Saturday, February 11, 2017

Happy Thank You More Please

This blog has taken a back seat to living my life in the present, however, I feel the time has come to give an update. So many things. I've traveled back and forth to Europe so many times, to Mexico, and across the US for the last several years and its turned my life around from the depths of pain, loss and despair. A breakup inspired some of the travel, the loss of my brother inspired a heck of a lot more. Starting a business, traveling much more, quitting my job, changing things up, opening myself up to the unknown, to opportunities I never knew I could have, taking a risk and creating more upheaval and change than maybe was healthy for me. Now I am here. Living my dream. Living a dream I hadn't even conjured yet. Now its here. It is everything to me. 

Here is a little excerpt, my response to some questions from a reporter from my hometown of Glens Falls, New York. #GFNATION who caught wind of my current situation. 

I am kind of cheating by just pasting the words below, but its a good taste of what I've been up to, my motivation and what the inputs are for the outcome that is my life right now.  

I have so many photos, too, and I will post them. But here are some words to share first. Read them if you want, follow me on instagram for a little different explanation and a little more multi-media. @skistrange 

Heres to attracting more positivity and endless possibilities into my life. I am so incredibly blessed, fortunate, lucky and grateful I cannot even begin to understand it. I saw this movie years ago and I loved the sentiment then, and I am realizing more and more how true it is. The film is called HAPPYTHANKYOUMOREPLEASE. And its all about being happy, being grateful and asking for more, from the universe, from people in your life, from yourself. So, here's to that! Prost, Sante, Salut, Cheers, Chin Chin!

Slip crew in Cortina, Italy for Women's World Cup in January
Packed and ready to go to Europe for the winter, what it will bring, I had no idea


I became a ski coach somewhat by default. It was in my blood since I learned to ski, fresh out of diapers at Gore Mountain from my mom, who was a ski instructor and then race coach there for most of my early childhood. She put me in the Ski & Play daycare program even before I was even ready to ski, just played all day while she taught, and then when I was potty trained (haha), I started the 1/2 day baby ski program and never looked back! 

Some days she would take me out of the daycare to go skiing either I was in front of her and she skied backwards on the bunny slope, or she'd take me up to Chatamac and Hawkeye to ski the bumps, holding me between her legs as I shrieked with excitement, exclaiming "Go faster Mommy!!" as her legs burned all the way down. I still remember that from age 3 and 4 because I loved it so much, and it clearly made a massive impression on me for the rest of my life. 

Not only was my Mom an influence on my love of skiing, but also my late brother, Jack Strange, who had a deep love for skiing and ski racing, and became my coach when I was rising the ranks as a J1 & 2 or now they call it U19 at West Mountain Ski Area. 

Jack inspired me, helped me develop my skills and truly showed me the passion and fun of ski racing. He worked so hard for us, my team, at West Mountain, and I look back and think, wow, he was so dedicated to being a coach. All of my peers growing up ski racing have a story about him, what he said to them in the start or during a day or night of training to inspire them to give it another go when they were down. 

I've looked up to and followed Sarah Schleper's racing career since I was a young ski racer, and I remember vividly watching her, Bode, Lindsey Kildow and Erik Schlopy race in person at US Nationals at Whiteface, I think it was 1999. However, I came to know Sarah personally, fairly recently. 

I started my own ski camp this last summer at Mt. Hood, Oregon. Party Beach Ski Camps. its all about having fun! Ski racing is really intimidating and people can get overly serious about it. We want to cultivate an inclusive and "judgment free" environment where kids can blossom their own definition of what it means to be a skier and ski racer. So, one of the families in my camp had also been to Sarah's camp in Austria the summer before. This last summer they asked that I take their kids over to join Sarah.

I found myself in Hintertux, Austria by myself, without the 2 kids I was supposed to take, through a series of mishaps and complications, which prevented the rest of the family from joining me. So I was there, without my pupils, but available to work if needed. Lucky for me, Sarah did need my help as her assistant coach got injured and had to leave early. So I stayed and worked with her for the next 5 days up on the glacier and developed a great friendship out of it. 

