Who's in the Burrow?

Punky Brewster Talks Gapers and Shredding the Nar

SBA Trivia:
Who does SBA Chef Molly call "Punky Brewster"?
What's a gaper?

What's with the funny glasses?

You'll never know unless you listen to the interview...

Skiing Elves

Merry Marmot Holidays!

I really believe in my bones that Sugar Bowl should have a "Ski with Santa" day - and consider this the official start of the "Draft Devin Gill for Skiing Santa" campaign.

But I digress... Whether or not Devin does don the Santa suit on the hill, we do have a bunch of elves on the Sugar Bowl Academy campus who are helping ease Santa's workload.

The tenth-grade advisory group (otherwise ingloriously known as the Ocho Locos) took the lead by preparing and selling baked goods, raising nearly $100 toward the eventual $350 the group spent on gifts for a single mother and her two tweener children.

(Note to all the Ocho Locos who owe 'G' money and to those who purchased baked goods on IOU's: DO YOUR CIVIC DUTY AND PAY UP!!!!)

"Christmas is one of my favorite holidays, because I feel like everybody gets really generous and family oriented, so I'm glad that we're able to help a family experience that too who are not so fortunate," said Ocho Locos advisory member Maya Crosby.

"We purchased the kids all of their school supplies for the entire year," said advisor Andy Giordano. "That includes backpacks, watches, binders, some art kits, science books, experiment kits, lots of great stuff for school."

Steve Ascher's Christmas tree, adorned
with ski passes accumulated over more than
20 years on area ski slopes
The  younger-girls' advisory group under the direction of Kristen Lew and Jeff Schloss also adopted a family for Christmas, chipping in their own money toward the purchase of gifts to make Christmas brighter for another Placer County family.

"It's a continuation of what we started with our community service work this fall," said Giordano, Chairman of the SBA Advisory Committee. "It's important that our student-athletes feel a sense of connection to their community and a responsibility for making that community a better place, and it has been nice to see that our kids have embraced this role enthusiastically."

Good on ya Steve!

Finally, this holiday season, here's a "good on ya'" to Steve Ascher, who  after 10 years of having no Christmas tree ("I always travel at Christmas time") finally bit the bullet and bought this beauty.

Steve's tree, if you look closely, is festooned primarily with ski passes from years past.

"The oldest one on the tree is from 1988-89, but there are 30-some passes because there are plenty of years where I have more than one pass."

I can hear Santa now:

"Now Ascher! Now Dancer! Now Prancer and Vixen!..."

Happy holidays to you all, and may the Marmots of Vancouver Island and Donner Summit long live!

Yours truly,

Marmot Man

Marmot Shredders

So you're looking for a stocking stuffer for your current or future SBA skiing kids? AND you want to contribute to a selfless, (really) Marmot-promoting cause? 

I found these little Marmot shredders on the Web. Proceeds from sales go to efforts to preserve the Vancouver Island Marmot population, which is, according to the site by the same name (http://www.marmots.org), "one of the most critically endangered mammals in the world." For the curious, here's why

Stay tuned for more (actually, real news) holiday SBA posts, including an upcoming spotlight on what SBA advisories are doing to make Christmas brighter for needy families in the Truckee area, as well as Steve Ascher's creative approach to tree adornment.

Happy holidays to you all, and may the Marmots long live!

Marmot Man

Must-see SBA TV

(In case you were wondering, Devin's SBA TV clips on the second-annual "Iron Chef Cookoff" are available at the link supplied in the email you received - the video content is unfortunately stripped out of the email, probably due to Devin's stringent copyright infringement FB clauses: http://sugarbowlacademy.blogspot.com/2010/12/who-will-win-rooster-you-decide_05.html)

It's must-see TV.

Who will win The Rooster? YOU decide!

There was much excitement on dorm last night with the second annual "Iron Chef Cook Off", with full coverage and color commentary of this exciting sporting/culinary event brought to you by SBA TV. Be sure to go to the blogspot (http:sugarbowlacademy.blogspot.com) to vote on who you feel should get the Rooster, Team Costa or Team Cassidy. Exercise your constitutional Marmot rights and vote!

