25 November 2014 Southern California is online! Mountain High opens today, Snow Summit tomorrow, and Big Bear will spin ’em Friday. Lift tix top out at $45 for this early season opportunity…Oregon’s Mt. Bachelor opened yesterday with fabulous conditions…move north a bit and the story isn’t nearly as good at Crystal in Washington State; they’ve got snow but not enough and rain is on the way…move even further north and it’s just as bleak at Alyeska; the Alaskan resort has no snow at the base and temps are too warm for their small battalion of snow guns…but the good news is piling up at Alta and Snowbird, getting snow by the bucketfull; three feet in the past two days…Swain NY set to open Friday…a lot of northeast resorts looking for something to come of this predicted Thanksgiving storm; appears that Catskills, Berkshires, Southern VT will get the bulk of it, with potential for some of the Maine areas to cash in as well. It’s a wait and see…but this forecast is making a better picture for places like Ski Liberty and Whitetail in Southern Pennsy, as well as Maryland’s Wisp which is about the same latitude. Whitetail will open Friday…Virginia biggie Wintergreen aiming for Saturday; that appears to be quite doable if they get just a touch more cold weather…good news out of Vermont, Okemo may get their new six-pack up and running this weekend, which would be about three weeks ahead of their original projection…how about this: Ted Ligety is expected to train this week and may race next Sunday at Lake Louise with his surgically repaired hand in a splint. One thing about ski racers, they are a fearless bunch…New York’s Belleayre will not open Thursday, storm or no storm; they’ll open Friday and remain so until April.
At first glance the picture at Wisp, MD looks pretty bleak, but with these sizable whales and a bit more cold they could be ready to open any time.
24 November 2014 We take you to North Dakota for the first time in the (almost) 11 year history of this column, pleased to report that Huff Hills in Mandan opened on Saturday, earliest in their history and first time prior to Thanksgiving. They’ll reopen weekends until Christmas, then open daily for the season…Indiana’s Perfect North Slopes dropped the ropes this past weekend with about three-quarters open; this was the earliest in 35 years…kudos to all the small-but-mighty ski areas that have pushed for an early opening…in the Tahoe area, Heavenly and Northstar joined Boreal and Mt Rose in the open ranks this past weekend; they’ve been struggling with a nasty drought…early season much happier at Grand Targhee; opening weekend skiers and boarders enjoyed a 55″ base and yesterday they woke up to a half-foot of fresh…Tough news from the FIS World Cup circuit, bad hand injury had Mens GS Champ Ted Ligety in surgery; he’ll be out for an unspecified amount of time and no word yet if he’ll be up for the World Championships in Beaver Creek. With both Ligety and Aksel Lund Svindal out, they might as well just give the overall to Marcel Hirscher now…New York’s Peek’n’Peak turned their snowguns on over the weekend, that’s unusual as they tend to be more conservative…Ohio’s Boston Mills, Brandywine and Alpine Valley remain quiet, no word yet on opening day…Southern Pennsy’s Ski Liberty has piles of snow melting right now, it’s a sorry sight but no unusual for the Gettysburg area that more or less straddles the Mason-Dixon line…Arizona Snowbowl has scheduled the 28th as opening day; meanwhile Sunrise Park down by the Mogollon Rim opened with limited terrain this weekend…Taos will open on the 27th…Intrawest has announced that William Jensen has resigned as CEO for personal reasons, naming Thomas Marano to replace him, with Stratton pres Sky Foulkes promoted to COO.
Let’s hear it for Huff Hills, North Dakota!
21 November 2014 Utah’s Alta, Snowbird and Solitude all dropped the ropes today…Vermont’s southern giant Mount Snow opened today with trails from the summit plus stuff at Carinthia…Titus Mountain in New York State opening tomorrow, it’s their earliest in the history of the resort, and a shout out to our Canadian friends who can easily hit Titus and send me some Timbits…At least one eastern resort is playing it cool, that would be Bolton Valley VT, scheduling opening day for December 13 instead of riding the thermal roller coaster that is sure to come any day now. Stratton also conservative, but they do count on some sort of Thanksgiving business so they are calling for a November 26 opening…Mountain Creek NJ opening a hike-up terrain park tomorrow; might be worth checking out as they are also hosting the Hidden Valley Ski Patrol’s annual ski swap tomorrow. Some people might be scratching their heads right now, but you read it right. Hidden Valley (NJ — not Missouri) is closed for the forseeable future so the patrol has moved…Loon NH opened a bunch more terrain, they’ll have more tomorrow than they’ve had some years at Christmas time…Wildcat NH reopened today…Treetops joins a slew of other Michigan resorts open this weekend, however we’re seeing forecasts for temps in the 40s and drizzle…Peak Resorts IPO kicked off today with a price range midpoint of $10. The stock goes under the ticker SKIS and has a 25 day quiet period until December 16, lockup is 180 days. Shares opened at $9 and closed about a half a buck lower.
20 November 2014 with afternoon update Pacific NW areas opening ahead of schedule; Mission Ridge and Whistler-Blackcomb will open Saturday…the smaller Valley segment of Colorado’s Loveland opens tomorrow…everybody’s getting in on the early opening act; even venerable Aspen Mountain will open Saturday, five days ahead of schedule…NY metro area skiers gear up; Hunter just announced that they’ll spin the Kaatskill Flyer tomorrow at 0900, probably because Windham is now saying they’ll open. Not to be outdone, Belleayre opening Saturday…Vermont’s Bromley now scheduling Saturday as opening day, they’ll be open Sunday as well then close until Thanksgiving. Sugarbush, Stowe and Smuggs also opening Saturday…Bittersweet in Otsego, MI open now…Earlier report follows…New York’s Bristol Mountain; yesterday mentioned that they haven’t really benefitted from the snow in Buffalo, but the have been cranking it in the cold temps. Well apparently they’ve taken a cue from the closest city and blown a bunch of it — they’re opening the well known Rocket Run today, and they’re gonna stay open…Pennsy’s Blue Mountain has indeed announced that they’ll open for the weekend on Saturday at 8 am, it’s the earliest in their history…but they’ve been scooped for first in the commonwealth honors by Big Boulder, which will open a terrain park today at 3 pm…Wild Mountain Minnesota was first in the midwest to open, now they’re announcing 100% open, might be the first in the nation to do so…Reminder for any Down East Dickerers that Black Mountain of Maine will host its Second Annual Benefit Auction this Friday, November 21st, 2014 at the base lodge at 5:00pm…on Friday Michigan biggie Boyne Mountain will join sister resort Boyne Highlands in the open ranks…a couple of big biggies counting down the days; Oregon’s Mt Bachelor set to open next week, as is Wyoming’s ever popular Jackson Hole…fyi working right now to revamp this website a bit. We’ll be re-branding this news column on a new site, and turning Gondyline more toward vintage skiing information, memorabilia, history, old school, and most importantly, a place where you can share your memories.
19 November 2014 Well all that snow in Buffalo is having a residual effect on Holiday Valley; they’re gonna open Friday, a week ahead of schedule. This is quite the localized storm; Bristol is only 90 miles away but the sun is shining. Bristol is, of course, making snow right now to go with the light dusting they received overnight…Western readers and even some New Englanders pooh-pooh these areas, but past the Catskills they are really the biggest game in town until you get to Terry Peak in the Black Hills, which by the way will open December 6th. Right now they’re making snow and taking what the sky gives them, should be in very good shape by then…Arizona Snowbowl working on runs in the Hart Prairie and Sunset sections, plans to open on the 28th…a Denver based lodging consortium says winter bookings in western states are about 7% ahead of this time last year, backyard syndrome I suppose…in Vermont Sugarbush opens to the ticket buying public on Saturday. Jay Peak opening Friday for passholders…in Michigan it looks like Ski Brule may get its entire front side open sometime Friday or Saturday, planning to have the whole mountain open for Thanksgiving. With three feet of snow on the ground in some places, that may very well happen…in eastern Pennsy Blue Mountain has snowguns going like Ullr on steroids. They’re having a job fair Sunday at noon. Based on how their system is cranking, I wouldn’t be surprised if they do some sort of soft opening in the very near future…no smiling faces at Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard right now, the early season snow is mostly gone…Washington State Mt. Baker hosting its annual backcountry film festival on Saturday. As usual they do not have a scheduled opening day. They just wait patiently for the snow to come, knowing that when it does, they get absolutely pounded. I bet they’ll spin the lifts before Thanksgiving.
18 November 2014 Earlier this season I reported Bode Miller retired to raise racehorses, not entirely true, he’s going to compete in a few races and then in the world championships at Beaver Creek. Not sure how this will shake out since he’s now scheduled for back surgery; “He’s getting surgery in California with a doctor who specializes in endoscopic spine surgery,” says wife Morgan Miller, but intends to return to competition in time for Wengen in mid-January. Talk about a test, the Lauberhorn races are among the longest and most grueling on the schedule…Looks like Snowbird will open Friday, a day ahead of schedule…Jackson Hole will open the 27th…still snowing in parts of the east, and Killington is now pointing the guns on the Caper trail, barring a meltdown they will have Rams Head open for Thanksgiving…shout out to the nordies, the Noquemanon Trail Network in Marquette, MI has mid-season conditions including quite a few kilometers of groomed track and skate open, wow…intelligent news out of Nova Scotia, Anna Sperker was on a class trip at Ski Martock back in 2007, and on something called the Strawberry Run she collided with Harold Lownds. Long story short, Lownds got a separated shoulder and sued everybody for everything, including the cost of re-sanding his boat. (That’s not a misprint) Judge said no dice, you aren’t supposed to stop in the middle of the trail. I tell you the American legal system could learn a lesson about personal responsibility from our neighbors to the north…add Grand Targhee to the list of likely opens this coming Friday…let’s finish up the day with happy thoughts of Michigan. Call it “Two Peninsula Tuesday” if you want. First off, Boyne Mountain in Boyne City, Boyne Highlands and Nub’s Nob in Harbor Springs, also Ski Brule in Bessemer have all opened to some degree; those four will all open for regular season hours on Friday. All will have a bunch of trails, but the good news is for the nordies who are enjoying 100% of the XC terrain at Nub’s. Meanwhile, both Mt. Holly and Pine Knob in Clarkston have been open with a varied schedule. Two more resorts will add their names to the open rolls on Saturday, they would be Treetops in Gaylord and Caberfae in Cadillac. Both of those had been scheduled for the end of the month, but the falling snow and ringing phones prompted more immediate action. It’s all good!
Stock image of Treetops Resort, Gaylord Michigan. They’ll spin the lifts on Saturday.
17 November 2014 If I may borrow a line from Mean Gene Okerlund, “folks, talk about your action!” There’s been plenty of it this past weekend with resorts opening left and right. In addition to those mentioned here on Friday, we saw a few audibles called on Saturday…Montana’s Great Divide spun the lifts Saturday…Oregon’s iconic Timberline Lodge had the famous Palmer Chair spinning Saturday and Sunday, likely won’t spin again until the weekend…Mt. Hood Meadows had a small but very cool jib park operating while a foot of snow fell on the resort…in Michigan, Boyne Highlands did a soft opening yesterday, free skiing on the Heather slope off the MacGully chair; they closed again today, likely reopen next weekend…also in MI Mt. Holly surprised us by opening Saturday…another surprise Jiminy Peak Massachusetts did a soft opening yesterday, reduced pricing for a handful of trails, closed again today. Even though these are limited operations, still good to see and hopefully bodes well for the season proper…same deal in Wisconsin at Granite Peak near Wausau; they’ll reopen on the 22nd. Granite upgraded their Riblet Triple for the season, the old chair has been sold and installed at small but mighty Mt Pleasant of Edinboro, a 320′ family operation outside of Pittsburgh. It’s one of those little operations that is simply fantastic and an absolute treasure to have in the community. Prior to this — which they will call the Highlander’s Triple — Mt. Pleasant was limited to surface lifts…Okemo Vermont opened for the season yesterday, looks like they have top-to-bottom skiing on two routes…Pennsy’s Blue Mountain turned on the guns this weekend, they’re targeting November 28th…meanwhile in Colorado the good news continues; Arapahoe Basin gathered in a foot of new snow total over the weekend…Minnesota’s Lutsen Mountains opened over the weekend, lots of terrain and snow. Well maybe not “lots” but plenty for the crowds on hand. They shut down for the week, they will be reopening Thanksgiving week if not sooner…Speaking of Minnesota, Vail-owned Afton Alps also had a few runs open this weekend, they’re closed for the week and expect to re-open Friday or Saturday with 100% of their terrain ready. Yes it’s a small area but that’s still very cool…snowing in most of New York State today; Hunter talking of a Friday 21st opening…in Maine Sugarloaf is kicking off full-time operations for the season today; they were limited to weekends previously. And not a moment too soon; snowing quite a bit up there…couple of upsets on the World Cup circuit this weekend, sort of upsets, namely Mikaela Shiffrin and Marcel Hirscher did not win. Slovenian star Tina Maze took the women’s slalom in Levi on Saturday, while Norway’s Henrik Kristoffersen topped the men’s podium yesterday, edging Hirscher by a tenth of a second. Shiffrin finished a disappointing 11th…back to Montana, Pomerelle got over a foot and a half of snow this weekend, plans to open this coming Friday. They’ll be on a holiday & weekend only schedule until December 12th, which is a fairly intelligent way to proceed at this time…Mammoth California dropped the ropes this weekend and was rewarded with a mild dusting of fresh snow…snow keeps falling in Jackson Hole it’s gonna be some kind of season in those parts…optimistic for midwest…going to remain cautious regarding the northeast. Have had my heart broken too many times seeing top-to-bottom skiing in November, then skiing on grey snow in the rain by the end of December.
Mt. Holly in Michigan, showing off the snowmaking firepower they used to open this past weekend.
14 November 2014, with updates 1 & 2 Michigan’s Mt. Brighton set to open Sunday…bunch of hills in Wisconsin open this weekend, namely Little Switzerland, Sunburst Winter Sports Park and venerable Alpine Valley Resort over in Elkhorn…Adirondack biggies Gore and Whiteface announced that they will both open Sunday morning…Remember Steamboat filed a suit against the Visit Salt Lake tourism whatever? The Utahans kicked off an ad campaign this season for “Ski City USA,” and promptly got sued by Steamboat. At first I thought, well, they gotta be suing them because the slogan is so damn stupid and it makes the entire sport look idiotic. But no, it wasn’t that. Steamboat was suing them for infringement on their “Ski Town USA” trademark. Well it has just been settled, lawsuit dropped, no word on what the terms are other than Salt Lake City will make some sort of change to the ad campaign. This is like Salt Lake is saying, ok, if you drop your lawsuit we’ll stop smacking ourselves with hammers…Snow keeps falling at Arapahoe Basin and Loveland, 7″yesterday at the Basin and even more on the Mississippi side of the Divide…in Virginia Homestead Resort has turned the snowmakers loose…New Hampshire’s Loon Mountain has been blowing snow like gangbusters, somebody said, “why wait for Saturday!” so they cranked up their lifts this morning…temps dropping in the east means a bunch of ponds are being drained; in the Catskills Windham and Hunter have been going around-the-clock. Hunter still calling for opening the 21st…fiercely independent Plattekill isn’t going to make snow any time soon, but they have received some natural stuff and they’ve scheduled a job fair for November 29th. Platty is one of those places that may not have the best lifts or the best snowmaking or the fanciest lodge, but when it’s “on” and you ski it, you don’t miss any of those things. Plus, the beer is priced better…single adult ticket midweek at Breckenridge this season? Just $118. I know, you’re probably thinking, well that’s a two-day ticket with a discount. Nope, that’s one day. But take heart, they discount it all the way down to $108. for seniors…Killington has redoubled its efforts on the snow cannons and should be open to the K1 base tomorrow morning…and small but mighty Wild Mountain in Taylors Falls, MN will be 80% open this weekend. How about that!
Hunter Mountain, NY yesterday.
13 November 2014 Casper Wyoming residents with kids would do well to head to Casper College tonight, youth registration night for ski and board programs at local Hogadon Ski Area. Tonight’s event includes detailed explanations of the various programs available for all ages and abilities…If the season opener of Down East Dickering has inspired you to head to Maine and make some deals, I’d strongly suggest the second annual Black Mountain of Maine benefit auction next Friday the 21st, it’s definitely for a good cause (keeping the hill open) and the auction includes everything from a cord of wood to a lighted toilet seat…6″ fresh snow yesterday is enough to set the Lenawee lift spinning at Arapahoe Basin; now offering top-to-bottom with the addition of the Lenawee/Dercum’s route. If you’ve never been spacin’ at the Basin that is one of the greatest intermediate cruisers on the planet and it is simply wonderful. A-Basin has a reputation for experts only but I tell you that’s not the case…Canonsburg Ski and Ride near Grand Rapids MI turned on their snow guns around midnight this morning, earliest day in their history…Looks like two new lifts will be online at Crystal Mountain in the Pac NW; you may recall Chair 6 was obliterated by a patrol-triggered avalanche. Good thing they did it or people would’ve been killed in a slide. Anyway they also upgraded the Quicksilver lift…interesting news out of New Hampshire; Bretton Woods early season tix are just $19 now through December 19th…down the road at Loon the guns are back on and they will open Saturday…Western New York’s biggie Holiday Valley plans to fire up the snow guns on Monday, maybe sooner, targeting the 28th as opening day…down in eastern Pennsy new owners at Alpine Mountain are going to open an ice skating rink this winter, and once you get cold you can step into the newly rebuilt base lodge. More important than anything, I suppose, they will be re-opening the long shuttered bar in that lodge…nearby Camelback scheduled to open on the 28th…Stratton VT talking about opening on the 26th….Ragged Mountain NH looking at December 6th…FIS World Cup gearing up for slalom races in Levi Finland; women Saturday and men on Sunday…Ligonier Township PA supervisors have approved plans to renovate and reopen the lost ski area at Laurel Mountain, including a new lift. The Commonwealth will now put the project out to bid with hopes of reopening next season (2015-16)…mentioned the new chair at Summit at Snoqualmie at the Summit East section some time back, just found out it is one of those conveyor-loading things. I’m still not used to those contraptions…Powder Mountain Utah upgrading the Sundown double to a quad…Brian Head down south took out the Giant Steps triple and has put in a high speed quad…lines will be shorter this season at Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort, updating chair 2 from a double to a quad…Breckenridge Colorado has updated the very cool Colorado Super Chair to a six-pack…even bigger is the new lift at Beaver Creek which has updated the Centennial Express HSQ to chondola, alternating six-packs with 10-person gondy cabins.
12 November 2014 11″ fresh snow earlier this week at Jackson Hole…seems Aspen Skiing Co AKA SkiCo has some sort of fitness test required for all of its 1500+ on-mountain employees (lifties, patrollers, instructors, etc) and while this was causing a bit of alarm in the community, turns out it’s not so bad. Fewer than 1% have failed, all of whom did so for medical conditions…looks like Nordic Valley in Utah is back. Follow this if you can. Nordic Valley went out of business over a decade ago, then was re-launched as Wolf Mountain which ran along as a local hill with fabulous conditions for a few year. Then Wolf went out of business, now new owners are in and reverting to the Nordic Valley name. My problem with all this is that it’s an alpine ski area; I don’t think they’re offering much of anything for the nordies. Anyway they have a tremendous expansion plan, and have supposedly begun cutting trails…looking forward to the addition of Cherry Mountain to Utah’s offerings this season; if you missed the announcement it’s the Beehive State’s newest resort, about five minutes south of the Idaho border…did I mention Solitude will spin lifts beginning Friday?…down in Colorado Breckenridge going to try to reboot its season on Friday as well; they were set for this past weekend but the thermometer said machs nichts…Vail calling for the 21st…Northeast gearing up for the first real cold snap of the season, plus the Boston Ski Show to get people in the mood…or the temporary opening yesterday at Sugarloaf, they spun a lift I assume as some sort of test or soft opening, sent people up the hill, closed today, reopen Saturday…Sipapu New Mexico originally targeting Nov 15 opening, sorry to say not gonna happen….back to Maine, our Utah correspondent Bill O’Hara reminds me that the new season of the TV’s Down East Dickering kicks off tonight. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a combination spin-off of American Pickers and The Walking Dead…Salt Lake City tourism something or other keeps sending e-mails promoting Ski City which I of course read as Sin City since I never heard of Ski City. Why would I want to go to a city to ski? What happened to Ski Utah? This and more to be answered on tonight’s episode.
