Wednesday, July 31, 2019

The 10 Greatest Female Freeskiers of All Time

Professional backcountry skier Tatum Monod A backflip for the girls from professional backcountry skier Tatum Monod. Image: SnowBrains

These 10 lovely ladies probably shred harder than you.

Professional skier Maude Raymond
Armada Skis athlete Maude Raymond. Image:

Maude Raymond- A Montreal, Canada native that rides for Armada skisShe spends her winters in Mammoth Lakes, California, doing what she does best.

Profesional Skier Grete Eliassen
6-time Winter X Games medalist Grete Eliassen getting some air. Image: Women's Sports Foundation

Grete Eliassen- An American-Norwegian professional skier who lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. She has won 6 medals at the Winter X Games in slopestyle, including back-to-back gold medals in 2005 and 2006.

Professional Big Mountain Skier Ingrid BackstromIngrid Backstrom helicopter skiing out of Valle Nevado, Chile. Image: SnowBrains

Ingrid Backstrom- Ingrid Backstrom is a skiing icon who has skied first descents in Greenland, Baffin Island, and China. She has starred in more than 20 ski filmsIngrid is a mother of two and co-founder of SAFE AS(Skiers Advocating and Fostering Avalanche and Snow Safety), helping lead women’s avalanche clinics around the West.

Professional skier Michelle ParkerA Squaw Valley local, Michelle Parker, is a professional skier and Red Bull athlete. Image: Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows

Michelle Parker- With her home mountain being Squaw Valley, California, Michelle Parker is one of the ski industry’s most versatile female skiers. She has appeared in over a dozen ski films and in 2013 won the Best Female Performance at the Powder Video Awards. She has also received an award from the International Freeski Film Festival for her segment in Matchstick Productions’ Superheroes of Stoke.

Professional skier Angel CollinsonSkiing big lines and deep pow is in professional skier Angel Collinson's blood. Image: SnowBrains

Angel Collinson- A Salt Lake City native who grew up living in the world-famous, Little Cottonwood Canyon, Angel Collinson is one of Teton Gravity Research's most distinguished female skiers. She's a gnarly ripper, to say the least. Her brother, John Collinson, is also a professional skier. Must run in the family.

Professional skier Sarah Jean Burke
A true skiing legend, Sarah Jean Burke changed the game forever. Image: SnowBrains

Sarah Burke- Sarah Jean Burke (1982-2012) was a Canadian freeskier who pioneered the superpipe event at the Winter X Games. She is a 5-time Winter X Game gold medalist who won the world championship in the halfpipe in 2005. Burke passed away on January 10th, 2012 from a fatal head injury she sustained during training at Park City Mountain Resort. She is forever a legend. May she ski in peace.

Professional skier Jackie PaasoFreeride World Tour champion Jackie Paaso sending BIG lines. Image: SnowBrains

Jaclyn Paaso- Jackie is a former mogul skier turned professional freeskier from Lake Tahoe, California. She is the winner of the 2019 Freeride World Tour in AndorraShe even has her own movie, Evolution of Dreams.

Skiing legend Kaya Turksi Red Bull athlete and 8-time Winter X Games gold medalist, Kaya Turksi, is a skiing legend. Image: SnowBrains

Kaya Turksi- A Canadian freeskier, Turksi is the most dominant skier in women's slopestyle history. She has 8 Winter X Games gold medals -- all in slopestyle.

Elyse Saugstad was the Freeskier Magazine "2018 Female Skier of the Year." Freeskier Magazine's "2018 Female Skier of the Year," Elyse Saugstad, lives for pow. Image: SnowBrains 

Elyse Saugstad- Saugstad is an American professional freeskier and the 2008 Freeride World Champion. She is a native Alaskan and was electedFreeskier Magazine's "2018 Female Skier of the Year." Her husband, Cody Townsend, is a famous professional skier as well.

