Sondre Norheim: Inspiration, Dreams, Challenges

It’s hard to figure out exactly where the legend and the facts merge and diverge when it comes to Sondre Norheim. He is generally credited with innovations — like side-cut and willow heel straps for bindings — that helped propel the nascent recreational pursuit of skiing even further into the consciousness and culture of Norway.

I have no idea exactly what was involved in a ski competition or exhibition in 1868 but, as a 42 year-old tenant farmer from his own hinterland, he seems to have blown people’s minds in the big city with his grace and style. He is revered by many modern day freeheelers, but he should be celebrated by anyone who is thrilled by the feeling of skis turning on snow, as his creations in the shop and on the hill lead to further developments in design and technique that we enjoy today.

This video isn’t necessarily made for a skiing audience, making it all the more powerful, in my opinion. It speaks not only to his skiing passion, but to the powerful lure, and harsh reality of the American dream.

Plattekill Work Day 2011

After an initial dose of amazing, but not unprecedented, early-season powder skiing in the Catskills, it looks like warmer and drier temps will be the norm for the next few days. While we await what we hope will be a bountiful winter, there’s a golden window of opportunity to put in a day making Plattekill an even better mountain.

Plattekill aerial photo.

Laszlo and Danielle Vajtay, the progressive co-owners of the mountain, are on-board with our proposal to do some trimming to get the trees going sooner and safer this season. We’ve identified a couple of zones that catch and hold snow well but currently don’t get much skier traffic. We’re recruiting volunteers to head to Roxbury with loppers and saws to clear out some choice lines by trimming the brush and removing the deadfall and other snow snakes.

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Big Tupper Pre-Season Tour

It was an exciting Halloween weekend for a few lucky New York skiers. I didn’t share in the early pow slashing in the Catskills, but I did get a healthy dose of preseason stoke a little further north. I spent a day exploring Big Tupper with lift ops manager Cliff Levers.

Driving through the town of Tupper Lake in the morning, I saw the mountain in the distance, across the lake. Like a tourist, I pulled over to the side of the road to take a picture — the slopes glistened with a fresh dusting of October snow.

I parked in front of the ticket window, where I found Cliff waiting for me. Although we had never met, we both a lot to say. It was like catching up with an old friend. Some of that may be the atmosphere at Big Tupper. After ten years of silent slopes, the two-year resurgence has generated some excitement. Walking through the empty lodge, I couldn’t help but imagine the ghosts of skiers past and future.

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