The Buzz: Ski Area News

hosted by Rick Bolgerwith correspondents throughout the world

15 April 2014 The taxman cometh, and in Michigan, apparently so does the snowman. Ski Brule got 6" of fresh snow overnight, and they'll be spinning the lifts Friday, Saturday and Sunday with half price tickets. Wait, it gets better. Ski Brule is serving up an Easter brunch that includes Eggs, Ham, French Toast, Pancakes, Roast Beef, Chicken, Mashed Potatoes, Stuffing, Salads, Dessert, $10 for adults. That just might be the best report I've done all season...some good news from the Pac NW, here goes...White Pass will be open weekends through May 4th, Alpental weekends to May 5, and Crystal Mountain will be daily thru this weekend, then weekends only through May 18 or even later. Summit Central open this weekend. In Oregon, Mount Hood Meadows open daily through the 27th, then the first two weekends in May. In Bend, OR Mt. Bachelor is targeting May 25th as their closing date...Silver Mountain Idaho now doing Saturdays only through April New York, Whiteface will be open through April 20th, still has about three-quarters of their terrain New Hampshire, Cannon Mt. situation is about the same; 41 of 60 still open and they'll be doing $29 tickets, open through the usual Wildcat is the place to be when it's springtime in the Granite State; 100% of terrain open...back to New York, just getting word that a skier was killed last Thursday at Gore Mountain. 20-year-old Nicholas Hansen of Marcy, NY lost control on Chatiemac and hit a tree stump. The last fatality at Gore was back in 2006...Eagle County Colorado Sheriff's Office looking for anyone who witnessed a serious collision that occurred April 8 around 3:30 PM at Beaver Creek, when a snowboarder smacked into a 60-year-old skier near the intersection of Sheephorn and Centennial beneath the Cinch Express Lift...Bear Valley California now has a full-blown cooperative effort underway, but the co-op group still has to negotiate a purchase from the present owners. With shares at $2500. per, they're hoping to sign 1,500 members ($3.75 million) prior to purchase time this summer. Long-term membership goal is 5,000 members for $12.5 million in capital...the One Wasatch group now has a slick website; this is the industry thing that is trying to link The Canyons, Park City, Deer Valley, Brighton, Solitude, Alta and Snowbird in one massive Euro-style ski monstrosity. The sticking points seem to be the connection from Park City to Brighton, then Solitude to Alta, with plenty of opposition from Save Our Canyons and Wasatch Backcountry Alliance. Also not sure how snowboards fit in, with Deer Valley and Alta functioning almost as bookends on this. For a visual on this, see image below...

Overview of the "One Wasatch" plan. Four of the seven are already linked in some fashion, with two others sharing a border. The Park City to Canyons link would be a chip shot...the key is linking the Park City resorts to the Big Cottonwood Canyon duo of Brighton and Solitude, and linking that to Little Cottonwood Canyon.

10 April 2014 Believe it or not a bit of snow fell yesterday at Jay Peak in Vermont...New York's throwback Plattekill intends to re-open Sunday -- if they have demand. They're judging that by trying to pre-sell $20 tix; if they get 100 minimum they'll spin the the western part of the state, Holiday Valley is planning to open the Yodeler lift this weekend, as well as the front nine on the golf course -- weather permitting -- promoting a ski in the morning/golf in the afternoon thing...yesterday Lookout Pass MT/ID was all about their expansion plans, today they announced that the seasonal tally set an all-time record for skier visits at 65,620. That number just edged last year's total of 65,572...update on Marc Coleman, the 67-year-old Van Nuys skier killed at Northstar this weekend, apparently he hit a tree off the Rail Splitter trail. Coleman was wearing a helmet...not sure what this is all about, or why, but carmaker Toyota is sponsoring free skiing at 49 Degrees North in Washington State from now until April 13th...22-year-old NH resident Patrick Luk was doing some BC work in the Presidential Range this weekend when he fell 1,000 feet down a ravine on the side of Mount Adams. He was mangled a bit, but managed to crawl and scrape his way back to the highway in a seven hour ordeal after his phone wouldn't connect. Luk was (I can't help it) lucky that he suffered only a concussion, broken nose, and possibly a knee injury. He credits his helmet with saving his life in the slide....Stratton Vermont still has sixtysomething trails open.

