Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Team UNIVERSE Update

Hello all! Well, I spent the last few days out of contact with the "wired" world. The temp dropped up at Mt. Baker and the precip kept falling - this time in the form of SNOW! We had some amazing days of skiing. Our last day even cleared up, giving us bluebird skies, pristine visibility and untouched, creamy creamy powder. Rob and I got some amazing fresh tracks after hiking backcountry - a SPECTACULAR DAY! yeah, that's right.

Sadly, I also dropped my cell phone off a chairlift into bottomless powder and so have been pretty incommunicado for the last few days. I have hardly even been able to contact Michael! (yo, mike, let's chat).

As for the Samsung Video Competition, we have heard NOTHING yet. Samsung has not announced winners, so perhaps there is still a chance. We haven't lost hope, and we hope you haven't either! Besides, now I'm actually in pretty desperate need for the phone, digital camera, and laptop that come with the prize!

Samsung, if you are reading, WE LOVE YOU! To prove (and demonstrate!) our love, I wrote you a haiku and drew you a picture. Please pick us, we love you...and the OLYMPICS!!

haiku:
we love you samsung
please send us to vancouver
we'll tweet with your phone!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Rain, Rain, Go AWAY!!

When you think of the Winter Olympics what is the first word that comes to mind? Is it skiing? ice? snow? cold? skating? spandex? snow? Even if snow isn't the first word that pops into your head, isn't it something that you would assume is a given? OF COURSE there would be snow at the Winter Olympics...right? I mean, that's not even a question worth asking, right?....right?? The winter Olympics should look something like this: right?

Well, this year it may be pretty far from that. El Nino is visiting the Pacific Ocean this year and everyone is wishing that he would just go away, especially those of us up in the Pacific Northwest (myself included) and in British Columbia (read: everyone preparing for the Olympics). Most ski resorts in the region have been forced to close or are running on very limited operation due to the high amount of precipitation in the form of rain that is falling. Yes, I said RAIN, not snow. Cypress Mountain, the resort that will be hosting the freestyle skiing and snowboarding events, closed for two days due to the snow and permanently closed the runs that will host the ski and board events in an attempt to preserve what snow is there (see picture...YUCK!).

Perhaps you are sitting in other regions of the country and wondering how it could be possible for it to be raining in B.C. while it is unseasonably cold in places like Los Angeles. Well, take a look at this map, which shows how El Nino affects temperature patterns across the continent: Notice the big red WARM splotch covering the North West. Backcountry Skiing Magazine explains the phenomenon, saying, "West-blowing trade winds lessen across the South Pacific, causing the warm water typically blown west to drift back toward South America," resulting in promising ski seasons for CO, UT, NV, and CA but shortchanging the North West with high temperatures and rain. Yes, RAIN. Perhaps the worst word for the Winter Olympics.

Hopefully El Nino will stop playing this horrible, horrible practical joke on Vancouver. Hopefully, he will find it in his heart to let the temperature drop below freezing. If not, Cypress and Whistler will be forced to make snow and use what snow they have. Ski courses, halfpipes and everything in between will get chopped up quickly and will need constant care, not to mention the fact that skis and boards ride much slower the wetter the snow gets. As for the spectators, it'll be a wet spectacle, so be sure to pack your umbrella and leave your powder skis at home.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Green Is The New Gold: Vancouver Raises The Bar for Olympic Sustainability

The Vancouver and Whistler Olympic Villages will be the hottest places to be in February of 2010. With incredible musical performances, top-notch restaurants, and the world's best athletes roaming the streets, it will be the place to see and be seen. It will be the place to be for sports enthusiasts, families, the rich and famous, and everyone in between...but what about the environmentalists?

If you're concerned about the sustainability of such a huge enterprise, the Vancouver Organizing Committee (VANOC) hopes that your concerns will turn into awe once you learn about their commitment to sustainability. All buildings in the Olympic Villages have been completed according to the LEED Gold standard, with the exception of the Community Center, which was completed according to the LEED Platinum standard. All buildings have solar panels, green roofs, and recycle rain water for plant and roof irrigation. Innovative hydro-heating systems are used to control the temperatures of the buildings, and all parking is underground.

