NEW YORK TIMES DOES JUSTICE TO FATAL SLIDE
By now you would think there was nothing left to be said about the Stevens Pass avalanche that killed three last winter. Given that members of the media were involved (including numerous friends of AJ’s), along with several ski industry folks, it wasn’t surprising to see the slide covered widely and often. But now the New York Times has given the Steven Pass tragedy coverage that will blow you away for its depth, creativity, thoroughness, and wonderfully effective use of the medium that is a web page. The story, called Snow Fall and written by John Branch, takes you chronologically through the events leading to the avalanche, the avalanche itself, and the aftermath as the survivors search for and tried to revive the three victims. It includes POV video, 911 recordings, video interviews, animated movies showing the slide moving in real time, aerial flyovers of the range, and more. Surely, no avalanche has ever been so thoroughly communicated with multimedia, and the effect is one of immediacy, anxiety, and powerlessness. Even though you know the outcome, you want to dive in and change it. This story will surely win awards, and it’s must reading for anyone who loves the medium and, more important, traveling safely in the backcountry in winter. Via NY Times.
JUDGE SIDES WITH SKI AREAS, REJECTS FOREST SERVICE WATER RULES
U.S. District judge William Martinez overturned a controversial new water law requiring ski area permit holders on public land to turn over water rights to the Forest Service. His ruling kicks the rule back to the Forest Service — the case arose because the USFS revised 2011-12 permit regulations governing water rights but the judge says the revisions failed to evaluate economic impact, violated ski area rights, and didn’t follow government rulemaking guidelines. The National Ski Areas Association sued to get the rules overturned. The judge’s decision doesn’t weigh on the substance of the idea, though the critical point here is that the USFS didn’t allow enough time or proper forums for public comment, which, the judge says, surely would’ve seen ski areas pushing back. “Why would a ski area sell off water rights and leave itself with insufficient water to operate a ski area?” he said. “Then you are not a ski area anymore.” Of course the elephant in the room, not just in Colorado where the case was heard, but nationwide, is climate change and scarce water. If there’s no snow and not enough water in estuaries, water rights still won’t save skiing. Via Denver Post.
AMERICAN TEEN SKIER GETS FIRST WORLD CUP WIN
Mikaela Shiffrin is the second youngest woman in American history to win a World Cup. And by winning in the first World Cup race since Lindsey Vonn said she was taking a break from the circuit, the 17-year-old Shiffrin picked up the slack quite nicely. She won a night slalom, barely edging Sweden’s Frida Hansdotter by .29 seconds for her first World Cup victory. Shiffrin has been touted as the next American ski star, and she performed like one. Shiffrin was second after the first run and was then challenged by overall World Cup leader Tina Maze, who had a blazing second run to take a large lead just before the American posted her fast time. Shiffrin kept her composure: “I guess I didn’t really feel any pressure. It felt more like something was pushing me forward rather than something pulling me towards the finish line.” Via ABC News
WORLD’S FIRST WEEKEND CABIN (MAKERS)
Scientists in Germany have been able to date the oldest wooden structures in the world. Sadly they are not austere blond-wood shelters in a Scandinavian style everyone loves, but well housings dating to between 5600 to 4900 B.C. What’s pretty nuts isn’t just they survived (they’d been under water, preserved), but that they were made from oak trees that according to archaeologists were felled with stone adzes. And the skill of their subsequent woodworking shows that they were clearly capable of making very complex structures; what they built would resemble any modern chest, with complex corner joints — and of course no access to metal for nails or screws. These were the world’s first carpenters, but sadly only soil footprints remain of their likely awesome cabins. Via Science Daily