Did I Just Hear Maelle Ricker’s Voice ?

It took me about 20 minutes to realize I was sitting right next to super star snowboarder Maëlle Ricker this afternoon in Edgemont Village.

This was doubly embarrassing considering she’d actually stopped to talk to me, inquiring about the camera I had mounted to a park bench. See, I was experimenting with shooting some time lapse photography with my GoPro camera, and I was sitting there, with the camera, when she walked by to grab the adjacent outdoor table.

She asked about the camera and mentioned she’d seen quite a few of them.  I, like a dope, totally didn’t realize who she was – and blathered on about a project I’m doing for one of my clients, and how I needed to experiment a bit with the time lapse feature on the camera.   She sat down to meet with her friend, and I sat with my coffee and muffin.

I didn’t meant to eaves drop – but they were sitting right next to me, and as I sat there, I realized that I recognized the voice.

Where Do I Know That Voice ?

It’s probably because of a long career in radio, but I always lock in on people’s voices and vocal patterns.

In any event, it finally dawned on me, remembering her countless interviews after her amazing success at the Olympics.

So now what ?

I eventually got up and got her and her friend a glass of water from inside Delaney’s (it was hot this afternoon).

I offered them each a glass, with an awkward: “Um, I feel really silly, but I just realized who you are. I recognized your voice. Here’s some water”.

I’m pretty anyone else would have run screaming the other way, but they took in in stride, and after their meeting ended, I asked if I could get a picture with her. She didn’t even hesitate.

I didn’t have my Nikon with me, so used the GoPro to take the picture.

We had a lovely chat – she’s very very nice – and that makes her even a bigger super star in my books.

A World Above the Fog

Vancouver woke up to another fog-bound day. At our elevation in North Vancouver, the fog wasn’t too thick, but as I drove down the 200 metres or so to the freeway, it thickened considerably.

After turning up the Cypress Bowl road it became apparent very quickly that it was blue skies all the way. Just as Snowboard Expert had noted earlier in the week, things up top were the exact opposite of down in the city.

For one, the sun was shining brilliantly. For two – it was a lot warmer up there. In fact, as I rode the lift this morning, I could feel the temperature rising. A classic weather inversion (not really a pineapple express – there’s little or no wind).

By 10 this morning it was plus 6 celsius – and heading to 10 or 11 for the day. Back at my house in North Vancouver, the temperature stayed steady at around freezing most of the morning.

At the top of Black Mountain, I had to unzip my jacket – 3 guys went by me in t-shirts.

I grabbed a shot with my point-n-shoot (I don’t bring my Nikon to the hill) of downtown Vancouver poking its head above the blanket of fog. Interesting aspect of Vancouver you don’t see very often. (click for a full frame version)

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Over in the other direction, Howe Sound is draped in a huge blanket of fog

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So, if you’re feeling hemmed in by the fog, head UP UP UP to where the sun’s shining.

Cypress Riding Jan 4

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Looking over my right shoulder on the way up the lift this morning I could see Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands in the background. The trees in Stanley Park are the only indication the city is down there – somewhere underneath the cloud cover.

We knew right away it was going to be a busy day on the hill – arriving at 9am the upper lot was already full, which is quite unusual, even with an 8 am opening.

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It was snowing and significantly cooler – with a crisp wind blowing down the face of Mt. Strachan as we rode the left. Wind in the face up means wind on our back coming down, so that’s not so bad.

Seemed to us to be the busiest day on the hill so far this season – probably the allure of 50 plus cm’s of new snow and decent driving conditions in Vancouver for the first time in days. Usually when it gets busy we’ll hit Midway chair to avoid the lineups, but it and Skychair were closed today – probably because of the wind.

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I can’t say I like Cypress’s new system of checking passes and tickets in the lift lines instead of at an entry gate. It means digging my pass out from inside my jacket which usually means taking off my gloves and fumbling with my zipper, then having to get things back together again. Not a big deal but a bit of a nuisance, especially since the zipper toggle on my jacket it broken. Hmmm, wonder if that’s a good enough reason to get a new one …

The conditions were spectacular – so much snow it just brings a big smile to your face.

