Tracks (Short Film Script)

Two disillusioned ski resort employees, tired of the way the world has been treating them, receive an epiphany on their outlook on life when they meet a graffiti artist in an abandoned train tunnel.




JOSH, 22, is on his LONGBOARD bombing down a hill along a
biway in his small mountain town.

                         JOSH (V.O.)
             Where do I belong? Where the hell
             am I heading? Blink and the memory
             is old but fresh to the mind.

He approaches his HOUSE, gets off his board, and enters the front door.


In the living room, he looks for his MOM.

              Mom! I’m home! Any munchies?

JOSH’S MOM, 43, emerges from the kitchen, holding a SHOT GLASS containing a clear liquid.

                         JOSH’S MOM
              Where have you been all day! You
              know you were supposed to be here
              getting stuff done!

              I’ve just been out boardin’.

                         JOSH’S MOM
              Did you clean your room like I
              asked you to?

Josh wanders into the KITCHEN, looking for something to eat.

               Uh, I’ll do it later.

                         JOSH’S MOM
               No you will do it now! I’m so tired
               of always telling you to do shit.
               Did you help Mr. Thompson with his
                I haven’t yet.

                         JOSH’S MOM
                You know you’re nothing but a lazy

                We go through this every single
                fuckin’ time, mom.

                         JOSH’S MOM
                Because you don’t do as you’re

                I’m outta here.

                         JOSH’S MOM
                You get your ass back in here!

Josh walks to the DOOR. Someone is knocking. He opens it and sees his GIRLFRIEND, MIKAELA, 20.

                Why haven’t you called or answered
                my text?

                I’m busy what’s up?

                I really need to talk with you
                about things.

                You never have anything good to

                I’m tired of you always being busy
                and not having enough time for me.

                I’m tired of this shit. I have a
                better relationship with my

                How dare you. You’re mother did
                poorly raising you, you’re
                Who are you to talk about my momma
                when your momma is no better than
                mine. Your mom can’t even make a


Josh ignores her and walks towards the street.

                Where do you think you’re going!
                I’m suppose to be your girlfriend!

                Then I guess it’s over.



FIREWALKER, 23, a long-haired daredevil thrill-seeker type, is sweeping around one of the gas pumps at the corner GAS STATION where he works. He is wearing sunglasses. Josh approaches on his board. Three teenagers are standing near the curbside outside the front entrance. One is smoking a cigarette.

                 Wassup homie.

                 I get Thursday off. Might go to Sac 
                 town if Ariel isn’t passed out at my
                 house again.

                 Wake his lazy ass up.

                 I’m fed up with people who don’t do
                 anything but leech off other

                 Wasn’t he going to work at some ice
                 cream place?
                 Supposed to. But he never showed


                 You still talking to Mikaela?

                 Nah, she’s getting on my nerves. So
                 sick of her drama and shit. And so
                 is mom’s bitching to me, as always.

An old Toyota cab-over camper pulls up. The driver, a slender WOMAN in her early 40’s dressed like a 20-year-old, gets out and starts pumping gas. The passenger sitting in the passenger side is a young GIRL with long blonde hair. The window is rolled up.

                 Dude I’ll take her if you don’t
                 want her.

                 Man I am so over her.

A 1970’s Ford PICKUP pulls up to one of the customer parking spaces and hastily parks. A BEARDED MAN, mid 30ish, gets out of the driver side and begins walking towards the back of the gas station.

                           PICKUP DRIVER (TO WOMAN DRIVER)
                 C’mon we’re meeting over here!

                           WOMAN DRIVER
                 I gotta get some gas while the
                 prices are still cheap!

                           FIREWALKER (TO JOSH)
                 Frickin’ crackheads.

Firewalker checks the trash and resumes sweeping.

                           FIREWALKER (CONT’D)
                 The other night one of ‘em was
                 shouting and screaming all night
                 long. Kept me awake!

                 Your crackhead apartment complex?
                 Yeah. This town is filled with ‘em.