She is one of the most inspirational people I know. She continues to ski race because she loves it so much. She is fiercely competitive and she says her husband thinks ski racing is her drug, she's addicted. She continues to ski race with a family and 2 kids by her side. She puts herself out there even among nay-sayers or people who question her choices. I wouldn't say she doesn't care what the nay-sayers are saying, but that her love for the sport supersedes their doubts. She is racing here at World Champs because she CAN! Because she's found a new love of racing speed, Downhill and Super-G, and she has the opportunity to do it here on the world stage. I mean, if I still had the power that she has in her skiing, I'd continue to race too! But I have no regrets about my ski racing career. I feel that as far as I went with my ski racing has truly lent itself to the coach I am today. 

Being in Switzerland is absolutely incredible. Its gorgeous, fancy, mountains in every direction, incredible food, hospitality, its a dream come true. Especially because I am right in the middle of the racing. I am participating and finding responsibility and purpose on the World Cup. Not just World Cup, but World Championships. Its unbelievable. Being a ski coach in general is my dream job. Owning my own ski camp is my dream job. Coaching on the World Cup, especially just one athlete who is my friend, who has so many years of experience and a highly respected reputation is beyond a dream come true. Its like the dream I didn't really know could come true. Or my wildest fantasy that has become reality. 

I am so incredibly grateful for this opportunity and this experience. I have to pinch myself on a daily basis. Even as I write this, I'm sitting in this gorgeously set dining room with white linens and silver as the sun shines through from snow covered pine trees and freshly covered gigantic rocky mountains in view. How did I get here? I ask myself. How am I so lucky to have attracted this experience, these kind of people into my life? I must keep it up, bring in more of this, because its everything I've ever wanted, everything I never even knew I could have, but that I've been striving for. 

So my main mission of this trip is to work my ass off, do everything I can to support Sarah, learn, listen, soak in, network, put myself out there, because then perhaps I can do it again. Maybe I can support Sarah again on this stage, or even bigger, the Olympics at Pyeongchang. If I can do the best job I can do, be there for her and help make things easier and smoother for her, then maybe she'll want to keep me around! She won't be racing forever (although she's certainly extended her career beyond most), I better do what I can to join her on this crazy ride before its over. 

I feel like theres a lot more I can say as coaching ski racing and inspiring athletes to love skiing as much as I do is just in my DNA, its deep in my heart and soul. Its everything to me. And its even more special to me now as I've lost my brother, a huge inspiration to me in regards to the love of skiing. He was my biggest fan and biggest supporter besides my parents, who have also always supported me and my "alternative" lifestyle and career choice. But I realize and fully believe that when you find passion in your work or just in your behavior and actions, the universe is unlocked. The universe is at my fingertips and the positive energy and love I have for what I do is reciprocated back to me. That is how I am where I am today. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Powder Post

Every year I look forward to working with Powder Magazine to try out next year's skis and write reviews for their forthcoming September Buyer's Guide. Powder has created such a unique and fun process, bringing in a bunch of ripping skiers from across the industry as well as all the brands that buy in to be featured in the magazine. Check out my posts from years past about Powder Week, the greatest week of the year.

This year in addition to the Powder Week "ski test" (they don't like to call it a ski test, but thats what it is), they invited me to participate in their outerwear test, Thread The Needle. Powder hosted this event at Deer Valley, Utah this year, basically in my backyard, which enabled me to have a little stay-cation while taking part in the event.

Much like Powder Week, Thread The Needle invites a bunch of ski apparel brands and an equal amount of ripping skiers to try on the gear and ski around in it in order to write reviews for Powder's gear guide that comes out in October.

Thread The Needle was basically a dream come true from a shameless "gear whore" like myself. Its basically a fashion show for next years outerwear from brands like Patagonia, Scott, Flylow, Faction, Eider, Arcteryx, and Armada, to name a few. I felt like equal parts model and princess getting dressed up and schmoozed by the brands I was paired with, ripping around the perfectly manicured groomers of Deer Valley for three days.

Skiing around in six or so different brands over three days showed me a lot about the construction of outerwear, fit, function and utility. Theres a lot of technical features involved in ski wear that you might take for granted. You obviously want a jacket to be waterproof yet breathable, possibly including ventilation like pit zips, easy to use and well-placed pockets, internal pockets for your phone, a hood that fits over your helmet and/or can zip off completely, and then theres more technical features depending on the use its geared toward, like if its a bulky puffy for cold resort days, or if its streamlined, and lightweight with strategically placed vents and zippers based on wearing a pack while backcountry skiing. No wonder they're so expensive!... and rightfully so.

