Tag Archives: K2 Women’s Alliance

Lofoten Magic

Erin Smart is a Seattle native who has dedicated her life to skiing and climbing in the mountains.  She grew up skiing and climbing all over the Cascades of Washington State and has since spent several winters ski mountaineering in La Grave and Chamonix, France. Recently Erin took a trip to the Lofoten Islands. Below is a recap of this epic trip, in her own words: 

Gazing out through my key hole in the window seat, earbuds pumping LCD Soundsystem, I felt excited to be heading north. There was a touchy snowpack in Chamonix this winter, and I was glad to be leaving that deep persistent weak layer that had been lurking below us all season.

Erin Smart Lofton Hike

The Lofoten Islands are regarded as one of the most beautiful archipelagos in the world. The mountains climb straight out from the Norwegian Sea into a wide variety of terrain. Looking around, it is impossible not to get inspired. Ski lines are everywhere you look, and if you can’t park directly below, a hired boat can bring you up to the shore where you can put your ski boots on next to the snowy seashells.

My first day this season I joined my fellow guide Mark and his clients to see how conditions were before I started work. During the morning guide meeting everyone was excited to get out. There was 30cm of new snow, and stability was expected to be good. We went to go check out a new zone in the Reinslett valley, just a 30 minute drive from the skiers lodge.

Lofton Turns

Heading in, there was a tall steep side wall of alpine ice gullies on our left. I kept peering up at each gully, trying to see if any connected. They all appeared to need at least a bit of climbing gear to ascend, but maybe for another day. As the valley split, we arched to its right, circling around the base of the peak. As we gained a snowy bench into a beautifully quiet alpine cirque, possibilities surrounded us. A col appeared to have a few nice options and looked to be relatively straightforward to reach. As we began traversing toward it, the slope steepened to where side-hilling was no longer going to be an option. As Mark and I were about to change plans, we looked up to an impressive couloir hiding above us, that went as far as we could see until it turned right at its top. With our strong group of skiers, we transitioned to booting, and made our way up the line. Mark and I kept swapping breaking trail in front as the powder was waist deep at times. 1000ft later, we topped out onto a perfect transition platform just below the peak. Our ski racing clients raged down the couloir, hooting the whole way. It was going to be a good Lofoten season.

Erin Smart Lofton Ski

Several weeks later, after every kind of weather and snow conditions imaginable, and meeting many wonderful new clients who came to visit, I had a week off to play at the end of my trip. My brother and sister-in-law came up from Chamonix, and my parents came in from Seattle. I showed them some classic lines, and we explored a bit as well. We skied powder in couloirs, surfed in the Arctic Sea, ate fresh cod that we caught, and took a rib boat to ski in the Trollfjord. It was the perfect end to another great season in Lofoten.

Erin Smart Skin

We hugged goodbye to our friends at the Lofoten Skiers Lodge and Northern Alpine Guides, and made our way back to Chamonix. Back to the land of glaciers and lifts, we took advantage that next day of perfect conditions of two lines I have been waiting to ski in the right conditions for several seasons; the Glacier Rond and the Cosmiques Couloir. Back to back, we skied perfect spring conditions down both runs. While I am already dreaming of the quiet corners to explore next year in Lofoten, it is good to be back in Chamonix where the transition to climbing season has begun and the snowy dreams are just that for a while.

 

The All-New OoolaLuv 85Ti

Developed by women for women, we are excited to be bringing back the the Luv!  The new Luv skis provide ladies with strength and stability, but also forgiveness and control thanks to the all-new channel light core technology. The staple ski in the new Luv line is the OoolaLuv 85ti. Created by the K2 Ski Alliance, this is the quintessential all-mountain ski. With a versatile waist width of 85mm underfoot, the OoolaLuv can ski everywhere.  The new core gives skiers a lighter ski that results in reduced swing weight and a smooth flex that a hard charging all-mountain ski needs. Click play on the video above to see it in action and for an in-depth look at the latest from the K2 Ski Alliance.

 

MissFits Chronicles: Blondes and Blower

words by: McKenna Peterson

“Wow, snow boners everywhere” Pip Hunt wipes the condensation off the inside of the van window in order to get a better look at the 8-foot-high snow banks that line the skinny road. Laughter ensues, “seriously, how much do you think it has snowed since we have been here?…. Hey, you’re driving on the wrong side of the road again”

“Oh. Yeah, s*** I need to stop doing that”

Two weeks of overhead blower powder, getting used to driving on the opposite side of the road, and delving into the intimidating yet absurdly delicious Japanese cuisine[1] proved to be quite the adventure for the K2 Ski Alliance ladies. Pip Hunt, Amie Engerbretson, Lexi duPont and McKenna Peterson linked up at Hokkaido’s Kiroro Resort with one profound goal; to have as much fun as possible.

