FOR CUBANS, SURFING IS REVOLUTIONARY — BUT NOT PART OF THE REVOLUTION
Cuban surfers make officials nervous — with all that off-coast paddling, officials think they’re either spies or trying to escape. And for years, having a modern surfboard in Cuba was as rare as having a passport. Most surfers had to use crudely shaped pieces of plywood known as pleybos, often ripped from discarded school desks and coated in black-market resin. Candles were melted on top to substitute for surf wax. Shaping the board was guesswork. And as if that didn’t make surfing challenging enough, Cuban surfers rarely see surf videos, or surf magazines: They’re self taught in a state that doesn’t recognize their sport (and unofficial sports are taboo). But Cuban surfers remain undaunted. They do good deeds, like raising money for charity and organize beach cleanups. They’re showing that surfing is a form of good, not rebellion, but there are still huge struggles; because there isn’t a single surf shop in the entire country something as common as surf wax is nearly as precious as having a real surfboard. Via NY Times.
5 KIDS, 1 ADULT INJURED AS SCOTTISH CHAIRLIFT DERAILS
While Scotland doesn’t have a big ski industry like the U.S. or Europe, the fact that a Scottish high-speed lift with detachable chairs derailed yesterday should cause a good bit of alarm among skiers everywhere. Five children and an adult were taken to the hospital with leg and back injuries as some of the chairs fell more than 20 feet at the Lecht Ski Centre in Aberdeenshire. 36 other skiers had to be rescued after being stranded on the chairlift for over an hour. Mostly, it’s just a lucky thing that the portion of cable that derailed wasn’t higher off the ground. An investigation into the cause is ongoing and there’s no word yet of the brand of lift system or whether this may impact other lifts globally. Via BBC.
BRECKENRIDGE, STEAMBOAT GET ‘D’ GRADES FROM COALITION
The Ski Area Citizens’ Coalition hands out annual letter grades for resorts throughout the West, and every year they raise some eyebrows. The SACC puts a very large (too large?) emphasis on whether resorts have plans to expand, which the environmental watchdog group sees as the biggest single negative a resort can bring to the environment — especially at a time when skier numbers are basically flat. But while ski areas like Breckenridge got a wretched overall report card for its planned expansion (which earned them a D, plus an F for poor water conservation), Arizona Snowbowl got hauled into the principal’s office by its ear, with a C on protecting wetlands, and Fs for conservation, community sustainability, and environmental advocacy. Via Daily Camera.
LIFE UNDER ANTARCTIC ICE COULD MIRROR LIFE ELSEWHERE
Lake Whillans is a 30-square-mile body of water that sits on the edge of the Ross Ice shelf in West Antarctica. But it also sits under 800 meters of ice, so scientists, including John Priscu from Montana State University, had to devise a way to drill through the ice without also contaminating the liquid water underneath. They found a way using a water-heated drill and also managed to retrieve about 30 liters of water, as well as several cores of sediment from the lake bottom and although they’re still awaiting gene sequencing they know that the samples contain bacteria — life formed in an environment entirely free of photosynthesis. What that means is that on Jupiter or Saturn’s frozen moons there might also be life that formed through an totally different path of evolution — and possibly life far more complex and strange than scientists previously thought possible. Via Nature.