Readers of this column deserve my personal thanks with a free "Old School" sticker for your helmet, or your board, or whatever. Just e-mail your mailing address to sticker -at- gondyline -dot- com and say "send me a snowboard sticker" or "send me a ski sticker" or "send me a ski sticker and a board stickers for my sister" or whatever. They look like this:

Use this to get Lift Tickets at Discount: There is a "clearinghouse" of sorts that many ski areas use to raise cash by selling discount tickets in advance, called Liftopia . If you haven't used this service, it is usually best to know for certain that you are going on a specific date. The deeply discounted tickets must be purchased in advance; generally up to two days out. The sticking point is that some ski resorts only make a limited number of tickets available to Liftopia for any given day, so they might be sold out if you wait too, as soon as you are absolutely, positively sure that you will be skiing on a certain day, click this link to get deeply discounted tickets . I've used this service many times, usually when I am absolutely certain I will be skiing on a specific date. Some resorts offer "flex" tickets with which you can specify the date, and some have a few different tiers of pricing. In other words, you might be able to get a lift ticket that can be used on different days, but you'll pay a little more for that privilege. You need to have access to a printer to print out your receipt, and you have to take identification with you to the mountain. I've knocked a third off -- even half off -- the price of some tickets. Not every area participates, but it's well worth checking before you head to the slopes.

A tiny portion of your Liftopia purchase helps fund this website, at no added cost.

9 April 2014 this season just keeps giving and giving...small but mighty Michigan resort Ski Brule still open daily, albeit limited to "front side" on weekdays, and tickets are half price. Can't beat that...only problem is people are starting to find other things to do, so we're seeing most eastern locales bang it up even with plenty of skiable snow left on the turf. Just got word from Massachusetts that Jiminy has packed it in for the season...a bit of tomfoolery this week at Vail, where none other than Lindsey Vonn worked the ticket window for a while. Loosely disguised with glasses and a cap, apparently all but one customer was oblivious to her identity. Many, in fact, commented on her resemblance to Lindsey Vonn. Good fun...sad to report that 67-year-old Van Nuys, CA resident Marc L. Coleman was killed in a skiing accident at Northstar Tahoe on Sunday morning, no specifics at this time...planned expansion at Lookout Pass Ski Area on the Idaho and Montana border is now open for public comment. Lookout for Lookout to expand 654 acres on USFS land, including 15 new ski trails and two new chairlifts, and upgrade the main double to a quad. Plans impact both the Idaho Panhandle National Forest and the Lolo National Forest...Ski New Hampshire industry group announced on public radio this morning that this past season is tracking just about even with last season, which was the fifth best on record, whatever that means...have mentioned possible re-opening of The Balsams, a hill attached to a once venerable resort in Dixville Notch, NH, with former American Skiing Company wizard Les Otten at the helm, but plans conflict with a required setback from a wind turbine operation on top of the mountain. Well now the wind farm operators have given a green light to reducing the setback, pending a safety study that the hoteliers would have to fund...Las Vegas Ski & Snowboard is extending the season one more weekend; they'll bang it up after Sunday...back to New Hampshire, just got word that Bear Notch XC is still open, which is great, they're gonna groom through Sunday and see if they still have any nordies lining up to ski...Bretton Woods will spin the lifts daily through April 13, close midweek, April 14 to 18. Possibly reopen April 19 and 20, but currently scheduled to operate April 21, Patriot's Day...Wildcat still open 100% with better conditions today than they had in mid-January...update from Colorado, Keystone confirms it will operate through April 20, update is they'll have 6,000 acres open right up until closing...Breckenridge previously announced April 27, they're sticking to that, but the difference this year is that they'll have lifts spinning on Peaks 6, 7 and 8. Usually only Peak 8 is open late season...details just released on the death of 47-year-old Jeffrey Beadle, a beloved liftie at Snowmass, died last week from multiple chest injuries sustained while skiing on the Cirque Headwall...Mount Hood Skibowl in the news, not in a good way. Mary Magdalena Stanila suing the resort for an injury she suffered in 2012 after being mowed down by a drunk snowboarder on a novice slope. The lawsuit claims Skibowl is "a culture of alcohol-fueled adrenaline from the top down," claiming Skibowl owner Kirk Hanna has "led by example" and that the Skibowl overserved Stanila's assailant, Kyle "Roundhouse" Sullivan. (That's quite a nickname). The suit also contends that "intoxicated patrons ski and snowboard side-by-side with sober patrons, including women and children." Skibowl's attorney says the suit "has no merit to it." OK then...Sun Valley Idaho has just announced the season will be extended through April 20th on Bald Mountain.

