iPods and iTunes abound on Eaglecrest

Posted: Thursday, January 31, 2008

On powder days at Eaglecrest, skiers and riders scour the slopes - down the steepest runs and gullies, over rollers and through the trees, ending with groomers in the afternoon when muscles are spent. A hike along Pitman's ridge on sunny days offers a golden view of the islands and icefields surrounding Douglas Island. And more fresh powder.

Part of today's standard ski gear - along with waterproof outerwear, fleece underwear, wool socks, hat, goggles, gloves, beacon, shovel and probe - is an iPod or some other brand of digital music player hidden away in a pocket with headphone wires tucked under a beanie.

My friend Ashley says music inspires her to ride better. Her favorite tune for snowboarding is "Deep End" by Swollen Members because it "has a lot of flow to it," she said. She also named hip-hop artist Phonetic, from Sitka, as one of her favorite musicians to ride to.

"(Phonetic) puts me in the zone," she said. "When I listen to him, he's like singing in my ear, and he's telling me to hit this and to hit that and go fast. When I put headphones on, it makes me do that, and that's how I like to ride."

My daughter, Haley, listens to the French rock group Air, Modest Mouse and Cake on her iPod while snowboarding. She says the music helps take her mind off the details of riding so she can enjoy it better.

"It numbs your logic, so you do things that you're normally not comfortable doing," she said. "You're not thinking about the jump, you're thinking about the song, so (the jump) just kinda happens."

Her favorite is "Tiny Cities Made of Ashes" by Modest Mouse, because it takes her back to relaxing times, she said.

Skier Ben Brown has "an eclectic iPod," he said. "Everything from the Doors and the Beatles to Broadway show tunes, with some Frank Sinatra along the way." He named the Ramones as good music to ski to.

"There's really nothing better than listening to the Ramones, catching some air and going fast," he told me. "I mean, they're a good combination."

Dave Firmin has an iPod but doesn't take it to the mountain.

"I don't really listen to my iPod while I'm snowboarding, because I'm in my own little zone - in my own world already," he told me. "When I'm riding, I just ride. I don't need any music to pump me up."

Yarrow Bogart also prefers to go tuneless because he likes the natural sounds.

"I like to hear the things around me. The birds, the wind, the ice and snow moving. And I like to have communication with my fellow riders," he told me.

As more people get on the chairlift with music playing in their ears, there might be fewer conversations on the 12-minute ride to the top, but more opportunities to look around, spot a raven or eagle, see a porcupine sitting at the top of a tree or just breathe in the cold and listen to the quiet.

• Teri Tibbett is a musician, snowboarder and Eaglecrest board member. Her radio show, "The Global Edge," airs on Sundays at KRNN 102.7 and features world music.

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