As we put on our skins and headed into the backcountry for the first day of skiing, we were all feeling some nerves. The sun was out, the snow was perfect, and we were following local knowledge to a zone of spines. Yes, spines, in Japan. Who would have thought? Cameras were queued and the pressure was on. When the face came into view, we each hurriedly picked a line and gunned it to the top. Naturally, we made Lexi, with more Alaska spine skiing experience than the entire K2 mens team[2] drop first. We watched as Lexi was consumed by billows of perfectly light powder, she let out a “wooohoooo” and disappeared from view. My eyes grew wide and powder panic overtook my soul like never before[3], “I am dropping next!” I yelled over the radio, “ready when you are”. Camera man Jefe’s[4] response turned my gut and slashed my pillowy visions, “Lex is a little hurt down here, the face is steeper than expected, standby”.

The words you never want to hear. How did the initial stoke of the ‘wooohooo’ turn into a regrettable ‘ouch’?

Lexi was ok, just a bit of shin-bang and a little wake up call for all of us. We had rushed into skiing those lines without second thought or a concise look. For that moment, and that moment alone, we allowed our ego’s to overtake our inner child and we went for the rowdy line. And when your uber-importante number 1 goal is to have fun, the rowdy line is not always the answer.

Together, we recounted the day and made a pact to prioritize having as much fun as possible throughout the remainder of the trip. We were in Japan, the land of hello kitty and unbelievable amounts of low density powder; we were going to enjoy every aspect of the experience. Powder shots were paired with Motown and portraits evolved into slow-motion hairwhips[5]. The point was to replace the ‘roars’ with ‘meows’ and deep breaths with giggles. We skied mellow pow and deep pow, popped pillows and hugged trees, we ate sushi and envisioned stomach aquariums, we even sang karaoke to the Spice Girls until the sun came up[6]. All smiles, all the time.

I think everyone can agree that in the world of skiing, laughter trumps intensity any day.



[1] We ate something from the ocean that resembled a baby armadillo, tasted like chicken

[2] Only slightly exaggerated

[3] This happens at least 25 times per year

[4] Actually Jeff Engerbretson

[5] Amie E for the win

[6] TLC and Destiny’s Child were mixed in for good measure

MissFits Chronicles: Travel Like a Pro

Words by: K2 Alliance Member McKenna Peterson 

As soon as the snow starts to accumulate, it is inherent ski bum nature to begin obsessively checking the weather in every corner of the winter world, develop instagram envy, weigh the consequences of dropping everything to chase a storm, and then…. end up staying home to ski the thin local snowpack on the weekends and continue to peruse the gram from the comfort of the couch. We all do it. But… What if? What if you used up the vacation time that you have been hoarding and hit the road with a couple buddies?

Here is a secret; 90% of the skiers that you follow on Instagram, you know the ones traveling the world and always skiing the deepest of the deep?… well, they are just like you; incessantly checking social media and weather predictions, throwing together last minute trips, and, yes, weighing the consequences of draining the bank account. The only difference is, they pull the trigger and deal with the aftermath in the afterthought.

Waiting Game

So next time you see that Japan is having a record season or that the snowpack in BC is unusually stable and absolutely blower… just send it. Seriously, what’s the worst that could happen?

Here are a few tips to help you throw together that last minute dream trip (think faceshots and après)

Location: Last minute storm chasing can prove to be the best decision you ever made, although it can have some hurdles. www.opensnow.com is a great one stop shop for snow predictions across the US and Canada. Learn to interpret a basic Doppler radar and keep an eye on what is happening, as forecasts can be moody and change on you. If you need more than a day notice for your ski getaway, look at the month-by-month snowfall history for your desired location and dates. Figure out where it has snowed the most and when over the past five years or so. Google is a big help with this one. For example, March is the best (and most unassuming) time to visit the Wasatch.

Travel: Driving seems easy but is time consuming, usually requires snow tires and 4-wheel drive, and it can be costly. If the drive to powder paradise is longer than 5 hours, look into flights. Tuesday is the best day to book a plane ticket (I don’t know why, but it’s cheaper). In order to avoid baggage fees; pack as much as you can into your ski bag until it weighs exactly 50 lbs and fill a carry-on and your backpack with the rest (anything that doesn’t fit, you don’t need). Always carry-on your ski boots. If traveling outside of the US, bus and train systems are easy to navigate and will bring you into the mountains for fairly cheap.

