Category Archives: Sports

Heli-skiing with CMH at Galena – Best Skiing EVER!!

#1 On my Bucket List: Heli-Skiing

For the last few years the number one on my bucket list was to go heli-skiing.  And boy oh boy was that fun.  Towards the end of last year, one of my new EO forum buddies got a last minute opportunity to go heli-skiing with CMH at their Galena lodge.  I could not let this change pass, so I booked a spot!

Can't stop smiling on top of the mountain at Gelena

Me and Cam having the time of our lives

I fell in love with skiing the first time I tried it.  Growing up in South Africa we rarely even saw snow, in fact I was 18 years old before I saw it for the first time.  After skiing in Europe for a few years we came to Fernie three years ago, here we learned to ski all over again, properly this time.  With the abundance of fresh snow in Fernie, we quickly became even more addicted to skiing, this time in powder.

Heaven must be close to Galena

It was the most amazing 7 days of skiing I have ever had.  Galena is known for steep tree skiing, and we were not disappointed.  We had some great conditions, got some time in the alpine and loads of powder.  Even with limited fresh snow, the terrain is so big that we made fresh tracks almost every run.

On top of the world - Heaven in Gelena

The first amazing day, looking out over an inversion. Heaven on top of the world at Galena

The whole operation from when they picked us up in the small town of Trout Lake was exceptionally well run.  The staff go out of their way to make your time as enjoyable as possible, I even got a plate of tomatoes with dinner every night. Jason, Cam’s buddie who also went, made this great video about this trip:

Heli-skiing – check! No wait…

Bucket Lists are supposed to be filled with ‘once in a lifetime’ activities.  That’s the mindset I had when convincing myself to spend the money to go heli-skiing.  Instead of being able to tick heli-skiing off the list, I now find myself even more eager to go again.  The floating sensation when making tracks in fresh powder is like nothing else I have ever experienced.  With the heli you get to do it with every run for an entire week.

Now I need to make sure I am in better shape for the next once in a lifetime heli-skiing trip.  Thanks for inviting me Cam, it was amazing!

What is on your bucket list, and when are you going to do it?

Soldier Field – Home of the Chicago Bears

Soldier Field is a prominent landmark in down town Chicago.  It is on the area known as the museum campus, next to the Field Museum, the aquarium and planetarium.  So ever since my first visit to Chicago last year I have been eager go watch the Bears play a game there.

The stadium was build 1922 and is named Soldier Field as memorial to soldiers who have died in wars.  Soldier Field is the oldest stadium in NFL and the second smallest with a capacity of only 61 500 – about the same as Ellis Park.  It was amazing to think that even with a capacity crowd it was only about half of what I was apart of the day before at ‘The Big House’.

Picture of the modern steel renovations inside the classic roman collumns

The Spaceship has landed inside Soldiers Field

It was remodeled extensively in the early 2000.  From the outside is look a little like a spaceship landed in side some Roman or Greek ruins.  How it got to be like that is a funny story, here is how some of the tour guides tell it.  When they wanted to build a new stadium they could not get approval to knock the old one down since it was a national monument or something like that.  So they build the new stadium inside the old one.  But once it was completed the monument status was revoked.  Which meant they could now actually build anything they want, but it was to late of course.

line of scrumache from my seat at Soldier Field

I had a great view of the action from my seat at Soldier Field.

NFL is predated by collage football by several decades, and is a big commercial machine, with advertising and sponsorships everywhere, a stark contrast to college football.  There were pre-game fireworks and a half time show by a local college marching band.

Panorama of empty Soldier Field

View of the empty Soldier Field from the behind to goal post

Over all it was a great experience at Soldier Field.  The Bears clearly have a very passionate following in Chicago; you see Bears flags everywhere. The game might be completely different then rugby but people here are every bit as passionate about their team as we are about the Bulls back home.

The Big House

Last weekend I had the chance to attend my first collage football game.  It was one of the most amazing sporting experiences I have ever had.  Another Starter League student suggested I go watch a game at The Big House.

Jet flying over The Big House!

Four fighter Jets did flyovers before the game!

The Big House is the nickname for Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  Home to the football team of the University of Michigan.  It is the biggest sport stadium in the US, with an official capacity of 109 901.  At Saturdays game a few new records were set, highest ever attendance – 115 109 and most consecutive games with more than 100 000 attendance – 245.

The original stadium was build back in 1927 with a capacity of 82 000. Even today after much remodeling the seats are still just benches with no arm or back rests, which allows them to get more people in. Not that it matters much, as I must have only sat down for less than 10% of the time on Saturday.

Panorama of the all yellow Big House!

Panorama view from my seat at The Big House!

The energy in the stadium was electric, at a level equal to a Springboks vs. All Blacks or Lions test match, which is insane if you consider that this was only a collage football game.  The Wolverines, name of the football team, played their first game back in 1879.

It was also very apparent how ‘commercial’ free the day was compared to other sports.  There was no advertising on the field or inside the stadium and no ads were played on the two giant scoreboards.  It was actually very refreshing!

