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G.N.A.R. (The Movie) 25 March 2011

Posted by magicdufflepud in Skiing.
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That’s Gaffney’s Numerical Assessment of Radness. Because naming it after Shane McConkey (M.N.A.R.?) didn’t really make sense.

It’s a movie you should see. In fact, like National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, it’s a movie you should watch twice a year—first, to get your season started, and then again to remind you what all that excitement was about.

Here’s what you need to know:

Because it the gnarly lines it offers off the KT-22 chair, Squaw Valley USA is a Mecca for awesome skiers, like, not that guy who rips at your local hill, but some ridiculously sweet dude who does 50′ airs off cliff bands then shotguns a beer and kisses your girlfriend. Few of those guys exist, but those who do flock to Squaw. Over the years, that’s given the place a sort of snobby reputation (although locals say it’s undeserved). More than one ski movie has reinforced the perception that guys at Squaw hang out looking to one-up each other on Palisades lines, so knowing the reality, the late McConkey decided to make a joke of the whole thing. Along with the Gaffney brothers, he created G.N.A.R. to make the mountain a game. Sure, it only showed up as an addendum, more or less, to Robb Gaffney’s book Squallywood, but it soon took on a life of its own, and following McConkey’s death, the Gaffneys made it into a film.

But what is “it”? G.N.A.R is primarily a game of skiing steep, scary lines at Squaw, but the movie mostly plays up its other aspects, like the additional points you’ll get for skiing butt-naked, or for yelling, “I’m going to rip the shit out of this line!” before dropping in, and if you hear anyone telling you “I’m the best skier on this mountain,” you can trace that back to G.N.A.R., too. Oh, and bonus points for calling your mom in the middle of the run.

We’re figuring out a way to make this work for A-Basin, so if you have any suggestions on the best/gnarliest lines there, drop me a line (My e-mail’s in the “About” section.)

In the meantime, you can watch the whole movie free. How cool is that?

Here’s the link: http://unofficialnetworks.com/gnar/

And if you see a guy beating the bejeepers out of a cornice at Monarch or Crested Butte this weekend, that’s me. Feel free to say hi.

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Best Spring Break Ski Resorts for Families and College Students 8 March 2011

Posted by magicdufflepud in Self, Skiing, Travel.
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Full disclosure: I hope this doesn’t come off like I’m shilling for a client. I mean, I am, but it’s because together we’ve created something really cool about a sport we love, not because it helps pay the bills.

If you’re just here looking for the Top 10s without the narrative, scroll down a little bit.

Way back about this time two years ago, my college buddies and I were headed up to Killington, VT for a spring break ski trip. We’d decided on the destination after several hours (or maybe it was days) of research on my end that focused on a few factors, namely price, proximity, and the the number of hot women who might also be there. Hearing that Killington offered all three, we laid down the $500 or so for five days of skiing and lodging, then put down another $50 each for beer because that’s how a trip with your frat works: five days, eight guys, $400 worth of beer—and, as it turned out, no women save for the two Peruvian lifties who went home to Rutland after hearing enough from all of us.

We could have done better, though, if we’d had the right info. Not that Killington was bad, of course, but what if we’d known the best spring break ski resorts? What if we’d known the resorts where the the bars overflowed with snow bunnies? Where was Panama Beach with double black terrain?

Recently, I set out to solve that problem along with one of our clients: OnTheSnow.com. The site’s 3.4 million monthly unique visitor give them some street cred as a big-time operator, sure, but what OnTheSnow really offers is data, reams and reams data. They collect popularity stats, user reviews, snowfall and base depth averages—more or less everything you’d want to know to make your spring break travel decision.

Together, we put it all to work and ranked the resorts to make an impartial listing free from editors’ picks and other subjective shenanigans. We’d figure out what was best based on cold, hard facts (err… and user reviews). For college students, we made a weighted average combining stats for resort page views from colleges around the country, user reviews of nightlife and downhill terrain and average March and April snowfall and base depths. Essentially, we wanted to know what was snowy, steep and sexy. We got that. Here’s the Top 10 (in alphabetical order):

Breckenridge

Heavenly

Jackson Hole

Keystone

Mammoth Mountain

Snowbird

Squaw Valley USA

Steamboat

Telluride

Vail

For families, we switched it up a little bit, dropping downhill terrain and nightlife (because both probably don’t matter to five year-olds) in favor of users’ reviews of “family-friendliness.” We played with weightings a bit, too, and that gave us the top 10 family ski resorts for spring break (again listed alphabetically)

Breckenridge

Deer Valley

Heavenly

Keystone

Mammoth Mountain

Park City Mountain Resort

Steamboat

Taos Ski Valley

Vail

Winter Park

Now, you might be wondering why no eastern or Canadian resorts show up on those lists. Where’s Whistler Blackcomb? Where’s Killington? As it turned out, none of the eastern resorts was big enough and bad enough to make the cut, though Mont Tremblant in Quebec did make the top 25, while Jay and maybe Stowe made it in to the top 50. I suspect we’ll create another category next year to give the eastern resorts a fair shot at winning something, although for what it’s worth, the rankings did help reaffirm the West as the only place to go for real skiing. As for Whistler, well, it came in just outside the top 10 for both families college students.

If you have any tips, suggestions or thought on who you think should have made the top 10 lists, drop me a line via the comments or my e-mail, provided in the “About” section.