Scratch the Itch Video Jam

It’s wintertime in America, which means many of you already are making some turns out there, with the rest of us hopefully not far behind. When I find myself with the itch to hit the not readily accessible slopes, a good way to go is to jam a skiing video. (My usual, trusted source for that cinematographic sub-genre is Andy over at MLP. For more skiing content on this site, click here.)

Today’s selection combines the ski sub-genre with what the semi-self-aware NPR-ish crowd has crassly dubbed “ruin porn.” On the sub-sub genre level, we have an urban skiing video set in post-2008 Detroit. On top of that, the executors of this brief venture seem too young (and, because it’s Detroit we can say, white) to be able to offer real gravity in their voiceover narrations.

Skiing is a physical negotiation with gravity, though, and like most good skiing videos born of conventional (wilderness and urban) tropes, the visuals eventually take over and create a worthwhile experience.

Such is the case with “Tracing Skylines.” It rides the thematic edge probably a little too closely at times, but the sum experience is one of a strong change of pace ski video.

The High Road to Taos (via Stio)

“When I got to New Mexico that was mine. As soon as I saw it that was my country.  It fitted to me exactly, ” Georgia O’Keefe to Alfred Steiglitz 1940.

Saturated colbalt contrasts the stucco wall the shade of pimentón de la vera.  The history, precision and elegance of the Northern New Mexico captured my heart.  After meditating on the landscapes of O’Keefe’s New Mexico, I climbed through the Santa Fe Sangre de Cristo Mountains, winding down state road 503 along a historical route called The High Road to Taos.

The Solomon Extreme Freeride Championship, at Taos Ski Valley, began the next day and I was anxious to compete for the very first time, but I found strength and inspiration in the enchanting landscape of Northern New Mexico. … Read More

(via Stio)

Just another Monday

This time of the year is a bit of a lull in the sports calendar, though college basketball continues its upward march toward March, and both Michigan State and Vanderbilt– two teams that have traveled in different directions a bit, mostly by virtue of their original positions this year– appear to be pulling it together when it counts.

After the Red Wings’ record-setting win on Valentine’s Day, they have extended their home winning streak to 23, now besting all such streaks (and not merely those within a single season).

Out East, the Linsanity rolls on. Out West, a rolling avalanche killed three skiiers, including the head judge of the Freeskiing World Tour, in Washington. (These, of course, are not the season’s first skiing deaths.)

Coming attractions here this week include my overdue report on the Kentucky-Vanderbilt game, bdoyk’s nod to Tim Wakefield, and a preview of the 2012 NASCAR season. Thanks to Jalen Rose and all the rest of you for dropping by.

Free Ski Friday Jam

The Deseret News reports:

SALT LAKE CITY — Canadian freestyle skier Sarah Burke succumbed to injuries Thursday morning that she sustained in a fall Jan. 10 while training in the superpipe at Park City Mountain Resort.

University of Utah officials confirmed in a statement that Burke, 29, passed away at 9:22 a.m. surrounded by her family. As a result of the fall, she suffered a ruptured vertebral artery, one of the four major arteries supplying blood to the brain. The rupture of this artery led to severe bleeding. Emergency personnel performed CPR at the site of the accident, during which time she remained without a pulse or spontaneous breathing, the statement said.

She remained in a coma and on life support from the time she arrived at the hospital. Doctors conducted numerous neurological examinations and tests and revealed that Burke had sustained severe, irreversible damage to her brain due to lack of oxygen and blood after the cardiac arrest, the statement said. In accordance with her wishes, her family donated her organs “to save the lives of others.”

With her death, the world loses a world-class athlete, a tireless advocate for women’s athletics and a kind and generous soul.

Burke fought fiercely for the sport’s inclusion into the Winter Olympics. Last spring her efforts were recognized when the IOC announced ski superpipe would be included in the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. Burke said it was the fulfillment of a life-long dream.

“In many ways, Sarah defines the sport,” Judge said. “She was one of the first people to get into the pipe and bring skis to the pipe. She’s always been very dedicated in trying to define her sport, and it’s never been about just winning. It’s been about pushing the limits. She’s always been more concerned about making herself the best, rather than comparing herself to other people.”

“I was often the only girl at the comps and competed against the boys for the first few years,” shes writes on the website. “I got my first sponsor when I was 17 (years) old. I had skipped training for Junior Nationals in Whistler and went off skiing in the park. Before I knew it I was traveling and competing all over the world. Ten years later I am still doing what I love and riding for the best companies out there. I have taken countless crashes and broken many bones but I love skiing more and more every year and plan to do it as long as I am enjoying it.”

“I plan to stick around for the 2014 Olympics so don’t be thinkin’ I am going anywhere!” she wrote. “I am really looking forward (to) skiing pow with my friends and pushing my boundaries. I would never have imagined that a girl from little ol’ Midland, Ontario, would be where I am today. So always dream big … you can make it happen.”

You can see a video of one of Burke’s X Games gold medal runs here. More related ski safety news is here.

On the day I learned of Burke’s death, I was in the process of planning my next ski adventure, and all of this had me thinking about what I like to listen to on the way to and on the mountain. Bluegrass for sure. If a heady jam is required, this is a good go-to (contextually legitimated by the appearance of a pedal-steel). I’m all for the celebration-of-life approach, but it feels like something a little more somber may be the order of this day:


(Will you look at that? It’s our boy Bruce. I really did not intend that. The venue also reminded me that I needed to amend my bio here.)

Many times, I associate a song or a group with a particular season. Few bands have a repertoire as extensive as the Dead’s, though, so it probably isn’t surprising that they have solid winter and summer catalogues. In terms of substance and presentation, the above clip clearly draws from both.

Tragic accidents like this are a reminder that athletic pursuits are not a diversion or mere hobby for everyone. In an age in which social reform focuses on the salvation of the minds of our undereducated and underprivileged children, it may be worth remembering that mind and body are connected, and that, for worse or for better, the fate of one is directly tied to the fate of the other.