Ski Area News Archive January 2011 thru December 2011
hosted by Rick Bolger . with correspondents throughout the world
12/23/2011 – Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays; this is the last report until sometime after the 25th…Matt Gebo named Marketing top dog at Vermont’s Mount Snow; Gebo formerly held positions with Mammoth Mountainand The Canyons, and did a stint as Senior Marketing Manager Colorado Ski Country USA…Pennsy pissing contest between Elk Mountain and something called The Village of Four Seasons has the Endless Mountains ski area’s season in apparent jeopardy; Village claims Elk shut their access gate, so they’re shutting off Elk’s water supply. Without it, the area won’t be making much of the white stuff. Decision comes down on January 13th from the local magistrate; unclear whether they can use the water in the meantime. Of course right now there’s a slightly more important part of the snowmaking equation that is missing on the east coast…it is grim at the close-in urban areas in the east, even Wintergreen with its super hi-tech snowmaking system is down to a white ribbon of death…Belleayre got snow on the summit last night, muck below…back to Mount Snow, which is sort of the closest with the mostest for the big New York metro market, some snow fell and they’re now operating on about 1/4 of their terrain. Pretty good, all things considered…in Vermont we also say kudos to family-friendly Okemo, which has rebounded nicely from the rains. They aren’t up to their usual trail count for Christmas week — in an average year they’d be at this point about two weeks ago — now open on Jackson Gore. You can hear a collective sigh of relief from management…story is the same but different in parts of the west; east has the precip but no cold, west has the cold but not enough precip. At least in part. Alta still doesn’t have enough to open border to border…Arapahoe Basin has yet to open Pally, Montezuma, and most of the Lenawee stuff…elsewhere in Colorado we’re pleased to learn that Ski Cooper will open the season and drop the ropes on 80% of its terrain tomorrow…tough news in Idaho at Brundage, not enough snow yet, perhaps last night’s will give them enough for the weekend…Idahoans, and anybody else for that matter, would do well to head north to Schweitzer which has almost 3000 (yes, thousand) acres of terrain open. This morning? 41 trails groomed, 8 XC trails tracked. Oh my…perhaps things are looking up in the east, if easterners look up, way up, they’ll see snow falling this morning at Sugarloaf. The Loaf dropped the ropes on three more trails this morning, ramping up the snowmaking system for night ops…speaking of Maine, a number of areas are offering a free “learn to ski” program January 8-13. This is limited to a total of 141 participants, so you gotta move quickly to skimaine.com. Kudos to Bigrock Ski Area, Black Mountain, Camden Snow Bowl, Lost Valley, Mount Abram, Saddleback, Shawnee Peak, the aforementioned Sugarloaf, and Sunday River for providing this…interesting lawsuit just filed in Reno, Nevada by skier Kimberly Bland of Florida. Back in January this season past, Bland was on the Nevada side of Heavenly, stopped on the Lower Olympic run, when snowboarder and Heavenly lift operator Daniel Barreno crashed into her. Nothing unusual about that, but unfortunately for Vail Resorts Inc (owner of Heavenly), the lawsuit alleges that Mr. Barreno was on the clock when the accident happened. So both Barreno and Vail are named in the suit, which seeks $300K for injuries, suffering, distress, etc. The suit says “Mr. Barreno’s unsafe, out-of-control skiing was the sole proximate cause of the accident,” and adds that “Kimberly was properly stopped on the mountain, in a safe place on the run, where she could be easily observed by uphill skiers/boarders, and she violated no rules or laws.” If this is true, and if Barreno was boarding out-of-control, it would be wonderful to see the court rule against both, and finally get some action on the industry’s inaction concerning out-of-control skiing and snowboarding. Unfortunately, I expect Vail to settle before this hits the bench, and we’ll hear more crap about helmets and nothing about reckless idiots…in Minnesota, Lutsen is just about 60% open…in Utah, personal fave Powder Mountainopens tomorrow, will spin three lifts…in New Hampshire, Attitash expects to open up to the summit this weekend, sister resort Wildcat set to add novice terrain to its WROD…in New York Windham is skiing on 78 acres…and a last minute look at Camelback in the Poconos of Pennsy has a couple routes that, all things considered, don’t look half bad! I think the east will turn things around, good stuff will happen, the season will get underway…Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all, may your stockings be filled with frozen smoke!
12/22/2011 – Snowing in the Front Range; Vail seems to be getting the best of it, Vail Pass is slick but still navigable this morning. Also snowing nicely at Loveland right now, and the roadway is extremely slick and snow covered at the Eisenhower Tunnel. Oddly enough it’s not snowing much down around Dillon; Copper is making their own snow and Breckenridge has sunny skies…meanwhile easterners are moaning and groaning…as rain falls and temps soar into the 60s in New York City, the closest with the mostest appears to be Michigan. Sorry; nothing I can do. Boyne has almost 500 acres of terrain open. Small but mighty Ski Brule is covered and expects to be at 100% by Monday. Caberfae has 3 lifts going, will add the Club Double tomorrow. Problems with recent rain have Detroit metro areas Alpine Valley and Mt. Brighton likely closed all day, but they’ll rebound tomorrow. Elsewhere on the Lower Peninsula, Crystal Mountain is rocking about 40% of its terrain…in the northeast, uh, nevermind…men’s World Cup event in Flachau under the lights yesterday (night there) Ivica Kostelic of Croatia took the top spot, followed by Swede Andre Myhrer and Italy’s Cristian Deville. Best US effort was Nolan Kasper with 26th place. That doesn’t sound great, but any FIS points put you in pretty rarified air. Looks like this kid from Burke Mountain Academy is quickly becoming a force in the technical events…sorry to report that the 7-year-old who fell from the lift at Sugar Bowl on Sunday has died. He’s identified as John Henderson, a second grader from the Sacramento area. It’s still under investigation, apparently the eyewitness accounts are wildly conflicting. Point is that kids are at risk on lifts, and things can happen so, so quickly. As the parent of a now-grown child who would squirm and show no focus whatsoever on a chair, this story is just heart-wrenching. Our prayers are with the boy’s family…ok, gotta find a silver lining somewhere in the northeast, here goes: Temperatures rose dramatically after the freezing rain last night at Sugarloaf. the Soaring temps softened the ice, so conditions this morning don’t suck nearly as much as they could have sucked.
12/20 late update – As expected, Marlies Schild won the ladies’ World Cup slalom event in Flachau. Austria was looking to sweep the podium, but Maria Hoefl-Riesch (2nd) and Tina Maze (3rd) had something to say about that. Lindsey Vonn added points with an 8th place finish; still leads the overall. Continue immediately below for today’s earlier report…
12/20/2011 – Pennsy’s Jack Frost/Big Boulder has been sold to Peak Resorts for nine million bucks. Peak has been operating the twin Pocono areas for a few years, now buying it from something called Blue Ridge Real Estate. I believe this makes Peak the single largest owner of ski areas, at least in terms of quantity. Most are small, midwest operations like Hidden Valley MO and Paoli Peaks IN. A lot of high-profile stuff as midwest goes. Brandywine/Boston Mills also come to mind. Their biggest operations are Mount Snow and Attitash. So the question is, is Peak the next Skico, or the next ASC? They’re going with a stock IPO soon, hoping to raise $103 million…Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. (I’ve always wanted to write that)…After the first run, Marlies Schild leads the ladies’ World Cup slalom event in Flachau. No surprise there…a 7-year-old boy fell 60 feet off the Mount Lincoln chairlift at Sugar Bowl California on Sunday; he’s had surgery but no word yet, other than critical condition. Chair was inspected, no problems found…surprise is certainly the word for the tremendous new base lodge at Mountain Creek in New Jersey; I mentioned this earlier this month but neglected to report on just how nice it is. The Mulvihill family has had an up-and-down relationship with the community over the years; this is a very big “up” and they deserve all the kudos and accolades they are receiving for this. Just hope the core customers, aka “Creek Freaks,” let the lodge settle before they trash the joint. Creek is looking to open for Christmas, but forecast isn’t exactly cooperating…yesterday in our list of places to be I neglected to mention Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort up on Mount Charleston; skiing on a 50″ base right now. Meanwhile, the Tahoe resorts are crying the blues…speaking of the southwest, favorite Arizona Snow Bowl in Flagstaff has 4 of 6 lifts going this morning, great conditions.
12/19/2011 – Lots of snowmaking going on in the eastern part of the country; NY’s Plattekill opened this weekend…snowguns going like gangbusters at the banana belt resorts such as Camelback, Mountain Creek in the Pocono region and at Wintergreen in Virginia, which is open with the usual early season Eagle’s Swoop & the Dobies. Scranton’s Snö Mountain formerly known as Montage, opened with a couple trails this weekend. Correct pronunciation, since they insist on that ridiculous umlaut, is “Schnew” or something like that…Southern Pennsy’s Roundtop still searching for winter…in Maryland, Wisp has a couple routes open on the frontside…rest of the country isn’t immune to the snowmaking bug, even the mighty Alta had the guns on last week…Colorado mainstay Arapahoe Basin skiing on a handful of trails, still none of the black diamonds open yet…Ski Cooper still waiting for the white stuff to fall in Leadville…Tahoe really needs a storm. After last year, this rough start is tough to take…southern New Hampshire’s underrated Crotched Mountain spun the lifts this weekend. In the northern part of the state, Wildcat is open to the summit but with just a single white ribbon of death. Seems like Loon is again the early season champ in the Granite State…in Vermont things have improved dramatically in just one short week; Mount Snow now has three routes down the hill. Oddly enough Snow’s brandy-new “Bluebird Express” six pack is not running this morning, not sure what that’s about. Up north a bit, Killington has expanded nicely over to Superstar, with a couple routes off that chair added to the already decent amount of open terrain…in the midwest, Lutsen went to daily operations on Friday, now about 40 percent of the terrain is open…in Pac northwest, Crystal Mountain has terrific snowcover by comparison to the rest of the country; some bowls are wide open and they’ve got two dozen trails groomed. That’s the place to be right now I suppose, although in Oregon we’ve got every winter lift operating at Timberline Lodge, and snowcat skiing on Palmer. Mt Hood Ski Bowl has two feet of snow at midmountain, very nice early season conditions…on to World Cup news, Men’s slalom event this weekend in Alta Badia had Austrian technician Marcel Hirscher atop the podium, now in front of Aksel Lund Svindal on the overall standings. Italy’s Giuliano Razzoli and German Felix Neureuther were 2nd and 3rd respectively. Earlier in the weekend GS action had Italy’s Massimiliano Blardone ahead of Austrians Hannes Reichelt and Philipp Schoerghofer. No guarantees on the spelling there…Ted Ligety’s 10th place finish in the slalom and 4th in the GS are keeping the Shred firmly in the hunt for the overall; he’s now third…Bode Miller was standing in the start house when the men’s downhill was cancelled in Val Gardena…the ladies were in Courcheval for a slalom event, won by Austrian great Marlies Schild, followed by Finland’s Tanja Poutiainen and Austrian Kathrin Zettel…and we’ll end with some fantastic news out of Wisconsin, Ken and Carolyn Aldridge, of Libertyville, IL donated a conservation easement on their Oneida County WI property to the Northwoods Land trust to preserve XC trails at Minocqua Winter Park. Trails covered by the easement include Tornado Alley, Nutcracker, Nose Dive, Silver Strider and Sleigh Ride. This is reported to be the largest conservation easement granted to a land trust in Wisconsin. A sincere “thank you” to Mr. & Mrs. Aldridge!
12/14/2011 – Big news of the day is that Southern California finally got hit with half a foot of pow yesterday; best conditions right now in the region are at Mountain High in Wrightwood…Southern Oregon fave Mt. Ashland is tentatively planning to open Friday, pending a few inches forecast for the next day or so…in Maine, Sugarloaf will cut the ribbon on its new Skyline Quad Friday; this is the lift that replaces the troubled Spillway doubles…in Vermont, Magic Mountain will operate this season, it’s just a matter of when. Snow is scarce and temps are climbing…neglected to mention that midwest biggie Boyne is open, today’s menu is 7 runs with 60 acres of terrain, early season rates still in effect. I don’t often report on ticket specials, but this is a good one: Friday Boyne offers six lift tickets for the price of one. Big B does this every year to remind patrons that it was the first in the country with a high speed six pack…more midwest news, Wausau Nordic Ski Club will hold a free cross-country ski wax clinic tonight at 6:30 pm, Greenwood Hills Country Club. These clinics are great, really helps your understanding of the whole XC thing…speaking of XC, Adirondack landmark Garnet Hill Lodge was saved from foreclosure by auction sale, price just $1.2 million, great value for the buyer, who says its 268 acre XC course will remain open to the public.
12/13/2011 – Tuesday randomizer…Attitash NH opens today with skiing on the Moat trail…new lodge was christened Saturday at Mountain Creek NJ, replaces the ghastly bubbles at the Vernon base. Facility includes a new system said to streamline the rental process…World Cup finished up the Beaver Creek competition last week with a mens slalom won by Croatian great Ivica Kostelic. Italy’s Cristian Deville was second; Austria’s Marcel Hirscher was third. Believe it or not, American Nolan Kasper finished 4th, just months removed from hip surgery…Wachusett opened today in Massachusetts…yesterday I overlooked the fact that Big Boulder somehow opened in PA over the weekend…Mount Snow adding terrain, now three routes down the hill…in Leadville, CO small but mighty Ski Cooper is still in need of a good dumping before it can open…Utah’s favorite for natural snow, Powder Mountain, is open and while not yet wall-to-wall powder is skiing very nicely…north a bit, Beaver Mountain is scheduled to open December 20…cold rain falling this morning at troubled Tamarack Idaho, but word is they will open December 15…in Flagstaff, Arizona Snow Bowl was open this weekend but has since shuttered; needs another good storm to really kick off the season…in Washington, fave Loup Loup Ski Bowl is not yet ready to spin the lifts. Looks like they’ll go sometime around Christmas, unless a big dump rolls in…in So Cal, Mt. Baldy is closed today, needs more of that San Gabriel cement to open…in the Tahoe region, local fave Dodge Ridge has announced that its “second summit” t-bar is fully installed and ready to go for the season; now they just need some snow. The new surface lift will make terrain off the second peak a lot more accessible…back east, word this morning is that Belleayre is top-to-bottom. Wasn’t sure in yesterday’s report (below).
12/12/2011 – I suppose the biggest news on the domestic front, other than the Vonn family domestic issues already dominating the headlines, is the cold front that finally hit the northeast…Killington and Sunday River were the places to be; they’ve got plenty of terrain today…Mount Snow, Bromley and Stratton finally opened; Stratton and Okemo had a painful up-and-downloading thing going but they’re all top-to-bottom as of this morning…New York saw Belleayre, Windham, Hunter join Whiteface and Gore; in the western part of the Empire State we have Holiday Valley blowing snow like mad and looking to open Wednesday with three trails including Yodeler and Mardi Gras. As I write this, Hol Val has the guns on Edelweiss, Chute, Northwind, Cindy’s and Sunrise…conditions continue to be a little better in the midwest, Lutsen reports two dozen trails now online…Ohio starting to shape up, Boston Mills/Brandywine have yet to open but the manmade is mounting and some portable guns have been on through the day…in Pennsy, looking west Seven Springs has been blowing on the Stowe and Tyrol sections. Looking eastern Keystone commonwealth we have Elk blowing plenty and planning to open Wednesday with Beginner’s Slope, East Slope, West Slope, Susquehanna and Tioga…Camelback has made snow but I’m not seeing enough for a midweek open, then again you never know, the banana belt areas are quite cagey…speaking of which, Mountain Creek has made some snow at both Vernon and Great Gorge…in Virginia, Massanutten (never know if I spell that right) opens tomorrow and I’m thinking Wintergreen will be go for the weekend; they’ve got coverage on Eagles’ Swoop, the Dobies, Cross Trails and the Potato Patch. Or Potatoe Patch, if you schuss toward the right…in the Carolinas, Cataloochee is skiing on 60 percent of its available terrain, guns are quiet right now…moving to Tennessee, Ober Gatlinburg has laid down some white stuff on Ski School, Castle Run, Cub Way, and Mogul Ridge; unfortunately today’s mountain temps are in the low 50s so the compressors are quiet…Tomorrow we’ll look west.
12/7/2011 – Afternoon Update: Indeed the Vonn road show rolls on, Lindsey grabbing Super G honors this morning in Beaver Creek; Fabienne Suter and Anna Fenninger round out the podium. Notable are DNFs from Viktoria Rebensburg and Lara Gut…Morning Report: This is one of those days we pause and say “thank you” to the servicemen and women who gave of themselves so selflessly seventy years ago. Truth be told we ought to do it every day…from Tahoe we hear that Diamond Peak will open this weekend with Lodgepole, Crystal Express and Schoolhouse lifts, with more terrain expected by December 15…speaking of Tahoe, big weekend coming up, it’s the 12th Annual North Lake Tahoe Learn to Ski & Ride with Friends & Family Weekend Dec. 10-11. Resorts offer an all-day beginner lift ticket, a couple hours group lesson, and gear rental for just $30. Participating areas include: Alpine Meadows, Boreal, Northstar, Squaw Valley and Sugar Bowl. Granlibakken and Homewood aren’t yet open, but rumor has it they’ll do this deal once they do open…Women’s World Cup is running a Super G in Beaver Creek this morning; the events this week are a replacement for the scheduled races in Val d’Isere. Notables start at bib 13 with Dominique Gisin; Lindsey Vonn follows reigning overall world champ Maria Hoefl-Riesch at 17th…want to ski at one of the modest resorts in Nova Scotia? If legislators have their way, as of November 2012 you’ll have to wear a helmet in the precious province, or face a $250 fine. Supporters point to 10 brain injuries over the past 11 years as necessitating the law. I wonder how many brain injuries in motor vehicles during the same period, yet no hue and cry for helmets…elsewhere in the Great White North, rescuers found Aussie woman Joasia Robinson after she’d been missing for some 16 hours skiing at Revelstoke…much needed cold said to be headed to New England. Stratton is shut down for the day, expects to make a go of it tomorrow…ownership and future of The Balsams/Wilderness, a tony NH resort with a nice 1,000′ vert ski area continues to be in a state of flux, said to be renovating the hotel and the whole deal doesn’t look to be opening this season.
12/6/2011 – Update: Ligety’s strong finish in the second run gave him the edge in today’s GS event at Beaver Creek. Hirscher and Jansrud round out the podium; Pinturault fourth. Overall leader Svindal to 6th; he’s going to be tough this season…Earlier today…World Cup men are racing GS in Beaver Creek this morning, first run has Alexis Pinturault of France ahead of Marcel Hirscher, who won the event this past weekend. Aksel Lund Svindal, Ted Ligety and Kjetil Jansrud round out the top five…New England skiers positively dying in the heat, but they’ve seen this before. Not sure how some of the areas with marginal conditions (eg. Stratton) will survive this two day mess…if things don’t turn around, they can head to Kepler 22b, which NASA says is the first planet positively identified as capable of supporting life, water, and snow. Only problem is that it’s 600 light years from Sugarloaf, which somehow is maintaining skiing on Hayburner, Candyside, Pinch, and Tote Road today…New Englanders would do well this weekend to head for Sunday River, skiing today off Barker Express, Locke Mountain Triple, and South Ridge Express; temps should drop and the guns will likely re-fire tomorrow. The Riv will look a lot different by Friday…comparably lousy conditions in Tahoe, as Tahoe goes it’s something to complain about. Word from Squaw Valley is manmade routes only; KT-22 still has plenty of igneous visible…better news in Colorado; Arapahoe Basin has terrific snow on the Lenawee/Dercum’s Route and no liftlines whatsoever this morning. Looking at the backside, Montezuma is covered up high but the valley needs a good dumping before anything happens…personal fave Ski Cooper in Leadville still waiting for a good storm…Loveland looks like the best combination of open terrain and value right now…in the midwest, Lutsen is talking about 5 lifts for the weekend, that’s good to hear.