SBA Nordic Storms West Yellowstone

SBA Nordic Ski Team, Bears this time, Not Dinosaurs

SBA Team Nordic (parents, coaches, racers, fans, etc): take to Twitter!

With the season now underway, Alec Wiltz has stepped up to offer his services as official team...er...tweeter?

My many Marmot thanks to Alec for taking the lead on this. Alec has said he will be tweeting race results and color commentary (hopefully not TOO colorful, Alec) from the field, providing his insights into the race field, the conditions, results, whatever comes to the mind under that blond head of hair in 140 characters or less per tweet. And the tweets have already begun: 

A few guidelines if you're new to Twitter and want to take part:

*Text Message "FOLLOW SugarBowlNordic" (no quotes necessary) to 40404. After doing this, you will find that Alec's tweets will arrive to your cell phone - no need to go look for them on line. 

*If you prefer to use your desktop or laptop to follow rather than your cell phone, go to http://twitter.com/SugarBowlNordic and hit "Follow" (if you don't already have a Twitter account you will have to sign up, I suppose...). You can also set up your account to send you mobile updates, and all that is quite user friendly.

*To build community and comment on Alec's posts, or those of others, I would encourage you to discover each other's user names and text "FOLLOW USERNAME" - always to 40404 - to start getting that person's text updates, as well, on your mobile phone. 

*I would encourage you to add BOTH "@SugarBowlAcad" and "@SugarBowlNordic" in your tweets (which might just be a "good luck" wish before a race or a "congratulations" after a race) so that they are routed to both directions. 

*I plan to add a @SugarBowlNordic Twitter badge on The Fighting Marmot blogspot, as well - that way folks can view what the Nordic community is tweeting.

Moving on to Nordic news, Head Nordic Coach Jeff Schloss provided me the following insights into the team's trip to West Yellowstone over the recent holiday. I get cold just reading it:

Every year during Thanksgiving week, pretty much everyone in the North American Nordic racing world descends on the tiny town of West Yellowstone, Montana, for a huge week of training, serious Super Tour Races, and generally a celebration of all things Nordic.

The Sugar Bowl Academy team made the long 14-hour drive to West Yellowstone with members of the Auburn Ski Club Team and the Eastern Sierra Nordic
Joe Piercy skate skiing
Team, all of us under the umbrella of Far West Nordic. We were greeted by a huge amount of snow on the trails and frigid temperatures. The trails were in awesome shape and the SBA team did double training sessions for the first half of the week.

Mid week saw the day-time temperatures drop to minus 17 Fahrenheit! The second half of the week was devoted to Super Tour races where the SBA team were able to battle head to head against the best skiers in the US and Canada, including national team skiers, Olympic skiers, and most of the top college racers in the country.

The focus of the trip was definitely training and we did not rest up for the races but rather trained right through them. Even so, the fighting Marmots posted some outstanding results.

The most impressive results came from SBA Nordic Coach Chelsea Holmes who posted a 5th, 9th, and 11th against the best in North America. For the juniors, Austin Meng lit up the trails with an amazing 31st in the skate Sprint, which was the second fastest time of all of the older juniors.

Also impressive in the sprint race were Evan Dion with his best race result in three years - good enough for 17th junior -, Joe Piercy and Alec Wiltz cracking the top 20 for juniors, and Bria Riggs placing 42nd overall and top five for all j2 girls in the race.

The distance races included a 15k skate for boys where Austin again had a top performance showing he is among the top skiers in his age group in the country. Joe also fought through the slow snow for a 24th in j1 boys.

The classic race was a 10K for boys, and Alec was the top SBA finisher with a 20th for J1 boys, while Evan was close behind with a 24th for OJ’s.

The whole week was a huge success and jump started the Fighting Marmots with tremendous on-snow time. It was a special treat to return home to six feet of snow and the prospects of fantastic skiing for a long, long time. The whole team will train together for the next week and then will start our local racing circuit on December 12th at Royal Gorge. From there it is racing once or twice a week every week through mid April.

The season has just begun and we are all ready for it.

