BY: Mark Kristofic
After a harsh, cold winter – everyone in Eastern Canada knows what I’m talking about – I had circled and re-circled on my calendar this week’s Ski Television shoot in Mammoth Mountain, California.
The combination of a chill local vibe, incredible spring conditions, and the opportunity to tack on a few days to soak in a little So-Cal, is just what the doctor ordered.
With the lovely and talented Martha Lee back in the saddle as Ski Television host, and as we hopped on an airport shuttle in Collingwood in yet another -15C spring snow squall when I left … we both agreed, it was time to blow that popsicle stand.
The production crew this week consists of myself, Martha, Darryl “LG” Palmer (who is mad at me because I called him “grumpy” in my last blog), Richard Savage of Snow Savvy Marketing, and Mammoth Mountain’s Kristin “the-most-awesome-international-marketing-director-of-all-time” Rust.
Arriving in LA is a reminder of why this is the perfect vacation destination getaway. Super warm weather, palm trees, and open-toe shoes are all reminders that combining a little surf and sand into a ski vacation is simple when travelling to Mammoth. The reality of life is that there are two types of people in this world – ski people and beach people (ok maybe that is a little bit of a broad brush). And for many ski families that I know, Mammoth provides the opportunity to avoid the classic ski vs. sand vacation planning argument.
A short one-hour flight from Los Angeles to Mammoth Lakes over the breathtaking Sierra Nevada range means easy access to Mammoth Mountain from both Eastern and Western Canada – either through Los Angeles, San Francisco, or San Diego.
There is an instant sense of chilled relaxation as soon as we arrived in Mammoth. The combination of the jagged peaks of Yosemite Park in the distance, the surrounding Eastern Sierra’s desert, and the geological rugged wonder of the resort sitting on a active lava dome complex gives the area a wild-west-meets-California-surf feel. Perfect.
Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond our control, we are paired up with the former Miss Australia and current model / media personality Laura Csortan. As we meet up with Laura, I curse the difficulty of my job.
As LG and Martha go off to shoot for the show, Laura, Richard, and I set off to explore the mountain. While the locals constantly apologize for the “low snow”, I give them a look of confused bewilderment. Spread out before us are acres upon acres of wide open bowls and chutes that lead into amazing groomers. The snow is softened to hero snow perfection under the California sun. I couldn’t picture better spring skiing in my wildest dreams.
As the three of us do lap after lap of cream cheese on brioche spring skiing awesomeness, it strikes me how well laid out the mountain is. Smart planning and placements of lifts, combined with the horseshoe shape of the resort, make for quick and easy access to all the terrain, making it easy for skiers of varying ability to still ski together. The design of the resort allows for top to bottom skiing with mid mountain skiing and minimal transition times.
As I am writing this and wrapping up here at Mammoth, planning starts for the California beach portion of the trip (full article will be in fall 2015 S-Magazine), I once again curse my job.