If you live in New England or the Rockies and you wonder why they bother to ski those modest hills in the midwest, this is why. Photo yesterday afternoon from Ski Brule on the Upper Peninsula.
11 November 2014 Salute to our Veterans today, we thank you for your service!…Seattle metro area skiers and riders looking forward to the annual Ski Dazzle event this weekend, it’s at the Century Link Field Event Center and kicks off Friday at 3:00 PM…news out of New York state is confirmation that Thunder Ridge will open this season. With the retirement of long time operators Mary and Bob Conklin, this was somewhat in doubt a couple months ago. Recently the property owners assembled a “group of returning managers and employees” and confirmed the area will open…news that will make you shake your head, FIS World Cup has banned skiing violinist Vanessa Mae for four years after finding that her qualification races for the Sochi Olympics were severely manipulated to give her the necessary points to qualify for the games. The “races” were organized by her manager and held in Krvavec Slovenia. The GS events were overseen by FIS officials who were either a) paid off b) incredibly stupid or c) intoxicated at the time, as the results included racers who never even participated. Mae competed for Olympic glory on behalf of Thailand based on her father’s citizenship…Ski Utah has announced that something called “The Mountain Accord” is being organized to bring the ski industry, government agencies, and the Save Our Canyons group together to discuss the One Wasatch plan, in which the ski industry hopes to interconnect a bunch of resorts to rival the European model of skiing from place to place. Not since the Potsdam Conference have we seen such rivals planning to meet and try to work out an agreement…Loon Mountain NH targeting Friday to kick off the season.
10 November 2014 Add California to the list of opens; Boreal got it going this weekend up in the Sierras thanks to some aggressive and creative snowmaking. Tough to do, as virtually the entire state has been in a drought situation. Same deal across the border at Mt Rose Nevada; open but limited terrain…word is Breckenridge postponed opening day…Season getting started, slowly, but starting. Anyone who can’t get to the early season white ribbons of death can get their fix at a screening of this year’s Warren Miller movie. Now I don’t normally hawk for Warren Miller Entertainment because, since the old man gave up control, the movies have been fairly lame. This year No Turning Back is a lot better than recent efforts. New Yorkers can get all sorts of goodies at showings sponsored by Swain Resort Thursday in Buffalo, Friday in Corning…the good news out of Wisconsin continues at Mt. Lacrosse; added a new Pisten Bully during the off-season, watch for a job fair coming up November 18 and 19…add Wildcat and Bretton Woods to the list of open areas; both spun lifts on Sunday. Wildcat’s opening is easily the most impressive thus far, I don’t care where you are coast to coast, they’re serving up good coverage on 2,000′ of continuous vertical, wow…and Wolf Creek Colorado opened with, uh, not much…back to New York State, attention ski bums, word is that Greek Peak is hiring. No job fair scheduled, but they’re looking for a LOT of bodies…Bristol and Hunter both had some snow. Hunter blowing more; they’re fighting the thermometer but still hoping to spin lifts on November 21st…Lutsen Minnesota scheduled to open Friday; planning to serve the 10th Mountain lift with novice and expert terrain. They’re also making snow on Moose and Ullr, hoping to open those by the 22nd…Stratton and Jay VT made snow this weekend…earn-your-turns enthusiasts in Jackson Hole are watching closely for a soon to be announced route change at Snow King. This is the “other” ski area in Jackson Hole, and it happens to be the one with the most popular AT uphill route….FIS World Cup headed to Levi Finland this weekend for slalom competition.
7 November 2014 White ribbons of death expanding, albeit slowly, at the few open areas…Loveland has added the Spillway section; may have more for the weekend…first snowfall in New York’s Catskills this week. Long time early opener Belleayre now operated by the Olympic Regional Somethingorother hopes to spin lifts on November 28th. Not too long ago they’d open a week before Thanksgiving; Belleayre benefits from having one of the highest base elevations in the northeast, little known factoid there…in Utah, Solitude says they’ll open Friday; Brighton and Alta/Bird will follow a few days later…Sugarloaf Maine got a nice blanket of natural snow, and they had the guns firing for a couple days this week. There were rumblings that they might join sister resort Sunday River by opening this weekend, but no further word out of the north woods…Still a few ski swaps going on; get on that google machine if you haven’t already marked your calendars. This is the best way to put kids on skis without spending a damn fortune. This weekend: NMX Sports in Santa Fe New Mexico; Cannonsburg up in Michigan; West Mountain New York; Pioneer Park Civic Center in Fairbanks Alaska; and in Osseo Minnesota at the Pioneer Midwest warehouse.
6 November 2014 Small but mighty Ski Brule in Michigan is scheduled to open tomorrow; it may just be a single rope and slope (depending on tonight’s snowmaking efforts) but hey it’s great news, and not that surprising as Brule is often first to open in Michigan…Reminder for east coasters, Albany Ski Show this weekend; Boston next…5″ of natural snow fell on much of Arizona Snow Bowl but it’s mostly melted off. The Flagstaff area sleeping giant is hoping to open by the end of the month…sometimes karma turns around and bites you right in the cheeks: 60-year-old Mark Leung of California sentenced yesterday to a year in prison and $160,000 in fines. Mr. Leung had been collecting workers comp at the expense of the US Postal Service since 1987 (!) when he claimed to sustain a work related injury. Since 1987 he’s been signing an annual certification that he’s been unable to work due to limited mobility and range of movement. Apparently this injury didn’t have the same affect on his skiing; Leung has been a passholder at Heavenly since 2007 where he regularly logged about 40 aggressive days a year on the slopes. Unfortunately for Leung this was a serious red flag for US District Court Judge John Mendez…back to the midwest, neighbors Blackjack Resort and Indianhead Mountain are merging; the new venture will be called Big Snow Resorts but I think they’re keeping the individual names. Plan is to run a complimentary shuttle so that skiers and riders can experience the whole shebang. Closest trails are about 3,000′ apart, however there is a road and a waterfall that make a connection difficult. Odd man out is Big Powderhorn which is down the street…great news from Norway Michigan, down by the Menominee River, Norway Mountain has new owners who are working to get it open for the first time in a couple years. Wonderful little upside-down ski area. Wonder if it’s important to the community? Judging by the steady stream of cars driving slowly up and down the road on weekends, the answer is a resounding YES…I tell you what these UP areas aren’t big, but they get the snow, the people are wonderful, and the skiing is fantastic.
5 November 2014 Season looks like it will get off to a good start in the Sierras; Mammoth got a foot of snow this weekend and has been blowing non stop since Saturday. They’re targeting November 13th, next weekend to open…down south, Bear Mountain and Mountain High both got a dusting of snow over the weekend, it made for pretty pictures but no real impact on ski season. Hot, dry weather set to return to Southern Cal…was also sort of a false start for winter up on Mt. Hood; raining at Timberline this morning and melting away the white stuff that was on the ground…better news in Colorado, where Keystone, Copper Mountain and Breckenridge are all scheduled to open this weekend…in New England, Loon is planning to spin lifts next weekend. We’ll keep you posted.
Mountain High in the San Gabriels got a bit of a tease this weekend.
4 November 2014 Neglected to mention yesterday that Sugar Mountain and Cataloochee opened with all that snow in North Carolina. Considering they both spun the lifts on Sunday, we have to call a tie for first-to-open. Cataloochee is often first in the east…Bit of a shake-up at SkiCo this week; that’s the company that runs the various mountains at Aspen. They’re changing their internal reporting structure a bit, which is odd if they are indeed “coming off of a fantastic year” as CEO Mike Kaplan says. I honestly wonder if Vail Resorts’ continued growth and the Boyne/Powdr agreement have them concerned. If not they probably should be…second area did open in the midwest this weekend, first in Wisconsin and that would be Trollhaugen which spun a chairlift and a rope tow on Sunday…ski swap this weekend at West Mountain in the southern Adirondacks.
Car Talk’s Tom Magliozzi — thanks for the laughter and memories!
3 November 2014 Finally getting things going in the northeast; both Killington VT and Sunday River open today, but we’ll give “first” honors to Maine because K-Mart is only open for passholders. Wear a costume and you can ski free at the Riv. They have some sort of white ribbon of death off the Locke Triple, while K-Mart has stuff in the old Glades area…Wildcat NH trying to get in on the act, firing up the snow guns over the weekend…and on the other side of the Presidential Range, Bretton Woods turned loose their snowmaking on Rangeview and Rosebrook Meadow trails…also in New Hampshire, Loon is blowing this morning…in Vermont Okemo and Sugarbush both made snow this weekend. Okemo just took delivery of their new chairs for that orange bubble six pack and is now targeting mid December for that lift…speaking of new lifts, Gore is working right now on the electricical for the new high speed quad…snow over the weekend in southern Utah at Brian Head…and snowing at Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard up on Lee Canyon Road…temps in the southwest are supposed to warm up this week, but it’s still fun to see…Loveland did open Saturday, latest opening for Denver’s closest-with-the-mostest in over 20 years…and Wild Mountain Minnesota did spin the chairlift on Saturday, kudos to this little area…Albany NY Ski Show coming up this weekend for New Yorkers.
31 October 2014 Happy Halloween! If you’re wondering, I like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups best. Also Baby Ruth bars, Chunky, and Pay Day. And if you remember Marathon Bars, aka Curly Wurly, you are definitely old school…Alright we’re calling first-in-the-midwest honors for Wild Mountain Minnesota, which is neither of those things but they are selling tickets and running a rope tow today, planning to add another and a chairlift tomorrow! Kudos to this bunch in Taylors Falls…NY metro areas skiers would do well to head to the Hanover NJ Marriott tonight for the annual New Jersey Ski Council Jamboree it’s a good time for all…NY metro area ski bums would do well to head to Belleayre tomorrow, job fair. And if you’re hung over from the jamboree and can’t drive that far tomorrow, another job fair at Tuxedo Ridge…speaking of Marathons, Seven Springs in western Pennsy has one tomorrow, making two laps around something, I guess adds up to that 26.2 miles you see all those stickers on cars. My sticker has the decimal point in a different spot. A couple spots over, actually…back to New York, Swain has a job fair this weekend…Former US Ski Team racers Erik Schlopy and Kristina Koznick are among the class of 2014 headed for enshrinement in the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame in Ishpeming, Michigan…western ski bums have options tomorrow in Tahoe; a job fair for Heavenly and Kirkwood 9 am tomorrow at Heavenly in South Lake Tahoe; another for Boreal and Soda Springs at 10 am in the main cafeteria at Boreal.
Kudos to Wild Mountain in Taylors Falls, MN first ski area east of the Rockies to open, putting the final touches on the slope this morning.
30 October 2014 Huge news out of the southwest today, first of all Arizona Snow Bowl in Flagstaff is being sold to James Coleman of Durango Colorado, who is heading up a group of investors from Arizona, Colorado, and Texas. Snow Bowl has been owned for years by Eric Borowsky, who waged a terrific battle to get snowmaking on his mountains. Borowsky hasn’t disclosed the terms of the deal….the other huge deal also involves Mr. Coleman, he’s purchasing Durango Mountain Resort, better known as Purgatory, lock stock and barrel. Coleman already has an interest in Sipapu and recently Pajarito in New Mexico. Sounds like this guy is the Les Otten of the southwest!…Guns are blazing on the Home Run trail; Loveland scheduled to open Saturday…sad news out of Nowheresville, Pennsylvania; Ski Denton appears to be shutting its doors…better news elsewhere in Pennsy, resorts everywhere are hiring right now, from a handfull needed at tiny Spring Mountain near Philly to Shawnee in the Poconos, which aims to take on 500 seasonal employees…Jose Canseco accidentally shot himself in the hand yesterday. I once saw that guy launch a baseball into the left field upper deck at Yankee Stadium and he didn’t even break a sweat…snow likely tomorrow late morning in the Tahoe region…big snow possible this weekend in West Virginia; Ski The East’s Tim Kelley is calling for a couple feet at places like Canaan Valley and says the storm could swing into the Canadian maritimes. Prior to all this it might put some white stuff down in Michigan; we’ll be watching for sure…Jackson Hole ski and snowboard swap this past weekend netted $160,000….the late Sarah Burke has been immortalized in the Canadian Ski Hall of Fame, deservedly so. You may recall she died in a halfpipe training accident in Park City in 2012.
Ski Denton, Pennsylvania, closing down. Problem is really the location; it’s not the end of the world, but you can see it from there.
29 October 2014 Clearly the biggest news of the day is a “strategic brand partnership” between Powdr Corp and Boyne Resorts which will co-market their combined 17 — potentially 18 — ski resorts. They haven’t said exactly what this is, other than provide “brand partners” with a “diverse platform” to reach consumers blah blah blah whatever the hell that means. No word yet if this will include cross-promotions on passes, which is really the way to combat the Vail Resorts juggernaut. Boyne Resorts includes Big Sky Montana, Boyne Mountain and Boyne Highlands in Michigan, Brighton Utah, Crystal Mountain and The Summit at Snoqualmie in Washington, Loon Mountain New Hampshire, Sugarloaf and Sunday River in Maine, and Cypress Mountain in British Columbia. Powdr’s portfolio includes Boreal Mountain Resort and Soda Springs in California, Copper Mountain Colorado, Killington and Pico Peak in Vermont, Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort Nevada, Gorgoza Park Utah, and Mount Bachelor Oregon. The potential 18th resort is Snowbird Utah, which is a wildcard since Powdr’s Cumming family just bought a stake from Dick Bass, but separately from Powdr…speaking of those resorts, Big Sky has a new trail map this year with additional terrain…in Oregon, Timberline has hinted that it may spin the Palmer chair this weekend if the weather cooperates…Colorado biggies Keystone and Copper are both delaying their openings due to warm temps; they were scheduled to open this weekend but that’s not gonna happen. Loveland meanwhile has been running and gunning but still needs a lot more cover on the Home Run trail to get their white ribbon of death open. That leaves just A-Basin as the only open area that I know of, serving up a single run off the Black Mountain Express.
Gorgoza Park, Utah; a tubing/learning area that is part of the new Powdr/Boyne cooperative effort.
28 October 2014 Pleased to report that Heavenly and Squaw Valley had the snow guns on Sunday and yesterday…Neglected to mention that Utah is getting a new ski resort this season, called Cherry Peak and it’s up near Richmond. A pair of triple chairs, a 500′ magic carpet, complete snowmaking, 20 trails, a brand new lodge, and they plan to open mid November! Good to see this; we’ll have more info soon…Longines has announced Mikaela Shiffrin as its newest “Ambassador of Elegance” which would be heady stuff for most 19-year-olds but I guess with Olympic medals and two slalom globes, no big deal. If you recall not to long ago the incredible back-and-forth between Lindsey Vonn and Maria Hoefl-Riesch, I think that the torch has likely been passed to Shiffrin and Anna Fenninger, and I still don’t understand why Americans only care about ski racing every four years. Think about it, skiers put their very lives on the line to bomb down a frozen mountain on four edges of steel at 70 miles an hour. Meanwhile, NFL football players go bananas celebrating a meaningless fourth quarter fumble recovery and people gobble it up and pay hundreds and hundreds of dollars to see it. Makes no sense…and I want to point out that this is the time of year for discount cards and tickets, you’ve got to do your homework and figure out which ones are good and which ones aren’t. The one I recommend above all others is the $20 Colorado GEMS Card which enables you to get two-for-one adult tickets, one time each at Arapahoe Basin, Cooper (not Copper; Coop is better), Eldora, Granby Ranch, Loveland, Monarch, Powderhorn and Sunlight Mountain Resort. The card is $20 and has a couple blackout days. But listen, think about this, you pay $20, get the card, go to A-Basin and plink down another $69 and you get two tickets. So you’ve paid less than $45 per adult ticket, and that includes the cost of the card. Next day you go over the pass and get two adult tickets at Loveland for $63, about $32 per adult. Now obviously you need to recuperate, so the next day you motor down to Leadville and grab a pair of tickets for $48 at fantastic Ski Cooper (natural snow only; better than sweet butter). Now if you’ve done the math you see that this is three days of incredible skiing for two people at a TOTAL cost of $200 for lift tickets. For goodness sakes it’s a fraction of the cost of Vail, Breckenridge etc. and none of the parking headaches, no shuttle bus rides, no $15 cheeseburgers, and the only place you might wait on line is briefly at the bottom of A-Basin. We are not paid to endorse this in any way, and do not receive a commission if you go buy it. It’s listed here — and it’s the only card you’ll see listed here — because it’s that good of a deal. Think about it, reasonable air flights to Denver, rental car, cheap condo rental in Frisco, and the Gems Card, and that dream of skiing in Colorado can be a reality. Here’s the link.
27 October 2014 The FIS World Cup season got underway this past weekend on the glacier at Soelden. USA wunderkind Mikaela Shiffrin got her first GS victory, albeit sharing the top spot with Anna Fenninger — they finished dead even. News yesterday I guess is the un-shred-like 10th place finish for Ted Ligety; top spot went to * yawn * Marcel Hirscher. With Svindal out, they could just give the overall to Hirscher now and save a lot of time…guns are back on at Loveland…NY metro biggie Hunter Mountain has scheduled November 21st as opening day; somebody ought to tell the weatherman about this. Regardless, Hunter installed a couple new magic carpets in the off-season at Hunter One, which is great for the tots…troubled Lost Valley in Auburn Maine is definitely “on” for the season, thanks to local volunteers and fundraising efforts. Work crews covered the slopes this past weekend…Squaw Valley working to thin some forested areas of 5,000 dead or diseased trees; will add a bit to the skiable acreage count.
24 October 2014 Canada’s important Ottawa Ski & Snowboard Show is scheduled for this weekend, it’s absolutely free and a wonderful show, I encourage anyone who can to get out and go, support the city and show the bad guys we won’t cower in our homes…Northeast resorts trying to get things going, but not gonna happen with temps set to soar into the 70s next week…Bromley Vermont claiming they’re gonna start laying down snow November 1st, will believe it when I see it. Regardless, they’ll be targeting November 28th to open…northern New York ski bums can head to small but mighty Titus Mountain in Malone for a job fair Nov 6th. Titus added a new carpet lift this year, that’ll make it easier to teach the tots…Snowbird Utah serving up free sightseeing tram rides this weekend with a Utah Food Bank donation, which is very cool. Some hardcore skiers pooh pooh sightseeing lift rides; personally I enjoy them — makes the upcoming season seem just a little bit closer. But for some reason I don’t like aerial rides that aren’t at ski areas, they scare the crap out of me. Go figure…interesting pass deal being served up in the banana belt; North Carolina Ski Areas Association offering “Gold Cards” for $820 a pop, they give the cardholder unlimited, unrestricted access to all of the state’s resorts, including Cataloochee, Sapphire Valley, Beech, Appalachian, Wolf Ridge and Sugar. For what it’s worth, Cataloochee is often first to open in the east…news from FIS World Cup has the annual Serge Lange Trophy going to Overall Ladies Champ Anna Fenninger. The trophy is awarded each season by the International Association of Ski Journalists. Well deserved for Ms. Fenninger! Meanwhile here in the USA the headlines are going to Lindsey Vonn, who just sort of announced that she’s targeting her return to action for the December 5 Super G event in Lake Louise…and they get the season underway this weekend with Giant Slalom competition on the Rettenback Glacier in Soelden; ladies Saturday, men Sunday. Look for Mikaela Shiffrin to improve on her 6th place last year, and of course Ted Ligety is always tough here.
23 October 2014 Dustings across parts of the country yesterday, put a little bit of snow from here to there, Anthony Lakes in the Pacific Northwest, also on Sugarloaf in the northeast. Not enough to ski on, but certainly pretty to look at and hopefully a harbinger…back to the northwest, calling all ski bums, Summit at Snoqualmie has a job fair scheduled for Nov 1st; Baker and Crystal plus a few others are still hiring…one of the best unsung ski areas in the nation may be facing its final season, this is Skiland near Fairbanks Alaska. Owners’ lease is up in April, and a Canadian mining company wants to dig it up. This would be a real tragedy; Skiland is one of the few places you can buy a lift ticket during the day to ski, then another at night to view the aurora borealis. Awesome place; here’s a video worth watching…
Skiland, near Fairbanks Alaska may be in its final season.
