Graham Bell & Ed Leigh answer your questions

Last week our Snow Club ambassadors Graham Bell and Ed Leigh visited Garmin’s UK office and answered questions that were sent in via our Facebook and Twitter pages. Here’s their responses.

What’s your next wacky challenge?

Ed- Visiting China to go behind the scenes to see how the Chinese have risen so quickly in the world of snowboarding. The last big challenge I did was going tandem on a motorbike to do a backflip 10m into a foam pit in the Czech Republic.

Should Snowboarding really be in the Olympics? 

The Olympic motto is higher, faster, longer so according to the rules Snowboard X and slalom should be. However according to NBC in the states the Halfpipe Finals were their 3rd biggest show in terms of ratings this year and they even panned American Idol on rivals Fox, so l think you can safely say halfpipe is here to stay. There is also a lot of talk about Slopestyle being added for 2014.

What do you do in the summer?

Ed- Living in New Zealand means that I’ve had no summer for 5 years, but when I get the chance I’ll treat myself to a surf. 
(They both love to chase the snow year round in places like Argentina, Chile and New Zealand).
After skiing all over the world, where do you prefer Europe or North America?

Europe for accessibility and off piste – the emphasis to mountain safety in Europe is given to the individual, which while making it more dangerous, teaches you to take responsibility for your own actions.
But if you’re talking unlimited budget Heli and cat skiing it would have to be North America – British Columbia and Alaska have the world’s lightest snow and it sticks to steeper mountains.

Have you ever been really lost?

Graham -Filming for High Altitude I got really lost on purpose to see if I could survive, I slept in a snow hole with nothing but what I was wearing – I was very cold and miserable!
Graham also spoke about how he got lost by over sleeping on a train when he was 11- bless!

What was your most frightening moment?

Graham -“Nothing compares to top level racing”, although since then, they have both horizontally abseiled between the two peaks of Double Cone in New Zealand, it's called a Tyrolean Traverse and it was 100m of rope between the peaks with a mile drop down.  We also tackled Speed Skiing, and Graham clocked 120mph!

Have you ever skied in fancy dress?

Graham – yes, and I have skied naked!
Ed- I had a white Evel Kneviel suit – It was made out of PVC so if you fell you didn’t stand a chance of stopping!

What do you consider an essential item on the slopes?

Good base layers – cotton under Gore Tex is like putting CD wheels on a Porsche
Avalanche transceiver – Goes on top of the base layer so it never comes off.
Garmin forerunner 310XT for piste or for backcountry the Oregon 450

What’s your favorite snack for the slopes?

Raisins and nuts are best for a quick hit of slow release energy, although we normally end up with a bounty! On a recent trip through British Columbia we had a 750 calorie flap jack and it tasted like pure syrup!

What’s your favorite type of lift?

6 man gondola!

What’s the longest distance you have ever covered?

Graham – 100 miles – cross country skiing in Greenland over 3 days!

What does a typical day on Ski Sunday involve for you Graham?

Wake early, course inspection, Camera run, commentate on race, post race interviews, voice over, drink!
Graham when is your next triathlon?

I haven’t actually done one this year however this year I did the London Marathon, The Henley Swim (a 2.2km swim) and the Etape du Tour (cycling), but my old shoulder injury is causing me some problems, but when that's fixed I will be competing again.

Where is the nicest place you have taken your family on holiday?
We went to Bad Klein Kirchheim in the Carinthian region of Austria for Franz Klammer’s 50th Birthday – we stayed in a great hotel and had a good time with all the other ex-racers!
What advice would you give young people in the UK?

Try it out indoors first, there are now 6 snow halls dotted around the UK, then get out to the Alps and enjoy it!

What do you fear most on the slopes?

Other people’s safety!  Especially if you are guiding or instructing a novice skier.

How do you relax?

Sauna and steam room!  Apres-ski

What other sports do you enjoy?

Graham- Cycling, running, swimming, canoeing, rowing, and I really want to learn kite-surfing.

How has/is your sport changing, how do you see it evolving?

Ed- The lifestyle and values of snowboarding used to be much more important than the sport. Snowboarding took its lead from skateboarding and surfing and to that end it was more about having fun than getting paid. If  anything the perceived skiers versus snowboarders battle helped push that ethos. But these days snowboarding is fast becoming a sport, we have athletes now and they get paid millions of dollars. I think the soul of snowboarding has diminished slightly but it will never die and that’s what makes it special now, you have to look for it.

Where in the world do you see snow sports becoming popular next?

Watch out for Russia! They are massively improving their ski resorts in time for the Winter Olympics in 2014!

What’s your latest personal ambition in your sport?

Ed- More touring and exploring on foot. You can now use splitboards, snowboards that split in half like touring  skis to access backcountry. This is great for places like Europe where heli, cat and snowmobile access is limited because it open’s up a huge area of the mountains.

What sporting feat impressed you the most at this year’s winter Olympics?

Shaun White’s Tomahawk or double cork trick in the halfpipe (Snowboarding) was incredible. It’s so difficult to do a trick like that without any formal gymnastic training and it showed in the number of very good riders who have been injured trying to perfect it.