Lodging: Most resort towns have a city or a ‘non-resort’ town close by. Be willing to spend a few extra minutes on the bus in order to avoid resort inflation on the cost of a room. Online trip reviews and blog posts can be helpful in finding the right place to stay. Read up a bit on what has worked for the ski bums that have been there before. Package deals that include lodging, food and lift tickets are worth looking into.

Food and après: A long day on the hill is almost always followed by a bout of après. Try not to get too carried away; you don’t want to end up with empty pockets and a ski-hindering hangover. But definitely partake, meet people, have fun and reminisce on how rad you got that day. If in a foreign country, learn a little bit of the language. Think of the phrases you will use the most,  ‘thank you’ ‘excuse me’ ‘beer’ and ‘coffee’ are key. The costs of food can add up, make sure to keep all of your leftovers (and friends’ leftovers) for lunch the next day. If it is possible, try and cook your own breakfast, it will save you time in the mornings and ensure that you get first chair.

WaitingGame

Terrain: Make friends! Drop the shyness and get to know the locals. Starting up a conversation with someone at the coffee shop, on the hill or in the bar can be beneficial. Don’t be pushy about asking for beta. Usually, if you get someone talking about something they have a passion for (skiing, touring, etc) the info will eventually slip out and then you can start asking questions. If you are venturing off of the resort, definitely check the local avalanche forecast and avalanche history for that season. It is OK to ask questions, even in foreign countries where there is a language barrier; the ski community is friendly and wants to help you find the goods.

Social Media: Make sure to continuously post photos to your social media feed of you getting faceshots, standing at the top of cool lines, and drinking beer. Make your friends jealous. I bet they join you next year for another ski bum getaway.

Road to Recovery: Maggie Voisin

K2 Skis: What’s one word that describes your current mood?
Maggie: Content

Not always a bad thing. Where are you at the moment?
Park City, Utah

I know you stay up on your pop culture. Have you become addicted to any TV shows since your injury?
(Laughs) I always get asked this but not yet.  I have a lot of school that should probably get my full attention.

Dedication, nice. How are you feeling physically?
Physically i’m feeling as strong as I can be at 6 weeks. I am just really looking forward to a strong recovery.

MaggieV
All smiles! Photo: Shay Williams

I’m sure you’ve been dreaming about skiing. Anything in particular? A certain trick a favorite slope course?
Lately I have been been reading a lot of articles and have been seeing lots of photos of the skiing in Japan. It’s been awhile since I have done any kind of skiing outside of the park and skiing deep pow right now sounds like such a blast and Japan seems like the place to go!

Japan did look epic. Two of your amigos got injured this season. What does it mean for you that two of your best friends are now in your situation (I.e Julia and Darian)?
I wish more than anything for those girls to still be out there killing it but unfortunately it doesn’t always work in our favor. I know with all three of us together we will push each other just as hard as we do when we are skiing. I think having them is really going to contribute to a huge part of my recovery.

MaggieV_Rail
Maggie in her element. Photo: Shay Williams

What have you been doing to rehab?
After surgery my doctor let me come home for the first six weeks and start my rehab out here in Montana. The first six weeks are the slowest and seem to me,  to be the least progressive but I’ve been really working on my, range of motion, swelling and working on engaging my quad. Also because I had a meniscal repair I haven’t been able to walk
for six weeks and i’m very excited to say that my 6 weeks is up!

Have any feel good advice for others going through an knee injury?
The best thing I have to say is to not dwell on your injury. I understand that’s easier to say then to do but try and find the positive out of the situation. Listen to your doctors, yours physical therapist and work hard to get healthy.

Have you been getting some school done in your down time?
Yes, school and physical therapy have been occupying most of my time.

When can people expect to see back on skis?
I’m hoping to get back on snow in the next 8 months. I’m going to have to work hard but i’m excited to get back doing what I love!

Have you been working with trainers to rehab?
I’ve done my first 6 weeks of rehab in Montana and now I’m in Park City training and rehabbing with the U.S Ski Team.

Any favorite songs lately?
Im going to have to say Blank Spaces by Taylor Swift just because thats what the girls and I used to blast before we went skiing.

MaggieVAir1
Air Voisin. Photo: Shay Williams

Who doesn’t love T-Swift? She’s a boss. Any last shout outs?
I would love to thank my family, friends, sponsors and everyone who has supported me throughout my skiing especially through my lows. I am so thankful to be in such a wonderful community of people and i’m looking forward to a fun and exciting future.