8 April 2014 Ah, the happy days of spring, and I'm starting to feel like a broken record: 6" of new snow yesterday at Arapahoe Basin, best conditions since I don't know when...a lot of eastern resorts banged it up this past weekend. Windham NY indeed reopened and went down swinging, 100% coverage and I imagine the snowpack on Upper Wolverine will last until May. They shut it down Sunday at 4:00 and called it a season...looks like nearby Hunter and Belleayre will be spinning this weekend as well. Some of you might wonder why I report on those so often, answer is they're the closest sizable areas to New York City...winter went south in a hurry in southern New England; Mount Snow and Stratton are going to wrap it up on Sunday...very, very pleased to report that bootstrap operation Black Mountain of Maine will be open, still, this coming weekend. They're doing a fundraiser day on Sunday: Pay whatever you want, it will be used as a donation toward new snowmaking equipment.

3 April 2014 In the words of the great Horace Greeley, go west...8" of new snow on the ground at Arapahoe Basin and they are talking June...24" in two days at Snowbird...but you don't have to go that far west...Minnesota expecting half a foot or more, depending on how everything shapes up. Even if it doesn't, Welch Village planning to reopen Saturday and Sunday with plenty of snow and $20 Michigan, Mount Bohemia looking for a foot from this system, but again they've still got more snow than anybody wants in April and they're doing two-for-one tix on, maybe ol' Horace should've said go east...Middlebury Snow Bowl Vermont reopening, unplanned final-final weekend...even red-headed step-child Pico is going to reopen conditions in the east right now are, no surprise, Sugarloaf...word has it Jay Peak VT might go until the end of the month...Gore Mountain NY open through this weekend, has plans to reopen next, along with sister ski areas Whiteface and Belleayre. Whiteface people are hinting that they might go longer...Mad River Glen looking closely at the situation; they've got mucho snow but not too many people lining up to pay for it. That's the downside of spring skiing. Well, that and the knee injuries...back to NY, Hunter planning to be open through April 13, which is great; nearby Windham plans to reopen this weekend...even the mild slopes of Butternut Massachusetts will be open this weekend, serving up $25 lift Pennsylvania, Big Boulder, Blue Mountain, Camelback and Seven Springs are going to unlock the doors and re-spin the lifts this all cases with these eastern areas, particularly the more southerly ones, check first before you head out to the mountain. Spring rains can foil the best intentions...whatever happens this weekend, it's been a great season in the east, south, and midwest. Southern ski areas like Massanutten have enjoyed their best seasons ever...back to MN, Lutsen plans to end daily operations on Sunday, but they do plan to spin 'em again April 12 weekend...go west? Sometimes you go east and you think you're in the west, such is the case with Sugarbush Vermont. We're hearing rumblings that Mascara Mountain is looking to stay open until May. That, if you didn't know, was a nickname for Sugarbush that is so old it's cool again...and so what of the west west? Well it's all good, as mentioned above...Colorado "gems" Sunlight and Powderhorn will be open this weekend, longer than planned. Powderhorn will be serving up tickets for just $20. Crested Butte, Telluride and Wolf Creek will also be open this weekend, then plan to close afterward...Eldora, Monarch, Steamboat and Silverton look to be open through next weekend...Snowmass, Copper, Keystone, Vail and Beaver Creek are targeting April 20, and Winter Park plans to go a week beyond that...closest-with-the-mostest Ski Loveland is shooting for May 5th...the US Forest Service has made a statement about that lawsuit to open Alta up to snowboarding, saying that Alta's agreed operating plan allows them to prevent people from using any "device deemed a risk, harmful to snow quality or not consistent with its business decisions." Alta has asked for dismissal...sad to report that 31-year-old Peiter Swanson, a part-time resident of Jackson Hole, died after hitting a tree in the Pair-a-Chutes area of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort on Monday. Swanson was an extremely skilled skier and an exuberant personality; he'll be missed.