12/5/2011 – Oh my…not sure what else to say…perhaps the only thing that could overshadow the fact that Bode Miller turned back the clock at Beaver Creek would be a Lindsey Vonn hat trick in Lake Louise. Lindsey clobbered the field in the downhill events Friday and Saturday, then eeked out a victory in the Super G yesterday, beating Austrian great Anna Fenninger by .19 seconds. Julia Mancuso was third on the podium in that event. Saturday’s DH saw Lindsey beat Marie Marchand-Arvier of France by almost 2 seconds; Elisabeth Goergl of Austria was third. On Friday, Vonn was more than 2 seconds ahead of Liechtensteiner Tina Weirather, with Swiss star Dominique Gisin rounding out the podium. Needless to say, Team Lindsey is atop the overall rankings. Meanwhile in Beaver Creek, Austria’s Marcel Hirscher edged Ted Ligety in the GS event yesterday, German Fritz Dopfer surprised with third. On Saturday, Switzerland’s Sandro Viletta edged Aksel Lund Svindal by 2/10ths in the Super G, Beat Feuz third. But the big story was the aforementioned Bode Miller, who won the Birds of Preydownhill, edging Feuz and Klaus Kroell. Svindal was 5th in the downhill and when you add it all up, the Norwegian great is atop the Men’s overall…kudos to U.S. teenager Sarah Hendrickson, who won the inaugural Women’s World Cup Ski Jump event in Lillehammer, on the same hill used by the men in the 1994 Winter Olympics…David Beers, a Massachusetts man who purchased Eaton Mountain in Skowhegan Maine a couple years ago, was seriously hurt this weekend when a groomer he was repairing jumped into gear and ran him over; our prayers are with Beers and his family…the New England ski season continues to sputter forward. Killingtonhas managed to get a bit more terrain online, Stratton opened with a wimper…Inver Grove Heights Minnesota’s Middle School has created a brand new ski & snowboard club. Big deal? Yes! This is what the sport needs! The group will make six bus trips to Afton Alps…Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker and Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon have officially testified against ski link, the gondy thing that would connect The Canyons to Solitude which requires a 30-acre land swap with the Feds.
11/30/2011 – Openings continue around the country; Chestnut in Galena, IL says it will spin the lifts on Friday…in Minnesota, Afton Alps has a single run open with a $16 lift ticket…Looking ahead to North America’s showcase weekend in the World Cup; men are on the Birds of Prey at Beaver Creek and the gals are on the East Summit course at Lake Louise. Training runs canned yesterday in Colorado after racers protested the conditions. Meanwhile in Canada, Lindsey Vonn must be skiing angry because she positively smoked the competition in the first DH training run, hitting 78 mph on part of the course…pleased to learn that Alyeska opened this past weekend with fully operational Chair 6, which was on the fritz last season…press release from The Canyons says that they are opening the season with “new village programming”. Don’t know what it means, and don’t care…glad to report that in the Carolinas, Cataloochee got the guns back on yesterday, making fluffy white stuff on Upper Snowbird Trail, Rock Island Run, Alley Cat, Cat Cage Terrain Park, Lower Omigosh, Rabbit Hill, Over Easy, Easy Way, Beginner’s Luck and Wolf Creek Hollow. Which is to say, more than half their terrain. The Cat reopens Saturday morning…Michigan’s Nub’s Nob had the guns on last night, off now as daytime temps have warmed things. Just not enough to open, although it looks like something may happen this weekend…wish the news were better in New England, where even the great Sugarloaf got rained on. Weather is looking up, however, and the ‘Loaf appears ready to fire their snowguns tonight. Sunday River is hanging in there, and they’re talking about 300 guns pumping after sunset. In Vermont, Killington had top-to-bottom but is back to the up-and-downloading on the K1…Sugarbush is closed today, thinking they might get snowmaking back online by mid-afternoon. Hoping these forecasts pan out, because otherwise this season is off to a rocky start in the northeast, literally and figuratively.
11/29/2011 – Catching up on weekend news from the Southwest; Taos, Red River and Sipapu are open with powder conditions; Angel Fire, Santa Fe, Sandia and Pajarito are either making snow, receiving snow, or both, and all will open by mid-December…Arizona Snow Bowl has been seeing frequent snows, just not quite enough to open. We expect mid-December for our Flagstaff favorite, and this will be with two new trails…Weather continues to plague the New England ski areas, but the rest of the country seems to be on good footing. Snowmaking has resumed in the midwest; small but mighty Ski Brule is running the guns on Big Bear, Sunrise & Whitewater…Snowshoe West Virginia is primed to turn the guns on tonight…It’s official, night skiing is back for the season at Mt. Hood Meadows Oregon…Mt. Spokane Ski & Snowboard Parkopened over the weekend…latest from the Lindsey Vonn circus is that she will keep her married name.
11/28/2011 – Good Monday morning and welcome back from the holiday…in New York state, Belleayre did not open as they’d hoped, but Gore did open Friday. They’ve closed since, and will re-open this Friday December 2nd…in Minnesota Lutsen opened as planned, no word yet if they’re open today…tough times in southern Vermont; Mount Snow is now targeting this weekend to open but I’m not optimistic. Stratton is not saying anything other than it’s too warm to make snow right now, and they’re ready to jump when temps drop. Okemo is remaining open with up-and-downloading for the Countdown/Upper World Cup route…in World Cup action this weekend, we saw Germany’s Viktoria Rebensburg win the GS in Aspen, followed by Austrian Elisabeth Goergl and our own Julia Mancuso. Yesterday, Austrian Marlies Schild slashed her way past Maria Pietilae-Holmner of Sweden with an incredible time in the second run. Reigning overall champ Maria Hoefl-Riesch of Germany rounded out the podium. Bright spot for Team USA was 16 year old Mikaela Shiffrin, who finished 8th…in Lake Louise, ageless Swiss wonder Didier Cuche won the opening downhill, followed by teammate Beat Feuz with Austrian Hannes Reichelt third. Bode Miller led the American contingent with a 9th place effort. Cuche would’ve had a slam dunk for the weekend, but Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal eeked past the old man to win the Super G. Adrien Theaux of France was third, Bode again ran 9th…Lindsey Vonn didn’t make much noise until this morning, when husband Thomas announced that he has filed for divorce after four years of marriage. No word yet on if she’ll keep the surname or return to being Lindsey Kildow, but we know that Thomas Vonn will not be part of her “team” for the rest of the season.
11/23/2011 – Happy Thanksgiving to all skiers and boarders! We do have much to be thankful for, and I’m not necessarily talking about skiing here. I’m talking about the other stuff…now to skiing…Arapahoe Basin dropped the ropes on Sundance & Upper Chisholm, now offering 3 routes down from midstation, and the Lenawee Face/Dercum’s route is skiing well from the summit…Idaho we applaud Pomerelle for opening today, early for them as memory serves…Schweitzer has been open since the weekend…elsewhere we see Sun Valley spinning tomorrow, while Silver Mountain and Lookout Pass opened after that storm last weekend but closed Monday. Lookout will reopen tomorrow and Silver cranks it up on Friday… in New England, Loon continues to impress, skiing on 61 acres this morning, including North Peak. If they keep this up, pretty soon I won’t be surprised when they do this kind of stuff…that other Beast of the East, Killington is now skiing down to the gondy base on the Great Northern route. Early season on Great Northern is fine, assuming your insurance is current…in Vermont we hear that Okemo is going to open tomorrow come hell or high water — Ludlow had both with a recent hurricane. Big Okemonkey will be up-and-downloading on the Northstar Express, and skiing the Countdown/Upper World Cup route with an upper chair only…neglected to mention yesterday that the men’s World Cup is in Lake Louisethis weekend for a downhill…Minnesota’s Lutsen is still calling for an opening tomorrow, making snow on Ullr & Moose…in Michigan, Nub’s Nob has been firing the guns like a blizzard, but they tell us the prospects for this weekend are not all that good…adding to yesterday’s news out of Wisconsin we look to Rib Mountain, where Granite Peak says they’re gonna open Friday the 25th through Sunday, close Monday, then re-open next weekend…nothing yet in New York, although Belleayre keeps saying the 25th is the day. Enjoy the holiday, be thankful, hug your loved ones, drink some Nouveau, see you Monday…RB
11/22/2011 – East coast and midwest skiing finally beginning to gain some traction. Maine’s Sugarloaf opens today at noon with superquad serving the Tote Road route. Guns are on at Wildcat and Waterville Valley in NH…Belleayre is calling for an opening on the 25th, but right now the temps are making that look unlikely…in the midwest, small but mighty Michigan Ski Brule is open with early season stuff, expecting to add more terrain today…on the other end of the spectrum, Minnesota’s Lutsen is hoping to open with two trails on turkey day…Minnesotans can head for Wild Mountain in Taylors Falls; doing evening skiing today, day & night tomorrow, and day skiing Thursday. Five lifts will spin tonight, six tomorrow… but Boyne Mountain and Boyne Highlands have both made snow, but don’t appear to be anywhere close to opening…in Wisconsin, Trollhaugen is open today and tomorrow with both downhill and XC; they’ll be shuttered Thursday for the holiday but reopening Friday with an “all-nighter,” that is, skiing until 3 AM…also in the cheese state, Tyrol Basin opened with two runs over the weekend, likely reopening with more this weekend…pleased to report that Alaska’s Alyeska Resort drops the ropes tomorrow…Colorado is kicking into high gear; Crested Butte opens its 50th season tomorrow with free skiing…Beaver Creek, Steamboat & Telluride also open tomorrow…Southern Colorado’s Purgatory opens Friday. I thought they changed the name of that to Durango Resort or something like that. Will get back to you…World Cup ladies head to Aspen this weekend, GS on Saturday and SL on Sunday…Regret to report that one of Scotland’s best racers, Craig Macfie, was killed by a drunk driver in Eugene, OR
11/21/2011 – Ghastly news from opening weekend at Vail, where local physician Charles Tufts died after tumbling off the side of a beginner trail, and at sister resort Breckenridge, where 20 year-old Evan Massini of CT slammed into a tree off the Northstar trail. Both were wearing helmets…I tell you what, the number of people pointing out the lunacy of FIS — the World Cup governing body — is growing. This weekend Ted Ligety did a good job of detailing their idiocy in his blog, here’s the link. It has a lot to do with safety of the athletes, their ability to monetize their efforts, and FIS’ cluelessness regarding both. Ted can’t say it, so I will: FIS Sucks. Come and get me…spent most of last week drumming up excitement about openings in WA & Tahoe, and didn’t look closely enough at New England. Although on Friday (below) I did mention that I was expecting NH’s Loon to impress, and they did, by opening this weekend after blowing a bunch of snow up high and using their gondy to up and download. Hey, it’s the same thing Heavenly and Northstar did Friday. Kudos to Loon…back to WA, word is that White Pass opened yesterday; seems that it snowed, skiers went to the mountain, and the mountain said, uh, ok we’ll open! Now that’s cool…more avalanches in Big Cottonwood Canyon, this weekend in the backcountry; no fatalities but some seriously close calls…we hear that Montana gets in the swing of things this holiday weekend; Big Sky spins the lifts on Thanksgiving Day and best-kept secret Red Lodge Mountain will open on Friday.
11/18/2011 – Vail Resorts spins lifts at a bunch of its properties today, including Northstar and Heavenly, now confirmed to open. Both Tahoe biggies will be up and downloading to access the open terrain…add Belleayre and Loon to the list of those making snow in the northeast. I was impressed by the massive amount of terrain Loon opened early last year, and looking at the list of trails that got manmade last night, looks like I’m going to be impressed again this year…more later…
11/17/2011 – Pac NW storm will have Summit at Snoqualmie opening on Saturday on the Summit West section, then will shut down Monday and Tuesday before reopening Wednesday…Stevens Pass and Mission Ridge are now planning to spin ’em Saturday as well…and we mentioned yesterday that Crystal and Baker are both opening tomorrow…White Pass isn’t quite there, but you never know…Colorado has Eldora opening today, wait a sec, tomorrow? We’ll re-check that one…also Snowmass opens Saturday…nothing yet out at Powderhorn, which if you hadn’t heard, was purchased this summer at a firesale price of 1.4 million, renaming itself “Powderhorn Mountain Resort”…New Englanders with a keen sense of hearing recognize the sound of Sugarloaf cranking the guns back up on Tote Road; temps have finally dropped to enable the Loaf to blast the white stuff but it won’t be enough to permit opening tomorrow as originally planned. Meanwhile they’re finishing up the load testing on the new Skyline chair replacing the troublesome Spillway doubles, which last season spilled a few customers along the way. So it’s all good, and the jewel of the east will be dropping ropes before you know it…guns are on at Bretton Woods and have resumed at Killington…Okemo is close to cold enough, and by the way they are hosting that big annual swap this coming weekend…in NY we know that Windham is making snow in the Catskills.
11/16/2011 – Huzzah! Pac NW we see that the snow has arrived at Crystal and the Rainier biggie will indeed open Friday with the Gondola & Green Valley chair and $35 tix…Mt. Baker is also hoping to spin the lifts this weekend…not so good at Mt Ashland, may not make Turkey Day as hoped…Looking for things to start breaking in Tahoe tomorrow; Northstar and Heavenly both plan to open Friday. They’ve been making snow at night, then watching it bake in the daytime sun. So what’s so important about tomorrow? Temps are supposed to finally drop to really cold levels, possibly even the teens, and thus I predict both will open Friday. They’ll join Boreal, which has some top-to-bottom terrain plus some really nice features for the park’n’pipers. For its part, Northstar is hoping to offer up The Big Springs Express Gondola, Highlands Gondola, Arrow Express, Vista Express and The Big Easy quad with a $69 ticket…Vail set to open Friday…in Utah, Brian Head and Park City both drop the ropes on Saturday…we’re told Crested Butte will offer free skiing on opening day, Nov. 23, and on your birthday (for adults, during the season) all to celebrate the Butte’s 50th season…in the east, Killington and Sunday River are hanging on somehow…UPDATE Mt. Baker is now “go” for Friday.
11/15/2011 – While the northeast swelters (relatively speaking), we have an opportunity to look at some of the off-season news, updates & changes that skiers and boarders can expect this winter. Policy is, we don’t talk about expanded cafeteria offerings or new apps for the phone or incredibly improved ski & stay packages or any of that crap that the ski resorts attempt to pass off as news. So bear that in mind. Here goes…Gore Mountain continues to grow, two new tree-skiing trails have been added in the revitalized North Creek Ski Bowl section…elsewhere in the Empire State, we’re pleased to see that Peek’n’Peak has apparantly found its way out of the woods with sale in a Cleveland Bankruptcy Court to Scott Enterprises of Erie PA. The aging golf & ski mecca sold for $11.3 million…Holiday Valley of Ellicottville, NY replaced the old Snow Pine double with a quad…”new” chair also in Pennsy at Ski Sawmill, replaced its aging double with a triple sold off by Ski Shawnee (the one in the Poconos, not the one in Maine)…speaking of Pennsy, Whitetail added one of those carpet-loader things to its EZ-Rider quad chair. I still don’t “get” those things…Hidden Valley PA has added an easy glade route off the North Summit, and a handle tow in the park…in an era when most superpipes are being replaced or left to rot, Seven Springs is actually enlarging theirs to meet Olympic regs. The western PA biggie has also added a new beginner area with carpet lift off the Stowe slope on the front side. And they’ve “retrofitted” five old lifts, which will allegedly make them faster…and just barely in the northeast, Maryland’s Wisp claims it will indeed open this season amidst myriad financial woes…NH’s Loon Mountain says it will have its access bridge — destroyed by Hurricane Irene — operational by Turkey Day. Loonies will enjoy 4 new trails this season: Upper and Lower Twitcher and Jobber on South Peak, and Dropline, a novice trail with a progression park…couple other areas mangled by Irene are coming along nicely, I’m thinking mainly of Sugarbush which had all sorts of infrastructure obliterated…Vt’s Mount Snow will debut that new 6-pack you’ve been hearing about, hopefully by Thanksgiving.
11/14/2011 – Difficult news from Utah where legendary backcountry skier Jamie Pierre was killed snowboarding at Snowbird when an avalanche swept him off a cliff near the South Chute. The Bird is not yet open, so no avvy control has been done. Pierre is that guy who hucked 255′ off a cliff at Grand Targhee; you’ve probably seen the footage. He was in a number of Warren Miller films and was universally liked throughout skidom. He will be missed…other avvys in Little Cottonwood Canyon, including 4 reported at Alta, some injuries…Lift engines across the country roared to life over the weekend…well alright, in some cases they sputtered to life. Small but mighty Ski Brule cranked lifts in Michigan on Saturday as planned…in the Carolinas, Sugar Mountain and Cataloochee both opened Saturday; the Cat will suspend ops until next weekend but Sugar has a lift going 3/4 of the way to the top with “skiing” on the Flying Mile. Tix are just $20 & $25 but be warned the “snow” is a bit earthy. Hey, it’s a start, and hats off to Sugar for opening today…lot of New England resorts wish they had Carolina conditions. Except for Killington and Sunday River, they simply don’t have anything going on. Even Bretton Woods is quietly looking at temps in the 50s, and they usually have snowmaking somewhere on their gently rolling terrain by now…things look much better in Colorado, sort of; treacherous weather has made travel difficult. Communication lines are down at A-Basin, but they tell me they’re open…Loveland might be the place to go with 6″ of fresh and pavement visible on I-70 at the tunnel…storm pretty much missed Vail…and indeed Breckenridge opened this weekend with a few routes off Peak 8…Winter Park is skiing 38 acres…and will wrap up this morning with news from Pennsylvania, sort of a magnet for dismal news this weekend. Shuttered Laurel Mountain, the state-owned ski area near Ligonier, will not be reopening this season as hoped. Pennsy DCNR has more to do before Seven Springs can assume its contract to operate Laurel, hopefully for the 2012-13 season…thoughts and prayers for Jamie Pierre’s family and loved ones; rest in peace Jamie.
11/10/2011 – California is a winter wonderland as Mammoth opens the season this morning with some wide open bowls, absolutely beautiful weather. Festivities, concerts, ski films etc will be going on all weekend. It’s definitely the place to be today…New Englanders are correct to be excited about the Boston Ski and Snowboard Expo, which kicks off today, 3:00 PM at the Seaport World Trade Ctr in Beantown; runs through Sunday…also in New England, Killington continues to run a couple of lifts to keep skiers happy up on the part of the mountain formerly known as The Glades…Pennsy’s Blue Mountain has some festivities going this weekend at its pre-season tent sale, includes nightly showings of After Dark, a new ski film by Level 1…World Cup news has Steve Nyman with a torn Achilles tendon after a crash yesterday while training at Copper; he’s looking to return next season. Nyman will be 30 next year, so he’ll have a tough road, but of course we wish him the best.
11/9/2011 – In Tahoe, Boreal goes top-to-bottom today…Utahans are smiling from ear to ear as both Brighton and Solitude will be spinning lifts tomorrow morning. Brighton will be open on Majestic, Explorer, and Crest, but no night skiing yet, tix are $38 tomorrow. Solitude may have a bit more, and tix will be about a tenspot higher. Want to say early kudos to Brighton, which is offering free skiing on Friday to all veterans and active military for Veterans Day…Canada’s Cypress Mountain opened yesterday…looking for Breckenridge (the alpine ski area) to open for its semicentennial season on Friday, and Winter Park to drop the ropes on five trails Saturday…small but mighty Ski Brule, usually one of the first to open in the midwest, is wishing and hoping for a Friday opening. Snowguns are ready, temps are???…still waiting to pick up my copy of the latest Meatheads movie.
11/8/2011 – Yesterday President Barack Obama signed into law the Udall Ski Area Recreational Opportunity Enhancement Act (S. 382/HR 765) which will allow summer rec uses such as golf courses, zip lines, rope courses, alpine slides, etc. on USFS leased land. And of course, this Act “officially” legalizes snowboarding. It amends the National Forest Ski Area Permit Act of 1986, which technically limited activities to alpine and Nordic skiing…in Canada, Lake Louise opened yesterday…sad to say that Ed Pauls, inventor of the Nordic Trackexercise machine, died yesterday at age 80. Pauls concocted the idea for the torturous contraption while cross country skiing near his home in the Minneapolis suburbs. In honor of his passing, hundreds of Nordic Tracks are available free on Craigslist and at curbside across the country…back to the USFS, which is trying to tear down an iconic and historic 1953 era war memorial on Whitefish Mountain Resort based on its religious symbolism, regardless of the fact that it was erected as a tribute to American heros of World War II. Forest Service has been offered a land swap by Montana US Representative Denny Reberg.
11/4/2011 – Great news in Tahoe where Boreal reopens for the season this morning, terrain is limited but tix are just $15 today…Reigning Super-G world champ Christof Innerhofer of Italy crashed during training and injured his head and left knee, no word yet on how this will affect his season…in Utah Brighton and Solitude are both making rumblings about opening early; snowmaking is on and snow is falling…Bogus Basin‘s 61st annual ski swap opens for buyers at 5 p.m. today, this is at Expo Idaho at Chinden Boulevard and Glenwood Street in Garden City, ID…Powderhorn Ski Patrol hosting its annual swap this weekend at Two Rivers Convention Center, 159 Main St in Grand Junction CO…Washington State XC fans want to head to the swap at Fitness Fanatics, 12425 E. Trent in Spokane Valley, swap selling kicks off tomorrow at 9 AM.