The young passenger in the RV takes out her phone and points its camera at Firewalker. Holding the broom, Firewalker glances over and notices her.

                           FIREWALKER (CONT’D)
                 What the hell you aiming that thing
                 at me for!

The girl immediately retracts her phone from the window.

                 Dude she wants your ass!

                 No thanks. Not quite my style. 
                 This town is the bottom of the 

Firewalker looks into the distance and thinks for a moment.

                           FIREWALKER (CONT’D)
                  Dude I was thinking. We need to 
                  get outta town. Change our scenery. 
                  We should go work and live at our
                  local mountain and get some free
                  boardin’. Or travel to somewhere
                  far away. This town has too much 
                  painful memories for me too.

                  He wasn't just my plug but my best
                  friend too. When his anniversary
                  comes up we should honor him by
                  smokin' a little trees for him.

                  Ahh yea he'll be with us in spirit.
                  I know he will be.

                  Sick idea dude. Lets get the hell 
                  outta here. I’d be down.
                  After I get off you wanna head down
                  to the nine-one-six to party?

                  Fuck it. Lets get destroyed at the
                  train tunnels first.

                  Gimme another 20 minutes. It's 
                  time to smack some bitches up.


SUPER: Five months later. Near Sierra Vista Ski Resort.

Josh and Firewalker are walking along a pair of train TRACKS. They are surrounded by a meadow partially covered with snow. They both are now working at the Sierra Vista SKI RESORT. Josh has EARBUDS in his ear.
                   You always listen to that EDM

                   Yup deep house, tech house,
                   psytrance, chill wave, all that

                   Alternative and hardstyle is 
                   where it’s at.
                   Nah, heavy bass sounds is really
                   popular now.


                   I like some of Skrillex’s less
                   dubsteppy stuff. I like what he 
                   did with that Doors song.
                   Wasn’t he married to Ellie

                   I don’t know. I’m not into 
                   that culture. What do you think 
                   of trap?

                   Trap is like wannabe gangsta rap.
                   Trap is the shit.


Josh and Firewalker exit the old train tunnel. Ample GRAFFITI is seen in the background along the walls.

                   So my manager says he’s going 
                   to cut my hours.

                   That sucks.
                   I guess we’re entering the 
                   slow season. Not many people 
                   are coming up.

Josh kicks a rock aside.

                            JOSH (CONT’D)
                    I guess it's back to Top Ramen

                    Can’t you snag some grub from 
                    the kitchen?

                    Yeah, but pizza and chicken
                    tenders get old after awhile.

                    Then snag some for me, dude.

                    Last week some lady thew a 
                    plate of pasta at me. Fuckin’ 
                    pissed me off! Made a big mess
                    all over the counter!

                    Damn dude. What the fuck.
                    She said it was too cold and I
                    was too slow.

                    Some people. What a bitch.

                    She probably just had an 
                    attitude or a bad day or 

They reenter another tunnel.


Josh and Firewalker walk out a broken door in the tunnel’s wall.

                     Yeah I lost the keys to the
                     manager’s office a few nights 
                     ago. I’m not too stoked about 
                     What happened?

                     I dunno. I think I have a hole 
                     in my pocket. I also drank a 
                     little too much that night. Well  
                     shit happens.

Josh and Firewalker step on to a PRECIPICE overlooking a lake and the interstate. There are patches of snow throughout the mountainside. Josh is in front of Firewalker. Josh stops and faces the VALLEY below.

                      We should kick it here and enjoy
                      this excellent scenery.

                      We see it everyday.

                      I know. But can’t you appreciate
                      it? Let’s take in the serenity.

                      I do. But I want to head back 

                      Where the fuck is the snow! 
                      There should be more snow here, 
                      we need it, we need more.

                      Yeah, like you need more weed.

                      Do you think it’s global 
                      warming? Or is it natural?

                      I think it’s caused by man. I 
                      think it’s a little bit of both,

                      What’s going on with this world?
                      What are we coming to?