#BetheEnd

My name is Francesca and I like to ski.  I was born in the land of beers, brats, lederhosen and yodeling and was first introduced to the K2 brand in Penzberg, Germany at age three. I moved to Jackson, Wyoming for high school and am currently finishing college in Bellingham, Washington. Born in Munich, Germany, to two crazy Euro ski instructors, my upbringing revolved around the mountains and it was clear to me that I would one day like to work in the ski industry. Here I am, 21 years young, shipping skis and boots to athletes all around the world, answering K2 love letters and sticker requests and loving life as the current intern for this ‘serious but fun’ company.

But enough about me, October is the International Breast Cancer Awareness Month and I dedicate this month to my good friend Elena. I dedicate it to all who have suffered from breast cancer and to all currently fighting it. I dedicate it to the warriors, the dreamers and to the believers. I dedicate it to loving life with all its ups and downs and I dedicate it to strength. Yes. To strength. To support. To love. And to willpower.

During our first year of high school my friend Elena was diagnosed with breast cancer. At the time, I wasn’t quite sure what that would mean for her and our friendship. Never had I expected to watch her celebrate birthday year, after year, in the hospital attached to tubes and machines, her body and loving nature shrinking with each passing year.  Although the disease tried to capture her free spirit, this girl taught us one thing I will never forget– the power of indescribable strength and will. A strength that bends but that is never broken.

Everyday, 625 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in the U.S. It is the second most common cancer in women and men worldwide.  The Breast Cancer Research Foundation is working to ‘prevent and cure breast cancer by advancing the world’s most promising research.’ Only through research can the understanding of cancer be revolutionized and the core of this insidious disease discovered. Founded in 1993 by Evelyn H Lauder, the foundation has raised over $500 million to ‘fuel discoveries in tumor biology, genetics, prevention, treatment, survivorship and metastasis.’ In 2014-2015, BCRF will award $58.6 million in annual grants to 222 scientists from the most prestigious universities and medical institutions around the world.

The outdoor community strives to help end breast cancer by funding research and supporting athletes and community members in their battle. Here at K2 we believe that it is important to feel and express gratitude for the environment and people that surround us and that it is of even greater importance to support those who may be struggling and unable to enjoy life and the natural forces as we do. We highlight the BCRF ribbon on our women’s skates, boards and skis and have supported the Breast Cancer Research Foundation with an annual $50,000 donation to fund research since 2002. That’s over $500,000 and counting.

The Breast Cancer Awareness Foundation’s #BetheEnd is grounded in the belief that every person has the power to be the end of breast cancer by supporting research. Purchase a shop pink product, start a fundraiser or share a #BeTheEnd campaign image on social media.

I strongly believe in the significance of being thankful for what we have and continuously fueling ourselves off adrenalin, the outdoors and stoke while also remembering to put our egos aside and support those less fortunate than ourselves. Be the End.

MissFits Moment: Yuki Tsubota

 

Name: Yuki Tsubota
Age: 20
Hometown: Whistler
Other sponsors: The North Face, Sushi Village, Giro, Skullcandy
K2 skis of choice: MissConduct

Yuki! What’s up girl? How is life!??
Things have been really good! Haven’t done a whole lot since the Olympics but it’s so so so nice to have some down time to myself.

Tell us what you’ve been up to this summer…!
I’ve been slowly getting back into the swing of things, had a camp in Mt. Hood a couple of weeks ago. Coached a session at Momentum which was a blast and now I’m getting ready to head back down to Hood again. There’s been a lot of lake days and hanging with my friends which has been the best! Hoping to get out at least once for a camping trip.

How has your life changed since the Olympics?
I wouldn’t say my life has changed that significantly. There definitely has been more media and interviews and people asking how it was and how I’m doing. There are a lot more “wow you went to the Olympics?” I get from people, but if anything it was more of an amazing experience for me and I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of our sport debuting at the games.

What is your favorite memory from last season?
Probably the day I was officially announced to the Olympic team. I was in Aspen at X Games and I got up early to watch the TV broadcast of the team being announced and of course everything about being at the games also was unforgettable. It didn’t really kick in for me that I was at the Olympics until I walked in with Canada at the opening ceremonies; what a night that was. Surprisingly though when it came to competing there, it wasn’t that much different then any other contest for me beside the a little more pressure but only in qualifiers. Once I made it to finals I was fine, I was there to do what I came to do and no matter what happened I was proud of myself because I skied the best I could.

Tell us a bit about your injury from Sochi. And how are you doing now?
So on my final run I came up short on the knuckle switch and kneed myself. I ended up fracturing my cheek in two spots and a concussion. I stayed in the hospital over night and flew home two days later. I was able to get surgery quickly after I got home and take everything real easy. I think I seemed fine at the time but I hardly remember anything after the accident for about two weeks, for the longest time I thought somebody packed my bags for me but apparently I did it myself and no recollection of the flight home. I couldn’t really do anything for about a month after which was the toughest I couldn’t drive at all so I had to have someone take me everywhere and be with me. I’m almost back to 100% now beside the vibrations I get though my face on hard impact but it’s been slowly going away.