11/3/2011 – Season opener news today is out of Breckenridge, with 10″ on the lower trail system, the Breckenridge Nordic Center is open with groomed XC and some limited snowshoeing. Were you expecting something else? Oh, right. The monster next door to Breck Nordic opens on November 11…The surprise story continues to be Killington, which just about two months ago had all access roads cut off and the K1 Pub demolished by hurricane, with a few pundits going so far as to say the entire season was in jeapordy! Well those prognosticators turned out to be wrong, as not only did Vermont rebuild but now Kmart is cranking on two significant trails on the North Ridge Triple, open EVERY DAY until conditions deteriorate…nearby Okemo is planning to open on the 19th; Okemonkeys will want to hit up the annual ski swap that weekend as well…great news from A-Basin, which has indeed opened the Lenawee/Dercums route as planned…and on the other side of the divide, Loveland is now spinning chair 6 in addition to the usual early season chair 1…news not so good in Levi Finland, where the pending World Cup event has been cancelled due to lack of snow…other FIS World Cup news, Canadian speedmaster Manuel Osborne-Paradis is proceeding nicely on his comeback trail…First measurable snow of the season has fallen at Pac NW’s Summit at Snoqualmie, where regulars look forward to two new lifts this season…Wisconsin’s Rib Mountain Ski Club hosts its annual swap this Saturday at Marathon Park in Wausau…and a swap Sat & Sun at New Jersey’s small but mighty Hidden Valley…always thought “Wausau” was a cool name.
11/1/11 – Huzzah! It’s Tuesday and Killington is open; seems like old times in the northeast. But honestly with so much snow, northeast skiing in October has never looked this good. In the Catskills, Plattekill pulled a surprise opening on Saturday, and Belleayre is now talking about a November 12 opening…elsewhere in NY we’re so glad to announce that Mt. Pisgah, a community type area in Saranac Lake, has cut the ribbon on a brand new T-bar…Colorado’s Copper and Keystone will join the open ranks this coming Friday…snow forecast has A-Basincalling for top-to-bottom skiing on Wednesday; to date they’ve been open on High Noon and such from mid-mountain…Vail and Beaver Creek have the guns cranking…in Maine an Oxford County Superior Court jury ruled yesterday that injuries suffered by 59-year-old Steven Sutton were accidental when he fell off a chairlift at Sunday River in 2007…sad midwest news in Duluth where the historic Chester Bowl ski jumps were demolished yesterday…in the banana belt, 20″ of snow has fallen at Snowshoe WV, but no firm opening date yet.
10/29/2011 – early update Game on in the east for sure; Killington and Sunday River are cranking things up Saturday morning with limited but indeed lift-served terrain. These are not permanent openings for the season, but hey, we’re skiing!
10/28/2011 Cali friend says that Boreal will open a park this weekend…East coast finally got a taste of the white stuff yesterday, notable coatings at Sugarbush, Killington and Okemo…New Yorkers can safely assume that it snowed heavily at Belleayre last night, because it did. Mostly wet glop, but hey, it looks like a winter wonderland this morning…That snowfall may be sexy, but it will melt soon. It overshadows the real news from the northeast, which is that Bretton Woods started blowing snow yesterday. Supposedly Killington has some ops up on the North Ridge area, while Sunday River is working on its second day on T2 and the Sunday Punch route. ..and with some sort of “first in the east” honors we’re told Mount Snow will open a collection of park features this weekend in the Launch Pad area…other news from Sneaux is that Day Franzen has been hired to run the park stuff at Carinthia; Franzen once owned and operated Tahoe’s popular Kingvale terrain park…Midweek snow has started a nice base at NM resorts Red River, Taos, Angel Fire and Ski Santa Fe; now 2″ of overnight fluff has Ruidoso’s Ski Apache regulars heating up the irons and brushing out the files; Apache is talking a Thanksgiving Day opening…Finn great Kalle Palander‘s season and indeed career are looking to be finished after that crash in Sölden last week. He caught his right ski and skittered into the catch fence, busting up his knee in the process…WV biggie Snowshoe Mountain was slated to turn the guns on sometime yesterday or today, looking to a Nov 23 opening…Pennsy’s former Montage Mountain, now inexplicably called Snö Mountain, appears to be in deep financial doo doo, said to be in default on a $5 million state loan…Montana’s Great Falls Ski Club’s annual Ski Swap is at the fairgrounds’ Trades and Industries building 5 to 9 p.m. today and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. tomorrow; representatives from Showdown, Whitefish and a few others will be on hand, and of course the swap will offer up oodles of used gear.
10/27/2011 Major white stuff throughout Colorado yesterday. Wolf Creek, which has been open weekends, got a foot and will spin three lifts this one coming, expecting to have about half its terrain open. Loveland got a foot, spinning one lift and “five” trails. A-Basin a bit less snow, now two routes down. Sunlight Mountain Resortclaims 10″ of snow, they usually open in December. The biggest dump was at Winter Park, which got about 15″ and is targeting a November 16 opening…News is not so good in Minnesota, where Lutsen is low on water and seeking to draw from the nearby Poplar River. The multi-mountain resort is approved to take 150 million gallons out, except when levels are low, which they are. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is seeking public comments on a proposal for a temporary permit. Flow rate in the popular trout stream has been below the threshold for weeks…Word out of Tahoe is that Heavenly Resort and Northstar-at-Tahoe fired up the snowguns on Tuesday night; Heavenly on the upper portion of the California Trail and Northstar on Main Street, Lower Pioneer, Pinball and Lumberjack trails. Both are pointing to a November 18 opening…Canadian ace John Kucera has been given the ok to race again, glad to hear.
10/26/2011 Bit of a pre-season hullabaloo going on over the Wasatch, seems the Utah utilities people are questioning the plethora of plans on the table at various resorts, including but not limited to: Solitude possibly connecting to The Canyons, Solitude adding a lift from Honeycomb Canyon to the top of Grizzly Gulch, The Canyons building a tram to Solitude, Park City Mountain Resort talking about two lifts in Guardsman Pass area, Alta adding a lift to possibly connect with Solitude, Snowbird wants a new tram to the top of American Fork’s Twin Peaks, and on and on. Environmentally speaking, some of these ideas seem questionable, but from a skiing point of view it has a definite Eurostyle appeal. Imagine skiing from The Canyons to Solitude to Alta to Snowbird!
10/24/2011 Sort of at a loss for words to describe the twin killing for Team USA at the FIS World Cup opener in Sölden, where Lindsey Vonn and Ted Ligety both topped the podium. This is Vonn’s first time in GS, and Ligety’s first on the Rettenbach Glacier. Ted had placed there a few times, and as defending discipline champ, his victory is not that surprising. But add it to Vonn’s, and the Europeans are certainly scratching their heads. A few days ago I mentioned that we’d be “watching Lindsey Vonn to see if special training from coach Jeff Fergus will kick start her GS efforts.” Don’t know if that was it, but something did. Ms. Vonn’s stock goes even higher now, if you can imagine that. She is now among the top 3 or 4 of all-time, and with a few more years will be within striking distance of Annemarie Moser-Pröll. As for Ted the Shred, we were quietly wondering if the new ski standards would throw off his GS game. We wonder no more…Little bit of tug-of-war going on at Chicagoland’s small-but-mighty Wilmot Mountain, a Wisconsin ski hill that sits right on the Illini line. Turns out a survey shows that an approximate 20′ x 120′ swath is actually one toke over the line; Lake County Forest Preserve District says it owns that land which is sort of a staging area for the aptly-named State Line trail. Wilmot says it goes back to a handshake agreement, while the Preserve says they’re squatting. Being that this is post-1960s America, it’s naturally headed to court…looks like Northstar at Tahoe will have that new quad ready for the season…Mount Snow will have a new summit six-pack with some sort of bubble top. Bubbles — which haven’t been seen for a while — are an incredibly ripe target for graffiti, stickers, and x-acto knives. Not sure how this will play out…Yosemite’s Badger Pass is calling for a Friday, December 16 opening.
10/21/2011 How’s this for questionable timing: Yesterday, reigning FIS World Cup Womens Overall Champion Maria Höfl-Riesch announced that she’s going to retire in two years. Huh? I don’t speak German; guessing it was something like: “Ja, ich bin ready for Sölden, but ich mache retire in zwei jahre.” Is she really focused on the season? Hey, when people start talking about retirement, it usually means that they’re ready now. And naturally we can’t talk about Riesch without mentioning arch-rival Lindsey Vonn, who is being portrayed as “poised for a comeback season” in the press. Come again? Hello, McFly, she did carry home three globes last year. I’m not sure people realize how tough the competition is. It’s going to take an awesome season for Lindsey to defend those discipline titles. And what if she wins just one globe? Would that be a disappointment? Point is that this woman faces expectations that are impossible for any mere mortal. Meanwhile Bode Miller is screaming that the new FIS ski standard is a step backward: “Next year you will see people walking into a ski shop and buy better skis than we can race on in the World Cup. That’s a really bad situation.” Riesch talks retirement. Vonn looks to rebound. Bode says the emperor has no clothes. What a weird sport…”Yes” to ziplines, “no” to World War II Veterans…The Udall Ski Area Recreation Opportunity Enhancement Act passed the lower house yesterday, meaning President Obama is the decider. I’m gonna go way out on a limb here and suggest that he’ll probably sign this one with a lot more pomp and circumstance than he’s gonna lend to today’s free trade agreements. Just a hunch. Anyway, the real beneficiaries of this bill are going to be the biggies in the Pac Northwest; places like Crystal, Mission Ridge and Stevens Pass will now be able to offer some of the related type offerings offered at Whistler. Crystal is already drawing up plans for a zipline. But this will not be an overnight thing and we certainly aren’t going to see anyone replicate the aforementioned Canadian carnival…meanwhile the Feds are telling Whitefish Mountain Resort that a religious statue that has stood on its slopes for 58 years has to come down. It was built by World War II Veterans to honor the people who served in the war effort, especially those who fought in the 10th Mountain Division. Feds say no, can’t have religious icons on Federal Land. OK, what about the protection the same Forest Service gives the Hopis, who say the San Francisco Peaks are sacred whenever it concerns Arizona Snowbowl?
10/20/2011 “Game on” nordic style, Independence Mine at Hatcher Pass near Anchorage AK dropped the ropes yesterday on 5.3 kilometers of trail that have been groomed for classic and skate skiing. Hardcore XC enthusiasts are also gliding at nearby Powerline Pass on some rather sketchy cover…The rolling circus known as FIS World Cup ramps up the season with the traditional kick-off mens & womens GS competition on Sölden’s Rettenbach glacier. GS Champ Ted Ligety goes in as the men’s favorite, despite the fact that he’s never been on the top of the podium here. Reigning GS Globe holder Viktoria Rebensburg won the ladies’ competition last year. The pundits are watching Lindsey Vonn to see if special training from coach Jeff Fergus will kick start her GS efforts. Keep in mind that the 3rd place she got at Spindleruv Mlyn near the end of last season was Lindsey’s first ever WC podium in that discipline…by the way, if you’re interested enough to read this, you can consider yourself a pundit…venture capitalists have pumped another $1.3 million into Liftopia. I guess that’s good; I really like it the way it is. Keep in mind that when you use the Skiernet Liftopia link , we get a couple nickels to help keep this site afloat…Senator Mark Udall’s Ski Area Recreation Opportunity Enhancement Act passed the Senate late Tuesday. The bill allows exemptions for biking trails, concerts, zip lines and disc golf courses on USFS & BLM lands. Right now the ski resorts who rent on these lands, such as Aspen, Stratton, etc. are only permitted to offer skiing, technically speaking. Incidentally, this bill will also make it legal — for the first time — to snowboard at these ski areas. Bet you didn’t know that little tidbit….48th annual North Tahoe Ski Swap is this Saturday, Oct. 22, 9-3, at North Tahoe High School. Drop-off is 3-9 PM tomorrow…Hartford CT area swap at Mt. Southingtonthis Saturday & Sunday…Biggie is the Corvallis Swap this weekend at Benton County Fairgrounds in Corvallis, Oregon; sale starts Friday at 6 pm and continues all day Saturday. Drop off is today and tomorrow, stuff has to be in tomorrow by 5 pm.
10/18/2011 Midwesterners should mark the calendar for this weekend’s Windy City Ski & Snowboard Show kicking off Friday at 3:00 PM at the Renaissance Schaumberg Hotel and Convention Center. Up north a bit is the 5th Annual Minnesota Ski & Snowboard Expo at the ghastly Mall of America. Worth attending for the complimentary $10 Liftopia gift card. We’re told that Hyland Ski & Snowboard Area will have an artificial slope in the building; glad to see this small but mighty area doing its part to promote pre-season…New York metro area skiers ought to note the NJ Ski Council Jamboree on November 4, at the Hanover Marriott in Whippany NJ…same weekend is the Colorado Ski & Snowboard Expo in Denver, at the Colorado Convention Center…Boston Globe Ski & Snowboard Expo is November 10-13, at the Seaport World Trade Center in Beantown…Utah pre-season news is that family owned Beaver Mountain replaced the old Little Beaver triple with a new Little Beaver triple with 400′ longer service. That’s cool, and so is their motto: “Ski the Beav”…only other new lift in the Beehive State is at Park City Mountain Resort…Brighton spent the off-season wrangling with their snowmaking water supply, shifting sources and making it more efficient…glad to say that Brighton is keeping ticket prices at last year’s levels. Deer Valley, on the other hand, is raising non-holiday single day tickets to $96 and holiday tix will be (you guessed it) a century note.
10/17/2011 Big hullabaloo in Aspen in the form of a trial of one Travis Luffman, 22, of Pfafftown, NC a former SkiCo employee charged with reckless endangerment and third-degree assault for allegedly leaping blindly off a rolling hill and smacking into a 7-year-old boy from Brazil. Luffman says the kid’s relatives then pounced on him and pummeled him; split his lip, broke his goggles, and bonked him with a ski pole. The prosecutor wants to show a video tape that supposedly reveals the events. Problem is the vid was made by the muchacho’s family. A Pitkin County judge will decide if the video rolls. The boy’s identity has not been released, but it is assumed he doesn’t have five uses of the letter “f” in his name and city. The fun and frivolity occurred this past March at Snowmass….in Michigan we hear that Crystal Mountain Resort has a new quad and is regrading the Loki run to eliminate a slow spot. Loki is Crystal’s signature black diamond. Elsewhere in Michigan, Nub’s Nob did away with their superpipe, which was problematic, and glad to see that Shanty Creek will open the season with two new runs…in Truckee CA Northstar At Tahoe is adding 170 acres of side country, opening more of the Lookout Glade off the Martis Camp Express, and more of the Sawmill Glade off the Vista Express. In addition, Northstar is going to start offering snowcat skiing on Sawtooth Ridge…word has it that AIG is looking again to unload the venerable Stowe Mountain Resort, no takers last time…the “average Joe” at Big Sky can’t stare wishfully at the tony Spanish Peaks this season. The ultraposh three-lift ski area adjacent to Big Sky is shutting down…future still bright at Utah’s Eagle Point Resort, the former Elk Meadows ski area near Bryce Canyon (near being relative; I use the reference because it’s preferable to saying “middle of nowhere”) will open for a second year, this time with more terrain and more base area amenities.
10/14/2011 Game on! First to open honors goes to Colorado’s Wolf Creek, which cranked it up last weekend with three feet of powder on a trio of trails. Wolf thus beat the usual players Arapahoe Basin and Loveland to the punch. A-Basin dropped the ropes on the High Noon trail yesterday; they’re set to go until next spring. Loveland followed suit today…We should add that Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort did in fact spin a lift about an hour ahead of Wolf Creek, but this was for a temporary arrangement of jibs and rails, with some walking involved. October just wouldn’t be right if we didn’t have some quibbling over who can really claim first to open…in the east we know that Sunday River blew out the mice with a test firing of the snowguns, laid down some white stuff, long since melted. Looks like it might be awhile before the ice coast cranks up a lift…speaking of the east, in case you hadn’t heard, Killington and Okemo were blasted by Hurricane Irene, and Mount Snow was cut off, and Berkshire East had all access flooded out. In New York state, Windham was positively hammered. Most of the roads have since been fixed, so we expect business as usual at all but K-Mart, which lost the “pub” section of the K1 base lodge. Fortunately the original K1 structure was not harmed, just the pub, which had all the charm of an army cafeteria…biggest news in the west is the merger of venerable Tahoes destinations Squaw Valley with neighboring Alpine Meadows. No word yet on any on-hill connections; sources say they will run a shuttle bus and the ticket will be interchangeable…kudos to Angel Fire in New Mexico, which constructed a fantastic new XC center during the off season…word from Malone NY is that Titus Mountain has been sold to three brothers from the region…friends in southern VT say that Haystack has been sold to a local real estate developer/hotel operation.
MID-SUMMER UPDATE The ski movie folks are releasing their trailers, which means that the season isn’t far behind. By far the most significant news to me personally was the tragic death of OnTheSnow.com editor Roger Leo. This was overshadowed in the ski community by the suicide of Jeret “Speedy” Peterson; they both died within a day or two. Mr. Leo was a terrific spokesman for the ski business and a top-notch journalist. He once complimented my writing, which was very meaningful indeed. We were planning to ski together in December; he’s greatly missed…As for resort news, we’ll start in the east and work our way west…Mount Snow Vermont is in full swing installing a new high-speed six pack. The chair will be named “Bluebird Express” for some reason…Killington VT has removed the quirky North Ridge triple chair and it has not been replaced. In classic K-Mart fashion they’ve dubbed it an improvement…New Hampshire’s Balsams/Wilderness venerable resort hotel has been sold and is getting a year-long makeover, and unless something changes, skiing will be shut down this season…
4/15/2011 Last regular report for this season…here goes: Skiing is still strong throughout much of the west, scroll down to yesterday’s report for the Utah round-up, and keep going down to see what’s still happening in Tahoe and the Sierras. Mammoth will be going for a while…Gore is a good option in the northeast this weekend; they’re banging it up Sunday but will have almost 4 dozen trails open; Whiteface will be open with tons of terrain. Both are shutting down Sunday at the close of business…another NY area, small but might Song Mountain will also be open for the weekend…K-Mart still has 39 runs, and should make May as planned…Mount Snow will re-open for a final-final day tomorrow (Saturday) but will not be open Sunday. They will spin the Grand Summit Express, the Nitro at Carinthia and Challenger Triple on the North Face. Although no pure beginner terrain, Sneaux will have Long John open…Saddleback open tomorrow, then done…Sugarloaf will spin until May 1 but may go weekends into mid-month if conditions permit…Sunday River and VT’s Sugarbush will be open through Easter weekend…other New England: Loon, Cannon, Smugglers, Okemo and Stowe are done after the 17th…Jay is still cranking, rumor is they’ll go to May 8. Don’t be surprised when Jay has a powder day or two between now and then. I never believed that “Jay cloud” bit until I saw it for myself, snowing all day on the hill while sunshine streamed down on the farms about a month ago. And, they’re working on their customer service. If they keep things going, Jay might eventually be top gun in the northeast…Bretton Woods has 65 trails open, no word on closing…Another big spring area, Wildcat will be open until Tuesday and then may reopen weekends…in Colorado, Skico still has Aspen Highlands open through next weekend, and now they’ve announced next season’s schedule. Here goes: Aspen Highlands will spin from Dec. 10 through April 22, 2012. Aspen Mountain (Ajax) and Snowmass will go Nov. 24 – April 15, and red-headed stepchild Buttermilk will run Dec. 10 through April 8. It’ll be here before you know it…just announced, Whistler-Blackcomb will have some part of the mountain through May 30…an all-time high in Montana; Whitefish Mountain Resort announced skier visits exceeded the 2005-2006 record by 5 percent and a very healthy 12 percent above last season…back in November we reported the tragic death of Wolf Creek Colorado ski patrol director Scott Kay, who perished in an avalanche while doing avy control. Well, OSHA is asking for a $17,000 fine for Wolf Creek Ski Area following an investigation, saying they didn’t have specific training or protocols for avy work, and that state law forbade him from working alone. OSHA also proposed a fine for no handrails on a metal staircase in the summit lodge, which is just common sense…Vermont regulators have given Burke Mountain a go-ahead to erect a 121′ wind turbine. These things make sense; Berkshire East in Massachusetts is already pumping juice back into the grid…that’ll do it.
4/14/2011 Season is about done in the midwest, right now Lutsen is gearing up for a final-final weekend. They’re going out with a bang, as some 50 trails will be open, along with all sorts of entertainment and festivities…Here’s what remains in Utah: Alta, Brighton, Brian Head, Canyons, Park City, Snowbasin, Snowbird, Solitude. Of those, Canyons, PCMR, Snowbasin & Solitude are banging it up this weekend…as we reported yesterday, Alta is the place to be this weekend. It’s snowing right now, high temps to be just below freezing, wow. Only thing you need to be concerned with is getting there. The Canyon is open, chains required today…speaking of Utah, newly rebuilt Eagle Point finished its season this weekend, an excellent start with a lot of happy customers. Not as many as they’d like, but all in all a good year. Quite a few folks compared it to Powder Mountain for finding pow, which is making me take notice. Right now they have arguably the best season pass deal in the state.
