Saturday, December 20, 2008

Last day - time to see some footage!

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A picture says more than 1000 words. A film says it all!

Last day of the Kaos trip and it's time for Kaos little brother Dotinc Management to contribute with an update. With clients like the video bloging superstar Jon Olsson we learned that the masses don't like to read, they want the real thing!


Thursday, December 18, 2008

the adventure continues...

Day four and the team KAOS social experiment has proved at least one fact during our stay in Meribel. Relying only on good faith and optimism is not enough to secure a bluebird start to the day. Despite the low cloud, after dropping the groms in ski school, we set out on our first mission over the mountains and into Les Trois Valleys, Jimmy, The Suit and I optimistically armed with transceivers and camera equipment as we headed towards the morning lifts.
Because I knew exactly what was going on in Val Thorens and how unpleasant a Valley Rally can be for those not partaking in it, and therefore sober, we decided to head the in the other direction and made our way up the Saulire bubble to the top of the run down to Courcheval 1850. The run down through the clouds towards the top of the Verdon’s bubble up from Courcheval was a great way to start the day with the long, chopped up red run proving that the terrain on this side of the valley would be slightly more testing than that on the Meribel side.
As we picked our way down though the rollers and other natural features of the section of the hill dubbed “Supermario Land” smiles were aplenty. We were able to jump around and despite the continuing flat light; the decision to leave the Meribel Valley seemed to have been justified.
We decided to head around the resort to Courcheval 1650 and as we traversed around below the altiport it seemed as if the morning’s optimism was well placed as the sun peeked though the cloud to make its first appearance of the trip. Heading up as far as the lifts would take us looking for fresh lines and tree runs, team KAOS looked like we were going to be able to get the cover shots that Jimmy had brought his camera out for after all. Unfortunately the cloud cover was too persistent and as we headed into Courcheval 1650 the battle for visibility was once again being lost. Luckily not all our photographic efforts were fruitless as my follow-cam on James “shredding up blue runs” on the way down for lunch resulted in a quality You’ve Been Framed moment; watch this space for this on Youtube.
After the stereotypically French lunch we headed back out on to the mountain, still on the promise of blue sky, a promise that by this point in the day was a fading as quickly as the visibility. Indeed as we made our way back around to Courcheval 1850 the cloud had descended right down the visible distance was reduced to merely a few meters in any direction. And so after one final and sadly undefined run through “Supermario Land” we decided to call it a day and head back over to Meribel to meet up with the younger generation of family Knipe.
As we descended into the Meribel valley and dipped below the cloud, the temporary KAOS office came into view and beer o’clock came into sight, it became clear that the transceivers that Jimmy, Kris and I were wearing were a good idea after all as we all made it back to the office in one piece.
Tomorrow is our last full day out on the mountain so please join us in the sundance that we will be doing tonight!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

powder powder powder

So Day 3 of the Kaos experiment got off to a late start but a start nonetheless.

Family Knipe had put everyone else to shame and were up and out by 8.30 leaving the rest of us snoozing gently.

Opening the curtains revealed a foot of fresh had fallen overnight and the big snowflakes were still falling as Zinnia and I headed out leaving the boys in bed. Alas, the price to pay for the new snow was the minimal visibility so the orange lenses were in full force.

Bimbling along in the gloom past the ‘piste ferme’ sign, Zin and I discovered that the piste bashers had groomed the slope leaving the fresh powder on perfectly smooth piste. With no one around we did a few laps getting first tracks until we met the boys at the lift.

Deciding that the trees were the best place to be, we spent the next few hours lapping the lift line of a drag lift with a few cat tracks and hips to bust out the freestyling skills. or not as the case may be. The Suit is still convinced that he is the freestyling demon however his attempt at ‘sending it’ off a cat track lead to him going ass first as his legs couldn’t deal with the compression on the run in which lead brilliantly into a natural hip where the suit buried the nose of his board on landing leaving him looking like the (giant?) abominable snowman.

