It Ain't Over Until It's Over - An Ode to Spring Skiing


By Davey Jones, SB Sunnyvale Staffer
 

"Suns out, guns out!" I heckle Chris, a fellow rental technician who is sporting shorts and a tank top while working rentals. "You know you're selling ski rentals, brother" I quip. "We're renting tents too" Chris shoots back, defending his appearance. It's spring at Sports Basement and the yin and yang of the seasons are very apparent. Camping gear and snow hardgoods are battling for floorspace. In the same week we could get snow in Tahoe and record-breaking heat in the Bay. But for my part, I am firmly on the side of snow.

This past weekend at Palisades Tahoe was a perfect confluence of sun, snow, and fun. Palisades lived up to its copywritten title "The Capital of Spring Skiing". The resort was flush with fun fundraiser events. Saturday the Pain McShlonkey Classic was held to raise funds for the Shane McConkey Foundation (a goofy non profit focused on carrying on Shane's love of life and creating positive changes; watch his documentary or the movie "Gnar" to understand the event's wild adventure spirit), while Sports Basement held our Demo Day event with all our brand partners in support of Boarding for Breast Cancer, who for the last 25 years have supporting breast cancer research and people who are fighting the disease.
 

The Mothership Classic

 
Sunday was the High Fives Foundation eighth annual Mothership Classic, a start-bell-to-end-bell day of endurance skiing and riding on the infamous KT-22 Chairlift. Both days featured a ton of costumes, retro apparel, and good times for a good cause.
 

 
I took the opportunity to participate in the Mothership Classic. I have been skiing the KT-22 chair for at least 30 years but I have never just lapped the chair perpetually all day as a challenge. Personally, I can absolutely support the charitable aspect of the High Fives Foundation. High Fives is a Lake Tahoe-based non-profit providing grants for rehabilitation to support athletes with life altering injuries as a result of mountain sports. I dislocated my hip at Palisades in 2012, so to some degree I know what it's like to recover from a major injury. High Fives hits close to home for me.
 

 

The plan

I knew the day would be a marathon-like challenge. I made a plan; I would ski in the morning and snowboard through the afternoon. The Mothership Classic encourages retro gear and I had a 1992 Nitro Fusion 172cm snowboard that would be perfect for it. Originally I figured 20 laps of KT was possible for me, but at Demo Day on Saturday Johnny the K2 Rep told me that 27 laps is over 50,000 vertical feet. This was my new goal. Thanks Johnny.

I hustled to the KT lift line with way too much gear and snacks. I was putting my skis on when the bell rang at 9:00am to start the day. Through the inflatable archway I went, with only a touch of butterflies in my stomach, with a game plan to get a bunch of laps in early while the snow was the coldest. The Saddle was the only run open - ski patrol kept the main run closed due to to the overnight freeze (and maybe just a little safety factor).
 

Lap 1

Laps one through six flew by and it almost felt like I was padding my stats early on with those fast laps on the firmer conditions. I called my number one donators - my parents - and gave them a special video call from the chair, and made a few more videos on the chair as well. The videos are lame and/or funny, but they were also a good way to keep track of the laps I was making. You kind of get lost in your head bombing down the runs and having them all blend together. At lap 11 for me the ski patrol stopped the event and gave us a warning to ski slower down the mountain run. The participants could not wrap their heads around this schizophrenic advice. I came into the lifeline and just thought that the lift couldn't handle all of our fast heat and ate a bagel and a bag of chips as I waited for it to start back up.

Since I demoed six snowboards the day before on a lot of classic ski lines at Palisades, my skiing muscles were less tired than my snowboarding muscles. The new plan was to keep skiing to get to 20 laps, then switch over to the snowboard.
 

Lap 21

At lap 21 I put the 172 Nitro on my front foot. The bindings didn't feel super tight, but I rushed to the chairlift corral to take my first snowboard lap anyway. I had purchased stiffer, downsized snowboard boots since the last time I rode the 172 and there was a little bit too much play in the binding size. Unfortunately, that led to a fall on the steeper section of the hill. Not only did I need to take a break due to getting the wind knocked out of me, I also needed to change up my bindings to make them a little tighter. I burned a little time unscrewing the bolts on the 1992 era Nitro bindings, but I was back in the game at 2:20pm. With a tighter bindings I could now slash that longboard into the mankey afternoon snow. Surprisingly, that old 1992 plank flexed with a mid-level flex for a board that big and heavy.
 

 
At Sports Basement we have a base-grinding Wintersteiger machine that can texture your ski or snowboard base. That means we can actually create a texture for your snowboard that pushes the water away and not straight back, making you slide through mashed potato snow with little resistance. I had the Nitro Wintersteiger-ed with the spring texture and I was amazed at how well it worked. There was a cool little zipper-like sound I could hear on the snow, and it did not grab or slow down on the flat parts of the mountain run back to the base. I highly recommend a spring tune if you want to ski or ride all day in wet spring snow.
 

Lap 24

At lap 24 my travel partner Jordan met up with me for his last run of the day after coming back from Alpine with my buddy Jim. They were calling it quits and I had three to four more runs to go. Ultimately, I did either 28 or 29 laps - counting is kind of hard when you're in the event mind headspace. I'm still waiting to hear back from high five for the official count. But for sure it was at least 27 laps and that's 50,416 vertical feet. Goal met!

I knew I was not in for a podium position at lap 11 when I found out my chair partners were on lap 14. Ultimately, there was a team of young groms who whose leader got 44 laps in for the day (!!). The most laps for an adult male was 39 laps, and adult female it was 37 laps which I think is something like skiing the height of Mount Everest twice in one day.
 

The real reward

We stayed for the award ceremony, and of course it was very inspiring to see people who raised thousands of dollars as a team or even as an individual for this foundation. It was also inspiring during the course of the day to ride the chair lift with High Fives athletes who personally thanked me for participating and raising money for their recovery. I can continue to raise donations until May 1, so if you want to donate go here:

SUPPORT THE HIGH FIVES FOUNDATION   

 
If you've read this far you obviously are on Team Snow too. Don't commit to that sunny side just quite yet. It seems all of the ski resorts in the Sierras have events leading up to their closing day, so if you want to wear fun costumes like our rentable Tipsy Elves snowsuits, or your parents old ski clothes for fun, now is the time! There are pond skims, golfing events, and Easter egg hunts to round out this ski season. Snow just fell last week - 9 inches at Bear Valley! And you never know if a miracle April or May will keep Palisades spinning late. It's not over till it's over, so bring home the springtime goggle tan and a good time on the hill.

3 comments

  • davey says...

    Looks like my article pleased Ullr, fresh snow for the Sierra as many resorts close down this weekend. Go team snow!

    On April 18, 2022
  • Marc G says...

    Way to go, Davey!
    Your post really makes me feel like I wish I was there. Wait… I do wish I was there. Cheers!

    On April 11, 2022
  • Your Mom & Dad Jones says...

    Way to go our son David Jones

    On April 07, 2022

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