21 October 2014 It’s official, New Mexico’s troubled Pajarito Mountain is being taken over by the people who run Sipapu. Pajarito has been run by the Los Alamos Ski Club, and they’re still in the picture, but the day-to-day ops and the assets will be transferred to the Sipapu group. They’re saying Pajarito will return to a full schedule, opening Thanksgiving Day…Western New Yorkers would do well to head to the annual Buffalo Ski Show this weekend in Williamsville, kicks off Friday evening…the on-again, off-again IPO from Peak Resorts is back on again according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Peak, which got started with Hidden Valley Resort in Missouri, now operates a smattering of midwest resorts including Paoli Peaks Indiana, and northeast biggies Mount Snow VT, plus Attitash and Wildcat in New Hampshire. Same company that brought Crotched NH back from the dead. The IPO is said to be a $100 million offering, 80% of which will be used to pay down debt. The planned NASDAQ symbol is SKIS…Summit County ski bums capable of fogging a mirror can probably find something that pays Thursday at the Summit County Winter Job Fair in Silverthorne; Breckenridge Resort, Keystone Resort and the usual transportation and hospitality service companies will be on hand. Breck and Keystone are going to have another round of recruiting at the Keystone Conference Center November 13th. But if you want to work at a real cool ski area, head to Leadville November 1st for a job fair at Ski Cooper; ok to use me as a reference.
20 October 2014 Indeed A-Basin dropped the ropes on the High Noon route Friday; they’re still open and busy as of this morning…over the divide at Loveland it’s just too warm and the guns have been off…news last weekend that President Obama creating San Gabriel Mountains National Monument in southern California, giving that land full protection under National Park Service guidelines. Question came up in skiing circles, will this have any impact on Mt. Baldy Ski & Snowboard Resort? Answer is yes and no, the monument boundaries are planned to leave Baldy outside the park, which means fewer future headaches and Baldy will continue to lease land from the US Forest Service. Impact apparently will be on any future expansion; the Monument is said to pretty much eliminate any chance of developing the “back side” of the area. Incidentally there are a couple of operational ski areas at National Parks; Badger Pass in Yosemite and Hurricane Ridge in Olympic come to mind. In the east, Boston Mills and Brandywine are both within Cuyahoga National Park…major news from the FIS World Cup circuit, apparently 2-time overall mens champ Aksel Lund Svindal will be out for the season, following an achilles tendon injury while playing soccer…Aspen Skiing Co keeps losing out in a lawsuit against their former Sr VP of hospitality Paul Cherrett; seems SkiCo loaned Cherrett half a million bucks and they want it re-paid. Cherrett is going through a chapter 7 bankruptcy and SkiCo is among those holding the bag…speaking of SkiCo, they’ve announced that the guns will come on November 1st at Aspen Highlands in the Golden Horn and Thunderbowl areas, but only for race training. Highlands won’t open to the public until December 13th, along with Buttermilk/Tie Hack. SkiCo season gets underway at Aspen Mountain (Ajax) and Snowmass on November 27th…midwest biggie Lutsen Mountains has announced November 15-16 as targeted opening weekend, that’s good news…I don’t usually hawk about pricing deals, not a patsy for the ski resorts, but a good deal is a good deal, and in this case bears mention. Pico Peak Vermont (Peak…a little personal missive there) has announced midweek deals for the upcoming season, $24 tix for ladies on Thursdays, $24 tix for men on Fridays, and $24 tix for anyone 50+ on Mondays. You can’t beat that…word from Ski Area Management magazine is that pre season ski trip bookings for Colorado are up about seven percent.
16 October 2014 It’s right upon us, Arapahoe Basin has announced that they will spin the lifts and drop the ropes on High Noon tomorrow (Friday 17th); mayhem is sure to ensue but hey it’s great to get the season started for real…Mixed news out of Vermont concerning the troubled Ascutney Resort, which has been shuttered for a couple years; local town has agreed to purchase the land and prevent development on the tract. Upside is they’re gonna reserve it totally for open space and recreation; downside is they say nothing about alpine skiing in their plans.
15 October 2014 New Mexico’s Sipapu cranked up the snowguns yesterday morning…elsewhere in the Land of Enchantment, Taos announced a Thanksgiving opening…Popular northwest ski swap run Anthony Lakes Mountain Resort, Oregon, benefits the patrol squad, this Saturday at the Riviera Activity Center…move farther north and west and we’ve got a couple on Saturday in Alaska. Nordies will delight in the Nordic Ski Assn of Anchorage swap at the Kincaid Bunker and the Eagle River Nordic swap at Beach Lake Chalet…Alyeska area nordies take heart, there is an open house scheduled Sunday by the Girdwood Nordic Ski Club with waxing demos, drinks and snacks, and I believe a contest on who has the loosest spandex. Just kidding about that last part…popular northeast ski swap Mt. Peter New York, Sunday at the mountain…amateur racing news, move by the USSA to standardize dimensions for U14 and U16 age classes this season took parents a bit by surprise. Seems it took manufacturers and distributors by surprise as well; turns out there isn’t a lot of gear available that conforms to the new dimensions. So they’ve backpedalled a bit and said, ok, this season the U14 and U16 athletes can use other stuff, except at selected championship type events. Even if you aren’t a racer, it’s worth a look to see the requirements; FIS World Cup standards are on the list…back to Oregon, Hoodoo and Mt. Bachelor are pointing to opening on Thanksgiving, assuming Mother Nature agrees…plans to build an indoor ski facility in Grand Prairie, Texas along with a Hard Rock hotel, indoor luge track and heaven knows what else. The ski slope proper is slated to be 300′ vert and 1200′ long…and now a bit more down-to-earth, we’re pleased to announce that a brand new ski area, albeit a nordic area, is opening on hallowed ground in Sugar Hill NH. New but very old Ski Hearth Farm will offer 23 km of XC trails and 5k of snowshoeing trails, along with rentals, grooming, and a “base” lodge. I say hallowed ground because this village has been home to countless ski hall of famers: Back in 1929 Katherine Peckett built the first ski school in the USA on property adjacent to Ski Hearth Farm, and hired Sig Buchmayr to run it. Enzo Sarafini lived nearby — he’s the guy who published America’s first popular ski magazine. Roland Peabody lived at Peckett’s; he developed the Cannon Mountain aerial tramway and ran the mountain until his death. He also put on the first ski jump demonstrations at Madison Square Garden and was PSIA Badge #1. The Ski Hearth Farm itself was originally owned by none less than Sel Hannah, 1930s national champion who was later involved in the design and development of some 250 ski areas in North America. Not to mention Sel’s daughter Joan Hannah, who won Olympic bronze in Chamonix. Sel Hannah is believed to be the only ski area developer to be shot at, allegedly by Mary “Mountain Maw” Warner who was losing her property to eminent domain during construction of Canaan Valley West Virginia. (Hannah won Mary over by helping her dig potatoes). And finally, the Ski Hearth Farm was owned by the Bode Miller family for a few years. Well I left a couple out, but I suppose that’s enough of the bonus history lesson for today. Cool stuff. The US Ski Hall of Fame is in Ishpeming, Michigan, and the New England Ski Museum is right at the base of Cannon Mountain. If you’ve read this far today, you gotta add those to your short list.
Sel’s Choice, Okemo, Vermont
14 October 2014 News out of Europe has some blaming the GoPro mounted on his helmet for the severity of Formula One great Michael Schumacher’s head injury. I suppose it’s possible, although GoPro says not. Still, their stock sank about 10 percent yesterday…tiny Alpine Mountain in the Poconos is in the national news, as it’s right in the middle of the search area for Eric Frein, the lunatic who ambushed troopers at the police barracks in Blooming Grove, Pennsylvania. The area is a warren of steep ravines, heavy woods, abandoned resort properties and vacation homes just north of Stroudsburg. Meanwhile, Alpine Mountain is targeting the second Saturday in December to kick off the season…speaking of odd news out of the east, the producers of Jersey Shore are casting for a new series to be set at a ski resort, featuring the same formula as the booze-and-sex fueled summertime hit. No word yet on which resort…Snowshoe West Virginia has announced Nov 26 as likely opening day; they often hit that but some years have had to shut down shortly afterward. The other biggie in WV, Timberline, is talking December 12…once again it looks like Arapahoe Basin will take honors in the annual Colorado first-to-open sweepstakes, although Loveland may have a trick up their sleeve — they are blowing snow over at the Valley section, which would be easier to open than their usual route and probably the same length as the High Noon route over the hill. The guns are going at Big L’s usual early season white ribbon of death, but it’s still quite igneous at the bottom. I wonder if they’re considering opening the Valley…yes it’s that time again, the World Cup white circus is gearing up for its usual GS events on the glacier at Soelden.
10 October 2014 Although the Commonwealth of Kentucky has exactly zero operational ski areas, it’s about to gain one of the biggest name skiers in the history of the sport as World Cup and Olympic Champion Bode Miller will move in soon. Mentioning his fondness for mint juleps, Bode is mostly retiring from skiing and preparing to go into the horse racing business…I’m not kidding. Well, except for the part about the juleps…speaking of former champions, Norwegian World Cup Cross Country star Petter Northug was just sentenced to 50 days in jail and fined 185,000 Norwegian, uh, krohners? (About $30,000 US) Northug was found guilty and sentenced for a wild drunk driving binge last spring. This was hot on the heels of his non-Olympic performance; if you saw it the announcers kept saying “where’s Northug?” and “look! There’s Petter Northug, he must be getting ready to make his move” as the camera would pan wildly among the middle of the pack. Northug says he’ll be back; he’s only 28 years old and certainly the nordie world would benefit from the return of its most decorated champion…natural snow fell yesterday at both Loveland and A-Basin, they’re pitted in their annual battle to see who can crank the lifts and drop the ropes first on a white ribbon of death. Loveland has a longer run to cover, but potentially has just slightly colder and drier weather — like a millionth of a degree or something. It’s actually a good gimmick for both areas, and they benefit marketing-wise from each other’s efforts…snow this morning in the east at Whiteface and Jay Peak…well Steamboat Resort, CO is suing Salt Lake City, UT over the latter’s $1.8 million Ski City USA promotional campaign. Steamboat, which owns the trademark Ski Town USA is calling it an infringement on their mark. The Utah resorts involved in the campaign include Alta, Snowbird, Brighton, Solitude…and now for some high-tech humor, this from California where an e-commerce site for Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows was briefly selling season passes for one whole dollar yesterday due to a programming glitch. A couple hopeful skiers happened to see it and figured it was an error, but said “what the heck” and ordered anyway. Lo and behold they received e-mail confirmations of their $1 season pass a few hours later. This was of course followed a few hours after that with a “sorry we made a mistake” e-mail. To recoup some dignity from this miscue, Squaw and Alpine are going to give the handful of $1 purchasers an option on a half-price pass…speaking of unbelievable pass deals, young Vermonters would do well to look into Bolton Valley’s $159 unlimited all-access pass for 18-25 year olds. Damn that’s a good deal…since we’re in the neighborhood, news at Stowe this season is a new fixed grip quad at Spruce Peak, replacing the old Alpine and Easy Street doubles, as well as a significant rebuild and overhaul of the summit gondy…another significant quad replacing double is underway right now at Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort…speaking of snowboards, somebody called me out on some old anti-snowboard text lingering somewhere on the site. Alright, truth is that when we kicked off SkierNet in 2003 the sport was still trying to sort out exactly how snowboarding would fit in. At many resorts, particularly those closest to the New York metro area, a lot of kids were running amok on the slopes. Those kids happened to be on snowboards, and the result was a blanket damnation of the entire sport by us crusty old school types still wedeling on our Rossignol Viper 198s. By 2010 the tide was turning, those one time boarders were now skiing switch with their pants down. So we checked out the snowboarding thing, found out it wasn’t totally populated by demons, and slowly started editing the anti stuff. When I sold off SkierNet and launched this website, we tried to distance the editorial from all the prior negative stuff. Live and learn, right? Skis or board, respect gets respect. Unfortunately some of the negative stuff lives on. We’re killing it off when we find it, but there are a lot of legacy files that you might click into. So please accept my apologies. I love snowboarders. Except Jake. (I’m kidding!) Well now we’re gearing up to launch a new site, we’ll maintain Gondyline for where the sport has been, new site for where the sport is going. Skiers and boarders together, amen!
8 October 2014 Continuing to play “catch up” with off-season news, pleased to report that Michigan’s Norway Mountain is fully back from closing/selling, all the lifts are up to snuff and things are looking great for the upcoming season. They’ve got some creative pass deals, including free tix to Colorado’s underrated Sunlight Mountain Resort and discounted tix at Sunburst and Camp 10 in Wisconsin. Check it out, Norway has a swap scheduled for the weekend of the 18th…a lot of new lifts in the east, biggest and most notable arguably are a new high speed quad at Gore NY, replacing the quirky and underused detachable triple…a completely refurbished gondy at Stratton VT, replacing the lousy one they had…and a sparkling new bubble-top six-pack at Okemo VT, replacing their workhorse Northstar HSQ…elsewhere in the northeast, Massachusetts favorite Berkshire East replacing an old double with a fixed-grip quad, while suburban Nashoba Valley is adding another magic carpet to its mix…Ragged Mountain and Sunapee NH both replacing fixed grip lifts with detachables…and finally in Maine, what goes around comes around, Shawnee Peak replacing a double with a triple, shipping another chair to the coast, where Camden Snow Bowl will use it to upgrade a t-bar. We’re sad to see that t-bar go, but our legs are happy about it…speaking of Maine, something of a Cinderella story out of Skowhegan, local hill Eaton Mountain will be running a lower mountain handle tow this season, and they’ll have equipment for rent. It’s not much but it’s great news for the community and even better news for the family that runs it; the GM was severely injured in a freak grooming machine accident a couple years ago. That event really set back what was then a rebuilding operation, so it’s great to see how far this has come…ski swap scheduled next weekend at southern New York’s Mt. Peter…and new rumblings yet again out of Ligonier, Pennsylvania, officials saying Laurel Mountain will reopen next season…California’s Vail-owned Heavenly Mountain Resort, Northstar and Kirkwood will be hosting job fairs this Saturday, looking for 3,400 people for winter operations…temps in the 40s have snowmaking at Loveland and A-Basin temporarily on hold.
7 October 2014 This is the time of year we clear the crap from the tuning bench, drink malty German beer, and catch up on off-season news…one fairly big piece of news in the northeast is pending retirement of Sugarloaf President/GM John Diller, and they’re looking for his successor…more fallout in Utah following the Vail Resorts purchase of Park City Mountain Resort, Vail says it’s going to do the work necessary to connect PCMR to The Canyons next summer…lot of stuff happening at Breckenridge, replacing the high speed quad Colorado chair with a six-pack, also opening a new restaurant on Peak 9 for those of you who can afford it…up at Steamboat they’ve announced that the night skiing schedule will expand with two more weekdays…small and mid-sized hills in New England have also been busy, Mt. Abram in western Maine is installing a solar array that will ultimately provide 70% of its power needs…interesting development in New Hampshire, where Dartmouth Skiways took the lead in a new product they’re calling the “Freedom Pass.” Deal is, you buy a season pass from any Freedom Pass ski area, and for an additional $50 it becomes an all-encompassing pass. The collective includes New Hampshire’s Black Mountain, Granite Gorge, McIntyre and Dartmouth; Massachusett’s Ski Ward, and Vermont’s underrated Bolton Valley. Although these areas lack the cachet of New England’s bigger areas, I have to say this would be a no-brainer for the average New Hampshire skier, or any Ski Ward passholder. Kudos to Dartmouth Skiways’ Ben Craig for cooking this up.
Small but mighty Ski Ward, Shrewsbury Massachusetts, part of the new “Freedom Pass.”
6 October 2014 Huge news out of Idaho, the misfire known as Tamarack Resort getting new wind in its sails with some group called New TR Acquisition Co., or NEWTRAC, taking over the lease and claiming they’re gonna pump a couple million into the place. This operation appears to be Canadian based, says they’re gonna keep the Tamarack Municipal whateveritis running things…Gearing up for gear…ski swap season is underway, a reminder this is one of the best ways to get good deals on equipment. Usually you can inspect the stuff really well, and ask the swap volunteers for help…and hot on the heels of these swaps will be the early openers; frequent midwest leader Ski Brule in Michigan is optimistically targeting November 7th…drama continues in the Wasatch, as Deer Valley announced that it is buying Solitude. Obvious question, is Deer Valley doing this to combat the encroachment of Vail Resorts’ vis-a-vis Park City? Deer Valley says no. The DeSeelhurst family has operated Solitude for decades, and will do so for one final season with transfer expected May 2015…Californians, sick of Utah dominating the daytime soaps, just got in on the action with Mammoth Mountain announcing purchase of the Ski Big Bear operations Bear Mountain and Snow Summit…meanwhile southern Cali neighbor Mountain High trucked in 40 tons of snow this weekend for a jibbing party/demonstration event, they’re looking to open for real by the middle of next month…good news in Maine, Auburn’s tiny Lost Valley says it will open this season, thanks in part to a $5,000 donation from Sunday River…jump to the Pacific northwest, I’m told Crystal Mountain is adding two new chairlifts for the upcoming season…and unless you are living under a rock you probably heard that Lindsey Vonn was back on the snow this weekend, first time since last December…our hearts go out to the families of freeskiers JP Auclair, Carl Andreas Fransson and others killed in an avalanche near the border of Chile and Argentina this weekend. Both were outstanding skiers who elevated the game.
Thanks for the “Kicks” goes out to Paul Dick, aka Paul Revere, of Paul Revere & the Raiders fame…rest in peace.
2 October 2014 BOOM! The guns are on in the west, the mice have been blown out in the east, and skiers across the country have high hopes for another terrific season…unless of course you were in parts of the Pacific Northwest, eastern desert areas, where the season never even got off the ground. Let’s hope that turns around…anyway the snow guns have kicked on for real in Colorado; unoffficially a couple days ago at Copper Mountain, but as usual that’s a closed trail for the U.S. World Cup team. The festivus for the rest of us is at Arapahoe Basin and Loveland, where they started making white stuff on both sides of the divide…regular readers know that I don’t kick this blog off for the season until they crank ’em up at the aforementioned ski areas on US 6. Over the past few months a couple of you asked why I wasn’t weighing in on the Park City Mountain Resort vs. Talisker/Vail soap opera that consumed much of the summer, or this or that story, whatever. Fact is I’ve been busy working on a new format for this blog; hope to serve it by the time they send up that first chair in Summit County…so back to that Park City story…At least the majority of Park Citorians think this is a good thing — Vail Resorts has bought out Powdr Corp. amidst much legal wrangling over a past due library book or something like that. Indeed a lot of Park Cityfolk are celebrating the dawn of a new era, however I suggest it’s more like “meet the new boss, same as the old boss.” Nerdy metaphor would be, the Federation was stretched too thin, let things go a bit, so the local businesses are welcoming the Borg with open arms. Hope I’m wrong. Meanwhile the Cumming family (Powdr) saw the writing on the wall, so they went over the hill and struck a deal to take over Dick Bass’ Snowbird Resort, which is no slouch. All’s well that ends well, I guess…big multi-resort operators seem to shrug off problems that would crush a normal person. To wit, Les Otten, former ceo and founder of the imploded American Skiing Co. is involved in a curious project to rebuild and re-open the venerable Balsams resort hotel and ski area in the north boonies of New Hampshire. Been causing a minor stir in those parts…not a big off season for news in the east, perhaps the most notable is new/updated primary lifts going in at Stratton and Okemo Vermont, and a key lift upgrade at Gore in New York…Bromley VT blew out the mice this morning…most significant new lift in the west I suppose is under construction at Taos; it’s going above timberline to Kachina Peak, which has been popular hike-to terrain for decades.
Live image from Loveland today!
