17 episodes

Next Level Skiing is a podcast about skiing. Your skiing. Longtime ski journalist Jason Blevins talks to the sport’s luminaries and behind-the-scenes bosses about strategies and hacks for stepping your skiing up a notch. Sure, the key to getting better at skiing is to go skiing. A lot. If it was only that easy. This podcast will offer some shortcuts to becoming the skier you want to be, without having to quit your job and move to a ski town. Subscribe where ever you get your podcasts by searching for “Next Level Skiing.” Learn more at wagnerskis.com/nextlevel.

Next Level Skiing Wagner Skis

    • Wilderness

Next Level Skiing is a podcast about skiing. Your skiing. Longtime ski journalist Jason Blevins talks to the sport’s luminaries and behind-the-scenes bosses about strategies and hacks for stepping your skiing up a notch. Sure, the key to getting better at skiing is to go skiing. A lot. If it was only that easy. This podcast will offer some shortcuts to becoming the skier you want to be, without having to quit your job and move to a ski town. Subscribe where ever you get your podcasts by searching for “Next Level Skiing.” Learn more at wagnerskis.com/nextlevel.

    Joel Gratz: The Powder Prophet

    Joel Gratz: The Powder Prophet

    On today’s episode, I had the opportunity to speak with Joel Gratz, the captain of a team of meteorologists at Open Snow, who love to give winter sports enthusiasts the most accurate weather reports. Joel has helped people chase powder and find the best snow for years. Tune in to hear us talk about Open Snow and how Joel got his start.
    Topics:
    [02:15] Having moderate expectations is important.
    [03:00] He’s a skier, so he knows how to speak the language.
    [04:05] You can get excited within 3-5 days of a good snow report.
    [04:35] A 3 day forecast can be 95-98% accurate in terms of storm tracking.
    [05:00] At 5 days out, you are at 90% accuracy and it continues down from there.
    [07:50] There is no one who could consistently predict the weather for all the different regions in the U.S. year in and year out.
    [09:48] Joel discovered his love of skiing at Shawnee Mountain in Pennsylvania.
    [10:20] Joel has loved skiing and weather since he was four years old.
    [12:52] When he started out, Joel didn’t have a strategy or business plan.
    [13:05] Basically, he was surprised by the weather and found it frustrating.
    [13:30] His method was a lot of trial and error.
    [15:15] Joel credits his success to his team at Open Snow.
    [15:52] When Open Snow started, they didn’t mean to make it a business; it was mostly for their friends.
    [19:00] Skiing is better than not skiing, so you can’t wait for perfect weather.
    [19:32] If you are on the fence, always choose to ski. Worse case scenario, the conditions aren’t perfect, but you still get to ski with friends and family.
    [21:00] All you can say a week to 10 days out is whether there may be storms in a region. It’s very general.
    [25:02] Wind direction is a key factor in figuring out the weather in the west.
    [27:50] If you want to look at weather maps, look at them at the 700 Millibar level (around 10,000 feet).
    [30:48] Open Snow gets a lot of emails from thrilled users.
    [34:40] The snow report that you see on most apps is a 24-hour snow report.
    [34:57] That 24 hour period usually covers 5am the previous day to 5am that day.
    [35:13] So, you have to figure out when the ski fell.
    [35:50] Joel yells at himself to keep his hands forward whenever he is tired and not skiing well.
    Quotes:
    “Science is always advancing and the only way you advance is by trying, failing, trying again, failing, trying again, failing.”
    “We write the way we feel.”
    “Beyond about 7-10 days, you’re really grasping at straws.”
    Resources:
    Open Snow
    Wagner Custom Skis

    • 38 min
    Allen Tran: Building an Athlete, One Meal at a Time

    Allen Tran: Building an Athlete, One Meal at a Time

    Allen Tran is a high-performance dietitian and chef for the US Ski Team. Today, he will tell us how to convert regular meals into power-boosting food for your next run.
    Tune in to hear how Allen does his job and helps athletes perform at their peak.
    Topics:
    [01:50] Allen got his start by going to culinary school and worked in the culinary industry for years.
    [02:09] He then got a Masters in sports nutrition and exercise physiology. 
    [03:07] He preps with athletes in the summer to see what their goals are for the upcoming season.
    [05:16] You want enough food to fuel your performance, but you don’t want to overdo it on competition day.
    [08:12] The whole role of a sports snack is convenience.
    [12:22] Listen to your body and figure out if you need more snacks and where to fit in meals.
    [15:45] Sherpas in the Himalayas tend to eat higher fat diets, which is great for slower burning energy.
    [18:55] Allen likes to take traditional recipes and turn them on their heads.
    [23:10] At high altitudes, alcohol is something to avoid.
    [23:37] It’s so easy to get dehydrated in high altitudes. 
    [24:16] It’s important to strike a nice balance when eating (not too light, not too heavy).
    [29:01] A lot of athletes have specific preferences, which means Allen has to travel with a lot of stuff.
    [29:23] Going overseas can make meeting preferences tricky.
    [30:25] When overseas, Allen always has to make sure the water and meat are safe.
    [35:15] When it comes to powdered foods, there’s a time and a place.
    Quotes:
    “ ‘You train really hard, so the day of competition is easy’ is one of those cliche sayings.”
    “Comfort food does have its place.”
    “When these fad diets come in and out of vogue...it can all be worked out, as long as you use real food.”
    Resources:
    Wagner Custom Skis

