Saturday, 16 February 2013

Learn how to make basic telemark turns – Part 1

 by Keith and Heather Nicol
Photo 1 - The Tele stance

      Telemark skiing is a great way to explore our snowy winter landscape. The fact that you can lift your heel  means that you can ascend up hill and by making telemark turns you can descend downhill.  Making telemark turns is more challenging than it looks since you need to control the skis from a flexed leg position. Photo 1 shows the basic telemark stance with the rear leg roughly parallel to the snow .  If you sink lower than this you risk hitting your knee cap on the ski.  It helps to keep your arms out and forward for balance and try not to hold this position but instead rise up and then sink down with the other foot ahead. This is called a “lead” change and is a good starting point for feeling comfortable adopting the tele stance.  Once you can do this on the flats, try a lead change moving across a shallow hill.

Photo 2- Start with a snowplow

Next try making basic telemark turns which involves using the familiar snowplow position (see photo 2) to start the turn and finishes with the skier in the telemark stance in the last third of the turn (see photo 3). The following video shows this progression. Once you can perform “basic” tele turns add more speed and adopt the telemark stance earlier in the turn. CANSI (the

Photo 3- Finish in a tele stance

Canadian Association of Nordic Ski Instructors) has a complete telemark progression which includes starting with the basic telemark turn and finishes with higher end turns like the short radius telemark turns. Contact CANSI for a telemark instructor in your area ( For more telemark tips see:  Thanks to Rossignol , Intuition Liners, and Genuine GuideGear for assisting with telemark education. 

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Sampling Vancouver and Victoria Attractions

by Keith and Heather Nicol
The Space Centre is popular with all ages
The Aquabus is an ideal way to get around False Creek
The Nosh serves up great food
The Wildlife Photographer of 2012 show is well worth the trip to Victoria
    On our recent visit to Vancouver the focus was on skiing and we certainly enjoyed the alpine skiing at Cypress Mountain and Whistler as well as the cross country skiing at Cypress. Given our short stay in the Vancouver area we didn’t get a chance to take in many of its other urban attractions. However we did get a chance to sample the show at the H.R MacMillan Space Centre ( which we really enjoyed. It must have been over 35 years since we had last seen a presentation there and it was great to be back. It is also a very popular place with kids and there were a couple of school groups there when we toured the facility. We also stopped by one of our favourite places- Granville Market and we were surprised by how many people were there in the middle of the winter. Of course, there were no buskers outside breathing fire or juggling knifes like there would be in the summer but it is still a fun place to visit, even in February. From there we took the Aquabus ( across False Creek and really appreciated how useful these little ferries are. They can whisk you across False Creek to many destinations that would otherwise be time consuming to reach. Another bonus of visiting Vancouver from January 18 to February 3 is that you can take in “Dine Out Vancouver. Dozens of restaurants take part and provide a 3 course meal for either $18, $28 or $38. We tried a just opened restaurant called Nosh (ph 778.-989-0625)and it was superb. This small restaurant in the Kitsilano area of Vancouver serves up Canadian-European style food. We suggest  the Roasted Parsnip & Apple Soup, Rotisserie Pork Shoulder and Cinnamon Orange Rice Pudding for dessert. We also had a chance to go to Victoria and on the recommendation of my brother and his wife we visited the Royal B.C. Museum ( which has an amazing exhibit titled: Wildlife Photographer of 2012. It runs from November 30, 2012 to April 1, 2013 and is the only North American stop for this spectacular show. It features 100 backlit photos out of 48.000 that were submitted! We loved the shot of the polar bear on the ice flow with its footprints clearly outlined in the wet snow. There is lots more to see in Vancouver and Victoria and our blogs from June of this year show some of these. Here is one sample:

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Enjoying great skiing at Whistler-Backcomb, B.C.

by Keith and Heather Nicol     
Another great family ski holiday at Whistler
       Skiing Whistler-Blackcomb is one of our favorite family activities and on our most recent trip in early February, 2013 we had two days of stellar skiing in the bright sun and enjoyed packed powder conditions. We don’t get a chance to ski Whistler that often since we live in Corner Brook, Newfoundland but we have managed several skiing holidays there over the years.  On this visit we were joined by our son Michael, daughter Kristie and Keith brother’s Tom. One of the aspects we love about Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort is that it is vast- encompassing 8,171 acres and its 37 lifts make the largest ski area in North America. This year the Whistler area received quite a lot of snow through December but much of January
Tom skiing in Symphony Bowl at Whistler Mountain
was quite dry. In fact they had received just 17 cm of new snow in the week before we visited. But by sticking to the upper runs in the bowls we still skied lots of soft snow on both mountains. On Friday, February 1 we decided to head up via the Creekside area  and the combination of a gondola and high speed quad chair lift quickly brought us to the top of Whistler Mountain. We did a quick warmup run on Ego bowl  and then we decided to head to the back bowls. We did a couple of great runs on Symphony Express and the open bowls served up great skiing. After lunch we took the amazing Peak to Peak Gondola which connects the 2 mountains. This allowed us to check out upper slopes on Blackcomb Mountain and it was our first time riding this amazing gondola. Our best runs here was on spectacular Blackcomb Glacier which features a huge bowl accessed by the Showcase T Bar. 
Michael skiing on 'Blue Line' on Blackcomb
      Saturday February 2 was even sunnier and warmer with the daytime temperatures reaching 1 C in the alpine. In fact it was so pleasant that we ate lunch on the outside deck at the Roundhouse on Whistler Mountain. There are not too many ski areas in Canada where you can often eat lunch in the middle of the winter at the top of a mountain.  This time we started on Blackcomb Mountain and decided to head back to Blackcomb Glacier and then we decided to head back to Whistler via the Peak to Peak Gondola. There we skied several runs on Glacier Bowl before heading back along the Burnt Stew Trail to Symphony Bowl. The Burnt Stew trail must be one of the best beginner runs in the world with its majestic scenery and wide open spaces. We finished the day with a couple of laps on  the T-bars before heading down in to Whistler Village via Ego Bowl and Upper and Lower Olympic runs.  It was great to be back at Whistler-Blackcomb and we were really impressed with the new Peak to Peak Gondola since it makes it so easy to jump back and forth between to the 2 mountains.  For more info on skiing at Whistler contact: www.whistlerblackcomb.comand for what is happening in Whistler in general contact:
Kristie skiing packed powder on Blackcomb Glacier