15 April 2014 The taxman cometh, and in Michigan, apparently so does the snowman. Ski Brule got 6″ of fresh snow overnight, and they’ll be spinning the lifts Friday, Saturday and Sunday with half price tickets. Wait, it gets better. Ski Brule is serving up an Easter brunch that includes Eggs, Ham, French Toast, Pancakes, Roast Beef, Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Stuffing, Salads, Dessert, $10 for adults. That just might be the best report I’ve done all season…some good news from the Pac NW, here goes…White Pass will be open weekends through May 4th, Alpental weekends to May 5, and Crystal Mountain will be daily thru this weekend, then weekends only through May 18 or even later. Summit Central open this weekend. In Oregon, Mount Hood Meadows open daily through the 27th, then the first two weekends in May. In Bend, OR Mt. Bachelor is targeting May 25th as their closing date…Silver Mountain Idaho now doing Saturdays only through April 26th…in New York, Whiteface will be open through April 20th, still has about three-quarters of their terrain open…in New Hampshire, Cannon Mt. situation is about the same; 41 of 60 still open and they’ll be doing $29 tickets, open through the 20th…as usual Wildcat is the place to be when it’s springtime in the Granite State; 100% of terrain open…back to New York, just getting word that a skier was killed last Thursday at Gore Mountain. 20-year-old Nicholas Hansen of Marcy, NY lost control on Chatiemac and hit a tree stump. The last fatality at Gore was back in 2006…Eagle County Colorado Sheriff’s Office looking for anyone who witnessed a serious collision that occurred April 8 around 3:30 PM at Beaver Creek, when a snowboarder smacked into a 60-year-old skier near the intersection of Sheephorn and Centennial beneath the Cinch Express Lift…Bear Valley California now has a full-blown cooperative effort underway, but the co-op group still has to negotiate a purchase from the present owners. With shares at $2500. per, they’re hoping to sign 1,500 members ($3.75 million) prior to purchase time this summer. Long-term membership goal is 5,000 members for $12.5 million in capital…the One Wasatch group now has a slick website; this is the industry thing that is trying to link The Canyons, Park City, Deer Valley, Brighton, Solitude, Alta and Snowbird in one massive Euro-style ski monstrosity. The sticking points seem to be the connection from Park City to Brighton, then Solitude to Alta, with plenty of opposition from Save Our Canyons and Wasatch Backcountry Alliance. Also not sure how snowboards fit in, with Deer Valley and Alta functioning almost as bookends on this. For a visual on this, see image below…
Overview of the “One Wasatch” plan. Four of the seven are already linked in some fashion, with two others sharing a border. The Park City to Canyons link would be a chip shot…the key is linking the Park City resorts to the Big Cottonwood Canyon duo of Brighton and Solitude, and linking that to Little Cottonwood Canyon.
10 April 2014 Believe it or not a bit of snow fell yesterday at Jay Peak in Vermont…New York’s throwback Plattekill intends to re-open Sunday — if they have demand. They’re judging that by trying to pre-sell $20 tix; if they get 100 minimum they’ll spin the lifts…in the western part of the state, Holiday Valley is planning to open the Yodeler lift this weekend, as well as the front nine on the golf course — weather permitting — promoting a ski in the morning/golf in the afternoon thing…yesterday Lookout Pass MT/ID was all about their expansion plans, today they announced that the seasonal tally set an all-time record for skier visits at 65,620. That number just edged last year’s total of 65,572…update on Marc Coleman, the 67-year-old Van Nuys skier killed at Northstar this weekend, apparently he hit a tree off the Rail Splitter trail. Coleman was wearing a helmet…not sure what this is all about, or why, but carmaker Toyota is sponsoring free skiing at 49 Degrees North in Washington State from now until April 13th…22-year-old NH resident Patrick Luk was doing some BC work in the Presidential Range this weekend when he fell 1,000 feet down a ravine on the side of Mount Adams. He was mangled a bit, but managed to crawl and scrape his way back to the highway in a seven hour ordeal after his phone wouldn’t connect. Luk was (I can’t help it) lucky that he suffered only a concussion, broken nose, and possibly a knee injury. He credits his helmet with saving his life in the slide….Stratton Vermont still has sixtysomething trails open.
9 April 2014 this season just keeps giving and giving…small but mighty Michigan resort Ski Brule still open daily, albeit limited to “front side” on weekdays, and tickets are half price. Can’t beat that…only problem is people are starting to find other things to do, so we’re seeing most eastern locales bang it up even with plenty of skiable snow left on the turf. Just got word from Massachusetts that Jiminy has packed it in for the season…a bit of tomfoolery this week at Vail, where none other than Lindsey Vonn worked the ticket window for a while. Loosely disguised with glasses and a cap, apparently all but one customer was oblivious to her identity. Many, in fact, commented on her resemblance to Lindsey Vonn. Good fun…sad to report that 67-year-old Van Nuys, CA resident Marc L. Coleman was killed in a skiing accident at Northstar Tahoe on Sunday morning, no specifics at this time…planned expansion at Lookout Pass Ski Area on the Idaho and Montana border is now open for public comment. Lookout for Lookout to expand 654 acres on USFS land, including 15 new ski trails and two new chairlifts, and upgrade the main double to a quad. Plans impact both the Idaho Panhandle National Forest and the Lolo National Forest…Ski New Hampshire industry group announced on public radio this morning that this past season is tracking just about even with last season, which was the fifth best on record, whatever that means…have mentioned possible re-opening of The Balsams, a hill attached to a once venerable resort in Dixville Notch, NH, with former American Skiing Company wizard Les Otten at the helm, but plans conflict with a required setback from a wind turbine operation on top of the mountain. Well now the wind farm operators have given a green light to reducing the setback, pending a safety study that the hoteliers would have to fund…Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard is extending the season one more weekend; they’ll bang it up after Sunday…back to New Hampshire, just got word that Bear Notch XC is still open, which is great, they’re gonna groom through Sunday and see if they still have any nordies lining up to ski…Bretton Woods will spin the lifts daily through April 13, close midweek, April 14 to 18. Possibly reopen April 19 and 20, but currently scheduled to operate April 21, Patriot’s Day…Wildcat still open 100% with better conditions today than they had in mid-January…update from Colorado, Keystone confirms it will operate through April 20, update is they’ll have 6,000 acres open right up until closing…Breckenridge previously announced April 27, they’re sticking to that, but the difference this year is that they’ll have lifts spinning on Peaks 6, 7 and 8. Usually only Peak 8 is open late season…details just released on the death of 47-year-old Jeffrey Beadle, a beloved liftie at Snowmass, died last week from multiple chest injuries sustained while skiing on the Cirque Headwall…Mount Hood Skibowl in the news, not in a good way. Mary Magdalena Stanila suing the resort for an injury she suffered in 2012 after being mowed down by a drunk snowboarder on a novice slope. The lawsuit claims Skibowl is “a culture of alcohol-fueled adrenaline from the top down,” claiming Skibowl owner Kirk Hanna has “led by example” and that the Skibowl overserved Stanila’s assailant, Kyle “Roundhouse” Sullivan. (That’s quite a nickname). The suit also contends that “intoxicated patrons ski and snowboard side-by-side with sober patrons, including women and children.” Skibowl’s attorney says the suit “has no merit to it.” OK then…Sun Valley Idaho has just announced the season will be extended through April 20th on Bald Mountain.
8 April 2014 Ah, the happy days of spring, and I’m starting to feel like a broken record: 6″ of new snow yesterday at Arapahoe Basin, best conditions since I don’t know when…a lot of eastern resorts banged it up this past weekend. Windham NY indeed reopened and went down swinging, 100% coverage and I imagine the snowpack on Upper Wolverine will last until May. They shut it down Sunday at 4:00 and called it a season…looks like nearby Hunter and Belleayre will be spinning this weekend as well. Some of you might wonder why I report on those so often, answer is they’re the closest sizable areas to New York City…winter went south in a hurry in southern New England; Mount Snow and Stratton are going to wrap it up on Sunday…very, very pleased to report that bootstrap operation Black Mountain of Maine will be open, still, this coming weekend. They’re doing a fundraiser day on Sunday: Pay whatever you want, it will be used as a donation toward new snowmaking equipment.
3 April 2014 In the words of the great Horace Greeley, go west…8″ of new snow on the ground at Arapahoe Basin and they are talking June…24″ in two days at Snowbird…but you don’t have to go that far west…Minnesota expecting half a foot or more, depending on how everything shapes up. Even if it doesn’t, Welch Village planning to reopen Saturday and Sunday with plenty of snow and $20 tix…in Michigan, Mount Bohemia looking for a foot from this system, but again they’ve still got more snow than anybody wants in April and they’re doing two-for-one tix on Saturday…eh, maybe ol’ Horace should’ve said go east…Middlebury Snow Bowl Vermont reopening, unplanned final-final weekend…even red-headed step-child Pico is going to reopen Saturday…best conditions in the east right now are, no surprise, Sugarloaf…word has it Jay Peak VT might go until the end of the month…Gore Mountain NY open through this weekend, has plans to reopen next, along with sister ski areas Whiteface and Belleayre. Whiteface people are hinting that they might go longer…Mad River Glen looking closely at the situation; they’ve got mucho snow but not too many people lining up to pay for it. That’s the downside of spring skiing. Well, that and the knee injuries…back to NY, Hunter planning to be open through April 13, which is great; nearby Windham plans to reopen this weekend…even the mild slopes of Butternut Massachusetts will be open this weekend, serving up $25 lift tickets…in Pennsylvania, Big Boulder, Blue Mountain, Camelback and Seven Springs are going to unlock the doors and re-spin the lifts this weekend…in all cases with these eastern areas, particularly the more southerly ones, check first before you head out to the mountain. Spring rains can foil the best intentions…whatever happens this weekend, it’s been a great season in the east, south, and midwest. Southern ski areas like Massanutten have enjoyed their best seasons ever…back to MN, Lutsen plans to end daily operations on Sunday, but they do plan to spin ’em again April 12 weekend…go west? Sometimes you go east and you think you’re in the west, such is the case with Sugarbush Vermont. We’re hearing rumblings that Mascara Mountain is looking to stay open until May. That, if you didn’t know, was a nickname for Sugarbush that is so old it’s cool again…and so what of the west west? Well it’s all good, as mentioned above…Colorado “gems” Sunlight and Powderhorn will be open this weekend, longer than planned. Powderhorn will be serving up tickets for just $20. Crested Butte, Telluride and Wolf Creek will also be open this weekend, then plan to close afterward…Eldora, Monarch, Steamboat and Silverton look to be open through next weekend…Snowmass, Copper, Keystone, Vail and Beaver Creek are targeting April 20, and Winter Park plans to go a week beyond that…closest-with-the-mostest Ski Loveland is shooting for May 5th…the US Forest Service has made a statement about that lawsuit to open Alta up to snowboarding, saying that Alta’s agreed operating plan allows them to prevent people from using any “device deemed a risk, harmful to snow quality or not consistent with its business decisions.” Alta has asked for dismissal…sad to report that 31-year-old Peiter Swanson, a part-time resident of Jackson Hole, died after hitting a tree in the Pair-a-Chutes area of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort on Monday. Swanson was an extremely skilled skier and an exuberant personality; he’ll be missed.
Pieter Swanson, doing what he loved to do, last month on a visit to Utah.
31 March 2014 Place to be this morning is Snowbird Utah, no question, 11″ of snow overnight…Colorado not looking too shabby, Arapahoe Basin pulled down 8″ of fresh yesterday…Italy’s Simone Origone set a new skiing world speed record this morning at Charbrier in the French Alps, with a speed of 156.83 mph. I wonder if Alpine Replay got that one…sorry to report that Paul Cohen, a 45-year-old doctor from Cincinnati, OH died Friday after sustaining injuries in a collision at Snowmass Colorado last Sunday. He was on a groomed run near the top of the Elk Camp lift, and collided with another skier, who was treated and released. Dr. Cohen was wearing a helmet at the time…better news, this time from Virginia, where Massanutten Resort announced that this was officially the longest season in its 42 year history, tallying 116 days of skiing and snowboarding…and by the way, any time you hear someone use the verb “sliding” in lieu of “skiing and snowboarding,” or the noun “sliders” when they should say “skiers and snowboarders,” you have my permission to smack them.
28 March 2014 Incorrectly identified Wolf Ridge North Carolina as “Wolf Creek,” that’s where an older lodge was destroyed by fire. And oddly enough, Wolf Ridge is involved in a breach of faith lawsuit with Peak Resorts. An arson investigation will be under way shortly…word from Vermont is Pico will close after this weekend, but re-open for a final day on April 5th. Neighbor Killington shows few signs of slowing down, 100% of terrain still open…southern VT bellwether Mount Snow is also 100% open, they’re unusually quiet about when they’re going to stop the lifts, we know for sure they’ll be spinning through next weekend…a bit west in New York, Windham will be skiing and riding through March 30th and reopening April 4th – 6th. All season passes will be valid April 4th – 6th including mid week and Sunday passes, that’s cool…Cinderella story Black Mountain of Maine is still going strong, they’re committed (for now at least) to a closing date of April 13th! We couldn’t be happier for this great alpine and outstanding nordic operation…Loon NH going at least until April 13…look west a bit, wow it doesn’t get any better than a foot of fresh snow at Powder Mountain UT, but all good things gotta come to an end and PowMow is talking April 13, just like the eastern resorts. Until then they’ve got reduced prices and it’s all fantastic…Arizona Snow Bowl will close for the season on Sunday…up in Oregon Anthony Lakes got 5″ yesterday, 3″ overnight, you do the math, add it up and they’re on a 90″ base — yikes — but will be pulling the plug after next weekend. That’s a shame, but I imagine the “earn your turns” types will be skinning and clicking or skinning and knee dipping well into May…back to Utah, Snowbird talking 9″ new snow in the past 24 hours…move to Colorado, same deal at Arapahoe Basin…and circling back to New Hampshire, sister areas Attitash and Wildcat are skiing wall-to-wall; the valley operation will be open through April 6 while the Cat hasn’t said anything yet about their closing date…stuff is so good in New England Jiminy Peak Massachusetts still skiing on 39 trails…in Pennsy, Shawnee will shut down after this weekend, still PLENTY of snow…elsewhere in the Keystone State Blue Mountain will be open through April 6th. Keystone State is really a misnomer, as Pennsylvania is a Commonwealth…alright let’s get to some non-closing news…Whiteface NY has added another glade trail to their map, it’s called Rand’s Last Stand and it’s part of the ongoing expansion on the Lookout Mountain section…sad to report that Lee Hurley, 60, of Charlotte NC died yesterday at Keystone Colorado when he hit a tree off an intermediate trail. He was wearing a helmet…47-year-old Seattle skier Raymond Fabarik was killed after hitting a tree at Mission Ridge yesterday; apparently a ski pre-released on the Kiwa run…freaky event at Mt. Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park in Washington yesterday, a fellow named Craig Schwyn hopped on chair 1 just before operations shut down for a thunderstorm. While he was riding up the lift, it was hit by lightning and arced down the rope to the bullwheel. Witnesses say Schwyn was surrounded by a bright glow — and we’re pleased to report he was completely unharmed by the event.
27 March 2014 Fire destroyed the upper lodge at Wolf Ridge North Carolina last night; we believe there were no injuries as the resort was closed for the season. The structure is a total loss…So a bunch of ski resorts are banging it up this weekend, with more to follow next weekend…first we’ll do a shout-out to those going long and strong…Arapahoe Basin got 6″ fresh overnight…Steamboat claimed 3″ of fresh…in Utah the ‘bird is the word; 7″ of fresh overnight at Snowbird…and we need to do a shout-out to Lutsen in Minnesota; they’re gonna push right through Easter…In Vermont, Magic Mountain has announced April 6th as the last day. They had a slow start but VERY strong finish and we’re glad to see this mountain healthy and well on the comeback trail. The 2000s were a difficult decade in Londonderry…In the ongoing land battle over Park City Mountain Resort, we’re told that Vail made overtures to buy the base area from Powdr Corp and the latter said absolutely not.
Lodge fire overnight at Wolf Ridge North Carolina
25 March 2014 Pardon the tardy report — have been on the slopes. Spent the weekend sampling the goods at Gore Mountain in New York, Mad River Glen and Middlebury Snow Bowl in Vermont; conditions were simply fabulous…and this weekend we’ll see most of the banana belt resorts bang it up for the season. Mountain Creek NJ and Elk Mountain Pennsy are among those wrapping it up. Move south, in Virginia Bryce decided to extend the season, they’ll go through Saturday. Massanutten and The Homestead will shut down Sunday. Wintergreen plans to spin ’em through the weekend, shut down, then reopen for a final bash on April 5th. In West Virginia, Canaan Valley called it quits this past weekend. Winterplace will go through Saturday, Timberline until Sunday. Only Snowshoe plans to hold out with daily operations until April 6th…Even in New England, the aforementioned Middlebury Snow Bowl is calling it a wrap after Sunday…look to the midwest, we’re going to see some places starting to do the same although many are going along with a “wait and see” approach. Right now two resorts we use as leading indicators — Lutsen in Minnesota and Ski Brule in Michigan both have a base depth of about five (5) feet…look west and you’ll see reliables like Arapahoe Basin 100% open, and that means Montezuma Bowl, East Wall, Pally, the whole shebang, with more snow expected this week…personal fave Ski Cooper down in Leadville is still at 100%, and they’re gonna stay open through April 6th…couple weeks ago reported a local group was getting together with hopes to revive lost area Antelope Butte in the Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming; pleased to report that effort is gaining some momentum and they’re putting together funding to appraise and buy the infrastructure, which has rattled in the winds since 2004. After the purchase is complete they’ll try to come to an agreement with the Forest Service…and we’re kinda sad to report that FIS World Cup skier Chemmy Alcott, who did a wonderful job representing Great Britain in speed events, has announced her retirement. We wish her well!
19 March 2014 Need to mention that the Midwest is also enjoying a fabulous season, and although we all know it has to end, it’s gonna go out strong…Lutsen Mountains Minnesota has all but a handfull of “bonus/backcountry” terrain open, plus all terrain parks still in full swing. Or full crash, depending on your park skills…speaking of crashing, it’s snowing right now at Mount Bohemia on Michigan’s UP; 4″ of fresh and still coming down. Brohemia, which relies totally on natural snow, has 550 acres 100% open. It’s the only midwest ski area I know of that has to do avalanche control…but we have to report that not everybody in the central states is happy with this winter, Spirit Mountain near Duluth MN has actually seen business drop by an estimated 15-20% due to unusually cold temps this past winter. The resort had to close for seven days during the lowest lows of the infamous polar vortex…Breckenridge just announced that they’ll be extending the season until April 27, a week longer than planned…season going to be long in the east, lifts will probably stop spinning long before the snow is gone. Even so, NH biggie Bretton Woods plans to be open on April 21st, (Patriot’s Day in New England) but unsure if they’ll be open daily through that date…even bootstrap operation Black Mountain of Maine is talking about being open into April, which is unheard of…the Feds have kept this very quiet, but the story is getting out: late February a group of rather zealous US Forest Service enforcement types descended upon the parking lots at Taos Ski Valley wearing sidearms, flak jackets (!) and at least one drug sniffing canine. Hours of searching resulted in a number of tickets for — horror of horrors — small amounts of weed and cracked windshields. Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, who lives in Taos and frequents Taos Ski Valley, called the officers “jack-booted thugs” and said the locals are “100 percent pissed off.” The Forest Service is going to “review” the actions of the officers. Ain’t that great? They get to review themselves? Welcome to the police state. “Protect and Serve” has warped into “Intimidate, Investigate and Obfuscate.” Considering heroin sales in Albuquerque now surpass $300,000. per day�, I’m thinking they have bigger problems in that part of the world than to be harrassing a few burnouts with bad windshields. But what the hell do I know…more appealling news, or maybe not depending on your point of view, somebody called Ski Utah has scheduled a 2 p.m. news conference today at the Salt Lake City Sheraton Hotel to propose a series of chairlifts on private lands that would connect resorts from Deer Valley to Snowbird. This is different from the recent SkiLink thing that proposed to connect The Canyons to Solitude…appears that Montage in Pennsy is shutting down skiing operations as of Saturday. Don’t know for sure, but that’s when they’re celebrating an “end of season” party.