    • 37 min
    Jonathan Ellsworth: Lean Into It

    Jonathan Ellsworth: Lean Into It

    On this episode, I speak with Jonathan Ellsworth, Founder of CEO of Crested Butte’s Blister review website. He has made it his mission to test and review the latest gear, in order to pass on knowledge to other skiers.
    Tune in to hear us talk about Blister and how Jonathan approaches his reviews.
    Topics:
    [02:05] Jonathan grew up in the Chicagoland area, not anywhere near a ski area.
    [02:50] He thinks his late start in skiing is key to Blister’s success.
    [03:00] When an injury ended his football career, he threw himself into his studies in kinesiology.
    [04:14] Jonathan went to New Mexico to work on his dissertation, which gave him access to the mountains.
    [04:47] He took a year off of school to do everything he could in the mountains and never went back to Chicago.
    [07:04] Blister does not accept money from gear manufacturers that they review, which is in contrast to a lot of ski publications.
    [08:50] He wants to make sure his revenue streams don’t undermine his work.
    [09:30] Integrity and credibility is everything.
    [11:15] Blister employs 6 or 7 reviewers to do most of the ski gear reviews, but employs 50-60 freelancers.
    [14:10] By coming late into skiing, Jonathan has a greater appreciation for gear that improves performance.
    [15:24] Skiing and ski design stole so many good ideas that came from snowboarding.
    [18:26] Jonathan has spent a lot of time telling people lightweight skis suck.
    [21:50] Making lightweight gear is such a thing now.
    [22:00] Manufacturers try to say that you don’t lose performance, but this isn’t 100% true.
    [25:08] There are still hundreds of thousands of skiers out there in incorrectly sized boots.
    [26:45] If you’re an intermediate skier, get yourself to a boot-fitter.
    [27:24] Heat-moldable shells are becoming more common for ski boots.
    [27:55] If you have trickier feet, heat-moldable shells are the way to go.
    [30:15] Jonathan has to be intentional with his workouts, because his time is limited.
    [30:40] You absolutely must stretch your hamstrings.
    [39:15] Crested Butte has a lot of steep terrain.
    [39:45] Jonathan thinks the more scared you are of the terrain in front of you, the more forward you should be on your skis.
    Quotes:
    “Institutional trust: right? That’s not just a problem in the world of outdoor sports reviews, that’s a problem at the biggest levels of government…”
    “Tip and tail rocker...has really opened up the sport in a super significant way.”
    “Do not buy your ski boots online and have them show up in a box...go to an experienced boot-fitter…”
    Resources:
    Blister
    Wagner Skis

    • 42 min
    Hilaree Nelson: The Value of Saying Yes

    Hilaree Nelson: The Value of Saying Yes

    On this episode, I get to chat with Hilaree Nelson, the world’s greatest ski mountaineer. She and her partner were two of the very first people to climb and ski the fourth highest peak in the entire world. She has pursued a life of mountain exploration.
    Tune in to hear us discuss her career and how she prepares for big challenges.
    Topics:
    [02:21] Hilaree was on the race team, but she never skied a single gate. 
    [02:54] Her background isn’t in racing and she’s jealous of people who have it.
    [03:39] She saw a huge deficit in her own skiing and did her best to ski with those who were better than her in order to learn more.
    [08:06] Ski technology has changed and has changed the way we ski.
    [10:26] Her experience climbing the fourth highest peak in the world was unmatched and emotional.
    [14:40] It’s important to just try things instead of talking yourself out of great experiences.
    [18:05] With age, comes experience and wisdom.
    [22:20] To prepare for her biggest challenge, she made sure to prep on difficult terrain.
    [28:45] Hilaree has been working with North Face on product development.
    [29:00] She is also becoming a climate change activist, because she wants to protect all the beautiful places she has been.
    [30:20] She got a great tip to drive her tip, but lift her tails when making turns in tight terrain.
    Quotes:
    “Chamonix isn’t just about the skiing, it’s so much about how you access the skiing…”
    “I just think there is so much value in saying ‘yes’ to things...and the actual act of trying.”
    “As a young person, you’re making all these sort of instantaneous decisions...it’s just freedom.”
    Resources:
    Hilaree's Website
    Wagner Skis