                      We’re all becoming dumb fucks,
                      that’s what.
                      Nah, I think it’s caused by us.

Josh raises his ARMS in the air, displaying a sudden release of EMOTIONS. Firewalker is disinterested in Josh’s little act.

                               JOSH (CONT’D)
                      We need a sacrifice! To the snow

Firewalker turns around, starts for the broken door.

                               JOSH (CONT’D)
                      And I think I know who should be
                      the proverbial sacrificial 
                      We’re not going to solve it
                      standing here. C’mon.

                      It should be Stacy, man.

                      What? No way, she’s a fuckin’ 
                      slut and a crackhead!

                      That’s exactly why she should 
                      be the sacrifice.

                      The snow gods won’t accept her. 
                      I heard she's been bangin' Kai 
                      who already has a girlfriend. And
                      I heard she’s super lazy at work. 
                      I’m so glad they fired her ass.

                      I can’t believe I once cared for
                      her. Hearing her name now makes
                      me cringe. Hey, wait up!


Josh and Firewalker walk side by side in front of a large retaining WALL made of granite rocks, adjacent to the west entrance of tunnel #3. They’re heading back to tunnel #2. Sporadic GRAFFITI adorn the surface of the rock wall.
                       I’m tired of people who are 
                       always bringing me down.

Josh takes out a cigarette and lights it.

                        Guess who sent me a friend 
                        I don’t think I want to know.

                                 DJANGO (O.S.)
                        Amazing, isn’t?

Startled by the unexpected presence, the two turn around and look towards the source of the mysterious voice and see a DUDE with long DREADS sitting atop a small ledge high above the ground at the corner of the tunnel entrance and the rock wall.

                                 DJANGO (CONT’D)
                        Amazing, that it was built by
                        Chinese workers without mortar
                        and it’s still standing today.

                        Better than some of the cheap
                        shit we build today. People don’t
                        care about crap anymore.

                        Exactly. That’s one of the
                        problems we have today.

DJANGO, 24, gets up and walks briskly to the other end of the wall, and climbs down the large STEPS where the wall terminates. He has a BACKPACK on. His comedic demeanor and social openness makes it easy and natural for him to approach people. Firewalker and Josh continue walking and met Django at the end of the wall.

                                 DJANGO (CONT’D)
                        What’s happening guys, name’s

                        I’m Josh.

                        Hey cool name. You guys from 
                        around here?

                        Yea, we live in town. What are 
                        you doing out here?

The three men continue walking towards tunnel #2.

                        I’m a graffiti artist. Just 
                        scoping out these tunnels this 
                        afternoon. I make some of these 
                        artwork that you see around here. 
                        This is what I do in my free time.

                        Awesome dude.

                       They say you can sometimes hear 
                       the ghosts of the workmen who 
                       died digging these tunnels.

                       That’s hella dope.

                       What do you guys do in your 
                       free time?

                       Girls. I’m so horny.
                       Drink, smoke, get stoned. Fuck
                       shit up.

Josh takes out his PHONE and looks at its screen. They stop at the entrance to the tunnel.

                        Typical stoners.

                        Heck yeah. (beat) But lately
                        mine's been getting on my nerve.
                        Chicks are drama. You gotta watch
                        out for ‘em. They can bring you
                        up or down.

                        People bring me down. Mom’s a
                        drunk. Treats me like shit. 
                        People at work treat me like shit. 
                        I don’t know what to do with my 
                        shitty situation.

                        Ha! I don’t know what to do with
                        all the leechers who end up living 
                        in my house!

                        Bummer, dude.


                        There’s so much more to life than
                        those things you mentioned. Life
                        is too short to listen to one genre
                        of music. One should enjoy life,
                        explore new avenues other than the
                        conventional and take the path less
                        taken. And it isn't worth it to
                        worry about things out of our

                        Expand that horizon.

                        Exactly. Here let me show you
                        an example.

Django also takes out his phone and swipes through a couple of menu items. We then start to hear "Shake It Off" by TAYLOR SWIFT.