Tatum Monod professional big mountain skierProfessional big mountain skier Tatum Monod is one of the best to ever do it. Image: Teton Gravity Research

Tatum Monod- Born in Banff, Alberta, Tatum is a professional big mountain skier who isn't afraid stomp massive tricks in the backcountry. She has been awarded the "Best Female Performance" from Powder Magazineand "Female Skier of the Year" from Freeskier Magazine in 2017. She has recently come back from a season-ending ACL injury and is now shredding harder than ever.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

The Brain Science Behind Flow States

Candide Thovex in flow. Flow states are optimal states of consciousness where we feel our best and perform our best. Candide knows. Image:

If you've ever skied powder or pushed your athletic ability in an action sport - or even played on a sports team - you've more than likely experienced a flow state. A flow state is only accessed when you are completely focused and in the zone, often when risk or consequence is involved. It produces a feeling that conquers all other feelings and allows you to perform at your best - physically and mentally.

The father of flow, positive psychologist Mihály CsíkszentmihályiPositive psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi and father of the term "flow." Image:

Positive psychologist Mihály Csíkszentmihályi was the first person to coin the term "flow" in the late 1960s. His research led him to discover the flow state, which is an “optimal state of consciousness where we feel our best and perform our best."

It has been proven that flow contributes to overall human happiness and well being. As skiers, we sure as hell know what it feels like after you ski an incredible line of deep pow or perhaps steep and technical terrain where your abilities and being pushed and your heart can't help but race with excitement. The lines where the inner chatter in your mind is silent and you are completely and utterly dialed in to the run in front of you, engaged and flowing down the mountain with a meditative charge. Flow is necessary in order to truly heighten your ability with any demanding activity.

How Flow Works The more challenging the task the higher the likelihood of inducing a flow state. Image: Discovery in Action

Thanks to modern neuroscience, we now understand that there is a distinct pattern in the brain as to how a flow state is induced. Flow states are induced via interactions between 5 different neurotransmitters within the human brain. The neurotransmitters are:

Dopamine- When you first enter into flow, dopamine floods your brain. It increases attention, information flow, and pattern recognition. It is essentially a skill booster.

Norepinephrine- This speeds up heart rate, muscle tension, and respiration. It triggers a glucose response so we have more energy; increasing arousal, attention, neural efficiency, and emotional control thus producing a high.

Endorphins- Rooting from the word "endogenous," meaning naturally internal to the body, endorphins relieve pain and induce pleasure. They function similarly to opioids. However, the feeling attainted from endorphins is up to 100 times more powerful than morphine.

Anandamide- Stemming from the Sanskrit word for "bliss," Anandamide is an endogenous cannabinoid and feels similar to the psychoactive effect found in marijuana. Anandamide is released in exercise-induced flow states and elevates mood, relieves pain, dilates blood vessels, and aids in respiration. It has also been proven to amplify lateral thinking- the ability to link disparate ideas together.

Serotonin- At the end of a flow state, serotonin fills the brain producing an "after-glow" effect. This leaves you with a post-exercise feeling of bliss and is only felt once the flow state has already come and gone.

In a nutshell, these 5 chemicals make up the brain science of flow states. So the next time you're doing whatever is you do that brings you into a flow state, you can now recognize the science behind this powerful tool that is found within your own being.

Flow states Channel your inner flow. Image: Uplift Connect

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Why Thursday Night Is The Best Night Of The Week In Salt Lake City, Utah

The famous 9x9 Salt Lake City's 9x9 bicycle rally is a wildly fun way to explore the city. Image: Martin Kuprianowicz

"HAPPY THURSDAY!" A concerningly large group of cyclists shout at you as they pass by, swallowing up the street in Salt Lake City, Utah on any given Thursday night.

Happy Thursday In the summer hundreds ride "The 9" every Thursday night. Image: Martin Kuprianowicz

"The 9x9," is an underground bicycle rally that suddenly appears at the intersection of 900 East and 900 South at 9 pm on Thursday nights. It is outrageously fun.

