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How to get the most out of a women’s ski camp

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As a sport, skiing is struggling to maintain a toehold, with the number of skiers falling to 6.8 million in 2016-17 from 7.3 million 20 years ago, according to a survey from the National Ski Area Association.

What remains stable is the women’s share, which hovers around 40 per cent. And women’s visibility is rising in the industry’s upper ranks. In 2017, the NSAA and National Ski Patrol both appointed their first female leaders. Women-specific gear, long an afterthought, has taken off to the point that the overall bestselling ski in America since the 2015-16 season has been a women’s model, Blizzard’s Black Pearl.

Shelly Wedge, a ski instructor at the Women’s Intermediate-Advanced Ski Camp at the Alta Lodge, leads participants in ski yoga before they head to the slopes at the Alta Ski Area in Utah, Jan. 21, 2018. Three days of concentrated instruction at Alta, near Salt Lake City, provided lessons in skiing the steeps, and a glimpse into why so many women seem to be flocking to these camps.
Shelly Wedge, a ski instructor at the Women’s Intermediate-Advanced Ski Camp at the Alta Lodge, leads participants in ski yoga before they head to the slopes at the Alta Ski Area in Utah, Jan. 21, 2018. Three days of concentrated instruction at Alta, near Salt Lake City, provided lessons in skiing the steeps, and a glimpse into why so many women seem to be flocking to these camps.  (Kim Raff / The New York Times)

Most resorts now also provide women-only instruction. “It’s something that’s increased significantly over the past few years,” said Wendy Clinch, 63, who runs The Ski Diva, the leading online community for female skiers. “If you don’t have it, you’re kind of in the dust.”

The Bentley of the many clinics, lessons and camps offered throughout North America is the women’s program run by the Alta Lodge, in Utah — the all-inclusive fee for the 2018-19 camps starts at $2,815 (U.S.) per person for three days and four nights.

Here are some lessons gleaned from a session for intermediate-advanced skiers held in January 2018.

Show up early

With 15 hours of instruction packed into three days, the camp is up and running quickly. It’s a good idea to show up one or even two days ahead to get used to the altitude (the lodge is at 8,530 feet and Alta peaks at 10,550) and find your ski legs, especially if you haven’t been on snow in the season yet. Women used to skiing in the Midwest or Northeast must also factor in the Wasatch’s fluffier snow and steeper slopes — Alta’s expert runs are much more demanding, on average, than expert ones in New York or Vermont, and that’s true of much of the West.

You don’t have to fork over for a rental car or an on-slope lodge during these extra days, either: Hotels and Airbnbs abound in Cottonwood Heights, at the base of the mountain. I booked a room in the valley, and for two days I used Lyft to ski at Alta and neighbouring Snowbird.

Forget your own skis

Camps tend to include high-end rentals, which at Alta you can get at the Deep Powder House store next door. This makes it easy to find gear best suited to your skill level and skiing style, as well as the changing conditions. There was not much fresh snow when I arrived in Utah, so I rented skis with a relatively narrow waist and a good edge hold that would provide decent grip on sketchy, hard-packed slopes. After Alta was hit with 23 inches of powder, I switched to skis with a wider waist for better flotation.

Another benefit for women in their 50s and up is getting guidance on how to get the most of the modern-shaped skis, which behave differently from the long, narrow planks of yore.

As for boots, they are the most critical piece of equipment and a necessary investment — “date your skis, marry your boots,” as the saying goes. If you don’t already own a pair, the camp is a good time to take the plunge because you can fine-tune the fit as much as necessary.

Find your limits — and go beyond them

Upon signing up, campers generally fill in forms about their skiing level and physical condition to help the instructors create cohesive groups. At the Alta camp, the head instructor, Jen Scott, 43, placed me in the upper-level group, which was both flattering and scary because I tend to underestimate my abilities. This is a common problem among women (men have the opposite one), and it affects your skiing technique since the sport requires decisiveness and confidence. At Alta, the main imperative throughout was to make the campers adopt an aggressive “athletic stance” — leaning forward into the fall line, shins pressing against the boots’ tongue to apply pressure on the ski tips. That affects not just your posture but your frame of mind: go out there and get it!