Pieter Swanson, doing what he loved to do, last month on a visit to Utah.

31 March 2014 Place to be this morning is Snowbird Utah, no question, 11" of snow overnight...Colorado not looking too shabby, Arapahoe Basin pulled down 8" of fresh yesterday...Italy's Simone Origone set a new skiing world speed record this morning at Charbrier in the French Alps, with a speed of 156.83 mph. I wonder if Alpine Replay got that one...sorry to report that Paul Cohen, a 45-year-old doctor from Cincinnati, OH died Friday after sustaining injuries in a collision at Snowmass Colorado last Sunday. He was on a groomed run near the top of the Elk Camp lift, and collided with another skier, who was treated and released. Dr. Cohen was wearing a helmet at the time...better news, this time from Virginia, where Massanutten Resort announced that this was officially the longest season in its 42 year history, tallying 116 days of skiing and snowboarding...and by the way, any time you hear someone use the verb "sliding" in lieu of "skiing and snowboarding," or the noun "sliders" when they should say "skiers and snowboarders," you have my permission to smack them.

28 March 2014 Incorrectly identified Wolf Ridge North Carolina as "Wolf Creek," that's where an older lodge was destroyed by fire. And oddly enough, Wolf Ridge is involved in a breach of faith lawsuit with Peak Resorts. An arson investigation will be under way shortly...word from Vermont is Pico will close after this weekend, but re-open for a final day on April 5th. Neighbor Killington shows few signs of slowing down, 100% of terrain still open...southern VT bellwether Mount Snow is also 100% open, they're unusually quiet about when they're going to stop the lifts, we know for sure they'll be spinning through next weekend...a bit west in New York, Windham will be skiing and riding through March 30th and reopening April 4th - 6th. All season passes will be valid April 4th - 6th including mid week and Sunday passes, that's cool...Cinderella story Black Mountain of Maine is still going strong, they're committed (for now at least) to a closing date of April 13th! We couldn't be happier for this great alpine and outstanding nordic operation...Loon NH going at least until April 13...look west a bit, wow it doesn't get any better than a foot of fresh snow at Powder Mountain UT, but all good things gotta come to an end and PowMow is talking April 13, just like the eastern resorts. Until then they've got reduced prices and it's all fantastic...Arizona Snow Bowl will close for the season on Sunday...up in Oregon Anthony Lakes got 5" yesterday, 3" overnight, you do the math, add it up and they're on a 90" base -- yikes -- but will be pulling the plug after next weekend. That's a shame, but I imagine the "earn your turns" types will be skinning and clicking or skinning and knee dipping well into May...back to Utah, Snowbird talking 9" new snow in the past 24 hours...move to Colorado, same deal at Arapahoe Basin...and circling back to New Hampshire, sister areas Attitash and Wildcat are skiing wall-to-wall; the valley operation will be open through April 6 while the Cat hasn't said anything yet about their closing date...stuff is so good in New England Jiminy Peak Massachusetts still skiing on 39 Pennsy, Shawnee will shut down after this weekend, still PLENTY of snow...elsewhere in the Keystone State Blue Mountain will be open through April 6th. Keystone State is really a misnomer, as Pennsylvania is a Commonwealth...alright let's get to some non-closing news...Whiteface NY has added another glade trail to their map, it's called Rand's Last Stand and it's part of the ongoing expansion on the Lookout Mountain section...sad to report that Lee Hurley, 60, of Charlotte NC died yesterday at Keystone Colorado when he hit a tree off an intermediate trail. He was wearing a helmet...47-year-old Seattle skier Raymond Fabarik was killed after hitting a tree at Mission Ridge yesterday; apparently a ski pre-released on the Kiwa run...freaky event at Mt. Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park in Washington yesterday, a fellow named Craig Schwyn hopped on chair 1 just before operations shut down for a thunderstorm. While he was riding up the lift, it was hit by lightning and arced down the rope to the bullwheel. Witnesses say Schwyn was surrounded by a bright glow -- and we're pleased to report he was completely unharmed by the event.

