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.
Skylar Holgate: Be The Water, Not The Rock
On today’s show, I speak with my good friend, Skylar Holgate of Silverton Mountain Guides out of Durango. Skylar and I have shared a lot of great adventures, however what makes him most interesting is how many days he’s logged on major mountains around the globe.
Skylar and I talk about his experience as a racer turned big mountain snowboarder and how he passes on his expertise from a lifetime of advanced mountain experience.
Join us for this very special episode.
[03:37] Skylar’s transition from skiing to snowboarding.
[04:45] Skylar’s priorities in his twenties.
[06:01] Helping people achieve results and overcome fear.
[10:00] The challenges of adjusting resort style to backcountry/heli-skiing.
[13:50] Why it’s important to familiarize yourself with new gear before skiing.
[16:45] Skylar’s excitement about showing people the ropes and helping them improve.
[21:45] Differences and similarities between resort skiers and professional skiers.
[23:38] How he handles giving advice to professionals.
[25:53] Important turn advice.
[31:54] The best way to communicate with someone who is struggling.
[36:05] The most helpful advice Skylar has received.
[37:50] The main talent of Silverton Mountain Guides.
[38:40] The importance of trying new things.
Silverton Mountain Guides
Wagner Custom Skis
Ted Mahon: It's All Fancy Footwork
On this episode of Next Level Skiing, I speak with Ted Mahon, one of Colorado’s most respected mountain athletes. He has an impressive 25 years of experience in skiing and mountaineering. During most of that time, he has worked as a ski instructor. He has also skied most of the country’s highest mountains. On top of this, he has helped countless skiers reach their peak level of performance.
Join us for an interesting conversation about preparation, uphill clinics, and Ted’s mountain experience.
[02:44] Tips for kicking off your ski vacation on the right foot.
[06:05] Skiing with returning clients.
[07:45] Why it’s important to show up with a basic level of fitness.
[08:35] What separates a great skier from a great bowl skier.
[11:33] Ted’s uphill clinics and who attends them.
[13:46] Weekly social uphills at Buttermilk.
[15:10] The appeal of backcountry skiing.
[18:18] Easing people into backcountry skiing.
[20:35] How boots can affect your footwork and the effort you have to exert.
[23:12] Advanced uphill clinics and what they offer.
[29:41] Picking your peaks.
[32:15] Thinking back on the highlights of his career.
[34:10] Ted’s parting advice to other skiers.
Wagner Custom Skis
Erik Lambert: Backcountry - More Than Just Avy Skills
Welcome back to Next Level Skiing, where we pick the brains of the best in the sport. Today, I speak with Erik Lambert, one of the founders of Bluebird Backcountry. He and his partner wanted to test the idea that skiers needed an intro to the fundamentals of backcountry skiing before diving in. As such, they figured out a middle ground and thousands have flocked to learn from the guides at Bluebird. They have since expanded their program and the training grounds.
Tune in to hear more about this fantastic program and Erik’s experiences as a mountain sport enthusiast.
[03:15] Starting from scratch with a new reservation system to help keep numbers small.
[05:45] Finding a middle ground between resort and backcountry skiing.
[10:45] Figuring out how to make the program sustainable.
[13:24] What makes Bluebird different from another mountain’s Backcountry 101.
[14:15] Why people just beginning their backcountry journey are often not ready for Avalanche One.
[21:10] The feedback from Aerie-certified instructors.
[23:05] Formalizing the way people learn and grow.
[24:35] Growing up as a skier in Upstate New York.
[27:00] Who the Bluebird Backcountry clients are and why the demographics surprised Erik.
[33:00] The different skills required for backcountry skiing.
[34:26] Erik’s solid piece of backcountry advice.
Wagner Custom Skis
Cody Townsend: Timing is Everything
Welcome back to the Next Level Skiing podcast, brought to you by Wagner Skis. Today, I chat with Cody Townsend, a Southern California football superstar turned mountain hero. He has piloted a career on skis unlike any other I’ve seen. He claims his achievements were driven by boredom, of all things.
His current undertaking, The Fifty Project, exposes the glory and work in skiing and mountaineering.
Join us as we discuss his transition from heliskiing to hiking peaks and the unrelenting mental game involved therein.
[03:52] Cody’s experience growing up in a football family.
[04:22] How his family got him into skiing.
[06:41] Critical skills he developed as a racer.
[11:42] Cody’s experience as a heliskier and the ensuing transition to mountaineering.
[12:07] Boredom and danger were catalysts to his shift.
[15:54] The single most important skill in ski mountaineering.
[19:15] Heading into his Fifty Project knowing he had a lot to learn.
