Snowmodo 2009

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There’s a tech blog that I regularly frequent called Gizmodo, and last weekend was their second annual Snowmodo ski and snowboard reader meet up in Northstar Ski Resort. Seeing as two of my favorite things in the world are snowboarding and gadgets, there was no way I would miss this for the world! Unfortunately, the world had something else planned… None of my friends could make it up, I couldn’t find a ride with any of the other readers either. In a last ditch effort to find a ride up, I joined a bay area skiing forum which I knew nothing about in hopes of soliciting a ride. As luck would have it, a guy in my town promptly posted an ad stating that he was going up to Northstar for a day trip on the same day as the event! I eagerly packed my bags and come Saturday morning at 4:45 in the morning, we were off.

The guy who ended up driving me was quite possibly one of the most interesting people I have ever met (his name will remain undisclosed but for our purposes, his name will be Jim). Jim was born and raised in the former USSR by his grandparents. His grandfather was the commander of a Soviet Tank Battalion in World War II and thus treated Jim as if he was a soldier. Needless to say, Jim’s upbringing was strict and harsh. However, it wasn’t all discipline and drills; one of the advantages of living with a veteran is that they always have stories to tell. For example, as a commander, Jim’s grandfather had to lead his tank battalion many miles into a new battle site. However, due to a complete lack of supplies, they didn’t even have enough fuel to make it half way. The solution? Strip the bark off the trees and mix it with vodka–and by God, it worked!

If there’s one thing that the Russians were not lacking, it was vodka, the beverage of choice for Russians of any age! Jim recounted to me his first ever experience with Vodka, he was 4 years old at his aunt’s birthday party when he took an entire bottle and disappeared. He has no recollection off the event, only that he awoke the next day in a closet after everyone had been searching for him for the entire night. As you can see, the Russians don’t joke around when it comes to vodka; even their toddlers can drink like men! Jim then proceeded to inform me of the proper technique of drinking vodka like a true Russian…

First, inhale deeply. Next, fully open your throat and down the shot right down the esophagus. Then exhale as hard as you can and hold something with a strong smell to your nostrils and inhale as hard as you can. Finally, exhale and you’re done!

After much storytelling, we finally arrived at Northstar and went our separate ways. After some inquiring, I found Gizmodo’s conference room where I was greeted by Brian Lam and Chris Mascari. After helping them sell raffle tickets and collecting entrance fees for a while, I was finally set loose on the slopes but first… Demos! The conference was filled with gadgets of all shapes and applications; some truly amazing stuff! There were waterproof, chest/helmet/board/anywhere mountable action cameras, audio equipment of all kinds, high speed cameras, GPS systems, MP3 players, etc; so much stuff, so little time! However, while gadgets may interest me, snowboarding is my true passion so of course, I head over to the Lib-Tech stand and snag up a GNU demo board with Magnetraction and the famed Banana Rocker. I had heard so much good stuff about these boards that I just had to see for myself. After lying about my age and leaving a credit card as collateral, I met up with Chris (whose real name shall remain anonymous) whom I had met last year at this same event, and headed out to the slopes. Or so we thought…

It turns out, “The Village” is actually a code name for “Bureaucratic Clusterfuck.” We were given wristbands at the door of the event which were supposed to give us discounted lift tickets at the Season Pass Office, so that’s where we went. Once there, we were promptly redirected to the information desk, who referred us to a closed office, so we went to the Rental Ticketing office who referred us to the same closed office. We ended up back at the Season Pass Office half an hour later, still ticketless. Finally, they relented and sold us our tickets. Unfortunately, this was not the end of our woes. Once we got in line for the gondola, I was informed that my ticket had been printed for the wrong date! Yet another loop to jump through before we finally hit the slopes.

Back to snowboarding… I had been dying to see what this board was capable of and it did not disappoint. The amount of pop was incredible, the base was lightning fast (49 mph was our top speed according to the MotionX GPS tracking system for the iPhone), and despite all the ice, I never lost an edge thanks to Magnetraction serrated edges… I love this board and can guaranty that my next board will be a Lib Tech/GNU. It inspired confidence in my riding and found air where there never was before and traction where there was only ice. I highly urge all of you boarders out there to demo one given the chance. This is the future!

After a satisfying lunch of Big Wave burritos in the Village, we returned to the room and I had to return my steed. After picking up my own board, we headed out again. After an epic tree run, Chris and I went to investigate “pond skimming,” the sport of snowboarding on water. We made it just in time to catch the last skimmers, a guy in a thong with another guy in a thong on his back. Miraculously (and perhaps to my disappointment), they made it across the entire pond without falling into the freezing cold waters. There we met up with Ricky (also anonymous) and his son, who were also at the event last year. We spent the rest of the day hitting up Northstar’s renowned terrain parks.

When we arrived back at the room, Chris had another job for me. There had been a rather thin showing apparently and we needed more people to get this party started. So there I stood, outside distributing free tickets to the afterparty sponsored by Microsoft Zune. The Village staff were none too pleased when they discovered this so I was told to stop. At the afterparty, I was the bouncer. For those of you who don’t know me, you might not realize the hilarity of the situation. I am 6’1″, but only weigh 140 lbs… Needless to say, if anyone actually wanted to get in, I wouldn’t be able to do much about it. I was also selling additional raffle tickets to those who wanted them. After having painfully denied multiple offers of alcoholic beverages and being hit on by waitresses who were maybe 10 years older than me, the raffle started. Although I didn’t win anything, it was all great fun and I had a great time. After grabbing a couple of cookies for the road, I bid adieu to my friends at Gizmodo and Jim and I went on our merry way. All in all, it was one of the best days of my life and I can’t wait until next year!

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