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Entries in Colorado (23)


R.I.P. Marty. Aspen back-country avalanche claims local skier.

R.I.P. Marty / Courtesy PhotoLong-time Aspen local skier Marty Gancsos lost his life in an avalanche in the Aspen back-country on February 23. He was 64.  He is survived by his partner Marilyn along with family and friends. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all his people.

R.I.P. Marty.

I ran into Marty almost every day on Aspen Mountain. I knew Marty well enough to say hi...but not well enough to know his last name.  I was aware of one thing about Marty... he loved the POW POW and he loved to ski. When I realized that Marty was not actually a member of The Dogs (an Aspen Mountain ski gang), I warmed up to him.  We skied a few laps together.  He showed me some nooks and crannies in the Cone Dumps and the Bonnie Brae area.  You can learn a lot from a guy who's been skiing Ajax regularly for 40 years.  We all can learn from the events that led to Marty's last run.

Marty was a good guy.  A friendly guy.  He was a strong, expert skier who skied almost every day.  He lived his life by his own set of rules and he did not apologize for that. His love for skiing was obvious and he proclaimed it emphatically on every gondola ride.

Yesterday was the first real POW day we've had in a while.  Avalanche danger was high to extreme.  Marty and an un-named partner chose to ski a line, out-of-bounds, off the backside of Ruthies that leads down to Castle Creek Road.  It was a bad choice.   While his ski partner was un-injured, Marty paid the ultimate price and he will never ski another day.

Yes, Marty was doing what he loved.  Thats very true and it sounds almost romantic.  But really, it's just a tragic end to a good man's life.  And "doing what you love" is not a good enough reason to die . With all due respect to his memory, an experienced skier like Marty should have known better.

The mountains giveth and the mountains taketh away   In the ski world and around Aspen it seems to me that too many people are taking too many chances doing what they love.   The back-country is not to be be trifled with.  You hear this statement a lot  "I know that run".  Well...my adventurous friends... if you know that run...you know it can slide.   Yesterday's ski conditions:  8"-10" on top of the settled snow that had fallen about 8 weeks ago and has since been baked by record highs.  You didn't need to be a snow scientist to know that snow conditions were ripe for problems.

Today, the day after, you could feel tha pall over Aspen Mountain. It's a beautiful bluebird Colorado day. As blue as I've seen, but still so sad.    The whole town mourns when one of their own goes down. But it wasn't just the avalanche that killed Marty...it's was bad decision making.  I pray that all the rippers and shredders and sled-heads and skinners and uphillers and back-county-experts...the people who "know that run" can take something positive from Marty's final turns.  If you make good choices you can have a blast in the back-country, if not...RIP.

Respect the Mountain.  Respect the conditions.  Make good decisions and you will enjoy many great ski days ahead.  If it looks and feels sketchy...it probably is.  Playing it safe and making conservative decisions in the back country can save your life.  

It's a tragically sad day in Aspen.  Yes, he was doing what he loved, but a good man lost his life.  




World Cup Weekend is World Class in Aspen

After a years hiatus, the FIS World Cup Ski races returned to Aspen.  Fat city again hosted the world's fastest women in the Slalom and Giant Slalom.  The best ski racers in the world ripped laps on Aspen Mountain returning to one of their favorite tour stops.

Aspen missed the world's fastest women, a.k.a. chicks on sticks last year...and it turns out the feeling was mutual.  All the ladies made it very clear that Aspen is a highlight stop on their World Cup tour.  For the U.S. Ski Team and several American girls who are funded independently it's the only tour stop on U.S. soil and the only time their friends and families attend their races.  The Euros all commented on the special feeling they have for Aspen Mountain and it's fast, highly technical race course.  Aspen hosted Giant Slalom on Saturday and Slalom on Sunday.

Click 4 pix: WORLD CLASS in ASPEN

Conditions were prime, maybe a touch warm...but the course was skiing great.  Saturday's Giant Slalom challenged the ladies with plenty of technical terrain changes and the famous airplane turn above strawpile. Sunday's slalom competition was broadcast live worldwide on NBC TV.  

The strong Austrian team dominated the results taking 4 of the 6 podium spots including both first place finishes. Eva-Marie Brem broke through for her first WC win ever, topping the field in the GS.  She was quite emotional, crying during the awards ceremony and the press conference.  All the other girls seemed truly happy for her.  "We're all friends" shared one Canadian racer.  Katrin Zettel, also Austrian finished second.   She always finds a way to the podium in Aspen, holding the record for most top 3 results of any world cup skier on Aspen Mountain.  

Nicole Hosp from Austria topped a very competitive field in Slalom. It was Hosp's first win since 2008 after overcoming a series of excruciating injuries.    USA's Mikaela Shiffrin had a great weekend with a 6th in the GS and 5th in Slalom.   2 top 10's was cause for celebration 2 years ago in Aspen for Shiffrin.   This year, however, the expectations are about as high as they can be for the Queen apparent of U.S. Skiing.   Shiffrin is the reining WC champ and Olympic champ in Slalom...so she is now expected to win...every time.   She had a good chance to take the slalom victory..but a slight falter on run 2 led to 5th.  While disappointed at not taking the top spot on home soil...Shiffrin is poised and ready to move on to the next race.   She is currently in 2nd place in the overall World Cup standings behind Zettel. 