9x9 Cyclists meet at 9th East and 9th South at 9pm on Thursdays and hang around here for about an hour until a mob-sized group of cyclists is formed. Image: Martin Kuprianowicz

No one knows exactly how the 9x9 came to be, but the rumor is that not too long ago a group of friendly people with bicycles started meeting at 9th and 9th to drink and bicycle around town. Although it was small at first, the 9x9 has become increasingly popular and will now often host up to several hundred people - all on bikes. The purpose? Bike around the beautiful Salt Lake City, Utah and have a good time.

Taking over the streets of Salt Lake City. On Thursday nights in Salt Lake, the streets belong to the cyclists. Image: Martin Kuprianowicz

Picture a colossal party on bikes with several hundred drunk people from all walks of life completely taking over the streets of Salt Lake City. In the summer, the energy is high and the music is loud.

One of the best parts about riding the 9x9 - apart from fireworks and the utter chaos that you are contributing to - is seeing the city. Every Thursday, "the 9," as it is often referred to as, goes somewhere different. It is an excellent way to explore the city in a fun atmosphere and to meet new people.

And so it begins. "10 minutes!" Someone in the massive crowd of bicyclists yells as the anticipation to ride the 9 builds. Image: Martin Kuprianowicz

On the 9x9, you ride for a bit, then you stop somewhere to drink and party, and then you ride somewhere else. Then you repeat these steps with a stop or two at a gas station along the way for more beer. It's not rare to ride The 9 all night long and find yourself dazed and confused in an unfamiliar part of town wondering how on earth you got there and which way home is.

In Salt Lake City, Thursday nights are something to look forward to.I'd even go as far as to say it's the best night of the week. For apparent reasons.

The top of a parking garage in downtown Salt Lake. Blurry vision on the 9x9 at an undisclosed location in downtown Salt Lake. Image: Martin Kuprianowicz

So the next time you find yourself in this beautiful city by the lake on a cool summer night with nothing better to do, grab yourself a bike. Then, ride on over to where all the ruckus is going on over on 9th and 9th. You'll be greeted by some of the friendliest weirdos this town has to offer, and in store for a nice little bike ride. Happy Thursday!

Fun way to sight see in Salt Lake City
The Salt Lake Temple - one of the many interesting sights in this gorgeous city. Image: Martin Kuprianowicz[/caption]

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

How To Make Colombian Limonada De Coco

limonada de coco recipe Colombian Limonada de Coco. Image: Martin Kuprianowicz

Translating to "Coconut Lemonade," Limonada De Coco is one of the most refreshingly satisfying drinks you can make this summer - and one of the easiest too.It is a drink sold everywhere in the Latin nation ofColombia, and for good reason. It's wildly delicious and extremely easy and quick to make. I once heard it described by a traveler there as, "like drinking a key lime pie." It's also one of my favorite beverages. Here's the recipe:

Yield:3-4 drinks

Time to make:5 minutes or less

limonada de coco
Ingredients for Limonada de Coco. Image: Martin Kuprianowicz

1 can of full-fat, unshaken coconut milk
3 freshly squeezed limes
4 tablespoons of sugar
3 ice cubes
A blender


Scooping the rich coconut milk and putting it into the blender. Image: Martin Kuprianowicz

1. Open the can of coconut milk and use a spoon to scoop the heavier coconut cream off the top and into a blender.
coconut milk The thinner portion of the coconut milk. Image: Martin Kuprianowicz

2. Pour about half of the thinner coconut water into the blender. Save the rest of the coconut milk for another use.
You can adjust the lime/sugar ratio as needed. I like to use 3 large limes and 5 tablespoons of sugar. Image: Martin Kuprianowicz

3. Add the lime juice, sugar, and ice to the blender.
Once the ingredients are all in let her rip. Image: Martin Kuprianowicz

4. Blend on high until very smooth. Taste and adjust the amount of lime juice or sugar to your liking.
limonada de coco recipe Serve cold and enjoy. Image: Martin Kuprianowicz

Monday, July 22, 2019

Gun Sight July 22nd 2019

Gun Sight Alta
The view from the top of Gun Sight on July 22nd at Alta Ski Area. Image: Martin Kuprianowicz

If you're in the mountains this summer and you see some skiable snow with nothing better to do with your time, you may as well ski it.  Today, we sent Gun Sight, a black diamond ski run off of Alta Ski Area's High Traverse.

