Tuesday Tunes: Get Up

Happy Wednesday, the perfect day for a Tuesday Tune! In between celebrating Madrid's San Isidro holidays and scrambling to get my final Masters project finished up, I slipped up this week. My apologies. Luckily, I'd like to make it up to you with this lively track from Otis Junior and Mr. Dundiff. Be good, gente.

On Assignment: Topping Out and Skiing Down in the Pyrenees

A couple of weeks ago, I had the chance to join an international team on a ski mission to Aneto, the highest peak in the Spanish Pyrenees. Basing out of the refugio at La Renclusa, we ran into just about every kind of weather you can imagine, and even scored some pow turns on the last day of April. 

The real highlight was spending time in a foreign mountain range with new friends. It's amazing how many different ways the mountains can humble you, and our Aneto adventure was no exception. Excited to share more about the trip in the fall volume of The Ski Journal, my first longform piece with the legends out of Bellingham.

To give you a slice of what we were working with, here is a drone shot from the snowfield approaching our summit snapped by French photo extraordinaire, Guillame Arrieta. Not pictured, the wind whipping us from all sides and the clouds that would turn our ski down into a total whiteout. Ah, I shall get my redemption. 

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Tuesday Tunes: This is America

Not an underground hit, and thankfully so, this week's jam is a wakeup call. Childish Gambino dropped "This is America," a scathing social critique of gun violence and racial prejudice, and it's a music video that I just can't shake. Watch it, and then watch it again—three times. 

It's been strange being in Europe during the last handful of major shootings in the U.S. People over here have written off moving to the U.S., many telling me that they, "Don't want to be shot." Is that the legacy we're passing the next generation?

Tuesday Tunes

Was able to check off an all-timer from my concert hit list last week here in Madrid, checking out Arcade Fire at the Wizink Center. Man, what a show. It's been a while since I've been fully enveloped by a performance, but those guys (and gals!) brought it. Just wanted to pass some of the vibes your way on this beautiful Tuesday. Here's one from the new album, enjoy, gente.

On Assignment: Profiling Skier Henrik Harlaut

This year has been a little light on mountain time for me, but in no way, shape, or form have I forgotten about my alpine roots. Last week, I spent a chunk of time hanging out with skiing's enigma, Henrik Harlaut in his Andorran stomping grounds. It was a unique look inside the secret world of freeskiing's most dominant force, one that I'm stoked to be reporting for POWDER's next volume. That's all I've got for now, but stay tuned for a profile coming out sometime this fall.

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Tuesday Tunes

I'd been sleeping on Joey Bada$$ for a while, I guess I just figured a rapper with a name like that was probably just polluting the rap game with more trap garbage. Well, I was very, very wrong. Finally spent some time with Sir Joey last week, and damn, this guy just jumped to the top of my list. Doesn't hurt that he laces intelligent lyrics over old school instrumentals. "LAND OF THE FREE" is this week's offering, be sure to listen into that chorus. We have work to do, gente!

Tuesday Tunes

A big congratulations to Kendrick Lamar for becoming the first non-classical or jazz artist to win a Pulitzer Prize for music for his 2017 album, "Damn.". Poetry comes in many forms, and Sir Kendrick speaks almost all of them. Take a taste of the final track on that album—it's a true story.

On Assignment: Spanish National Soccer Team

 Roger was even cool enough to snap a very rare journalism action shot. Score! Photo: Roger Neve

Roger was even cool enough to snap a very rare journalism action shot. Score! Photo: Roger Neve

Though my life and work often seems to revolve around ridge lines and coastlines, I actually grew up between touchlines. Soccer has always been a massive influence on my life, so when I recently got the chance to work with Eight by Eight, a soccer magazine out of New York City, on a story about Spanish goalkeeper David de Gea, I was blown away.

Tied into the media day for the Spanish National Soccer Team ahead of this year's World Cup, myself and photographer Roger Neve got the chance at an exclusive interview and photoshoot with the team's starting keeper. Of course, it didn't go nearly as planned and instead of our allotted hour time slot, we got 30 minutes, but such is life when putting these things together. I also did the entire thing in Spanish, which was a nice little wrinkle, but one I'm pumped to improve upon moving forward.

In the meantime we got to check out the training facility, meet other players like Diego Costa and Koke, and spend way too much time adjusting flashes and looking over interview questions. Excited to bring this one to life ahead of the World Cup, stay tuned!

On Assignment: Andorra for the Freeride World Tour

 Following competitors around the new playground.

Following competitors around the new playground.

Though this year's focus is not on skiing, I was still able to steal away from Madrid for a couple of days for the Freeride World Tour stop in Ordino-Arcalís, Andorra, and of course, get a few turns in. This year was my third year covering the FWT, and my second year covering this stop, so I actually kind of had a lay of the land this time. Plus, I got to see a whole boatload of athletes and familiar faces from back in the States in a foreign country, which doesn't suck (bottle of wine and Barca game, anyone?). I definitely appreciated reconnecting with the scene, if only for a handful of days.

Even though I still haven't tapped into the Alps and the Dolomites, I'm starting to develop a soft-spot for the Pyrenees. Maybe it's something about the uncrowded skiing, or the three-course aprés meals, but the Euros seem to really get this skiing thing. Always missing my people back home, but nice to try something else on for a change.

 Aforementioned aprés.

Aforementioned aprés.

Stay tuned for a few interviews I was able to put together during my time in the world's sixth smallest country for Adventure Sports Network (formerly GrindTV).

On Assignment: In the Studio

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While I've always enjoyed shooting photos, my camera has always been more drawn to capturing, and perhaps freezing, the real world around me. Whenever I listened to photographer's talk about "making" a photograph instead of "taking" a photograph, I was always a little turned off, especially when it came to shooting in the static confines of a studio.