My thanks, again, to Jeff, for his help in putting this together, and to Alec, for taking on some of the field commentary. Go Nordic!

Slippery Slopes...

Welcome (back) to SBA!
Check out the latest Marmot Man Blog Post at http://sugarbowlacademy.blogspot.com/2010/11/slippery-slopes.html!

Slippery Slopes?

Role Playing in SBA American Lit Class
Stepping into the shoes of The Crucible's conniving, greedy Rev. Parris for a day recently in her SBA American Literature class, Kelly Habibi found herself internally at odds with the argument she had to make in the makeshift classroom/courtroom (see the movie below or at http://tinyurl.com/3xpl4hn).

"Spectral evidence was key (to my argument)," said Habibi. "It's kind of crazy, but all of that was valid within the Puritan society of that time, and was used to convict people in the Salem witch trials.

"It was an interesting way to learn about the Fifth Amendment - to incorporate characters from our readings and see the relationships that exist between character development in literature and the Constitution."

Students in the class were presented the following assignment ahead of the day of courtroom/classroom debate and deliberations, which was attended by a large contingent of SBA faculty and students:

For the next two weeks, we will focus on some of the issues and underlying events that have unfolded in the texts we have read. Two of the questions asked of you several weeks ago were: 'what forces unite and divide a new community?' and 'what does the way a community punishes its citizens say about that community?'

We will now step further into these questions, and use the knowledge we have encountered through the characters and their tribulations presented in Arthur Miller’s The Crucible and Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter to debate the following (using the fifth amendment to argue your side):

*Should the government be allowed to arrest, detain, and incarcerate American citizens they suspect to be a danger to the state even without concrete proof of having committed or conspired to act against the state?

"They needed to write character sketches or advocate closing/opening statements, and questions for themselves and others to be asked on the stand," said teacher Joanne Knox.

"The debate stretched over 300 years in American history and literature to demonstrate that themes present themselves cyclically. The same ideas (desire, greed, betrayal, control, etc.) reoccur throughout time as part of the human condition."

Some of the expert witnesses played by the affirming side included Parris, Joe McCarthy, Rev. Wilson, and the Department of Homeland Security. For the negating side, they included John Proctor, Arthur Miller, Mistress Hibbins and the American Civil Liberties Union. Knox's husband, SBA faculty member Andy Knox, played the role of court Judge.

"By 'trying on' a character's persona from another era, students are required to look closely at text to determine this person's mindset, and to manipulate his or her understanding of content, theme, and context in relation to a character," said Knox.

And, despite being at odds with the character she had to play, Habibi, says Knox, was "strong - prepared, convincing, and knowledgeable."

SBA Head of School Making Headlines

Happy Thanksgiving from Sugar Bowl Academy!

Take a break from the turkey and stuffing to read the article that came out about SBA Head of School Tracy Keller in this month's edition of SkiRacing.com (out TODAY!). Good press!

(click on the images to view a larger, more readable version)

Nordic: "Yes, we're getting fit!"

Dinosaurs on Frog Lake Cliffs
Marmot Folk,

Not long ago, with the help of Candice and Douglas Brooks, I posted a text and video overview of the fall conditioning program for SBA's alpine and free-ride skiers. As I put together the YouTube movie, I was struck then by how much fun the kids were having on the new high performance Indo Rowers, Real Ryders, Sliders, BOSU Domes and Balls in the SBA Performance Training Center.

Despite the challenging nature of our conditioning program, there were big smiles on the faces of our student-athletes and they were obviously having great fun (in particular Critter and Schrage), thanks in large part to their own enthusiasm and to the positive energy of all the people who have the good fortune to work in a coaching/conditioning capacity with our student-athletes. They thrive on it. 

I turn now to another ski-racing group on the SBA campus that knows how to have a lot of fun while they're conditioning. The "Nordies" are the fastest-growing group on the SBA campus. Under Head Nordic Coach Jeff Schloss, SBA's Nordic student-athlete presence has more than doubled in just a year's time. Call it a cult of positive personality, great coaching, or both, but he and coach Ambrose Tuscano clearly have a great thing going.