27 March 2014 Fire destroyed the upper lodge at Wolf Ridge North Carolina last night; we believe there were no injuries as the resort was closed for the season. The structure is a total loss...So a bunch of ski resorts are banging it up this weekend, with more to follow next weekend...first we'll do a shout-out to those going long and strong...Arapahoe Basin got 6" fresh overnight...Steamboat claimed 3" of Utah the 'bird is the word; 7" of fresh overnight at Snowbird...and we need to do a shout-out to Lutsen in Minnesota; they're gonna push right through Easter...In Vermont, Magic Mountain has announced April 6th as the last day. They had a slow start but VERY strong finish and we're glad to see this mountain healthy and well on the comeback trail. The 2000s were a difficult decade in Londonderry...In the ongoing land battle over Park City Mountain Resort, we're told that Vail made overtures to buy the base area from Powdr Corp and the latter said absolutely not.

Lodge fire overnight at Wolf Ridge North Carolina

25 March 2014 Pardon the tardy report -- have been on the slopes. Spent the weekend sampling the goods at Gore Mountain in New York, Mad River Glen and Middlebury Snow Bowl in Vermont; conditions were simply fabulous...and this weekend we'll see most of the banana belt resorts bang it up for the season. Mountain Creek NJ and Elk Mountain Pennsy are among those wrapping it up. Move south, in Virginia Bryce decided to extend the season, they'll go through Saturday. Massanutten and The Homestead will shut down Sunday. Wintergreen plans to spin 'em through the weekend, shut down, then reopen for a final bash on April 5th. In West Virginia, Canaan Valley called it quits this past weekend. Winterplace will go through Saturday, Timberline until Sunday. Only Snowshoe plans to hold out with daily operations until April 6th...Even in New England, the aforementioned Middlebury Snow Bowl is calling it a wrap after Sunday...look to the midwest, we're going to see some places starting to do the same although many are going along with a "wait and see" approach. Right now two resorts we use as leading indicators -- Lutsen in Minnesota and Ski Brule in Michigan both have a base depth of about five (5) feet...look west and you'll see reliables like Arapahoe Basin 100% open, and that means Montezuma Bowl, East Wall, Pally, the whole shebang, with more snow expected this week...personal fave Ski Cooper down in Leadville is still at 100%, and they're gonna stay open through April 6th...couple weeks ago reported a local group was getting together with hopes to revive lost area Antelope Butte in the Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming; pleased to report that effort is gaining some momentum and they're putting together funding to appraise and buy the infrastructure, which has rattled in the winds since 2004. After the purchase is complete they'll try to come to an agreement with the Forest Service...and we're kinda sad to report that FIS World Cup skier Chemmy Alcott, who did a wonderful job representing Great Britain in speed events, has announced her retirement. We wish her well!