                        No dude, not Taylor Swift!

                        I bet no one showed you how to
                        do this...
Django proceeds to move his posterior in a CIRCULAR motion, then turns around, teasing the two startled spectators.

                         What the fuck. This is freaking
                         me out.

Django places his hands against the WALL (or some other surface), accentuating his behind. Josh starts laughing.

                         C’mon guys, get into it! It's
                         about trying something new!
                         Uhh what the hell.

Josh starts to imitate Django’s movements. He takes a few steps and starts to get into this unfamiliar activity.

                          A little too fast, dude. Slow 
                          down, get into the groove.

Josh looks at Firewalker.

                          C’mon man don’t be a douche!

                          Only if I can have Mikaela!

                          Deal! She’s yours!

Firewalker reluctantly starts moving his behind. Then he and Josh lock their movements in unison. Josh occasionally laughs, seemingly enjoying moving his body in this seductive manner.

                          Awesome guys! See how it feels?
                          Work that booty!

Josh and Firewalker start to get into the groove, laughing at how silly they look, as they show off their new twerking skills.

                                                         CUT TO:

The three walk along a pair of railroad TRACKS, lined with a thick curtain of tall trees on both sides. There are piles of SNOW on either side of the tracks.

A loud freight TRAIN, headed by several locomotives, approaches from ahead as it makes it way up the mountain. After the engine section passes, Django reaches down and grabs a handful of snow, making a SNOWBALL. He throws it at one of the CARS of the moving train. He repeats the process. Josh, then Firewalker, follow suit. Some of the snowballs remain intact when they impact the cold steel.

                        Imagine the snowball is your stress
                        wrapped up in a little package!

Django’s voice is loud but barely audible above the screeching sounds of steel-on-steel and the massive weight rolling by.

                                  DJANGO (CONT’D)
                        And the train represents a vehicle
                        or conduit for taking that stress
                        away. Let it all go! It’s all
                        about symbolism!

                        Hell yeah! Take that stress and
                        tension away!

                        This is frickin’ badass. You’re
                        the boss, Django!

The three take a brief break from targeting the moving cargo containers and start throwing snowballs at each other. As the end of the train approaches, the three continue hucking snowballs at the slow moving double-stacked cars until the rear locomotive goes out of range. With the TRAIN fading off into the distance behind them, the three resume their hike along the train tracks. Josh steps onto one of the RAILS, balancing one foot in front of the other.

                        I want to do something different.
                        Like travel and work around the
                        world, maybe like New Zealand. Or 
                        snowboarding in South America.
                        Lets do it! I’ve thought about may
                        be doing something meaningful.
                        Something that has to do with
                        environmental science.

                        Environmental science?

                        Yeah, something outdoorsy.

                        Go for it then. So you like

                        You know it. She’s a hottie.

                        I'm just gonna shake, shake, 
                        shake, shake it off, shake it off.

                        See what a little twerking can do
                        for you?

Josh, Firewalker and Django walk side-by-side into the direction of the SUNSET.

                                 JOSH (V.O.)
                        Life is full of loss, but does not
                        give us a reason to destroy
                        ourselves. It makes us stronger.
                        Surpassing expectations that we
                        have, especially our own, is worth
                        its weight in gold.

                        Be a trailblazer. Walk in the path
                        you make for yourself, and leave
                        your worries and insecurities in
                        your tracks behind you.

                                                         FADE OUT.


