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Archive for the ‘Skiing’ Category

It’s a cruise ship kind of start to the day here in Portillo, Chile. We wake up a little later than we would on a normal ski vacation—8 am instead of 7. But then, nothing about this ‘ski vacation’ is normal. For one thing, it’s August. For another, we’re south of the equator.

We saunter into the communal dining room for breakfast in flip-flops and sweats. Red-coated waiters are buzzing about like bees around honey. Their sprinter’s pace is diametrically opposed to the slowness of the skiers they’re serving. There are at least four Chilean waiters to every single, unhurried guest, and judging by their haste, I think these waiters have had a lot of Columbian coffee.

The ‘guests’ on this skiing cruise ship are an interesting mix. South American families fill one side of the room. They’re dressed in some of the happiest skiwear I’ve seen—shiny pink puffy jackets, lime green ski pants, multi-coloured hats (not helmets) and wide-framed, jewel-encrusted sunglasses that Elton would have drooled over in his heyday.

Another part of the dining hall is filled with English-speaking skiers, many of them, I’m told, are from Vail and Aspen. Many of them have little kids in tow, who spend much of their time bombing around the hotel, gleeful to be free and out from under supervision. I see a lot of Obermeyer and Kjus on their parents, some Patagonia on the more mountaineering types. Blonde hair. Deep tans. More sunglasses.

Another part of the room seems to be taken up by long-haired guys, mostly American, some Canadian, from places like Utah and British Columbia. They wear mostly t-shirts and ripped jeans, and stab at their iPhones through breakfast. I peek, naturally, and they’re not doing anything particularly important on those mobiles—there are more than a few Angry Birds at the breakfast table.

I haven’t mentioned the ski racers at breakfast. That’s because they’re not here. They’re Austrian national team members, after all, and they’ve been out on the slopes since before the lifts opened. One imagines 6 am breakfasts of muesli and fruit, yogurt and energy drinks packed with stuff transported overseas in packs by their coaches. The Austrian team members—all hugely tall and muscular, with shaved heads and massive thighs—keep mostly to themselves here in Portillo. They’re the only ones not on a casual schedule.

Breakfast for us is eggs, fruit, yogurt, cheese, fresh rolls and loads of coffee, all served with lightning speed by those buzzing waiters. We load up, then saunter from the dining room to prep for skiing. Our boots and skis are handed to us by valets… like I said, Portillo is a ‘ski cruise ship’ experience.

Lori Knowles is the ski columnist for the Toronto Sun.

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You could have teleported me to Pluto and I don’t think the feeling would be any weirder.

Last night I fell asleep on an Air Canada flight somewhere over Canada. This morning I woke up on that same Air Canada flight somewhere over South America. It was summer when I went to sleep, winter when I woke up. I had shorts on when I left and  a ski jacket when I arrived. The world’s a weird place… so big yet kind of small.

My husband and I flew Toronto direct to Santiago, Chile… why? What else… to go skiing in Portillo, Chile. The South American seasons are upside down–it’s summer in Canada when it’s winter in Chile. Something quite novel for a diehard skier like me, who’s always looking for new journeys to snow. This one did not disappoint.

Our driver’s name was Mario. An apt name, considering his Italian driving style. He spent more time in the oncoming traffic lane than he did in his own. My nails dug divots into Peter’s arm every time we went around a corner on the wrong side of the road. “Do you think he knows there’s a car coming the other way?” I’d hiss. Peter would just smile. “Sure. Mario’s a good driver.”

Mario spoke no English, and neither of us speak Spanish beyond “Hola” and “Gracias.” Yet somehow he engaged us in a full conversation. As we snaked up into the Andes from Santiago–a three-hour drive if there’s no snow falling or worse (avalanches) we learned about the seemingly vibrant trucking trade between Chile and neighbouring Argentina, Chile’s vineyards that are all lined up at the side of the road, the role of the Gaucho (cowboy) which is actually an Argentinian word but is used here, too, and the wonders of Patagonia in the southern section of Chile to which, suddenly, I am yearning to visit.

The road to Portillo runs upward like a black ribbon through brown ranchland as it makes its way into the Andes. Santiago itself is all lowrise and sprawling. It’s a massive city with more than 6 million inhabitants–more than the rest of the country–yet it’s not filled with skyscrapers like New York, Chicago or even my home,  Toronto. Somehow it’s more low key.