What do you have in the books for this winter?
My season is looking really great, very similar to the last two season without the pressure of the Olympics so that will be nice. Dew Tour, World Cups, and X Games. If I find the time I would really like to get out to Japan and ski if not I want to get out and ski more back country and do a few trips out.

Give us some insight on what it’s like to grow up in Whistler. Is it is crazy as my vacations always are?!
I don’t think you could give a kid a better place to grow up! I’ve lived here since I was 3 moved up from Vancouver and haven’t left yet and have no plans to ever. Growing up I did every sport you could think of and trying to jam it all in every week was a task but slowly they got weeded out and I ended up with hockey and skiing, and at the age of 12 I put everything into skiing and it’s been my life ever since. The schooling here is great too with all the teachers being very accommodating with your schedule, helping you catch up and making sure we understood what we missed.
…and yes it’s always crazy as your vacations here, living in Whistler is like living in a vacation. Go skiing all day, hang out by the lake, do what every you want then theres the village to go partying, shopping or out for dinner. Thats why you get all these people that come to visit and never leave.

I think you pretty much have the best sponsor EVER (besides us of course;)  Tell us about it puuhhlease!
I sure do! I can’t thank them enough for everything they have done. Ladies and gentlemen I’d like to give a big big thank you to Sushi Village. If you’ve been to Whistler before you know the place and how awesome it is. Hands down the best sushi and saki margs. All of the crazy nights we’ve all had in there… team dinners, birthdays, pants off parties…theres no better place to do it right. Putting that all to the side though they have been amazing support to me over the last two years and I give the biggest thanks to Miki and Naoko.

Do you have any rituals you do at the top of the slope course or before a comp?
I have one but I can’t tell you because it’s a secret. I do have a left and right ski that I’m very superstitious about and I also have a ziploc of notes and small charms that I ski with everyday, I know it’s weird but i’ve done it for so long now that it’s become a part of me.

Do you see yourself living in Whistler for a long time?
I sure do! This is the place I want to live forever and I can’t see my self living anywhere else, it’s home for me and always will be. Growing up here as a kid, I want my kids to grow up here and have all the opportunities I had.

What are the top three things on your bucket list?
That’s tough and I don’t really know if I even have any, I have the top three places I’d like to go but I know they aren’t very difficult places to get to and I will visit them way before I die. The first is to ski powder in Japan, I’ve visited Japan many times but only in the Summer and fall never to ski. I’ll find the time one day to go over there. Second is to go to Africa and do a couple week safari, I don’t know what it is but being able to see and be close to lions and elephants is very intriguing to me. My third is New York, it’s not very special but it’s somewhere I’ve always wanted to go. Just to see the main places, Time Square, Central Park, Statue of Liberty ect.

Do you speak Japanese? Have you been to Japan much?
I do, I can almost speak fluent Japanese but my writing and reading is non-existent. I get to speak it sometimes with my mum, family back in Japan or a few people that around town but beside that not really. I’ve been to Japan around 8-9 times hopefully the next time is to ski too. It’s one of my favourite places to go, the food is to die for and the shopping is up there too.

What’s your favorite K2 ski and why?
The ski and ride and is my favourite is the MissConduct. It’s got the shape of a traditional ski which I love and perfect stiffness for me, last year I went up a size which really helped me, it’s made it easier to land having more tip and tail to land on. What I’m really excited for is the Remedy 112 for next year it’s a completely new ski that I can’t wait to try out.

Who was your biggest influence in the industry growing up?
Growing up in Whistler I looked up to all the pro skiers in town, I would see them around town and on the hill and be starstruck. Of course though Sarah was the one I looked up to the most even when I was a mogul skier she was the one. She did what the guys did and was just such a big influence on women’s skiing.

I know Paul Walker was your #1 man. Sorry for your loss. Do you have your eyes set on anyone new?
Really? Do we really need to talk about this? Yes Paul Walker was my man and we were gonna get married and drive fast cars. I remember the day I got the news, it was so devastating and I cried. There will never be anyone that can replace my love for him.

Any shoutouts?
My family for always being behind me on everything I’ve ever done, my sponsors for supporting me, my coaches for getting me to where I am and making all my dreams real and a big special one to my best friend Annik and my man Ryan for putting up with me all the time because I’m so high maintenance.