18 March 2014 Window ticket prices drop after this weekend; it’s also the day that many promotional vouchers will become more valuable…Powder Mountain UT got 8″ of snow last night, they’re going to drop weekend tickets to $50 for regular adult beginning Monday…elsewhere in the Beehive State, Snowbird reports 11″ new snow since yesterday; mid-mountain stake currently reads 116″…snow is still coming down, but people are ready to put the skis away, so we’re starting to hear about closing dates. Oh the horrors. Anyway, Massachusett’s popular Wachusett is talking about April 6th as the last day….more tomorrow.
17 March 2014 Happy St. Patrick’s Day…let’s get the bad news out of the way first. It’s historic and bears mention in this otherwise awesome year for skiing and boarding…Southern Oregon’s Mount Ashland has banged it up for the season — which actually never started. They’ve had no snow, and Friday decided the waiting game was over: season cancelled. Terrible news, but we gotta look to next season for Big A…back to this season, and congratulations to the FIS World Cup Champions this season. First, the overall globes. Austrian Marcel Hirscher took the men’s side after a season-long see-saw battle with Norwegian Aksel-Lund Svindal. Svindal led right through the downhill finals, but he was a non-factor in that and the other races, suffering from exhaustion probably related to his Olympic flu. Also Austrian Anna Fenninger — cheetah champion and media darling of the Olympics — enjoying a breakthrough year as women’s overall champion. Unlike her teammate Hirscher, Fenninger wasn’t really much of a factor in the overall until the end of the season, when she was peaking as Maria Hoefl-Reisch was wearing down. Finally Riesch crashed heavily in the Lenzerheide downhill and that was that. Both Fenninger and Hirscher had remarkable seasons. Hirscher doubled as the slalom champ, but lost the giant slalom globe to — no surprise here — Ted Ligety at the final event. Ligety and Hirscher tied, but Ligety had more victories for the tie breaker. Svindal’s season also had a semi-happy ending, as he garnered both the downhill and super G titles…and the season just goes on and on in the east, particularly the mid-Atlantic, enjoying the best conditions in anyone’s memory. In West Virginia, Canaan Valley got 8″ overnight, has mid-winter conditions and empty slopes. Snowshoe has some of the finest skiing they’ve ever had, and at least has some bodies on the hill as you can see from the photo immediately below…yes it is getting to be spring and it does become tough sledding as the temps rise and the surface turns to mush, but darn it nobody in the east has any excuse for putting the gear away right now…even the lowly Poconos, scheduled to bake in the sun this past weekend, still put up awesome skiing and the sun didn’t show up nearly as much as patrons would’ve liked. Shawnee PA still had very good crowds. Slopes got a little soft by noon, but nothing easterners can’t deal with…story is the same in much of the west; Arapahoe Basin putting up awesome conditions with a couple recent snowshowers…in New England, areas on the spine of the Green Mountains got smacked last week, outstanding conditions right down the line from Mad River Glen, Sugarbush and Middlebury Snow Bowl…even with these awesome conditions, a lot of small to mid-sized areas offering $17 lift tix today in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, one that comes to mide is Catamount on the NY/MA border, it’s open side to side with the best March snow in years.
Snowshoe, West Virginia, live camera feed THIS MORNING. They obviously didn’t get the memo that spring is right around the corner. Call it what you will, this is awesome!
12 March 2014 Spring is finally beginning to break through in the east, but don’t despair, there is still plenty of season left. One of the few good things about spring is that many ski areas reduce their lift ticket rates; Greek Peak NY just did so with lower rates kicking in on Sunday…elsewhere in NY, Bellearyre announced some really cheap rates through the end of the season for college students…and speaking of the Empire State, it looks like some branch of government or tourism office is planning to start up bus service from Toronto and other Canadian cities, to bring skiers directly to a half dozen New York ski resorts. I think they’re looking to start this next season…word out of California is a group of local homeowners and such are hoping to buy Bear Valley and turn it into a cooperative along the lines of Mad River Glen VT. Bear Valley is located in the western foothills of the Sierras and is probably the closest area to San Francisco, but suffers from the usual ski area ailments — not enough snow brings not enough customers which results in not enough money. Add in aging infrastructure, increasing costs, you get the picture. Anyway, the group is going to try and make it happen. Bear Valley began life back in the lates 1960s as Mt. Reba….update from World Cup season finals in Lenzerheide with downhill action this morning, Olympic champ Matthias Mayer won the men’s race over Christof Innerhofer and surprising Ted Ligety, the two tied for second. Aksel Lund Svindal finished fifth and thus moves some 50 points ahead of Marcel Hirscher in the overall. And with his good finish, Ligety moved into third overall but with no chance at catching the top two. Drama during the women’s race, Maria Hoefl-Reisch crashed heavily into the netting. Even though she won the women’s downhill globe, she was not at the ceremony following the race and rumor has it she may have a shoulder injury. Lara Gut won the race followed by Elisabeth Goergl and Fraenzi Aufdenblatten. Anna Fenninger was sixth, moving a scant 11 points ahead of Hoefl-Reisch in the overall standings. Gut is a distant third in the women’s overall. Tomorrow is scheduled for GS; we’ll have to watch closely to see if Maria steps into the timing shack.
11 March 2014 Regret our weekend wrap-up of the NCAA Championships didn’t go live until this morning, so if you’re interested, please continue reading below this entry…and speaking of ski racing, this past weekend saw Ted Ligety win a GS event and Mikaela Shiffrin take home another slalom trophy in FIS World Cup action. Both the men and the women are in Lenzerheide with final competitions ramping up with the downhill tomorrow. Super G goes Thursday, team competitions Friday, and the slalom and GS follow on the weekend. Right now Marcel Hirscher is a half-dozen points ahead of Aksel-Lund Svindal. Svindal will probably go ahead with tomorrow’s downhill. Hirscher — who is a technical weenie — doesn’t compete in downhills. The Austrians will, of course, send their speed guys on suicide missions to try and knock Svindal’s point total down. Hey, they don’t call it the White Circus for nothing. Barring injury, Hirscher can likely win the overall just by skiing safely. Seems to me Svindal is still a bit under the weather. On the women’s side, Maria Hoefl-Riesch has about a 50 point lead on Anna Fenninger for the overall. Oddly enough it appears that Fenninger has a great chance to win, as Hoefl-Riesch is battling a flu type thing as I type this. Hoefl-Riesch is better in slalom (Fenninger hasn’t placed since 2011) so it could be interesting if she recovers in time. Fenninger is a threat to win each of the other events. Interesting thing about these finals, it’s the first time in recent memory that only three globes have been decided coming into the events. Shiffrin has garnered the slalom title, while Svindal has both the downhill and super G titles. Lara Gut should be a lock on the ladies’ super G, but everything else is up for grabs…moving on to the skiing that you and I can relate to, word from Snowbird UT is 7″ of fresh last night…Steamboat CO got an inch or two, they call that a dusting…odd news from Magic Mountain VT, apparently one Christopher Bush, 27, of South Londonderry, who has a lengthy criminal record, stole a 2012 Suburban from the Magic parking lot. The owner informed the local constable about the vehicle’s on-star system, and Vermont State Troopers gave chase. Young Mr. Bush led the law enforcement officials on a high speed chase all the way to Ludlow, where he violated the 35 MPH zone by a factor of three. The vehicle was recovered after Bush stuffed it into a snowbank and fled on foot. He was later found with the help of police dog Bohdan…other news from New England, Berkshire East MA officially announced plans to replace one of their summit lifts with a new quad chair and loading conveyor. It’s a fixed-grip chair, but the conveyor helps the chair load faster, which will allow them to run it faster than a regular fixed-grip. Truth be told you could run most fixed grip chairs at higher speeds, but people tend to fall off at the load and unload stations…sorry to report 22-year-old Jonathan Belle, of Denver died yesterday morning when he struck a tree while snowboarding on the Vein Glory novice trail at Copper Mountain, reports say no helmet, although they’re seldom all that helpful in tree collisions…an adult male back country skier was killed by an avy yesterday in a remote area near Butte, MT…word is about 100 people were stranded when a lift burned out Saturday at Roundtop in Pennsy. If you know your history, you can guess roughly where in Pennsy Roundtop is located. Anyway, kudos to the ski patrol and local rescue teams, as every single patron was downroped without incident…much more exciting kudos for the ski patrol at Crystal Mountain in Washington State; they were doing avalanche control and the resulting slide wiped out the High Campbell chairlift, an old center-pole double. Crystal plans to replace it with a much newer model, so I guess all’s well that ends well. Why do we thank the patrollers? Just imagine if they hadn’t blown the slide, and it smacked into that area while patrons were lined up and riding the chair. As you can see from the photo below, it would’ve been a disaster.
Crystal Mountain’s High Campbell chair, now buried in an avalanche. Thanks to the Crystal ski patrol, who forced the slide, the only harm was to the lift.
10 March 2014 Quick wrap up of the NCAA Championships, with alpine events contested in Park City while the nordies were in Soldier Hollow, big win goes to the University of Denver. This is the 22nd NCAA ski title for the Pioneers, and their 8th in the new millenium. The University of Vermont surged from also-rans to second place, but it was too little too late. University of New Mexico was third and defending champs University of Colorado was a distant fourth. Early leader and host team University of Utah stumbled in the later events and finished fifth. Two big stories on the alpine side; both in slalom. On the men’s side, the UD Pioneers had junior Espen Lysdahl atop the podium, 7/10ths ahead of teammate Trevor Philp. But the biggest wow was garnered by the University of Vermont Catamounts, who swept the women’s slalom podium with Kristina Riis-Johannessen edging teammates Kate Ryley and Elise-Woien Tefre. We should mention that in addition to the big ski powerhouses, there are plenty of single entry skiers from small colleges around the country who qualify and compete, and we salute their courage. It’s tough sledding when the audience is screaming for a particular team, while these athletes are flying solo for a school nobody has heard of. Congratulations to all the competitors!
7 March 2014 Spring is right around the corner, but plenty of skiing and riding still ahead…Snowbird UT showing great conditions right now, looking at more snow today or tonight…Wildcat NH got a couple inches yesterday and has some of the best conditions all season…small but mighty Ski Brule in Michigan looks like it might be blanketed in white until June…some signs of a thaw; Swain Mountain NY and quite a few areas have “Winter Carnivals” and such scheduled this weekend…Boyne Michigan has its annual Irish Fest scheduled…Most of ’em are pretty lame in my experience, but the upside is they usually involve a charity so it’s all good…one example is Magic Mountain VT doing a “Get the Girls Out” event tomorrow in conjunction with the SheJumps.org charity, which supports women of all ages getting out and participating in outdoor activities. Tomorrow is International Women’s Ski Day so it’s quite timely…another good one is at Loon Mountain NH doing a fundraiser tomorrow for New England Adaptive Sports which provides instruction to people of all ages with physical and cognitive disabilities. Festivities include the Kostick Kup Race during the day, with a silent auction, dinner, and an awards ceremony in the evening. Friend of mine participates in this at Loon and I can tell you it’s a fantastic program…in Are Sweden Anna Fenninger leads after the first run, Maria Hoefl-Riesch in 22nd, the overall really could come down to the wire…in the NCAA Championships in Park City, University of Denver leads after the second day of competition, followed by U of Utah, University of Colorado, and U of New Mexico. Anja Gruber of Vermont and Rune Oedegaard of Colorado defended their NCAA titles in the women’s and men’s Nordic classic races yesterday at Soldier Hollow…back to FIS World Cup news, Canadian veteran Mike Janyk has announced that he’ll retire after the season…Intrawest introducing a new spin on its multi-resort pass, it’s designed for six days at each of its six resorts. Pricey, but if you somehow managed to use all 36 days it would be just $23 per outing, which is dirt cheap. They’ve got all sorts of family perks, discounted second pass for spouse or whatever, kids under 12 free, all kinds of things. Worth looking at if, for instance, you ski Stratton or Snowshoe in the east, and then plan to hit Winter Park if you venture west. Be interesting to see how this impacts the industry…afternoon update neglected to mention that Arapahoe Basin indeed made it to 100% open this season, they dropped the ropes on the East Wall on Sunday…race just ended, Anna Fenninger has won the second GS in Are, Maria Hoelf-Riesch 10th but waiting to see if it’s official…ok it is, and now Fenninger is in the overall lead by 7 points!!!
6 March 2014 Well sure enough Anna Fenninger is going to make it a horse race for the overall womens World Cup, she won the first GS at Are Sweden this morning; Maria Hoefl-Riesch finished 20th or thereabouts giving her some points, but the lead is trimmed to just 67 points…conditions are the best in memory for the Mid-Atlantic region; Mountain Creek NJ just announced that its season will be extended through the month of March…small but mighty Black Mountain of Maine announced that Allagash Brewery is making a donation that will enable the ski area to revamp the second floor of their lodge, new seating, all that sort of thing…sad news in Aspen; socialite Nancy Pfister, age 57 found dead in her chalet. William Styler, age 65, and wife Nancy, 62, have been arrested for the murder. The Stylers were tenants and allegedly had a spat with the late Ms. Pfister over back rent. Pfister was the daughter of Art and Betty Pfister, who played a role in the original development of Aspen’s Buttermilk Ski Area
5 March 2014 The NCAA Championships are underway today at Park City, with the nordies competing at nearby Soldier Hollow which will include portions of the 2002 Olympic courses. The eight schools include University of Utah, Alaska-Anchorage, Dartmouth, U of Denver, Montana State, U of New Mexico, U of Vermont, and defending champions University of Colorado….should be decent conditions; move slightly north and we find 9″ of fresh at Powder Mountain this morning, more on the way…if you haven’t heard, Bill Marolt stepping down as head of the US Ski & Snowboard Association, Olympian Tiger Shaw will take over…Back in early February I reported that recently shuttered Balsams/Wilderness Resort in northern New Hampshire was looking to re-open with former American Skiing Company wunderkind Les Otten as part of the picture, well now it seems Otten is very much part of the picture and is looking to turn the Balsams into another sprawling area like he did with Sunday River all those years ago…Vail Resorts has been working with the US Forest Service to demolish a series of “pot shacks” which are some sort of structure where skiers gather to indulge in Colorado’s recently legalized reefer madness; problem is that toking up is not legal on USFS land. The most well-known of these, called “Leo’s” was recently dynamited at Breckenridge…I may have jumped the gun in my prediction of Maria Hoefl-Riesch as a shoe-in for the FIS World Cup womens overall champ. Although there are just two locations left on the calendar, one includes a pair of GS races at Are Sweden. Dig a little deeper and we find that second place contender Anna Fenninger does very well in Are GS races of late, and Hoefl-Riesch recent record there is peppered with DNFs. So we could have a horse race…speaking of Vail Resorts, small but mighty Eldora Resort will not be part of the Epic Pass next season, no reason given. Eldora is an independent resort that was part of the Epic program for this season, although nobody outside of them and Vail knows the specifics of their financial arrangement, and they ain’t saying. What we do know is that Eldora has had its busiest season in memory, requiring employees to park off site and shuttle in to the resort…more on that chair derailment at Crystal Mountain Resort in Canada; they’ve been shut down by the British Columbia Safety Authority (whatever that is — obviously somebody with enough authority to shut down a ski resort) apparently they failed some inspections last year and were fined $8 grand at that time. Not to be confused with Crystal in Washington State, Crystal BC is reportedly owned by the Tschanz family of Switzerland and is trying to secure funding for a massive four-season expansion…sorry to report that a backcountry skier was killed in an avy yesterday near Conejos Peak 280 miles SW of Denver, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center. Name and details have yet to be released…two more backcountry skiers killed and two injured seriously in another slide yesterday in the Wallowa Mountains near Cornucopia, Oregon…and on the bright side, Alex Magennis, 42 of Cincinnati was found alive and reasonably well after being lost out-of-bounds overnight at Durango Mountain Resort this past weekend…and if business hasn’t been tough enough in the Tahoe area this season, yesterday Heavenly Resort had to shut down the area around the Powderbowl Express chairlift when an injured bear cub approached skiers. Nevada Dpt of Wildlife tranquilized the little bruin, which then got a ride down the mountain courtesy the Heavenly Ski Patrol. It is being treated and should be fine.
This was the popular Leo’s Potshack, somewhere within the boundaries of Breckenridge Resort, prior to demolition by the Forest Service a couple days ago. Assume the local stoners will quickly find another spot to get baked. “Yo dude, they blew up our potshack!”
3 March 2014 March rolls in like a lion, and the skiing is still fantastic in most of the country. Deals are already starting to pop up for next year’s seasons passes…will get all the horror stories out of the way first…chairlift tumbled at Crystal Mountain near Kelowna in British Columbia this weekend. Apparently an empty chair hit a tower, started swinging wildly, and the motion allegedly cause chairs in front and behind to fall about 20′ to the ground. Three men and one woman were injured…tragic news this weekend from New York state. Robert Parker, 59, of Pittsford NY went into cardiac arrest at Bristol Mountain Ski Resort Saturday morning after crashing, he died from his injuries later that evening…waiting for news from Colorado for two skiers seriously injured last week at Telluride; Bethany Vitt, 31, of Becksville, Ohio, and William Winship, 26, of Telluride collided on the Lookout trail. Winship’s injuries said to be more serious; both were airlifted and we’re hoping for the best…glad to report more snow in the Sierras: Squaw Valley now has 80% of terrain open, Heavenly is at about 98%, Northstar-at-Tahoe now 75% open, and the latest snow has brought skiers back to Mammoth, which is now at 100% of terrain…ever notice how Western skiers stay home with less than ideal conditions, while Eastern skiers will cut holes in Hefty bags and ski in the rain…the stake at Loveland Colorado just passed 300″ for the season…FIS World Cup back in action, ladies were in Crans-Montana where Austrians Andrea Fischbacher and Olympic media darling Anna Fenninger finished one-two, Tina Maze third. Maria Hoefl-Riesch is still well ahead of Fenninger in the overall and it’s likely she’ll take the big globe this season, barring incident…men were in Kvitfjell with a pair of downhills and a super G. Kjetil Jansrud won the Friday DH, followed by Austrian George Streitberger and a surprise third by American Travis Ganong. Saturday’s DH won by Canadian Erik Guay, with Frenchman Johan Clarey and Austrian Matthias Mayer third, Ganong surprised again with fourth. The Super G yesterday had Jansrud back on top, followed by Switzerland’s Patrick Keung and then Mayer. Aksel Svindal had decent finishes and is back atop the men’s overall, for now.
26 February 2014 Two dingbats disregarded patroller’s orders at Whitefish Mountain Resort, MT, took off down Hellroaring Basin after being told — twice — not to due to avy control. They were directed down the Toni Matt run, which is the route Whitefish has published as the correct trail for earn-your-turns fans. The skiers went down Hellroaring anyway, and patrol had to shut off two imminent explosions. Now Whitefish is in the process of reviewing its uphill policy with representatives from the Flathead National Forest…February thaw seems to have passed in the east, leaves behind a crusty mess but most areas deal with it pretty well. Some of the more resorty areas, like Vermont’s Okemo have cranked up the guns here and there to touch things up….in the mid-Atlantic, some areas like Camelback and Jack Frost have so much base they’ll probably be closed long before the snow is gone…word from small but mighty Ski Brule in Michigan has them launching a few lodging and ticket specials in the days ahead, I don’t normally report that as news but this little hill does a GREAT job and besides, it’s indicative of what you’re gonna see at most areas in the weeks ahead. Readers of this column have no excuse for walking up to a window and paying full price, unless of course it’s one of the mini t-bar areas or something like that, in which case it’s our duty to pay the full bill. But as for the resorts, darn it, shop around for deals or use the Liftopia link below this report…speaking of those micro areas, friend of mine just launched a new site called SmallSkiAreas.com which focuses on all those fabled backwater areas in New England like Titcomb in Maine or Cochran’s in Vermont. These areas truly represent the heart and soul of the sport, and we’re glad they have a new online advocate…wrap up on Sochi, a bit late obviously, glad for Mikaela Shiffrin. On the men’s side, kudos to Mario Matt for finding his past form and winning gold, but sympathize with everyone else for that godawful second run course setting courtesy Ante Kostelic. It was so unskiable, even the overly polite Todd Brooker was unable to conceal his disgust. FIS has to put a stop to this goofy nonsense…enough of that, here’s some good stuff, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort reports yesterday’s settled snowpack in the Rendezvous Bowl at 10 feet, 1 inch. That’s the deepest February measurement since 1997…move north a bit, Red Lodge near Billings may be the place to be this weekend. Snow arrives tomorrow, may continue through Monday…move over to Idaho, where the state legislature voted 61-8 in favor of updating and strengthening the ski area liability limitation statute, effectively will absolve operators of liability for any in-bounds problems, including avalanches and terrain park stuff….huge kudos to the Anoka, Minnesota city council for approving funding for grooming equipment and providing free, groomed cross-country ski trails at Greenhaven Golf Course and at the Anoka Nature Preserve.