Once out of the city you’re immediately into ranch land. Gauchos (I promise I will find the local name for them soon) ride horses along the roadway. I don’t know what they’re doing, but they appear to be working. They wear large, round straw hats and colourful ponchos. Most have huge, swooping mustaches (the gauchos, not the horses). I’m not kidding.

Mario kept warning us we would encounter a lot of truckers on the way to Portillo. I wondered why he’d warn us of such a thing, yet sure enough, there they were… an absolute ton of truckers. We likely encountered 4- or 500 in a single three-hour trip. Apparently the ski road to Portillo is also an international highway linking Chile with Argentina, Brazil etc. It’s they only way there, which seems incredible. The road is only a two-laner and is as steep as any I’ve encountered in the alps, with loads and loads of switchbacks. At one point we counted 29 switchback turns in a space of about two kilometres. Let me show you a picture: 

Once we reached the snowline we came across at least three transport accidents, most in the ditch with front wheels hanging precariously close to a cliff’s edge. The trucks’ general ascent, as a result, moves at a snail’s pace. Hence Mario’s favour of the ‘other lane, not our own.’ We must have passed 100 transport trucks along the route… many of them happy to honk at us.

The best part was spotting the dozens and dozens of cars pulled off to the side of the road, their occupants tumbling out to run toward the snow adjacent to the highway. Mostly Chileans, perhaps from Santiago, they’d pull on rain pants or whatever waterproof garb they could find. They’d grab sleds (that looked, by the way, suspiciously like flutter boards), then hurl themselves down the pistes–mom, dad, three kids all piled on the same board.

About 2/3 of the way up the steep part of the access road (a.k.a. international highway!), Mario pointed to the sky and told us to look at the ski lift. I forget which word he used for ski lift, but it was nothing I’d heard before. We pressed our noses to the window and sure enough, there was a triple chair moving rapidly above us, right over the swtichbacks and the hundreds of truckers. It was moving much faster than us. “We should ride the lift,” I told Peter. “It would be faster than us, even with Mario!”

But it wasn’t long before Hotel Portillo was looming in front of us, a massive, all-yellow rectangle of a thing that lords itself over acres and acres of wide open, treeless slope. Mario reeled in, we threw open the van doors and let our sneakers touch the cold ground–a long way from the summer lake we’d just left. We shivered and said thanks, handed over a tip, then entered the all-yellow hotel.

About to start: our skiing adventure.

Lori Knowles is the ski columnist for the Toronto Sun.

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Smuggler's Notch under the sun.

The sun shone all day on Smuggler’s Notch, warming up the snow and spreading smiles on the faces of the families vacationing here. I’m not sure my kids noticed; it was their first day of ski school–ahem, Snow Sport University (SSU)–and they were a little nervous.

The morning began in a flurry: mostly me rousting tired kids to brush their teeth and eat their cornflakes. After a winter of rigourous ski racing, the two boys were reluctant to go to ski school on their March Break, and our daughter was just plain scared. But we did our best to keep it light. We careened out of the condo at 8:55, just in time to pull the skis out of the locker and meet the SSU bus, which swung into our drive promptly at 9:00 and produced a smiling ski pro to check the kids in and put them at ease. Everyone boarded without complaint or comment–there wasn’t even a peep from my four-year-old–which eliminated my anxiety completely, and left my husband and me to quietly catch our own shuttle the short distance to the lifts.

While Peter and I explored Smuggs in the sun and snapped photos all over, the kids were learning hockey stops and glades. We spotted our two boys only once, part of a massive pack jetting down under the chair. Did they look happy? Hard to tell with helmets and balaclavas hiding their faces. Instead of worrying about it, we went for a HUGE lunch at Morse Mountain Grill sans kids–an unusual treat.

As for the kids, as part of SSU’s all day program, they were fed a hearty lunch of pasta and garlic bread at lunch. Around 2:30 the massive pack of SSUers flocked into SSU headquarters to wind down and watch a magician in action. They ended the day with some colouring. When I arrived, the boys were waiting for me at the door, but Gracie was reluctant to leave her new friends.

Kids returning from a day at Smuggs' Snow Sport University.

We got the goods on ‘how things went’ at SSU over Ben & Jerry’s ice cream in the Village after skiing… at least, we tried. Eight year old boys don’t give you much info–turns out, four-year-old girls are far more expressive! The boys were most impressed by the fact that in a single day they moved from Level 5 to Level 7, and they clutched their ‘report cards’ with pride. That’s about all I got out of them; the only complaint was the lack of pizza at lunch. Did they want to return the following day? “No thanks, mom. We wanna go zip-lining.”