Gun Sight Alta
Gun Sight (far center) is considered to be the third steepest run at Alta according to the Alta Blog
Image: Martin Kuprianowicz  

Gun Sight
Heading up. Image: Martin Kuprianowicz

From Albion Basin, you take the switchbacks that run past Alf's up until the base of Gun Sight.The entire ascent took us no more than 90 minutes.

alta ski area summer
Gun Sight
A beautiful day to look for some snow. Image: Martin Kuprianowicz

The weather at Alta right now is HOT.So halfway up the ascent, we stopped by a much needed little stream to cool off.

Gun Sight
Refreshing. Image: Martin Kuprianowicz

Once you see the snow, you boot pack straight up to the top of Gun Sight. From there, its all skiing.

Alta S
The beginning of the boot pack up Gun Sight. Image: Martin Kuprianowicz

Gun Sight is barely skiing right now and is getting rocky, but you don't get to complain when you're still able to make solid turns at the end of July.

Eamon Villalobos
Tele-skier Eamon Villa-lobos lives at Alta and aims to ski all 12 months out of the year. Image: Martin Kuprianowicz

There were a lot of sharks lurking on Gun Sight, just itching to chomp at the bases of your skis. So to avoid core shots, I skied at a conservative speed and took in the lush scenery. Overall, it was mellow skiing that was well worth it.

However, it is time to start looking elsewhere in these mountains for summer lines. Gun Sight and the rest of Alta will be too bare to ski sooner rather than later. Gotta shoot your shot!

alta ski area
Ski at your own risk. Image: Martin Kuprianowicz

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Historic Storm in Ruidoso, New Mexico December 28, 2018

historic storm
The day after the historic dump that left Ski Apache with 45 inches of new snow within a period of 24 hours.

Every skier has a day during each season that sticks out in their mind more than others. One that is especially deep or the conditions especially right; a day where the stoke is unusually high, even for a pow day; the kind of day that gives you the mid-summer blues when you look back and reminisce. That day for me was December 28th, 2018.

The 28th of December was a day lost in time and space in the secretive mountains of Ruidoso, New Mexico. The cause? A polar vortex met a tropical storm coming in from the Gulf of California and resulted in one of the deadliest storms Lincoln County has seen in a very long time.

Ruidoso, New Mexico is a sleepy, little, high-elevation town that hosts one of the southernmost ski areas in the United States. Its name is Ski Apache and it is owned and operated by the Mescalero Apache Tribe.

ski apache
Long thought to be sacred by native peoples, Sierra Blanca is the highest peak in the region at 11,973 feet.

The ski area is on Indian reservation at the base of the regions’ highest peak, Sierra Blanca. The ski area is located 12 miles from the Shell gas station on the edge of town up a steep and windy road that brings you to its base at 9,600 feet. I had heard word that there was one hell of a storm headed towards us that very night, one that would leave several feet of new snow in town.

The storm entered Ruidoso, New Mexico the night of December 27th and would not leave until the
end of the next day only after gifting 45 inches of new snow.

“That much snow expected IN TOWN?” I thought. I almost couldn’t believe my ears – I haven’t seen it dump that hard here since I was only a wee boy due to the fact that for the past several years Ski Apache (nicknamed “The patch” because on low snow years all you can ski is a single patch of snow) had been struggling with snowfall. An ailment of climate change, I suppose. Yet needless to say I was excited for the storm and eager to get up on my home mountain and ski some pow. I may have been excited but I sure as hell was not ready for what followed next.

ruidoso ski apache
2 pictures of the same table: one when I left to go skiing in the morning (above) and the other when I returned at night (bottom).

