Monday, April 29, 2013

Our Season in Colorado through EPIC MIX photos

Opening Day at Beaver Creek
Throughout the 2012-2013 winter season at Beaver Creek and other Vail Resorts ski fields, we took full advantage of EpicMix. This was a really cool system which monitors your days on the mountain in number of days, vertical feet, lifts ridden and all sorts of stats. Excitingly enough, even though I missed the last three weeks of the season, I (Thomas) ranked within the top 50 skiers and riders for Epic Mix points at Beaver Creek. Epic Mix also had photographers located over the mountain at the tops of most lifts and sometimes in the terrain park or other runs. Taking a photo an any and every opportunity was strictly enforced by Amy every time out on the mountain! This is a very small collection of the photos we took over the course of the season.

Hard at work at Ski School

Matt's 25th Birthday

Thomas skiing!!
Amy on Skis! 

Amy and her sister Nicole! 
Amy and her Cousins! 

15 inches of powder on closing day at Beaver Creek! 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

NZ reunion in CO

Amy and Sarah with the Gore Range

 As you might remember, my friend Sarah from Michigan came to visit Thomas and I in Connecticut back in June when we first arrived back from our USA road trip. Sarah and I met in New Zealand when we were both studying abroad, and she was my best friend while I was there, and she is the reason why Thomas and I met and are together still! She's currently finishing up grad school, and decided that she wanted to spend a week out here in Colorado with us to keep her sane. She booked a week with us, and arrived just last Monday. 

We made sure we had plenty to do while she was here, and unlike my family who only stayed for 3 days, she had a ton of time to check out the area. We decided to spend her first day here checking out the village in Breckenridge. This ski resort is nearly an hour away, and although we've been snowboarding there, we've never been to the village, which is famous for being used as Aspen in the movie Dumb and Dumber. We arrived, walked around, shopped and went into their famous pizza place Eric's for lunch. When we came out from the basement restaurant, the whole town was covered in snow, and huge flakes were coming down! It was absolutely perfect...

...until we started driving back to Avon, and learned that the Vail Pass had been closed due to the snow and we couldn't pass! We were in the tiny town of Frisco, and decided of course to hit up their local brewery and wait it out. Finally, a few hours later we were allowed to continue home. 

 On Wednesday, Thomas got Sarah some rentals, and we convinced Matt to teach Sarah how to snowboard, considering that he trained as a snowboard instructor and that they're both single!!! Before Sarah even arrived, we told Matt all about her, and even showed him her pictures on Facebook, I even told Sarah I was going to set her up with someone, but we didn't think that they would actually totally hit it off.  After spending the entire day snowboarding together, they definitely bonded, to say the least. Matt even took her on a date! 

Vail Village

A few more days of snowboarding, and a lot of Epic Mix photos came next. 

After I got out of work from Ski School on Friday, Sarah and I took the bus into Vail. We walked down the cobblestone streets until I ran into the old dessert chef from the restaurant I work at. He opened his own restaurant and convinced us to come inside, where he bought us a round of drinks. Perfect start to the night, as we bar hopped a bit, and bought matching shirts for us, Thomas and Matt!

Vail Village

Amy Skiing!!! 

On Sarah's last day, I decided to try to ski for the first time since I was 3 years old. I taught my sister how to ski very basically when she was visiting, and I knew that I couldn't live at a Ski Resort, and help teach small children how to ski without sking once myself. So as Sarah was continuing to learn to snowboard, I tried to teach myself how to ski. We went to the very top of the mountain to the easiest runs, and I was able to make my pizza stop easily enough, but had no idea how to do anything else. I made it up, and started even making turns! Sarah and I made it our goal to go down the intermediate runs, and we finished the day with two of them! We were very proud of ourselves!! 

It was one fantastic week, and we've even planned to meet Sarah in Chicago and Michigan on our drive there with Matt in one weeks time!!! Can't wait for another NZ reunion!!! 


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Sweet As... Rye Pale Ale

I learnt several months ago of the Crazy Mountain Homebrew Pro-Am. With a deep repertoire of homebrew beers, I made sure to put some aside to enter and I even deliberately brewed a couple more to enter.  Having made 11 batches of beer out in Colorado, I submitted 6 of those that I thought were worth  entering. Some supportive friends who are big fans of my brewing immediately suggesting that I would certainly win, so I did feel a little confident. I know my beers taste good, and others seem to think so too, so I did hope to place at least. Eventually I learned that out of the top five beers at the end of the judging, three were mine! So it was my Rye Pale Ale that took it out. A sweet malty amber in colour ale, well hopped, with a decent bitterness and spicy floral aroma, which I matched with the addition of rye.

