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Thursday, December 07, 2006

Live from the Slopes of Park City

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This week I am particularly grateful for the freedoms we gain by technology, particularly in academic settings. Our family is vacationing in Park City, Utah. The weather is fabulous, the slopes are majestic, the scenery incredible and the powder is terrific (la poudresse est super). If anyone is considering a ski vacation, I highly recommend this spot, where the 2002 Winter Olympics took place -- you can still benefit from the jumps, the top notch runs and lifts and the après ski that were bumped up for the Olympic events. They say here that you can plan a ski vacation at the resort until the fourth of July.

Several notable features this year: first, even compared to last year, the number of people on the slopes who wear helmets has dramatically increased. Not just snowboarders but also skiers have mostly switched from the fleece hat to a safe and warm helmet. I think it is interesting how norms about protections and risk can change so quickly. Why weren’t people using ski helmets 10 or 20 years ago? My guess is that it seemed uncool at the time. Once the undeniably cool boarders came on board, wearing the helmets, the traditional skiers followed. Policy makers should definitely take note. Second, there is a disability ski school at the resort, the National Ability Center, and I have been in awe watching paraplegic and blind skiers hit the slopes, applying creative ways to reconfigure equipment and style to meet their differences. I was inspired. The natural scenery is also inspiring – it took me a half a day to warm up to the black diamonds but by day my husband and I were already enjoying runs with names like “widow maker” (?!) and “gloryhole”(?!!!). Finally, as I said at the start, I was particularly appreciative of the freedoms that we have today to travel and still keep on top of our jobs. This is exam week at our school and I was able (and needed) to communicate with records, my students, my assistant and colleagues virtually everywhere, anytime. The lodge we rented with our friends is fully wireless and my blackberry works even at the highest peak. On that one critical day I was needed, I could answer student emails and the registrar’s call about proctoring while on the lifts. I know we often feel too wired, knowing it is difficult to escape work even when away, but it is worth remembering the benefits we receive from these technologies.

Posted by Orly Lobel on December 7, 2006 at 10:28 PM | Permalink


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Even though nowadays I'm an Aspen loyalist, I've been to Deer Valley, and it is most superb. So I have a great appreciation for skiing in Park City.

I do love the names of black diamond runs. My favorite, by far, is a run called "AMF" at Snowmass, standing for "Adios, Mother...."

I ski double blacks, but I've never been on it. It's supposed to be one of the hardest runs on the mountain.

Posted by: David Schraub | Dec 8, 2006 10:27:45 AM

I think work-flexibility offered by technology is something people are oddly slow to realize. I acknowledge the benefits of in-person interaction, but I'm often surprised we haven't moved away from the "office-based" system of doing office work.

Posted by: Venkat | Dec 8, 2006 4:47:46 AM

You're tight Orly Lobel. Enjoy the powder.

Posted by: usd student | Dec 7, 2006 11:45:45 PM

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