kicking off events—and always, always commanding huge audiences wherever he goes. He holds a special fascination with women, who just giggle in his huge presence!

Edmonton journalist Jody McKague, me and Tim Johnson, giggling!
Photo by Dino Vournas
Photo by Dino Vournas

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Be Unstoppable

Here's a proactive way we can help girls and women gain confidence with every move they make to be "unstoppable." 

The newly launched "Unstoppable Moves" video series on Facebook encourages fans to join women around the country in a montage of unstoppable female athletes. Every time you upload a clip of Unstoppable Moves on the Facebook page, $5 will be donated to the Women's Sports Foundation in support of programs that nurture healthy, active and confident girls.

The Playtex®Sport® brand and the Women's Sports Foundation have partnered to advance the lives of girls and women through sports and physical activity. The benefits of sports participation include increased self-esteem, confidence and healthier body image.

Click here now for your sisters!