4/13/2011 International Ski & Snowboard Hall of Fame has nominated Glenn Plake, Daron Rahlves, Bobby Cochran, Shane McConkey, Muffy Davis, and Sun Valley’s Earl Holding for the class of 2011…doing a quick roundup of where to ski, we’ve been talking a lot about Tahoe, but my money for this weekend is on Alta, the snow is still phenomenal with at least half a foot of fresh expected this afternoon…in Colorado A-Basin is still totally open, but we’re kind of expecting rain today, not unusual this time of year…Wasatch-Cache National Forest officials have begun the review process for Snowbird’s plans to build a new tram beyond the existing one on Hidden Peak. It would open up American Fork Canyon south of the resort, currently a haven for backcountry folk. The 2500 acre planned expansion would impact about 400 acres of USFS land. It ain’t popular with wilderness afficianados…update on Montana’s re-opened Teton Pass area, new owner (Businessman Nick Wood of New Zealand) says area was not yet profitable — didn’t expect it to be — but is on track and will reopen next season…Christopher Foster, 20, and Matthew Jordan, 26, both of Nashua, NH were arrested for stealing a bunch of stuff at Ragged Mountain earlier this month.
4/11/2011 Closing day after a foot of fresh? That would be yesterday, at the underrated Arizona Snowbowl, which wrapped up one of its best seasons in recent memory with temps in the low 30s, fresh powder, and smiles all around. It’s not for lack of snow, obviously, it’s just that customers move on…in Idaho, Bogus Basin shuttered yesterday in fine shape; great snow everywhere but most importantly the non-profit ended the season about a half-million dollars in the black…Brundage Mountain still skiing well, announced will reopen for bonus weekends up until April 30-May 1…Sun Valley will go until April 24…and the most significant news from ID is that troubled Tamarack Resort made it through the season with its shoe-string homeowners operation on the 4-day/week plan, did a decent business…they haven’t moved on yet at places like Sugarbush and Cannon; both New England biggies had impressive crowds this weekend…as did Mount Snow, which closed today but may spin ’em again Saturday if Mother Nature cooperates…north of that, Jay Peak is still skiing 77 of 77 trails, but today might not be the day to do it. T-storms rumbling through, balance of the week should be good…nothing more needs to be said about Tahoe and nearby; south of the lake we know that Mammoth is offering up some amazing snow. Quick, can you name the lake near the big M? Hint, it ain’t Tahoe…we heard that central NY’s Bristol Mountain reopened for the weekend, had about 80% of its terrain open for the hill’s 122nd and final day of the season, quite impressive…the morons who run the state of New Jersey made it a law that any skier or rider under age 18 is required to wear a helmet, otherwise mom and dad get a bill for $25 first offense, $100 second offense. No word yet if NJ State Troopers will get special training to chase kids through Mountain Creek’s terrain parks…ghastly news from Winter Park; an 11-year-old boy from Alpharetta GA was killed Friday on the White Rabbit trail after colliding with an instructor and disabled student who was on a sit-ski. The boy was wearing a helmet…elsewhere in Colorado, Snowmass and Aspen Mountain banged it up yesterday on 6″ of fresh pow; Skico will keep Aspen Highlands open for the hardcore…Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard, once known as Mt. Charleston (the mountain still is, of course) closed for the season with plenty of snow…and we’ll end on a high note today; four local men have purchased the defunct Clear Fork Ski Resort in Butler OH. It’s been closed since ’06 but with $55 million in funding, it looks like a safe bet that they’ll be spinning the lifts again soon!
4/8/2011 40-year-old Estonian XC star Andrus Veerpalu tested positive for HGH before the Nordic world championships in February, and the FIS and nordic community are both in an uproar. Veerpalu,a two-time world champion and classic 15k Olympic gold winner in 2002 and ’06, retired after the worlds…if it’s still Friday and you’re reading this, take a look at the webcam from Powder Mountain at left. PowMow got a foot of fresh overnight, so I’m thinking if you’re anywhere within 200 miles, it’s only a 4-hr drive. Be careful on the final approach, road conditions are tough this morning…Underrated Ski Bluewood near Tacoma WA is banging up the season this weekend, plenty of great snow still on the ground, glad to say it was a good year for the new ownership group…Purgatory, now called Durango Mountain Resort for some unknown reason, will spin the lifts again this weekend…I really don’t know what to say anymore about the Sierras; they haven’t had this much snow since the Donner Party pitched camp. Kirkwood got 18″ of fresh up high yesterday. Heavenly received 10″, Northstar-at-Tahoe 14″ since Wednesday, and Squaw Valley had a two-day total of 12″…back east, some southern New England resorts are quite done, or reopening tomorrow, but we see that Stratton is open this morning on 71 trails and about 3′ of coverage…Okemo has just shy of 100 trails going…in New York, Plattekill will do it up one more time with $20 tix this weekend…Massachusetts’ Jiminy Peak will open, has some $10 coupons floating around…Pennsy’s Camelback was trying to open one more time, but has decided against it…some time ago we reported on word of a tragedy at Winter Park; details now reveal that 39-year-old Louis Alten of Houston TX died when he slammed into a tree off of an intermediate trail. Alten was wearing a helmet…Stowe is still going strong, but the big news is that former World Cup great and Olympic DH champ Bill Johnson will be onhand at a fundraiser in his honor. This shindig will be held at the Matterhorn Restaurant. Tomorrow’s events features a screening of the new Ski Channel film Downhill: The Bill Johnson Story. Glad to say that Lindsey, Bode, Ted the Shred and the Mahre brothers are among those who’ve contributed autographed gear for a silent auction. Johnson, you may recall, suffered a brain injury in an aborted comeback attempt in 2001. His recovery far exceeded doctors’ expectations. He became a spokesman and did endless charity work on behalf of traumatic brain injury victims until he was felled by a stroke last summer. Since then, Wild Bill has been living in a nursing home with a $30/month medicare income. It’s time we skiers chipped in.
4/6/2011 I-70 will be open today from Georgetown to Silver Plume, so no problem getting to the Summit County resorts…Mammoth has announced that it will be open daily until July 4 thanks to 600″ of snow…the Mount Hood areas are firing on all cylinders; Mt. Hood Meadows and Timberline both report a foot of new snow, while the Ski Bowl has half a foot of fresh; south at Mt. Bachelor we see 5″ of new…Plenty of shuttered eastern ski areas are planning to reopen this weekend; the latest to announce is Burke Mountain in VT’s Northeast Kingdom. Trails will be open from the Willoughby Quad chairlift with tickets and food service available from the Mid Burke Lodge…based on strong customer turnout, Mount Snow will be open April 16 & 17. We know that some of the top management is loading chairs and working liftlines to keep the season going, which is cool…after a spit of rain, Jay Peak collected 3″ of new snow yesterday; we’re not sure if Jay plans to go head-to-head with Killington and Sugarloaf in the east’s last-to-close sweepstakes, but if they do, I like their chances…it appears that half-pipe skiing and womens’ ski jumping events will be added to the Olympic lineup in Sochi…Deer Valley will bang it up April 10…White River National Forest is slated to have the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Breckenridge Peak 6 expansion proposal sometime this spring. Yikes.
4/5/2011 A 2-mile section of I-70 from Georgetown to Silver Plume will be closed to all vehicles today due to rock removal; Winter Park is offering discounted tickets to passholders from the affected Summit County resorts. The unstable rock removal operation may continue tomorrow, depending on what Colorado DOT engineers find…As if to put an exclamation point on their “Beast is Back” campaign, Killington announced yesterday that they will turn the clock back to pre-ASC days and try their best to remain open until May 1st…New Yorkers survived some undefined lift issues at Hunter on Saturday; it was supposedly a snafu with the Z-lift, which is slated to be replaced…news from the World Cup scene, Olympic downhill champ Didier Defago was back on the snow yesterday for the first time since his injury in December…38-year-old Aspen resident Adam Dennis killed by an avy yesterday afternoon in the Desolation backcountry area near Aspen Highlands…Cali couple XCing out of Tamarack Ski Park trailhead Sunday afternoon, a 70-year-old man and 57-year-old woman, were found safe yesterday morning near Red Mountain, just east of China Peak Ski Resort. And since we’re on that subject, a quick call to the folks there reveals that China Peak has all but one run open…and looking south, Mount Baldyreports outstanding spring conditions, with Thunder Mtn. still in great shape although you will find some thin spots…American Birkebeiner organizers fretting over the uncertain status of the Telemark Lodge; the annual monster XC event needs to secure permission to use the lodge and the sections of Birkebeiner trail that crosses Telemark land…I’m sticking with the season, but not much longer…read below:
4/4/2011 Sierras are still getting snow. Boreal announced that it will end daily ops on April 24 but will be open weekends into May. And, you can ski Boreal for just $15 on Friday. That’s a darn fine deal…6″ of fresh fell over the weekend at Sunday River, which has announced an April 24 closing. The Riv opened back in October, thus they are boasting about a six-month season. Well, not quite, but we’ll give it to them anyway. Kudos to the Riv, which if you haven’t been there is one of the best all-around ski areas in the northeast. Also one of the most expensive, so I don’t make a habit of it…incredibly, Pennsy’s Camelback had such strong business this past weekend that they’re planning to re-open yet again this coming weekend. I suspect it will be rather slushy, but it’s still great to hear and guaranteed to be fun…World Cup news has French skier Ingrid Jacquemod retiring at age 32; the speed specialist had one DH victory and a number of podiums…Nor-Am Nationals wrapped up in Winter Park this weekend; we need to keep an eye on 16-year-old Mikaela Shiffrin. Skiing for Burke Mountain Academy, Shiffrin won the womens’ slalom yesterday, beating technical specialists Sarah Schleper (2nd) and Resi Stiegler (3rd). Julia Mancuso won the GS and Super G events, Schleper won the super combi. On the mens’ side, 20-year-old Colby Granstrom of WA won the SL event ahead of Tommy Ford and coincidentally, Sepi Stiegler. Ford won just about everything else, including a GS victory over World Cup discipline champ Ted Ligety. Perhaps the best feel-good story out of Winter Park is that US downhiller Marco Sullivan made a run, only as a forerunner, but still a big step in his recovery following a nasty crash at Bormio back in December…52-year-old Colorado Springs surgeon Richard Lazar died at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort in British Columbia Saturday, he fell on extreme terrain…word is the International Olympic Committee will approve womens’ ski jumping in time for Sochi…scary story out of Alaska, a liftie smacked another employee with a moving chair at Alyeska Resort on Friday. The smackee was trying to board the chair and apparently the liftie set him up and let the chair wack him. It may not sound like much, but getting hit with a chair in the right manner can result in broken bones, missing teeth, even more serious injuries in the right circumstances, if the liftie holds the chair back. The liftie has been charged with assault…in NM as expected, Taos and Ski Santa Fe banged it up yesterday; Sipapu plans to go a couple more weekends if possible…the snow continues to fall at Tuckerman Ravine in NH, but heavy avalanche danger right now on the upper sections is keeping skiers down in the Little Headwall area. The best skiing in the neighborhood is across the street, at Wildcat.
4/1/2011 Underrated Arizona Snowbowl in Flagstaff expects to stay open until next weekend; afterward they will likely begin some of the improvements that the USFS has ok’d. Winter lingers in the east; word is that Stratton will reopen the Sun Bowl today, offer untracked on half the mountain, and charge just $15 for lift tix. No fooling…in NH, Attitash has 4″ of fresh with $35 tix today, banging it up Sunday…and Mount Snow is just vaguely hinting that they might reopen one more weekend after the tenth, if the snow holds, if the business is strong, etc. Either way, fans of the Southern VT biggie have a unique opportunity this weekend to ski a temporary trail down the liftline of the recently removed summit local…speaking of unique opportunities, eastern skiers who usually find Plattekill‘s front four too intimidating may want to try it tomorrow, as almost everything is groomed at that Catskill area…snowpack is still three to five feet deep at Lutsen. They call it spring skiing, with temps in the 30s I guess that passes for spring in Minnesota. It appears they’re going to close after April 16/17…in NY Gorehasn’t yet told me when they’re done for the season, but they talk about “plenty of great days ahead” and still have a few glades open…this is easily the best ski season in the east since 2002-03, and the best in the Sierras since 1970.
3/31/2011 Well the season began again at Badger Pass in Yosemite National Park; buried under ten FEET of fresh snow, Badger reopened yesterday…Three cans of food and a ten dollar bill gets you a lift ticket at Okemo tomorrow; we like that…Berkshire East will reopen for the weekend; Wachusett shuts down after Sunday…Plattekill will be open in the Catskills; they’re expecting up to a foot of fresh tomorrow…some ding dong in Albany NY, Assemblyman Felix Ortiz, is pushing legislation to mandate helmets for ALL skiers and boarders in New York. Surprised he has time, considering the dire straits the statehouse is in…the Vail family of resorts have weighed in with official closing dates; Keystone is done April 10, Beaver Creek bangs it up on the 17th, while Vail and Breckenridge will hang until April 24th…so much turmoil and suffering in Japan we barely give a thought to their ski areas, well it turns out that they had so few customers and the country is in such dire straits that they’ve shut down so that electricity can be funneled back into the grid for people still without power.
3/30/2011 Oregon’s Mt Bachelor will continue spinning full time until April 25, then will reduce operations for the rest of the season…small but mighty Mt Bohemia is shut down right now due to crusty conditions; may re-open with more snow or if spring arrives in the Upper Peninsula….2011 Putnam U.S. Alpine Championships get underway tomorrow at Winter Park; World Cup GS champ Ted Ligety and Europa Cup SL champ Nolan Kaspar will be among the competitors…meteorologists are making rumblings about a nor’easter Thursday night; may bring a few people out to places like Camelback that are re-opening for the weekend…Four Denver men are missing in the backcountry near Aspen, they lodged at the remote Goodwin Green Hut and were supposed to be out Monday. Rescue personnel are using snowmobiles with air support…Word from Colorado is that the following will close for the season after this weekend: Buttermilk, Cooper, Crested Butte, Powderhorn, Purgatory, Sol Vista, Telluride. And although Sunlight (That’s Glenwood CO) is closing Monday, they’ll re-open on April 9th and 10th. It’s interesting how so many skiers lose interest when March rolls around…NY’s Ski Windham will be done after this weekend; Belleayre will go until next weekend…back on March 18 I reported that 65-year-old George Conway of LaCrescent, MN was killed when he slammed into a lift tower at Welch Village; coroner announced yesterday that Mr. Conway had a heart attack, was dead, and momentum carried him into the tower…forgot to mention that Appalachian Ski Mountain banged it up this past weekend, sticking a fork in lift-served skiing in the Carolinas for the season…had an interesting experience this weekend when a representative of Jay Peak told me “we aren’t responsible for what’s on our website.” Not sure what that means.
3/29/2011 Glad to hear that Taos is going to re-grade the area around lift 1 this summer, hopefully eliminating the steps…work is underway on the new 6-pack at Mount Snow…With over 100″ of fresh this month, Oregon’s Mt. Ashland announced that it will be open every day except Tuesdays and Wednesdays through April 17. Normally this is a weekends-only time for the resort…good news keeps coming out of Tahoe; Mt. Rose is skiing tremendously and they’ve announced that they’ll stay open until May 6…Squaw Valley will operate fully until May 8, then weekends until May 30. At that point, they may try to reopen for July 4th…and the sad news out of Tahoe is that respected Marin County Supervisor Charles McGlashan, age 49, died of an apparent heart attack following a day of skiing…up north, Mt. Shasta Ski Park has extended its season through April 22-24 for the Easter weekend…in the east, Whiteface is expecting to stay open until April 10, and Gore will go for a while operating weekends…and we’re keeping our eye on Central Vermont: Killington says it may go until May 1st….sorry to say that the 26-year-old Utah skier rescued from an avalanche Sunday morning in the Manti-La Sal National Forest passed away yesterday…Pennsy’s Camelback will open again this Thursday for the weekend; word is they’ll have 33 of 34 trails…Telluride, Aspen and uh, Bolton Valley have all announced extended afternoon hours thanks to Daylight Saving Time.
3/28/2011 Rumours of the end of the season have been highly exaggerated! While it may indeed be done in the Mid-Atlantic and southerly part of the Midwest, this winter is still a force in much of the nation…the Rendezvous Chair at Northstar-at-Tahoe remains buried…we know that Sugar Bowl and Sierra-at-Tahoe both received 5″ yesterday, which was nothing compared with last week. Boreal caught 4″ of fresh fluff yesterday…6″ of fresh overnight at Powder Mountain…8″ of fresh Saturday at Jay Peak…18″ of new snow in the past few days at Wildcat…100% of terrain at Gore; heck, even NY metro area Belleayre still has XC trails open in addition to a full complement of alpine…I could go on and on…yes, we know that Timberline WV closed this weekend with 100% coverage border to border. That’s a shame…Spirit Mountain in Duluth banged it up yesterday…Park Citysays it will continue to spin lifts until April 17, a week extension. Like most of the big western resorts, they’ll run out of willing customers long before they run out of snow…In Montana, Lost Trail Powder Mountain, Lookout Pass and Whitefish will go a week later than planned to April 10; Discovery Ski Area may do the same. Missoula’s Montana Snowbowl is talking April 17, a two-week pushback. Big Sky and Moonlight Basin are now aiming for April 24. Unfortunately that’s seldom profitable for the resorts, so we look for the pendulum to swing back next season…in Western NY, Holiday Valley has pushed its closing date out to April 10…Squaw Valley says new record; 680″ this season surpasses the 1994-95 record…Skiers continue to go AWOL in Vermont! Yesterday a dozen or so kids from the Killington Mountain School needed rescue…not all out of bounds skiers are as fortunate; one OOBer was killed yesterday at Stevens Pass, swept up by avy and slammed into a tree…and at NY’s West Mountain near Lake George, a 17-year-old boy died of cardiac arrest after hitting a tree…word of some sort of tragedy a couple days ago at Winter Park, no details yet…kudos to Wolfeboro (NH) Fire Department for winning the team slalom event at Sunday River this weekend; 15 departments from ME and NH turned out to raise money for the Maine Handicapped Skiing program. The teams consisted of 5 firefighters in full turnout gear, on skis, holding a 50′ hose and snaking through the course in a line. Letting go of the hose disqualifies the team. The race was done in conjunction with a ski-a-thon, and together the efforts collected some $300,000 for the cause. Hats off to all who played a part!
3/23/2011 Word has it that Vail will stay open through Easter, April 24. As a reference, there have only be two later closings in the resort’s history, both of which were in the month of May during the 1990s. Vail has racked up over 400″ of snow for the season, which is about 50″ more than average…Midwest News: Lutsen is 95% open today…small but mighty Ski Brule in MI got some snow overnight…Spirit Mountain in Duluth is about half open, got a dusting overnight, and expects to shut it all down for the season at the close of business this Sunday…Boyne and Boyne Highlands will follow suit, closing for the season Sunday at 4:30, but right now they have some terrific spring conditions with 2-4″ new snow to freshen things up a bit…Mid-Atlantic round-up: VA’s Wintergreen will re-open Saturday for a final day of fun…PA biggie Camelback was done for the season, but 8″ of fresh means that they’ll be reopening tomorrow morning, will spin lifts through the weekend with $25 tix, limited terrain…NJ’s Mountain Creek banged it up yesterday…NY’s Belleayre still going gangbusters, will offer $20 Wednesdays and $25 Fridays through the balance of their season…New England: VT’s Mount Snow hasn’t picked a closing date yet, but GM says probably won’t go past April 10. They’re skiing on 94% of the hill today…Sugarloaf reported 8″ of fresh yesterday, more on the way…1/2 foot of fresh at Jay Peak today…Lake Tahoe news: Snow dumping at near record pace; Sugar Bowl, Squaw Valley, Sierra-at-Tahoe all passed the 600″ mark for the season; this is the most at Squaw since 1970. The resort has pushed its closing date to May 8…other news from Sugar Bowl; a 52-year-old Oakland CA man was found dead on the Strawberry Fields slope yesterday. He was an expert skier who authorities believe suffered a medical emergency…meanwhile across the state line, a skier caught in an avalanche at Mt. Rose yesterday was rescued…good deal in UT: Park City, Deer Valley and The Canyons will ante up a free lift ticket to out-of-state visitors flying in through Salt Lake City International. You need to register for the deal in advance at the Park City Chamber of Commerce/Visitors Bureau with a boarding pass and valid ID.