20 February 2014 West Virginia’s Canaan Valley just announced that its season will be extended three weeks longer than planned; they’ll spin lifts until March 23rd…New York’s Thunder Ridge will host a USA Luge demonstration on February 22 & 23. They’re going to give anyone age 10 and up an opportunity to try “the fastest sport on ice” with a mini luge run on the Little Thunder trail near the base lodge…Sugarbush Vermont reports 100% open, after receiving some 45″ of snow over the past week…more good news from Vermont, throwback area Magic Mountain has the red chair operational, which means life is pretty good in Londonderry right now. Magic has a terrific torchlight parade, fireworks, and other stuff planned for Saturday…back to New York, Gore Mountain is 100% open, that includes the to and fro to the old (now new) North Creek Ski Bowl…6″ of new snow at Steamboat since yesterday…and in the Pac NW, Anthony Lakes just keeps getting more and more and more, over a foot of untracked is waiting for today’s skiers and boarders…skipping all around the nation here…Loon Mountain New Hampshire is 100% open, and they just put the finishing touches on their superpipe, see photo below…moving east, Maine’s massive Sugarloaf just opened sidecountry terrain to the summit of Burnt Mountain, their open in-bounds skiing now stands at more than 1,000 acres…confirming rumors of a couple skiers killed in the Tahoe region last week. First, Santos Constantine Martins Bezerra, an 18-year-old exchange visa worker from Brazil employed by Sugar Bowl, was killed there when he hit a tree on his day off. Then on Friday, Lindsey Van Why, a 43-year-old safety engineer from Belmont, CA died at Northstar-at-Tahoe when he hit a tree on the intermediate Cascade Trail. Neither skier was wearing a helmet; ourthoughts and prayers are with their families…and yesterday at Crystal Mountain, Washington, a 35-year-old Seattle man died when he skied into a tree well in the Dick’s Face section…and finally, New York and Massachusetts-based Catamount Ski Resort (it’s on the border) looking to build 125 condos and $30 million clubhouse on the New York side. I imagine the folks on the Massachusetts side are going bonkers right now.
Loon Mountain this morning, with the recently opened superpipe. Notice anything about it? Besides the fact that it’s beautifully sculptured, it’s empty. I question how much longer the average resort will bother with these structures.
Sugarloaf ski patrol on the summit of Burnt Mountain side country. Notice how far this is from the main face. Other than this always rocky windblown summit, just about everything between here and there is skiable. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but that’s not true in this case. The only word needed is…wow.
19 February 2014 Neglected to mention Tina Maze’s GS win in Sochi yesterday, shouldn’t be a surprise but in some ways it is, because she’s been so mediocre this season. But she certainly showed last year’s form yesterday. When Maze has last year’s form she’s untouchable. Anna Fenninger did a great job with 2nd and good to see Viktoria Rebensburg on the podium. Mikaela Shiffrin acquitted herself very, very well. Barring injury she’ll be overall champion within a couple years. Julia Mancuso was spent by the time she skied off, she merely shrugged and smiled but certainly no shame in her performance in Sochi…this morning Ted Ligety surprised no one with his GS gold, he was followed by Frenchmen Steve Missillier and Alexis Pinturault, with overall leader Marcel Hirscher 7/10 off the podium. Ligety blistered the first run, a full second ahead of everyone else…Bode Miller doubtful for the slalom…sad news from Washington State, 31-year-old Kenneth Kelley died while boarding in the Corona Bowl at Stevens Pass. It’s especially devastating to the resort community as Kelley was an employee of Stevens Pass off and on since 2002…tough sledding there at Stevens Pass; earlier in the week father/son skiers 23-year-old Eric Marble suffered head and knee injuries and 48-year-old Curt Marble suffered a knee injury after getting entangled in an avalanche. They were outside the resort in the Big Chief area…and just yesterday the road through both Stevens Pass and Snoqualmie Pass were closed due to hazardous conditions…happier ending last Thursday when a 10-year-old boy fell 20 feet from a chairlift at Mount Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park, after a trip to the hospital he was declared uninjured…back to the bad news, 67-year-old XC skier Ralph Cronin Sr. of Lynn, Massachusetts died Monday afternoon on the Oliverian Brook Trail in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. He was skiing with his wife, Linda, and was about 1/2 mile from the trailhead on the Kancamagus Highway…in Vermont, 6″ snow overnight at Stratton…in Pennsy, Ski for the Cure events Friday and Saturday at Jack Frost and Big Boulder, to benefit the Susan G. Komen Foundation…some quick follow-up on the fate of Bigrock Mountain in northern Maine, was set to close following the loss of funding from the Maine Winter Sports Center, locals did a grassroots bootstrap thing and got it open, kept it alive. Today word from the Bangor Daily News has Bigrock enjoying an outstanding winter, putting them on fairly solid ground moving forward…back to the Pac NW, Mount Ashland in Medford, OR saw the anniversary of its latest opening come and go on Monday. They got 4″ of snow over the weekend, but that made their base just 8″. They aren’t giving up on the season yet but it sure looks bleak…the only other resort I can think of sharing this misery is Pajarito in New Mexico, absolutely starving for snow…meanwhile the aforementioned twin Pocono Pennsy resorts Jack Frost and Big Boulder have received double their average annual snowfall…in Montana the US Forest Service wants to thin out 250 acres of troubled trees in the vicinity of Bridger Bowl; some of the trees in question are within the ski area. The proposal is open to public review and comment, and there will be some sort of informational hearing on March 3rd at the Bridger Canyon Rural Fire Department. Hey, it could make for some nice glade skiing.
18 February 2014 News out of Utah had resort lodging at 64.2 percent capacity in January, down from 67.5 percent from January 2013…unless you live under a rock you know that Bode Miller got a bit of redemption this weekend when he tied (!) Jan Hudec (!) for a bronze medal in Super G at Sochi. Now we kind of expected gold medalist Kjetil Jansrud to be a factor, but Hudec? Speaking of broken down skiers with low expectations, Andrew Weibrecht took silver. The uninitiated will say, ok fine, he won bronze back in 2010, what’s the big deal? Well the fact is he hasn’t had anything since then, unless you count injuries. Let’s look at Andrew Weibrecht by the numbers, so you understand just how incredible his silver medal is:
First year in World Cup: 2006
Total number of podium finishes in World Cup since 2006: ZERO
Highest finish in a World Cup event: 10th (twice, most recent was in 2011)
Highest seasonal Super G ranking: 23rd in 2010
Most telling of all statistics: He has DNFd 1/3 of all the World Cup races he’s ever entered.
But don’t feel too sorry for our silver medalist; he is married to freeskier Denja Rand. So he’s doing just fine. Lower photo below. But back to Bode Miller; if this finish and his emotional honesty doesn’t rehabilitate his image after the Turin debacle, I don’t know what will. One thing you can say about Miller, he tells it exactly like he sees it…conditions in the northeast have been nothing less than spectacular; Whitetail Resort in Southern Pennsy had three-mile lines to park, ran out of rental skis this past weekend. Up north Pennsy Montage had deep powder glade skiing, something you just don’t see every decade…in central NY, small but mighty Swain resort had a total of 50,000 skier visits last season; they’ll probably surpass that total sometime this week…same story across the country; Sierra-at-Tahoe hosted record crowds this past weekend…great story out of Sugarbush in Vermont. Well, not totally great, if you had your home destroyed, but still a great story. Seems a fire broke out in one of the condos at 1:00 AM, everybody sound asleep, but a one-year-old dog named Oakley (photo immediately below) sounded the alarm — barking until her family woke and took action. They pounded on doors, the condo complex was evacuated. The fire destroyed 36 units, but not a single soul was injured thanks to Oakley!
Meet Oakley — the hero of Sugarbush!
Denja Rand, as mentioned in today’s news summary. She’s also known as Mrs. Andrew Weibrecht. Photo courtesy Lange boots.
14 February 2014 Happy Valentine’s Day! Let’s get the less-than-happy news out of the way first. In Colorado, an appellate court has upheld the ruling by Grand County District Court Judge Mary C. Hoak concerning ski resort liability for inbounds avalanches, saying it’s one of the risks a skier takes. This all concerns a wrongful death suit brought on by the widow of Christopher Norris, a 28-year-old man who perished in an in-bounds avy in Winter Park’s Trestle Trees section in 2012….Eastern part of USA rocked by snow yesterday and today…Sochi Olympics rocked this morning, surprise win for Sandro Viletta in the Men’s Super Combined, taking gold for Switzerland. The great Croatian Ivica Kostelic won silver, and Italian star Christof Innerhofer was third. This win for Viletta is kind of like Tommy Moe winning gold in the downhill back in the day, a complete surprise based on what was previously only moderate success at the World Cup level…Throwback area Black Mountain of Maine will provide free skiing from 4-9 pm on Thursday, February 27…some parts of the east saw 3″ per hour during the height of the storm, so let’s take a quick look around…15″ overnight at Sugarloaf in Maine…Wildcat NH is fully open for the first time this season….In Vermont, Mount Snow is 100% open, Sugarbush is firing on all cylinders, Okemo as well but has a couple lifts that may be affected by wind holds through the day. Neighbor Killington has all but a handful of odd, pointless trails open, so I’m going to say they’re at 100% as well…in New York, Gore Mountain has everything but the Echo trail open, and that one is closed only because they’re holding a race event on it. Believe it or not it’s FIS homologated for a couple of events, this one being an FIS non-cup Giant Slalom. It’s sure to have some future greats in the event…down in the Catskills, Plattekill is 100% open which means all you tree skiers, powderhounds and pin heads (telly skiers) are smiling ear-to-ear…in Jersey Mountain Creek has possibly its best conditions in the past two decades…Poconos Jack Frost and Big Boulder are 100%…Wisp Maryland was covered with 10″ from the storm and has all but two runs open…Virginia’s Wintergreen grabbed about two feet and is 100% open…10″ in the Carolinas, Beech looking great…in Michigan Big Powderhorn has 5″ new snow, awesome conditions…it’s snowed elsewhere in the country, of course, one of the notables being Snowbird, where they’re talking three feet in the last four days and wondering why the east is in such an uproar…7″ fresh on the ground at Arapahoe Basin but still not enough to drop the ropes on East Wall…back to Vermont, update from Magic Mountain on their troubled red double chair. The motor is back from service, it’s being installed, and they’re going to run a battery of tests. Only negative in all this is that the lift probably will not be ready for this coming holiday weekend, which is certainly going to result in lines on the black chair. But my guess is those lines will be shorter than the lines at other areas, so there you go.
Morning screen capture from Beech Mountain, North Carolina, looking good!
12 February 2014 Big snowstorm forming in the east, it is said that this single storm will bury the entire length of the Appalachian Trail, from Maine to Georgia…skier missing after an avy near Keystone Colorado has been found, body identified as 46-year-old Kevin Kuybus from the Denver metro area…three backcountry skiers survived an avalanche near Silverton Colorado Monday…four skiers much less fortunate in a backcountry deal in the Wallowa Mountains near Cornucopia, Oregon; doing a hut trip caught up in an avy, two dead, two seriously hurt…let’s move on to better news…from Sochi, Tina Maze finally back in form, winning — with Dominique Gisin — the ladies downhill. With a shared time, they tied for gold, leaving Swiss speedster Lara Gut with bronze. Julia Mancuso was in the top ten…word from northern New Hampshire has one-time ski mogul Les Otten — the guy who made Sunday River and then created the monstrosity known as American Skiing Company, well Les is supposedly back in the ski resort biz, said to be part of a group that will revitalize and reopen Balsams Wilderness, a grand hotel in Dixville Notch, NH that has a throwback 1,000′ vert ski area attached…other news from Sochi, turns out Canadian slopestyle skier Yuki Tsubota was indeed hurt in that nasty fall, broke her jaw…Mountain Creek New Jersey has a great throwback promotion today, in honor of Abe Lincoln’s birthday, recite the Gettysburg Address today and you get a free lift ticket. It’s worth reading, even if you can’t memorize it:
“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate…we can not consecrate…we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government: of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
11 February 2014 Perhaps overshadowed by the Olympics is the fact that business is going gangbusters at some ski resorts…glad to report that the Oregon resorts are finally — finally getting snow, and plenty of it. With 5″ fresh overnight, Mt. Hood Meadows now skiing great on a 79″ base…also looking up in Tahoe region; Kirkwood had so much snow they had to dig a lift or two out of the white stuff. Photo below…Utah’s Brighton Resort had capacity crowds and was turning cars away from overflowing lots late Sunday morning. (Keep in mind the Utah Transit Authority bus is a good alternative whenever you want to venture up the Cottonwood Canyons) The rush came after 18″ fell Saturday night…speaking of Utah, very informative article in the recent issue of Bloomberg Businessweek explains the battle over operation of Park City Mountain Resort between Powdr Corp., which owns the very bottom, and Vail Resorts, Inc., which owns the top. Excellent reading I recommend, click here…in Sochi, if you haven’t heard, Bode Miller was fastest in the training run this morning for the downhill portion of the men’s super combined. Canadian slopestyle skier Yuki Tsubota fell heavily, taken off on a stretcher but apparently she was not badly hurt…more rough news from Keystone Colorado, a skier missing since yesterday after an avalanche in the backcountry near that resort. Rescue efforts continue today, with representatives from Keystone, Arapahoe Basin, Breckenridge Resort, Summit County Rescue Group, Vail Mountain Rescue, Alpine Rescue Team and the U.S. Forest Service all pitching in. Conditions quite grim overnight and officials fear the worst…even though these Olympics in Sochi have been most excellent, the idiocy of the IOC (International Olympic Committee) never fails to rain on a reasonable and decent parade. This time around it has to do with some athletes who’d like to express a small tribute to Canadian freestyle skier Sarah Burke, who died in an accident in 2012. They’ve got a tiny sticker honoring Sarah, but the moronic IOC says it can’t be placed on any helmets. As if this lunacy weren’t enough, the IOC told the Norwegian Olympic Committee that it can’t wear armbands to honor the brother of cross-country skier Astrid Uhrenholdt, who died a day before the opening ceremony.
Morning screen capture from Kirkwood webcam; certainly a reversal of fortune!
10 February 2014 Well the Sochi games have to be on everyone’s mind, men’s downhill kind of a letdown but shouldn’t surprise anyone that Austrian Mattias Mayer won the event. I’m hopeful Bode will be on the podium for another event. Hannah Kearney obviously disappointed; her run was easily the most inspired but the bobble eliminated any chance for gold. Canadians Justine and Chloe Dufour-Lapointe skied almost flawlessly, however neither would’ve beaten Kearney if she hadn’t been tossed on the first landing. Today the ladies’ super combined, I picked Tina Maze but she was denied a medal by Julia Mancuso. Super Jules had the best downhill and a shaky slalom, although good enough for bronze. Maria Hoefl-Riesch took a well-deserved gold — repeat gold at that. Austrian great Nicole Hosp got silver. Kudos to boarder Sage Kotsenburg whose first slopestyle run absolutely blew away the competition, scoring a 93.5. Judges gave Norwegian Staale Sandbech a 91.75 on his second run but I gotta say the books were cooked. If that run was a 91.75 then Kotsenburg’s was a 97.00. Seriously, Kotsenburg’s first effort was the finest single slopestyle run I’ve ever seen…feast or famine this past weekend at resorts all across the country; Powder Mountain Utah had plenty of snow but unfortunately, plenty of wind. They had to close Saturday, which is not a good thing in the heart of a season. Sunday saw the highway gate locked in Ogden Valley, but they’re fully open now…move down to Little Cottonwood Canyon, where Snowbird is measuring new snow in feet…in Vermont, fresh snow has enabled Bolton Valley to open the Timberline section…Arapahoe Basin Colorado has over a foot of fresh…about 6″ overnight at Steamboat…in New York, Gore Mountain finally has all its various parts and peaks connected and open…thoughts and prayers are with the family of a 46-year-old man killed at Keystone on Saturday; he hit a tree between Porcupine and Bighorn. The man was wearing a helmet; died of blunt force chest trauma.
6 February 2014 Northeast got the goods — well, at least the ski areas far enough north got the goods…throwback area Plattekill in NY is usually open weekends only, they’re open today with a foot of new snow and all trails, all trees, all good. When Platty is “on” like this it represents one of the best ski values in the nation…move further north in NY and a little place called Hickory makes Plattekill look downright modern, all-natural snow only and they’re rarely open, open this weekend…neighboring Gore Mountain got 14″ of fresh…people ask why I don’t report so much on snowfall in, say, Utah or Michigan or Colorado. They have the goods, they get the goods. Northeast, Northwest, Tahoe, Southwest? Not so much. So when the snow falls, I’m going to talk about it…but I suppose I should report a foot of fresh at Snowbird, and they’re looking for another foot or two this weekend…some of the computer weather models finally have some snow hitting the Pac NW, but remember, those are just models…far north upstate NY Titus Mountain open wall to wall on 10″ of fresh…Jay Peak Vermont got about a half a foot. That’s little by comparison for this system, but Jay gets snow all the time so don’t be concerned…pleased to report that Vermont’s Mount Snow got enough from this storm that they’ve re-opened many of their natural-only snow trails, including popular routes like Uncle’s and Big Dipper…same deal at Killington, which added a dozen or so trails overnight, including (love it or hate it) Juggernaut. Personally I’ve never been on it, never want to, but it does serve as a good benchmark for conditions. When they open Juggernaut, you know they got snow…Sochi alpine training runs got underway today. Bode Miller topped the men’s downhill chart. He got a lot of bad press a couple of Olympics ago, but darn it, I would positively love to see him win DH gold and prove once and for all that he is among the best all-time skiers. Austrian Anna Fenninger topped the speed charts on the ladies side; Julia Mancuso might be doing her usual “rise to the occasion” thing because she finished third in this training run. Opening ceremonies tonight….Heading out to the slopes; we’ll be back Monday.
Here’s a video I recommend prior to watching the downhill competition, it’s a skier’s view of a run down the Rosa Khutor downhill course. This link goes to Todd Brooker’s turn-by-turn description of the course. The video is about 2/3 down the page. Definitely worth watching if you have any interest in the event.
5 February 2014 Snow blanketing New England today; rest of the east/northeast getting snow, rain, ice, depending. Snowing like crazy at Killington this morning. Mostly snow as far south as Elk Mountain in northeast Pennsy, which by the way has their one natural snow only trail open for the first time this season. Speaking of natural snow mostly places, Mad River Glen is in great shape today, everything off the single chair is open….6″ of fresh in the past 24 hours at Sugarloaf, and still counting…The white circus is gearing up for the events in Sochi. As a history primer, Austria has the most alpine skiing gold medals with 31. Switzerland has 18, Germany 16, France 15, and USA 14. Most medals of any sort by any single participant is Norway’s Kjetil Andre Aamodt, who has 8, and tied with 6 are Sweden’s recently retired Anja Paersson and Croatian Janica Kostelic. Bode Miller leads US athletes with 5…so who are my picks? Well here goes: Ted Ligety in GS, Marcel Hirscher in Slalom, Aksel Lund Svindal in Super G, and I’m going way out on a limb and calling for Bode Miller to win the downhill. Combined I’ll go with Alexis Pinturault. Ladies: Anna Fenninger in GS, Mikaela Shiffrin in Slalom, Tina Weirather in Super G, Maria Hoefl-Riesch in downhill, Tina Maze in combined….cold temps in Montana have ski areas scrambling a bit; Whitefish closed chair 1 down yesterday when temps hit 15 below, and Blacktail Mountain is closed today and tomorrow at least…Snowboarder extraordinaire Shaun White is bowing out of the slopestyle competition in Sochi, saying the course is just too dangerous. While we hate to see him bow out, we applaud and support his intelligence.