Crazy Mountain Brewery in full swing
It was still surprising when I received a phone call one morning from Crazy Mountain and the lady announced I was the winner. I'm not going to write what my response was but it was along the like of "very fantastic". So I headed immediately to the brewery to hand over the recipe and headed back a few days later to brew the beer with the head brewer as an upscaled 2,500 liter batch. Like I did while interning in NZ, I just talked the poor brewers head off, asking question, telling stories and trying to pick up as much as I could.

My girlfriend, friends, colleagues and even my bosses
As announced by an article and ad in the newspaper, a special beer release party was to be held a few weeks later, when the beer was ready to drink. I was to drink as much of my beer as I pleased, for free even! Due to my recent snowboarding injury I employed my friends to fetch refills of my jug which was well shared among the group. I enjoyed the fame on the night of appraise and still get the odd random acknowledgement. It was a fantastic night with a great showing of friends, work colleagues, and many valley locals. The beer has been very well recieved and I am happy with how the upscaled version turned out. It will remain on tab at the Crazy Mountian Brewery and hopefully distributed to  few pubs around the valley.

The accident

Nice and warm all wrapped up for the ride down
Two weeks ago we had a run of some of best powder days of the season. Coming late in the season we just kept having storms sit over us and it just snowed and snowed and snowed. So I thought I would end the season with a bang! With perfect timing of the storm allowing me to ride everyday, with some evening shifts at work or complete days off, I was having the time of my life. We were riding hard, pushing our abilities and really throwing down. Videographic evidence to come, once we are done editing our seasons worth of GoPro filming. At this point in the season of 70 plus days riding we knew where the good spots were to make the most of this fresh snow. This being a good thing as at our resort, Beaver Creek with skier and rider numbers in the thousands. When there is fresh snow, about an hour later its gone.

That morning and the mornings prior we had been running the lines of our lives. A 20 foot cliff was intimidating, but after days of building up to it, all I had to do was point my board for it and it was done. I headed back that route on the day of the incident and after two runs, my friend claimed he was too hung over to drop cliffs today so suggested we head to the safety and serenity of the trees. So we headed to my newly discovered tree run accessed only by a backcounty gate, meaning we were leaving the boundaries of the ski field. But with the most tree-mendous rewards. This snow was bottomless, feet upon feet stacked up in tight to moderately spaced Spruce trees. These were the turns of the season. With a fantastic filming opportunity, I followed tight behind Phil who had the camera pointed back upon himself, hoping to get me trailing behind. I did follow close for about half the run, until I came to a dramatic halt. At decent speed a simple toe turn following in Phil's trail sent me tumbling, luckily hitting a tight gap between two trees a bit too tight for my board to fit causing a rather strenuous belt and tug to my leg and ankle. I rolled myself upright to some deep grunts and breaths, knowing immediately it didn't feel good.

Ski patroller did well to get me down the black diamonds in the sled
Now, unfortunately separated from my riding buddies I gathered myself and attempted to put weight on my right leg. It didn't really like me doing that, so the problem now was that I was halfway down a very steep and long run deep in the trees in the back country. So still strapped into my board I bum-slid for a while. I decided to call my friends and let them know whats up and take a second to try to warm myself up. I continued to bum slide but ended up falling into a tree well, a deep pocket of powder around the base of a tree. Unstrapped and climbed out and continued to crawl or where it was steep enough I bodyslid on my board. After about 25 minutes, I made it to the gully track which leads back to a main run. I sat on the board and bobsledded out of the gully. I crawled up to the side of the main run and sat there waiting for my friends to rendezvous and work out a plan. Luckily, after only a few minutes I spotted a ski patroller and called him over. He promptly radioed for a sled to come collect me. My friends finally caught me back up and promptly got out the GoPro camera to record my rescue.
Getting dropped of at the medical centre
I got some immediate treatment at the Beaver Creek Medical Centre and was given some cruches and a boot to stabilise my ankle. The prognosis was that I had a spiral fracture of my right fibula. I have seen an orthopedic doctor and the recovery should be reasonably speedy with no surgery needed. Two weeks on now I can put weight one the foot and move about without the cruthes, but I still use them most of the time.