As for our little daughter… she was totally impressed by her own ‘hockey stops’, and was insistent she wanted to return  to ski with her ‘friends’: the gaggle of chattery five-year-old girls clad in pig tails and pink.

Fine with me. I found Smugg’s Snow Sport University to be well-organized, welcoming, and generally a ‘happy place’ for kids to be. Best part: SSU provided a rare opportunity for my husband and me to ski alone, ride the lifts together, and eat lunch without messy-faced kids… all with the sun shining brightly.

Lori Knowles’ ski column, Inside Edge, appears in the Travel section of the Toronto Sun. Follow her adventures on Twitter @LoriExploring.

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Riding the chair at Smuggs.

Nostalgia has hit me like the sweet smell of freshed-baked cookies coming from my mother’s kitchen.

Our first day of skiing on March Break at Smuggler’s Notch, Vermont rocketed me back to the ski days of my 1970’s childhood, when riding two-person chairlifts and shouting “SINGLE” were common actions at the foot of every run; when narrow trails instead of broad, treeless freeways snaked like strips of ribbon down the face of a mountain; and when families of skiers actually met one another in the liftline, on the chair, in the hot tub or over a picnic lunch instead of roaring past each other headed for another high-speed lift.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not lamenting the loss of slow, fixed-grip chairs and straight skis. I’m simply saying that once in while it’s nice to be reminded of happy times in one’s past, and that on the slopes (as in life), it’s actually nice to slow down once in a while.

We’re here skiing Smuggler’s Notch with three children–two of our own, and one cousin–whom Smuggler’s Notch knackered thoroughly and completely. Over the course of the day, we likely only took a total of 10 runs, but with  3,640 feet of vertical, those runs were l-o-o-n-n-g… not to mention bumpy.

We warmed up on a seriously fast, groomed blue cruiser called Chilcoot, with one parent leading, the three kids inbetween, and another parent bringing up the rear. Our four-year-old daughter kept right up with the 8-year-old boys, her skis splayed out in flying wedge and her hands tucked in tight by her sides (for added speed). It’s astonishing how quickly kids learn to ski well if you start them early.

On following runs we’d split at the top: I’d take the boys on some blacks and Peter would take Gracie on the blues. What’s fantastic about this ski area is a family can ski together… yet apart. Runs at Smuggs tend to meander down the mountain, crossing over one another frequently like the braids in Gracie’s hair. As a result, we’d meet at several points on each run. We’d discuss our conquests, then we’d shoot off again, promising to meet at the next junction.

At the bottom of each trail we’d brag of our adventures. Favourites for Gracie and Peter included Rumrunner, Father Bob’s and Black Snake. Favourites for the boys and me were the glades we found, including Moonshine and Doc Dempsey’s Glades. The runs are steeper and the bumps are a lot bigger than I’d anticipated when I steered them down those remote, skier-less tracks for the first time… but the boys never uttered a peep of complaint, and seemed glad to hop on one of the slow, double chairs at Smuggs to rest. I think a high-speed six-pack would have stressed out their legs completely.

All were also more than happy to head into the Madonna Lodge (more nostalgia) at lunch to nosh on pizza and soup in a bread bowl–in that tired state, both were the best we’d ever tasted!

We had HUGE plans for activity at the end of the day: swimming, tubing, hours in Snugg’s Fun Zone. But we only managed two of the three, and by 9:15 pm all five of us were sleeping soundly. Overall it was a smashingly successful first day at Smuggs… and for me at least, sweetly nostalgic.

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We feel a little like Alice must have when she slipped through that hole and found herself in Wonderland.

The condo at Smuggler's Notch

We’ve arrived in a the very snowy US state of Vermont from the very rain-soaked town of Toronto. We’ve gone from puddles the size of Canadian skating rinks to mountains, clapboard Colonial houses and sugar bush, all covered over by a smooth white blanket. For a skier, it’s better than Alice’s Wonderland.

This is March Break for Ontario, Canada kids. Half the province has packed Siennas and Pilots full of children, DVDs, DSs and winter or summer gear, then hit the road one direction or another–most for sunnier climes. Our valiant MPV was loaded with my two kids, a cousin, Peter and I, skis, about 14 suitcases, and enough loud ’70s music on the iPod to drown out the sounds of two eight-year-olds shouting “RATS, YOU KILLED ME!” at their dratted Nintendos.

