Friday, January 23, 2009

Park City - Day 2

Only because nothing really exciting happened Day 1, including no skiing. We got into Salt Lake City late Wednesday night and didn't get to sleep until 1AM (3AM EST) after taking a taxi to Park City. Didn't sleep well, so Thursday was an altitude acclimation day. Walked to and fro in Old town of Park City, trying to find celebs, but none were to be found. Apparently this Sundance is running at about 60% of normal capacity. The first weekend was crowded, but a lot of the celebrities left for Obama's inauguration.

So haven't seen any movies, and don't plan to until Sunday, we have tickets for the Grand Jury Documentary and the Dramatic Award winner. On Thursday, went to rent some skis for the next two days. I had tried on my old boots before I left, and my toes were butting up against the front. And to think I only used them last in 2004. So I'm renting the whole package. And in this day and age, renting a demo set (for we ex-experts) is costing me $39 a day. Ouch! And how things have changed. The skis go to about my forehead, and the amount of shaping/scalloping is just incredible. The one downside of this is that it takes much more effort to cruise now because the skis don't hold a line nearly as well because they keep trying to find an edge and turn.

I had been in touch with Catherine Greenwald about coming out here, since she moved here in July. She is now a snowboard instructor at Park City. She was doing a training clinic yesterday morning so I met her at the base lodge at 8:45 to get a couple of discount tickets for the day. Walked back to the house, suited up, and then we walked out to the Old Town Lift to take the double chair to the main mountain. The ladies went off to cruise the greens and blues while the boys started off with a couple of quick blues before heading over the blacks. $83 is the undiscounted price for a day for skiing at Park City. At Snowbird, which is higher and significantly bigger, it is only $62. I guess they charge what the market will bear.

So, with Sundance going on all of the lodging is taken for the people seeing the movies and the mountain is empty. And it was. I did somewhere between 12 and 16 runs and never had to wait more than 2 people. Crazy! And I guess since I last skied the 6-person high speed lift has made an appearance. When we started in the morning, it was POURING wet snow. By the end of the 3rd run, my Patagucci gloves were soaked. Fortunately it wasn't very cold (if it had been, it wouldn't have been as wet). There were 3 of us, 2 skiers and a boarder. The boarder was the one whose house we were staying at, so we followed his lead. He brought us to a glade on the second run, and David and I (the other skier) ended up in a really narrow portion with bare spots so it was no fun trying to bail out, miss the rocks, and pretty much lose control. It got better after that. We were all sucking wind because of the exertion at altitude. At least I'm getting in my aerobic training for Kaimana (to be covered in another entry...). And building up my red blood cell reserves. After a few more runs, we ended up starting to hit some more moguls which are my favorite, although they ravage my shins and ankles. Finally pulled in for lunch at 1:15 and then I met Catherine at 1:45 and we did a bunch of more runs. Probably my favorite slope (and best run) was at the McConkey Bowl double black at the end of the day. It was very steep with a little cliff start for the initial jump, and then great snow with well placed moguls. My first run down it was great, my second run was not so great, which informed me that it was time to start heading back and avoid the accident on the 'last run of the day'.

Made it back safely at the base of the Old Town Lift, walked to the rental place to pick up my boots and carried the equipment back to the house. A little ice on the ankle bones followed by a LONG hot tub (and beer of course), walk into town for pizza dinner. All in all, a good day.

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Friday, January 02, 2009

I love paddle tennis

Alright, most of you have probably never heard of it, or know it as platform tennis, but I grew up playing this sport in Rye, NY. As far as I know, it is mostly an east coast phenomena, although the map on this pdf file says otherwise.

Even in Rye, the sport wasn't very widespread, but interestingly enough, the only courts I ever saw were at the various country clubs around the area, Coveleigh, Shenorock, the American Yacht Club (AYC, to which my parents belonged, yeah, silver spoon). We actually had leagues that were played against other country clubs. I assume that it there were municipal courts somewhere, but I never saw them.

Let me tell you, this sport is a BLAST. For more specific details, check out this link. It is played on a court about 1/4 the size of a real tennis court with those paddles you saw back in elementary (or high) school when you played paddle ball in gym. The ones out of solid wood with a matrix of holes to allow them to be swung faster. The balls were these furry, solid rubber balls that sort of bounced. The lines were the same as in tennis, but the biggest feature was that the screens were in play, ie., the ball could be played off the screens, although before it bounced again. So, the ball had to land within the lines, then bounce off the screen and be returned before it hit the ground again. And this included corner shots where you played it off both screens. Finally, you only got one serve which was sort of a pain in the ass. So serves are a lot softer relatively than they are in tennis, especially because the serve is almost as much of an advantage as in tennis because of the net play.

This is me serving. Note the proximity of the chicken wire fence.

And the net (note the narrowness of the doubles lane).

Paddle, while it can be played as singles, unlike tennis it is primarily (and the most fun as) a doubles game. It is also usually played during the off season months, ie., late fall through early spring, but all winter, and then giving way to tennis once the weather gets nice, at least for the cross-trainers who weren't professional paddle players. Interestingly enough, at AYC they took the nets down during the summer because the various summer camps used them for games. That brings to mind playing dodgeball in those courts with a tennis ball when I was 8-10 years old (another AWESOME game). There was nothing like catching a pointblank shot (1 foot away) from a huge windup. I can't imagine anyone playing/allowing that anymore. Sigh...

I had the opportunity to play 4 times while I was down in Rye this Xmas with my brother, his 14-yr-old son and my 74 yr old dad. We played for the usual bragging rights, and that usually came down to who could win with the most teams. I was fortunate that while I lost a set here and there, I always won the match with whichever team, which was either me and my dad or me and my nephew. A few times other people were playing on the courts next to us (3 courts in all). The first thing I noticed was that everyone else's rackets were oversize compared to ours, which I guess wasn't surprising since our rackets were the original rackets my parents got, so they were at LEAST 25 years old. But it looks like paddle went the same direction that tennis did with the oversize sweet spot. So I'm thinking this could be a good Xmas present for the parents next year to replace the rackets... somewhat selfishly also...

So net play is the big thing in this game. Points, games and sets are usually very quick but some points are very long as both sides continually move up to the net, are lobbed over, retreat while the other side moves up in unison, and then back as the first team plays it off the wall and lobs it back, or powers a low shot. It is a very fast and exciting sport, and if you have the opportunity to play some time, you should.

I guess one of the reasons that I was posting this was to cathartically get myself out of my rut and try and find a game in the area. I have no idea what, how, or where it is played in the Boston area, but if you know, shoot me a line because I want to get back into it. Goaltimate is great during the winter, but that is at best one day a week, while paddle tennis can be played at any time (and is).

Coming soon... the further adventures of the frisbee tournament bucket list.

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