"Jefe," on his way to another win

As I put together the movie on the Nordic team's summer and fall conditioning program (also embedded below the blog post), I was struck, again, by the fun that these student-athletes were having and by the practically incomparable beauty of the terrain they typically cover on their late summer and early fall conditioning hikes, bikes, runs and skis.

Beauty can be found anywhere if you look hard enough, but, where we live and work, no search is necessary. 

It is everywhere.

"Our sport is great for enjoying the natural aspects of Truckee because we don't have to stay on the trails," said SBA student-athlete and Nordic ski racer Kelly Habibi.

"We can go off the trail and enjoy some of the untouched country rather than the developed areas."

"Your settings can be taken for granted in your daily lives. When you're out training in Royal Gorge or on the back-country trip we took from the Boreal vicinity to the top of a peak, gaining 2,000 feet and down into Tahoe-Donner, you get back into appreciating your setting."

I asked Coach Jeff - "Jefe," as he is known - for an overview of the fall Nordic conditioning program. This is what he wrote:

The fall is an extremely important training time for Nordic Skiers. To succeed in Nordic racing an athlete has to have a very well developed aerobic capacity and there is only one way to achieve that: lots, and lots of endurance training.

In order to maximize on-snow performance SBA nordic skiers train year round, day after day, averaging about 10 hours a week of training in the summer months and building to about 16-20 hours a week in the fall. For the fall we used a three-week cycle where we concentrate on high intensity training in week 1, high volume training in week 2, and lower volume (recovery) in week three. Every week would have hard intervals, strength training, speed training, and lots and lots of endurance training.

Because we train so much it is important to have a lot of variety in the activities we do to keep it fresh. The most specific training we can do in the dry-land season is rollerskiing, and we rollerskied up old highway 40 a couple of times every week. We also did a lot of running including four high school XC running races in which SBA athletes had several top finishes including the SBA girls team going 1,2,3 at the Truckee Invitational in September. So we did lots of rollerskiing, lots of running, but also added some road and mountain biking, some awesome long hikes, some rock climbing, and some quality time in the SBA athletic training performance gym.

How do we know if all of this training is working? Every other week we do a time trial either rollerskiing or running and every SBA Nordic athlete has lowered their times substantially over the fall. Yes, we are getting fit!

We have been lucky to have been on snow starting on November 9th which is a great early start. Sophomore Alec Wiltz says “It is really great to be back on snow and I feel my technique and fitness have improved ten-fold since this time last year.”

Next up for a lot of the team is a trip to West Yellowstone.

The conditioning never ends, but, says Habibi, neither does the Nordic fun.

"We're a funky group, but when we're all together it's a good time."

Thanks to Coaches Jeff and Ambrose for all their help putting this post together. Ambrose supplied the video clips and a lot of the stills that you see in the movie, available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vpVbv0X-UOc.

Be well,
Marmot Man

Sunday Spotlight

Marmot Folk,
This is the first installment of what I hope - with your help - will become an (at least) occasional “Sunday Spotlight” series showcasing what SBA students do when they are not in the class, on the slopes, or conditioning in the Performance Training Center. I hope you will contact me with your suggestions for future Sunday Spotlights. SBA student-athletes have diverse interests and life experiences, most of which I would probably remain ignorant without your help. 
Camille Hartley (second from left) and Sam Zabell (far right)
(photo courtesy of the
Sierra Sun)
This Sunday Spotlight falls on SBA student-athlete-artists Camille Hartley and Sam Zabell. Once a week, both violinists -  each under the tutelage of Truckee violinist Liz Glattly - travel to Reno to practice with the Reno Philharmonic Youth Symphony Orchestra. 
Last night, the YSO performed at Reno’s Pioneer Center for Performing Arts. Please take a moment from whatever you enjoy doing late Sunday evening or early Monday morning to watch the movie clip at http://tinyurl.com/299c49x

The YSO features incredible talent, as evidenced by its recent selection in a competitive audition process to be part of the Los Angeles Orchestra Festival in June, 2011. According to the YSO program last night, “As part of the tour, they will perform in one of the finest halls in the world, The Walt Disney Concert Hall (home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic).” 
The music was powerful, and it was wonderful to have a strong SBA and Truckee contingent in the audience, including Camille’s brother, Drew, there on a Saturday night to support his sister. That defines “Marmothood.” 
Be well,
Marmot Man
PS - For the curious, the pianist featured here is Eri Nishihara, winner of the 2010 Piano Concerto Competition. 