Just got back from my Tahoe snowboarding trip! Had a great time. Once again I took the train. I stayed in downtown Reno, went to Mt Rose and Squaw Valley. Came back Christmas Day. There had been a big storm there before I arrived so there was lots of snow, but during my visit to the mountain the weather was sunny so the snow was somewhat hard and compacted compared to what I’ve seen in the past. On this trip I put my new setup to the test: new DC boots, Burton bindings and Burton Dragon 156. My new setup definitely rocked, though I found I just needed treak the forward lean on those new bindings. It’s nice that Burton has included tool-less adjustments on its bindings. There were many ‘firsts’ on this trip:

  1. First trip to bring my snowboard aboard the train
  2. First time to have 2 off-hill days
  3. First time to not go to Northstar
  4. First time to go to Tahoe during the 2 week winter break
  5. First trip to shoot both pictures and video from a single device small enough to fit in my pants pocket
  6. First time to sightsee northwest Reno and visit Grandma’s grave
  7. First time to walk along Virginia St from Moana Ln to downtown
  8. First time to take Reno’s public transit
  9. First time to get a haircut during a snowboard trip
  10. First trip to ride with my new setup
  11. First trip to have meet many people on the train ride there and back and on the ski buses
  12. First time to ride rails at both Rose and Squaw and first time to try tree skiing – going off trail and boarding in between trees – lots of fun!
  13. First trip to make a new Facebook friend
  14. First trip to have photos taken by a professional photographer skiing downhill with me
  15. First time to dine at a downtown Reno BBQ house

One of the snowboard videos on my Youtube that I personally shot, People Falling of the Chairlift, has reached the 100,000 views mark a few weeks ago! I have shot many snowboarding videos but for some reason this one took off with a life of its own. Yes, it was inspired by a Warren Miller ski film.

Just a few more hours until new years. Happy new year!

11.27.09 Whiskeymilitia New Gear for Cheap

Today is the day after Turkey Day and that means it’s the biggest shopping day of the year. About a year or two ago I was in a board shop and I overheard these two girls asking the sales guy for their best deal on snowboarding gear. They had a price limit, but I forgot what it was and it seemed unlikely that they would be able to get new gear during the midseason at a board shop such as this one, that would meet their budget. It seemed that they were newbies to the sport and didn’t really know what they were looking for. If the sales person wasn’t around, I would’ve told them where to go for getting good deals, and that a retail store at this time of the year (January) was not their best choice. Possibly obtain their digits too.

Regardless where I am, and who the manufacterer is, I have never paid full price for any board that I have ever owned. They can be costly, up to several hundred dollars apiece. Of course there are ways of getting around paying full price. For example, I bought my first setup in an after season sale at a sports shop in May. Like buying last year’s car model, buying winter sports gear in the spring can save loads of cash because the main season has already passed. My second board I got from a special unadvertised mid season 40% off sale at my local shop. (Right place right time).  The next one I bought from an employee discount program. It was a brand new Burton board too. My current board I bought used from my neighborhood sports store. And I recently got new bindings from the annual ski/snowboard show at 60% off. They were last year’s model but that was perfectly cool with me. Buying used, last year’s model, or from special limited time deals, the customer can save loads of cash.

Online services like ebay and Craigslist are also excellent alternatives. What I like about Craigslist is that you get to meet the seller, and sometimes the seller could provide you with some helpful insight into the item, based from their personal experience. Plus CL is local, whereas ebay is not. Typically, sellers sell board gear because they’re upgrading, moving, or just needing cash. CL is what I would’ve suggested to those girls I overheard in the board shop.

There are other, specialized, online sources for getting good deals on gear. Unlike the previous aforementioned online sources, these sites cater entirely to the action sports market and focus specifically on selling products for boardsports enthusiasts at discounted prices. These are Websites that were brought to my attention from the sales person that sold me my current board and include whiskeymilitia, dogfunk, and brociety. I have no idea what whiskeymilitia or dogfunk means, and these names sound like they would have nothing to do with snowboarding gear, but as you know, snowboarders are always thinking up random shit. These online retailers mostly feature skateboard and snowboarding gear, and on rare occassions, you might find surfing and wakeboarding stuff. Unlike other online action sports retailer, these sites sell new gear at great discounts, typically between 40%-60% off regular store prices. I think they function as a sort of “clearing house” for items that were leftover from last year’s stock, suplus items, or items that didn’t sell too well, because I notice sometimes that the items were tagged as “discontinued” or “2008 model”. I guess it would be kind of like a “Nordstrom Rack”.