A pleasant surprise and added bonus from the event was being named Powder POSSE "Duchess", which was awarded to me based on my sartorial prowess, enthusiasm, and representing "the most style and class." Their words, not mine. ;) The award for the Duchess is a gloriously bedazzled wizard staff/stoke stick/ski pole, which I own for the next year and intend on enhancing creatively for when I pass it off to the next Duke or Duchess next year.

Check out some of the clothing I got to ski around in during Thread The Needle 2016:

Flylow - their bib pants that I'm wearing are my favorite!

Another from Flylow

fun with Faction

little did we know Jesse and I would win Thread The Needle as Duchess and "Best in Class"

Taking this event very seriously

Duckworth - the yummiest merino wool base and light layers 

Scott touring kit

Scott big mtn pro kit

The winners of Thread the Needle, the Duchess and Best in Class 
The Duchess' wizard staff/stoke stick/ski pole

Patagonia super nice resort kit

One of my favorites from Patagonia, Powslayer bibs and shell jacket

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Creative Thought Matters

The winter of 2015 never really started in Utah. It ended with the New Year and has been asleep ever since. Given the lack of snow and spring-like conditions I’ve gravitated toward other activities besides skiing to keep me going. I never consciously thought I need to figure something else out since the skiing sucks, but looking back, I’ve done more with what the city of Salt Lake has to offer than ever before. 

Smog & no snow :(

It all started with the Sundance Film Festival. Historically, I never participate in Sundance because I’m too busy skiing and couldn’t be bothered. This year however, some opportunities fell into my lap that I couldn’t pass up. A world premiere screening of “Digging for Fire” kicked it off with a chance meeting of the star actor, Jake Johnson, from New Girl. Then I entered and won my office raffle for tickets to “Mississippi Grind” staring Ryan Reynolds.

Sundance reignited my interest in the arts that has dwindled since graduating from one of the best art, theater and dance liberal arts colleges in the country, Skidmore College. As Martin Luther King Jr. Day came around, our local independent radio station, KRCL, announced a screening of “The Night James Brown Saved Boston”. This documentary detailed the significance and influence James Brown had over the black population when Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. Paired with the unique draw and respect he had from white people, he was able to captivate an entire city, preventing more rioting and chaos from ensuing that had already taken many cities across the country.

From Sundance premieres to historic documentaries, the next form of entertainment came in the form of live music. Salt Lake City draws some pretty great acts from stadium filling performers to local indie bands. March Fourth Marching Band came to The State Room and of course I couldn’t pass that up. March Fourth is a difficult band to classify. They are part street brass, part funk, part drum line, part circus. I was first blown away by March Fourth at the Oregon Country Fair and never forgot their weird, electric, larger than life style. Their night at The State Room was beyond expectation, moving me to dance my ass off with a huge grin on my face all night long.

Too enthralled to get off the entertainment train, I remembered that Hozier was playing a long since sold out show at The Depot the following week. I had wanted to go to this show since finding out about it in the fall, but it sold out within hours of being announced. That Tuesday night my trusty wing woman and fellow live music fan, Keree, and I ventured over to The Depot just to check out the scene, maybe try our luck sneaking in and/or scalping tickets. Keree somehow slithered her way past the doormen and ran into the venue, while I was a little slow on the uptake and was turned away to fend for myself. Thankfully there were quite a few scalpers outside and I was able to score a ticket for $50. Earlier that day I took a gander at Craigslist to see there were any tickets available, finding some on sale for over $100. So for $50, I feel like I still managed to come out on top. Jumping for joy once I got in and reconnected with Keree, we took a celebratory shot for finding our way into a sold out show and jammed out to Hozier all night. It was such an amazing performance to witness because of his huge popularity right now, (his song, Take Me To Church was nominated for Grammy Song of the Year) but also because he played his entire album, no surprises, no new songs, and we were able to sing along the whole night.