3/22/2011 A solid week of snow has buried the Tahoe areas again; Alpine Meadows claims over 100″ from the storms. Sugar Bowl has called in with 86″ of new, and Squaw Valley has six feet of fresh up high. This latest spate of snow has prompted Northstar-at-Tahoe to announce that they’ll spin the lifts until April 24…some morons in NW Montana shot up the North Shore Nordic Club’s trail-grooming snowmobile at Blacktail Mountain this weekend, 50 spent shells scattered around…Good news is that the 12-year-old girl who smacked a tree Friday at NH’s Gunstock was released from Dartmouth-Hitchcock…Congratulations to ladies’ World Cup Overall Champion Maria Riesch of Germany, her first overall after playing bridesmaid to Lindsey Vonn for three straight years. Unfortunately the season went out with a wimper rather than a bang as FIS officials canned the GS race Saturday due to poor conditions, then held a meaningless “nations cup” or something on Sunday. Vonn was just 3 points behind Riesch, and although Riesch is far superior in that discipline, she did DNF the previous GS. But this is not to slight Maria — not in the least — she had the superior season overall and put down points when Lindsey didn’t. Certainly she deserved the overall globe, it’s just that the fans deserved the historic drama that was in their grasp on Saturday. And although it shouldn’t be this way, the season will be remembered more for a race that didn’t happen than for those that did. And final word from this writer is that Lindsey needs a damn lesson in losing with grace…word from eastern PA is that Blue Mountain is closed for the season, news which is accompanied by far more significant and sad report that a 73-year-old man finally succumbed to injuries sustained back on March 4 at Blue Mt…missing 61-year-old Boyne City, MI woman found dead on a Moran Township xc ski trail near the Mackinac Bridge this weekend, appears she was skiing and died of natural causes…underrated and underfunded Magic Mountain in VT is having a great season; they continue to push their $3,000 “shares” claiming they want to make the mountain a co-operative ala Mad River Glen…unexpected news, Colorado Ski Country reports skier visit down just a notch in January and February…another out-of-bounds skier rescued, this time a 60-year-old at Mt. Rose near Reno NV…sad and bizarre story from Steamboat Springs, where a 19-year-old college man died in unusual circumstances at Howelsen Hill last week. Steamboat Springs Police Detective Nick Bosick believes the young man hit a bump, went flying, hit another bump upon landing, was ejected from his bindings and then flew headfirst into a snowbank, where he suffocated…although the springtime shenanigans haven’t quite ramped up, skiers frequenting Tuckerman’s Ravine witnessed four avalanches this weekend; fortunately no one hurt.
3/18/2011 Have to start right away today with World Cup finals; the men’s GS was cancelled, giving Ted Ligety the championship for that discipline. This is Ted the Shred’s third globe…Tina Maze pulled down her first victory in the slalom discipline. Marlies Schild, the season slalom champ, finished second. But both the Slovenian and the Austrian were overshadowed by Maria Riesch’s 4th place and Lindsey Vonn’s 13th. Those finishes moved Maria back in front for the overall by three points! Tomorrow’s GS — if it happens — will absolutely decide the overall champion. As it sits, if by some stroke of pure wackiness Vonn finishes 8th, Riesch 9th, the overall will end in a dead tie. The closest it’s ever been on the women’s side is 3 points at the end, in 2005 when Anja Paerson edged Janica Kostelic…kudos to both Didier Cuche and Julia Mancuso, both of whom pledged a serious amount of their recent winnings to aid the people of Japan…news from NH we somehow missed, the Sunbowl lift at Mount Sunapee is down due to a damaged communications line…tough news from Minnesota where 65-year-old George Conway of LaCrescent, MN was killed Wednesday when he slammed into a lift tower at Welch Village. That’s the second on-hill fatality in MN this season…fresh tracks on 6″of pow at Loveland this morning…snowing like crazy at Timberline on Mt. Hood…northeast warming up today but still plenty of snow; Okemo and Killington both report 100% open.
3/17/2011 6″ of new at Powder Mountain this morning; if you get here early enough you’ll see the fresh snow on the webcam at left…great news: last night in Big Tupper, NY hundreds of people turned out at a public hearing to support a project that will rebuild Big Tupper Ski Area…World Cup Super G finals cancelled today in Lenzerheide due to fog and rain. This gives the mens Super G globe to Didier Cuche, and the womens to Lindsey Vonn. Downside for Vonn is that it was probably a clear opportunity to put some distance on rival Maria Riesch prior to the technical events…Nolan Kasper has won the Europa Cup slalom title, the first American do to so. The only American prior to Kasper to win a Europa Cup title was Bill Johnson back in the 1980s. It’s sort of a ski version of Triple-A baseball…Steamboat announced today that next season’s pass prices will increase by about $30…word from Massachusetts is that Ski Ward and Nashoba Valley have banged up the season, although Nashoba will try to crank it up one more time this weekend. Wachusett has announced an April 3rd closing…warm-up is definitely on in New England, but not all is lost. Temps should go back to “seasonal” after the weekend and even so, Sugarloaf called in and said 111 trails are open and coverage is excellent. The Maine monster is celebrating its 60th Anniversary this weekend. Now if only they’d put the “USA” tag back on the end…Jay Peak has temps in the 40s today but the snow is still awesome…in other words, easterners shouldn’t write the season off just yet…and we save the best for last…About a year ago, Chico CA resident Jeff Newman posted a sign illegally in Lassen National Forest promoting his side business of ski tuning. Forest Service officer Paul Zohovetz soon called, but instead of educating Mr. Newman, Zohovetz made an appointment to have his skis tuned. Zohovetz showed up in full uniform to arrest Newman. When Newman asked to leave his property, Zohovetz threatened him with a taser, a 9 mm gun, and when Newman ran inside, he tried to kick down the door. Then Zohovetz got the Chico police thugs in on the caper, handcuffed Newman, threw him on the ground and frisked him — even grabbed Newman’s privates in the process. Fortunately there is still justice in the world; Judge Craig M. Kellison ruled that Zohovetz had no probable cause for arrest, had no right to be on Newman’s property after he was asked to leave, and was an all-around goon. (ok I added that part) According to the Chico News Review “Freedom of individuals verbally to oppose or challenge police action without thereby risking arrest is one of the principal characteristics by which we distinguish a free nation from a police state,” Judge Kellison said. I’m hoping Mr. Newman sues the crap out of this gorilla.
3/16/2011 Absolute place to be today is Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, 4″ of new snow overnight put a perfect coat of powder on fabulous packed pow conditions…our fave Powder Mountain got another coating…and it’s still snowing at Timberline, not as fluffy as the stuff in the Rockies, but hey, it beats what’s happening in the northeast where some places, such as Mount Snow have sleet, snow, rain, blah blah blah, not a good day to be on the hill in New England. Even Jay Peak is getting a mixed bag…but even the Jackson Holes and Pow Mows are serving up dustings compared with Mount Baker Ski Area, which received six feet of snow in the past few days. They actually had to close Sunday morning to dig out the lifts; the base area measures current snow depth of 230 feet. That’s not a typo…Speaking of incredible, news out of Lenzerheide has Julia Mancuso winning the womens downhill this morning, followed by Swiss Lara Gut grabbing a podium spot for the hometown fans, with Austrian Elisabeth Goergl rounding out the roster. Super Jules’ fabulous run is overshadowed by the fact that Lindsey Vonn finished 4th, Maria Riesch 17th — moving Lindsey just so slightly ahead of Maria for the overall title! In case you weren’t aware (and with the arcane scoring of FIS World Cup, I don’t blame you), unlike the regular season, these finals don’t score any points for finishing beyond 15th. So Lindsey racked up 50 points, Maria machs nichts. We could easily see this scenario reverse itself in the technical events. But after this, my prediction two days ago — that Maria has to “muff something” for Lindsey to win — is now in play. Honestly this could go either way. Folks, this is about the most compelling rivalry since Nicklaus and Palmer battled it out in 1962, but unfortunately nobody in the USA is paying attention. On the mens side (like anybody cares) Frenchman Adrien Theaux won the downhill, followed by Austrian Joachim Puchner and Norse god Aksel Lund Svindal. Another notable finish was a respectable 8th place for last week’s surprise winner, Beat Feuz of Switzerland…kudos to Grammy winner James Taylor, who fractured something in his leg yesterday at Park City. Why the kudos? Well, Taylor had the doctors put on a special cast that would allow him to continue skiing for the rest of his vacation. He may be soft-rock, but this proves he has a hard core. Cult movie fans would do well to look up a flick called Two-Lane Blacktop…speaking of celebs, Cheers and Frasier star Kelsey Grammer put his Beaver Creek mansion on the market; for $7.9 mil it can be yours…but if you’re shopping at that level, I recommend you look instead to the $10.9 million compound of the late Gerald R. Ford down the road from Kelsey’s place. It has its own private ski trail access, swimming pool in the back building, and a Presidential seal inlay in the foyer…and some sad news from Beaver Creek, an 18-year-old Pennsylvania man died Monday morning after slamming into a tree off Red Tail. Witnesses say he snagged an edge and crashed head first. He was wearing a helmet. 2nd Pennsy man to die in a week; a 73-year-old was killed in a collision at Snowmass a few days ago…in Alaska, 53-year-old Dr. William Mills of Anchorage was critically hurt on the North Face slope at Alyeska last weekend. As of yesterday he was on life support…day four in the hunt for a wayward Winter Haven, FL man lost near Big Sky, MT. 24-year-old Bradley Gardner was backcountry skiing in the Lone Mountain area; he was reported missing on Sunday but apparently his last known whereabouts were now a week ago…yesterday morning a 32-year-old man skiing in the Grand Teton National Park backcountry was injured in an avy; rescued by patrollers from the aforementioned Jackson Hole Mountain Resort…”Rocky Mountain Championships” for 11 and 12 year olds going on now at Steamboat. The event includes racers from Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming and several Midwestern states…news from Utah…Alta will stay open until May 1…neighboring Snowbird is catching a lot of flack from environmentalists for their plans to build a mountain coaster…Washingtonians will have an opportunity to hear and discuss plans for expansion of Mount Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park during a public workshop tonight at Spokane Community College. The area wishes to open up an additional 280 acres of state land for the ski area.
3/14/2011 In Japan the tremors were certainly felt at Naeba and other ski resorts, however no damage reported there. Our thoughts and prayers are certainly with the folks impacted by the quake and tsunami…welcome to daylight saving time (note that it is singular — feel free to correct your friends) and sorry to say, there’s only about a month left in the lift-served season. In the east & midwest it works that way because the snow vanishes; in the west it’s because the customers vanish. Of course there will be some late closures and special May Days at places like Arapahoe Basin, Mammoth and Killington. And certainly Timberline will be busy through the summer and the hike-up terrain at Tuckerman’s Ravine will be a fantastic spring ski & party scene every weekend, probably well into June. But for those of you who like to get out to your regular haunts, the next 4-5 weekends are your last chance until the snow flies at the end of November…except in Pennsy; there you need to be more selective. Snowtime Resorts banged it up yesterday at all three of its Keystone operations: Liberty, Whitetail and Roundtop. Certainly Liberty and Roundtop had enough white stuff to push around and extend the season, but it’s a hard sell in that part of the country when the grass needs to be mowed. A good option in the mid-Atlantic right now is Wisp in western Maryland; excellent spring skiing…the State of Vermont is looking for a strong finish in March, hoping to push skier visits over the 4-million mark for the season…highly underrated Arizona Snowbowlnear Flagstaff just added four new groomers, about a million bucks investment…Kudos to the University of Colorado, again NCAA Champions. The Buffs ran away with the title last week at Stowe, making up for a season-long backseat to the surprising University of Vermont. The Catamounts had a few moments in the sun last week, but little that reflected their #1 ranking going in. Just the same, congratulations to all the student-athletes who participated. Unlike the NCAA ball sports, these Alpine and Nordic skiers are doing it for the love of the sport and the competition…while we’re on the subject of competition, Croatian Ivica Kostelic wrapped up the mens World Cup overall on Saturday. On the ladies’ side it’s anything but settled as Lindsey Vonn moved within 23 points of Maria Riesch. Spindlerove Mlýne was a nightmare for Maria; she skied out of a slalom event for just the 4th time in 3 seasons. Lindsey, who lately skies out of slaloms as a matter of course, finished 16th. There are 4 more events left — 2 speed, 2 technical — as the finals loom in Lenzerheide Switzerland. I’ll go out on a limb here: In order to win the overall globe, Vonn needs to be perfect in the speed events, competitive in the technicals, and she needs Riesch to muff something. Vonn also needs good weather; a cancelled speed event would not help her at all. Otherwise I don’t see any change in the top five. That also means that Julia Mancuso finishes an extremely respectable 5th in the overall. Back to the men, Kvitfjell Saturday saw the great Michael Walchhofer of Austria win his penultimate downhill; he has announced that he’ll retire after this week’s season finals. Ageless wonder Didier Cuche was 2nd, then won Sunday’s Super G event. He caused a bit of a sensation over the weekend when he threatened to punch out a course official over a disagreement about the safety of one of the jumps on the course. Cuche was fined, claimed he couldn’t sleep, resigned from the competitor’s panel, then won the race and spun his ski. Gotta love that guy.
3/11/2011 Central Colorado is the place to be today; we have blue skies and fabulous conditions at places like Loveland, Ski Cooper and A-Basin, where the popular East Wall is open and serving up very nice snow…more ice in the east, Stratton and Mount Snow lifts got coated again overnight. Snow was in really dire shape a couple days ago, they’ve recovered nicely and I don’t see last night’s icing as anything that will set them back too much…it goes without saying that Jay Peak is the place to be in the east right now. After a period of rain yesterday, the front changed and they got 5″ of fresh snow last night…odd story from Whistler-Blackcomb just coming to light; seems that last week a woman spent Tuesday night stuck on the Excalibur Gondola. She attempted to download to the village after 5:30 pm, but apparently she went to the upload area instead. After the requisite number of cars came through the base, the lift was shut down. Although temps plummeted into the 20s, she was apparently no worse for wear after the 13 hour ordeal…another odd story happened last week, this from a March 2 police report filed at an unnamed north shore Tahoe resort. Seems a case of ticket rage prompted a customer to rip the metal bars from the ticket window, whereupon he tossed the thing at the clerk. Fortunately no injury to the ticket seller, but no further details available…University of Colorado has a big early lead in the NCAA Championships in Stowe VT. Up-and-comer Seppi Stiegler from the University of Denver won the men’s GS yesterday. The name Stiegler should be familiar to race fans; he’s Pepi’s son, Resi’s brother….and in World Cup racing, three huge surprises this morning. Men’s downhill action in Kvitfjell saw Swiss Beat Feuz garner his first-ever podium, winning by five-hundredths over Canadian Erik Guay. Austrian Mickey Walchhofer was third. The only time Feuz made even a ripple on the scene was a 7th place finish in the Chamonix downhill a month ago. The likable Swiss has been injured off and on throughout his career. The ladies meanwhile were in the Czech Republic at Spindlerove Mlýne. The GS race went to Germany’s Viktoria Rebensburg, with Italian Denise Karbon a half-second behind. But the second shocker of the day was Lindsey Vonn finishing third; this is her first ever podium in a GS race at the World Cup level. Third surprise? Maria Riesch finished 29th, and now Vonn is within 38 points of Riesch for the overall. Maria should stretch that back out a bit with tomorrow’s slalom. This Vonn-Riesch rivalry is historic…the Mid-Atlantic’s Snowshoe Resort is offering free skiing on Sunday to all West Viriginia residents. They’re trying to build their home-grown business since most of their customers are from out of state…Montana’s Discovery Ski Area set a record for season pass sales…Massachusett’s underrated Berkshire East is apparently receiving 100% of its power from the $3 million wind turbine it recently installed. We need more of these, less “carbon offsets” or whatever you want to call the phony greenwashing that so many resorts do. Kudos to Berkshire East!
3/9/2011 Spring is in the air; among the first to fall is Hidden Valley, NJ which banged it up for the season yesterday…Lyndon Outing Club in northern VT is also done for the season, but it’s mostly because their ancient t-bar is in dire need of repairs…Scott Filler, the Decatur GA thug who punched a little girl in the face at Beaver Creek was back in Colorado yesterday to enter a guilty plea to third-degree assault, a Class 1 misdemeanor. The judge gave Filler a $500 fine and is requiring him to take anger management classes (ya think?) and will award restitution to the victim, amount still to be determined…more chicanery in Colorado…Summit County deputies have arrested Matthew Mitchell for attempting to mug a patron at Copper Mountain back in February…good news from Colorado…Echo Mountain, the recently resurrected ski area just outside Denver, will offer $5 Friday night tix for the balance of the season. That’s a fantastic deal…The NCAA Collegiate Championships are underway at Stowe Vermont; today started with XC freestyle at the Trapp Family Lodge. Maria Graefnings, a Swedish native attending the University of Utah, won the women’s race. Dartmouth’s Sam Tarling, a junior from Cumberland, Maine, won the men’s competition ahead of Norway’s Vegard Kjoelhamar attending the University of Colorado. The University of Vermont gave a reasonably good accounting of themselves with a few top ten finishes, however they may need to recruit more FIS washouts to hold on to their top ranking…a 7-year-old suffered a head injury when he fell 15′ from a chairlift at Campgaw in NJ yesterday. The boy was approaching the unload, raised the bar, and scooted too far forward…we’re doing a new webpage comparing steep ski trails, ranked by degree of slope angle, divied up by length. The page is a work in progress but you can check out what we’ve got so far by clicking here.
3/8/2011 Again the place to be today is Powder Mountain Utah, with a foot and a half of new snow overnight and blue skies this morning…Events this weekend in the snow buried Sierras includes the final stop of the 2011 Rahlves’ Banzai Tour with the Silver Belt Banzai this weekend at Sugar Bowl…in the Central Sierra, Bear Valleyis offering $29 tickets every Wednesday in March…kudos to Snowshoe in WV for hosting disabled veterans on the slopes this past weekend…parts of the upper midwest are starving for snow; Lutsen got 5½” over the weekend, most snowfall in almost two months. Mount Bohemia had been rather thin, but 7″ of heavy snow has rebuilt the base. It may not be as good as the powder that Bohemia fans are used to, but it sure beats sticks and rocks…Lindsey Vonn said this morning in The New York Times that she’s not likely to catch Maria Riesch for the overall World Cup title, pointing out that the five events remaining are largely technical events. Vonn has been disappointing in slalom events this season, and she’s never really been competitive in giant slalom…checking with my friends at Loveland they claim 3″ overnight and the surface right now is simply wonderful…checking New England we see that Cannon and Okemo have rebounded from the ice very well, both are back to virtually full open. Wildcat has reopened well…problems continue in Southern VT at Mount Snow where they are still chipping ice off of their lifts.
3/7/2011 Biggest on-hill news right now is in the Adirondacks and Green Mountains in the northeast, where places like Gore and Mad River Glen are enjoying 20″ of powder following a nasty day yesterday. News is not so good at Killington and south, where ice has made a mess of things; Stratton has half price tickets but only part of the hill open. Mount Snow was closed this morning with trees down on some of the lifts, opened this afternoon with only a small fraction of their terrain available…in New Hampshire, Wildcat and Cannon were both closed today thanks to the mixed bag; Attitash was probably the best option…even far north Sugarloaf wasn’t immune to the ice, but they opened 100% of terrain today based on a big snowfall overnight that covered a lot of sins…8″ of fresh snow this morning at my fave Powder Mountain in Utah…warm weather clobbered the ski areas in the mid-Atlantic, but at least Winterplace in West Virginia got some snow yesterday morning, and is still talking about late March…kudos in a big way to Shawnee Peak of Bridgton, ME for lending out a bunch of equipment to tiny Powderhouse Hill for a free “first timers” day for kids in Maine and New Hampshire…so anyway, the weekend’s World Cup action started when we reported on Lindsey Vonn’s globe for Super Combined on Friday. Well she decided to follow that up with a second place in the Tarvisio downhill on Saturday. Anja Paerson won the event. While we’re glad to see Anja back in top form, she had to take a backseat to Circus Vonn, as the 2nd was enough to clinch the globe for the downhill discipline. Two season titles in two days! Yesterday? Oh yeah. Lindsey won the Super G event, and naturally took home her third globe in three days. She also managed to gain some serious ground on Maria Riesch, who must be wondering if Tonya Harding’s kneecap gang is still available. Riesch finished third in the Super G, bookended by Julia Mancuso in 2nd and Laurenne Ross in 4th, giving Team USA 1st, 2nd, and 4th, which hasn’t happened since who knows when. Riesch’s overall lead is less than 100 points. On the men’s side, Ivica Kostelic appears to be running away with the overall; he’s some 500 points ahead of ageless wonder Didier Cuche…28-year-old Daniel Zimmermann was killed this weekend by an avalanche while BC skiing on the southwest face of Mount Cashmere near Wenatchee, WA…on slope deaths in Austria are double last year’s number, I wonder what the stats look like here in the USA. A 50-something gentleman who collapsed at Breckenridge a week ago died yesterday, heart attack from a pre-existing condition. I wouldn’t call that a skiing death specifically, but we’ve seen a couple of similar examples this season. Business is up, skier visits are up, and things happen.