Our destination: Smuggler’s Notch, Vermont.

We left Toronto Saturday a.m. and travelled through the weekend via the 401 to Cornwall. We spent the night at a decent Ramada hotel with a pool full of other March Break kids and their bleary-eyed parents, many of whom were heading to Stowe, Vt, Tremblant, QC, and Smuggler’s. We ate a maple-sugar-laden meal Saturday

The Ramada Pool

night at our beloved St. Hubert’s (a chicken place we only find these days in or near Quebec). Then on Sunday we rose a little too slowly, swam, visited Tim Horton’s one final time for the week, then headed across the Canadian/US border into New York and eventually Vermont.

Our Sunday drive was a little slower than anticipated. The road to Smugg’s is a two-laner full of slow Sunday drivers and anxious, heavy-footed skiers. It was a mix of rain and snow, with the clouds slung so low we missed sighting the rolling scenery.

But the good news is, we made it safely , first to the friendly front desk at Smuggler’s Notch guest registration (I don’t know how they managed such friendliness under such check-in chaos), then to our new ski home in the Tamaracks at Smugg’s, with the kids’ crying: “THIS IS THE BEST CONDO EVER!”

Tamaracks Condo

I’m happy to admit, this condo is pretty swish. Keep in mind, in my travel writing career I’ve seen a lot of condos, but this one rates right up there. First, it’s massive, with two huge bedrooms, loads of windows facing the woods, two bathrooms (including one with a jacuzzi tub) and four flatscreen TVs (one facing aforementioned Jacuzzi tub). We’re all in heaven.

But the best part of yesterday had to be our visit to Smugg’s Fun Zone, a covered dome, kind of like a tennis bubble (actually it is a tennis bubble) filled with stuff kids under 10 consider “Awesome!” There are bouncy castles, bouncy slides, bouncy obstacle courses… there’s a lot of hot air blown around Smuggler’s. There are ping pong tables, fooze ball tables, mini-putt courses and ladder courses. Upon entering, our two eight-year-old boys disappeared instantly and for about two hours we barely saw them. Our four-year-old daughter even made a quick friend, and became content sliding down… what else?… the bouncy slide over and over. I lost count around 100…

Smugg's Bouncy Castle

When it was over we were all so tired we caught a shuttle bus the 100 yards back to our condo! Now it’s Monday morning and they’re all still sleeping.

All this, and we haven’t yet been skiing. So far, Smugg’s is better than Wonderland. More soon.

Lori.

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I am no ski racing junkie. Despite my recent, lucky and enligtening visits to World Cup and Olympic ski races, truthfully I find the actual racing…um, boring.

But the people… Now the people are another story. The people of ski racing are never boring.

Today I arrived at the stadium to witness the Women’s GS at the Garmisch stadium- a race held on the infamous Kandahar that’s been used since as far back as the Olympic Games in 1936. A river of ski racing fans flowed across farmers’ fields toward the stands. Strange feathered mascots on stilts mixed with kids carrying cowbells and men in Bavarian leather leiderhosen.

The sight was odd. These crowds were so unlike the hockey sweatered, waffle-throwing, puck crazy, oft-toothless fans I see in Toronto. Yes odd… yet no less enthusiastic.

The energy of these ski racing rabblers was catching. Despite the long fog delays and the 20-min bathroom queues and the total absence of food, I found myself jumping ’80s-punk style to German rap and The Village People.

Talk about odd.

As for the race… It was exciting, I guess. Not entirely sure. I was too busy watching the people.

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The morning fog is persistent. It hangs over the trees like smoke from a winter bush fire, refusing to lift so that I might catch even a glimpse of the Bavarian alps.

I am making my way south from Munich into the foothills that eventually give way to the mountains of Germany’s most treasured ski destination: Garmisch-Partenkirchen.

It is early here (7 am), even earlier in Toronto, on whose time I seem to be clinging resolutely. But the early morning travel is necessary so I can make today’s main event: the World Championship Women’s GS. Germany’s revered Maria Riesch–a bullet on snow–is the favourite and I anticipate the crowds to be noisy and proud. Brit Janyk is the only Canadian I know to be racing today. I have brought my Canada mittens.

This region of Germany, Bavaria, is one of three in the bidding for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, and the IOC is watching these World Championships closely. More from the front lines soon.

Lori

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Skiing the Aspen glades at Vail.