Fresh off a live music buzz all I wanted was more. “What are we going to do this weekend?” My roommates and I questioned, “let’s see some more live music.” So to the Internet we went, searching for what’s going on in the small venues of Salt Lake. Even though it was a Wednesday and we were looking for weekend entertainment and I had gone out the night before to Hozier, we saw a cool sounding bluesy act playing at a venue we’ve heard so much about but had never been. So off we went to The Garage, one of the coolest bars I’ve been to in Salt Lake that shares its border with an oil refinery. Israel Nash headlined the night, a bluegrassy rock band with some awesome guitar. Yet the opener may have rivaled Nash for best of the night. Timmy TheTeeth, a local band, also bluegrassy, kind of stole the show. Although their sound wasn’t nearly as big or produced like Nash’s, there was something about their folky, acoustic set that was magnetic. After reflecting that I’d seen music three nights in the past 8 days I realized, just like any other big city, you can go out and find entertainment every night of the week here. Without the distraction and fatigue that epic skiing brings, Salt Lake City is actually a legit city with a pulse that has lot to offer.

City Weekly is where we ended up finding the show at The Garage, but they list all kinds of events for every night of the week on their sight, which lead me to my next evening out. Switching gears slightly but still on the arts and entertainment kick, I noticed there was a free ballet showcase performance at the U the following night. Coming from a school where dance is one of the premiere majors I was curious to see how a large research university’s dance program stacked up. Most of the performances were beautiful, especially the co-ed groups. However one of the groups did a Britney Spears montage including Hit Me Baby One More Time, where they wore schoolgirl outfits and pranced around like ditzes who thought they were cute and sexy. I was disappointed that the student-choreographed number to Britney Spears wasn’t at all avant-garde or unique in the slightest. In fact, it was incredibly unoriginal. I’m sure they had a blast dancing to it, they looked like they were having a lot of fun, but I was left wishing they had put an ounce of creativity into it to produce something we haven’t seen before out of a popular hit. 

Regardless of the lackluster performance, I was glad I went to the ballet to experience a different kind of art that made me think. It made me appreciate where I got my education and how lucky I am to have witnessed some of the most talented young dancers, actors, musicians and performers at Skidmore College and among their peers in the industry today.

When it hasn’t snowed in a month, temperatures reach 65 on the regular and there’s just no motivation to go ski, you have to get creative to stay stimulated. Turning my focus from the mountains to the city is one of the benefits of living where I live. Salt Lake’s tourist board Visit Salt Lake boasts that it’s home of the biggest ski town in the country, where you can ski at world class resorts and après in the heart of a metropolitan city center. This winter has inspired me to explore this city in lieu of heading into the mountains. Although its been cool to experience the city's entertainment, I still pray for snow and hope that “Miracle March” will come through in the clutch moment, providing me with the legendary powder that drew me here in the first place.  

Monday, December 1, 2014

Giving Thanks

Thanksgiving week was spent on a whirlwind tour of Colorado. From Boulder, to Summit County, to Cuchara (in the middle of no where, near the New Mexico Border), to Aspen and finally back to Salt Lake City. 

A level 200 USSA coaches clinic brought me to Winter Park, which lead into a couple days of coaching for Speedy's Thanksgiving Camp at Copper, that segued into a road trip from Boulder to Cuchara for Thanksgiving with my cousins and their friends' family. 

To say that Cuchara, Colorado is a very small town in an extremely remote part of the state is kind of an understatement. I barely knew that part of the state existed before my arrival. However, it blew me away. The family we visited lives at the base of Cuchara Ski Area, an old, run down, non-operational ski area lost in time. Their lifts last spun in 2000 and only sporadically throughout the 80s and 90s before that. 

Rather than brave the swarming crowds on Cuchara's main street of an antique shop, a pawn shop and a bar on Black Friday, I decided to do an exploratory mission up the ski area. Starting at a base of 9,248 ft elevation, I ascended about 1,400 vertical feet to their highest lift. With Banjo, my cousins' lovable labradoodle, in tow I picked my way through barely covered under brush and bushes, deeper wind drifts and straight dirt in spots. As I rounded a corner and began traveling straight up the main run the wind eerily blew the abandoned chairlifts, still hanging onto the lift cable for any hope of resurgence. 

Once I made it to the highest point where I felt I could ski down I took off my skis and hiked up the last 150 yards or so to the top lift shack. It was pretty windy that day with spotty snow coverage at the top, so I figured booting up the last bit to claim the summit was fair enough. 

