Tales from the Edge

by Brigham Stevens

Saturday April 11, 1998

I'm here at the Plump Jack Inn at Squaw Valley. This place is WAY nicer than I expected. I'm just at the bottom of the gondola, so in the morning I have a short walk and I'm riding! Those of you that have spoken to me recently KNOW how happy this makes me! This is my first night here, and the next 7 nights will bring some of the best snowboarding spring has to offer.

In fact, there is fresh powder everywhere... Mid-winter conditions...PERFECT!

Today I was at Sugar Bowl for first lift, 9am. The snow was just as creamy and smooth as could be. I felt like I was floating as I cut in, making turns in this perfect spring powder. It was BEAUTIFUL.

I hit the terrain park for the first time and started to lean how to take jumps. I took the lift with a 13 year old snowboarder who was really good, kind of nuts too. He liked my wrist guards, but remarked that there are "so many old snowboarders now"..... Because I'm 28... What a cute kid!!! I was very amused to be making friends. Another snowboarder that I rode with thought it was "phat" that I was just starting to catch air too...

I had an excellent day. Lots of good riding. But, let me cut the bull here and get to the part I __know__ you all want to hear about.

I learned a new move today: the "Third Edge Pancake Drop". It is actually quite easy. You simply point your board down hill, aim for a nice ramp in the terrain park, hit it at moderate speed. You will be launched into the air. While in the air, realize you've never flown this high before while strapped to a board, look down, twist, and then land at 90 degrees (to the side), instead of the front. This should successfully whip you chest first right into the snow. As you land, you must lift your board up so it won't drag. Now you are really like superman soaring in the heavens, especially on this creamy, cloud like snow. If you do it right you will hear a loud thunk and wonder if you have broken any ribs. I think, as long as you keep the speed down, the danger of breaking any ribs is quite low. You should be able to do this the first or second try, almost no matter what your experience level. Luckily, for me it was right under the lift where it happened, and so the snowboarders on the way up actually clapped for me. I picked myself up, chest aching, and quietly made my way through the rest of the terrain park.

I am looking forward to six more days of this, in the best conditions.


PS: Some of you (who I have not spoken to recently) might not know what I mean about the third edge. Snowboards come with two edges that you use to control your motion across the snow. Sometimes, a part of your body (most often the ...backside..., but it really can be just about any part) comes into contact with the snow, (usually), trading places with the board. This is what I call the third edge, and it is really fantastic what maneuvers that can be achieved. After all, it is only fair- we spend so much time riding the board, it should have a turn riding us!

Wednesday April 15, 1998

I'm still here at Plump Jacks in Squaw Valley. Today will be my fifth straight full day of boarding, and I can't wait to get out there. Lifts open in two hours...

We've had several feet of new snow the past couple of days. Each morning I've been faced with more and more powder. It is simply MAD how deep it is, I've never been in conditions like this in all my life. I had to learn how to ride all over again, but with the help of the Granite Chief chair and gravity, I found my way down through this most awesome terrain.

I'm looking out the window at BLUE SKIES.. Looks like it is going to be a warm day finally. Yesterday the sun was playing peekabo between snow showers, so one minute you could see forever, then the next only a few feet.

Allright, I bet you thought I had no new maneauvers for you, but would I let you down? With powder like this, there are many lessons the mountain has to teach...

Some of you might remember the third edge pinwheel, which is spinning around on your backside while sliding down...(kindof like breakdancing) I've learned a new variation on that which is more like a Ferris Wheel. I think you can figure out how that one must go.

Have you ever tasted a flap jack? It is (if I remember correctly) a sweet piece of dough that is tossed in some powdered sugar and then fried. Well, I know how that dough feels too, having thrown myself hard into deep deep powder, completely battered and fried.

And finally, the best move yet: "Sock It To Me" ... Yesterday I achieved a new speed record for myself. I was cruising down a moderate grade slope in very deep powder. I was so happy, and charged at moving so fast and gracefully over the broken powdered landscape. Just at that peak moment I shifted my weight, and the front of my board caught powder. This is how you start the Ferris Wheel up.... My instinct was to reach out with my fist to ease the fall.. (I ride with hands in fist to prevent finger injuries...), this caused my fist to be between my face and the powder... Yes, you got it, I socked myself right in the nose! On top of that, when you are moving at speed and eat it hard you creates a giant powder cloud. I was buried in my own comet trail, a true battered flap jack.


Three more full days of this ahead....




Copyright 1998 Brigham Stevens, all rights reserved. Used with permission.

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