What say you, Groundhog? It’s Magic!

Welcome to February! Won’t have a report tomorrow, so I’ll ask the question today — let’s hope that Phil can deliver the goods tomorrow…photo above grabbed early this morning at Arizona Snowbowl, we’ve added them to our sidebar since all the midwest feeds seem a bit too buggy for some reason. Haven’t looked in on Flagstaff for a while but we picked a good day to do it; they’ve got everything open but for a couple trails on the Humphrey’s side. Great, underrated ski resort…hoping for a big approval in Vermont, where throwback area Magic Mountain had their new (ex-Stratton) black chair slated for state inspection today.  It didn’t pass, but that isn’t bad.  I’m still thrilled about this…

Allow me to take you back to January 1, 2004. Magic was a much different place in those days, and my experience was so miserable that it prompted me to think of a way that I could spare other skiers from a similar fate. Four days later I cooked up a sort of news blurb/commentary for the popular SkierNet.com website, and with a few changes and the help of a couple more writers/reporters, have been at it ever since. So if you enjoy this column, blame Magic Mountain.

So what’s changed at Magic? Well, in some ways not much. The hill is still a throwback, the lodge is still funky, the parking lot is still a quagmire on sunny days, the lifts are still slow, and base elevation is still too low to get the bounty of natural snow enjoyed by neighbors Bromley and Stratton.

Aside from those things, everything has changed. Starting with top management, a positive attitude that now pervades the scene. Fresh paint and friendly faces don’t cost much, but they make a hell of a difference. The Magic faithful are once again proud of their hill, and it shows. The skiers have returned, the snowmaking is improved, bathrooms and services are updated, and the lifts are running. They recruit volunteers for work weekends, and abracadabra, the community is growing.

And this is possibly the best year in the history of the resort in the modern era. Somehow they brought the mid-mountain “green” chair to life, which considering that it was a partial installation that rotted in the elements for decades, is something of a miracle. I repeatedly called it scrap iron, and am happy to be proven wrong.  The other new lift is replacing the ghastly old “black” chair, which apparently Frodo and Sam were able to sneak into Mordor and finally toss once and for all into the fires of Mt. Doom from whence it was forged. 

The packed lodge, the surprising and interesting terrain, the hidden tree shots, the lively bar upstairs, the skiers who take their sport seriously, the young racers focused on their craft and the happy kids making their first turns — they’re all at Magic.  So I guess it’s still the same resort that the legendary Hans Thorner built in 1960, it was just on hiatus for a while.  

OK the lift install didn’t pass.  But it will, and it will be great.  This ain’t the Magic Mountain of 2004.