All-in-all it was a great weekend.  Aspen Mountain and Snowmass  are open and skiing beautifully.  A kick-off party to celebrate the bib draw along with an autograph signing with the U.S. Ski Team started it all off on Friday   Reel Big Fish a ska-punk band from Huntington Beach, Ca. played a free outdoor show at the base of Aspen Mountain followed by the prerequisite fireworks display. A full-on sponsors village anchored by Audi, plus free food from Aspen Skiing Company's catering department made those of us who are not VIP's feel like VIP's.  The stands were packed on both days.  The crowds were the largest I've seen in my 12 years attending the races in Aspen.  Perfect weather for spectating did not hurt.  The WC set up seemed to have it turned up a notch...perhaps in preparation for Aspen's hosting of the WC Finals in March of 2017.  

It was good to have the "White Circus" back in Aspen.

Click 4 pix:  WORLD CLASS in ASPEN

GS winner Eva-Marie Brem of Austria ripping a lap on Ajax. Photo: Art BurrowsMikaela Shiffrin had 2 top 10's in Aspen, not bad, but she is expected to win every week now. Photo: Art Burrows.

The GS Podium in Aspen 1) Brem Austria 2) Zettel Austria 3) Brignone Italy Photo: AspenSpin

The Slalom Podium in Aspen. 1) Hosp Austria 2) Hansdotter Sweden 3) Zettel Austria Photo: AspenSpin


Cannabis: It's not just for hippies anymore.

Cannabis Grand Cru: A Major Event in the Cannabis WorldAspen recently hosted the first Cannabis Grand Cru (CGC) promoted as a premier conference representing the cannabis culture, lifestyle, business and community. Cannabis has a long history in and around Aspen. So it's only natural that Aspen would participate in the "green rush" and be the site of the first Cannabis Grand Cru. Plus, Aspen is generally considered one of the most progressive towns in Colorado and Pitkin County is known as the most liberal County in the State.  

Cannabis Grand Cru ( click 4 schedule and speaker bios)  took over the entire Sky Hotel in Aspen and created an intimate and private environment for leaders in the cannabis world to convene, network and share ideas about the future of the cannabis universe.  The entire pool deck at Sky was converted into a two story cannabis village complete with sponsor booths, a dance floor and mood lighting.  I was told that some attendees even partook in a wide variety of cannabis products.


I learned that those in the industry consider monikers such as pot, weed, reefer, ganja, cheeba, chronic, herb, skunk and so on to be passe and almost derogatory.   Even Marijuana is considered to be a "racist" term by some cannabis aficionados, due to the theory that use of the Spanish name was picked up because Latin folks were prime customers early in the 20th century.   So Cannabis is the politically correct phraseology for those in the business.  

The Brand Building Panel. Lewis, Abernathy, Carr and ShahThe slate of meetings and speakers covered almost all aspects of the cannabis industry, both medical and recreational.   Dispensary owners, growers, lawyers, marketers, scientists, law enforcement professionals, edible purveyors, political activists and enthusiasts all had a chance to address the conference.   Aspen's own chef deluxe Chris Lanter from Cache Cache prepared a cannabis infused meal on the stage at Belly Up. Shhhhhh.  Due to local arrangements...the meal could not be prepared with real cannabis or shared with the audience.   Jordan Lewis founder and owner of Aspen's Silver Peak Apothecary and Morgan Carr of Wellspring Collective in Denver were on hand to provide insight into the day to day operations and the trials and tribulations of a thriving cannabis business.   Both men were quite professional and well spoken and seem to be successful business owners.   They each stressed the importance of working with State regulatory agencies and abiding by all the rules and regulations set forth by the Government.  Interesting thoughts were shared by Mason Tvert a well known political force who helped draft and push through Amendment 64 which made recreational cannabis possible in Colorado.    Pitkin County Sherrif Joe DiSalvo was on hand to share his methodology about law enforcement relating to marijuana.  DiSalvo is known to swing a "velvet sword" relating to pot.  He stressed that public safety was his "main concern".  DiSalvo made it clear that he was not promoting the use of cannabis, but if you do ...do so responsibly.  Former Sheriff Bob Braudis shared wild tales about the 70's the DEA, the FBI and the counter-culture movement in Aspen.

CGC was quite mellow. The crowd was a combination of visitors and locals.  Specific rooms at The Sky Hotel were set aside for guests who wanted to indulge.  An extremely wide variety of delivery methods were shared amongst festival guests.  Bowls were passed, edibles consumed, vapor cigs puffed and dabs were dabbed, and everyone seemed to be in good spirits throughout.   One incident put a small damper on the fun for a promotional group from L.A.  Y5RX an event sponsor and maker of upscale and disposable cannabis vapor e-cig. style dispensers misunderstood the local law enforsement's decision that sharing in public was not permisable    They allowed sampling of their product in a public area...and were warned by local police and a liquor board agent and then shut down by CGC officials.  It was really "no big deal, a slap on the wrist" said a Y5RX  staffer.  Sources tell us that Y5RX's transgression almost shut down the entire event.  Luckily that did not happen.

