Halfway through a 1080, a glove slips?it's time to bail. Normally, the prospect of landing means crashing a shoulder into snow and ice, but instead a cloud seems to catch the fall. At Progresh, a giant indoor airbag absorbs the impact of falls as skiers, snow- and skateboarders, BMX bike mechanics, and gymnasts practice airborne tricks in a controlled training environment. Before designing the jumps, ramps, rails, and trampolines that fill the 11,000-square-foot suite, the gym's founders each spent more than 20 years riding slopes and working with children in gymnastics programs. Using that experience, the staff helps athletes master everything from grinding rails and jibs to dropping off 10-foot cliffs and vert walls?all with the greater safety and confidence afforded by the inflatable airbag.
At age 19, Kendra Rostvedt set out to sell snowboard gear out of a storage closet. She opened her first bona fide retail shop in 1998, operating under the ethos that boardsports should remain accessible to anybody who wants to try them. Today, the walls of Thrifty Stick Boardshop are lined with longboards, snowboards, and skateboard decks. Skaters can peruse seasonal apparel from more than 50 brands—including Gnu, Volcom, and DC—or bring in equipment to the repair shop, where technicians tune up skis with hot wax and fasten wheels to busted hoverboards so they won't be completely useless.
The internationally acclaimed Big Air event makes its inaugural American appearance in Denver with two evenings of competition that pair a roster of global champs with a tremendous 300-foot-long jump. Tuesday, January 25 opens with the Nature Valley Big Air Challenge, pitting famed male freestyle skiers against one another to perform their best air-defying tricks while simultaneously slicing potatoes into miniature busts of Shaun White. Afterward, ski fans can cheer on the winners at the awards ceremony (8:15 p.m.), before being treated to a concert by Grammy-nominated rockers Switchfoot.
Every year just before ski season opens, the Boston.com Ski & Snowboard Expo gathers representatives from the sport?s foremost gear manufacturers and destinations under one roof for deep discounts and an unveiling of the latest models. Visitors can slalom from booth to booth, where they?ll be able to check out shiny new skis by V?lkl and K2, take advantage of season-pass discounts from resorts across the country and the Northeast, or practice their shadow puppetry while wearing gloves by Marker. Meanwhile, interactive exhibits invite audience participation, and live demonstrations aim to wow onlookers.
Now in its 32nd year, the 2013 Expo also includes a massive sale of East Coast Alpine equipment & clothing and a beer garden brimming with beer from Long Trail Brewing Co. Killington Ski Resort looks to regale guests with acrobatic antics during the Skyriders! Trampoline Show, and the Wachusett Mountains Kids Snowpark and Learning Center where youngsters can get ready for the winter without standing in front of an open freezer for days on end.
The mountain-savvy staff at Apex Ex equip people of all skill levels with the knowledge, gear, and plans necessary to explore the wilderness all year round. Seasoned guides and instructors, many of whom are trained by organizations such as the National Outdoor Leadership School and the American Mountain Guides Association, lead classes that teach students important lessons ranging from backcountry snow basics to avalanche rescue. In summer months, the experts lead guided climbing and backpacking trips and teach riders to careen down rocky paths of every sort during mountain-biking lessons.
The Colorado Cross Country Ski Association represents a network of avid cross country skiers, 17 Nordic resorts, and several guest ranches scattered throughout the state. The nonprofit's reach covers 547 kilometers of groomed cross country skiing trails, including those for skate skiing, classic skiing, and extended downhill snowshoeing. With a number of initiatives in store for the season?including lessons, races, and fun social events?the association promotes the sport to its ever-growing fan base throughout nearly six months of favorable ski conditions. Members also participate in events such as the Town Race Series, held periodically at the Vail Nordic Center, and free clinics hosted by the Pagosa Springs Nordic Ski Club, as well as trips to the serene and secluded Latigo Ranch, tucked away amid the pine and aspen forests 9,000 feet above sea level.