Topographic Expressions

February 19, 2013

Pecking order at the skate park

I am an official skate park mom now. Took the little guy of four for his first shred session this weekend and let's just say he is down with the "footboard stadium" as he calls it. I can't recall ever stepping into an indoor skatepark this massive. As a kid, we had banks and curbs at the high school and maybe a ditch. Plus, as a girl I never experienced this phenomenon of pecking order. The dude order was an interesting experience for me as a mom sending her pint-sized, yet no-fear baby off to the ramps feeling like a lamb in wolf-territory. It was definitely a thrill to hear the kids dropping in and the sound of wheels whooshing, but I was sorta thinking in the back of my head "what if he rides in front of the big boys and snakes their run?" Broken arms, yelling at the grom, outta the way, and shoving were in the back of my mind; however, I also knew that the guys weren't blind and if they had the nerve enough to drop, then they were good enough to avoid him. He managed to stay out of their way, after all he may be a baby in my mind but clearly he's smart enough to stay out of the big boys way for now. Rule #1 stay of out the big boys way. Seeing as he has no fear, he was quickly drawn to the lip of the tallest ramps. He managed to convince the other guys to take his board while he backed up to take a running leap to reach to top of the ramp. Pretty cleaver fella. They must've thought he had big kahonas and was going to drop to prove himself. Either way he was bro-ing it down enough to ask and get help. Maybe the big boys want to teach groms after all...maybe they pay it forward and want to ensure the tribe continues to grow. Either way, Rule #2 arrogance sucks and ask for help if you need it. Yeah, he got yelled at by a few guys. He did fall into them or causally strolled into their landing a few times. They put him in his place. Youngest grom out there, you gotta know your place. If you were able to get away with this stuff,  you'd never make it in life so why not learn it at the skatepark, Rule #3 expect to get put in your place. I did see a pissed angry-youth throw his board after being cut-off by my guy, but eh, sorry asshole learn to nail it and see Rule #2. He survived and had to be drug out kindly by me just as the half-pipe had no one in it, but hopefully I kept a low profile. I don't know if there are rules for skate park moms, but it would seem to me that Rule #4, shrink into the earth if mom makes a fool of you would be one of them. I lurked with pride. I didn't have brothers, but the dude pecking order and valuable observations I witnessed seemed to give me a glimpse into how possibly the Lord of the Flies went down. 

December 28, 2012

Winter is here!

My season started off with a real bang and an unfortunate event for New Jersey and New York with hurricane Sandy bringing massive destruction and a really bizarre snow storm to Appalachia. For once in the past five years, our resorts opened for Halloween and we took advantage of the snowicane to kick the season off!

No lift line! Wha?

Ranch life
Good times!

Being stupid in Roots with Danny Kass (well, ya know...)

We were so stoked to hang out in the sunshine with early season snowfall, but it didn't last and we were left hanging and wondering if this year was going to be a replay of last season. Freakish 70 degrees for the rest of November and early December. Ski areas would make snow, only to see it melt in the heat and the rain move in. It reminded me of sailors bailing the ship and glaciers retreating!

Seeing dirt under the lift, along with mud and bare spots was not a cool site and we definitely had to settle for some pretty cruddy days of nasty!

This is not what you want to see to get you in the mood! Luckily, we were able to joke about it and at least get to hang out and pretend that it would become normal again.

I am happy to say that at last we've gotten some sustained low temperatures to make enough snow and with the recent winter storms, new snowfall! 

Opening day of my home mountain and I got up before the sun to try to beat everyone up there! It was early, no one on the road, and I got to just chill and take it all in as I looked down upon the fresh cords. Yep, I am the nerdy girl who loves to get up before the sun and sit on top of the mountain and let all my troubles melt away before I scare myself and realize that I am alive and human. I'll be up there tomorrow morning too, if I have anything to say about it!

Enjoy your mornings!

August 4, 2012

Photo Credit:

Riding as art

Many riders will say that riding for them is a form of artistic expression. I often wonder how people interpret this? I am also a dancer (ballet and modern), in fact I have danced most of my life and more years that I have ridden a snowboard. So what do the two have in common? Let me explain the differences and similarity in terms of space and movement.

Think about mountainous terrain. You've got gravity and you've got surface shape and features. The topography forces you to have spatial awareness and to read the mountain. One reason is to prevent injury-you either want to avoid something or you need to know when to prepare to jump/land and preferably the right way. The other reason to have spatial awareness is to seek out those grooves you want to ride. You could scream down a hill or you could play around and shred a variety of banks, bumps, or park features. A snowboarder works in their space to either travel to features or to carve and play. 

A dancer's space is more often a stage or a studio. This space can be seen as a void to be filled in the context of movement. Sometimes you can incorporate things in the space, but mostly the space is used by the dancer(s) through arrangement or movement. These movements are called steps. Steps are put together to make phrases. There are primary basic positions and there are hundreds of steps. Choreography links them together to fill the void. 

Snowboarding can be thought of in a similar fashion. Not only is movement travel, but also tricks, grabs, spins, and off-axis corks. There are probably close to hundreds of these. Like dance, this movement can be linked together in whatever your flavor of the day is. Unlike dance, riding snow includes the force of gravity (ok, well dancers have momentum in a difference way) that can be used to propel the rider. Like dance, there is a flow and a groove you can ride and incorporate all sorts of movement. 