3/4/2011 Lindsey Vonn added another crystal globe to her collection today in Tarvisio Italy, cinching the season’s World Cup title in the Super Combined discipline. Slovenia’s Tina Maze won the event, Vonn second, and of course, Maria Riesch was third. The order of finish edged Vonn 20 points closer to Riesch’s overall lead, now just 176 points. Julia Mancuso finished 6th, and kudos to Leanne Smith of Conway NH, who tallied 9th place. Vonn won the downhill segment, then had a decent slalom — her first of the season….with more snowfall in the Pacific NW, searchers are now saying that the skier lost off Crystal Mountain probably won’t be found until spring…in Colorado the US Forest Service has put its stamp of approval on a big expansion at Eldora Mountain Resort; it now goes into the environmental approval phase…Squaw Valley announced this week that it is going to stop running the expertish Silver Chair during weekdays to save costs. That’s kind of a tough announcement considering how well their season has been going. Customers have been squawking (sorry I couldn’t help myself) and the resort may walk that one back…the fight goes on at troubled Sunshine Village in Canada, where the owner’s son poached a closed run and a patroller was fired when he asked him to clear out back in December, then a bunch of top managers were fired, now it’s all in court and everybody’s claiming all sorts of things. Good times.
3/3/2011 Well we don’t often say this but the Pacific NW is the place to be today for some awesome powder; Mt. Hood Meadows and Timberline are absolutely buried. This is making things difficult at Crystal Mountain in Washington State, where and experienced backcountry skier from Bellevue has been missing since Tuesday…pleasant snow falling in Summit County; a quick call to Loveland has tough visibility but great snow. Plenty of fresh up high at Vail and the BC folks are in heaven at Vail Pass…season has been extended at Utah’s The Canyons; they’ll keep the lifts spinning until April 17th…and in the Mid-Atlantic, West Virginia’s Snowshoereports that this is the best season in its history, and they’ll keep things going through April 5th…New England is an absolute ice box this morning, Mount Snow weighs in with -2ºF at the base; 10ºF in the sunshine at Bromley…the Lolo National Forest has opened up the public comment period for a planned expansion at Missoula’s Montana Snowbowl. Operators hope to add lifts and runs and other facilities…NH’s venerable Gunstock ski area is looking to add a hotel in the base area…Team Canada pulled a surprise upset in the XC World Championships on the Holmenkollen course in Oslo yesterday with a gold in the men’s relay, beating the heavily fovored Norwegians by half a ski length. The Norwegians won the womens gold, and are cleaning up virtually everything else, but to say they were stunned by the Canadians is an understatement…you’ve most likely heard about the death of freeskier Ryan Hawks at Kirkwood yesterday; it followed another tragedy in the Sierras, that of 30-year-old snowboarder Jeffrey Halperin who perished in a tree well at Sierra-at-Tahoe on Sunday.
3/1/2011 Best place for all you powder skiers today is Whitefish Resort in Montana; snow continues to fall and the snorkels are out…Rain banged the northeast yesterday, but a quick check of most areas reveals that a freeze last night allowed things to crust up and then they hit everything with the groomers. The upside is it creates a nice homogenous skiing surface; the downside is it’s not nearly as nice as what they had prior to the rain…place to be in the northeast today is Sugarloaf, which saw 6″ of snow where the rest of the region saw rain…happy place in the midwest is Lutsen, if you can make the long drive they’ve got some perfectly groomed natural snow…in case you hadn’t heard, womens’ world cup news from this weekend in Åre Sweden saw Lindsey Vonn win the downhill, but since Maria Riesch finished third, Lindsey didn’t gain much on the overall. Then Sunday’s Super G event saw Riesch finish 1/100th of a second ahead of Vonn, keeping her firmly in first overall. Julia Mancuso grabbed third place on the podium…Stowe VT is wrestling with the expense of replacing the town’s aging ice arena…cold temps were the big story at this weekend’s 2011 American Birkebeiner; minus 10 degrees at the start — just three degrees over the minus 13 threshold set by the FIS. The Birkie did race at that temp once, back in 1974…even the highly manicured areas aren’t immune from that rash of lost skiers that has hit Vermont this season; Winhall Police and Rescue quickly recovered a lost skier Sunday at Stratton. Apparently a 25-year-old Brooklyn man got lost somewhere off the Kidderbrook Trail. Incredibly, he wasn’t the first skier to go missing in the, uh, Stratton backcountry this season…an inebriated Briton met his demise this weekend when he attempted to jump between two chalet rooftops in Courcheval
2/25/2011 Reports from Steamboat are all agog about a surprise storm that dumped 5″ by mid-morning, still going…nasty weather in the mid-Atlantic is making life miserable at places like Camelback and Mountain Creek, but they’ll recover…so far so good in Vermont, where Killington has a foot of fresh today, and throwback Magic Mountain has almost 14″ of new stuff…the “granddaddy” of all North-American XC events, the 50-kilometer American Birkebeiner and its sister race, the 23-kilometer Kortelopet, kick off tomorrow morning in Cable, WI…World Cup Ladies wrapped up the Super Combi this morning in Åre, Sweden with Germany’s Maria Riesch grabbing top spot on the podium, pushing her even further ahead of Lindsey Vonn in the overall standings. Vonn was first after the speed portion, but a dismal 18th in the 2nd run landed her in 6th for the event, which all in all is nothing to be ashamed of. Slovenia’s Tina Maze and Austria’s Lizzie Goergl rounded out the podium. Hometown fave Anja Paerson finished 4th. Julia Mancuso finished 8th, good enough to keep her in 5th overall…OnTheSnow.com reports that Mount Snow is planning to replace the clunky “summit local” fixed-grip triple with a high-speed six pack. Cost will be about $8 million, and they’re hoping to start in late March, have it ready for next season.
2/24/2011 Lindsey Vonn is indeed back in World Cup action; she tallied the third quickest time in women’s DH training run this morning in Åre, Sweden. Anja Paerson was quickest, as you might expect on the home course…update from Pittsburgh community ski area Boyce Park is that the wayward chairlift has been fixed; it had 3 malfunctions and evacs this season before Dopplemayer replaced the lift’s guide wheel and made some sheave train adjustments. But apparently the biggest problem is that the off-load ramp wasn’t pitched at all, and skiers would stay on the chairs too long, pulling the rope in ways it wasn’t intended. Some excavation was done and now the ramp has a very visible pitch, prompting riders to get up and move when they hit the board. Best news of all is that through it all, county parks officials report that business is way up this season…rough news from Arapahoe Basin is that a 32-year-old Michigan man died yesterday after tumbling hard on the Larkspur trail…the good news for Denver area skiers sounds kind of hollow after that story, but here it is anyway: a bunch of traffic experts from around the globe are in Idaho Springs right now trying to figure out how to fix the I-70 traffic snarls that snake through those narrow tunnels. It won’t be immediate, but relief is on the horizon…and finally, OnTheSnow.comreports that a new powerplant under construction in Copenhagen will have a ski slope on its roof! The powerplant is planned to offer about 7.6 acres of ski area. Cool!
2/23/2011 Just as soon as Sugarloaf reopened the troubled Spillway East chair, they’ve now announced that it will be replaced this summer by a new quad chair. It’ll be a fixed-grip, but we expect it will be moving at a pretty brisk clip because they’ve indicated that a loading conveyor will be part of the deal. The Loaf is going to spend about $3 million on this effort, and another bunch of dough updating the Superquad, which is their base area workhorse…More snow at our fave Powder Mountain in UT; untracked fresh everywhere…25-year-old man was killed in an avalanche yesterday while skiing off the backside of Sneaky’s at Snowmass. He was working a chute with another skier, doing all the right things, but triggered and was caught in a slide. The terrain they were on is beyond the Skico boundary…Okemo Mountain Resort in Vermont reports that a 42-year-old man and his 3-year-old son are recovering from injuries after they fell 20 feet from a chairlift this weekend. Apparently Dad opened the safety bar too soon, the boy fell, and Dad went down trying to grab him. They’ll be ok…Oregonians in Baker County may be interested in attending a public meeting presented by the nonprofit board that operates Anthony Lakes Ski Area, tomorrow night (Thurs, 2/24/11) at 6 p.m. in the Powder Valley Elementary School band room…now you regular readers know that I have a sort of love/hate relationship with Colorado’s Copper Mountain; I like how the Summit County giant has decent ticket prices, and plenty of discounts available if you put in even a little effort. I don’t like how they allow people to pay extra to shortcut lines on National Forest lands (it’s illegal in this man’s opinion) and I sure don’t like their Potemkin Village. But did you know that they offer a free introduction to snowshoeing? I like that. Copper continues to perplex…spring is definitely on its way in southern West Virginia, but Winterplace Resort still has plenty of base and the season should last another month. Prices drop on March 14…and finally we hear from management at Heavenly that temps in Tahoe are expected to stay below 30ºF for the rest of the week, and that means that the storm headed into the Sierras may dump more snow starting tomorrow night. Could be another epic weekend in the region.
2/22/2011 Well the hotspot to be in the country this past weekend was the 2 feet of new fluff in the Cottonwood Canyons in Utah; parking lots maxed out by mid morning at Solititude, Alta and Snowbird and by 11:40 AM the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s office decided enough was enough and closed both Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons to all traffic but public transportation…Utah also saw Powder Mountain get some fresh and offer up untracked all weekend long…another hotspot was definitely the Tahoe area; we pick on Squaw Valley for its sprawl but it was some darn fine skiing up and down the Sierras; Mammoth every bit as good…the surprise winners in the northeast were the Pennsylvania areas — that’s not a typo — 8″-10″ inches of fresh on Saturday at places like Blue Mountainand Camelback…problems, problems all through New England this weekend; more than a few Vermont and New York areas had wind holds, including an unusual one at NY Metro area Belleayre. New Hampshire and Maine resorts fared better, but lots of ice ice baby. Skiers who took my pre-weekend advice to hit up Black and Bromleyhad the best go of things. Sorry to be all “I told you so” but every now and then we get one right…Colorado skiers have to take advantage of these deals: small but mighty Eldora will give you a free day (except on Saturdays) if you bring a ticket or pass from any other Colorado ski area; similarly our fave Ski Cooper will give you two-for-one tix if you show a pass from another resort today through March 6th. These smaller areas want you to “discover” them, and I urge you to do so…in Wyoming 78-year-old Roland Fleck was skinning uphill at Jackson Hole when patrollers ordered him to turn around due to grooming equipment on the hill, avy danger beyond, and above all, theft of services. When Fleck declined, he was arrested, handcuffed, and taken down in a toboggan…Spillway East chairlift is back in operation at Sugarloaf…The US Secret Service has flown in to Missouri’s Snow Creek resort due to credit card fraud; hundreds of customers and employees have been dealt false charges thanks to some online hacker. Snow Creek is open for biz and is processing all credit card sales manually…snowboarder lost for a few hours at Washington’s Bluewood Ski Resort Saturday was found, no worse for wear…World Championships wrapped up Sunday at Garmisch-Partenkirchen seeing French star Jean-Baptiste Grange win the Men’s slalom, while Marlies Schild and Kathrin Zettel propelled Austria to a 1-2 finish in the Women’s slalom. Top US finisher was Resi Stiegler in 19th, which is quite remarkable considering her long string of injuries. The big names to come out of this version of the world championships were speed merchants: Italy’s Christof Innerhofer, and Austria’s Elisabeth Görgl. Innerhofer claimed gold in Super-G, silver in Super Combined and bronze in Downhill, while Görgl skied to gold in both DH and SG. Yet through it all the name that got the most ink was Lindsey Vonn due to her pre-competition concussion. The World Cup resumes next weekend with the men in Bansko Bulgaria and the women in Are, Sweden. No word yet on whether or not Mrs. Vonn will be in the fray…And as good as the weekend was, it did have a few tragic incidents: the Yellowstone Club in Southern Montana reports that lift attendant David Mueller of Bozeman was killed in a skiing accident Thursday…a 67-year-old Iowa man collapsed and died at Breckenridge over the weekend…a young man from Grantsburg WI was killed while skiing with his church group at Spirit Mountain.
2/18/2011 Pleased to report that Ted Ligety won GS gold for the USA in the world championships at Garmisch-Partenkirchen this morning, ahead of French ace Cyprien Richard and Austria’s Philipp Schoerghofer. This is Schoerghofer’s first world championship podium; he has two in cup action. And if ever a guy needed a nickname, Schoerghofer is it…the New England Lost Ski Area Program reports that 10th Mt Division vet and Bronze Star Winner Tiny McWade has passed away at age 92. McWade loved skiing; he was recruited by Minnie Dole to serve in the 10th; after the war he was a founder of Craney Hill, a lost area adjacent to the current Pat’s Peak in NH. Most recently, McWade won the 90-year-old class in the Hannes Schneider Meister Cup at Cranmore. He leaves a tremendous legacy…Alpine Meadows reports nearly seven feet of new snow at the summit; this is an epic year in the Tahoe area. Squaw Valley finished yesterday with three feet of fresh while Sierra-At-Tahoe says the snow was falling at the rate of an inch per hour. It will shape up for great conditions for Northern Californians this weekend, assuming they can get there…Colorado Democrats Sen. Mark Udall and Rep. Diana DeGette, Republican Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming and Republican Rep. Rob Bishop of Utah are working to expand the permitted uses of US Forest Service lands in the west. Right now it’s most difficult for resorts on public lands to set up summer recreation; this new legislation will make it a lot easier to build zip lines, mountain bike courses, and summer concert venues…midwest news from Pine Mountain in MI is that the fog was thick as peanut butter yesterday, but the parking lot was full and the base is holding up just fine. Temps are returning to seasonal norms right now…and as that front changes, strong winds are ahead of the new. Combine fog, dropping temps, and 40 mph winds and you’ve got conditions that led to the postponement of the NCAA Central Region Championships, a nordic event scheduled at the Michigan Tech Ski Trails in Houghton. Events will begin tomorrow morning…pleased to report that recovery continues nicely for Kallie Brophy, the young WI girl who banged her head on a few trees at Trollhaugen Ski Area back in January. I’ll say it again, I don’t like helmet laws, but Lids on Kids is a good thing…. Next report Tuesday; have a great ski weekend!
2/17/2011 Big Sierra snows yesterday forced closure of Badger Pass in Yosemite National Park; it’s expected to re-open sometime today…”Hottest” news on the domestic ski scene right now is the warm up hitting the midwest, headed for the east coast today and tomorrow, expected to be followed by a quick freeze. All this could spell crummy skiing for President’s Day weekend, which is one of the most important money makers during the season. Best advice I can give is to look to the big resorts (that’s not something I say every day) that are especially skilled with the groomers. I’m talking places like Wintergreen in VA, Elk or Camelback in PA. Holiday Valley in NY. In Vermont, the Strattons and Okemos will be on top of things, as will Sunapee, Bretton Woods and Loon in NH, Sunday River in ME. If the big resorts don’t appeal to you, look for operations with southern exposure on groomed trails: Bromley in VT, Black in NH come to mind. For Mount Snow fans, I’d say wait and see what the grooming report says. If they work on the trails that get some sunshine (South Bowl/Sundance, Sunbrook area) then it’ll be good to go…back to the midwest, Granite Peak WI checks in this morning saying that the base is in real good shape. Friends at Buck Hill MN say the base is strong and should weather this weather with no trouble. Buck Hill uses that “Snowmax” system, which introduces a protein molecule into the snowmaking equipment to improve output…Really we aren’t too concerned about this warming in the upper midwest; they should all come out fine. Foggy conditions this morning are a bit disconcerting…no problems at all in Colorado; snows over the past 72 hrs have blanketed resorts…news from World Cup scene in Garmisch-Partenkirchen this morning, Tina Maze won the women’s GS gold; first world championship for the nation of Slovenia. Italy’s Federica Brignone garnered silver while French star Tessa Worley took third. Other news is that Swiss great Didier Cuche broke his thumb yesterday during GS practice; he says he wants to ski in the race tomorrow. This guy just might be the most likable, dedicated and best skier never to win the overall. And now Canadian star John Kucera has been hurt at the Coupe Nor-Am Cup in Aspen; his ski popped off and his left tibia is re-injured. It’s the one Kucera broke a couple years back; this time not as serious. Keep up your prayers for Austrian racer Hans Grugger, who underwent additional surgery. He had part of his skull removed to relieve pressure on his brain. The bone segment was restored yesterday — successfully according to his doctors…NH’s Waterville Valley is hosting the North Face Park & Pipe amateur series with slopestyle and superpipe events and $20,000 in prize money. LJ Strenio of Meatheadsfame is one of the favorites…and Ski Racing magazine has released its latest power rankings, and — surprise — the University of Vermont Catamounts are still number one in the country, despite a narrow loss in the recent Dartmouth Carnival.
2/16/2011 France took the gold in the 2011 world championship “Nations Team” event in Garmisch-Partenkirchen today, followed by Austria and Sweden. This is a multi-discipline event that includes boys and girls scores, and is an enjoyable diversion for most of the competitors. Most enjoyable for Swedish great Anja Paerson; the bronze medal is her 18th from Olympics and World Championships, making her the most awarded female alpine skier in history. On the negative side from the world championships, Austrian ace Benni Raich is out with a season-ending knee injury…interesting news from Sunshine Village in Banff is that a couple of snowboarders are being fined $297 each by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for triggering an avalanche after entering a closed area. Interesting because it proves that it’s not what you know, but who you know. A couple weeks ago the owner’s son entered a closed area, and the patroller who kicked him out got fired for his efforts. I really can’t recommend this place…rumblings from independent shop owners in Snowmass, unable to compete with Skico’s cheap rental offering…current management of Colorado fave Ski Cooper (not Copper) got another 15 year lease from Lake County, which owns the operation. Some folks in Leadville thought a more aggressive management group was needed to draw more traffic, but it must be noted that they’ve made $5.5 million in improvements over the years, and not taken a single cent from Lake County’s annual budget. And it’s a terrific ski area if you haven’t yet tried it.
2/15/2011 Hey now here’s some “good” news, looks like Goode Ski Technologies is moving ski production from China to their facility in Ogden, UT. The expansion will bring about 100 jobs to the Ogden valley…as expected, Lindsey Vonn is skipping the balance of the world championship event in Garmisch-Partenkirchen to help her recover and refocus on the remaining cup season. That announcement was followed shortly by word that Maria Riesch will sit out the team competition in order to focus on the SL and GS events. Maria has been battling the flu, yet still managed to nab a pair of bronze medals…Pennsylvania State Police have published photos of suspects and are asking for the public to help nail theives who’ve stolen a number of skis and boards from Roundtop Mountain Resort this season…it appears that Mad River Glen‘s troubles continue with that double chair lift…Snowmasspatroller Tim Brown suffered serious head and neck injuries in a tree collision during a routine end of day sweep in the Alpine Springs section on Sunday; our thoughts and prayers are with Tim and his family…sadly, the young Milwaukee man attending the University of Denver who fell off a cliff a few weeks back at Copper was taken off life support last week and passed.
2/14/2011 Happy Valentines Day! Neglected to mention last week that Balsams/Wilderness, in the Great North Woods of NH, worked out the glitch in their summit lift and all is well…biggest news right now during this epic season in Lake Tahoe isn’t the snow, but Homewood Mountain Resort planning a major expansion to compete with the likes of Squaw Valley. Borrowing a page from the big boy up the street, Homewood plans include a gondy, mid-mountain restaurant and outdoor pool, major condo construction, and of course, a Potemkin village for the base area…lift problems over the weekend moved to VT, where Mad River Glen lifties were hearing unusual sounds from the double. Hey when I’m driving I just turn up the radio to drown out unusual sounds, but the MRG crew wisely shut the lift down as a precaution. Like any good Vermonters they seldom talk to their neighbors, but when help is needed, folks pull together. Mechanics were quickly dispatched from Sugarbush with a box of parts to pitch in, and the lift was back up yesterday…speaking of Vermont, a few more wayward skiers required rescue this weekend, one at Killington and another at Pico, none the worse for wear, but an after-hours ski run from nightclub to condo turned tragic for a man at Jay Peak; found a few hours later he was hypothermic with no pulse. He was revived but remains in critical condition. Speaking of wayward skiers, good news is that the Virginia man we reported missing overnight at K-Mart last week was found ok…and so I was hoping to report that nobody was killed on America’s ski trails this weekend, but just learned that a 60-year-old Pennsy woman died Friday morning at NY’s Windham when she skied into a tree, and a 22-year-old woman perished in the same fashion Saturday at Snowshoe in WV…back to New England news, the Dartmouth ski team beat the University of Vermont this weekend at the Dartmouth Carnival, which may knock the Catamounts out of their #1 national ranking…good news in NY state, where the smaller central resorts are reporting booming business; Song Mountain is up 20% in skier visits, Labrador Mountain is up but not saying how much, and Greek Peak claims to be some 50,000 skier visits ahead of last season’s pace…stunningly successful event was the World Cup Biathlon this weekend in Fort Kent Maine; the community did a great job of hosting and the athletes were nothing short of fantastic. Frenchman Martin Fourcade won the men’s 15k mass start yesterday, while Germany’s Magdalena Neuner won the women’s 12.5K…in the Alpine World Championships in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, the story of the weekend is Austria’s Elisabeth Goergl, who added downhill gold to her Super G gold. Lindsey Vonn, still slightly off her game from a concussion, was 2nd followed by — you guessed it — Maria Riesch. Julia Mancuso grabbed 6th and a pleasant surprise from America’s up-and-coming Laurenne Ross, who managed a top ten. Men’s DH event Saturday had Canada’s Erik Guay grabbing gold, with ever popular ageless wonder Didier Cuche finishing 2nd. Italy’s Christof Innerhofer took 3rd, looking like the men’s star of the week. Bode Miller skied flawlessly but had an extremely disappointing run, and although he wouldn’t say it, it appeared that his technicians missed either on the base grind or the wax or both. This morning had the men in Super Combi action, with the notable exception of Croatian star Ivica Kostelic, who is resting. Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal took gold, followed by Italians Innerhofer and Peter Fill. America’s hopes vaporized in DNFs from Miller and Ted Ligety…Olympic mogul skier Bryon Wilson underwent knee surgery this weekend.
