I recently traveled back to the U.S. after spending a summer in Are, Sweden with Reine Barkered. Our first stop back in the states was to Hanover, ME to catch up with the family. Reine and I decided to check out a new bike park with my family before heading out west.
I’ve been living in Lake Tahoe for some years now and I have not managed to get much biking in back East. I grew up racing at different mountains every weekend in the summer. I wish Highland was open when I was living back East that place is amazing.
When you first arrive the actual mountain may not look like much but once you head up there you will be pleasantly surprised! This place will excite all riders from the dirt jumper/freeride type to those who love technical DH tracks. For those that are new to the sport they have a skills center and some of the trails have alternate routes making it easier or harder. I headed over there with my 7 year old nephew and 10 year old niece and they just have a blast at that place. I can try the harder track while they are just to the side on something a bit easier.
Check out their trail map. You can click on a trail name and view a video of each trail!
This place is awesome, I can’t wait to get back there. It was challenging and fun, everything you want in a bike park. If you are in the East coast I suggest you head over there now! If you aren’t, start planing a trip to Highland, it’s a great time!
Lel Tone researching the avy forecast in the morning…
Michelle Parker checking beacons prior to departure…
Elyse Saugstad practicing proper travel techniques…
Ingrid Backstrom assessing the snow pack in the field..
Jackie Paaso knowing how to due a proper beacon search…
Elyse Saugstad was raised in Girdwood, Alaska and since that time became passionately involved with freeride and backcountry skiing as a professional skier. Between 2007 and 2009 Elyse won many International Freeride Competitions she entered and in 2008 was crowned the Freeride World Tour Champion. For the past few years she has worked with many noteworthy ski film companies such as Salomon Freeski TV and graced the pages of ski magazines around the globe. Elyse has worked with Chugach Powder Guides as a guest athlete. She has AIARE Level 1 certification.
Jackie Paaso has been a professional skier and a member of the Squaw Valley Freeride Team since 2009. She spends the majority of her winters competing on the Freeride World Tour and has many notable results like winning the 2010 Squaw Tram Face event and the 2012 Chamonix event. This past spring she filmed with Warren Miller Entertainment for their 2012 movie “Flow State” exploring the Norwegian Arctic. Jackie has been expanding her knowledge of big mountains and avalanche terrain all over the world. She has AIARE Level 1 certification.
Michelle Parker is a 25 year old professional skier who was born and raised in Squaw Valley and has been a member of the Squaw Valley Freeride Team since 2006. She films with Matchstick Productions and is featured in the latest film ‘Superheroes of Stoke’, whereupon this past fall she was awarded IF3’s ‘Best Female Performance’. Michelle is addicted to chasing winter in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres and spends most of her time in the mountains skiing, climbing, hiking, and biking. Michelle has AIARE Level 1 certification.
Sherry McConkey is an outdoor enthusiast who has been teaching yoga for seven years. She is a certified Anusara teacher, a form of yoga that focuses on alignment. Anusara is great for athletes to help with restorative stretching/yoga whereupon your body can heal, gain strength, clear the mind, and ultimately enhance your athletic performance. Sherry is also the founder of the Shane McConkey Foundation, a Tahoe non-profit organization. Sherry is in the process of being AIARE Level 1 certified.
Today I decided to take advantage of the beautiful New England weather and go on a small adventure up Old Spec. I hadn’t been up into Grafton Notch since I’ve been back home on this trip and I was pleasantly surprised to see some snow capped peaks as the notch came into view. It was a cool crisp day and the trail up was a bit icy, but regardless it was a great day for a hike.
I don’t consider myself the biggest trick person these days. Over the past few years I’ve definitely put most of my focus on skiing lines and learning the mountain. I’ve wanted to get back to my freestyle background for a while now and I haven’t really had the opportunity until now. Woodward opened a new facility up at Boreal Mtn. this summer and it’s amazing! I finally made it over there a few days ago with Michelle Parker. I’m not going to lie, I was a bit nervous. Trampolines, roller skis, foam pits all relatively new stuff to me.
I found it was like anything, if you start with the basics and work your way up it’s not that scary and it’s really fun! We started with trampoline basics and worked on our air awareness as well as some tricks to take to the ramp. I’ve never jumped into a foam pit before and I really enjoy it now. It helps build your confidence while trying new tricks and it’s so much fun, minus trying to get out. I still haven’t figured out how to gracefully exit the foam pit.
They also have a few video stations set up where you can either bounce on the trampoline or hit the ramp and the playback is delayed so that you can view it when you are done. This is a huge learning tool to be able to see a playback of the trick you just preformed.