Chemmy Alcott

19 March 2014 Need to mention that the Midwest is also enjoying a fabulous season, and although we all know it has to end, it's gonna go out strong...Lutsen Mountains Minnesota has all but a handfull of "bonus/backcountry" terrain open, plus all terrain parks still in full swing. Or full crash, depending on your park skills...speaking of crashing, it's snowing right now at Mount Bohemia on Michigan's UP; 4" of fresh and still coming down. Brohemia, which relies totally on natural snow, has 550 acres 100% open. It's the only midwest ski area I know of that has to do avalanche control...but we have to report that not everybody in the central states is happy with this winter, Spirit Mountain near Duluth MN has actually seen business drop by an estimated 15-20% due to unusually cold temps this past winter. The resort had to close for seven days during the lowest lows of the infamous polar vortex...Breckenridge just announced that they'll be extending the season until April 27, a week longer than planned...season going to be long in the east, lifts will probably stop spinning long before the snow is gone. Even so, NH biggie Bretton Woods plans to be open on April 21st, (Patriot's Day in New England) but unsure if they'll be open daily through that date...even bootstrap operation Black Mountain of Maine is talking about being open into April, which is unheard of...the Feds have kept this very quiet, but the story is getting out: late February a group of rather zealous US Forest Service enforcement types descended upon the parking lots at Taos Ski Valley wearing sidearms, flak jackets (!) and at least one drug sniffing canine. Hours of searching resulted in a number of tickets for -- horror of horrors -- small amounts of weed and cracked windshields. Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, who lives in Taos and frequents Taos Ski Valley, called the officers "jack-booted thugs" and said the locals are "100 percent pissed off." The Forest Service is going to "review" the actions of the officers. Ain't that great? They get to review themselves? Welcome to the police state. "Protect and Serve" has warped into "Intimidate, Investigate and Obfuscate." Considering heroin sales in Albuquerque now surpass $300,000. per day, I'm thinking they have bigger problems in that part of the world than to be harrassing a few burnouts with bad windshields. But what the hell do I know...more appealling news, or maybe not depending on your point of view, somebody called Ski Utah has scheduled a 2 p.m. news conference today at the Salt Lake City Sheraton Hotel to propose a series of chairlifts on private lands that would connect resorts from Deer Valley to Snowbird. This is different from the recent SkiLink thing that proposed to connect The Canyons to Solitude...appears that Montage in Pennsy is shutting down skiing operations as of Saturday. Don't know for sure, but that's when they're celebrating an "end of season" party.

18 March 2014 Window ticket prices drop after this weekend; it's also the day that many promotional vouchers will become more valuable...Powder Mountain UT got 8" of snow last night, they're going to drop weekend tickets to $50 for regular adult beginning Monday...elsewhere in the Beehive State, Snowbird reports 11" new snow since yesterday; mid-mountain stake currently reads 116"...snow is still coming down, but people are ready to put the skis away, so we're starting to hear about closing dates. Oh the horrors. Anyway, Massachusett's popular Wachusett is talking about April 6th as the last day....more tomorrow.