View of 'The Big House' just before the teams arrive

The Crowd eagerly awaiting the teams arrival on the field.

Before the game there were four fighter jets doing multiple flyovers, and there was a big blimp floating around.  Walking up to the stadium it looked like most people had been spending the day with something on the braai and a beer in hand waiting for the game to begin.

The game was tense, but the home team managed to pull through in the end.  The marching bands of both teams performed before, at half time and after the game.  If you ever find yourself in Michigan during football season make sure to go to game at The Big House. Here is a little preview:

Comerica Park

The city of Detroit recently went bankrupt.  So I was really keen to visit it and see what it looks like.  Detroit is a 6-hour train ride from Chicago, and home to the Detroit Tigers baseball team.

The Tigers had a great season last year, winning the American League, but they lost to the San Francisco Giants in the World Series.  So far this year, they have been playing well, leading their division by a few games.

Outside the main gate of Comerica Park, there are Tigers everywhere!

Outside the main gate of Comerica Park, there are Tigers everywhere!

Comerica Park was built in the late nineties, the first game was played there on 11 April 2000, against the Seattle Mariners.  The Stadium only cost an estimated $300 million to built. From what I saw, I think that was money well spent.  The city of Detroit has been going backwards for the last few decades, and real estate prices have naturally suffered.

One of the exhibitions depicting a decade in the Tigers history

One of the exhibitions depicting a decade in the Tigers history

So as part of an effort to help rejuvenate the Downtown of the city in the late 1990s’, Comerica Park and Ford Field was constructed in the heart of Detroit.  Ford Field is an indoor American Football field, right across the street form Comerica Park, and is the home of Detroit Lions.

Comerica Park, was well designed, and is extremely spectator and specifically kid friendly.  There is a host of off field activities to keep the entire family occupied.  The game we went to turned into a real classic.

Sun setting on the scoreboard, its was a perfect afternoon for baseball

Sun setting on the scoreboard, its was a perfect afternoon for baseball

The Tigers went into the lead very early, but then lost momentum when one of their players was ejected from the game.  This allowed the Kansas City Royals to come back into the game. The game was all tied in the middle of the 9th innings.

Then up stepped Miguel Cabrera, one of the Star players in the Tigers team.  The crowd was getting really tense.  But the All-Star did not disappoint and hit the ball out of the park very close to our seat in the right field.  Everybody went crazy!

Panorame from our right field seats at Comerica park

Panorame from our right field seats at Comerica park

It was a perfect night for baseball!   After the game, there was an entertaining fireworks display.  The sold out Comerica Park had a fantastic atmosphere!  The Tigers colours have a lot of orange in them, which reminded me of the Free State Cheetahs.

All in all it was just about a perfect summers Saturday at Comerica Park, with great weather, a capacity crowd, and a tense but victorious game for the home team.  I am sure the locals would be forgiven for forgetting about the cities problems on such a picture perfect occasion.

Fireworks display with the scoreboard in the background at Comerica Park

Fireworks display with the scoreboard in the background at Comerica Park

Miller Park

Miller Park is one of the few ballparks in Major League baseball with a retractable roof.  Miller Park is in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which is only a one and a half hour train ride from Chicago.  I took a trip there last Sunday to watch the Milwaukee Brewers play the Washington Nationals.

Miller Park, Milwaukee

View from our seats at Miller Park, while an Elvis impersonator signs the American anthem

The stadium is very impressive and there was a real carnival atmosphere.  There was loads of entertainment for kids and they even handed out free bobble head figures.  The games was also very interesting;  the Brewers looked really clueless early on, making errors and it looked like their heads were on a different planet.  But around the 5th innings things started to change and they managed to come back and win it in the end.

View of one side of the retractable roof from our seats

View of one side of the retractable roof

What is interesting is that the stadium was funded through taxpayers’ money, by adding an additional sales tax in the surrounding counties.  This additional tax will run until about 2017 to recoup the money, more than 20 years after it started.

1957 Braves World Series Champions, Braves have since moved to Atlanta

The 1957 Milwaukee Braves, the only World Series Champion team Milwaukee have ever had, they have since moved to Atlanta

The cost for the stadium is estimated to have been around $400 million.  Which sounds like a bargain compared to the $1,5 billion that was spent on the new Yankees Stadium in New York, which does not even have a roof.  And holds only few thousand people more than Miller Park.

Great view from outside Miller Park

The view at the stadium from outside, with the free bobble head figure they handed out on the day.

The Brewers now play in the National League but was part of the America League prior to the 1998 season.  The Brewers have never won the World Series, although the Braves, now in Atlanta, won the World Series in 1957 when they were still in Milwaukee.

After the game

After the crowd has gone

It was great fun doing a daytrip to Milwaukee and seeing a baseball game at Miller Park.  The only hiccup was a delay on train back to Chicago in the evening, when another train hit somebody that was trespassing on the train tracks. So we were delayed for a few hours.