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Mountainside -W0203

12/01/2002 01:00 ● Published by Anonymous

Winter 2002:

Mountainside -W0203

Howelsen ski trail named in honor of local nordic devotee    Håkan Lindgren would be proud. The Swedish cross country ski devotee was dedicated to making his adopted hometown, Steamboat Springs, a nordic skiing center. That the necross country trail at Howelsen Hill is named in his memory is a fitting tribute.   Like so many of Steamboat’s most endearing landmarks, Håkan Spår (Hakan’s Track) is the result of volunteer efforts. Steamboat Springs Nordic Council organized the project, the first phase of which was completed last winter, when a 2-1/2K cross country intermediate ski trail opened for use.   “The council was looking for opportunities to develop and maintain nordic trails,” says Dr. Dan Smilkstein, who helped to spearhead the netrail. “It’s our hope that Steamboat can become a destination nordic center.”   An extension was added to Håkan Spår last summer that opens this winter for the first time. It will double the length of the original trail. “Håkan Spår is scenic, very scenic,” Dan says. “It goes through an aspen forest and around the bluff. And the extension goes out into a big meadooverrelatively rolling ground. I think this expansion will be very nice, very pretty.”    The netrail is the most recent addition to the Howelsen cross country skiing network. It begins near the Howelsen rodeo grounds and runs southeast, overlooking the Yampa River.    The council’s previous project was to build a trail system through the higher plateaus overlooking Howelsen Hill. These trails appeal mainly to advanced nordic skiers.    For beginners, Howelsen offers a flat track through the softball fields at the base of the mountain.   Howelsen’s nordic trails are open to the public (except during Nordic Combined World Cup events), and are free. Riding Mavericks: the largest superpipe on the continent      Today’s halfpipes certainly aren’t what they used to be, especially at the Steamboat Ski Area. At 600-plus feet long and 50 feet wide, with 15-foot walls, Mavericks is the longest superpipe on the continent.   When riding a halfpipe for the first few times, either on skis or a snowboard, you want to keep a fekey pointers in mind.1. Remember, the size of the pipe should not intimidate you. In fact, the larger setup is even easier to get the hang of due to the long, gentle transitions between the flat bottom and the vertical walls.2. Watch a fepeople drop into the pipe from the top, noticing homuch speed they take into the first wall, compared to hohigh they fly out of the pipe (if at all).3. Obviously, less speed is better at first, but be sure to keep enough speed to make it at least halfway up to the lip.4. You want to ride up the walls on a flat surface, not too much on edge.5. Let your skis or board glide up the transition, moving your feet up the wall slightly ahead of your body. Bend your knees as you rise up and keep your eyes focused on the lip. As you slodown and start to feel weightless, turn your hips and feet away from the lip, and back down the wall.6. You can jump slightly to assist in the direction change, but be careful not to push too hard off the wall. This will cause you to fly off the wall and land further towards the flats. You want to changedirection and land high up on the wall, then use your uphill edge(s) to control your speed back down.7. As you land, look to the lip across the pipe and slightly downhill from your position for your next “hit.” Once you get into a nice rhythm, start to take more speed into the walls, and continue to let your feet rise up ahead of your body.   The magic of a nice, long pipe like the one here in Steamboat Springs is that you can have so many hits all the way down. Head over to Bashor Bowl and give Mavericks a try. A boa by any other name would still constrict    Hocan you tell snowboarders by looking at their hands?    A. By the calluses on the outside of their little fingers.    Anyone who has struggled with lace-up snowboard boots can attest to the truth of that statement. What most riders see as a chronic annoyance posed a challenge for Steamboat Springs inventor Gary Hammerslag.   “About six years ago, I started snowboarding, and my kids took up hockey. Suddenly, we were using shoelaces a lot. It’s hard to get the closure force to the right tension, and when you finally do, it starts to change right away as the knot loosens or the laces get wet. You want to adjust the tension, but you can’t do it,” Gary explains. “I wanted to see if there was a better way to do it.”    After much trial-and-error, Gary designed a closure system that replaces shoelaces and has multiple potential uses. A stainless steel cable is threaded through long guides along each side of the shoe, skate or boot. “The long lace guides pull the boot really evenly in specific areas,” Gary says.   At the top of the boot, a 1-inch reel with internal ratchets and gears winds the lace around a bobbin. “As you wind the reel, the whole boot tightens down evenly. You can get the boot as tight as you want and make minute adjustments to the tension,” he says.   A friend suggested Gary name his new business “boa,” because the closure system fully constricts. Vans, Northwave, K2, DC Shoe, Nitro and Deeluxe/Raichle all offer snowboard boots with the Boa system in their 2002/’03 lines.   The reels are made in China, and the cable is manufactured in the States. Three people work full-time at Boa Technology, Inc.’s Steamboat headquarters.   Gary flies around the world to meet with customers and subcontractors, but he doesn’t see having his headquarters in a remote corner of Colorado as problematic. “We have the best possible testing ground right here,” he says.   The next time you’re on a chairlift, if the rider next to you is wearing boots with a reel system, you may have just spotted a Boa tester. Talk about a dream job.

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