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Skiing notebook

Expo gets season started

Stars gather at annual showcase

Email|Print| Text size + By Marty Basch
Globe Correspondent / November 15, 2007

Get the Sharpie ready for the annual winter sports kickoff, the Boston Globe Ski & Snowboard Expo at the Bayside Expo Center today through Sunday.

Anchored by the annual Ski Market kickoff sale, exhibitors include nearly every ski area in the country and Canada.

Grab swag, plan a ski trip, pick up gear deals, score a free lift ticket, and run into a snow god such as 2006 Olympic snowboardcross gold medal winner Seth Wescott tonight.

Stein Erikson, who brought elegance to the slopes during the 1950s and '60s, as well as winning 1952 Olympic gold and silver medals, will be around tonight and then Saturday at Sugarbush for the New England Ski Museum's annual Spirit of Skiing Award.

Two-time Olympic medalist Ross Powers, now an ambassador at Okemo with an eye on making the US Snowboarding team for the 2010 Games, is slated to appear tonight and tomorrow.

Look for Olympians such as Nashoba Valley's Pam Fletcher, mogulist Donna Weinbrecht and downhiller Doug Lewis over the course of the show. X Game gold-medal-winning monoskier (and University of New Hampshire student) Tyler Walker will sign at Cannon's booth Saturday and Sunday.

On Friday before 6 p.m., a host of Teton Gravity Research big-air freeskiers from the new movie, "Lost and Found," such as two-time Olympian Jeremy Nobis and Marblehead's Dylan Hood are expected before they head to the Roxy at 7 p.m. for the movie's Boston premiere.

For information, call 800-576-0003.

Picture perfect

Skiing icon Jonny Moseley is the man behind the mike in the latest action-filled Warren Miller celluloid creation, "Playground." Miller's winter sports film whirls around the world to Japan, Alaska, Canada, Sweden, and even indoor skiing in the desert climate of Dubai. X Game medalists Zach and Reggie Crist go huge in a helicopter sequence shot in Alaska's daunting Chugach Range, while bad boy Bode Miller pontificates his motto of doing things his way.

The movie will be traveling through New England, and free lift tickets will be given out with paid admission at the following venues: Merrill Auditorium in Portland, Maine (tomorrow); Flynn Theatre in Burlington, Vt. (Saturday and Sunday); Portsmouth Music Hall (Tuesday and Wednesday); Avon Cinema in Providence (Dec. 5); Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield (Dec. 7); and Bushnell-Mortensen Hall in Hartford (Dec. 14).

Opportunity knocks

Weeks before the big guns hit the slopes, tiny Whaleback in Enfield, N.H., was open weekly for grass-roots rail jams supported by ice shavings from a local skating rink. Co-owner and former US Ski Team member Evan Dybvig says about 50 young skiers and riders show up for the five-hour Saturday sessions in the mountain's Jib Harbor park. The first one was Oct. 27, and there's one Saturday from noon to 5 p.m.

"We are committed to keeping Jib Harbor open all fall until top-to-bottom skiing and snowboarding commences in December," Dybvig said.

Shepherd to lead

The US Ski Team named Tyler Shepherd as the first skicross head coach. Slated to become an Olympic event in 2010, skicross is also called skiercross and skier X.

"Skicross is unique in that you literally learn on the fly," he said. "I'm excited to have the opportunity to begin putting a program and system in place so that we can make that happen and allow athletes to develop and excel in skicross."

Chasing Mahre

Coming to North America for ski races that will bring him to Beaver Creek, Colo., later this month, Miller enters this season with Phil Mahre's US-record 27 World Cup wins in his sights.

At age 30, Miller has 25 wins. After splitting from the US Ski Team, Miller formed Team America. Miller, off to an uneven start this season, missed training last month because of a back injury, then placed fifth with the second-fastest second run in a Soelden Austria giant slalom Oct. 28.

Then, in a slalom in Reiteralm last weekend, Miller got stopped when he hit a gate, and finished 26th. Miller, who is currently ranked fourth in the world -- 10th winningest in World Cup history -- has vowed to enter all of the World Cup events this season.

Stiegler shines

Despite her age (22), Resi Stiegler is no rookie on the US Ski Team or World Cup racing. Already with one Olympics under her belt, Stiegler turned in a strong slalom last weekend at Reiteralm, holding a lead over part of the course, before placing fourth overall.

"I freaked out I was so excited," said Stiegler of her runs. "It's the coolest feeling to come down leading."

According to her coach, Chris Knight, the petite Stiegler got buffeted by a gust of wind at the beginning of a turn, and nearly was blown off course.

"It definitely cost her," he said. "She can go faster."

Examining injuries

During the offseason, the International Society for Skiing Safety presented research at its biannual conference in Scotland that reported Alpine skiing injury rates have been decreasing steadily worldwide over the past five years. Snowboarding injury rates have "bounced up and down," ski boarding rates were on a "steady increase," while telemark rates remain static and "very low."

Snowsports injury specialist Dr. Mike Langran listed specifics of the conference on his website (www.ski-injury.com), where he reported that the "vast majority" of snowsports injuries result from an isolated fall, usually when a skier or boarder has lost control. Ten percent of mountain accidents are caused by collision with another person, and 5 percent each are attributable to chair lifts and equipment failure (i.e. premature binding release).

Death rates for snowsports remain extremely low, according to Langran. The traumatic death rate for skiing is .7 deaths per million skier visits, and snowboarding ranks 35 percent lower at .46 per million.

He estimated that 35 to 40 skiers and boarders die each year in the United States as a result of a traumatic accident, with "excess speed and/or jump heights" as the most common cause. These death rates exclude medical causes (i.e. heart attacks).

Worthy causes

New England Regional Ski for Light (www.nersfl.org), a nonprofit organization that helps visually-impaired adults participate in physically demanding sports, is once again offering cross-country skiing and snowshoeing overnight trips for early 2008. The volunteer group, which matches participants with sighted guides, will travel to Craftsbury Commons in Vermont Jan. 4-7 and either Great Glen Trails or Bear Notch in New Hampshire (depending on snow conditions) Feb. 22-24. Founded in 1977, the organization promotes a "relaxed and supportive atmosphere of camaraderie" and offers financial assistance and carpooling. Training is available for guides who would like to volunteer . . . The New England Lost Ski Areas Project (www.nelsap.org) is selling 2008 wall calendars ($20.50) and oversized wall calendars ($25) that feature old-school photographs and trail map replicas of bygone Northeast ski hills and rope tows. Proceeds benefit the organization's website, which is dedicated to documenting and preserving the history of more than 600 small, local ski slopes that have eroded off the snowsports landscape.

Globe correspondents Tony Chamberlain and T.D. Thornton contributed to this report.

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