17 March 2014 Happy St. Patrick's Day...let's get the bad news out of the way first. It's historic and bears mention in this otherwise awesome year for skiing and boarding...Southern Oregon's Mount Ashland has banged it up for the season -- which actually never started. They've had no snow, and Friday decided the waiting game was over: season cancelled. Terrible news, but we gotta look to next season for Big A...back to this season, and congratulations to the FIS World Cup Champions this season. First, the overall globes. Austrian Marcel Hirscher took the men's side after a season-long see-saw battle with Norwegian Aksel-Lund Svindal. Svindal led right through the downhill finals, but he was a non-factor in that and the other races, suffering from exhaustion probably related to his Olympic flu. Also Austrian Anna Fenninger -- cheetah champion and media darling of the Olympics -- enjoying a breakthrough year as women's overall champion. Unlike her teammate Hirscher, Fenninger wasn't really much of a factor in the overall until the end of the season, when she was peaking as Maria Hoefl-Reisch was wearing down. Finally Riesch crashed heavily in the Lenzerheide downhill and that was that. Both Fenninger and Hirscher had remarkable seasons. Hirscher doubled as the slalom champ, but lost the giant slalom globe to -- no surprise here -- Ted Ligety at the final event. Ligety and Hirscher tied, but Ligety had more victories for the tie breaker. Svindal's season also had a semi-happy ending, as he garnered both the downhill and super G titles...and the season just goes on and on in the east, particularly the mid-Atlantic, enjoying the best conditions in anyone's memory. In West Virginia, Canaan Valley got 8" overnight, has mid-winter conditions and empty slopes. Snowshoe has some of the finest skiing they've ever had, and at least has some bodies on the hill as you can see from the photo immediately below...yes it is getting to be spring and it does become tough sledding as the temps rise and the surface turns to mush, but darn it nobody in the east has any excuse for putting the gear away right now...even the lowly Poconos, scheduled to bake in the sun this past weekend, still put up awesome skiing and the sun didn't show up nearly as much as patrons would've liked. Shawnee PA still had very good crowds. Slopes got a little soft by noon, but nothing easterners can't deal with...story is the same in much of the west; Arapahoe Basin putting up awesome conditions with a couple recent New England, areas on the spine of the Green Mountains got smacked last week, outstanding conditions right down the line from Mad River Glen, Sugarbush and Middlebury Snow Bowl...even with these awesome conditions, a lot of small to mid-sized areas offering $17 lift tix today in honor of St. Patrick's Day, one that comes to mide is Catamount on the NY/MA border, it's open side to side with the best March snow in years.

Snowshoe, West Virginia, live camera feed THIS MORNING. They obviously didn't get the memo that spring is right around the corner. Call it what you will, this is awesome!

12 March 2014 Spring is finally beginning to break through in the east, but don't despair, there is still plenty of season left. One of the few good things about spring is that many ski areas reduce their lift ticket rates; Greek Peak NY just did so with lower rates kicking in on Sunday...elsewhere in NY, Bellearyre announced some really cheap rates through the end of the season for college students...and speaking of the Empire State, it looks like some branch of government or tourism office is planning to start up bus service from Toronto and other Canadian cities, to bring skiers directly to a half dozen New York ski resorts. I think they're looking to start this next season...word out of California is a group of local homeowners and such are hoping to buy Bear Valley and turn it into a cooperative along the lines of Mad River Glen VT. Bear Valley is located in the western foothills of the Sierras and is probably the closest area to San Francisco, but suffers from the usual ski area ailments -- not enough snow brings not enough customers which results in not enough money. Add in aging infrastructure, increasing costs, you get the picture. Anyway, the group is going to try and make it happen. Bear Valley began life back in the lates 1960s as Mt. Reba....update from World Cup season finals in Lenzerheide with downhill action this morning, Olympic champ Matthias Mayer won the men's race over Christof Innerhofer and surprising Ted Ligety, the two tied for second. Aksel Lund Svindal finished fifth and thus moves some 50 points ahead of Marcel Hirscher in the overall. And with his good finish, Ligety moved into third overall but with no chance at catching the top two. Drama during the women's race, Maria Hoefl-Reisch crashed heavily into the netting. Even though she won the women's downhill globe, she was not at the ceremony following the race and rumor has it she may have a shoulder injury. Lara Gut won the race followed by Elisabeth Goergl and Fraenzi Aufdenblatten. Anna Fenninger was sixth, moving a scant 11 points ahead of Hoefl-Reisch in the overall standings. Gut is a distant third in the women's overall. Tomorrow is scheduled for GS; we'll have to watch closely to see if Maria steps into the timing shack.

