Category Archives: Editorials

High concentrations of di-hydrogen monoxide found in man-made snow: EPA reveals

EPA has announced it will ban snowmaking after scientists revealed man-made snow contains high concentrations of a chemical known as di-hydrogen monoxide (or DHMO).

Widespread but little known, DHMO is lethal when inhaled, corrodes metal and may form blistering vapours when heated.

“These findings are extremely alarming”, said University spokesman, Dr Alan Rainmaker. “The use of DHMO – which consists of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom –  is unfortunately commonplace in the snow-sports industry, with some resorts using concentrations as high as 100%”.

“It’s no wonder people’s edges rust during the off season”, he added.

 

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Di-hydrogen monoxide in all its brutish glory

Independent investigations by Snowriders Australia confirm DHMO is a colourless molecule, which freezes at precisely zero degrees C – making it highly suitable for use in modern snow-making devices.

Somewhat more concerning is that upon melting, DHMO enters alpine streams and underground water tables, before being incorporated to food chains and root systems where it remains for years. DHMO is also commonly used as a fire-retardant.  Shocking!

 

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DHMO is commonly used as an effective fire retardant

Today’s announcement is a significant blow to the ski industry, which relies heavily on snowmaking. “Yeah, obviously it’s not ideal”, said Snow Australia CEO, Nigel Sosnowski, “DHMO is used under the strictest safety conditions; all our technicians wear gloves and take great care not come into direct contact with the  product – I mean, that shit’s really cold” he added further.

EPA is conducting further investigations into the use of DHMO in the snow-sports industry and is expected to make a further statement at noon today.

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Getting the most out of skiing when you’re over 40: six handy tips

If like the SRA directors, you’re over 40, you’ll know what it’s like nursing aching limbs after a full day of snowriding. Yeah, yeah, we hear you. You’re thinking nothing a bit of Ibuprofen or a tall glass of red cant fix, right? You’re partly right.

All those things help, and we’ve certainly used them ourselves – still do in fact. But there are plenty of other things you can do without turning to drugs:

1. Train hard before you go

You’re all busy we get it. But trust us, nothing prepares you better for skiing and snowboarding than training.  Leg strength and core strength are key. For leg strength, find yourself a good set of stairs and climb them.  Regularly.

Go slowly and (if you can) take double steps.  If your thighs (on the way up) and calves (on the way down) are burning, you’re probably doing it right.

If you live in Western Australia, ‘Jacobs Ladder’ is a great place to start – just go easy at first.  We train at Jacobs once or twice a week for 5-6 weeks in the lead up to skiing and it’s been really beneficial.  The coffee in Subiaco afterwards makes it all worthwhile. Disclaimer if you have existing knee or back problems check with your physio, chiropractor or doctor before launching into it.

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Jacob’s Ladder in Perth –  a real thigh burner

2. Drop a few kilograms

For those that ski in the northern hemisphere, snow holidays typically follow the Christmas period.  Let’s face it, after the festive season, we could all lose a few kilograms (well most of us). Losing weight makes a big difference.

Think of it this way.  If you were your legs, would you rather carry the version of you right now, or a better version at 5-10 kg lighter?  Your body will thank you for it. You’ll be less fatigued, your legs wont burn out by lunch time, and most importantly you’ll be that much lighter in the fresh pow. Winning all round.

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We hope the units on the scales in this image are not in kilograms!

3. Buy new equipment

This is not a sales push to get you to support our sponsors.  Well, it is kind of. But you don’t need convincing anyway, do you. Everybody loves new ski kit.

What we’re talking about is boots, skis and boards.  Ski boots particularly have a use by date or mileage limit, what ever comes sooner.  Simply speaking, they wear out. Boots particularly lose their stiffness and eventually stop supporting our ankles and feet the way they used to. If your boots are more than 10 years old, get new ones.  The new custom fit technology is pretty standard across brands now too, so you can say good riddance to sore feet and numb toes.

Skis and boards are another story. They don’t wear out as much as they become obsolete.  Ski technology in particular has moved ahead in leaps and bounds in the last 10 years.  If you haven’t heard of rocker, reverse camber and variable ski geometry, then it’s time you checked it out.  We’ve been skiing the DPS wailer in recent years and they’ve been an absolute revolution. We’re skiing better now than we were in our 20’s.

4. Stay hydrated

Of all the things we’ve listed so far, this is the easiest.  It’s really easy to become dehydrated in the snow.  In fact, it’s part of the reason yellow snow looks so yellow – generally because those doing it are probably dehydrated.