A unique feature of this system is that only one item is displayed on the page at any one time, with different items rotated about every 25 minutes or so. You never know what’s coming up. One minute you might see Skullcandy headphones, the next minute DC skate shoes, and the next a high-end Burton deck. You never know. A downside to this is that they may not always have your prefered size/color/model available, however. But the advantage of this randomness and unpredictability is the great discounts off the regular retail price. I have the whiskeymilitia site bookmarked in my browser.

On the right side of the page is where you enter your choice of size/color/style/model and the options for your shopping cart. Below that there is a column that displays which colors/sizes are available and how much of each are remaining in stock. The stock quantities are displayed in real time, a real nice feature. In the left side are the
pictures of the item, a description, and comments from users, if any. There’s usually a helpful sizing/conversion chart and multiple pictures of the item can be viewed in a popup.

But what I really like about these sites, and which I find very amusing, is the product description. The descriptions are almost never boring, stuffy or stale, because they usually consist of some witty remark or comment, which refers to how this product is going to make you “cool” and accetable and how it will help you reach your life’s goals, which in the boardsports world is the attainment of women and booze. These witty remarks reflect the boarder’s need to be rebelliously independent and to party. They are mostly aimed at males, aged 17-24, who live in suburban or semi-urban households, and who participate in skateboarding/snowboarding/surfing or any combination of these. They are most likely to be active social networkers and the types to go into a Walmart and commandeer the PA system. Here are a few examples:

Chocolate mousse just doesn’t look as good without a sprig of mint on the side, and your getup doesn’t look as good without the DC Men’s Garnish Hoody. This full-zip reversible sweatshirt lets you choose between dots and stripes. That cute girl in your Urban Planning class will never guess that you’re been wearing the same hoody every day for the past two weeks.

The DC Men’s Watchin Hat gets 72 channels. Of those 72 channels, 67 show strictly skateboarding, three feature naked pie-fights, and the last one is so dirty, we can’t describe it here. You’ll have to get this fitted New Era cap and find out for yourself.

It takes balls to face the cold. Wear the DC Men’s Brave II Full-Zip Hooded Sweatshirt to give yourself the manly motivation needed to bundle up, sprint to the corner mart, and return with a case of cold ones when the warm weather is on vacation.

Stash the DC Men’s Duffy Polo Shirt in your bag so you can change identities when you finally leave the park for the day. Your girlfriend will appreciate the soft cotton threads and your mom will thank you for finally showing up to a nice dinner without blood all over your shirt.

Who ever writes these descriptions must certainly be very creative and know whats up in the boardsports community. I always enjoy reading them even if I don’t intend to buy anything. If you’re a boarder and looking to buy new stuff, and don’t mind the surprise and random show and tell, knowing that you’re not always gauranteed your size or color preference, these sites might be an excellent choice for scoring new gear for cheap.

11.21.09 Boarding Buddies

Diane has been very interested in learning snowboarding and we talked a little about it last night. I’ve been suggesting that we go up together and I can show show her how to ride. Maybe at Mt High or Bear. She was surprised to hear that you can board here in socal. She doesn’t have any gear and I recommended that she rent the gear first, then buy later, but she says she is sure she’ll like it so wants to buy the stuff instead of renting. She also wants to learn to skateboard. We talked about finding some open parking lot near where she lives so we can skate. She’s going to get a skate deck from a family member over Thanksgiving. Last night on Youtube I saw a video that a guy took as he bombed a hill on his long board, holding the cam low to the ground. In the description, he says he is using one of those Flip Cam Ultra HD cams. I think I might try the same thing on my long board.

11.14.09 Flatland Snowboarding


I had never heard of this, but I knew it was inevitable. Sooner or later someone had to invent it. And now I guess someone already has.  I’m talking about cross country snowboarding. Yes, just like XC skiing, it’s snowboarding on level ground. These 2 extreme sports pioneers are wanting to popularize it and have made a video, which you can see in the link above. Is this lame or cool? In the video, they look like 2 bunny rabbits hopping across the trail. It looks hilarious at first. But the foundation of snowboarding is being “different” and alternative, and it’s all about exploring new ways of doing things. I guess we’ll let the viewers decide.