Sitting on an old warped picnic table next to the lift I basked in the sun, feeling strangely at home on this mountain. The run down rickety lift reminded me of where I grew up skiing at West Mountain. The old school humble charm of Cuchara, and any small, grassroots ski area for that matter, evokes the feeling of my roots, where I fell in love with skiing, and where there will always be a special place in my heart.

The skiing actually sucked. But as it always should be, its about the journey, not the destination. Being on this quiet mountain reminded me that I love being outside, on my skis, exploring new places and being completely open to whats next with no expectations. 

It dumped at Copper a few days before Thanksgiving

Me and my wing-man, Banjo, en route to Cuchara

Cuchara at Sunset

Cuchara by day!

Cousin selfie
My cousin, Ryan, who owns Front Range Timber, a barn-wood reclamation company that is blowing up in Denver right now

Baby cousin selfie!

Obligatory Thanksgiving spread photo

and pie...

At the base of Cuchara Ski Area

Summit selfie with Banjo

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Blogs on Blogs on Blogs

I've started blogging for, a great website full of ski gear reviews, articles and suggestions for the kind of skis that are best for you - ask the Genie!

Here are links to some of the articles I've been working on:

Best Women's Ski Pants Reviews 2014-2015

2015 Trends in Women's Skis

Follow SkiGenie on Twitter

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

On The Road To New Orleans Jazz Fest

The first time I visited the electric city of New Orleans I knew I’d return some day. Three years later, that promise became a reality. The humid thick heat of New Orleans, although familiar, is not my cup of tea. Yet experiencing this city during one of their biggest events of the year is well worth the effort if you can manage the climate.

My journey began three days ahead of the start of the festival in order to make the 1,700-mile drive from Salt Lake City to New Orleans. Three full days driving through Durango, CO, Santa Fe, NM, Amarillo and Dallas, TX finally landed me in the Crescent City for Thursday’s unofficial kickoff to the first weekend of the festival.

On the road, somewhere in Texas

Santa Fe street vendors 

First things first, I had to find a bike for the weekend. Biking around a city or surrounding countryside is the best way to experience a place. Biking around New Orleans during Jazz Fest is the best way to get around for a number of reasons:

  • Driving around, finding parking, and, most importantly, getting parking tickets becomes a non-issue.
  • Increased mobility. Whether staying with friends or in a hotel, you have the mobility to be on your own transportation schedule to go off and explore on your own.
  • Flat as a pancake. The city of New Orleans is completely flat, making biking a breeze. The combination of heat + humidity + hill climbs could ruin a perfectly fun weekend otherwise.
  • Save money. It costs enough to get there, purchase tickets, secure accommodations and enhance the experience of being in a culinary dance party like New Orleans by eating and drinking everything in sight. Biking can cost next to nothing if you have the right connections, while potentially helping off-set the daily beignet habit you acquire while there.

Heading toward the fairgrounds

Actually acquiring a bike can be easy and cost effective. I pride myself on having friends who live in desirable locations across the country and world for me to visit. As such, I have a few friends who live in New Orleans and were gracious enough to not only let me crash in their spare bedroom, but also furnished a bike for my use throughout the weekend. However, options abound even if you are not as lucky to have friends in high places. Bike rental shops are located across the city, several of which are situated right in the French Quarter, where you are likely to frequent while in New Orleans. Bike Nola is one of the more reasonable and convenient shops, offering a 2-day rate of $50 with options to rent per hour or for a whole week. Once the wheels are yours, so too is the city.

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival runs for two weekends with a mid-week “break,” affectionately known as the “Daze Between”. The break in between can become as relaxed or as jam-packed per one’s taste as the entertainment continues throughout the week. Well-seasoned veterans know the ins and outs of staying both weekends, but as a beginner to Jazz Fest, one weekend sounded like plenty for the health of my liver and bank account. After surviving the first weekend of Jazz Fest I’m already planning how to do it better next year, staying both weekends and taking a mid-week mini trip to the beach in Mobile, AL or as far as Pensacola, FL to recover from the first weekend and re-set for the second weekend.

"Dude, in India, whole families ride on bikes like this. The mom holding her 2 kids on the back while the dad rides them through town..." explained Keree before we took off...