4 February 2014 Nobody has had a tougher season than poor Hoodoo in the Pac Northwest; 3″ of snow fell this past weekend and now they’re scraping it off the parking lot, shaking it out of the trees, and moving it to get some slopes open. I’m not making that up. They’ll be open Friday, for the first time this season, and we give Hoodoo huge koodoos for sticking it out and making it happen…Half a foot of new snow fell on the southwest areas overnight, much needed to say the least. Places like Taos, Ski Santa Fe and Arizona Snowbowl all received a nice freshening-up on their base…21-year-old New York man died this morning at Sugarloaf in Maine; apparently skied into the woods off the Hayburner trail. No other details available….Breckenridge got the goods last night, two feet of fresh in the past 24 hrs and it’s the light fluffy variety. That Peak 6 expansion is now fully open and skiing great…in Utah favorite Powder Mountain got 6″ overnight….and the snow continues; Sugar Mountain North Carolina reports business is up 15%…in Vermont, Killington is reporting skier visits up 4.2% so far this year.
Morning screen capture from the Arizona Snowbowl webcam — looking good!
3 February 2014 Snow has finally fallen again in the Tahoe region; reports from Heavenly have two feet of fresh on the ground, enabling the resort to up trail counts to 40 of 97, with 24 of 29 lifts operating…Fire had part of the mountain closed Saturday at Sun Valley Idaho. Seems a fire broke out at the top terminal of the Flying Squirrel lift, destroying the terminal as well as some snowmaking equipment…Snowing today after a brief warm-up in the northeast; banana belt operations like Camelback PA and Mountain Creek NJ might be getting the best of this storm…good news out of Utah, where Skyline Mountain Base, an investment group of local and European investors, has acquired Wolf Mountain. Wolf is a small (by Utah standards) area in the Ogden Valley that went bankrupt a few years ago and has been kept afloat by the America First Credit Union. No plans to rename at this time, although the new owners say they’re going to increase open hours. They also plan to focus on making Wolf a family-oriented resort, which it kind of is, but they use the phrase “world-class” so we’re probably looking at price increases. That’s better than closure, right?…Intrawest is now trading on the NYSE under the ticker symbol SNOW. Intrawest Resorts Holdings, Inc., which operates Winter Park, Stratton, Steamboat, Mont Tremblant, Blue Mountain (Canada) and Snowshoe, priced its IPO of 15,625,000 shares of common stock at $12 per share last week. It’s hovering around there as of this morning…Awful news from the state of Vermont this weekend. First, at Sugarbush, 19-year-old Kendra Bowers of Newport, R.I., a sophomore at the University of Vermont, was killed Saturday morning apparently when she skied into a trail sign on the Rim Run trail. Later on Saturday, 20-year-old Torin Tucker of Sun Valley, ID, a member of the Dartmouth College Cross Country ski team, died while competing at the 33rd annual Craftsbury VT 25k “marathon” race. Our thoughts and prayers are with the friends and family members of both victims…latest news from Sochi alpine events is a bit of a ruckus after the names of the coursesetters were drawn at random, and the mercurial Ante Kostelic turned up as coursetter for the final leg of the men’s slalom, as well as the slalom portion of the super combi. Kostelic — yes he is the father of former overall champions Ivica and Janica Kostelic — has been known to put gates in strange places. Just one year ago his odd setting in Kitzbuehl was rejected as “unskiable” by FIS World Cup officials…speaking of World Cup, last mens speed event prior to Sochi was weathered out this weekend in St. Moritz. The men did contest a GS event yesterday in St. Moritz; Ted Ligety nailed down the win, with overall leader Marcel Hirscher in 2nd and Frenchman Alexis Pinturault in third. Ladies meanwhile had a slalom event in Kranjska Gora, with win by Frida Hansdotter; Marlies and Bernadette Schild rounding out the podium. Conspicuous by her absence on the podium was Mikaela Shiffrin, who finished surprisingly back in 7th. The white circus is taking a break from its regular schedule for the Sochi games…regret to report that Bakersfield, CA ski shop icon Doug Bentz passed away this weekend, age 70.
30 January 2014 Update None of this is good reading, but here goes…News from Mohawk Mountain a 14-year-old boy fell off the Nutmeg chair last night, roughly 15-20 feet. Witnesses say the restraint bar had not been lowered. The boy is recovering at a local hospital…Ski Apache Resort in Riudoso, NM has released a statement on the death of 23-year-old El Paso TX resident Jacqueline Caballero. Resort says she skied into a tree off the Chino trail, and suffered a fatal injury. According to the local Sheriff’s department, “Another person drove up with her from El Paso for the weekend to ski, but decided not to ski down the slope and rode the gondola back down. It doesn’t appear this is anything else but a ski accident. There is no indication of alcohol involvement.”…now hearing that the latest Hahnenkamm downhill champion, Austrian Hannes Reichelt, will not be skiing in Sochi due to a back injury….30 January 2014 earlier report: A foot of new snow at Powder Mountain UT…down the road at Snowbird they got 10″ overnight…continuing snow is making this one of the best seasons in history at Boyne Highlands MI…still gloom and doom in the Pac NW except a few getting all the goods, like 8″ fresh at Anthony Lakes Mountain Resort…in Colorado they’re spacin’ at A Basin with 10″ of new snow…and up at Steamboat they grabbed 8-9″ of the fluffy stuff in the past 24 hours. Speaking of Steamboat, we have a visual on their new low impact lighting system below this post…Huge kudos to Hunter Mountain U14 Alpine Team Racer, Zachary Williams, who did a fundraiser for Paralympian Staci Manella as his Bar Mitzvah project last Saturday. Young Mr. Williams raised over $7 grand for Staci, who is a visually impaired skier looking to attend the Paralympics in Sochi…speaking of New York fundraisers, a shout out here for the 5th Annual Winter Carnival Benefit/Fundraiser for Team Mount Peter in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, scheduled for next Saturday February 8th, from Noon till 5pm. Mount Peter, if you haven’t heard of it, is a small but mighty hill in Warwick, NY relatively close to NY City….the white circus better known as the FIS World Cup has the men in St. Mortz this weekend, where Bode Miller has turned in an impressive run 2nd quickest in downhill training. The ladies are in Kranjska Gora Slovenia.
Here’s a look at the “night sky friendly” lighting system recently installed at Steamboat. The new fixtures eliminate the ghastly sulfurous sky normally associated with night skiing.
Photo credit © Larry Pierce/Steamboat Ski Resort.
29 January 2014 Continuing a quick look at Team USA selected for the Sochi Olympic Games, here’s the snowboard halfpipe line-up:
Greg Bretz, Mammoth Lakes, CA (12/19/90) *
Danny Davis, Truckee, CA (6/22/88)
Taylor Gold, Steamboat Springs, CO (11/17/93)
Shaun White, Carlsbad, CA (9/3/86) *
Kelly Clark, W. Dover, VT (7/26/83) *
Kaitlyn Farrington, Sun Valley, ID (12/18/89)
Arielle Gold, Steamboat Springs, CO (5/4/96)
Hannah Teter, Belmont, VT (1/27/87) *
* Member of past U.S. Olympic Team
…three previous gold medalists on this team; Clark, Teter, and White. The latter is always a favorite but it remains to be seen if he’s still a step ahead of the competition. And speaking of Gold, brother and sister act Taylor and Arielle Gold will be one of the bigger stories this year. He’s 20 and she’s 17 and they’ve been winning competitions since they were tots…seems that Lindsey Vonn has signed on to cover skiing for NBC-TV at the upcoming games…Iola Wisconsin Winter Carnival is this weekend, they pull out all the stops with a noridic combined competition featuring the Iola ski jump, and word this year is that they’re adding a dog-assisted Ski-joring competition. If you live anywhere close to Iola, Waupaca, etc. this is something you won’t want to miss…sorry to report that a 65-year-old Florida man died yesterday after hitting a tree at Deer Valley Utah. He was on the Keno run, and was wearing a helmet…the lights went on at Wrigley Field, and now they’re on at Steamboat Ski Resort; they’ve lit some slopes right at the base area. What I really like about this is the lights are said to be dark sky compatible. Kudos to Steamboat for that.
28 January 2014 Team USA has announced its proposed alpine team for the Sochi Olympic Games, subject to approval by the US Olympic Committee or something like that. Anyway, here’s the line-up:
David Chodounsky, Crested Butte, CO (6/25/84)
Erik Fisher, Middleton, ID (3/21/85) *
Travis Ganong, Squaw Valley, CA (7/14/88)
Jared Goldberg, Holladay, UT (6/15/91)
Tim Jitloff, Reno, NV (1/11/85) *
Nolan Kasper, Warren, VT (3/27/89) *
Ted Ligety, Park City, UT (8/31/84) *
Bode Miller, Franconia, NH (10/12/77) *
Steven Nyman, Sundance, UT (2/12/82) *
Marco Sullivan, Squaw Valley, CA (4/27/80) *
Andrew Weibrecht, Lake Placid, NY (2/10/86) *
Stacey Cook, Mammoth Mountain, CA (7/3/84) *
Julia Ford, Holderness, NH (3/30/90)
Julia Mancuso, Squaw Valley, CA (3/9/84) *
Megan McJames, Park City, UT (9/24/87) *
Laurenne Ross, Bend, OR (8/17/88)
Mikaela Shiffrin, Eagle-Vail, CO (3/13/95)
Leanne Smith, North Conway, NH (5/28/87) *
Resi Stiegler, Jackson Hole, WY (11/14/85) *
Jacqueline Wiles, Aurora, OR (7/13/92)
* Member of past U.S. Olympic Team
…which looks to me like a darn fine team, and it wouldn’t surprise anyone if the team brought home one or two golds, namely Shiffrin and Ligety. And I wouldn’t be surprised if Miller brought home some sort of medal….speaking of Bode, he’s got to be heartbroken after this weekend in Kitzbuehl, where he was again a bridesmaid, still not a bride. Slalom event won by Germany’s Felix Neureuther was marked by an unusual error by Marcel Hirscher; he straddled a gate during his second run. Although Hirscher still leads the slalom discipline, he was unable to gain on Aksel Lund Svindal in the overall. Next day in the Hahnenkamm, the legendary downhill, Austrian Hannes Reichelt won, followed by Svindal and — darn it — Miller. Swiss star Didier Degago won the Super G, less than a tenth ahead of, — you guessed it — Miller. Svindal third, naturally. Final Kitzbuehl event, the combined, went to Frenchman Alexis Pinturault, with Ted Ligety second and Hirscher third. Ladies were in cortina, pair of downhills split between Maria Hoefl-Riesch and Tina Maze, while Laura Gut won the super G. Tina Weirather was second or third in all three events….men moved to Schladming for a night race, just finished with Mario Matt DNFing on his second run. Victory (unofficial) goes to Henrik Kristoffersen of Norway, followed by Hirscher and Neureuther…on to the ski scene…news from Michigan, Bittersweet Ski Resort, Timber Ridge and Swiss Valley Ski & Snowboard Area are all closed due to extreme low temps…and get this: Alaska’s Alyeska resort is closed due to unseasonably WARM temperatures. I fear those temps are headed our way too soon…New Hampshire biggie Cannon Mountain was closed due to high winds yesterday, reopened this morning…five inches of fresh overnight at Arapahoe Basin…and it gives me great pleasure to report that Alabama’s one and only Cloudmont ski area has had the snowguns on again and they’re enjoying their best season in recent memory…while most New Mexico resorts are doing ok this year, the situation at Pajarito Ski Area down in Los Alamos is dreadful. Recent notice from the non-profit that operates Pajarito says, “We propose to dissolve Los Alamos Ski Club and transition all assets to Los Alamos County, which, subject to (County) Council approval, will then take over operation of the Ski Area.” Tragedy this weekend at Ski Bluewood; 14-year-old Hunter Connor fell while boarding on a novice trail. He told patrollers he caught an edge and fell before losing consciousness and died. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.
23 January 2014 Right now the FIS World Cup scene is completely buzzing, although it barely registers here in the USA. They were finally able to hold a practice on the Streif course this morning in Kitzbuehl, and none other than Bode Miller topped the charts, almost a full second ahead of Aksel Lund Svindal. The crowd went bonkers, and more than one reporter noted that most of the women in the audience were shouting “Bo-DEE! Bo-DEE!” regardless of the flag they were waving. So he’s being called the favorite for tomorrow’s race, although I hate to get my hopes up because he’s fallen just short so many, many times in the Hahnenkamm…in Miller’s home state the sprawling Loon Mountain was closed today for some sort of power problem, say they’ll be open tomorrow…across the river in Vermont snow has been falling steadily and trail counts are up; Burke Mountain went from 15 trails to 25 or so in just a few days. Now the Vermont resorts are looking at potential snow on Saturday…Sochi looms on the near horizon, and we’re waiting to see if Nordic star Kris Freeman is named to the US team, which will be much to the chagrin of the US Ski and Snowboard Team, which dumped him like an old dishrag. Freeman, who is diabetic, is easily one of the best American long distance XC racers. When all financial support from USST was cut off, Waterville Valley’s Chris Sununu took up the cause, gave Freeman a job and is generally helping out…if ever the Tahoe region needed help from Ullr, the Norse god of snow, they need it now. This weekend Diamond Peak at the north end of the lake is holding its fifth annual Ullr Fest — ostensibly to raise funds for the race team, but I think a lot of pleading for snow is going to be sent in ol’ Ullr’s direction.
Thanks for all the kind words from our loyal readers! I’m doing some skiing this weekend and will be back at the keyboard on Tuesday. Have a great weekend! One more thing…GO BODE!
21 January 2014 The men’s side of the FIS World Cup circus is in Kitzbuehl, where it really is a circus. Unusually warm weather had the Austrians using helicopters and 200 laborers to spread snow on the Streif, then it snowed a wet heavy snow today, some rain, now snow, what a mess. FIS officials tend to cancel races when it looks like this, but Kitz — the event is known as The Hahnenkamm — is the European equivalent to the Super Bowl, so pressure will be on to hold the events as scheduled. If you aren’t familiar with it, it’s the ugliest, nastiest, most storied downhill race of all…news that Lloyd Bolander, founder of New Mexico’s Sipapu Ski and Summer Resort has passed away at age 86…very sad to report that 22 year old Skylar Ormond of Canandaigua, NY was killed while snowboarding at Killington on Friday. Ormond was on the Mousetrap trail, a friend fell in front of him, and the young man skied into the trees to avoid a collision. OUr thoughts and prayers are with his family…news much less grim out of Colorado, where a man escaped death in an avalanche at the now defunct Berthoud Pass ski area…in eastern Massachusetts we say congratulations to Nashoba Valley ski area, celebrating its 50th birthday this week.
20 January 2014 If you see someone facing north with a big smile and wide open arms, it might be me, embracing the return of cold air to the continental USA. Looks like the biggest recipient of snowfall with this current system will be the upper midwest. Mount Bohemia got a couple inches of snow overnight…But also places like northern Vermont/NH getting small but steady snow; natural snow depth at Cannon is double what it was Friday. It’s not enough to get the natural trails open at the New England resorts, but I’m thinking you’ll see trail counts slowly but surely pick up through the week…Other places in the east and midwest have been shut out in the natural snow department, but operations like Snow Trails near Mansfield Ohio are open side to side, top to bottom thanks to snowmaking and brisk temperatures…Looking around some more, Wintergreen Virginia has all but two trails open and I expect to see those ready for next weekend with the help of some natural snow forecasted for the mid-Atlantic tonight or tomorrow…small but mighty Snow Creek in Missouri has ZERO natural snow on the ground, but the snowmakers have done a super job of keeping the product out there; see photo below…things are looking up in the Pac NW; Summit at Snoqualmie is about 60 percent open, have snow and lifts spinning at each facility with the exception of Summit East…things are great in Colorado; every chair at Loveland set to spin today, all but one trail is open and that’s over at the “Valley” section so nobody cares…things are a bit icy at the NY Metro area resorts; Mountain Creek NJ has been exceptionally busy and it’s ice, ice baby…will update World Cup news later…tough times still in parts of the southwest, Pajarito New Mexico is still closed for lack of snow, and Sandia Peak is operating just three trails…
Snow Creek, Weston Missouri this morning. No natural snow, but major kudos to “mountain” ops.
17 January 2014 News this week from Colorado Ski Country USA, which is a collective of resorts, says skier visits were up 22 percent through the end of December…First action in FIS World Cup completed in Wengen, with Ted Ligety topping the podium in the super combined event. Alexis Pinturault of France was second, followed by Natko Zrncic-Dim of Croatia. You may not be familiar with the name; Zrncic-Dim has podiumed before, all in some fashion of combined events. Another American, Jared Goldberg of Utah finished 20th. He’s 22 years old and a relatively new face on the cup scene…cold temps slooowwwly returning to the east; checking in with Pennsy’s Blue Mountain they say the guns are scheduled to go back on tonight…World Cup Aerials at Whiteface NY this weekend…glad to report a couple of the lesser-funded areas in the northeast will indeed be open this weekend, with surprisingly more terrain than you might expect. Black Mountain of Maine is in great shape, with both alpine and nordic on tap. Vermont’s Magic Mountain will definitely be open on the east side; they’re trying to connect the dots and open terrain on the west side as well…six-year-old boy fell off a chair at Ski Sundown in Connecticut. Resort says he raised the bar too early and fell right before the unload, but nobody is exactly sure how far. He was pretty shook up, so they helicoptered him out as a precaution. Glad to report he was checked out and discharged with minor injuries.
Thanks for the memories!
16 January 2014 Kudos to Michigan’s Boyne Highlands, celebrating 50 years of operations. They got a nice birthday present in the form of a foot of new snow yesterday, 100% open…Temps continue to return to normal in the northeast, a few inches of snow overnight at Sugarloaf in Maine, new snow also at Jay Peak and elsewhere in the region…place to be in the northeast today is Mt. Ellen at Sugarbush, they’ve got a $30 lift ticket deal today…news out of Grenoble not at all promising for F1 legend Michael Schumacher. He’s on day 18 of the induced coma and medical experts are saying this is not good at all. Schumacher’s family has maintained a constant vigil, which has got to be awful. Our thoughts and prayers are with them…something called Wasatch Equality has filed suit against Alta to try and open it up to snowboarding. Seems the basis of the suit is, because it’s USFS land, the snowboarder ban violates the 14th amendment; I’m guessing they’re referring to section 1. Have a few questions in to the group, will keep you posted. Personally I think the day will come when Alta will permit snowboarding, but I think it will be due to the natural growth of the sport. Let the real snowboarders show what the sport is all about, and the stodgy skiers will eventually forget about the foul-mouthed kids who defined snowboarding in the early 2000s.
15 January 2014 Great news just in from Arizona Snowbowl, skier numbers over the Christmas holiday topped a record 41,000. GM J.R. Murray credits their new snowmaking system, which uses municipal grey water…Michaela Shiffrin won the slalom event in Flachau yesterday, no surprise there. Swedes Frida Hansdotter and Maria Pietilae-Holmner rounded out the podium. Maria Hoefl-Riesch finished fourth, making a big statement about her quest for the overall. Reigning overall champion Tina Maze continues to confound fans with her seeming inability to recapture her record-breaking magic of last season. I suspect she’s written the season off as a training run for the Sochi games…Men are in Wengen, did get in a training run on that downhill and Italians Werner Heel and Peter Fill were fastest…speaking of Sochi, I’m being asked about Team USA‘s lineup, but that won’t be set until the end of the month. I can tell you it looks like Michaela Shiffrin and Ted Ligety are our only real medal hopefuls. The rest of the squad looks like an injured reserve list, other than Julia Mancuso, who has been strangely quiet this season…small but mighty ski resort Swain in west/central New York state is doing some creative offers in the coming weeks, with $9.99 tickets every Monday (except holidays of course) and a show-your-pass-from-any-other New York area and ski free on January 25th…cold weather seems to be returning to the midwest and northeast, looking for snow this weekend….still good through the upper midwest; Ski Brule in Michigan is 100% open with north facing trails in better shape…Vermont’s Magic and Mad River Glen closed this week…no such problems in Colorado, Arapahoe Basin was blessed with another 5″ of fresh yesterday. In case you missed it, Montezuma Bowl is open but East Wall remains closed. I report this because it give you a pretty good idea of what’s going on out in CO, at least for the Front Range hills, Vail, that sort of thing…Lindsey Vonn‘s surgery said to be successful…finally some semi-good news out of the Pac NW, Mt Hood Skibowl will open the Multorpor chair at Skibowl East this weekend, limited terrain Saturday through Monday. They’ll be discounting tix to $35 and will honor all passes, including night only passes. They’ll also be doing $24 learn to ski packages, which is wonderful. Kudos to Skibowl for doing that, and to their snowmaking team for making this happen. Last time Skibowl opened this late in the season was 2005.