Quality of movement is where training comes in. If you want to be good at either, momma says "practice makes perfect". You have to learn a skill to progress and nailing it once doesn't count. A dancer has to do it over-and-over till you can do it in your sleep, with your eyes closed, and turn off your brain. When you have this dialed into your muscle memory then you can build it. In dance, you don't tweak an attitude. I call it milking a move. You want to reach and extend out as far as you can, to continue to movement into space. Dance is also about style and inspiration-see hip hop and urban. Combine style and technique and you have a big, fat juicy method. 

When I hear someone like Terje say that riding is art, I wonder how he is planning to fill that spatial void, read the mountain to find the juicy hucks, and put together his combination of movement-tweaked, gooey, or un-predicatable.

Art is filling space. How do you fill yours?

July 6, 2012

Davy Jones' Locker

Don't you love that feeling you get when you see a photograph from your childhood or a period of important meaning when you were growing up? Maybe it's the '70s Kodachrome maroons or the smell of the photo processing chemicals, but you can almost date a photograph by that feel, smell, and exposure. 

Photo Credit: Suzy 
1970s-cozy feeling. I can see my mom and dad, young all snuggled up. Young lovers.

One day, I was walking through the lodge at Sugar Mountain-just an innocent stroll back out to return to the slopes. My eyes glanced upon the staircase, kind of reminded me of a split foyer. Then I noticed the wooden walls and the funky light balls hanging from the ceiling. It was a wicked return to the Brady Bunch house. How quietly these splendid lodges exist in front of our eyes and we walk on by, just eyeing the lift line. As a kid I spent most of my time laying in the ditch beside the rope tow and certainly not in the lodge or the bar in the loft. The lodge went unnoticed.

Now, there's a feeling of warmth when I see the design of the early ski lodges built in the 1960s and 1970s. Like drinking chai tea and eating dark chocolate. Like wearing knee socks and hoodies. 
Photo Credit: Bryant Thomas

One of my favorite spots is on Beech Mountain, the Beech Tree, built in 1968. My friends and I call it “Davy Jones' locker” because it smells like an old wooden ship and people are constantly mopping the floor of melting snow-swabbing the decks. The Beech Tree has a grand copper flashing over the fire place, lots of dark wooden paneling, and a great loft. It's a cozy place.

Photo Credit: Suzy

I'm not an architectural guru, but the early lodges were built to last, to weather the harsh environment- A-frames, large exposed wooden beams, grand fireplaces. They called in the tourists to enjoy that Swiss Apres sensation they desired. Now they are like gorgeous, relic beasts.

Photo Credit: Bryant Thomas

New is nice, but sometimes it's good to curl up with your good friends and hunker down after a long day; wet and cold, battered by the wind into what feels like your family home-shag carpet and pigtails.

Photo Credit: Bryant Thomas

June 8, 2012


I've had those times where I have muttered to myself, I would love to be the Natural Resources manager here at this resort (or National Park, either place) and work in this beautiful wilderness everyday! I imagine myself walking over the rolling landscape and breathing in the crisp air. Ah, what a rewarding job!

That feeling usually wears off after my toes and face are numb and crazy fog rolls in. The next sobering moments are when insane winds blow, causing my tear ducts to curl up. I start feeling like I want some giant buffet line or whiskey to drop out of the sky and bring me relief. Yes, one can burn a lot of calories walking in the snow, let alone trying to collect samples up there and use a pencil. Everything is in slow motion with little room for error. Those stars you see, well it's not night and someone has really low blood pressure and this altitude, well I thought I was used to it. 

There are some gnarly trees in the subalpine treeline. You've seen them, all curled up and almost flattened to the ground. That's called a Krummholz formation. Imagine not being able to move and standing up there at that elevation 24-7 for years. You'd be all gnarly too. Maybe that's why old snowboarders and skiiers are weathered. Too much sun and wind.
Ute Trail, Rocky Mountains NP

June 1, 2012


I just had a hair-brained idea one day. I needed to get something off my chest. Forever Shred became my outlet for sharing what I had found useful for me. First it was like a scientific manuscript, then it flowed easier in context. I didn't start writing to sell anything, promote anyone, or show cool clips. I've read lots of blogs that are inspiring, but more than anything I've been to some cool places that have inspired me. I don't just mean "that's a nice little view". I mean drop to your knees and try to take in a crazy sense of awareness that we are just a tiny part of the whole. Call me a hippie, I guess. I just find myself on the mountain and I want to be able to preserve these places so people can see them too.

You get to a point where you ask yourself, "what's next?" What is phase two of this little project? Well, good question. Do I want to raise awareness? There are a lot of groups that spend tons of money and have marketing teams and staff. I'm just me. Do I want to be all crafty and Klout-like and influence people? Please. Underground is where it's at and what I like, you may not. I'm a girl blogger, should I write about fashion in snowboarding? Nope, I kinda like looking like the androgynous snowboarder and there are some way cool places already to look at. 

So here's the deal. I'm just going to write about what inspires me. Maybe it's an initiative. Maybe I'll start a new one. Maybe I'll get all yoga. Maybe I'll fill you in on some good times my friends and I have. 

If you don't want to read it, that's cool. You can read about the sustainability section on the home tab. If you want to know what inspires me, check out Topographic Expressions. 

If you don't try something new and change it up, it gets boring. So here's the experiment #2.

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