Colorado Braces Itself for Marmot...Invasion? Infestation? Influx?

As Colorado braces itself for an influx of non-native Marmots, this upbeat report comes in from the SBA campus conditioning folk:
It appears that SBA alpine racers and free riders set the standard at Saturday's USSA physical testing.
In the box jump - one of five tests that also included the sit and reach, the shuttle run, core test, and vertical jump - Mallory Duncan set the record out of the 100 Far West athletes being tested with 76 jumps in 60 seconds. Several other athletes came close to the record, including Mark Engle, Dylan Murtha, Scott Cooper, Dylan Brooks, Ty Sprock, Riley Plant and Critter Landsinger, all of whom completed 65 or more box jumps in 60 seconds. Caitlyn Landi-Bishop, with 55 jumps in one minute, was right up there with the top women.
How did they do it? A lot of hard work and a lot of outstanding athletic conditioners. Hats off to them all.
You can see the YouTube video of the box jump and of the typical Tuesday afternoon cardio training regimen in the SBA Performance Training Center at http://tinyurl.com/35m5c8u.

But first, to fully understand what you’re seeing, you might want to read the following from Candice Brooks, SBA Director of Athletic Conditioning:
If you walk through the SBA parking lot between 3 – 5 pm on Tuesdays, you’ll probably hear music booming, voices singing along with the tunes, and a lot of whooping and cheering coming from the Performance Training Center. All this ruckus is coming from the SBA alpine and freeride skiers as they execute their weekly Cardio Circuit Workout.

In a Cardio Circuit, athletes cycle through six different cardio stations at varied intensity levels. The stations include riding our RealRyder bikes, pulling on the Indo-Row water rowers, lateral training on slide boards, running on BOSU Balance Trainer domes, and jumping rope.
Each athlete wears a heart rate monitor and works at a percentage of their lactate threshold, which is the maximum workload that they can sustain aerobically.
A typical circuit might be 3 minutes per station with heart rates at 80% of threshold, 90 seconds per station at 100% of threshold, and then a repeat both of those cycles again. A 30 second recovery is built in after each effort as the athletes move to the next station. At the end of the 70 minute workout, every athlete is soaked with sweat and finishes with a great sense of accomplishment and a big smile. Cardio Circuits are all about getting the job done with energy, teamwork and fun!
Thanks, Candice, for your help in videotaping these sessions and for the copy!

Colorado awaits!
Be well,
Marmot Man

Ambrose's Volunteer Day Movie

Happy Saturday!

I've been meaning to send this movie out that Ambrose put together on our all-school volunteer day a few weeks back. If the embedded video doesn't show up in your email client, turn up the volume and go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LcIimmZkbCM. Enjoy!

Putting the "G" in Geocaching in SBA's Applied Sciences Class

"G" in action in Advisory
Marmot Folk,

I'm going to depart from the impersonal, press-release style of previous posts to begin this particular post by saying that there are so many great things going on at SBA it's hard to know whom or what to spotlight next.

Take Guenther's and Devin's brainchild, SBA TV, for example, which, if you haven't seen on Facebook yet, you definitely should soon. Then there's Spirit Week, photos of which are available by clicking on thumbnails in the blog header (if you view the blog at the Web site rather than in your email client).

But this is one of the coolest campus things I've heard of so far this fall.

Maybe "cool" dates me. My 12-year-old son would suggest I use "sick" instead.

If you don't know anything about geocaching you might want to do some background research either before of after reading this (check out http://www.geocaching.com/about/default.aspx).

It is, in a nutshell, like high-tech treasure hunting - going in search of geocaches with a GPS as your guide and coordinates from an on-line database as your only clues.

