Ski and snowboard hoods, an accessible snow play area, and uphiller warning lights. SKI AND SNOWBOARD HOODS The SAM editors had never seen a ski area use covers for skis and boards inside gondola cabins, but surely they exist somewhere other than the remote northern region of Japan’s main island where we found them at Aomori Springs Ski Resort. The cloth covers, available to grab at the loading area of the gondola, go over the ends of skis and boards to protect the windows inside the gondola cabin from getting scratched—and protect the other people in the cabin from getting bonked with a sharp ski or snowboard tip. These are especially useful if skis and boards are too fat for racks on the gondola door—or, as in this case, if there aren’t racks. Simple, practical, and clever. ACCESSIBLE SNOW PLAY AREA The SAM editors came across this snow play area while visiting Tazawako Ski Resort in the Tohoku region of Japan. It was a pop-up area covering a small footprint near the resort, but with big attention to detail. Upon arrival, you check in at a main tent where you are given a menu of snow play activities, such as booking a tent and fire pit where you can cook up pre-assembled s’mores, grilled cheese sandwiches, and sausages on a stick. Other activities include a trekking tour, snow rafting tours (a tube pulled behind a snowmobile), hourly glamping, or day glamping (bigger tent with chairs, cots, and a wood-burning stove). There is also a snow skate park and winter clothing to rent, from boots to one-piece snow suits. Or, for the ultimate experience, book a sauna tent where you heat up and then lay on a bamboo mat outside and repeat. UPHILLER WARNING LIGHTS Uphill travel at Snow King, Wyo., is very popular with the Jackson locals, but some uphillers were putting themselves in harm’s way while patrol was performing avalanche control. “We were having safety issues with people going up the mountain while we were preparing to throw bombs and either hiding in the trees, or being annoyed when they were turned around,” said GM Ryan Stanley. “It was taking the patrol much longer to get the job done as they had to chase uphill users around before they could be confident it was safe to commence mitigation work.” So, the operations team purchased two blue strobe lights online, mounted them on threaded pipe and installed one on a building and one on a wood pole, each on different sides of the base area; the lift ops team wired them up. The warning lights are turned on the night prior to avalanche control work to alert people that uphill travel is closed the following morning until the lights are turned off. Total cost was around $300.