With the Canadian and US dollars still duking it out, this winter may be just the time to stretch your wings and fly south of the border for your ski vacation. For ease, value and variety, one of my picks would be the USA’s Vail, Colorado. Here are five good reasons, plus a bonus…

1) Location. While Vail has loads of competition when it comes to multi-talented Colorado ski resorts, its advantage may be its location: an easy 201 km west of Denver. With Air Canada’s daily direct Toronto-Denver flights, and United Airlines’ direct flight from Toronto to Vail’s Eagle airport, a skier can depart Toronto in the morning and be inside a Vail restaurant in time for lunch (mountain time), which leads me to No.2…

2) Dining. From authentic Mexican to Swiss, Japanese, Italian… you’ll find all types of food in Vail at varying price points. Sure, you can spend a fortune clinking your wine glass next to President Ford’s family. (I recommend at least one chi-chi experience during your vacation. Try La Bottega; the truffle gnocchi is fantastic.) But my all-time favourite is Vail’s down-home Bama-style, Southern BBQ joint called Moe’s, where kids eat free on Mondays and ribs are only a buck ($1) on Tuesdays. When you’re out on the mountain you can take advantage of the slopeside lodges’ Lunch for Less: $9.95 daily, including a main, side and drink… in the ski world, this price is unheard of.

3) Terrain. With all that pulled pork in your tummy you’ll need a workout and you’ll get it skiing Vail’s terrain. Yes, there are loads of corduroy-groomed, blue-square intermediate runs at Vail—with 193 of them it’s truly difficult to ski the same run twice, and most have fun, family-friendly names like Swingsville, Hunky Dory and Tourist Trap. But Vail’s x-rated moguls are prolific, too. Better yet, its back bowls are expansive and terrific. China Bowl, Siberia Bowl, Sun Up Bowl, Sun Down Bowl (my favourite) — beyond the views, these bowls’ tree, powder and steep skiing is as interesting as Whistler’s.

Vail powder in the sunshine.

4) Weather. Think of Vail as that sparkly, blonde cheerleader the girls loved to hate in high school—the one with the impossibly white teeth and shining personality. The sun beats brightly on Vail an average of 300 days per year—that’s a lot of blue sky. (No wonder they call some of its best terrain Blue Sky Basin.) And yes, at Vail there are a lot of white teeth and sunshiney smiles, especially in the liftlines.

5) Accommodation. You can spend a fortune shacking up in Vail… I will not mislead you. My favourite luxe haunt, The Arrabelle at Vail Square, will run you $600 per night easy. But its lodgy, fireside feel, cushy Euro bed, steamy rooftop pool and How-Can-I-Help-You staff is worth a serious splurge. The Four Seasons has opened a new hotel nearby (think: heated towels by the pool)… sign me up.

And while this quintessentially plush ski resort does luxury well, there’s value at Vail, too. Both the Lodge at Vail and the Austria Haus have third, fourth and fifth night free offers on varying weeks all season. Skican’s 2011 Vail deal starts at $1825 for airfare from Toronto, a six-day lift pass and seven nights’ lodging at a choice of good condo/hotels, including one I know and recommend: The Antlers.

A downside of Vail is its sprawl—there is no real town centre. That said, wherever you lay your head, you may not need a rental car at Vail… the airport shuttles and ski resort transit systems are fast and efficient.

Bonus: And now for the bonus: Vail-the-Unexpected. I am as guilty as the next ski writer for stereotyping resorts. When asked “Where should I go?” I’ve been known to answer: Whistler, B.C. for challenge, St. Anton, Austria for the Euro vibe, Big White, B.C. for family… and Colorado’s Aspen or Vail for luxury. But Vail can surprise you. Example: one of my best ski lunches ever was had not at swank, red-carpet spot, but at Blue Sky Basin’s Belle’s Camp, where there’s little more than some picnic tables and BBQs at an elevation of 3,527 metres. A friend marinated steak, veggies and chicken in a ziplock bag and toted it up there in a backpack… the meal was heaven.

Another surprise—and this one you’ll have to keep to yourselves—is Vail’s Minturn Mile. Meet locals at the “Top of Three at Three” (Chair No.3 at 3 p.m.) and head out of bounds for the ultimate glade-skiing adventure, which finishes about two hours later at a honky tonk in the village of Minturn. Warning: Make sure you’re an expert, and do not ski this alone or minus a guide. Tag along with a local… just don’t tell them who told you.

