Archive for January, 2012

Dean Cummings’ Dragon’s Back Spine Descent Wins Powder Mag Award

Written by leehart on January 26th, 2012. Posted in Biz Buzz

ASPEN, CO – Big mountain steep skiing icon Dean Cummings was awarded Best Line at Powder magazine’s annual Powder Awards ceremony here last night. Cummings had two epic first descents last spring featured in his movie, The Steep Life. Cummings called The Tusk direct the most committing line he’s ever skied. The equally challenging Dragon’s Back Spine of Meteorite Mountain garnered the award.

Cummings, who has been making and producing ski films for the past 20 years, said he was humbled to earn the honor given the achievements of the other finalists in the category including defending champ, Ian McIntosh (TGR), Dane Tudor (PBP), Eric Hjorleifson (MSP), Sage Cattabriga-Alosa (TGR), and Kye Petersen (All.I.Can.).

Cummings said he thanks his family, wife Karen and children Wyatt Kodiak and Tesslina as well as his H2o Guides team all of whom make it possible for him to continue to go after the big peaks of Alaska’s Chugach Range. Cummings said that winning the award at a time when the snow sports community is reeling from tragic losses, inspires him even more to give back to the sport through teaching practical techniques and protocols to help people avoid avalanches. Cummings’ award-winning avalanche safety curriculum has won two safety awards from the Alaska governor’s office and recently helped earn him the Educator of the Year award from Avalaunch/Outdoor Retailer Winter Market.

Now in its 12th year, the Powder Awards has grown to become one of the biggest nights in skiing, attracting a veritable who’s who of the industry—professional skiers, ski legends, ski film production crews, industry brands, media, non-affiliated celebrities (who may not even ski) and even the odd ski bum. While the Powder Awards primarily highlight the best of the year’s ski films – like Movie of the Year and Best Male and Female Performance – the ceremonies also acknowledge our readers’ favorites with our annual Reader Poll. Hence, the all-inclusive celebration of skiing,and why everyone who’s anyone comes to Aspen for one big night in January every year. For the complete list of winners at this year’s Powder Video Awards, visit the magazine’s website.



Big mountain, steep skiing icon Dean Cummings has been pushing the limits of what’s possible on skis for more than 20 years. The former captain of the US Freestyle Ski Team and 1995 World Extreme Skiing Champion, Cummings has been featured in nearly 50 films from some of the best filmmakers in the industry. He founded and owns H2o Guides, the premier heliski operator in Valdez, AK and recently founded his own line of skis and packs with his company H2o Outdoor Gear. Cummings also enjoys the generous support of the following sponsors. Helly Hansen, Polarmax, Ortovox, S4 Optics, AEE and Traser Watches.



H2o Guides Heliski Offers Value Package to Dought-Stricken Skiers, Snowboarders

Written by leehart on January 16th, 2012. Posted in Biz Buzz

Residents dig out as record-setting snowpack piles up in Alaska; H2o Guides offers Valdez Epic Deal heliski package

Residents dig out as record-setting snowpack piles up in Alaska; H2o Guides offers Valdez Epic Deal heliski package

Valdez, AK – Amid one of the deepest winters on record, in a town already known as the Snow Capital, the premier heliski operator in Alaska’s famed Chugach mountain range is offering a value package designed to make it even more appealing to make this year THE year for skiers and snowboarders take their dream heliski vacation.

“We’ve never seen it this deep, this early. It’s insane,” said big mountain steep-skiing icon and H2o Guides founder/owner Dean Cummings, who has been guiding heliskiing in the area since 1991. “We’ve got such a huge snowpack, it seems only right to try to make it more accessible to all the snow-starved ski area season-pass holders in the some of our favorite places.”


Valdez, year-round home to Cummings and headquarters for his family-run H2o Guides, has been getting pummeled with snow that’s so relentless, the town elementary school closed for fear the roof might collapse. With no place left to clear snow from the streets, snow removal equipment is dumping loads of the white stuff into Prince William Sound. According to the Anchorage Daily News, “The record snowfall for Valdez, 560.7 inches, was recorded in the winter of 1989-1990. The current snowfall is on track to eclipse that.”

The Valdez Epic Deal offers special pricing on a heliski/ski package to any powder-craving ski area season pass holder in California, the Central Rockies including AZ, CO, NM, MT, UT, WY, and the East Coast. The promotion is also available to former guests who are already in the H2o Guides database.

The Valdez Epic Deal includes the following: Discounts on multi-day heliski packages the first two weeks of March and Cummings’ signature hybrid powder skis that carve from H2o Outdoor Gear; $550 for skis regularly priced at $899. Valdez Epic Deal customers will also get a free souvenir hat and t-shirt. Savings total nearly $600 for a dream heliski trip and skis.

Discount heliski packages are limited in number and available on a first come, first serve basis the first two weeks of March as follows: Discount skis, free souvenir hat and shirt plus 10 percent off a 5-day/7-night trip or 5 percent off a 3-day/5-night package trip. To take advantage of this offer, call 907.835.8418 and be sure to mention “Valdez Epic Deal.”

Founded in 1995, H2o Guides is the longest-running heli ski business under one owner in Alaska and the only company based in Valdez year-round. Guests of H2o Guides enjoy premium all-service customer service and unparalleled terrain. H2o’s permits through federal land managers give guests a gateway to over 2.6 million acres, more than any other operator in the world. With nine unique staging locations, H2o Guides accesses good snow when other operators cannot. The company’s safety record is unmatched. For more information about H2o Guides visit their website,



Optic Nerve Boreas Redefines the Premium Goggle

Written by leehart on January 6th, 2012. Posted in Biz Buzz

Optic Nerve Snow Sports Goggle

Optic Nerve's new Boreas goggle

Denver, CO – For skiers and riders who assumed style, performance and comfort are only possible at a premium price, Optic Nerve introduces a new way of thinking about what a goggle can and should be.

