Oz: Game Time

I believe I just encountered the most relaxed weekend of my semester here so far. My weekend consisted of a mix of homework and night adventures in Northbridge for some time away from my piles of work.

However, Sunday ended up being a great day to experience some Australian culture: I attended an Australian Football League game. Australian football/Aussie rules/footy is played on an oval field with a whopping 18 members per team trying to kick the oval-shaped ball between two tall goal posts. Players can kick, throw and run with the ball. My best way to describe it is a mix between American soccer and football.

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Apparently AFL is hugely popular in Western Australia specifically. It is usually more difficult to enjoy a sport while unaware of the rules, but I had a fantastic time spectating and rooting for the Fremantle Dockers, despite the rain that fell most of the time. On the bright side, we won! For some reason, I only had a slight idea of attending an Australian sporting event while here, and I am not sure why I did not make it more of a priority. I am so thankful that Murdoch University Village snatched some student-priced tickets!

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To end the night (and put off homework), my roommate and I enjoyed some churros and hot chocolate for dinner at San Churro, which is where I ate for my birthday. I was not planning on going out, but I knew that the next 10 school days would be a scramble trying to complete two projects and two papers before my next scheduled trip, so I thought I would treat myself. Can you guess where I am going next?

Park City, Utah Day 4: Foggy and Fun

I do not think we could have asked for a better last day of skiing. Dad and I absolutely nailed the first half of the day, revisiting some of our favorite runs and trying out some new trails. Every single trail we took was beautiful. The trails had a couple of inches of fresh powder on them, which is always ideal. I mentioned the first day how powder really makes your muscles work, because you have to keep a low center of gravity. An inch or two does not make you exert as much energy, and is really more of a nice, soft cushion. Don’t get me wrong, my thighs were on fire today as I bent up and down, working my way through the bumpy, un-groomed trails and occasional mogul field.

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I was in the middle of taking photos, so I told my dad to smile

Today was the weirdest mix of weather I have ever seen on a mountain. I have skied in snow, in fog and in clear skies. Today I saw almost all of that. For about three hours, we were under a gray sky, but the sun was still visible and it was warm. Dad and I were shocked and grateful that we even saw a hint of sun. During those hours, fog would roll in and roll out of the mountain.

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Fog on the mountain. Right from my phone.

Then, as the forecast predicted, snow started falling down on us. A lot of it. The snow was wet and heavy and it was a bit difficult for me to see, but that definitely did not slow me down. However, after lunch, the snow turned to rain. I do not think I have ever skied in rain before, but there is a first for everything! The rain made the snow heavy and I could notice the weight on my skis as I went up the lift. At this point, I was skiing without my goggles, which are horrible in overcast skies to begin with, and there was water trickling down from my helmet. I laughed to myself when a ski lift attendant told Dad and I that we are hardcore. Let’s just call it a low visibility, high fun day!

Dad and I made the last run count, as always, and we were satisfied with the day. We got a solid three days of skiing in, plus the first, and we could not be more pleased. As my dad said, “That’s all she wrote!”

Park City, Utah Day 3: Thoughts from a Chairlift

Another epic day out in Park City! Dad and I have been so fortunate with the killer conditions on the mountain.

As I said earlier, I often talk to and sing to myself while skiing. I also get into some pretty deep thought while on the chairlift, so I wanted to center my blog around a few of my thoughts. So, I guess we can call this, “Thoughts from a Chairlift.”

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Nature is Beautiful

As I look out into the horizon on a chair lift with a splendid view, I cannot but think how spectacular our world is. Just imagine looking out high above the ground to see rolling snow-covered hills. Or listening to birds chirp as you pass towering trees with snow delicately covering its green needles, with the trickle of a small stream in the background. Being in the mountains provides immaculate views any time of year.

Park City Attracts All

Park City may be one of the best ski resorts in America, and it definitely attracts all sorts of people. Besides welcoming people from all around the U.S., I have heard tons of British and/or Irish accents and other accents that are definitely from Europe. On top of that, I have heard Spanish and Asian languages around the mountain. It is so cool that so many different people end up here to ski.