And, soon, Sugar Bowl Academy will have its own geocaches registered in the national database, left in the wilds of the campus vicinity by SBA students of Andy Giordano's Applied Sciences class.

Giordano - "G" to most on campus - recently sent his science students out on a series of scavenger hunts to the summit looking for caches he had set up in advance of the class meeting.

"There were two teams - I gave each team the coordinates to the first cache, where they found a question for which they had to apply their knowledge from an earlier activity to answer, and then, when they texted me in the right answer to that question, I texted them back the coordinates to the next cache."

Here's a sample question from the caches: "How would a researcher be able to identify an Earth-like planet around a distant star?"

(Answer: I have no idea.)

Students were equipped with small GPS units to move from cache to cache based on the coordinates they were sent by Giordano.

"There are a lot of pieces to this, and one of them is just getting (SBA students) to understand what they're holding in their hands when they're holding a cell phone map. That technology came from somewhere but was adapted for civilian use and has been mainstreamed.

"It gives them basic navigation skills, along with the idea that there are a lot of communities out there that they can be part of. The geocaching community is a big one.

"The Applied Science part of it is getting a handle on how GPS satellites locate you. It's triangulation - your little handheld bumps out a signal and determines how far away you are from a satellite and draws a sphere where the radius is the distance from you to a satellite. Where the spheres from multiple satellites intersect is where you are."

Shortly before parents' weekend, the class's two geocaching teams each set up their own geocache sites, taking down the coordinates so that they can be registered in the national database.

Although the contents of each geocache are not typically publicized (the mystery of their contents is part of the allure of finding them), it is known that these particular caches will serve to advertise Sugar Bowl Academy to geocaching enthusiasts.

"Among other things, there are a bunch of SBA stickers in them," said Giordano.

Ninth-grader Perry Schaffner said that she found the hands-on nature of this particular Applied Sciences class activity to be "really, really fun."

"I liked that we got to walk all over behind the school and explore. It taught us how to find coordinates so that, if you were ever lost, the GPS would help you. It taught you some of your surroundings that you don't get to see every day."

I only wonder if "really, really fun" is as cool as "sick." I'm sure my son will enlighten me on the subject.

Be well,
Marmot Man

PS - Check out SBA's "groovy" (should have used that all day long on "Retro Day") Picasa photo album - called "Scene on Campus" - at http://picasaweb.google.com/sugarbowlacademy/SceneOnCampus#. Bookmark and visit often - it is updated regularly.

spokesMarmot speaks

Marmot Folk,

Parent meetings this weekend were very helpful to me in my capacity as spokesMarmot, as I learned that not everybody knows how to access the blog or how to comment on posts. Hopefully the following will help clarify...

This is relevant to the last blog post in particular, which contains two embedded YouTube videos of SBA students from Joanne Knox's Drama class performing one-acts in All School Meeting Friday. Unfortunately, when this content "pushes" out to your email addresses, it apparently strips video content if it exceeds a certain megabyte limit, and you cannot view the videos unless you click on The Fighting Marmot link that appears at the bottom of each blog post email you receive. In the future, for each post, I will include a hyperlink that you can click on in your email. Commenting is easy - there is a "Comment" feature at the bottom of each post.

If you would like for me to add any grandparents, friends, or family to the blog content "push" list (I had a request from Carrie's grandmother to add her email address), please don't hesitate to send me those email addresses - you can either post them as a comment to this post, or you can send them to me via email (sbacademy@gmail.com).

Friend us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter (@SugarBowlAcad) - posts launched from the spokesMarmot TweetDeck include one regarding the outcome of this weekend's much anticipated on-campus clash of foosball titans Landsinger and Plant.

Finally, here's a plug to keep your eyes out for the next post, which will be a feature on hands-on learning and geocaching in Andy Giordano's Applied Science class.

Great things are happening up on The Rock!

Marmot Man

PS - Here's your url so you can view the drama videos: http://sugarbowlacademy.blogspot.com/2010/10/drama-in-all-school-meeting.html. You will notice, too, "Scene on Campus" photos at the top of the blog that are updated regularly, so bookmark it, or, better yet, make it your default Web page when your browser opens.)