    • 32 min
    Kim Reichhelm: The Most Important Thing Is Having Fun

    Kim Reichhelm: The Most Important Thing Is Having Fun

    On today’s episode, our guest is Kim Reichhelm. Kim is an NCAA All-American Ski Racer, who pioneered big mountain skiing. Considered one of the most influential American skiers, her clinics, camps, and trips have helped other skiers hone their skills. 
    Join us as we discuss how she got into skiing, the ways in which skiing has changed, and how she runs her clinics.
    Topics: 
    [02:00] Kim grew up in a competitive, athletic family.
    [03:06] Kim’s father decided the family was going to take up skiing.
    [04:01] By age six, Kim knew she wanted to be on a ski team.
    [06:38] It’s in her nature to push the envelope.
    [10:00] Changes Kim has observed in the industry.
    [10:28] Kids doing big mountain skiing now, grew up with it.
    [14:00] How Kim runs her clinics and trains skiers.
    [20:20] When people can’t see where they’re going, it’s stressful and intimidating.
    [22:18] Helping other skiers feel confident.
    Quotes:
    “I was fortunate enough to start skiing a hundred days a year from the time I was twelve.”
    “The envelope has just been pushed so much harder...especially for the women.”
    “When I’m guiding and teaching...I really try to take small steps and build confidence.”
    Resources:
    Wagner Custom Skis

    • 30 min
    Wendy Fisher: Spontaneity Is Key

    Wendy Fisher: Spontaneity Is Key

    On today’s episode, I get the chance to speak with Wendy Fisher, a former member of the U.S. Ski Team who walked away from skiing, only to get back into big mountain skiing later on. She now works at Crested Butte Mountain Resort, guiding people through the steeps. She also runs an annual camp out of Chile.
    Tune in to hear us talk about her career, he life in Crested Butte, and how she learned to overcome fear.
    Topics:
    [02:19] Every summer, she brings her kids out to her hometown of Tahoe to take advantage of “lake life”.
    [03:45] People bag on racing now, because they think it restricts people from having fun and enjoying the sport.
    [04:10] Wendy doesn’t agree and thinks it increased her love of the sport.
    [04:28] She was heartbroken to leave the team, but knew it was time to go.
    [06:15] Before she quit skiing and gave up a college skiing scholarship, she decided to go ski one last winter just for fun.
    [07:08] She ended up in Crested Butte during an extreme skiing contest.
    [07:20] She was encouraged to enter the contest and it brought her back to life.
    [08:04] When watching the men compete, she felt she had better technique than all of them.
    [08:45] On her second run, she took a different path over a rocky headwall.
    [10:38] She woke up one day and decided to continue to follow the competition circuit. 
    [11:45] She free-skied as a kid and her racing coach made the sport fun for her, which is different from how it is today.
    [12:10] She enjoyed the structure of Burke Academy.
    [12:35] Her amazing technical training contributed to her success as a free-skier.
    [18:47] When skiing steeps, people often forget their form and end up on their heels.
    [19:11] Wendy will take people out on less challenging terrain to improve their skills before taking them back to the steeps.
    [25:21] What helped Wendy learn how to teach was taking up skateboarding.
    [27:18] She even looped her son into her skateboard lessons.
    [28:48] Often, there is a taboo about taking lessons.
    [29:05] Wendy feels that if you want to get better, you have to invest in lessons.
    [32:05] Because they live in a mountain town, Wendy was determined to get her kids into skiing.
    [34:45] Wendy tried to back off and let her kids learn from instructors, but eventually, she couldn’t help but intervene and improve their fundamentals.
    [39:41] How Wendy discovered spontaneity and how it has affected the rest of her life.
    [41:20] Skiing with big mountain skiers and heliskiing, she was terrified, but there was gratification in completing big runs.
    [41:41] This is how she can relate to her clients and often talks herself through terrifying runs.
    Quotes:
    “I had so many issues with letting go of skiing and I wasn’t ready to...so to find this avenue, I just ran with it and don’t regret it at all.”
    “If you really want to get better and you don’t want to be frustrated, you have to invest the time.”
    “You start to doubt yourself, so you have to find these things to keep yourself in the game and to help build up your confidence and I still do that today…”
    Resources:
    Wendy’s Website
    Wagner Custom Skis

    • 43 min

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