However, as part of my Master's program this year, I have spent a lot more time in the studio, learning about artificial lighting, flash, and the importance of controlling your frame. I have to be honest, it's been incredibly frustrating, but also really, really fun. In addition to all of the technical factors, I'm also trying to give directions to models (in Spanish, no less). Some of the results have been pretty hilarious, but I'm actually starting to take to it all a bit.

While I don't see myself sitting in a studio anytime soon, I'm excited to bring this new lighting knowledge out into the world and see what I can do. Here's a couple of snaps from this week, and I may be adding a fuller compilation of studio work in the next few weeks. Here's to being uncomfortable and trying something new.

On Assignment: My Latest POWDER Feature On Wildfires And The Ski Community

Experts estimate that the time it takes for an individual to recover economically, socially, and economically from a wildfire is approximately 10 years. That's a decade just to return to where you were yesterday.

It's a stat that was hard to wrap my mind around, so I chose to witness it in person in Eastern Washington. The Methow Valley was ravaged by wildfires in 2014 and 2015 (to the tune of $30 million in damages), and the community was forced to start over not onces, but twice. Through it all a small community ski resort provided temporary solace from the flames. Luckily, POWDER magazine let me tell the story in their 2018 February issue, and it is now available online. If you have a second, please check it out.

On another note, I in no way wanted this feature to be a trend piece, but after a devastating fire season worldwide in 2017, it is very possible that this small Washington community's struggle could become commonplace in years to come. I urge you to keep that in mind when reading, and understand that behind every news report are hundred of humans whose lives will never be the same. 

Big thanks to the Methow and Okanogan communities for letting me into their world and sharing their story.

Shout Out: U.S. Women's Nordic Team Makes History In Style

Amid one of the better Winter Olympic Games in recent memory, one of the Games' longest standing streaks came to fitting close in PyeongChang with the U.S. Women's Nordic Ski Team skating its way to its first ever medal, a last-gasp gold in the women's sprint relay. It was a completely fitting narrative, with Kikkan Randall, the woman who has put U.S. Nordic skiing on her back for so many years hanging close, and her mentee, Jessie Diggins, out-stretching the world champion Swedish sprinter to write history in gold.

 Mama Krich and Uncle Dan showing off for the podium. Oh the '80s.

Mama Krich and Uncle Dan showing off for the podium. Oh the '80s.

For me, it was a gold medal three decades and two generations in the making. My mom raced for the U.S. Ski Team for over a decade, competing in the 1980 and 1988 Winter Games. She was part of a strong wave of amateurs, a group that included Randall's aunt Betsy Haynes and my uncle Dan Simoneau in an era dominated by Scandinavian pedigree and Russian blood-doping. In other words, they didn't stand a chance. Still, they consistently pushed into realms never before touched by U.S. skiers—World Cups, relay podiums, individual top-10s—all in the hopes that one day all of that hard work would lead to this.

Randall is the tail end of the competitive generation after my mom, Diggins, the beginning of something new. To see how far this sport has come in the States since my mom, then a skinny 20-year-old from Maine named Leslie Bancroft, hit the track in Lake Placid is a pretty amazing thing. I never thought I'd see the day where I would get emotional about cross country skiing (aren't there, like, more fun ways to ski?), I have to admit that Randall and Diggins messed me up in the best way last week. Thank you, ladies. That was something special.

Cartas Españolas: Franco's "Nazi" Time Change

 Palacio de Cibeles, Madrid, October 2017

Palacio de Cibeles, Madrid, October 2017

It's that time of year where things start to get dark and dreary, and hibernation doesn't seem like such a bad deal, really. For many of us, these feelings are due in large part to Daylight Savings Time's dreaded, "Fall Back," a day that hit this Sunday for most of you.

Interestingly, that day hit last Sunday for me over here in Spain, so I've actually been living an hour earlier than the rest of you for almost a week!

More intriguing however, is a nerdy time fact that I learned a couple of weeks ago. Unlike it's neighbors Portugal and contrary to its orientation about the Prime Meridian, Spain is actually one hour ahead of the rest of the region, aligning with most of Eastern Europe and giving it much later sunsets than anywhere else in Southern Europe. But why?

Well, that answer is actually rooted in recent history. You see, Spain's former dictator Francisco Franco seized control of the country after the Guerra Civil due in large part to the help of friend and rising world power Adolf Hitler. Actually, it was Hitler that helped Franco pull of the aerial bombing at Guernica that is depicted in Picasso's, "La Guernica." The massacre was a training ground for Hitler's aerial bombing squadrons ahead of another, more well-known, global conflict a couple of years out.

So, needless to say, the two were buds, and as buds do, Franco decided to give his guy Hitler some props. As a show of his respect for the German dictator, Franco decided to switch the clocks to match those in Nazi Germany, a move that has persisted into the present day.

Many attribute this change to forming current Spanish culture. For one, Spaniards are creatures of the night, not eating dinner until 10 p.m. or later on most nights. Theoretically, this could be because the late sunsets don't happen until around that time. Also, some argue that Spain's long workday is another direct effect of the time change, with days starting around 8 a.m. and ending around 8 p.m. (with a hefty 2 hour lunch break in between, of course). Then of course, there is the issue that Spain's stock market opens and closes earlier than most of its European colleagues, probably not the best look for a country that has yet to truly rebound from its 2008 economic crisis.

There have been rumors that Spain hopes to abolish the Franco-era time change, but so far nothing official is in the books. Until then, we'll just have to enjoy our sunsets a little later and try to forget that we can thank Hitler for that late puesta del sol.