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I grew up in Colorado at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, then lived in Denmark and traveled throughout Europe before coming back to Colorado. I have two adult sons, whom I cherish. I started my writing career as a columnist and investigative reporter and eventually became the first woman editor of two different papers. Along the way, my team and I won numerous state and several national awards, including the National Journalism Award for Public Service. In 2011, I was awarded the Keeper of the Flame Lifetime Achievement Award for Journalism. Now I write historical romance and contemporary romantic suspense.

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Friday, May 21, 2010

Interview with a true powder hound -- Updated





A while back, I promised you an interview with a true powder hound, someone who skis the way Gabe skis — in defiance of gravity and as often as possible. I work with a guy like this. He writes for the outdoors section of the newspaper.

Extreme skiers, climbers, etc., are not an endangered species in Boulder; in fact, meeting people who excel in sports like skiing or telemark or skateboarding or rock climbing is just part of life here. People like Isaac come to Colorado, and to Boulder specifically, because of the thrills it offers.

Isaac has been writing for the outdoor sports section of the newspaper for almost eight years now. (Can you believe that, Isaac?) He works freelance, going on fun outdoor adventures and then writing about them, or testing outdoor gear and sharing his experiences. When I met him, he had a girlfriend and lived for adventure, his life focused on chasing powder during the winter and hitting the singletrack during the summer (i.e, mountain biking, an obsession it in our outdoor-crazy city).

Isaac knew a few things about Gabe and Naked Edge from the beginning, because I shared passages of the story with him, either because I thought he’d find them funny or because I wanted to run the lingo by him to make sure it sounded authentic. Rock climbing lingo is part of my family’s speech; skiing lingo… not so much. Oh, sure, everyone in my family skis, but no on snowboards. And no one has ever lived in his or her car driving to the places where snow is falling like true powder hounds do.

That’s one thing about Isaac’s writing I love — he writes the way those guys talk, whether it’s skiing or mountain biking he’s covering. He was writing about the impact of bicycle seats once and used the term “manberries,” which I stole outright for Unlawful Contact. (Dude, I’m giving credit where credit is due.)

I asked Isaac if he would mind answering a few questions. The guy is now married with a wee son (who is adorable) and a full-time job. Despite that busy schedule, he agreed.

Pamela: Isaac, thanks for agreeing to visit my blog. Can you tell us how old you were when you slid down your first snow? Was it love from the beginning?

Isaac: I was actually 10 when I took my first turns, prior to that I was a Cali kid, skatepunk and BMX shredder. I moved to Vermont and remember thinking as I watched the local Vermonster’s ski that I was TOO OLD. Funny, washed up at ten. :) Then I got a pair of skis at the local ski swap took my first turns as was hooked! I’ve been lucky enough to log a 1000+ plus days since then. Still trying to perfect glorious art of the Telemark turn. Practice, practice!

Pamela: I never learned the Telemark turn. I did master the Telemark face plant, though. I have that down cold. So what brought you to Colorado and to Boulder, specifically?

Isaac: Sun and light dry powder, which Seattle where we lived previously had approx NONE. Viva Colorado!

Pamela: Describe the most powder-houndy period of your life.

Isaac: Lived in Bozeman, MT, for a year and ski bummed at the righteous Bridger Bowl in 1992 (damn, I’m old). Skied 100+ days and worked the night shift at Dana Design backpack checking seams. Lived on $110 a week. Those were the days...

Pamela: Don’t complain about getting old to me, please. I’m 11-1/2 now, and that’s awful. How long have you been mountain biking?

Isaac: Got my first mountain bike in 1988 (that’s actually rocking my world as I type — sheesh!) Thumbshifters and canti brakes. Mongoose IBOC Pro — but pro I was not. LOVING mt biking more with every passing year, just signed up for BC Bike Race for my 40th birthday — 500km over 7 days of rocks, berms, bridges and hopefully a few cold adult beverages. :)

Pamela: That sounds so fun! What is it about crashing down rocky mountain trails in defiance of death that appeals to so many people here? I mean, when your bike requires shock absorbers and you have to wear a kind of motorcycle helmet — is that what God intended when She created the bicycle?

Isaac: We all know SHE shredds :) I thinks it’s the totally focus that is addictive. No time/way to contemplate the bills, the laundry, the meaning of life. Just raw caveman/women ripping through the woods. We ain’t engineered to sit under fluorescent lights all day!

Pamela: I have to agree with you there (as I sit under fluorescent lights). How do you feel about alpine climbing, rock climbing and ice climbing, which are my family’s addictions? (Except for me, of course. I’m still recovering from my near-fatal bout of Rapid Deceleration Syndrome, as you know.)

Isaac: I like to climb but um, well, SUCK. I get the Elvis shake-y leg syndrome pronto. Glorious sport, but in Boulder, the comp is pretty high (no pun intended).

Pamela: Can you define some terms for us? Gabe and Marc used some of these in the story: “shredding the gnar”; “sick terrain,” or sick powder”; “epic”; “catch air”; “snow farm,” “face shots.” (As a side note: Do you think it’s coincidence that there’s an overlap between porn slang and outdoor sports slang and the fact that most of those who pursue outdoor sports on a hardcore level are young males? Never mind. You don’t have to answer.)

Isaac: Yes, it’s true that the bro/brahs of the sports world do sometimes speak in tongues! Maybe related to lack of oxygen at altitude??? LOL. In sum, the sick-er, gnarly-er, etc., the better-er!!!

Pamela: Did you have any epic days this year? Do you have a skiing memory that stands out for all time?

Isaac: Skied Jackson in mid-March with my best buddy after 20 inches of powder. It was a dream trip to the “White Room.” It doesn’t get any better, and let’s just say that all the powder/orgasm analogies are right on the $. Unreal.