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Practice May Not Always Make Perfect

I don’t know if I am just hard on myself, but my skills are not where I want them to be. I feel like I have plateaued with my skiing, and I think that is because I am too scared of falling and breaking myself that I don’t go for the quicker, sharper turns. My dad is the most eloquent skier I have ever seen, and I hope to be half as talented as he is.

I am Lucky

Well, I already knew this, but our accommodations here are insane. Instead of staying somewhere a drive from the mountain, we are staying at the Park City resort area, at the Grand Summit to be exact. Our hotel leads right out to a chairlift, so all we do in the morning is put on our gear, walk up 10 steps, walk 2o steps out the door and then take about 10 steps down, and we are on the mountain. Did I mention the outdoor heated pool, three hot tubs, sauna and steam room? Now this is “Life Elevated!”

Of course, I have many other thoughts, but I felt these were the most prominent. Three days of skiing down, one to go!

Park City, Utah Day 2: Fun in the Sun

Two is my favorite number for a reason. The second day here in Utah gave us more groomed snow and bright blue skies.

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Blue with a beautiful view

Dad and I explored new parts of the mountain. Yesterday we skied in the Canyons area of the resort, and today we stayed in the Park City area. Fun fact: These two different sections were actually separate at once, but Vail bought much of the area here and are in the multi-million dollar process of connecting several mountains together which may make Park City the number one ski resort in the world.

I really want to focus on two things here: the snow and the weather. As I mentioned, more trails were groomed, which gives a smoother surface. Un-groomed trails are basically trails with a blanket of untouched snow on it. I do enjoy un-groomed trails, as the snow is more forgiving and they really make your muscles work. Dad and I definitely got a workout today with all the fantastic trails we explored!

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Shredding

The largest difference between yesterday and today was the weather. It is amazing how much weather can affect my enjoyment on the mountain. Yesterday was overcast and snowed much of the day. The sky was completely gray, with the exception of a few times when clouds seemed to be parted by a bullet and a streak of blue was visible.  It was about ten degrees, but thankfully, there was no wind. Today was about the same temperature-wise, but the sun was shining bright and there was not a cloud in the sky. The birds were chirping and so was I! I’m serious, I talk and sing to myself as I ski down the mountain, and I am pretty sure everyone in earshot of me thinks I am insane.

Today is how a day on the mountain should be: fun and fast! I ended the second day in a way better place than I did the first day, and I am stoked that I get to head out in warmer weather tomorrow.

Park City, Utah: Day 1

Today was my first day of skiing in a whole year! Since I became a college student, my ability to hop in a car during the weekend and drive to the Poconos or Vermont to shred some trails has dwindled. I have been fortunate enough during my college breaks to go to Colorado twice with my dad, my uncle, who lives in the state, and my Pop Pop. However, this year, my uncle decided to take his family to Costa Rica, and my Pop Pop went along with my grandmother. So, my dad decided that we would try something new and fly out to Utah and ski in the infamous Park City.

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One of many view of one of many valleys from one of many gondolas

The first day of skiing started off a bit slow, as my dad was trying to find groomed trails. However, the area got dumped on over the last week, so there was not much grooming occurring. Apparently, the resort likes to groom alternating trails every third day so the snow quality is not tarnished. The snow was magnificent: powdery and plentiful.  The mountain is ginormous, so it is definitely easy to aim for one chair lift and find yourself in a completely different area. Dad and I found a few solid trails prior to lunch and our day went up from there.

After lunch, before exploring another part of a mountain, we discovered a fantastic run called “Boa” that really worked our legs and got us excited. There is nothing like carving through fresh snow and feeling the adrenaline rushing through my body, making me work hard to get the best form I can. Despite the fact that I almost froze to death, it turned into a pretty nice first day of skiing that made me eager to explore more of the mountain.

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Swimming in the outdoor heated pool with Dad

After skiing, I followed my dad into the heated outdoor pool and then into the hot tub. We then hopped in the sauna and ended our after-ski activities with the steam room. However, I did not last long in there, as the loud steamer, the low visibility and the overall feeling in the humid room made me feel it would be the last thing I see.

My first day of skiing was exciting, although I definitely was not as energetic due to the fact that I thought my toes were going to fall off. The second day of skiing here in Park City will not be much different temperature wise, so I am definitely going to put on more layers and prepare myself for the coldest weather I have probably ever skied in!