After working on trampoline skills it’s time to make your way to the roller skis. You have to go through an introductory course before hitting the ramp. This part is very important because these roller skis are unlike anything else I’ve tried before. Once they get going in one direction they stay in that direction unless you hop or pick up one ski to adjust. This makes things a bit tricky. When starting off in the pump track you learn all the skills you will need to hit the ramp safely.
Of course there is a progression for the ramp as well. You start with a small mellow ramp and work your way up to the larger ramps. The first time I hit I was definitely a bit nervous, mostly worried about keeping my skis going in the right direction. Like most things once you do it you realize it’s a lot easier than it looks! It is so much fun I can’t wait to head up there again!
A few weeks ago Reine and I drove from Lake Tahoe to Whislter B.C. to some biking and to take part in one of the World’s largest bike festivals, Crankworx! I was hoping to get some tacky dirt and maybe even a little rain since it had been so dry in Tahoe this summer. As it turns out that was not going to happen. It was hot, dry and sunny! Just like Tahoe. That was okay though, we still had a great time. Whistler’s bike park is just amazing! There are trails for all types of riding up there. They are so much fun, I already can’t wait to go back.
My friend Adrienne convinced me I should enter a few of the races at Cranworx. I ended up signing up for the Air DH on the World famous A Line trail and the notoriously rough Canadian Open. I had a bit of trouble sleeping the night before the Air DH. I have to admit seeing names like World Champion Emmeline Ragot and others on the start list made me a bit intimidated. Especially since I’d never done a jump race before! Ha, I think I had just learned to jump maybe a few weeks ago.
Even though I came in last for the Pro Women it was still fun and a great race for me. I can definitely see that I’m cutting time race after race and if you’re going to get last it might as well be to someone like World Champion Emmeline Ragot!
The next day I headed up the mountain with Emmeline and Adrienne to walk the course for the Canadian Open to check out the lines. Seeing that I’m just getting back into DH racing it was really great to be able to walk through the course with those experienced ladies!
Later on the day in practice I ended up spraining my ankle during course practice. There was this one jump right before a section called Hecklers rock that I just kept coming up on wrong. Eventually it resulted in me tweaking my ankle a bit. That was the end of my riding time for me in Whistler. As much fun as I have DH biking in the summer I have to remember that the winter is still my main focus. I can’t keep pushing it like I do in the winter because getting strong and healthy is the main priority this summer. I have to say though, training for DH is the closest I can get to big mountain skiing off snow and I feel more ready than ever for the winter!!
Taking it easy in Whistler during Crankworx is not the worst thing in the world. There are so many events to spectate that keep you occupied. I’m also pretty sure Reine didn’t mind because that meant he got to ride my DH bike. He’d never been on one before and now I’m pretty sure he knows why I had to have one!
These guys are just amazing at the Red Bull Joy Ride event. It was pretty cool to see this event in person. At the same time it was a little scary. The winds had picked up some and I’m pretty sure they would not of been out jumping if it wasn’t for this event.
The last day of Crankworx was when the Canadian Open took place. Since I opted to sit this one out I was able to get some great spectating in. This race looked like so much fun, but the course was definitely a tough one. Maybe next year I’ll take part. We shall see
A week ago Reine and I traveled up to Shasta to go white water rafting on the Upper Klamath. We decided to take the scenic route on the way up there and check out Lassen National Park. It was a quick little detour that was definitely worth the trip! We decided to get out of the car for a bit and take a quick hike into one of the thermal areas.
I thought I’d share some shot from the trip.
I walked away from the Red Bull Cold Rush this season with a few new injuries. Initially I thought my left shoulder was the main problem, recently I discovered my right may be just as bad if not worse. I’ve been away from home for most of the season. In fact since the new year I have been in Tahoe for about 6 nights. Finding a good place to rehab when away from home isn’t always the easiest.
The past 6 weeks I’ve been spending most of my time here in Åre, Sweden. Luckily enough Reine got me in touch with Åre Naprapaterna, Sports medicine and Orthopedics. Magdalena Waller Dahlgren who specializes in shoulders has been able to help me rehab my shoulder with massage, acupuncture and more!
If you find yourself in Åre, Sweden and you are in the need of some rehab check out Åre Naprapaterna!
Well it’s been a while since I’ve updated my own site. For those of you that haven’t been following me on hellyhansen.com is been a great winter. I’ve had some up and downs but I think the ups have over weighed the downs. It felt really great to get back on my skis feeling confident again this winter.
Once again I’ve walked away from the Red Bull Cold Rush with some injuries that have made the rest of my season a bit difficult but it’s nothing I can’t handle.
Since the contest season has ended for me I made my way back to Are, Sweden with Reine Barkered. There was a part of me that was looking forward more to going to the beach for some warm sun but it was important for Reine to get back home after his recent victory.