It’s also likely you’re dehydrated before you begin.  Coffee and dry air-conditioning (from the flight) or over heating in ski lodges all contribute to an unhealthy amount of dehydration.  So drink a pint of water before you head out for the day.

Once on the hill, we use a range of ‘camel back’ style back packs (the ones with installed water bladders and a hose to your mouth). Add electrolyte powder to improve muscle function and make it a bit more palatable (because drinking large amounts of water can get tedious).  Although it’s cold outside, it surprising how much you perspire under your gear. If you’re hydrated everything works better: your brain your muscles, your organs.  Believe us, you need water.

5. Skip lunch, but snack often

We’re not sure how this advice sits with nutritionists, but we’ve trialed this concept with great success.  Long lunches kill your mojo.  Simple. As much as it’s nice to stop for a big lunch and a beer (and we’ve certainly enjoyed a few of those), we found it just gave our bodies the opportunity to stew in lactic acid and then seize up. Invariably we’d return to the snow at about 1:30 – 2:00 o’clock only to find our legs were blown.  Typically we were good for one of two more runs but that was it (it just became too dangerous to continue).

So our advice is to have a big breakfast (lots of carbs), drink lots of water and snack as often as you can: chocolate is great for a quick shot of energy but the effect is short lived. Better to instead snack on things like nuts, good quality energy bars (not sugary ones) and even simple things like peanut butter sandwiches.  Stopping off for a quick dumpling and a coffee helps too. Using this approach we’ve increased our skiing time by 1-2 hours a day.  As an added bonus, you get the hill to yourself when everyone else goes in for lunch.

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Snack often, preferably with mates with better table manners than these two

 

6. Take regular onsens (or hot baths)

Last but not least, if you’re in Japan hit the onsens as often as you can. If you’re not in Japan, and you have access to a bath or even a hot spa, we recommend that too.  There’s nothing like a really hot bath to relax the muscles and help them recover in time for the next day.  Warning: In Japan, onsens equal seeing your friends and family completely naked. We have no tips to prepare you for that.

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Onsens are great, but there are no tips to prepare you for the sight of your naked friends and family. Image: https://vacationniseko.com

 

 

 

 

Wayne-o the Snowboarding Bogan

Wayno lies on a single futon on the third story of his staff accommodation block. Wearing nothing more than a stained pair of bonds and a three day growth, he stirs, lets out an audible fart, and rolls over.

Wayne – or Wayno – as he’s know to his mates, is an Australia Day bogan, a not so elusive creature, but one which peaks one day a year.

With a dry mouth, a bourbon aftertaste and half a mongrel, he opens one eye. He makes a dry smacking noise with his mouth, and reaches for his iphone.

Then it dawns on him. A smirk appears on his mouth. It’s Australia day, the one day a year when red blooded Australians, brimming with nationalistic pride, get to celebrate their white, middle classed ‘Aussieness’.

He emerges. Squinting, he surveys his surroundings. It’s cold. Snowing. The air ordinarily crisp and clean, is broken only by the acrid stench of his morning cigarette. Dressed in best koala onsie, he trudges to the bus stop.

The bus is full. Not deterred, he climbs on but only to be met with jeers from other Aussies, all dressed in onesies too. There’s a giraffe, a giant banana and strangely, several other koalas, one holding a inflatable doll, mouth gaping, draped in red lipstick

There are no seats. Perched on an arm rest, he reaches for his hip flask. “Hair of the dog”, he announces loudly, as he chugs it back. The giraffe, the banana and the numerous koalas cheer in chorus.

15 minutes later the crowd emerge at the top of the ski run. Some sober but most still too pissed to legally drive, they set of. It’s a Cannonball run. First to the bottom wins. Winner is first to the bottom and first to scull a pint of VB. Wayno is in his element. Yep. It’s Australia day in the mountains…If you’re not Australian “you’d better run, you’d better take cover”. Stay safe out there folks, and if you’re an Australian in the mountains, have fun and try not to piss too many people off 🙂

Perisher to invest $4.2 M in new lift and snowmaking infrastructure

Just in time for Christmas, Perisher yesterday announced it will be replacing Leichhardt T- Bar with a new quad chairlift to be ready for the 2019 winter. The investment includes a significant snowmaking project bringing the total cost to $4.2 million with the work planned for the 2018/2019 summer. Continue reading Perisher to invest $4.2 M in new lift and snowmaking infrastructure

Recipe for Japow: the Japanese snow machine explained

Japan is one of the hottest skiing tickets in the world right now, and why wouldn’t it be? It’s got great culture, delicious food, friendly people and colossal amounts of the lightest and driest snow found anywhere in the world.