Dusting off the snow, team KAOS pulled up at the Rond Point for an overpriced panini. It being Wednesday (seasonaires day off) the place was packed with excitable young English kids all bright eyed at the sight of fresh powder and the thought of the liver abuse they are all bound to endure tonight. Ah, the life of a seasonaire…
One overly keen young lad was telling me how amazing the freestyle skiing (can I call it that?) was down by the lift, y’know the one in the Olympics where they bounce down the moguls and do a twister spread eagle thing? Yep the one that your dad gets confused with snowboarding. Anyway, I digress…the place also had free wifi meaning the Blackberrys and iphones were brought out so the office could check email in one hand and eat lunch with the other. You gotta love technology sometimes! As it turned out the world wasn’t going to end unless they were all replied to so they could wait until after riding.

After lunch we headed over to Meribel Mottaret picking up the boss and Team KAOS minishredder (Griffin) and all piled into the gondola that leads all the way to edge of the Meribel ski area. The doors opened revealing the conditions that hadn’t changed much since the morning…hmmm. The snow was much lighter up here but the flat light still played havoc with judging with the terrain, deciding that it was time for tea and cake we came down through Mottaret into Meribel village.

Arriving back into the village the day had taken it’s toll with team KAOS feeling the burn somewhat. However the mood soon changed on the sight of a band of 4 Frenchie’s (complete with drummer) dressed in purple spandex and matching wigs playing bad Tom Jones covers to a crowd of bemused 'rosbifs'.

Frenchies are a league unto themselves sometimes

Bring on the sunshine…


PS - In case you wondered how it should be done, check out the clip below from Nike ACG's Sweetspots film

Nike ACG Sweetspots Snowboard Teaser from Nike ACG on Vimeo

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

KAOS relocation - the gang come together

Today’s been the first full one spent on the hill for Zinnia, James, Kris and myself. Harry joined us late morning and of course Paul, Jillian, Griffin and Luella have been living it up since Saturday.

For Kris and myself it was a pretty easy start, the blackberry has its merits, so we left Zinnia and James dutifully going through their mails in the Taverne first thing. Kris’ mood was transformed from yesterday thanks to a waxed snowboard – a happy suit.

Paul, Jillian, Kris and I spent the morning getting some mileage in. The link to Val Thorens and Mont Velais are both shut but the upside of it being so early in the season is there are barely any others competing for piste or patches of fresh (yeah there still is plenty to play with) wherever we head. Kris has decided he’s on follow cam duty so he’s been keeping hot on our heels but seems to spend more time filming himself riding. I gave it a go but retired pretty much instantly after some less than favorable reviews from the gang. I’ll keep to stills later in the week…

Knipey’s turned into even more of a powder hunting machine since I last rode with him – he’s after every bit of pow he can track down. There are more than enough rocks once you venture further afield but it keeps it interesting. Kris did a good job of spotting a line for us earlier so I owe him one now…

We linked up with Zinnia, James and Harry for lunch on the fly – Harry’s been with On The Piste helping run the University groups they had in Val T last week… and it shows. The poor guy looked a shadow of his former self when we caught up with him, sporting face paint and a haunted stare that said much about the antics he’d seen (and probably participated in) over the last week or so. All healthy stuff, I’m sure.

So, with the full complement of the senior party complete we chowed down on door-stop wedges of bread complete with ‘steak’ (forgive the editor’s cynicism but we are in France and monsiour le cow can ‘oft be found with a mane and a bigger nose over here) and enough cheese for a raclette. Fires duely stoked we set off again minus the suit who spent the better part of the afternoon wheeling and dealing on behalf of his clients – what a pro, always on call.