Be ready for painful revelations

Video reviews are an integral part of the instruction plan at many camps. Two or three times a day, the Alta instructors film students as they execute specific drills, then review the footage over lunch or dinner. The process helps make adjustments, but it’s also sobering: It turns out that for decades I had lived in blissful ignorance of the fact that my butt sticks out when linking turns on steep terrain. It’s one thing to have a vague idea of what you look like skiing; it’s quite another to watch yourself while a professional dissects your every move. For the many type As who tend to turn up at the Alta camp, video review can be a kick in the pants.

Meet kindred spirits

Camps forge a unique camaraderie that is especially valuable since a common complaint among female skiers is the difficulty of finding peers with whom to hit the slopes. A unique feature of the Alta Lodge experience is that students and instructors share meals and a roof, providing plenty of opportunities to talk shop, exchange tips and stories, and make plans for yet more trips. Many women sign up for next year as soon as the camp is over — tellingly, I was one of just six newcomers out of 29 participants.

“Yes, I know it’s kinda pricey, but I’m addicted to the friends I made there,” said Sally Shwartz, 59, from Providence, Rhode Island. “I’m looking forward to catching up with them next year. It’s more than just instruction at this point for me.”

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Travel & Escape

Why your hotel mattress feels like heaven (and how to bring that feeling home)

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(NC) Choosing the right mattress is a long-term investment in your health and well-being. To make a good choice for your home, take a cue from luxury hotel-room beds, which are designed to support the sound sleep of tens of thousands of guests, 365 nights a year.

“When we’re shopping for a mattress, we do lab testing, identify the best materials, bring in multiple mattress samples and have our associates test them,” explains David Rizzo, who works for Marriott International. “We ask for ratings on comfort level, firmness, body support and movement disruption. It takes 12 to 18 months just to research and select materials.”

Here, he shares his tips to pick the perfect mattress for your best sleep:

Understand your needs. People have different food and exercise preferences, as well as different sleep cycles. So, it’s no surprise that everyone has unique mattress preferences. Not sure whether a firm or a soft mattress is better? Rizzo says the best gauge is to ask yourself, “Do I wake up with aches and pains?” If the answer is no, you’re golden.

Foam versus spring. All mattresses have a core that is made up foam or innersprings or a combination of the two. Today’s foam-core mattresses contain memory foam — a material engineered by NASA to keep astronauts comfortable in their seats. It’s special because it retains or “remembers” its shape, yielding to pressure from the sleeper’s body, then bouncing back once the pressure is removed.

An innerspring mattress has an encased array of springs with individual coils that are connected by a single helical wire. This wire creates continuous movement across the coil that minimizes disruption if the mattress is disturbed, such as by a restless sleeper. According to Rizzo, the innerspring is “bouncier.”

Temperature preference. Consider how warm or cool you like to sleep, and factor in the construction of the mattress to find one with a temperature that suits you. The air space engineered into an innerspring mattress promotes ventilation, which some people find keeps them pleasantly cool. To accomplish the same purpose with a foam mattress (or the foam layer of an innerspring) it may be infused with metal, usually silver or copper, to help dissipate heat and humidity.

Need to test out the right mattress for your needs? Find the right fit during your next trip by booking your stay at marriott.com.

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Travel & Escape

How to make the most of summer travel

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(NC) One of the best parts of our short Canadian summers is the opportunity to enjoy them a little bit extra on long weekends. If you need ideas, check out these creative things to do whether you decide to stay in town or go away.

Do a dinner crawl. Pub crawls are fun for couples, friends and also families with older kids. For an exciting twist that stretches your dollars and lets you taste food from several spots before you get too full, try a dinner crawl. Eat apps at one restaurant, mains at another and dessert at another.