Trying to look good for the camera... slow motion tip over

The first weekend of Jazz Fest packed a huge punch of eclectic acts from traditional New Orleans style big brass and jazz bands, to mainstream acts like Phish, Eric Clapton and Robin Thicke. The festival, itself, is held between the fences of the Fair Grounds Race Course, while the hundreds of bonus acts and events happening after the festival ends at 7pm each night spill over into the surrounding bars and venues across the city.

Street brass keeping the show going after the festival let out

Both weekends of the festival run from Friday to Sunday. I decided to purchase two “any day” tickets to the festival from, leaving one day open to explore the city outside the festival grounds. Friday was spent biking around the French Quarter, eating beignets, these amazing square-shaped pieces of fried dough covered in powdered sugar specific to New Orleans, popping in and out of shops in search of a floppy brimmed hat to keep the sun out of my eyes while at the festival all day (a vital article of clothing for any summer concert festival), and watching street performances. It’s not unusual to see a section of street barricaded from vehicles with street performers from dancers to fiddlers to full brass bands playing for passers by. Doing the touristy thing in any city you travel to is somewhat necessary, yet tourists beware when traveling during a busy weekend in a city. As always when traveling, beware of your belongings, have your wits about you, and do your research before booking a rental house or finding a used bike on craigslist. Staying away from Bourbon Street, the a-typical street you think of when imagining New Orleans and Mardi Gras, is a good idea. Kitschy bars with expensive (albeit strong) drinks and shops selling neon sweatpants with “NOLA” on the butt may be to some tourists delight, yet I prefer to hit the local thrift stores for vintage souvenirs like the 1980 Mardi Gras Marathon t-shirt I scored at the Goodwill upon my arrival to New Orleans.

Beignets and coffee from Morning Call Coffee Stand, a great alternative to the classic tourist trap rip off, Cafe Du Monde. Morning Call is located in City Park and is open 24 hours a day!

Beautiful architecture in the French Quarter

Bourbon Street, had to do it

My day of sightseeing segued into a night of dancing and taking in the sights on Frenchmen Street. Brass-a-holics played at The Maison bar and music venue on Frenchmen while DJ’s and more bands played simultaneously at every bar on the block. is the Bible for Jazz Fest patrons, listing every act at every bar starting as early as the Tuesday before the first weekend all the way through the second weekend including all the “daze between.”

Music highlights include Phish on the Acura Stage closing out Saturday of weekend one followed by incredible street brass bands spilling out of the festival onto North Lopez Street outside of Liuzza’s Bar, followed by DJ Soul Sister spinning late night at Hi Ho Lounge in the Saint Claude neighborhood downtown. As if Saturday wasn’t bursting with entertainment around every corner, Sunday included some of the best music all weekend. Meschiya Lake & The Big Little Horns, Rebirth Brass Band, Galactic, and Newbirth Brass Band rounded out our final day of the festival. Yet I can say with confidence that the icing on the cake was a show we almost missed due to an unexpected cover charge at the door of Chickie Wah Wah, a storied bar and music venue in mid-city. I We stumbled upon the 21st Annual New Orleans Big Blues Harmonica Show featuring Johnny Sansone and Sunpie Barnes, two of the best blues harmonica players in the game. Exhausted after a long hot weekend of dancing I could’ve easily called it a night instead of paying the $20 cover and going inside to see some music I wasn’t even sure would be any good. Yet in the spirit of Jazz Fest and being in New Orleans I swallowed my pride, paid the cover (which I was able to negotiate a two-for-one deal with the doorman for me and my friend) and witnessed an intimate gathering of friends and fans serenaded by the most rockin’, soulful blues music I’ve ever heard.


Meschiya Lake & The Big Little Horns

Keree and I walking across the fairgrounds to see Eric Clapton

Johnny Sansone ripping on the harmonica

After sweaty, sunbaked days and dancing all night for three and a half days straight I was ready to rest and recover. Reflecting on the weekend I feel confident that with a good rest during those “daze between” I could rally and do it all again for the final weekend. Having local connections and a comfortable home base made all the difference in creating a fun filled first Jazz Fest experience. Yet whether you have a couch to crash on or a suite at the Ritz-Carlton, arming yourself with a bike, your travel savvy wits about you and, the possibilities are endless.