We hit a few of the same runs as this morning but the novelty of being able to play on our own terms, without a comp to get to or a film to shoot is yet to wear off: we’re cruising on our own schedule and it rocks. Kris and James are definitely the most tech freestylers/jibbers, although Kris comes up with stories of floated 3s continually that we’re yet to see. Funny that they’re normally told with a snowy hat perched precariously on his head – concussion can do the funniest things.

In all seriousness though, this is our chance to improve our freestyle safe from the stares of pros so we’re all getting involved without fear of ridicule beyond the wider group. Zinnia’s learned some flat land tricks and had a coaching session on how to pop from James this morning. She’s also taking on the universally labelled ‘punter kickers’ switch before stomping her 180s – next stop the TTR me thinks. James is showing off his butter skills and has been nose and trail pressing ‘til his heart’s content; he’s also been the most adventurous in picking a line through the off-piste. Harry’s been going at mach-3 all day and put us all to shame in putting in the styliest ally-oops in a naturally shaped pipe we found late afternoon. Jillian’s efforts in said pipe were hampered by her attempted front-flip stalling mid-way in the proceeding off-piste: the superman flip may need a bit more work but I dare say none of us here are qualified to give her the tuition she needs. Jillian will just have to stick to the 540 mutes until she’s found the right take-off I guess.

They’ve started shaping their park here much to our collective joy and so there will be more visits there this week, but we managed to play on the small kickers (if you can even call them that) and there was the odd boardslide on a box or two. However, the coolest feature we’ve found is a quarter-pipe with a curved box sitting on the top. The run in is super steep but the coping’s probably 12ft up so it’s more than enough to keep us entertained. First in (what a champ, we didn’t even have to ask) was James who over-cooked it and a few moments later was seen digging himself out of the powder behind the box. 10 out of 10 for commitment Bobby. Harry was next up: shortening his run-in by approximately 2 metres his eyes must have been as wide as saucers as he was spat out of the QP at a jaunty angle and fortunate that he went just wide of the box. I totally ruined my effort by claiming it at the end, but having never been able to put anything of worth down in the park I was happy just to rotate 180 and stall on the coping. I think the acrobatics of James and Harry tempered the other’s need for speed but there were some sweet air to fakies on display.

The suit joined us late in the day. He’d been riding by himself for an hour or so and had endured a close encounter with a skier that ended up pretty unpleasant for all concerned. Kris was well and truly had by some Frenchie who fortunately ended up worse off. Kris is sporting a cut lip but the guy who collected him apparently covered the front of his jacket in claret and properly opened up his nose. He (monsieur bansai) also has to endure an angry mob who were none to pleased with what they had seen – the less fun side of being on the hill.

Anyways, we’re all back in the chalet enjoying some sofa time and sampling Knipey’s playlist. There’s a rumour of profiteroles for pudding tonight, sweet. Here’s to more great days on the hill.

And so begins the KAOS experiment…

It’s 6:30 am in Gatwick departure lounge:

Kris [aka Suit] is savouring every last sip of his giant sized starbucks coffee – who knows when he will next have a ‘proper’ coffee?

James, having blagged his way through check-in after a late arrival to the airport [no surprise there], had not been so lucky in blagging his entire wash bag contents through Secuirty, and thus currently sits complaining about ‘The System’.

After two wrong attempts at entering my pin number into the Gatwick ATM, I am putting in some acute early morning brain work before my third and alas final attempt at the pin entry.

Jimmy sits bleary eyed whilst seriously questioning his decision to pull an all nighter

The plane journey itself is thankfully non-eventful, except for the sheer disgust from Suit at the quality of the complimentary coffee courtesy of British Airways. ‘You can see the bottom of the cup through the coffee – I think it might even be tea’. Subsequently the said beverage was returned and the in-flight questionnaire received a notch in the ‘unsatisfactory’ box.

With all of us experienced flyers on the London – Geneva route, we were in shock as the view from the plane showed miles and miles of snow-covered landscape. It had not been a myth – the reports of snow dumps across the Alpes were true.
It was going to be a good week in the new KAOS office…

An easy transfer with the Cool Bus, fully equipped with its makeshift dvd system. So in standard KAOS routine, we settled into some snowboard films (film of choice: DC Mountain Lab] questionably enhanced by the running commentary from James and Suit.