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Usually when we head home, we leave the snow behind, driving down into the dull greens of a Vancouver winter. This week however, we’re heading home to a snow filled driveway. Very odd indeed.

The only disappointment of the day is the new Cypress Creek Grill Dining Room in the new lodge. The building in beautiful and huge, but the food is only just so-so, way overpriced, and the lineups to get food and then pay are  long and slow.

We’ll be packing a lunch from now on.

Snow Bunnies

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Vancouverites are turning into Snow Bunnies.

Who knew.

While most Canadians take winter snow flurries in stride, the white stuff makes BC South Coast dwellers a little crazy.

Usually it only lasts a few days, so we cope – using tennis rackets and kayak paddles to shovel our cars out of the fluffy stuff.

With another dump of snow today, we’re just going to have to get the hang of this.

Yesterday, I stopped to help a guy in a fancy BMW with super cool low aspect tires. I couldn’t leave him there – he was chipping away at the ice under his tires using a window scraper.

When I told him I had a shovel in the snow eating Yaris he lit up like a kid at Christmas. In fact, all he needed was a little push since. When I asked him if he got any traction with his tires, he didn’t even hestitate, ‘None’ he said. All the more reason to be out driving around I guess.

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Here in my snowbound ‘hood things are looking surprisingly like Winnipeg. EB and I walked around the neighbourhood, the familiar crunching sound under our boots, as big fat flakes continued to fall gracefully on the crescent.

The boys and I will head up to Cypress for some early morning riding in the powder, while EB takes the bus to Richmond to teach at the Gateway.

Since she’s going that way, we’ll send some munchies along to feed the ‘real’ snow bunnies near the Minoru Chapel.

We’ll get the hang of this winter thing yet…

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ps: you can see more Minoru bunnies at Flickr.

Riding in the New Year

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While the rest of the household was sleeping, I packed my gear and headed up to Cypress for the first run of 09.   It was snowing when I left North Vancouver, Starbucks wasn’t even open, but the promise of fresh powder fueled me just fine on the trip up Cypress Bowl road.

Starting the year in knee deep powder riding a freshly waxed snowboard is as good as it gets.

If the rest of the year unfolds as well – it should be a good 009

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Local Snowboarding Cranking

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Garnet and I got up early so we could head up to Cypress this morning for the opening of the riding season.

Guest Services and lift ticketing is now at the new lodge, and it’s a fantastic facility. For one thing it’s more centrally located to the lifts, and the ticketing area is under-cover & huge compared to the old guest services building.

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The wind was blowing and the snow falling this morning, it was surprisingly cold – but first day on the mountain it really doesn’t matter.

Not many of the runs are open yet – check the Cypress Mountain web site for info – they were selling lift tickets at a reduced rate today.

20081214_tireThis was the perfect day to find out how the new Michelin X-Ice snow tires are going to perform. The road was slippery and with fresh snow falling it was a great test for the Yaris.

Verdict = way better than I had expected.

Tire technology just gets better and better and the Yaris is now a snow-hugging-machine – makes heading up on a cold snowy morning way less stressful.

Happy Riding!  Oh, and check out Garnet’s answer to the cold

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Boarders Do It On Credit

You really have to wonder how the wheels can fall off to the point where our national athletes are paying their own way to events. It’s not like they’re NHL’ers rolling in money.

CBC today has the story of members of the national snowboarding team and how they’re struggling because of lack of a major sponsor…

Snowboarder Alexa Loo told CBC she racked up a credit card bill of more than $5,000 taking planes to races in Japan, Korea and Lake Placid, N.Y., during the season only to miss the final race in Italy because she couldn’t afford the airfare. full story

Surely some fine Canadian corporation would like to be associated with the coolest (and apparently poorest) athletes at the games.