Japan’s snow quality, reliability and proximity to Australia is why more and more Aussies are turning to Japan as an alternative and very affordable destination to more traditional haunts of Europe and North America.  Ask the average snow-going Aussie why Japan(?), and they respond ‘snow quantity and snow quality’, every time.

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Deep in the white room

Japan is a veritable snow machine which every year produces some 12 to 18 m of snow, with most falling on the western mountain ranges of Honshu and the northern Island of Hokkaido. It’s no coincidence that Sapporo, Hokkaido’s biggest city holds the title as the 2nd snowiest city in the world.

The Japanese snow machine exists due to a special combination of climate and prevailing weather conditions, which every year combine to create the ‘perfect storm’ scenario.

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Enjoying the Japanese snow machine

Without getting too technical, Japan’s snow results when the frigid Siberian winds blow across the warm Japanese Sea, sucking up moisture as they go. This results in the formation of moisture laden clouds which inevitably collide with the western Japanese coastline, producing snow – and lots of it.

The real kicker is not just the temperature differential between the atmosphere and the sea, but the ‘baffling’ effect which results when the clouds ‘bunch up’ over the mountains before rising and cooling under the ‘orographic effect’. It is these conditions which create the perfect storm scenario, producing whopping amounts of dry powder snow.

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Cold winds blast across the warm Sea of Japan, producing consistent cloud and copious snow falls over the Japanese Alps

In simple terms, the mountains which run north to south down the centre of Honshu and Hokkaido act like super absorbent sponges, squeezing out every last drop of moisture from the clouds that stream in from the north-west (Grasshopper, 2017).

While this explains the volume of snow it does nothing to explain the dry qualities of the Japanese snow. ‘Dryness’ is about the snow’s moisture content; under warmer conditions, snow flakes cannot freeze entirely, meaning some of the flake’s structure is icy, while the rest is watery (with an average ratio of water to ice of 1:10). Dry snow forms under very cold conditions. Snow forming under these conditions has more air pockets (and is thus lighter) and a water to ice ratio as high as 1:30. The more air pockets it has, the lighter and drier it is.

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Japan’s tree skiing is sublime

Dry snow is more prevalent in Japan owing to the freezing winds which blast down from the northwest. Moisture absorbed form the Sea of Japan is picked up and tossed around in the ‘troposphere‘ where it is super-cooled. It then floats gently back down to earth, generally landing in or near one of the Japan’s 600 odd ski areas.

This year promises to be no different in Japan. With the El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) in a neutral set up, and only a slight chance of a La Nina event, the Japanese season is looking spot on about average, or slightly above average (depending on the arrival of our lady-friend La Nina).

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It’s all a bit crystal ball at this stage but at the end of the day a bad season in Japan is better than a good season is most other parts of the world! If you’ve never been to Japan, or have been contemplating a Japanese ski/snowboard holiday, we urge you to bite the bullet. One thing’s for sure, the snow quality in Japan is one thing you won’t need to worry about.

Images courtesy Madarao Resort, Japan.

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Subscribers to Snowriders Australia receive special discounts at Madarao, Japan. PM us for details.

Madarao, Japan: special offer for SRA subscribers

The deal

This month, Hakken – by Active Life, Madarao, is offering Snowriders Australia subscribers a one-off special deal.  If you are looking to travel between 17 December 2017 and 17 January 2018, and book by the end of October 2017, you’ll receive 20% off the accommodation rack rate, free continental breakfasts and one free drink at the Hakken inhouse bar.  Offers are open exclusively to SRA subscribers for a minimum stay of 3 nights or longer. Yep, that’s 20% off in peak season, meaning MadaPOW is almost guaranteed. But you need to book before the end of the October.

Hakken, Madarao

Situated less than 5 mins walk from the Madarao Resort chairlifts, Hakken by Active Life Madarao, is a small, relaxed snow lodge offering ski-in access for guests. Newly renovated in 2017, Hakken offers a unique experience for guests in some rooms, blending modern western style comforts with traditional Japanese Tatami floors.

Hakken, meaning Discovery in Japanese, offers its guests a unique experience filled with modern comforts, all things authentically Japanese, served by our friendly Australian, Kiwi and Japanese staff.

Enjoy a great night’s sleep in Hakken’s newly renovated rooms. They offer 3 attractive room styles for our guests:

  • Family Room for 4 people;
  • Deluxe Room for 3 people; and
  • Standard Room for 2 people.

All rooms are equipped to provide every convenience you could need for your stay, including free Wifi, private bathrooms, western style beds, an LCD TV, a safe, and a fridge.