Chalet Epena – base camp for the week, and Paul had not been lying when he’d said it was ‘pimp’. Still no time to dwell – the mountain was calling.
Donning our Nike ACG attire [the boys in matching outfits - clear evidence of a lack of pre-trip outfit consultation] we headed to the central lift station in search of our ski legs – and of course the boss.

Ski pass and steeze in check, Team KAOS were in business. Well not quite…Suit was dragging his feet [and board] behind. It was fast becoming apparent that it was not Suit’s day. Where to start….the coffee [or rather lack of], the unbelievable pain in his feet [‘trying wearing ski boots’ – the unsympathetic response from the skier], the board [unwaxed and generally sh*t] and the hunger [the unsatisfactory British Airways coffee had also been accompanied by a somewhat substandard ham and cheese roll]

However an intricate extraction of the inner sole of Suit’s boots, an overpriced lunch (the sterling:euro conversion has not been kind to us humble tourists) and 3 hours of playing on the empty snow covered pistes later, and we were all strongly in favour of this office relocation malarky.

Team KAOS returned uninjured to basecamp where we were reunited with Family Knipe and a tempting lemon drizzle cake. Jimmy [making an example of the rest of us] dutifully took himself and laptop in search of internet access. It just so happened that the only place offering this service free of charge was La Taverne – a good English Apres Ski Bar…

The rest of us settled down with Griffin and Luella to watch ‘Surf’s Up’ – justifying to ourselves that watching a film centred around penguins surfing and featuring cameos from Kelly Slater and Rob Machado was essentially ‘industry’ related.

Wined and dined, it was an early night for the KAOS team in preparation for tomorrow’s exploration of the Meribel terrain. Here’s hoping the stiffness doesn’t set in over night. An altogether successful Monday at the KAOS office


Oh and in case you were wondering…after a week of repping a few hundred university students in Val Thorens, Mr Quartermain (aka Harry) is missing in action.

Monday, December 15, 2008

KAOS Relocates to Meribel (….well, for one week anyway)

It's been snowing like the bejezzuz and the KAOS team has scored a good deal on a 10 person chalet in Meribel. So Knipey’s unlocked the chains binding us all to the KAOS London office and we're outta here for this week.

WE'RE calling it an office relocation to Meribel. Now, before YOU say 'that sounds like a jolly and an outrageously indulgent office Christmas party', then please note…our relocation will be something of a social experiment.

KAOS theory is that any office team can work from the mountains for a week and not skip a beat. And that’s with your team actually enjoying themselves and not being holed up in the chalet all day banging away on the laptop.

So we're gonna test that theory and tell you all about the result right here, this week. We'll be blogging daily our experience and also writing a feature article on our antics. Hopefully our experience will inspire more bosses to take their teams away meaning not only more enthused staff but also more punters getting out there helping the ski and snowboard economy to keep ticking.

The KAOS Crew:

1. Paul and Jillian Knipe – The two directors of KAOS have been the advance party. Heading out on Saturday 13th before everyone else arrives Monday. In tow, the two KAOS groms (in photo), Griffin and Luella. (Jillian and Paul’s kids!!). To make the trip, the groms have had to wag the last two days of school for the year (renamed ‘sick days’ as far as OFSTED is concerned).
Paul will be equipped with a Lib Tech Banana, Laptop, LG mobile for calls and Blackberry for emails.

2. Jimmy Goodrich – Equipped with ski’s, Dan Wakeham Head pro model snowboard, laptop and Blackberry.
Since joining KAOS about four years ago, Jimmy has been on more ski press and filming shoots than you can shake a stick at. As a skier, he’s outnumbered in the KAOS office and has taken some stick that he can’t board. In addition to continuing to run all the sports marketing and PR missions for KAOS, this week Jimmy will be bringing his snowboard. How much time he spends standing sideways will be interesting.