14 January 2014 The rich get richer: Steamboat and Arapahoe Basin both report 6-7″ of fresh…the poor get poorer: Light rain falling in the northeast. Getting soaked this morning at Mount Snow…place to be in the east today is the mid-Atlantic; Wintergreen VA reports all but a couple slopes open and decent snow with 34 degree temps on the hill…time for a recap of FIS World Cup action from the weekend. Men’s results, Saturday Felix Neureuther of Germany won the GS in Adelboden. Thomas Fanara of France was 2nd with his 2nd podium of the season. Marcel Hirscher was third and Alexis Pinturault was fourth — both move ahead of Ted Ligety in the GS standings. Ted the Shred DNFd his second run. Hirscher won the slalom event Sunday. Bright spot for team USA was an 8th place finish by veteran David Chodounsky. Women meanwhile were in Altenmarkt/Zauchensee where the rest of the field celebrated the absence of Lindsey Vonn. Just kidding. Sort of. The downhill Saturday went to Elisabeth Georgl of Austria, followed by teammate Anna Fenninger, Germany’s Maria Hoefl-Riesch in third, Tina Weirather fourth. Super G Sunday had Austrian Nicole Hosp winning, followed by Weirather and Fenninger. Super Combi event saw Canadian Marie-Michelle Gagnon top the charts, followed by Austrian Michaela Kirchgasser and Hoefl-Riesch in third. Overall leaderboards have Hoefl-Riesch ahead of Fenninger, with Weirather falling behind a little bit but well within striking distance. On the men’s side it’s a two-man race with Hirscher ahead of Aksel Lund Svindal. Ligety’s third with no shot. The ladies are in Flachau today for a night slalom, the men are weathered off the downhill training course in Wengen. We’ll try and update the Flachau event later…CNN created some havoc in the ski community today with its “top 100 ski runs” feature, they gave the #1 nod to The Stash at Avoriaz, France. Highest rated US run was Glen’s at Snowbird, came in at number five. Personally I enjoy reading these sorts of things, good for getting other points of view.
13 January 2014 Huzzah, glad to report that finally enough snow in the Front Range that Arapahoe Basin has dropped the ropes on the Montezuma Bowl…10″ of fresh at Powder Mountain Utah overnight…update on West Mountain New York, which has gone through some troubled times and was unlikely to open this season, but a new (sort of) owner has stepped up and it is open. We had one of our skiers there on Friday, prior to the monsoon. Not much open but did have a couple options from the top, says what they lacked in quantity, made up for in quality. Of course that’s probably irrelevant after the rain, but it certainly points to good things to come and they’re well positioned to recover when temps stabilize…good example of that is in Vermont, where Stratton is right back up to some 75 trails. It’s gonna be hardpack, but they got it and like most of the majors, they’ll keep working on it…sad news from Montana this weekend, 54-year-old California man died after falling into a tree well on an ungroomed run at Whitefish Mountain Resort Saturday afternoon. Folks, don’t ski near trees; there’s a reason that the powder is untracked…or into trees; Aspen reports that 56-year-old local man Jonathan Stuart was killed Friday when he skied into some trees off the Bellissimo run…speaking of skiing off-piste, Michael Schumacher remains in a coma. More details have emerged from the accident, according to a spokesman from Albertville France, “At one point, his skis struck the top of a rock slightly visible above the snow. He loses his balance and his body falls ahead of the rock. His head hits a rock located approximately 3.5 meters below. The first rock and the second one that he hit with his head are eight meters away from the border of the ski trail.” Fortunately Schumacher was wearing a helmet. Although it shattered, it probably saved his life…Burke Mountain Vermont has officially changed its name to Q-Burke Mountain. Why? Well it seems some guy named Ary Quiros is now in charge, and he wants everybody to know it. Hannah Collins, marketing and events manager at the resort, said Thursday that Quiros’s appointment “does not impact the existing staff here at Burke.” Wanna bet on that Hannah? Tim McGuire, the vice president and general manager at Burke, said Thursday, “This really does not change my role at all as general manager of the resort…” Uh, Tim? Hannah? I applaud your optimism, but you forgot the Q. It’s Q-Burke now.
9 Janaury 2014 9″ of fresh overnight at Snowbird means a good day in Little Cottonwood Canyon…Magic Mountain Vermont is planning to open from the summit this weekend, with a single groomed route. That sounds like a setback, and it is, but the Magic faithful know it’s still an awesome value and there’s plenty of season ahead…I keep talking about Anthony Lakes in the Pac northwest, and I think the rest of the region must hate me because Anthony Lakes got another 10″ of new snow yesterday while many others are staring at rocks…back to Vermont, I pick on Stratton a lot but fact is they’ve weathered this weather very well, will have 80 “trails” open this weekend…midwest biggie Lutsen Mountains in Minnesota is in great shape. Don’t be misled by today’s report, trail and lift counts are way down because Moose Mountain is closed today for maintenance….sad to report that Tony Seibert, 24, grandson of Vail founder Peter Seibert Sr., was killed, and three others were injured in an out-of-bounds avalanche on the East Vail chutes near Vail Pass…A skier named Ward Smith was skiing at Timberline Lodge Oregon two years ago yesterday (1/8/12) when he says he was clobbered from behind by Victor Desimone. He’s suing Desimone for $1.4 million. Suit says he broke his leg in multiple places and suffered torn knee cartilage, traumatic compartment syndrome, arthritis and a skin infection, among other injuries…Royal Gorge XC is the latest Tahoe area resort to shut down due to lack of snow…no real change in the condition of retired F1 legend Michael Schumacher, critically hurt in a recent crash at Meribel. Investigators have ruled out faulty skis and conditions. Looks like this thing was a freak accident…first downhill training run results in from the ladies at Altenmarkt/Zauchensee have Anna Fenninger ahead of Lara Gut, Tina Maze, Maria Hoefl-Riesch, Dominique Gisin, and Tina Weirather in that order.
8 January 2014 2″ fresh snow overnight at Steamboat and Howelsen is keeping people in Steamboat Springs smiling…not many people smiling in the Pac NW, especially not at southern Cascade throwback area Ashland, which has 2″ at the summit and igneous at the base. One of the few places they aren’t complaining is Anthony Lakes, which has a 4′ base on the mountain plus 30k of nordic open…back east, whatever the freeze/thaw/freeze thing is going on, it’s wreaking havoc in New England for the areas with minimal or no snowmaking. Mad River Glen down to beginner terrain, Magic Mountain is uncertain what they’ll have this weekend. Across the river in New Hampshire it seems to be a lot better; small but mighty Black Mountain in Jackson has about 70 percent of its terrain open, and Black is not exactly a snowmaking powerhouse. Up the notch at Wildcat where the snowmaking also tends to sputter, they’ve still got at least one route open from the top and quite a few from the Tomcat triple, so obviously NH & Maine weren’t hit as hard as NY & VT. On the other side of the White Mountains — and at the other extreme of snowmaking — is Loon Mountain , and they’re at 95 percent open. Another thing about Loon this winter is they’ve got an “ice castle” which they light up at night and it’s pretty neat. Photo below…now understand that the Vermont resorts with good snowmaking are just fine; Stratton has been hammering their pumps for the past 36 hours straight…while we’re in the northeast, worth mentioning that the US Freestyle Cup is headed to Whiteface/Lake Placid next week, beginning with moguls competition Weds 15th, aerials this weekend. Iceface has some good ticket deals to go along with this freestyle event…that’s not to be confused with the event going on this weekend at Breckenridge, the “Sprint Freeskiing Grand Prix presented by The North Face” — whatever the hell that means — which is the halfpipe and slopestyle stuff, aka freeskiing. Breckenridge/ Freesking, Whiteface/ Freestyle. In case you want to know the difference. Personally I wonder what went on when Sprint and North Face were duking it out over who would get the front end and who would get the back end. On second thought I don’t really care…Snowbird has a great program called the Utah Adventure Journal Speaker Series, shapes up like this:
Jan. 9 Noah Howell: Skiing The Wasatch
Jan. 23 Chris Davenport: Mt. Everest – Managing Risk From The Top of the World
Feb. 6 Andrew McLean: Powered Up – Kite Assisted Steep Skiing in Baffin Island and Patagonia
Feb. 20 Kevin Fedarko: Beneath the River of Shooting Stars
Mar. 6 Geoffrey Tabin: Impossible Dreams – The East Face of Everest and Eradicating World Blindness
Mar. 20 Dennis Turville: First Descents – A History of Canyoneering
Apr. 3 Liam Fitzgerald: Avalanche Control in the Backcountry
…in the Wildflower Lounge at the Bird, and each presentation is free! They got drink specials, donation raffles, it’s cool. Only drawback is you have to be 21 to enter. But also pleased to report that Snowbird has a different program for children of all ages; every Wednesday and Sunday the Bird puts on a free ski & ride movie in the Aerie room at The Cliff Lodge…If the US Ski Team has announced a replacement for Lindsey Vonn in Sochi, I haven’t seen it in their usual flurry of press releases…Here’s the aforementioned ice castle:
“Ice Castle” at Loon Mountain, NH
7 January 2014 OK here goes, stop the presses: Lindsey Vonn has bowed out of the upcoming Sochi games. In her own words: I am devastated to announce that I will not be able to compete in Sochi. I did everything I possibly could to somehow get strong enough to overcome having no ACL but the reality has sunk in that my knee is just too unstable to compete at this level. I’m having surgery soon so that I can be ready for the World Championships at home in Vail next February. On a positive note, this means there will be an additional spot so that one of my teammates can go for gold. Thank you all so much for all of the love and support. I will be cheering for all of the Olympians and especially team USA!…so that’s that. On behalf of race fans everywhere, we wish Linz a rapid recovery….Snow, followed by rain and soaring temps, followed by bitter cold. That’s the story through the east and midwest, which means business as usual in those parts of the country…far worse deal in Washington State, where places like Summit at Snoqualmie are waiting for snow…rough news out of Tahoe; Heavenly for example is at 20 percent open, Northstar at 30 percent, Donner Ski Ranch covered with rocks and closed…similar bad deal in New Mexico for Pajarito, operating on a limited schedule while the rest of the NM resorts are doing pretty darn well. Let’s hope things turn around for these places…different story altogether in Southern Cal, well not altogether different, let’s just say different. There’s no natural snow to speak of, but plenty of cold nights such that Snow Summit and Bear Mountain at Big Bear Lake, Snow Valley near Running Springs, and Mountain High near Wrightwood are all open with great conditions on their snowmaking trails — but nobody is showing up to ski and board on them! Natural snow has been non-existent, so I guess the “backyard” syndrome even extends to Southern California…quite a different deal in the northeast today, yes I mean different: Places are 100% covered but closed due to temps and high winds….Mad River Glen VT led the charge to shut down completely yesterday. They re-opened today, but with limited terrain and limited temps…southern VT Mount Snow is always a good indicator. They’re at 56 percent open but wind holds on many sections…Titus Mountain way upstate NY is shut for dangerous winds and cold…other than the aforementioned glitches, ski season is in full swing and as always I know some folks who are chained to their timeshare week, while other people are renting unused weeks for a song. Please, please, please think twice before you agree to sit through a timeshare presentation — it ain’t worth the free lift tickets. Anybody who says so hasn’t done the math…new ownership at Montage Pennsylvania seems to be turning things around nicely. They’re doing a bunch of creative discount deals and are currently operating at 100 percent, closing trails only for daytime snowmaking…have I mentioned that southern NH’s sizable Pat’s Peak has opened the new Cascade Basin section? New triple chair spun back in December. Section is closed today for snowmaking, expect it re-opened for the weekend…back to those dangerous winds and temperatures for a final thought: I don’t get to say this very often. In fact, never, but here goes. Best place to ski in the east today? Cloudmont ALABAMA! Yee-haw! This little golf course slope has their best conditions in years, cold enough that they could do a really nice job with the fan guns, but their patrons are nowhere near as cold as the poor bastards skiing at Killington today. So if you have a choice, head for Cloudmont!
6 January 2014 Word from New Mexico is Sandia Peak is closed today thru Thursday, and will reopen with normal operating hours on Friday Jan 10…very, very pleased to report that Adirondack natural-only, surface lift-only area Hickory was open this past weekend. The Warrensburg mountain wasn’t able to open at all last season…World Cup news Mikaela Shiffrin won the womens’ technical event in Bormio yesterday; the men took the course this morning and Marcel Hirscher claimed the top spot. No surprise in either case. The women head to Altenmarkt/Zauchensee for speed events, while the men are off to Adelboden for GS. Aksel-Lund Svindall maintains the overall men’s lead. The women’s overall is much more interesting at this point; going first to third, Maria Hoefl-Riesch, Tina Weirather and Anna Fenninger are all within 14 points of each other. Swiss speedster Andrea Dettling suffered a broken leg while training in Santa Caterina Italy Saturday morning, underwent surgery in St. Moritz. She’ll be out for at least a year…private jet crash at Aspen Airport claimed the life of Sergio Emilio Carranza Barbata, 54, of Mexico. The flight originated in Mexico and refueled in Tucson, fueling rumors that the passengers were from Arizona. Another occupant is in critical condition, while a third is listed as fair. All three men were pilots. The aircraft was a Canadair CL600 and was making its second landing attempt. Plane rolled over, burst into flames. Spokesman says the injuries were not related to the fire…speaking of Aspen, the travel site ski.com was recently involved in a lawsuit between present owners and the estate of the founder, but the Pitkin County judge has sealed the case so we don’t know what happened or what was involved. Ski.com was the outgrowth of a very successful Aspen travel company…New York’s Greek Peak Resort is going to smash a bottle of champagne on their new “Visions Express” chairlift this Thursday morning. Well, ribbon cutting anyway, but I think the champagne would be more fun.
3 January 2014 New Year’s torchlight parades are standard procedure at many ski areas these days, so they are hardly newsworthy, except I want to mention the event a couple days ago at Bristol Mountain in New York. Bristol dedicated this one to longtime Mountain Manager, Ken Keenan, who passed away this past summer. Fitting tribute to a man who gave a lot to the sport…news of the day has to be the storm that has hit the eastern part of the country; natural snow locales like Mad River Glen VT have gone from also-rans to heros overnight. MRG has all but the legendary Paradise “trail” open…here’s a rundown, north to south, east to west…Wildcat Mountain New Hampshire has had issues with snowmaking this year, more so than usual, but as of today they’ve got everything open except for Lynx and a few related routes…Mount Snow VT has dropped the ropes on all but one or two of its natural snow trails…New York’s Belleayre is running about 90%, and south of that Mountain Creek has all but a couple key black diamonds open; the well known Pipeline is among those still roped off…in Pennsy, Elk Mountain has everything but a long natural snow novice route open; Whitetail is virtually 100%, everything but the half pipe…in the mid-Atlantic, Wintergreen VA is about 60%, snowguns firing all over the mountain; Snowshoe WV is about 90% open, still waiting for the Shoe to open the legendary Shay’s Revenge…the other Mad River – the one in Ohio – picked up half a foot yesterday with 23 of 24 trails open…it’s a chilly nine degrees at Paoli Peaks Indiana; they’ve got everything open except for the terrain parks, which are being re-snowed and re-worked today…in Michigan, small but mighty Ski Brule is 100% with glorious conditions…across the lake in Minnesota, Spirit Mountain has a chair down, but is otherwise 100% open…Wisconsin’s Grand Geneva is covered in white, conditions are awesome…in the Dakotas, Terry Peak has 100% of terrain open, conditions are glorious, and while every chair is full the lines aren’t bad today…Wyoming’s Grand Targhee has 98% of lift-served terrain open…Colorado is very good, but not altogether great – Arapahoe Basin has most of the front side open, but has yet to drop the ropes on East Wall and Montezuma. My personal Colorado fave Ski Cooper is 100% but for the Treeline Terrain Park…in Utah, reborn Eagle Point down in Elk Meadows has about 85% of terrain open. Conditions are fantastic and unfortunately the place is practically empty. It’s a well kept secret trying to get back on its feet and deserves our support…Flagstaff’s wonderful Arizona Snow Bowl has more than 90% of its terrain open, 6 of 6 lifts turning, and 26 beautifully groomed runs. Wish I was there….Southern Cal’s Bear Mountain has re-opened and is serving up great snow…beautiful sunny day at Mt Rose in Tahoe; “front” side is good but Slide Bowl and Chutes need more snow…report not so good from Mt Hood Ski Bowl; they’ve got a couple rope tows going but nothing else, desperately need more snow…and to wrap this all up, Mission Ridge in WA has it a little better than others in the Pac NW, running most of its lifts but keeping some runs closed to preserve the base…oh my, did I neglect Dixieland? OK, Ober Gatlinburg has snow, and they’re making more, and conditions are situation normal, all fouled up. See photo below…FIS World Cup action scheduled for Zagreb Croatia has been re-scheduled for Bormio Italy. Both men and women will be running slalom races…and in Olympic news, Russian dictator — sorry, President — Vladimir Putin is on his way to Sochi to test out the slopes….have a great weekend, get on those skis! See photos below…
Paoli Peaks Indiana beginner slope, Friday morning
Ober Gatlinburg Tennessee, Friday afternoon. If you can run the gauntlet of snowguns, you can probably weave your way through all the bodies.
2 January 2014 Biggest news in the ski world barely a blip in US news reports, 7-time Formula One Champion Michael Schumacher was nearly killed a couple days ago skiing off piste in Meribel, France, where he owns a chalet and skis regularly. He fell and hit his head on a rock, which split his helmet apart. Shumacher has had two operations since the accident and remains in a coma in Grenoble; prognosis is uncertain…couple backcountry avalanche deaths last week. Michael Kazanjy, 29-year-old snowboarder was killed by an avalanche just outside Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Tuesday a skier was killed in backcountry of Colorado’s Grand County…the season is shaping up nicely in most of the USA, plenty of snow in the west, upper midwest, northeast, southwest. Everywhere but western part of Washington State; Summit at Snoqualmie Pass has yet to open, almost three weeks past its average open date. Alpental is also scrambling to get something open…word from Bloomington MN is that the city council has approved a $14.2 millioin dollar expansion for Hyland Ski and Snowboard Area, which is great to hear. Usually city council have no clue to the value their little ski hills provide; nice to see Bloomington understands the value of Hyland…other news from Minnesota, 17-year-old Dan Mannon of Wisconsin was boarding at Afton Alps this weekend, suffered a heart attack while waiting in line for chair 4. Fortunately for Mannon, Washington County sheriff’s deputy Shane Linehan was in line next to him, and recognized that the young boarder was in deep trouble. Linehan checked for a pulse, found none, and was quickly joined by ski instructor Kevin Neubauer. The two men began CPR and were joined shortly by Afton Alps general manager Joe Yasis who brought along a defibrillator. They gave Mannon a jump start, and he recovered in a nearby hospital. Doctors say Linehan, Neubauer and Yasis saved Mannon’s life. Kudos to these men and all who assisted. Kudos also to Mannon; the 17-year-old said he wants to get back on his board as soon as he can…wanted to put up a photo of Afton Alps, give you some idea what sort of ski area it is. It’s one of those smallish midwestern resorts with a lot of horizontal, but not much vertical. So I found a photo, but it was, feh. Well Afton Alps is now owned by Vail, and recently Lindsey Vonn paid a visit to Afton Alps at the behest of one of her big sponsors. So here’s my idea of a great photo from Afton Alps…
1 January 2014 Happy New Year!