I just found this fabulously geeky web site which has a worldwide database of ski lifts. It is by no means complete but they are looking for help to fill in the gaps.

26 April 2004 Lift-World

Mont Blanc wallpaper

My friend, Ross, took this rather nice shot of the southern side of Mont Blanc, as seen from La Toviere, during our recent trip to Tignes.

Southern side of Mont Blanc from La Toviere.

I am using it as my desktop wallpaper and share it here with Ross' permission. Download the most appropriate resolution: 1024 x 768 or 1400 x 1050.

21 April 2004 Mont Blanc wallpaper

Making the most of one leg

As one who is temporarily disabled and limited to using one leg, I could not help but be impressed reading about the Australian skier, Michael Milton, who set a new disabled speed skiing record at Les Arcs yesterday of 193 km/h. He hopes to break the 200km/h barrier by the end of the week on one leg. Good on ya Mike!

UPDATE: Well he did not quite break the 200km/h barrier but did manage a new record on Saturday of 198.68km/h and no doubt will be having another crack at it next season.

Snowboarder's Ankle: Fracture of the Lateral Process of the Talus (LPT)

It seems that my injury is very specific to snowboarding and hardly found elsewhere. This article from The Physician and Sportsmedicine makes for slightly depressing reading but is highly educational.

Paper snowboards

Wired News has a good report, complete with pictures, on the US Department of Energy's annual Energy Challenge competition in which reuse of paper products is encouraged. This year's challenge involved building and racing paper snowboards.

6 April 2004 Paper snowboards

What went wrong?

I have been trying to figure out just what I did wrong to break my ankle last week and I think I can understand it now so I will share the lesson I have learned.

I was carving quite quickly on my toe edge when I decided to hit the brakes and come to a stop at the side of the slope. It probably would have been more elegant to finish the turn and slow a bit more gradually afterwards but, for whatever reason, I did not. Even so, it should not be a problem to apply the brakes mid turn, even at speed, so what did I do wrong?

I think what happened, and it is hard to remember exactly, is that as I tried to brake I started to lose the edge and I pushed out with my feet extending my knees to try and drive the edge harder into the snow. This is quite a natural and instinctive reaction but it is absolutely the wrong thing to do and I should have known better.

I learnt a few years ago that when you begin to lose an edge and start to slide the thing to do is not to push harder against that edge with your legs but, rather, to bend your knees and sink into the board. This has the effect of moving your centre of gravity over the edge and will stop the slide very effectively. Pushing out with your legs, while it might feel like you are increasing the edge pressure, just puts the edge further away from your centre of gravity and loses grip.

In the case of my accident it also meant there was no flex left in my knees to absorb the shock which I was actually opposing by pushing when I should have been absorbing it by bending.

I learned that lesson in theory long ago but I never put it into practice in my riding sufficiently for it to become instinctive. I will now.

5 April 2004 What went wrong?

3 Valleys route planner

A friend pointed out this neat itinerary planner for the 3 Valleys (click on the "Taylor-made 3 Valées" banner). You tell it which resort you want to start (and finish) at, your level (expert, families or "fun") and whether the weather is sunny or cloudy. It then suggests a route taking in the whole 3 valleys (high or low depending on weather) and gives you a PDF route plan like driving directions to print off.

It is a pity it does not tell you the vertical gained and lost with each run and the distance to ski, rather than just an overall estimate of the time required, but its fun none the less.

Trouble in Tignes

Well, my week in Tignes has not gone entirely to plan. The snow is good and the sun is shining but I have gone and broken a bone in my ankle.

The worst of it is that it was early on the second day and that I am now out for the rest of the season.

I was carving fast on my toe side and tried to scrub some speed but the board scudded across some ruts compressing my ankle. The pain was intense and I had to fall on my front and lift the board clear of the snow and just slide to a stop. I lay there cursing myself in the knowledge that this was the last run of my holiday.

I was able to limp down side slipping on my heel side to the top of the Sache gondola, for those that know Tignes this was on the Rhododendron piste heading down from l`Aguille Percee towards Les Brevieres.

When I got to the medical centre the x-rays confirmed that it was a fracture of the talus, so I will be hobbling around on crutches for the next 6 weeks. Bummer.

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