Here in Sweden it’s felt more like mid winter than late spring. So we’ve managed to get some good skiing in still. A few weekends a go I decided to take a trip to Bakvattnet to visit my good friend Marja Persson. I had been there last fall and it was a great time but we were pretty unlucky with the weather. This time it was a different story. I couldn’t of asked for better weather!
This time instead of hiking in we got to snowmobile in. After setting up the cabins we went out again to meet up with Marja’s father and set up salt licks for the local Moose in the area. I’ve spent some time on a sled but never really had my skills tested like on this trip. It was definitely easier than deep powder but instead I had to maneuver through tight tree’s and melting water crossings. It was a little stressful since it wasn’t my sled but still so much fun!
After every salt lick was set back we made it back to the cabins for some dinner and a beautiful sunset. Marja and I decided to ditch the sleds and cross country ski back to the cabins. This was something I hadn’t done in years! To make it even more interesting I had Marja’s dog harnessed up to me. I thought I knew what I was doing, as it turns out I didn’t. Apparently I really need to brush up on my XC skiing skills. I’m pretty sure the dog did more than I did.
The next day we woke up to another sunny day in Bakvattnet and headed back to the main cabin where I had my first try at ice fishing. We set up some lines and then headed off again on the sleds for some lunch and exploring.
After lunch Marja showed us around the area. We got some great views of a beautiful place. It was so clear we were able to see pretty far off into the distance and where able to get a chance to check out some mountains that I hope to head to one day with Marja for some ski touring!
It was another great weekend in Bakvattnet with Marja and friends! I can’t wait to get back there again!
It’s been a bit of a road trip since the contest in Chamonix took place. Right after the Chamonix I found myself packing once again to head to Courmayeur to watch the men’s third stop of the Freeride World Tour. I wanted to cheer on Reine and my friends. It’s always a good time to be able to watch all of the men’s runs!
After Courmayeur we had to some how make our way to Munich for ISPO. For those of you that don’t know what ISPO is it’s a much larger version of SIA the winter sports trade show that is held in the U.S. However we soon realized the morning after the contest that we had no actual plan for getting to ISPO. We had a crew of four, myself and Reine, fellow American Matt Annett’s and another Swedish Freerider Erik Sunnerheim. After many hour of trying to work out a plan and seeming to come up short the whole time we were fortunate to find help from the French! Julien Lopez, Seb Michaud and Carl Guichon were kind enough to squeeze us and all or luggage in three cars so we could make our way to Chamonix to pick up a rental.
Since it took much longer than expected to get on the road we all decided to brake up the trip a bit and get some skiing in Engelberg, Switzerland. It had been snowing there and were hoping to get some good powder skiing in!
The snow was great but visibility was far from good. We did find one spot that was so much fun even though we found ourselves lapping the same area over and over. It was nothing crazy but it felt so good to get some freeskiing in. Despite the high costs of Switzerland Engelberg seems like a great place to come back. I recommend you check out The Ski Lodge for a place to stay, or if your like me and that’s a bit rich for your pocket it’s worth stopping by for a some Apre Ski…
A few days later we finally found ourselves in Munich, Germany for ISPO. I personally am not the biggest fan of cities but it’s sometimes nice to get a change of scenery. At ISPO I had a chance to check out the sweet new Kastle skis for 2013 as well as get to meet some of my new sponsors. Over at Helly Hansen I was able to get a look at their new line. I’m definitely looking forward to getting some of the new gear!
After ISPO it was straight to Garmisch, Germany for the night to say hello to my good friend Marja Persson. Then off again the following day to Innsbruck to stay with one of Reine’s friend Floh. Next stop after that was to Lech, Austria. Reine had to meet up with Dynastar to try out some new skis. I got to do some amazing powder skiing as well as check out the Kastle Mountain Museum that just happened to be at the top of the mountain in Lech!
After a great day in Lech it was back to Innsbruck to pick up some new skis from Kastle. I’m pretty excited to try them all out and play around on some new skis! They all look like a ton of fun! We spent some days in Innsbruck and checked out one of the local ski areas called Kuhtai. Despite the extremely cold temperatures it was a great time. We found some good snow and saw some amazing views down in the valley. The mountains around the resort look like they will make for some great touring. I definitely want to make my way back to that area sometime soon. The friends we were with told us that area is known for some great touring and is only accessible by human power, so despite a few skin tracks the area remains
Now I find myself in the Zillertal valley in Austria. It’s a down day and the plan is to head out tomorrow to get some jumping in at Mayerhofen and a chance to try out my new back country freestlye skis from Kastle, the West’s!!