Cross Country Skiing at Cypress Mountain Nordic near Vancouver, B.C.

 by Keith and Heather Nicol

Rustic Hollyburn Lodge is a popular destination
     Cypress Mountain has many winter activities to take part in from alpine skiing, snowshoeing, cross country skiing and even tubing.  We visited the downhill facility on Saturday, January 26 and so decided to try the cross country skiing on Sunday, January 27. Our daughter Kristie is an avid cross country skier and she joined us along with her cousin's husband Scott. It was-1C and snowing lightly and we were amazed at the huge interest in snowshoeing and cross country skiing. Even though we arrived just before 10 am the huge parking lots were beginning to fill up. As one of the people at the ticket office told us “The 2010 Olympics really put us on the map”. Cypress Nordic has 19 km of cross country ski trails groomed for both classic and skating as well as 10 km of snowshoe trails which “swallowed” up the large number of skiers and snowshoers.  The trails are very wide and the popular lower trails are relatively flat.  As you gain elevation the trails ascend and descend more quickly and the skiing is more challenging.  A popular destination is Hollyburn Lodge which is about 1 km from the parking lot. This heritage structure was built in 1926 and serves up food and is a great place to meet and warm up. 
Kristie (left) and Scott skiing on one of the wide trails at Cypress Nordic
       On Sunday we skied most of the lower trails and also skied the Unknown Lake loop which is higher up on the mountain.  The skiing was so good that we returned to ski on Monday, January 28 and although there were fewer people than on the weekend, we were amazed by the large number of school groups cross country skiing on the trails. We spoke to the Nordic manager Bill Cooper who told us that their Nordic ski school in the largest in Canada with dozens of instructors. “We have lots adult lessons on the weekend and many school groups which keep us busy through the week” he told us. If you are visiting Vancouver and want to cross country ski you couldn’t do any better than visiting Cypress Mountain. For more information see:  
We noticed lots of school groups on our visit

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Checking out alpine skiing at Cypress Mountain near Vancouver, B.C.

 by Keith and Heather Nicol
Cypress was an Olympic venue for the recent 2010 Winter Games
     On our recent trip to Vancouver, B.C.  we decided to check out the skiing at Cypress Mountain which is just a 30-45 minute drive from many parts of the city. We were accompanied by our son Michael and daughter Kristie and one of her friends.  Because the base is at over 900 meters when ever it is raining in Vancouver it is often snowing at Cypress during the winter months. So in one way it is the best of all worlds, you can play in the snow without shoveling it! We headed up on Saturday, January 26th and the weather started out with high overcast conditions but quickly changed to cloud and flurries as we arrived that morning. Cypress has the most vertical (610 meters) of any of the local ski areas on the North Shore Mountains. It has 53 runs served by 6 chairlifts, 2 of which are high speed quads, as well as 2 surface lifts. Cypress Mountain has snowshoe trails that wind through part of the alpine resort and we saw quite a few people taking advantage of this.  Cypress Mountain was also the site of the freestyle skiing and snowboard events for the 2010 Winter Olympics and we noted that the 5 rings at the base the mountain were a frequent backdrop for people posing for pictures.
Michael skiing through the soft snow on Rainbow run at Cypress Mountain
         Cypress Mountain has runs on both Mount Strachan and Black Mountain and had an impressive 380 cm of snow when we skied it in late January.   Mount Strachan is the highest in elevation (1440 meters) and we skied mainly off the Lions Express high speed quad where there were several intermediate and expert runs. There had been 20 cm of new snow over the past few days which made for great skiing. We also skied runs on Black Mountain which is served by the Eagle Express and the Raven Ridge chair. Some of the longest black and double black diamond runs were located off the Raven Ridge chair and we particularly liked First Sun and Black on Black. We can see why Cypress Mountain is so popular since it features lots of winter options from alpine skiing, snowshoeing, cross country skiing and even tubing. For more information check out:       

Kristie skiing down Black on Black off the Raven Ridge Quad