I’ve made my plans and reservations for this year’s trip to Lake Tahoe this past week. I’m very excited and looking forward to it. It includes three days of riding, split between Mt Rose and Squaw Valley, and one day off-hill. This year for the first time I will not be going to Northstar. It’s very expensive there, where a day ticket now costs $79, not to mention they’re the only resort that do not offer student discounts.  Mt Rose and Squaw do, however, which I’m able take advantage of. Plus I’m not all that thrilled about the Northstar mountain for some reason. Its terrain seems plain and generic and lacks diversity. It can get very crowded there with mostly Bay Area people that clog the trails. In fact it can get so crowded there that I made a video called “Afternoon Rush Hour” and posted it on my Youtube. The last time I was there I rented my gear. All they had in the rental shop were leftover boards that no one wanted. But my biggest complaint is the way the mountain is set up. To get from the base lodge area to the mountain, you need to take a tram, which is the only way to get up to the mountain. This creates a huge bottleneck problem especially in the morning when a zillion skiers and boarders arrive at the mountain. As a result it can take up to an hour in the lift line as you wait to board the tram. No other ski resort I’ve been to has this problem. Long-time employees have told me that the place has become too corporate as well. For these reasons, I have omitted Northstar from my agenda.

Just 35 minutes from downtown Reno, Nev., Mt Rose is the closet ski area to town. This year I’ll visit there two days, one day each during their “Student Discount Day” and their “Ladies Day”.  Mt Rose is unique. Although it’s comparatively smaller than other area resorts, Mt Rose for me is synonymous with hot boarder chicks. I’ve met more boarder chicks there than at any of the other Tahoe resorts, so I’m excited to see what “Ladies Day” is all about.

The other ski area where I met lots of boarder chicks is at Timberline, which, interestingly, is about the same size and has the same number of lifts as Mt Rose. The smaller skiable acreage must have something to do with it. Smaller resorts really do seem to be more personable.

11.6.09 Ski and Snowboard Show LA Convention Center

This past Saturday I checked out the local ski and snowboard show here in the Los Angeles area. The event, called SkiDazzle, takes place every year at the Los Angeles Convention Center, but this year it was extra early – it was scheduled on the Halloween weekend. I’ve visited the one in Portland, OR, and one in San Diego, but this was my first time to attend the Los Angeles event. I made new friends there, like Janellie, pictured above, who worked in the information area near the front entrance.

I usually like to go to these events because I can shop for new stuff and new gear and get the latest info from my favorite resorts all in one stop. Secondly, most everything you buy is discounted about 50% off, and thirdly, I get to discover local boardshops that I never knew existed. It’s a sweet deal, and, as it says in the literature, it’s a great way to kick off the ski season. Finally, you always leave with free swag, such as free/discounted lift tickets.

I overheard someone mention that 90% of the people who come to SkiDazzle are snowboarders, which I found interesting. At the one in Portland, the percentage of skiers is much bigger. My theory: the “surf and skate” lifestyle culture of Southern California definitely contributes to a more edgier, alternative mode that is likely to produce more snowboarders. Additionally, the small local ski areas, the fake snow, and the warmer weather, means less authentic skiing opportunites in general, but boarders have a certain type of craziness, disregard, persistence and dedication that makes them want to ride no matter what. In the Pacific Northwest, where there are big mountains everywhere, traditional skiing continues to be prevalent, based on my personal observation.

Interestingly, except for one retailer, I did not see any skiing gear being sold there.