Ajax, DJ and BB enjoying the mellow at CGCAspenSpin has been known to blow a doobie on the ganj-dola once in a while but we are complete outsiders to the cannabis business.   Listed below are a few of our observations.

*The cannabis business is maturing quickly, but not as fast as the industry leaders want it to.   There is still a stigma associated with the marijuana business. In many circles its not yet considered a "legitimate" business. Traditional banking and financing operations have yet to embrace the cannabis operators.  

*Some of the counter-culture, life-style advocates still revert back to their black market roots.  They want to be taken seriously, but they make it difficult for that to occur .  Many early movers in the green rush claim to be interested in helping patients, providing compassionate care and embracing a natural solution for pain relief...yet they can't wait to get a lunch break so they can dab. (see dabbing).   I personally lost a little respect for a few of the speakers who felt the need to share their own consumption habits as an indicator of their passion. Bragging that you just ate a 250 mg edible prior to your speaking session is not something to be proud of...in my opinion.  Double digit dabs?  Good for you, mon.

*Edibles have created their own set of problems.  Marketing and packaging issues have arrisen because of the risk to children and unsuspecting adults.   Dosing is crucial.  It was made very clear that each person reacts differently to eidbles...and its best to start slow.

Donut Buffet; In case anyone had the munchies. *Education is perhaps the most important factor moving forward for the green biz.  All the most successful operators seem to be very strong on the education front.   Law enforcement echoed the thought that the more information on products the better.  Testing and labeling is crucial.

*When big money is involved...people get VERY, VERY serious.  As the industry attempts to mature, I think we will see more professional people, with real life credentials getting involved with medical and recreational MJ.  See Mr. Lewis and Mr. Carr for examples.   I dont think bankers and venture capitalists can relate to a poncho wearing , dred-lock sporting bro-brah pretending to be a CEO.   Financing and investment capital are vital for continued growth in the cannabis business.

*Cannabis, is a centuries old product, but its in its infancy as a legal, main stream business. It's exciting to witness the growth from the ground up here in Colorado.  I get the impression that some of the original pioneers of cannabis are in over their heads when it comes to real business issues...like accounting, human resources and financing.  Professionalism and outside experience will only help the industry to achieve smart growth. 

*The States love the tax revenues generated by MJ. States are taking the business very seriously.  Regulatory and compliance aspects of the biz and the taxation are being watched with eagle eyes. 

*Some of the speakers made continued references to the "life-style" and the "culture".   I agree it's important to embrace your core customers and those passionate about your products, but the true growth of the cannabis business will occur when it becomes a more mainstream product.   Coca Cola is not catering only to hard core soda drinkers or Hersheys is not looking to connect with just those living the chocolate lifestyle.   It was pointed out that there are over 700 dispensaries in Denver allegedly more than the number of McDonald's and Starbucks combined.   At some point in the near future only the strong will survive...and those that offer the best products at the best prices with the best service will succeed. 

Braudis and DiSalvo shared their views.In conclusion, Cannabis Grand Cru was informative, interesting, fun and entertaining. It was a well produced event.  Both the panel discussions and off-stage networking sessions seemed to produce a wealth of ideas and knowledge sharing. Relationships within the industry were created.   The growth of the cannabis business is inevitable as more and more States approve medical and recreational marijuana.  We, here in Colorado are at ground zero.  We have a chance to help establish the industry and prove that cannabis deserves to be taken seriously.  The people who came to Aspen for Cannabis Grand Cru are leaders in their field.  Cannabis is one of the world's oldest products, but the legalization of the business is just starting.  It should be an interesting trip.







4/20 and Easter in Colorful Colorado.

April 20th, a.k.a. 4/20 has become a worldwide celebration of cannabis.  4/20 has taken on a life of it's own right here in COLORFUL COLORADO. It's a big holiday.   It's also Easter Sunday and closing day on Aspen Mountain.  AspenSpin is predicting another world-class day of skiing and partying and the munchies right here in Aspen.  Don't hate...participate.

Marijuana has many medicinal properties.  Please use care and safety when imbibing.

Perhaps the largest 4/20 celebration on Earth...at the Capital in Denver, Colorado.



Aspen: For the Love of Dumps

A.Party in his element.It's been a fantastic ski season so far in Aspen.  The best in 5 years.  We hit the mid-point of the season with over 15 feet of snow having fallen. Recently we've had some super siiiiiiiick days.  Especially yesterday...and the day before that...and the day before that.  You get the picture.

It's dumping heavily right now...and we love it.

Here's a couple pix.

Henry's...directly under the 1a lift line. My favorite run...especially when no one is riding the lift.Newly opened and marked terrain on Ajax. You have to find it to ski it.We call this the Party Line on the Back of Bell. Maybe not the steepest pitch...but I'm usually first to schralp it.