Pamela: Thanks, Isaac, for your time. I love having your work in the paper. You’re great to work with. I don’t think I’ve ever seen you without a smile on your face. And thanks for being willing to hang with us today and for sharing links to your ski vids.



Here’s a clip, filmed by Isaac, that shows his buddy Doug Telemark skiing glades at Eldora. The trick about skiing glades is, well, not hitting trees and killing yourself. Doing it Telemark is even tougher. But there’s even more than that. Tree wells, hollows of snow around a tree’s trunk, can trap you and lead to a nasty fall and/or piercing by branches. Or you can catch your tips or tails on a trunk/well/branch and wipe out, perhaps hitting wood. To ski the way Doug and Isaac are skiing here, you have to be good. We get a glimpse of Isaac, who is filming while skiing, as he turns the camera on himself.




Here’s a clip he filmed of some buddies Telemarking. Note the face plant at the end. That is my only true skill when it comes to Telemarking.


And here’s a glimpse of mountain biking. This location, Walker Ranch, is about 25 to 30 minutes from my office. It’s just above Boulder. And this gives you a good idea of what Boulder Mountain Parks land looks like, i.e., where Gabe would have worked. One of my ranger buddies lives in at Walker Ranch. Lucky SOB.




OK, well, I hope you enjoy watching these. I’m spending the weekend with Natalie and Zach, who will finally be unchained very soon. I need to catch up on writing so I won’t be around much. But I do read your posts and enjoy them. I hope you have fun with this!

Incidentally, if you’re interested in mountain biking or skiing videos from Colorado, YouTube is loaded with them. You can probably Google all the places in Naked Edge and see them there, i.e, Redgarden Wall where Gabe was climbing, Boulder Mountain Parks, the famous Third Flatiron, etc.

I’m adding this link to another YouTube video because it offers a great little overview of my hometown, together with some mtb (mountain biking) how-to. It made me laugh. You get glimpses of our bike path infrastructure, as well as Boulder Canyon, where, I swear, I grew up with my dad climbing those canyon sides with traffic whizzing by below.

10 comments:

Lori said...

Awwww, this made me totally homesick for Boulder!!

Hey, BTW, have you ever heard a bandout there called STAR?

Hi Pamela, I can never decide whether these guys are the simply the world's most incredible athletes or whether they're just plain crazy. As someone who gets dizzy on a stepladder, I'm in awe. Do I dare to hope that you'll gives us a scene with Natalie and Zach in comparative safety soon? lol!

RitaSV said...

Fun interview! Thanks, Isaac!!!

I remember the first time I saw Telemark skiing was during the winter olympics in Lillehammer in 1994. My great grandmother was from that general area and I've often wondered if she skied in the Telemark style.

As a complete and utter non-athlete I am filled with admiration for these 'powder hounds' tinged with a little envy. I worked a few years at a ski resort so I recognize these guys. :o)

Mary G said...

Very cool videos Pamela.
Yep we need some excerpts here. Going through PC withdrawal here & it's not pretty.

Aw, Lori, be sure to come for a visit sometime, okay? No point in denying the reality of Niwot's Curse, is there?

No, I haven't heard of Star, but I don't get out much...

Hi, Jennie — These guys are both amazing athletes and a bit nuts. They're adrenaline junkies to some degree, I think. I recognize the affliction. I get my fix through my job. LOL!

Excerpts? You're asking for excerpts?

Hi, Rita — Glad you enjoyed it. Telemark skiing is SO HARD! I went helicopter skiing with Telemark skis. The views from the chopper were amazing. The snow up on the Continental Divide was pure champagne powder. But I fell every time I tried to turn. Just never got that turn down.

Fun that you worked at a resort. I've always thought that would be the best way to meet guys.

Hi, Mary G — Glad you enjoyed the interview and vids.

What is this? Excerpts?

Hmmm.... I'll have to think about this...

I just added a link to another video because it's SO Boulder and funny with regard to mountain biking.

Debbie H said...

Tell Isaac I think he is totally cool! Thanks for the ride down the slopes, that is the closest I will ever get to skiing. LOL

The mt biking clip made me miss Colorado so much. It's amazing, I left Colorado at age 5 and can still smell the pines, hear the rustle of the aspen and the smell of the air.

Thanks so much for the clips and allowing us to meet Isaac.

How many chapters so far? And, yes, please some torture... ah, I mean snippets from Natalie and Zach's story. LOL

I've just started Chapter 5. I should be on Chapter 7. So I really must catch up. I'm at my fave coffee shop. The owners are a very sweet young couple, and she reads my books.

I don't think I can do excerpts till there's more from which to excerpt, if that makes sense. After all, these excerpts have to last till July 2011.

Glad you enjoyed the clips and Isaac's interview. He is the definition of cool.

As for skiing, there's always time. If I can ski, anyone can ski.

Diane W. said...

Very cool interview and videos, Pamela!! I'm still so amazed that these guys ski amongst the trees ON PURPOSE!! Yikes....I try to avoid them at all costs! And, what I do to get from the top of a mountain to the bottom can only be termed "skiing" in the loosest sense of the word. You would think after living in Denver for 12 years and Utah for 10 I would have some skills. Nope.

Loved the Boulder vid. We lived in the Westminster/Broomfield area when we were there and that really reminded me of home. I spent many a day in Boulder....ok, I was on the Pearl Street Mall, but nevertheless....;)

Have a wonderful day of writing!!!

Diane

Scorpio M. said...

Loved this post! Isaac was great and that last video was so funny. Who knew there were booty pads out there? I guess it's better for the butt & the "manberries." LOL! :)

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