Follow Lori’s ski adventures this season on Twitter: @LoriExploring. This article was written originally for Lori’s Inside Edge ski travel column in the Toronto Sun. Copyright… all rights reserved. No part of the article may be reproduced without written consent of the author.

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Bode Miller’s not a happy guy.

He winces—seriously winces—onstage at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise’s World Cup fete as he pulls No.13 for his start number in Sunday’s Super G.

“I hate No.13,” he tells ex-racer Thomas Grandi (CDN), who, as the evening’s MC, is downright exuberant onstage by contrast. Grandi gives a big laugh while Bode looks at him oddly and grumps some more. Grandi then attempts to extract from Miller what’s bugging the US ski racing rebel.

Turns out he’s just not happy with his performance (8th) in Saturday’s downhill—the World Cup speed skiing speed’s circuit’s season opener. Bode wants to do better… always. Which is why the evening’s crowd—about 300 ski racing fans, techs, ACA alumni and reporters—whoop and holler for him loudly despite his grump. An Austrian colleague who’s covered Bode since he was a mere babe on the circuit, puts Miller’s attitude into perspective: “It’s not that Bode wants to win, or that he’s mad about not winning. He doesn’t even care about winning. He just wants to be happy with his run. It’s all about how he skis the course.”

You gotta love an athlete who wants to ski well so bad he just doesn’t care if he’s not smiling for the crowds and cameras. He doesn’t even care if there are crowds and cameras.

Despite Bode’s sour face, there’s no shortage of good times inside the Chateau’s enormous ballroom. This party’s a tradition, an event the World Cup Winterstart folks host every season. Athletes like Miller, Aksel Lund Svindal (NOR), Michael Walchhofer (AUT) and Didier Cuche (SUI)—superstars of the circuit—shuffle in, take their seats at the head of the room, and start signing hundreds of autographs. Everyone wants one… even me, who bashfully lumbers up to a mustache-sporting, skater-shoe-wearing, 20-something Svindal and asks for a signature. “Thanks SO much Aksel,” I say (a little too enthusiastically). He looks at me weirdly.

The Canadian speed racers present are getting a lot of attention. Canadian favourite Erik Guay is working the room with an I’m-just-glad-to-be-here smile and happy congrats for his teammate Jan Hudec, who skied to Canada’s top finish in the day’s Lake Louise downhill (11th). Everyone seems impressed by this finish; Hudec himself looks elated. “Words can’t describe it,” says the promising racer who’s been held back by persistent injuries. “It was an inspired run. It was just short of a miracle, I didn’t even know if I could ski this morning. My body has been that sore.”

As for Guay, he finished a disappointing 24th, but there’s no sour face. Other Canadian hopefuls pressing palms? Manny Osborne-Paradis (13th), Robbie Dixon (31st). According to Guay, the team’s vet, they get along great. Great.

It’s my first time experiencing a Lake Louise World Cup. As far as I can tell, Winterstart is the one chance Canada’s ski racing crowd has to get together and reminisce. It’s not a big sport in Canada when you compare it to hockey, so the group, in contrast, ain’t that big. But most of it is here, including Crazy Canucks Ken Read, Dave Irwin and Steve Podborski, plus Emily Brydon and Karen Lee-Gartner. They’re all smiling big and pounding each other on the back. The room is full of ski team sponsors, too… you can tell who they are. They’re dressed more formally than the skiers (who are mostly in jeans). And they’re swilling cocktails instead of beer. Still, amongst all this skier star power, they look happy.

The World Cup fans and sponsors and hangers-on finish the night inside the Chateau’s bar with Bon Jovi blasting. The athletes aren’t there—they’re ushered out of the ballroom pretty quickly after the bib draw in prep of the Super G the following day. But the rest of the ski racing crowd has a pretty good time mostly telling Bode stories.

As for Miller? He vanishes after the bib draw. But one of my colleagues catches him riding the Chateau elevator early the next (Super G) morning… a grim look still on his scruffed-up face. Seems No.13 really gets to him.

Why do I—or even we—care? Don’t get me wrong: the Canadian racers are nice and all. And I wish them light and luck this season. But every sport needs a character to spice it up. And while he’s reluctant to be it, Miller is that character.

Fellow ski scribe and Miller fan Lisa Richardson (@PembyGrl) pretty much sums it up: “I love Bode. I don’t care if he’s grumpy.”

Grump on, Bode Miller.

Lori Knowles is a Canadian ski and travel writer. Her articles appear regularly in the Toronto Sun. Follow Lori on Twitter: @LoriExploring

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