Furthermore, the Olympic Park was constructed with great care not to disturb the natural landscape, and to even integrate the event courses into the natural surroundings. The design committee combined the cross country and biathlon courses, reducing the size of the project by 35% and becoming the first committee to do so in the history of the Olympics. The site of the Ski Jump was moved at the last moment before construction in order to preserve old growth forest and wetlands.

The Olympic Games inevitably are linked to a huge carbon footprint. Simply the energy required to transport the millions of spectators and athletes to the region is astronomical. VANOC has a done a great job, however, in minimizing this footprint and setting the bar high for future planning committees.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Maple Leaf vs. Bald Eagle

It may come down to a good old-fashioned North American rivalry between Canada and the US in a couple of events at the upcoming Olympics, but perhaps the most cut-throat in Women's Hockey.

The Canadian women's hockey team just beat the US women in Spokane, WA. This is the second win in a row for the Canadians against the Americans. Jenny Potter, returning US Olympic team member, however, is confident that the US team can still best the Canadians. Potter is still riding the wave from last month when the US team beat the Canadians twice in four days, winning the Hockey Canada Cup.

Perhaps it is an over-confidence that has resulted in the new dominance by the Canadian women. The US team lacked intensity in Spokane and simply allowed themselves to be beaten. They have already proven their skill and capability to take on the Canadian team, but now it is a question of performing on the ice. The Canadians took 3 shots within the first 90 minutes - putting the US team's sloth on display. The US never quite took the game back from there, finishing with an embarrassing 5-2 score.

Potter reminds the US fans that the game was not for a medal, however, but only for "pride." Thankfully, they got their butts spanked in the US, a few weeks before the Games begin. Hopefully, this will give the US women a rude awakening that they cannot sleep on their victory last month at the Canada Cup.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Single Plank Showdown in Mammoth, CA


The Mammoth Mountain Snowboarding Grand Prix is the place to be if you're searching for the most cutthroat snowboarding competition yet to date. The comp started on the 7th and runs until the 10th. Not only is it the biggest national snowboarding competition of the season, but also is doubling as the 5 Olympic qualifying rounds. The stakes are high and boarders are throwing out never-before seen moves. Several of the spots on the Olympic Team have already been decided: Kelly Clark was a shoe-in for the women, while Davis and Shaun fought it out for the first spot on the men's team. Shaun White, or the Flying Tomato, received all the press and spotlight leading into the competition, but Danny Davis has already proved himself as the top dog. On Wednesday's event, Davis and White battled it out in the pipe. Riding for his friend, Kevin Pearce, who was recently critically wounded in a competition in Colorado, Davis dropped into the pipe first. He laid down a progressive and extremely technical run including three double corks and culminating in his final jump: a switch double-back rodeo. White followed Davis, and though he performed strongly, he under-rotated his last jump, leading to a sloppy, near-crash finish. The event was historic for the snowboarding community. With two events left, who knows what other tricks will be released from the bag.

Davis and White have taken two of the four Olympic team spots for the men, while Kelly Clark occupies one for the women. The remaining five spots (two on the men's and three on the women's) will be decided over the next couple of days as the Grand Prix continues.

To watch Davis's, White's, and Clark's runs from Wednesday's comp follow this link to GrindTV's coverage of the event: http://www.grindtv.com/video/snow/history_is_made_at_the_us_snowboarding_grand_prix_halfpipe_finals_in_mammoth/#47924

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Samsung Mobile Explorers Contest video complete!



We've finished our Samsung Mobile Explorers Contest entry video!

Watch the two minute video by clicking HERE

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Team UNIVERSE Update

Mike has been slaving away, using his mad video editing skills in order to make a winning video for the Samsung Mobile Explorers contest that will hopefully win us a trip to Vancouver! It is almost, almost ready, so keep your eyes peeled for our new video soon to be posted here, on our youtube channel (mikeCRISTINAolympics), and on the Samsung Mobile Explorers page.

As for me, I just arrived at Mt. Baker. Sadly, it rained yesterday, turning every inch of those BEAUTIFUL fresh 19 that fell a few days ago into cement. I skipped out on buying a lift ticket today due to the tremendous disappointment. Hopefully the temp will drop and all this rain will turn back into snow!!

For those of you not near snow right now, here's a couple videos of yours truly taking to the backcountry of the San Bernardinos. These clips are from last year. Rob and I climbed Mt. Bady (10,000 ft) and skiied down - my first backcountry expedition ever!

Through the mist:
video
A little steeper chute skiing:
video