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Original Issue

The Surfer

Is there enough snow mass at Snowmass? Have you tried to book a
room at Vail to no avail? Worry no more. The Internet has turned
the slippery slope of planning a ski vacation from
double-black-diamond difficult to bunny-hill easy. Almost all
the sites below provide updates on snow conditions, lodging and
transportation while also offering excellent deals on gear. We,
however, have chosen to focus on the quirks of each.
True to its title, this site provides maps of virtually every ski
area in the world. You may be familiar with Aspen or Kitzbuhel,
but have you ever seen the layout at Faraya Mzaar, in Lebanon? Or
Glenshee, in Scotland?
Navigating moguls requires less nimbleness than surfing the
joint Web site of Ski, Skiing and Freeze magazines, on which
every story seems to link to five more. Ski bums, however, will
appreciate the longer features, such as a travel piece about
Switzerland, "In the Land of the Jungfrau," while rope-tow-level
schussers should click on "Top Ten Ski Schools."
Let's face it: You are never going to sit in a shark cage, coo
into Liz Hurley's ear or go heli-skiing. Accept that before you
log on to the coolest Alpine home page. The H2O guides shepherd
heli-skiing hellions to the peaks of Alaska's majestic Chugach
Range. For $500 a day, as one satisfied customer reports on the
site, "it's like being six years old again and romping through
"We decided to meet at 2 p.m.," writes the lovelorn mogul maven,
"at the top of Ram's Head. The wind was howling and cold, so the
10 minutes waiting for her was a bit painful...." For anyone who
has ever barked "Single!" while on a lift line, this site, which
provides a network for those seeking to date fellow skiers, is a
Our favorite underground site, Powder Hound, is maintained by
Hans (no last name given), a self-described Canadian ski bum.
His tips for avalanche prevention and for skiing "the heavenly
glades" (i.e., trees) are a must-click, as is his "X-treme
Wipeouts" link.
England's most popular ski Internet site is ideal for booking
trips to the Alps and Pyrenees. We especially enjoy the weekly
on-line poll. Last week's question was "Would you let your
daughter be a chalet girl?" One respondent replied, "No way....
Most seem to end up returning home in tears, with a bun in the
oven, put there by some slimy French ski bum." Across the pond,
it seems, avalanches are hardly the only danger.


But will we? Qualified or not, big-name former NFL coaches still
get the network rush

Last Thursday CBS Sports hired recently fired Saints coach Mike
Ditka as an NFL Today studio analyst. Ditka will earn $450,000
this year. There's something about a coach with a Super Bowl
ring that network executives can't resist. (Ditka, of course,
earned his as boss of the 1985 Bears.) Bill Walsh and George
Seifert, both former 49ers coaches, parlayed their rings into
studio gigs with NBC and CBS, respectively. Then someone
realized that each had the on-air charisma of salt.

Two-time Super Bowl victors Jimmy Johnson and Bill Parcells,
colorful sideline generals and retired from the Dolphins and the
Jets, respectively, were also rumored to be in the running for
studio gigs--as was the most recent Super Bowl winner-retiree,
the Rams' Dick Vermeil. While Vermeil was a terrific college
football analyst for ABC and CBS, the other two, like Ditka, got
mixed reviews in network stints. During his previous TV tour of
duty, as an analyst for NBC from '93 to '97, Ditka only
occasionally bared his pungent personality.

Last week Ditka eulogized his old Cowboys coach, Tom Landry, for
giving him "a second chance as a player and a first chance as a
coach." It would be refreshing to see Ditka and his brethren
follow the playbook of Landry, who never ventured into network
broadcasting. Unless you have something to say and are willing
to say it--as Jerry Glanville does for CBS--stay out of the
studio. Or become a reporter on the sideline. After all, that's
where you did your best work. --J.W.


Sunday's final round of the WGC Andersen Consulting World Match
Play tournament received a 5.7 preliminary Nielsen
rating--compared with a 4.2 for 1999's Tiger Woods-less final


Sunday's Raptors-Suns game, featuring the ballyhooed national TV
debut of Toronto forward Vince Carter, got a 3.3 preliminary
Nielsen--below the 3.6 season average.