Being my first time there I was somewhat disappointed. It was smaller than I had expected, and there were less people than I thought there would be. Maybe the lower attendance was due to the fact that the day I went was Oct. 31, Halloween Day. In fact the event closed extra early to allow attendees to attend to their night time festivities. There didn’t seem to be much going on there, may be because I’m comparing it to the ones I’ve been to in the past. There was a cooking demo, a tire chain contest, and several vert ramp demos. Then there were a selection of ski resorts present and local retailers. I saw a few contests to get people interested and engaged. Two classmates have told me that this year it was smaller than in years past, and another classmate says you can get better deals on the Internet. Except for the free Bear Mtn ticket and Mt High stickers, I came away with little free swag. The $12 parking and the $17 admission made it even less attractive.

The big advantage to going to these things are the great deals possible on new gear. Everywhere I went, everything was discounted. In one store, I found a Burton Custom 156 discounted at 50% off its store price of 529. The Custom is my number one pick for a snowboard and I would have bought it except that I have my gear already. It was last year’s model, which explains the big discount, but according to the sales guy, the construction is identical to the 09 model – just the graphics are slightly different.

In another store, called Val Surf, located, naturally, in the San Fernando Valley, I did pick up some new Burton Mission Doom bindings at a special Halloween Day-only deal of 60% off the list price of 219. (I admit, I’ve always been a little skeptical buying snowboard gear from a surf shop. I’d rather buy from a shop that specializes in snow and skate gear.) These were also last year’s model, which is OK with me. The Mission Doom was a one-year only limited production model and is identical to the Missions except that it uses the toe strap from the Cartel (a higher-end Burton binding) and Burton then renamed it Doom. The Missions are midlevel bindings that are ideal for all mountain freeriding which is mostly what I do. The Doom is all black in color, so the store discounted it 60% (instead of 50%) because it thought that the name “Doom” had a Halloween theme.

The current bindings I’ve been using are a basic level Burton binding and a Burton deck that has the cheaper extruded base, both of which I bought new back in 1999. The Burton boots I’ve been using were bought used a few years later, but also were from that era. My whole setup was of such good quality that there was no need to buy new. But after ten years, I thought it was time to update. Last year I bought a 2005 Burton Dragon with a sintered base and new DC boots from Zumiez, both of which I also hadn’t taken up to the hill yet. So with the purchase of these Mission Doom bindings, I now have an all new setup and I will have finally moved up to the 21st century of snowboarding technology. Wow.

There are pros and cons of going to these ski/snowboard events. While there are many great deals that can be found at these events, the sales floor can have lots of commotion, confusion, pressure and a feeling of rush and urgency as each sales person is constantly moving from one customer to the next. This is not an ideal situation when making decisions about spending your cash. You should have the time and space to contemplate your purchase especially if you’re going to make a long-term investment. At an individual store, the sales staff can take the time to answer your questions and help you make the right decisions on what’s best for you. But finding the best deals may mean driving around town and that takes time. At these events, it’s one-stop shopping under one roof. Of course the Internet also has great deals, but you can’t really see them in person or know how the gear would fit on you, whereas at these events, you can get your feet wet. Another disadvantage with these events is that the venders usually only have enough room for the more popular items, meaning they have a limited selection. So there are pros and cons.

Basically, I think these shows are a way for the retailers to offload items that didn’t sell well in the last season. They know most people aren’t going to buy old stuff in the spring and then have to wait all summer and fall to use it, so they save it in the warehouse until the fall, when more people are in the mood for buying ski gear. I think that’s part of the psychology behind this. My advice is to do your research before you go and get an idea on what you want to buy, and then if you see your item at the show, buy it and get out and ride!

11.2.09 Mt High Opens Halloween Weekend

Hey I just discovered that Mt High opened for skiing this past weekend ya! Their Website says that’s because of  cold weather and aggressive snowmaking, which resulted in one of their earliest openings in the resort’s history. Now I’m tempted to go up there and check it hopefully sometime this month.

Mt High is the closet ski area to LA and Orange counties and is located in the Angeles National Forest north of Rancho Cucamonga. There are no mountainous roads to get there, just mostly highways, and they have the largest tubing area in Southern California, according to their Website.