6:00 AM and I jump out of bed and run down the stairs to look out the window and see if the rumors had been true. Indeed, they were. It was as if Christmas had come twice this year. It had started snowing late the previous night and by 6:00 am there was already so much snow outside that I could barely make out the vehicles in the driveway. There was at least 2 feet of snow on the ground and it was dumping the fattest flakes I may have ever seen. Too excited to eat breakfast, I decide to get a head start and began digging a tunnel through the snow to my Jeep like a frenzied mole with only one mission: get to the ski area before they close the road to it.

new mexico
The view I awoke to this existential morning before rushing to make it up to the ski area before the road closure.

The Ski Run Road had been plowed only minutes before I turned on to it, but it was dumping so hard that it had been completely re-covered with snow almost immediately. The plows just couldn’t keep up. As a result, the road was incredibly treacherous coming up.

I had to dig my Jeep out twice from the snowbank on the side of the road that was already several feet deep. Both times I immediately got out of my vehicle, grabbed a ski to use as a shovel, and began digging. There’s no way you can miss a storm like this at The ‘Patch.

ski run road
Barely making it up the road, even with 4 wheel drive and snow tires.

By 8:30 am I was back in business and heading up the ski road at a snail’s pace, inching along trying not to lose traction and get stuck again. At this same time, directly behind me, there was a 7-car pile-up on the road and the authorities were forced to shut down the road. That meant that myself and everyone else who was in front of me on the road were the only ones who were going to be skiing up there the entire day, on this day of all days.

ski apache
Powder laps on Chair 4 at Ski Apache.

The land Ski Apache rests on has long thought to be sacred by the natives, fabled to be the home of a rouge female Apache leader by the name of “The White-painted Woman,” and her tribe of warriors. Believed to be a powerful spirit by the Apache, she certainly showed her colors on this day, blessing the mountains with a total of 45 inches of new snow within 24 hours! It was a record-breaking dump for the town of Ruidoso and its ski area.

Ski Apache's gondola was ripping the first day it opened for the season!

When hell freezes over you ought to ski there too. The mountain was a waste-deep pool of the lightest and driest powder you could have asked for. The resort staff really pulled in clutch by opening the gondola to the top of the mountain for the first time that season. The snow up there was put-a-tear-in-your-eye, good.

Fresh lines and intense fear of drowning from snow inhalation persisted for the entire day. Only 50 or so people were riding the mountain the entire day due to the road closure! It only seemed to snow harder and harder throughout the day and by the time I got back to my jeep I had to scrape off another foot of snow from my car.

Deserted on the deepest day of the year.

Because it had not let up snowing at all during the day, the way back down to town proved to be even more dangerous than coming up. If I was not stuck in the snowbank myself, then I was helping someone that currently was. The few cars that had made it up in the morning were now banded together in an envoy of ski vehicles just trying to make it out of this snowy war zone in one piece.

Ye Ol' Faithful.

When one car got stuck and blocked the road for the others, we all had to get out and help them get unstuck. Otherwise, we’d be trapped up there all night. At one point a big, several thousand-pound truck did a full-on 360-maneuver on the road, coming only 6 inches from wrecking into my Jeep as I watched it spin around my car in pure terror. It had taken our group of cars three hours to make it down the ski road that usually only takes 40 minutes on a clear day, the entire time it mindlessly nuking pow.

Now dark, I had made it home to find the driveway twice as deep as when I had left it. I paddled through it with what little energy I had remaining and crawled inside the cozy cabin to warm my bones by the fire and call it night.

ski apache
What a day.

These are the days that make other days not as good – the days we as skiers live for. And for now, I live to tell the tale. Because for now, I wait. I wait for the White Painted Woman to return to these forgotten mountains, to show her face once again and wreak havoc on us poor souls who call this place home.

The Land of Enchantment.