3. Zinnia Higson – Equipped with new Head snowboard (courtesy of Xavier), Laptop and LG mobile phone.
Zinnia has been trying to convince us she’s crap at snowboarding since joining KAOS three years ago. However, she’s managed to ride across some of the gnarliest back-country in Europe earlier this year on the Nike ACG Document press trip so she must be pretty handy. Expect to see male testosterone at work egging Zinnia on to hit kickers and get some major air-time in memory of all the LG Air Bag hits she took when managing that project. Work wise this week, Zinnia will have to keep up with all the developments on LG and manage some team back and forth for Nike ACG. Note: Dan Wakeham had some great results in Breckenridge this weekend so things looking good for his Olympic lead-up.

4. James Dalziel – Equipped with Volkel board, Laptop and mobile.
For a Brit with a job, James has spent far too much time on the snow. His youth and boarding skills combined should leave the rest of us behind particularly in the park. I’ve found James to be a great park teacher as he carries the motto of his major PR brand, Nike. ‘see that rail….just do it’. This week, James will probably be launching a couple more Nike ACG Sweetspots to the European media and updating us all on the research he’s been doing for a new client.

5. Kristoffer Hansson – Equipped with one or more of his quiver of boards, laptop and Blackberry.
Kris is the MD of Dot. Inc, one of KAOS’ partner companies. Now Kris is the ‘coulda been champion’ of the group. He genuinely can snowboard like a pro as he tries to keep up with all his clients like Hampus Mosesson, Markus Kellar and the new kids like Eiki and Halidor Helgasson. The downside to Kris’ snowboarding is that he still thinks he can do all the moves he could when he was ten years younger and a few pounds lighter. Also, being the ultimate deal maker, he never has the blackberry far from his ear or his fingertips. He has been known to restrict his time on snow chasing deals for his clients. So it will be interesting to see how Kris fits work with pleasure this week.

6. Harry Quartermain: Equipped with at this stage unknown brand of skis, LG mobile and laptop.
Harry is the newest recruit to the KAOS team and was instrumental in producing the LG Air Bag tour all over the country and at the LG Freeze. He has been working last week on a project in Val Thoren so his journey to the KAOS chalet involves him bunging on a pair of skis. Harry could be busy working on organizing an LG sales incentive trip to Bardoneccia this week so we’ll see how much slope time he fits in. Harry has been very quiet about his skiing skills in the office but rumor has it he can handle things pretty well on snow.

Pre-week stats
- Skiers total 4
- Boarders total 5
- Proficiency Expert: 3 (Jimmy, James, Kris)
- Proficiency Intermediate: (Paul, Jillian, Zinnia, Griffin)
- Proficiency Beginner: 1 (Luella)
- Proficiency unknown: 1 (Harry)

The snow report;
It has been snowing a lot here over the past weeks so there is plenty of cover. Hardly anyone is in resort but there are limited lifts running so the piste seems reasonably busy regardless.

Chalet Epena;
We have amazing chalet hosts – Zara and Coops who will no doubt look after us a treat. Ski Basics have looked after us so far and they seem like a great company with some very nice chalets. Check them out at . The cool bus is doing the transfers from Geneva and have done the business so far so google those guys as well.
The 'ability to do any work' outlook;
There is no internet in the chalet and no free hook-ups in the vicinity so that’s an interesting start. A couple a bars nearby have internet so expect us to be logging on whilst downing a pint or two in the evening. Blackberrys could come in handy.

That's about it so away we go…….

Monday, December 01, 2008

Danny has a bit of a spill

It seems the inventer of the Mega Ramp Danny Way has had a few problems with his landing and busted a couple of bones in his back. Hoping he gets back to it soon.
Copy this link and there's a film that makes your eyes water!!