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Hakken by Active Life Madarao is located in Madarao Ski Resort (aka Madarao Kogen) in the northern part of Nagano Prefecture (near a town called ‘Iiyama’), between Nozawa Onsen and Myoko Kogen. The nearest train station to Madarao Ski Resort is Iiyama train station (pronounce ‘ee-ya- ma’) which is easy to get to.

Hakken by Active Life Madarao also offers complimentary shuttle to and from Iiyama train station as well as to and  from Nozawa onsen for our hotel guests.

To be eligible, you must be a SRA subscriber.

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How to subscribe

Subscribing to Snowriders Australia is easy.

If you haven’t already subscribed by clicking on the ‘pop-up’ form on your arrival, simply click on the subscribe button on the top left hand side (on a desktop computer), or if you are on a tablet or mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the page and do the same.

To redeem you benefits, simply print out or screen-grab you confirmation email (Snowriders Australia will send you an email when you subscribe), and take it with you next time you visit your nearest participating retailer. Easy! Be sure to take down the Hakken Code displayed in your confirmation email.

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Snoga: It’s yoga for skiers

So you like yoga, but have you tried snoga? Snoga is the brainchild of Falls Creek local,  Janette Lawson, and it’s the latest craze to be sweeping the Aussie resorts.

To us, skiing and yoga are an unlikely pair. But speaking with Janette, we now understand this is a misconception: by definition yoga is the act of preparing the body for mediation, achieved by quietening the mind and focusing on one thing.  “Skiing is just that”, explains Lawson. “…It’s meditation in motion, particularly on advanced terrain, when really we are just focusing on the next turn”.

“Skiing is just like yoga”, explains Lawson.  “…It’s meditation in motion, particularly on advanced terrain, when really we are just focusing on the next turn”.

Lawson believes this is why guests feel just as rejuvenated from a snow holiday – despite the physical demands – as they do from a week spent by the pool in Bali. “True rest only comes when the mind is quiet. Mindfulness is found on the slopes and yoga is the perfect counterpoise to the physical strain placed on the body during a ski trip.”

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Snoga is hosted by instructors Jane and Janette, and run out of one of Falls Creek Resort’s most awarded lodges, Trackers Mountain Lodge.

Trackers Snoga Retreats are the perfect fusion of the best things in life; good food, new friends, skiing and the beautiful practice of yoga with stunning views of snow covered alps as your backdrop. Retreats are suitable for singles or couples. Non yoga partners and adult family members are welcome to stay without participating in yoga sessions if they wish.

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Yin Retreat

Qualified instructors will take you through a slower paced retreat designed to nourish body and soul and to get your central nervous system purrrrrring. Yin Yoga is a slower modality of yoga where poses are held for longer so that connective tissue – the fascia – is gently stressed and hydrated.

Complete beginners to elite athletes and everyone in between benefit from practicing Yin.  Your day starts with a leisurely breakfast and then a 90 min Yin class, after that the day is your own to spend as you with before we reconvene for an evening yin class.

Retreat

This is a more active retreat designed for the accomplished practitioner.  The day starts with a 90 min Vinyasa Class and we meet in the evening for a 60 min yin class to stretch and release after a day on the slopes.

“HypnoYoga”

This retreat is deeply restorative and suitable for beginner to advanced practitioners.

Hypnosis is best described as a deep state of relaxation.  In other words, a normal, natural, healthy state of mind. In this relaxed state the subconscious mind can be accessed and blocks that prevent us from living our optimal lives can be explored.

All attendees will have one on one time with the retreat facilitator to discuss individual concerns or goals so numbers are limited to 10 attendees Your day will start with a light breakfast then a gentle “Yin – Yang” session of 60 mins.  After breakfast the day is your own to do with as you wish; ski, snowboard, a long leisurely lunch or just relaxing fireside at the lodge.  We will reconvene late afternoon for a 45-60 min Restorative class performed with hypnotic induction.

All prices are based on twin share with same sex room share allocation.  Double and family rooms are available.

All retreats are $1250 twin share and $1750 single share.  All retreats include breakfast, dinners, afternoon teas, all day tea and coffee, one snow picnic or snow based activity and use of all lodge facilities.  Additional optional activities available for guests include snow mobile tours, skiing, snowboarding and cross country skiing.

For more information and bookings go to http://www.trackers.com.au/contact-us/

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2017 produces all time conditions for Australia’s premier nordic skiing event

If you haven’t heard of the Kangaroo Hoppet, it’s time you did. The Kangaroo Hoppet is Australia’s premier long distance (42 km) cross country ski race, and a member of the prestigious Worldloppet series of international cross country ski events.  Kangaroo Hoppet is held annually at Victorian Alpine Resort, Falls Creek.