First, the Boreas is versatile, it ships with two interchangeable lenses to keep you skiing no matter what Boreas, the purple-winged ancient Greek god of winter, has in store – from a sun-drenched bluebird day to a snowy gray powapalooza fiesta.

The Boreas’ fleece-lined foam gasket does double duty, caressing the face like a tender lover while providing the kind of precision fit needed for all-day comfort and clarity.

Optic Nerve’s longtime Chief Tinkerer Tom Fox explained, “The design juice behind the Boreas exhibits the classic Nerve alchemy that’s equal parts function and style.”

At $119 suggested retail, Fox said he was aiming to impress buyers accustomed to paying much more for premium goggles.

“My personal design jihad has always been to figure out ways to pack the most performance into our products at the fairest price,” Fox said. “’Why pay more’ is my battle cry. Our customers tell us they couldn’t agree more so that’s what I’ll keep doing.”

Available in a choice of three frame colors – black, white or green, and five cool lens pairings: Dreadlock, Smoke Red/Zaio Mirror; Rocker, Smoke Green/Zaio Mirror; I’m Your Venus, Brown/Pink; Dark Knight, Smoke/Blue; and Redbone Smoke/Red.

The Boreas and Optic Nerve’s full line of sunglasses and goggles with soul can be seen at upcoming winter trade shows. At Outdoor Retailer Winter Market in Salt Lake City Jan. 19 – 22 visit Booth # 33059. At the Snowsports Industries America Snow Show in Denver Jan. 26 – 29 you can find Optic Nerve at Booth #3434. The Boreas and other new goggles shown at these shows will be available to the general public Fall 2012.

About Optic Nerve and Mountain Shades
Since 1976, Optic Nerve and Mountain Shades have been making performance-driven, price-conscious eyewear. Optic Nerve is dedicated to continually finding ways to blend style and technology to deliver durable and comfortable high-performance eyewear. All styles have the same 100 percent UVA and UVB protection; lightweight, durable construction; and fashion-conscious styling found in more expensive brands, at a fraction of the price. For more information visit the Optic Nerve website.

Olympian Predicts Paddlesports Industry Poised for Growth

Written by leehart on January 3rd, 2012. Posted in Biz Buzz

The Lee Valley Whitewater Center will host the canoe slalom events of the 2012 Olympic Games

The Lee Valley Whitewater Center will host the canoe slalom events of the 2012 Olympic Games

Lyons, CO –Beyond the usual uptick in interest most summer sports enjoy during an Olympic year, whitewater paddling in particular seems poised for growth in 2012, says former US Canoe Slalom Olympian Scott Shipley.

Shipley should know. His company S2o Design and Engineering, one of the world’s leading whitewater park design builders, is on the front lines of the industry with a project roster that is booming.

For starters, the world’s eyes will be focused on Shipley’s handiwork at the Lee Valley Whitewater Park, host to the 2012 Olympic Canoe Slalom competition. S2o completed the design of the Lee Valley Whitewater Park this past summer. Lee Valley was the first of London’s Olympic venues to be completed ahead of schedule and under budget.

Looking ahead to 2012, S2o will be working on a diversity of projects around the globe including the following:

– North America. Freestyle parks in Montana and Idaho. A second feature at the freestyle park in downtown Missoula and an in-stream restoration via a new whitewater park in Ketchum.

– Pacific. A new whitewater park in Hawea, New Zealand

– Europe. A mammoth whitewater park in Moscow, Russia; in conjunction with UK-based Engineer Paddler Designs

Shipley notes that S2o’s proprietary RapidBlocs are also contributing to the surge in demand for projects. RapidBlocs allows operators to alter whitewater park thanks to a proprietary system of large synthetic blocks that can be easily re-positioned to create different hydraulic features. Since their invention two years ago, RapidBlocs has been installed in seven whitewater channel and has become the standard for all modern whitewater parks in the world.  These include:

• Two channels at the Lee Valley whitewater Park, the official Olympic Slalom course and the Training Channel course. Lee Valley will also host the 2015 ICF Canoe Slalom World Championships.

• Two channels at Teeside (UK), the world’s first “green” pumped whitewater park. RapidBlocs are installed in Teeside’s Main Channel, an Olympic Training Venue, as well as a short and steep channel that doubles as a swift water rescue training channel. Both channels operate on a system that includes Archimedes screw pumps that can be operated in reverse to generate hydroelectric power. The system allows for rafting on-demand and also generates more power in a year than is used to operate the facility.

• Two channels at two different venues in the Czech Republic, one is the classic Prague-Troja channel that has played host to a number of international events in the past thirty years.  The new obstacles are a part of a remodel of the course for the upcoming 2013 World Championships.  The other RapidBloc course is the Budejovice Course (that is Budweiser to us Americans).  This new whitewater channel features the RapidBloc obstacles and is being prepared to host the 2012 Czech Olympic Team Trials.

Shipley noted RapidBlocs installations are also planned at Cardiff International Whitewater Course in Wales and Dutch Water Dreams, a unique, Olympic-level whitewater sports complex in the Netherlands, as well as a new international standard channel in Moscow, Russia.

For further information on Shipley’s services and RapidBlocs, or to submit a request for consultation, visit the S2o Designs website at