Go on a mini getaway. You don’t need to go very far to enjoy a vacation – exploring a Canadian city over a summer weekend is great way to treat yourself to a holiday. Whether it’s checking out the museums in Toronto or the parks in Vancouver, there’s something for everyone. For upgraded benefits, special experiences and the best rates guaranteed, join Marriott Bonvoy and book direct on Marriott.com.

Host a potluck. Perfect whether you’re staying at home or going to your cottage, gather friends and family together for some food and fun. A potluck is an easy and affordable way to host a big get-together and lets everyone try something new and swap recipes. Make the festivities extra special with a fireworks potluck, too – ask everyone to bring some fireworks or sparklers and put on a light show. Just be sure to follow local regulations for consumer fireworks.

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Travel & Escape

Lottoland: Here’s why Canadians love it!

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Lotteries have been in existence for many centuries now and it’s an open secret that most people enjoy playing a good lottery.

Asides from gauging your own luck, the thrill of playing, the anticipation of the results and the big wins every now and then is something most people look forward to. Since 1982, the lottery has been in Canada, but now there is a way to play both the Lotto and other international lotteries from Canada, all from the comfort of your home.

With Lottoland, all you need to do is register and get access to numerous international lotteries right from their website. The easy-to-use interface has all the information you need, and great amount of care has been taken to ensure that the online experience is similar—and even better—than if players were to visit each location personally.

The Powerball and Mega Millions lotteries are hitting record highs with their prize money, in what the organizers claim to be the largest jackpot in the history of the world. However, the U.S. has gambling laws that are state controlled and buying your ticket through an online broker can be considered gambling.

“No one except the lottery or their licensed retailers can sell a lottery ticket. No one. Not even us. No one. No, not even that website. Or that one,” Powerball’s website says.

Therefore, to stand a chance to win the $1.5 billion-dollar lottery jackpot it means you have to purchase your lottery tickets directly from a licensed retailer such as Lottoland.

Since 2013, Lottoland has been operating in Canada, rapidly growing in popularity amongst Canadians. Due to its easy of use and instant access to lotteries that were previously considered inaccessible—as Canadians had to travel all the way to the U.S. to purchase tickets in the past—Lottoland has attracted lots of visitors.

Currently, there about 8-million players on Lottoland, a figure that points to the reliability of the website.

One of the core values of Lottoland is transparency and that’s why a quick search on the website would show you a list of all of their winners. Recently, a Lottoland customer was awarded a world-record fee of $137 million CND.

Also, due to the incredibly slim chances of winning the grand prize not everyone would take home mega-dollar winnings, but there are substantial winnings every day.

Securing your information online is usually one important factor when registering on any platform and as the site explains, “Lottoland works very hard to verify your information.”

The site has a multi-verification process that will ensure that you confirm your identity and age before giving you a pay-out. However, in the rare case that a player has immediate luck and wins a lottery before completing the verification process, Lottoland will hold on to the winnings until they complete your verification.

While this might seem like a tedious process, it is very important as these safety features would ensure that your information wasn’t stolen and ultimately your winning routed to another account.

Lottoland is licensed with the National Supervisory Bodies For Lotteries in several countries such as the United Kingdom, Italy, Sweden, Ireland and Australia—where it is called a wagering license. Typically, most gaming companies don’t establish insurance companies as it entails that their activities have to be transparent and the must be highly reputable in the industry.

Nonetheless, Lottoland has no issues meeting up to these standards as they have established themselves as the only gaming sector company who has its own insurance company—an added advantage for new and existing users.

Lotteries aren’t the only games Canadians enjoy playing and Lottoland recognizes this by providing players with other types of gaming. As an industry leader, video designers of online games often make them their first choice when it comes to publishing their works.

Online games such as slots, blackjack, video poker, baccarat, keno, scratchoffs, roulette and many others are always on offer at the Lottoland Casino. There’s also the option of playing with a live dealer and a total of over 100 games.

Lottoland has received numerous rave reviews from its growing list of satisfied customer and their responsive customer service agents are always available to answer any questions users may have, along with solving challenges they may have encountered.

More and more Canadians are trooping to Lottoland in droves due to the unique experience of going to a casino without having to leave the comfort of their homes.

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