As much as the event can be affected by lower than average snow falls, this years’ epic falls presented problems of their own. Following the much publicized Blizzard of Oz events and high winds, the entire Hoppet course had to be rebuilt in less than a week by the Falls Creek Resort Management with assistance from Parks Victoria.  The efforts of staff produced all time conditions, and the ‘icing on the cake’ was a hugely exciting race.

Half a boot separated American entrant and winner Mike Havlick and second placed Australian skier Phillip Bellingham after 42km. Third place went to the Swiss, Valerio Leccardi from Switzerland, and head coach of the Australian Cross country team.

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Men’s podium (from left: Phillip Bellingham, Mike Havlick and Valerio Leccardi)

In the women’s event, Australia came out on top with Barbara Jezersek taking 1st place, American Mary Rose second and Iris Pessey of France third.

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Women’s podium (from left: Mary Rose, Barbara Jezersek and Iris Pessey)

In addition to the fantatsic efforts of the athletes, feedback was also glowing for the race organizers. Conditions for the 42km Hoppet, the 21km Australian Birkebeiner and the 7km Joey Hoppet were magnificent according to race director, Peter Cunningham:

”The weather was brilliant. blue skies, the snow temperature -4C one hour before the race, the snow didn’t chop up at all the entire race and the groomers provided nice straight classic grooves and in some spots, the course was two to three groomers wide in Sun Valley allowing skiers to spread out and pass one another safely.”

For more information regarding the Kangaroo Hoppet event visit http://www.hoppet.com.au/

Main image credit: mike@top shots, Falls Creek; Podium images credit: http://www.hoppet.com.au/

Spring is in the air and there’s never been a better time to ski

After the Blizzard of Oz 1 and 2, it’s safe to say that 2017 has been one of the best seasons in living memory. And with over 100 cm of snow still on the ground in most resorts, it’s also fair to say that if you’ve ever contemplated a spring skiing holiday, now is the time to do it.

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Image courtesy Snowatch http://www.snowatch.com.au/

And why wouldn’t you with some of the deals on offer.

Discounted lift passes

Both Mt Hotham and Falls Creek are offering a special ‘spring pass‘ for $449. The spring pass gets you 28 days of skiing for the price of a 4-day pass. That’s unlimited access to 158 runs across both Hotham and Falls Creek from September 4 – October 1. Get in quick though. Spring Passes are released for a limited time only, buy before 25 August to save and avoid disappointment.

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Ruined Castle, Falls Creek this week. Image: Falls Creek

Discounted family lift & lesson packages

Hotham are also offering a family fun pass this September. Kids Ski FREE while parents enjoy 50% off lift passes, group lessons and equipment hire! The package includes:

  • 3 x Days Adult Lift and Lesson
  • 3 x Days Kids Ski FREE Lift Pass
  • 3 x Days Ski or Board Equipment Hire per person
  • 3 x Night Stay in Schnapps 2 bedroom/2 bedroom Apartment

Inclusive cost starts from $235.00 per adult per night* and $138.00 per child per night* based on a 6 person share. And, BOOK BY AUGUST 31 and Hotham Holidays will also cover your 3-day resort entry!

Across the way at Falls Creek, Alpine View Apartments are offering a similar value family fun in the snow pass. From the 3 September to the 1 October, receive:

  • 5 Nights Apartment Style Accommodation
  • 2 Bedroom 6 Share Value Apartment
  • 5 Day Lift Pass.
  • 5 Group Lessons Per Adult.
  • 5 Full Days of Snowsports School Per Child
  • 5 Days Ski or Board Rental.

All for the low price of $859 per adult and &766 per child (3-17 yrs). To book call 1800 45 35 25 or email accom@fallscreek.net. Quote Code AV50JSH.

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A Falls Creek sunset. Image: Falls Creek

Accommodation

Spring is also a great time to secure some great accommodation deals. How does $40 a night sound at the Snowbird Mt Hotham? Just enter SKISEPT into the Promotional Code Box located here. Valid throughout September. Minimum 2 nights’ stay. Subject to availability.

If Falls Creek is more your cup of tea, Gebi’s Apartments also have a great low season deal (valid 3 September to the 1 October). For $723 per adult and 649 per child (3-17), you’ll receive:

  • 4 Nights Apartment Style Accommodation
  • 2 Bedroom 4 Share Apartment
  • 4 Day Lift and Lesson pass per Adult
  • 4 Full Days of Snowsports School per Child
  • 4 Days Ski or Board Rental

To book go to the website contact page and quote Code GB2608.

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Hotham’s iconic summit area for beginners (about 50 m from the Snowbird)