So my friend Tony G came out last weekend from Chicago, arriving on Friday night. We spent our first evening at Harrah's Casino, listening to a cover band and catching up. Then it was "the attack of the cougars," and pretty soon 4 a.m. arrived.
Needless to say, we were dragging the next day but got out on the mountain by about 11:00 and skied with our ski instructor friend from New York named Eric. He's your typical New Yorker with the accent and "fookin' jerkoff" attitude (along with a voice that's eerily close in tenor to Kevin Tanaka of Toons). So the four of us bopped all over Heavenly, skiing all sorts of terrain. Still dragging from our late night on Friday, we hot tubbed back at our condo and were done early for the night.
On Sunday, we did our first roadtrip of the winter, traveling about 90 minutes southwest to Kirkwood, known for its high percentage of advanced runs. The "Wood" was getting zeked with about 17 inches of new white stuff. Hooray!!! We had a blast and were all over the mountain. We didn't make it down "the Wall," as our friend Mr. Whoopie recommended, but we'll be back. And we did have a blast on our last run down the Palisades Bowl--although Tony (aka "Yogi") nearly lost a ski in the deep powder.
Speaking of nicknames, I grilled Yoges hard about coming up with his "ski name" so he could join me (Rossignol Smith) and Terry (Hans Volkl) in Team Snark. (Two charter members, "Scott Aspen" and "Sky McAlpine" will be out in a few short weeks.) Well, there's really no right or wrong answer. You have to use ski words (runs on hills, resorts, manufacturers, etc.), and that's the only requirement. Yogi came up with "Tony Tooslow." I pressed him for a better nickname but that's what he stuck with. He came up with it because he was using Terry's rental skis, while Ziggy tried out his brand new Nordica Top Fuels and I was demoing a pair of Volkls one day and those Top Fuels the next. On the flat cat paths, Tony Tooslow was just that. On his final day, he demoed the Top Fuels and blew me away on my Rossignol rentals, so it's all perspective!
Oh, and we did make it out on Tooslow's final night, chowing sushi at the Naked Fish and playing pool at a local bowling alley we discovered. Again, we were up till 3 a.m. and Ziggy tried the old "hand in warm water" trick when I passed out on the couch. Frustrated when that didn't work, he just poured water on my pants and they took a photo. So don't believe any photos they send you of my soiling myself. Deny! Deny! Deny!
Yesterday we had a clinic on balance, and our instructor, Eric, took us down some challenging runs, like the Milky Way Bowl. Our group went their separate ways at the end of the day, but me, Ziggy and Eric went down "The Face." This is the double-black mogul run that is the face of the mountain when looking up from our base in California. I think I sat on my butt once but otherwise navigated the whole thing. Overjoyed at the bottom, I bragged to Eric how I had made it down The Face for the first time! "Yeah, and you've got a little drippy dingleberry hanging from your nose," he replied. Nothing like a ski coach to bring you back down to earth.
After enjoying a beer with Eric in the Bear Bar down at the base, we got caught up in all their excitement to go watch the Hannenkam Rennan at a nearby bar called Murphy's Pub. This is just one of several races on the circuit, but it's considered the "Super Bowl of downhill racing." It's held in Kitzbuhel, a mountain I skied in Austria about five years ago. So I pulled out my souvenir hat I bought out there, and Ziggy and I met up with them.
It was really cool to see these veteran skiers marvel at what these guys were doing. "They're going 85 miles per hour!" one said excitedly. Another once worked as a gatekeeper there and was fearful of his life when having to walk 10 feet across the steep run to get to his gate. "They take a hose and hose down the snow," veteran instructor Michael said. "You'd be hardpressed to stand on it." He knew a lot about the sport's rules, regulations and how the governing body regulates the equipment.
And now it's off to Heavenly for our second week of training in the adaptive training program. Ziggy's turn to go down on the sit ski!