2/11/2011 Pleased to report that one of our favorite “small but mighty” ski areas, Badger Pass at Yosemite National Park is having a fantastic snow season…checking around the country with some of our similar faves, the ultra-cool Ski Cooper in Leadville CO hasn’t seen much new stuff in the past couple days, but they are skiing on five (5) feet of natural snow. Let me tell you, that’s good stuff…in Idaho, Brundage is serving up a similar situation; most of the recent pow is tracked out but still soft natural beautiful snow…if you really need untracked pow and you can’t make it to Utah, throwback Mt. Bohemia on Michigan’s upper peninsula has all you can handle…in New England, underrated and uncrowded Granite Gorge has epic conditions and a weekend full of nice events planned, beginning with racing under the lights tonight…moving to World Championships news from Garmisch-Partenkirchen, on the ladies’ side the “all-arounders” showed their stuff this morning in Super Combined competition, and although you can probably guess the names (if you’re a World Cup fan) we’re here to tell you the order. Austria’s Anna Fenninger first, followed by Slovenia’s Tina Maze and Sweden’s Anja Paerson. Other multi-disciplined greats Dominique Gisin (Switz.) and Elisabeth Goergl (Austr.) followed 4th and 5th. Julia Mancuso turned in a decent finish in 7th. Lindsey Vonn is skipping everything but downhill training; she’s focused solely on the DH event Sunday…we can’t seem to get away from skiers going AWOL in the out-of-bounds this season; right now we have a 22 year old guy from Virginia lost overnight somewhere on the backside of Killington. He and his buddy went over the boundary yesterday, and the buddy was found six hours later…this is the 9th incident in Vermont alone this season. As long as these guys keep wandering off, we’ll keep reporting it…today is day 2 of the Biathlon world championships in Fort Kent, Maine. Yesterday’s action saw Olympic champ Emil Hegle Svendsen of Norway garner gold, some seven seconds ahead of the Czech Republic’s Michal Slesingr in the 10k sprint…we really should’ve put that story ahead of the latest glonks to go missing…anyway, more news from Fort Kent is that NBA great Scottie Pippen will be on hand for a ladies’ biathlon event today, have no idea why…fyi if you’re wondering how an event of this magnitude winds up in tiny Fort Kent, it’s because of the fantastic efforts of the local 10th Mountain XC Club and the huge devotion the townspeople have to winter sports. We salute them. Fort Kent is also home to a terrific little downhill area called Lonesome Pines. And in case you glanced at a map and thought “that’s the end of the world”, well it isn’t. But you can see it from there…warming trend headed to the northeast has some skiers in a panic. Shouldn’t be, as all this seems to be is a return to seasonal norms…more snow should be dumping in the Pacific northwest with this jet stream shift…sad news from Sun Valley, where a 49 year old Chicago man died on Baldy Wednesday afternoon, skied into a tree…and here’s a story that fully deserves to be last, if reported at all. The politically-correct Ski Area Citizens Coalition of Colorado has released its annual ranking of the best and worst ski resorts at defending the environment. As usual, it’s a bunch of crap. The best? Squaw Valley USA, which is a terrific ski area but surely demolished the mountain, is ranked number one. Aspen, which has all those massive carbon footprint private jets lined up at its airport, is ranked number four. Folks, it’s called “greenwashing.” Buy a few credits here, give some good lip service there, and you too can be on the good list. And as long as you built your massive snowmaking system with the ubercompressors a few years ago, you’re fine; “A” grade to Deer Valley. Heaven help you if you try to upgrade your tiny, underpowered system now; “F” grade to Arizona Snow Bowl. Nah, it ain’t worth reporting. It’s all a bunch of crap…speaking of Arizona Snow Bowl, I’m here to tell you that it’s a terrific area and has minimal environmental impact, regardless of what some “coalition” claims.
2/9/2011 World Championships continued this morning in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, where Italy’s Christof Innerhofer took the Mens Super G competition on the fabled Kandahar course. Austria’s Hannes Reichelt and Croatian superstar Ivica Kostelic rounded out the podium. Bode finished 12th and stole the show, Tommy Ford 14th, and Travis Ganong 18th out of 41 finishers. We’re not completely sure if that’s official yet, as the live timing indicates that the race is still in progress. Either way, that part about Bode has to do with the fact that he was leading midway (ahead of Kostelic at the time), lost a pole in a near crash, skied with one pole and increased his lead, then stood up for the last few seconds of the race after another near wipeout — and he still managed to finish 12th. Innerhofer said that watching Miller’s run gave him the inspiration to put it all on the line…meanwhile the ladies completed their first downhill training run with the notable absence of Lindsey Vonn, who has now admitted that the concussion has thrown her for a loop and may not compete at all. France’s Marie Marchand-Arvier had fastest time, a tenth ahead of Swiss starlet Lara Gut…Jeremy Davis, founder of NELSAP announced today that he’s added Maine’s Big Squaw to the list of the lost. The resort is one of the largest areas in the east to fold. The owner offered to lease the dysfunctional operation to the local county government this past summer. Big Squaw is located on the politically-corrected Big Moose mountain…speaking of the northeast, lots of snow last night…Killington is absolutely loaded with powder…same deal in Utah; our fave Powder Mountain skiing on at least 7″ of fresh, which means you don’t have to venture far to find stuff a foot or two deep…in Colorado the road is clear to enjoy fabulous conditions at Loveland and the other Summit County ski areas but Vail Pass is down to a single lane this morning.
2/8/2011 World Championship news leads the day, Super G action from the Kandahar piste at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, where Austrian Elisabeth Görgl edged Julia Mancuso, with Maria Riesch in third. Super Jules was just five-hundredths of a second behind Görgl. Pre-race favorites Lindsey Vonn (7th) and Lara Gut (4th) had respectable showings. Seems that Mrs. Vonn may have been impacted by that GS practice crash concussion more than she claims…good news from the Adirondacks: two back-country skiers from the Empire State got lost in the Dix Mountain Wilderness south of Lake Placid Saturday, spent the night in a snow cave, found safe and sound Sunday…another BC dude in the Bridger Mountains of Montana suffered a broken femur this weekend after he triggered an avalanche…seems like a record year for wayward skiers. As this AT and BC stuff continues to gain, I expect we’ll see more and more of this…the Alaska Ski for Women fundraiser event had some 1400 participants on the 2.4-mile cross-country skiing course at Kincaid Park in Anchorage this past weekend.
2/7/2011 Couple inches overnight and we’re pleased to report that Upper Peninsula badboy Mt Bohemia is 100% open, but the “do not ski alone” warning is still in effect. So much snow in the woods that you’re in danger of snow immersion…In New England, more lift problems, this time at Balsams/Wilderness in the great North Woods of New Hampshire. Some mechanical ills have effectively shut off access to the summit…ice and winds played havoc with lifts all over New England this past weekend; Mount Snow shut down much of its operations on Sunday, tram was idle for a while at Jay Peak but things are back to normal now…the mixed bag of weather created an unusual situation at Mount Snow; again they’ve elected to groom a couple of trails that don’t normally see it, including Uncle’s and both Dippers…pleased to report that the red chair is back online at Magic Mountain…critics are panning yesterday’s Super Bowl halftime show by the Black Eyed Peas. Personally I thought it was outstanding. Not really a fan of that sort of music, but it was far better than watching my aging rock heroes put on the annual geriatric revues…snowing like crazy at Loveland today…Turning to World Cup action…In case you hadn’t heard, Lindsey Vonn indeed suffered a concussion during that nasty GS practice fall, and now says she’s having trouble focusing throughout the entirety of her runs. Lindsey is not at all pleased with the condition of the piste for the World Championships at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, claiming it is too icy. Lindsey may skip the Super G, in which she is the defending champ…grim news in the Empire State over the weekend; a 16 year old girl is in guarded condition after fracturing her skull on a tree at Bristol, and a 54 year old man was killed after skiing into a tree at Hunt Hollow Ski Lodge. He was wearing a helmet; authorities are unsure if the teenager was. Also in NY a 60 year old gentleman apparently suffered a heart attack while riding a chair at Kissing Bridge. He tumbled 25 feet to the ground and died…according to OnTheSnow.com, Washington’s Crystal Mountain is leading efforts in that state to impose fines up to $1,000 on skiers who enter closed areas. Apparently there was a recent incident of skiers going into a closed section where live artillery was being used in avy control. I’d say the gunners need better aim.
2/3/2011 Big snows in the midwest and New England have led to some of the best day-in, day-out conditions in years…Michigan fave Mt. Bohemia has so much pow that there is a snow immersion danger on the backside. You’ll have to wait til tomorrow to go snorkeling in that stuff, however, as high winds have all operations on hold…speaking of on-hold, underrated Magic Mountain in New England saw its lift go on the fritz yesterday afternoon. The evac was completed smoothly and professionally by the Magic patrol in less than two hours. They’re closed today, hope to have everything up and running for the weekend…so much snow has fallen in Vermont that Mount Snow was compelled to groom a few of the trails that they almost never groom, including Olympic, which I haven’t seen groomed in years…speaking of the Green Mountain State, the University of Vermont Catamounts continue their domination of northeast carnivals, and are still atop the Ski Racing magazine national power rankings…back to the snow discussion, New Hampshire has been pounded; our fave Black Mountain is finally able to open the summit…up the road Wildcat is skiing every glade and hidey-hole on the hill…rain and crud doused the Mid-Atlantic, but since most of it was frozen and the temps low enough, base depths actually increased at places like Mountain Creek and Elk Mountain. Downside is that conditions are now typical Mid-Atlantic, AKA, ice…back to the midwest, small but mighty Ski Brule is firing on all cylinders, and they’ve got a terrific Super Bowl offering: wear green and gold and get two-for-one tickets. Wonder who they’re rooting for…Lindsey Vonn took a nasty tumble during GS practice in Hinterreit Austria yesterday. Smacked her head pretty good, but sez she’s ok. I can’t figure out why Lindsey’s so bedeviled by GS…more lost skiers, this time at Sugarloaf where two men, ages 16 and 20 spent a night in the cold and damp after losing their way off the backside…Chicago commuters took to the streets on XC gear following the blizzard; I wonder if that dipstick Illini State Sen. Ira Silverstein did helmet checks…kudos to Pennsy’s Roundtop Mountain Resort, doing a “vertical challenge” fundraiser this weekend for the Central Pennsylvania Chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. The annual event normally brings in $60k for the Society…interesting turn of events in Aspen, where Skico has decided to “ban” that rogue instructor from all of its resorts. Interesting because the mountains are on US Forest Service land — can they really ban a guy from his own land? Skico says its lease enables it to do so; I wonder if the courts will agree…a Seattle woman doing some BC skiing near Alpental is missing; heli searchers spotted a nasty snow slide in a very rugged section of Red Mountain — telltale ski gear was scattered about. Search resumes this morning.
2/1/2011 Happy February, this season is just flying by…sorry to say the Boyce Park ski lift near Pittsburgh is currently shut down following an incident this past weekend. Some 30 skiers were stranded on the chair after some sort of malfunction, second time in just a month. Local firefighters and the ski patrollers brought all skiers down safely…About a month ago (January 3 if you care to scroll down) we reported on the protests of a disgruntled Aspen ski instructor named Lee Mulcahy, while the majority of his fellow employees mostly said, “huh”? Turns out he wasn’t up to snuff anyway, and has been terminated by Skico. According to company CEO Mike Kaplan, it wasn’t because of his contrarian opinion, but rather, “he was let go because he does not meet the standards of performance required to be a ski pro and to wear the uniform that represents excellence in service, safety, and professionalism as established by the employees of Aspen Skiing Company.” Bravo, looks like Skico may finally get past this mess…sad news from Government Camp OR where 41-year-old William James Cannard was killed when he fell on steep terrain at Mt. Hood Meadows yesterday. Authorities say he hit a tree…speaking of not wearing helmets, some ding dong in Illinois is trying to pass a law requiring everyone who heads down a slope in the Land of Lincoln to wear a helmet. State Sen. Ira Silverstein, D-Chicago, says he wants to prevent serious injuries. This clown may want to start with motorcycle helmets, which aren’t required in Illinois. Last time I checked, there weren’t many skiers going steep and deep in the heartland. That’s not to knock the Illini areas; they do a terrific job with the terrain they have: Chestnut Mountain, Ski Snowstar, Four Lakes, and Villa Olivia. But dammit I hate to waste pixels on this moron. According to the Decatur Herald Review, “Silverstein said he has no personal knowledge of skiing or snowboarding.” And we wonder why we’re losing our status as a world power….According to SnowSports Industries America (SIA), snow gear sales topped $1 billion for the month of December, first time ever. Overall the industry says sales are up 16% over last year…yesterday we reported on six skiers missing in two separate incidents in Vermont; turns out at least one more flatlander was flailing around in the Green Mountain State this weekend. 45-year-old Gustavo Oascar Iriarte of Lyndhurst NJ went missing at Killington on Sunday, spent a night out before authorities found him. Seems to be fine…more weekend shenanigans at Killington: Police say tour bus drivers Aleksey Gerasimov and Vladimir Ignatovich had alcohol in their systems when they dropped 150 kids off at the resort on Saturday morning. Na zdoróvye!…Canadian World Cup star Manny Osborne-Paradis was injured pretty badly in that crash in Chamonix this weekend; broken leg, torn ACL, and some bruised ribs…the sad saga of Connecticuts Powder Ridge lost ski area continues. The Middlefield Board of Selectmen are trying to decide whether or not to sell the property. An investment/developer group says it will re-open the area, although it probably involves mucho housing on the tract…what the heck, now we hear of a young woman BC skiing down from Camel’s Hump in Vermont, lost yesterday, found by a National Guard helicopter.
1/31/2011 Quick news round up from the past week, in case you missed it: Intrawest Resorts, which operates Stratton VT, Snowshoe WV, Steamboat CO, and Tremblant PQ, is relocating its headquarters from Whistler BC to Denver CO. I suppose since they sold off Whistler-Blackcomb, it just didn’t make much sense for Intrawest to be headquartered 1200 miles from its nearest property…sad to say the classic Austrian style chalet base lodge at Cockaigne Ski Center in Cherry Creek, NY (near Buffalo) burned down this week, cause unknown. Some interesting history; the lodge had been used in Austria’s tourism exhibit at the 1964 NY World’s Fair and was relocated to Cockaigne in 1966. No cause known for the blaze…and for some good news, tiny Campton Mountain in NH has opened for the first time in a decade; overshadowed by Waterville Valley it offers a discount, family-oriented alternative. Relying on natural snow, Campton is operated by Waterville Estates, which is some sort of condo/home complex in the valley. It’s a great option for those busy holiday Saturdays when Waterville gets skied off…Maria Riesch still holds her lead over Lindsey Vonn in World Cup standings…on the men’s side, Hans Grugger is breathing on his own following surgery…in a repeat of 2008, Didier Cuche edged Bode Miller to win at Kitzbuehel last week. This is Cuche’s 4th win on the Streif and puts him in some rather elite company, which is to say, he joins Franz Klammer as the only 4 timer. If you haven’t seen him, Cuche is the guy with the huge smile who kicks up his ski, spins it around and grabs in mid air following his runs. (click here to see it on youtube) You can’t help but like the guy…three Rhode Island men are safe and sound after getting lost at Stowe Vermont yesterday, they went in search of the Hellsgate backcountry trail and had to be guided by sirens down to a road on the west side of Mt. Mansfield…meanwhile, three dudes from New York with questionable judgement went out of bounds at Pico at 3:30 pm yesterday and stumbled around for about seven hours before being rescued and hauled out on snowmobiles. All’s well that ends well, but I don’t think they’ll enjoy the bill they get for the state’s services.
1/20/2011 Finally some good news out of Sugarloaf, where the ropes have dropped for the first time on the new Brackett Basin side terrain. Sugarloafers are pleased of course, but last weekend’s loss is keeping things in perspective…ladies have completed their second training run in Cortina; Lindsey Vonn and Julia Mancuso went 1-2…sobering morning during training session in Kitzbeuhel, where Austrian star Hans Grugger underwent emergency brain surgery following a crash on the Mausefalle (mousetrap) section of the Streif course. No word yet on the outcome. The show goes on, of course, and popular Swiss star Didier Cuche edged Italian Christof Innerhofer for fastest time. Bode Miller, whose best finish on the Streif is a 2nd place run, was 4th on the timing chart today. That 2nd place run was the one in which he skied onto the catch fence in 2008, which pushed his popularity even higher with European fans…the new superpipe debuts at Killington this weekend for the Dew Tour, among the pros on hand will be Kevin Pearce, the Vermont native who was very seriously injured during training for the 2010 Olympics. Pearce does commentary for the events as his long recovery continues; it’s nice to see him involved…the Denver Post reports this morning that Colorado ski business is up an average of 10 percent statewide. Sounds like some of the hidden gems are boosting things, because Aspen‘s Skico says it’s only up 7 percent…Speaking of Skico, sad and unusual story out of Snowmass this week is that a 77 year old retired doctor, Thomas Berglund, of Kalamazoo, Mich died of a heart attack while attempting to sidestep back onto a trail. Local resident Philip Shalen was snowshoeing up the side of the Green Cabin trail when he heard someone call out for help. Shalen found Berglund stuck in deep snow, went to him, and helped him out of the hole he was in. Berglund explained that he had been “forced off the trail by a kid.” Berglund seemed fine, but then was unable to scoot down the slope. Shalen called the ski patrol. Snowmass patrollers arrived within minutes, and radioed back that Berglund was uninjured but needed assistance. They were helping him sidestep out of the woods when he suffered a cardiac arrest…happier ending down the highway at Eldora Mountain Resort where, also on Tuesday, a 19 year old female skier got lost out of bounds, walked into a creek, and wound up some two miles from the resort. She was rescued within a few hours, safe and sound.
1/19/2011 According to our friend on the snowmaking crew, about a foot of fresh fell at Sunday Riveryesterday…however…The warming trend has moved into the northeast, where it followed heavy snows and left a nasty coating of ice. In New England, at least, the forecast is more snow prior to the weekend, so things should be fine. If the snow doesn’t arrive, plan to use ice skates…World Cup action has the ladies training for downhill in Cortina and the men at the annual Hahnenkamm circus in Kitzbuehel. Maria Riesch had fastest run this morning, followed by Julia Mancuso. The men’s training on the Streif was called off due to rain and fog…in other WC news, Austria’s Andreas Buder, a downhiller of some reknown, decided to end his career yesterday, citing nagging knee injuries…University of Vermont scored a big victory in the college season opening St. Lawrence Carnival, UVM’s first carnival victory since ’06. The win has the Catamounts ranked atop the national standings right now, ahead of University of Colorado…speaking of racing, yesterday marked the 37th annual “Cowboy Downhill” at Steamboat, a wildly popular event on Mt. Werner that features some 70 professional rodeo cowboys race through gates, negotiate a very large jump, lasso a person, and saddle a horse; fastest to complete is the winner….Incidentally the mountain’s namesake, Buddy Werner, was the first American to win the Hahnenkamm. The only other to do so was Daron Rahlves. The Hahnenkamm, if you weren’t aware of it, is skiing’s equivalent to the Indy 500 or Kentucky Derby.
1/18/2011 Investigators still have no clue as to what started the lodge fire at Big Powderhorn. In case you missed it, the resort is open…word from Kirkwood is that the Tahoe area resort had its busiest holiday weekend in history, up 15% from last year’s MLK weekend…and we got some on-the-sly info from a Mount Snow employee that Saturday set some sort of all-time record, either dollars or bodies or both…reports from Stratton say the liftlines were reminiscent of the 1970s….glad to hear that police arrested some jerk at Seven Springs in SW Pennsy after he tried to steal some ski equipment at the lodge. The perp was chased and tackled by the rightful owner. Seven Springs has had a particularly tough rash of thefts this season…saw the name David Chodounsky in 19th place in Wengen slalom action this weekend, his second points-earning effort of the season. Turns out Chodounsky hails from St. Paul MN and also trained at tiny Buck Hill. If you have to ask why that’s significant, put the name Lindsey Vonn into the Google…word from Sugarloaf is that Joshua Waldron, the young man killed on the Hayburner trail this weekend, died after impact with a snowmaking tower. More than 100 people held a bonfire and candlelight vigil in his honor last night. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Waldron family.