[24:25] Skiing the Sphinx in Alaska.
[26:45] Perceptions of pro skiers vs. the reality.
[29:05] The tendency to pull back when skiing intense steeps.
[32:40] A basic drill that helps change your mindset on the steeps.
[36:25] The experience that made him dream about skiing The Crack.
[37:50] Drawing on past experiences to help you reach the next level.
[39:40] Why skiing partners can affect your experience.
[45:00] An article made Cody tear up.
[46:35] A great piece of advice Cody received.
The Fifty Project’
Wagner Custom Skis
Wes Wylie: Skiing and Healing, How to Ski Forever
Dr. Wes Wylie is the guy you want on your heliskiing crew. He’s a heliski guide at Alaska’s Tordillo Mountain Lodge as well as Powderbirds out of Snowbird. He’s been a ski patroller at Deer Valley for more than 20 years. He travels to Chile and New Zealand in the summer to guide clients. Oh, and he’s also a private physician who travels the country practicing medicine.
1:00: Are you a ski guide who practices medicine or a doctor who skis?
2:30: Getting into medicine as a way to ski
3:45: The overlap between doctoring and skiing. A typical year on mountains, with a few months in hospitals.
5:50: “The big dinner conversation.” Honing aging bodies for skiing. Clients as patients. How to offset the 1% annual loss of muscle mass in men in their 50s, 60s and 70s.
7:15: The “easy” prescription to offset that muscle loss and even build muscle past age 50.
9:00: And even thwart the insidious weight gain of life after 50.
12:00: Advice for skiers looking to stay on skis deep into their 80s or even 90s: minimize the impacts.
12:35: People get injured for three reasons. Two of them are the fault of the guides.
14:20: Progressing “never-ever” Alaska helicopter skiers into steep, deep, sprawling terrain.
15:20: Second time's the charm.
18:30: Being “really spherical” when talking as a guide.
20:00: The photographic component of guiding. Tips for creating lifelong keepsakes.
23:40: Photos as “a great venue for people to review their skills.”
25:50: Building the ultimate guide ski for heavy-pack skiing in variable conditions in Alaska
28:00 The ultimate guide ski looks like this
32:00 The best advice he’s ever received: Movement is good. Stay in the flow. When people stay in the flow state, all the mechanics fall into place.
Doug Stenclik: Entering The Backcountry, The Gear and The Tips
Doug Stenclik opened his Cripple Creek Backcountry shop in Carbondale in 2012 with a premonition that uphill skiing was about to explode. It did, and how he’s got three shops in Colorado and an online site that ranks among the top sellers of all backcountry and ski touring equipment.
Doug’s vision began with a distinct belief that skiers should not be making life-and-death decisions while they are learning a new sport. His take is that backcountry skiing done right can be just as safe as skiing a resort. It’s all about making the right decisions early. Liberal uphill policies at a growing number of ski resorts has enabled uphill skiing to thrive.
And that’s good as we head into the great unknown for the coming season. Doug saw sales at his Cripple Creek shops and website explode after resorts suddenly closed in mid-March. Could that be a clue of what we can expect for the upcoming ski season?
Listen in as Doug riffs on the “out of order” alignment in backcountry skiing and avalanche education, how resorts embracing uphill is fostering the backcountry movement, how resort skiing can help your backcountry turns, the right ski for the right day and what he sees ahead as a ski season unlike any other unfolds.
4:30 — Avalanche education, it’s talked about out of order. Risk of life should not be your first concern when you are learning how to kickstep.
6:10 - Resort uphill policies are enabling the transition from touring to backcountry.
10:30 — “Find the worst snow possible.” Tips for honing backcountry skills while skiing off chairlifts.
13:20 — Is the boom in backcountry ski equipment sales in late March an indication of what’s to come?
18:00 — Trail running shoes, home gym equipment and bikes are hot commodities in the pandemic summer. Could uphill skis join that list this winter?
20:30 — Don’t necessarily think of touring as a better way to ski. “Think of it as a better way to hike in the winter and get outside and exercise in the winter.”
22:50 — Cripple Creek encourages all buyers to sit for a virtual consultation when buying an uphill kit.
24:10 — Light is right. “Know that you will eventually go lighter … 90% of the time you are going uphill.”
27:00 — Industry rollercoaster trends push the single-tool quiver but best bet it to have a resort ski and a backcountry ski.
31:10 — Best advice: Enjoy the whole day, the uphill and downhill as one journey in the mountains.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Ski podcast with a difference
Great podcast which covers a lot of ground on how to actually improve your skiing (from mental to physical to technical) and goes beyond the usual “Yo brah” ski dude banter.