1/17/2011 Neglected to mention that another big winner in last week’s snowstorm sweepstakes was Lutsen in the great white north of Minnesota. Skiing is as good as it’s been in recent memory at Lutsen; this year they’ve been able to build terrain features on all four mountains. Not that I like that kind of stuff, but it is indicative of the amount of snow floating around…World Cup action in Wengen saw Ivica Kostelic win the slalom yesterday, furthering his overall lead. Austria’s Klaus Kroell won the downhill Saturday; Swiss teammates Didier Cuche and Carlo Janka took 2nd and 3rd. Bode Miller showed well with an 8th place run….the women were in MariborSlovenia this weekend, but temps continued to hover around 60ºF. After a rough start the GS was cancelled Saturday; the slalom event followed suit yesterday. Surely this is good news for Lindsey fans…great snow conditions ruled the weekend in the northeast, but it was a weekend marred by tragedy. 18-year old Long Islander Erin Clare Malloy-Mcardle was killed when she apparently skied into a tree at Windham. And the horror continues at can’t-catch-a-break Sugarloaf, where a 16-year old Carrabasset Valley Academy student died after colliding with something off the Hayburner trail. The nature of the collision has yet to be explained and continues to be investigated…news is just as grim from Western Canada, where three men were killed this weekend in three different avalanche incidents…I really don’t like reporting this stuff…so we’ll move to some good news; 85 skiers were rescued safely from a malfunctioning lift at Ohio’s small but mighty Alpine Valley on Saturday…in California, the Squaw Valley sale went through yesterday, the sprawling ski resort is now owned by a Denver equity firm.
1/14/2011 Venerable Big Powderhorn in Bessemer, MI saw its main “chalet” lodge destroyed yesterday by a late morning fire. The chalet was a long time symbol of the popular resort. Base area ops have moved to the Caribou Lodge, which is elsewhere on the property…Martin Luther King holiday weekend is upon us. For the resorts, it marks the half-way point of the season. For the rest of us, it means crushing crowds. And so I get on my annual holiday weekend soapbox and remind you that the best way to avoid the crush is to seek out the hidden gems — places like Ski Cooper and Loveland in Colorado, Wolf Mountain and Powder Mountain in Utah, and of course the revitalized Eagle Point. In Montana, places like Teton Pass. Michigan? Look to Ski Brule. New York? Plattekill. Pennsy? Try Snö, the questionably re-named Montage Mountain Scranton. Then there’s Bousquet’s in Massachusetts, and Magic in Vermont. Black Mountain in NH, or (you guessed it) Black Mountain of Maine. We could go on and on. But if you are locked in to a major resort for whatever reason, plan to arrive early for marquee routes. As the place fills up, the key is to look for a lesser-used lift — often a fixed-grip — away from the base lodge. And now I’ll jump down from the soapbox…the world cup Super Combined went off in Wengen as scheduled; Bode fought to defend his crown and managed a respectable sixth place. Croatian superstar Ivica Kostelic was first, followed by Swiss great Carlo Janka and Norseman Aksel Lund Svindal. Ted Ligety was second best on the second run, garnering him a decent 9th place finish and keeping him at 5th in the overall standings. Kostelic and Svindal are still one-two…the “Chicago area skier” who tumbled 900′ while BC skiing in Rocky Mountain National Park has been identified as 55 year old Scott Sedlack of Lindenhurst. He is said to have “multiple serious injuries”….Rochester Minnesota‘s Nordic Ski Team will host a fundraiser/pasta feed to raise money for updated grooming equipment for park trails at Essex and Quarry Hill parks. The All You Can Eat Pasta Feed will be catered by Victoria’s at 4pm next Sunday, Jan. 23 at Resurrection Catholic Church in Rochester. Now that’s my kind of fundraiser!
1/13/2011 New England was bombed yesterday, 18-20 inches of much needed fresh moved northward, dumping at places like Ski Sundown, Magic, Mount Snow, Berkshire East, Black, Wildcat and on up into Maine, where Sunday River tallied 14″ and Sugarloaf about 10″…the New York metro area resorts cashed in as well; more or less a foot in parts of the Poconos and Catskills…and lest we forget, tiny Yawgoo Valley in Rhode Island (that’s not a typo) got a nice new blanket of white…can’t say enough about how overdue this storm was; NH’s Jackson XCwent from 3 km of scratchy back country trails to 114 km overnight…a 55 year old Chicago man fell 900′ while back country skiing at Rocky Mountain National Park, he’s been rescued and hospitalized, no details yet…sad news from Jackson Hole, 18 year old Zephyr Rapinchuk of Northampton, MA was killed when he collided with a tree near the Rendezvous Bowl…word out of Aspen is that Skico’s business was up seven percent through December…woman XC skiing in Kamloops BC was attacked by a moose. Yep, she had her dog with her. Please, please, please: Don’t ski with dogs. Other skiers don’t appreciate it, and moose get really pissed off. Contrary to what you might think, not everybody loves your dog. In fact, the next dog that sniffs my crotch on an XC trail gets tazed. I’ve had enough…third mens downhill training run in Wengen was cancelled today, leaving Didier Cuche with fastest training tally. Super Combined goes off tomorrow; mercurial Bode Miller is defending champ…at least five of the skiers hurt in the Sugarloaf de-roping incident now have lawyers. Honestly, if I were hurt in this accident, I would too. Much as it pains me to say it. It’s one thing if you hurt yourself skiing, another if the resort hurts you…Snowbird is the latest resort that wants to add a mountain coaster ride.
1/11/2011 New England is bracing for a storm, and as far as the resorts are concerned, it can’t come soon enough. Only hope is that it will track far enough north to reach those that need it most…some lingering lake effects action has put a foot and a half down at Mad River Glen, which was closed for lack of snow as little as a week ago. Neighboring Sugarbush now has everything but the “Castlerock” section open, which is said to be close…avalanche tragedy at Val d’Isere this morning killed four…meanwhile, the avy beacons used by patrollers at Jackson Hole have been recalled by the manufacturer, called Backcountry Access. Said to be some glitch with the software…Vail says business is up (no kidding) but they aren’t saying exactly how much. Wonder if they really know…and word from Aspen is that longtime Aspen icon Ruth Brown, for whom Ruthie’s Run is named, passed away this weekend at age 90. Wife of past Aspen president D.R.C. Brown, Ruth’s legacy goes far beyond the ski trail. According to the Aspen Times, Brown’s efforts resulted in the BOLD ski program for blind skiers; the first Outward Bound Program in the country; the Brown Ice Palace, later known as the Aspen Ice Garden; and the first drug and alcohol treatment center in Aspen. Now there’s a person who knew how to let her light shine! Rest in peace Ruthie, and a sincere “thank you” for your contribution to the sport.
1/10/2011 This tree well stuff has got to stop. Whitefish resort had another tree well powder fatality this weekend; a 29 year old snowboarder suffocated in much the same way as the 16 year old exchange student last week. Heartbreak continued at the Montana resort when a 68 year old man apparently suffered a heart attack on a groomed trail yesterday…in the northeast, the NH and Maine ski areas can’t seem to catch a break. Spots along the Maine coast got pounded on Saturday; XC skiers report that the conditions at Acadia National Park are nothing less than epic. Meanwhile Sugarloaf and Sunday Riv each got a dusting. My personal fave, Black Mountain in Jackson NH is running on fumes. Back down the eastern seaboard a bit and Belleayre has had snow, and healthy doses of it, every day. Places like Jack Frost in Pennsy and Wintergreen VA are firing on all cylinders…the other Black Mountain, Black Mountain of Maine, deserves kudos for a fantastic XC Championships, which wrapped up yesterday…and since we’re talking about competitions, sorry to say Ted Ligety did not make history in the Adelboden GS. Ted the Shred had an incredible 1.5 second lead after the first run but ran into some troubles on the second. Frenchmen Cyprien Richard won, with teammate Thomas Fanara bookending second place Aksel Lund Svindal. The podium was enough to push Svindal into the overall lead, however he lost it a day later when Croatia’s Ivica Kostelic won the slalom. Svindal closed on GS discipline leader Ligety, but “Shred” is still expected to take the globe…Meanwhile, in Altenmarkt-Zauchensee Austria, Lindsey Vonn dominated the downhill, as expected. In yesterday’s Super-G event, rising Swiss starlet Lara Gut beat Vonn by a half second. It’s known that Gut has the speed talent, but recent drama on the Swiss team has revolved around Lara, and this win was surprising considering the turmoil. Teammate Dominique Gisin placed third. Vonn gained some ground on rival Maria Riesch, who finished a respectable sixth. Julia Mancuso was 16th in the race and is still firmly in the overall top ten…update on USA’s Alice McKennis, who crossed tips on a GS training run in Saalbrach Austria Jan 2nd; surgery Thursday at the Vail Valley Medical Center was said to be successful. Even so, McKennis will be on crutches for a couple months and out of competition for at least a year…Berkshires Jiminy Peak announced that it broke its all time single day record on December 30th with 7874 skier visits…Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard Resort is working with local groups to give away free helmets as part of the Lids on Kids safety campaign at the end of the month…developing story from Mammoth Lakes California, where the municipality is on the wrong end of a $30 million judgement based on mistreatment of a real estate developer. Not sure what happened here, but in small towns across America the local government will often ignore laws to freeze out projects they simply don’t like. Wouldn’t be surprised.
1/7/2011 A couple of people have commented on the scarcity of ticket offers on Liftopia this season (see our link below today’s entry) and the fact is that business has been so brisk that most of the majors don’t have a need to offer the deals. From a pure market point of view, the deals do tend to “cheapen” their product. As consumers, of course, we’d prefer to see the bargains. But on the other hand, a strong season is important to keep the ski areas going…snowing in the northeast, hadn’t heard from our source at Stratton for a while, but he weighed in today with news that 77 trails are open, and the resort has groomed a few that don’t usually see it. Who would’ve thought that Mount Snow would be southern Vermont’s go-to place for bump runs! Heard from the Catskills, Belleayrehas almost all terrain open, snowing as I type this…word from Pennsy, Blue Mountain is now 100% open…NJ source says Mountain Creek has all but a half dozen connectors and short trails open, and is enjoying fresh snow this morning…Women’s downhill training runs are complete in in Altenmarkt-Zauchensee Austria, and naturally Lindsey Vonn had the best time. Swedish great Anja Paerson clocked in just 4/10ths behind…the men have moved to Adelboden, Switzerland where tomorrow sees Ted Ligety go for his 4th straight GS victory. If he can do it, he’ll will join just three men who’ve done it: Alberto Tomba, Bode Miller, Ingemar Stenmark. That’s some pretty select company! Although the pundits never saw it coming, Ted the Shred has worked hard and certainly is deserving of the utmost respect for his performance this season. But to be mentioned alongside those guys? He’s got a ways to go to approach their numbers, but in the GS discipline, Ted on his best day would be competitive with any of them on their best day — including Stenmark…in other team USA news, Olympic medalist Andrew Weibrecht will miss the balance of the season due to shoulder surgery. The 24 year old skier did some damage to it while training in Hinterreit, Austria a couple weeks ago…back to the Ligety thing. Before you get all up in arms about me comparing him to the legendary Ingemar Stenmark, keep in mind that Stenmark never won a world cup downhill event. We’ll see how it all shapes up tomorrow.
1/6/2011 Wyoming’s Jackson Hole Mountain Resort has weighed in on its recent numbers, saying it recorded its busiest December in history. In fact December 29th was just four (4) skiers short of its all-time single day record…Surprise snowstorm yesterday dumped fresh in NY’s Catskills; Plattekill grabbed up to 9″ from the tail end of a lake effects system…World cup women are downhilling in Altenmarkt-Zauchensee Austria, where local Anna Fenninger was 1/10th of a second faster than Lindsey Vonn…men are in slalom action in Zagreb as I type this; Italian Giuliano Razzoli is the early leader…New England this weekend has tiny Ski Ward offering a Rider Palooza Rail Jam Series sponsored by Summit Ski and Sport, Framingham, MA…US Cross Country Championships at Black Mountain of Maine is all about our 49th state; men’s 15K classic had Lars Flora of Anchorage lead a 1-2-3-4 finish for Alaskans. The women’s 10K classic saw Alaska Pacific University skiers Sadie Bjornsen and Morgan Smyth finish 1-2. So far 8 of a dozen medals have gone to Alaskans in the western Maine event…speaking of Maine, the investigation continues on Sugarloaf‘s wayward Spillway East lift. According to Shaun Sutner of the Worcester Telegram, there have been exactly 12 lift related fatalities in the USA since 1973, during which time skiers logged 7.1 billion uphill miles. Sutner quotes an amusement rides safety specialist who says that “skiers should heed their instincts.” If a lift doesn’t look or sound right, don’t ride it. “My advice to skiers is to know who they’re doing business with. Clanky is good on a roller coaster with a chain, but you don’t want it anywhere else.” Sounds reasonable…120 athletes from the Carolinas will square off in the 2011 Special Olympics North Carolina Winter Games this weekend at Appalachian Ski Mountain. Kudos to the Blowing Rock NC resort…might as well chat about cross country a little more; Wisconsin’s Northern Kettle Moraine Nordic Ski Club will host Winterfest at Greenbush Ski Trails on Saturday, including a Retro and Ski Backwards Day on Sunday…we’ll wrap up with news that retired NFL quarterback Drew Bledsoe — who is a solid ripper on skis — now owns part of a boutique ski manufacturing company called Montana Ski Company in Whitefish.
1/5/2011 Latest from the ongoing saga of Idaho’s troubled Tamarack ski resort: Bank of America is planning to repossess two of the chairlifts. Apparently the lifts haven’t been paid for, and supposedly are not approved for use by the bootstrap operation running the mountain right now. Can’t blame the bank, but it’s unclear whether the lifts will be useful in downtown Charlotte…some of the smaller resorts continue to struggle after the warm-up in the northeast, while big snowmakers are doing just fine. Go figure Belleayre, which is facing cutbacks at any moment but has been blowing snow round the clock since temps dropped. And, when it snows it pours I suppose, because the NY state-owned ski operation received six inches of fresh pow from the sky overnight, and it’s still snowing. So much snow they’ve managed to get the nordic trails open…apparently Russia‘s President Dmitry Medvedev believes that the joint skiing tweeted with Arnold Schwarzenegger is a done deal, they merely need to find the time…good news in Maine. Sunday River and Sugarloaf report skier traffic up about 15% over last season, Saddleback up 23% season to date over last year, and Auburn’s small but mighty Lost Valley says it is in uncharted waters for all time attendance and revenue records at this point.
1/4/2011 Eagle Point ski area in Southern Utah literally survived its first shake up yesterday: An earthquake measuring 4.6 rocked the newly restored resort, no damage reported. Those who’ve tried out the area say the conditions are nothing less than fantastic…hit Interesting goings on in New Jersey, where the much maligned Xanadu project received a new lease on life thanks to a conspicuously quiet announcement made on December 23rd, the day before the state went on holiday. Edmonton CA based Triple Five will be the new developer, same group that operates Mall of America in Minnesota. They’ve been charged with redesigning the hideous exterior as part of the arrangement. Various spokespeople from assorted stakeholders are now calling for a 2013 opening of the indoor ski complex…we mentioned that NH’s Cannon cranked up the new lift on the reclaimed Mittersill terrain; turns out it only ran Saturday. The warm-up seems to have clobbered quite a few resorts…16 year old German exchange student found in a tree well while snowboarding at Whitefish Resort MT on Dec 29th has been taken off life support. This sadly adds to the total of deaths during the holiday week; clearly people need more education about the hazards of tree wells. I know that I didn’t take this hazard seriously when I was a young man; urban and suburban kids have no clue that you can die under a tree…little bit more drama on the Sugarloafchairlift accident: Beth Newlands Campbell, president of the Hannaford supermarket chain, wrote a column that appeared in the Portland Press Herald calling for Sugarloaf to “take responsibility” because they “are in the business of trust.” No mention of Hannaford’s little escapade with hacked debit and credit card accounts and customers who had their credit demolished….our prayers are with Steamboat Springs City Manager Jon Roberts, hospitalized following a critical and still unknown injury suffered at Steamboat Ski Resort. Roberts has yet to regain consciousness….on the World Cup scene, the ladies raced technical today in Zagreb, Croatia. Austrian Marlies Schild won the event, followed by Germany’s Maria Riesch and Italian slalom ace Manuela Moelgg. Lindsey Vonn crashed out on the first run, and a surprising Sarah Schleper finished 8th. Riesch has the overall lead, followed by Vonn and Austria’s Elisabeth Goergl. Vonn needs a strong showing in the speed events at Zauchensee this weekend.
1/3/2011 Back to work for most of us, after some of the best Christmas vacation ski conditions in recent memory…Big to-do in Central Colorado: Aspen suspended one of its ski instructors last week after he passed out fliers critical of the company’s owners and pay for beginning instructors. The instructor, Lee Mulcahy, distributed the fliers at Skico-owned Little Nell Hotel, the Silver Queen Gondy plaza, and at the Elk Camp Gondy in Snowmass. Other instructors are said to be defending Skico. Oddly enough, Mulcahy was suspended with pay. Aspen instructor John Moore is quoted in a letter to the Aspen Times saying “Mulcahy has an agenda to unionize ski pros and is therefore out to discredit Skico…I sincerely believe the vast majority of ski pros are very happy with their positions with the Skico, and Lee should accept that and move on.” Seems that Mulcahy’s main beef is that he doesn’t get the same pay as the instructors who give the big money private lessons. Well, if that’s the case, he’s making a mistake: Nobody wants to pay top dollar for a private lesson with a newbie instructor…big warm up in the northeast has two substantial Vermont ski areas closed today. Both Magic and Mad River Glen rely heavily on natural snow; the holiday traffic and warm temps tore up the base. Word has it that Magic could open with a “white ribbon of death” but, sensibly opted not to. With improvements at Magic, they should be back on line soon. MRG will look to open some of its novice terrain by the weekend. The more snowmaking intensive resorts seemed to have survived the meltdown with minimal problems. Cold temps have returned and, huzzah, there is now a snow event forecast for the weekend in New England, so January should rebound in no time…World Cup action in Munich yesterday; Croatia’s Ivica Kostelic won the men’s parallel slalom event, followed by French slalom great Julien Lizeroux and — yes — Bode Miller! The podium puts Bode in 12th overall; Mickey Walchhofer still has the overall lead. On the ladies side, Swede Maria Pietilä-Holmner took top honors, followed by Slovakia’s Tina Maze and Austrian Elisabeth Görgl. Lindsey Vonn didn’t fare very well, but by clobbering friend and points rival Maria Riesch, Vonn managed to move 15 points further ahead in the overall…the ghastly news from last week continues; Sean Jared Bender was killed yesterday after skiing into a tree at Keystone. Bender was wearing a helmet but died of blunt-force trauma to his chest according to the Summit County Coroners office.
1/2/2011 Happy New Year greetings…in Washington State the new gondola lift at Crystal Mountain got cranking yesterday to kick off the new year, first gondy in WA. The lift was originally planned to open in December, but a series of unexpected events delayed the thing until yesterday. The lift has 17 cars, goes 2400′ in about 9 minutes, cost $5.5 million. The deal is sort of like Utah’s Snowbird in that you can buy a separate $17 ticket for one ride on the gondy, or add $8 to your lift tix. Crystal was so busy under bright blue skies that they had to turn customers away; resort personnel say business is up 20% over last season…speaking of the NW, in case you missed it, a 14 year old Portland boy was found safe after overnighting in a snow cave on the side of Mt Bachelor…skiing lost one of its greats yesterday; Paul Augustine, co-founder of Afton Alps in Minnesota, passed away at age 79. Augustine also rescued and rebuilt Mount Kato in 1977. By 1980 Augustine had set his sights on the east and purchased aging Moon Valley in Malone NY; rebuilt and expanded as Titus Mountain. Augustine served on the NSAA board during the 1980s…and skiing regained one of its greats yesterday as Cannon Mt NH fired up the new lift serving the old Mittersill ski resort…also heard that Attitash opened its on-mountain roller coaster, joining the likes of Cranmore, Okemo and others in New England. I think these are a great offering, because in most vacationing family groups you tend to have one or two non-skiers…glad to hear that Arizona Snowbowlopened Christmas Day and now has plenty of white stuff, looking at fabulous conditions…outrageous conditions also on the Wasatch; Solitude reporting best January 1 in years…and finally, in case you care, Duchess of York Sarah Ferguson has cancelled the annual family skiing holiday at Verbier Switzerland, because she fears one of the family might break a limb prior to Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding…FIS World Cup action today in the city of Munich; a specially built slalom course with actual points competition. US great Lindsey Vonn is reportedly not happy about it.