11 March 2014 Regret our weekend wrap-up of the NCAA Championships didn't go live until this morning, so if you're interested, please continue reading below this entry...and speaking of ski racing, this past weekend saw Ted Ligety win a GS event and Mikaela Shiffrin take home another slalom trophy in FIS World Cup action. Both the men and the women are in Lenzerheide with final competitions ramping up with the downhill tomorrow. Super G goes Thursday, team competitions Friday, and the slalom and GS follow on the weekend. Right now Marcel Hirscher is a half-dozen points ahead of Aksel-Lund Svindal. Svindal will probably go ahead with tomorrow's downhill. Hirscher -- who is a technical weenie -- doesn't compete in downhills. The Austrians will, of course, send their speed guys on suicide missions to try and knock Svindal's point total down. Hey, they don't call it the White Circus for nothing. Barring injury, Hirscher can likely win the overall just by skiing safely. Seems to me Svindal is still a bit under the weather. On the women's side, Maria Hoefl-Riesch has about a 50 point lead on Anna Fenninger for the overall. Oddly enough it appears that Fenninger has a great chance to win, as Hoefl-Riesch is battling a flu type thing as I type this. Hoefl-Riesch is better in slalom (Fenninger hasn't placed since 2011) so it could be interesting if she recovers in time. Fenninger is a threat to win each of the other events. Interesting thing about these finals, it's the first time in recent memory that only three globes have been decided coming into the events. Shiffrin has garnered the slalom title, while Svindal has both the downhill and super G titles. Lara Gut should be a lock on the ladies' super G, but everything else is up for grabs...moving on to the skiing that you and I can relate to, word from Snowbird UT is 7" of fresh last night...Steamboat CO got an inch or two, they call that a dusting...odd news from Magic Mountain VT, apparently one Christopher Bush, 27, of South Londonderry, who has a lengthy criminal record, stole a 2012 Suburban from the Magic parking lot. The owner informed the local constable about the vehicle's on-star system, and Vermont State Troopers gave chase. Young Mr. Bush led the law enforcement officials on a high speed chase all the way to Ludlow, where he violated the 35 MPH zone by a factor of three. The vehicle was recovered after Bush stuffed it into a snowbank and fled on foot. He was later found with the help of police dog Bohdan...other news from New England, Berkshire East MA officially announced plans to replace one of their summit lifts with a new quad chair and loading conveyor. It's a fixed-grip chair, but the conveyor helps the chair load faster, which will allow them to run it faster than a regular fixed-grip. Truth be told you could run most fixed grip chairs at higher speeds, but people tend to fall off at the load and unload stations...sorry to report 22-year-old Jonathan Belle, of Denver died yesterday morning when he struck a tree while snowboarding on the Vein Glory novice trail at Copper Mountain, reports say no helmet, although they're seldom all that helpful in tree adult male back country skier was killed by an avy yesterday in a remote area near Butte, MT...word is about 100 people were stranded when a lift burned out Saturday at Roundtop in Pennsy. If you know your history, you can guess roughly where in Pennsy Roundtop is located. Anyway, kudos to the ski patrol and local rescue teams, as every single patron was downroped without incident...much more exciting kudos for the ski patrol at Crystal Mountain in Washington State; they were doing avalanche control and the resulting slide wiped out the High Campbell chairlift, an old center-pole double. Crystal plans to replace it with a much newer model, so I guess all's well that ends well. Why do we thank the patrollers? Just imagine if they hadn't blown the slide, and it smacked into that area while patrons were lined up and riding the chair. As you can see from the photo below, it would've been a disaster.

Crystal Mountain's High Campbell chair, now buried in an avalanche. Thanks to the Crystal ski patrol, who forced the slide, the only harm was to the lift.

10 March 2014 Quick wrap up of the NCAA Championships, with alpine events contested in Park City while the nordies were in Soldier Hollow, big win goes to the University of Denver. This is the 22nd NCAA ski title for the Pioneers, and their 8th in the new millenium. The University of Vermont surged from also-rans to second place, but it was too little too late. University of New Mexico was third and defending champs University of Colorado was a distant fourth. Early leader and host team University of Utah stumbled in the later events and finished fifth. Two big stories on the alpine side; both in slalom. On the men's side, the UD Pioneers had junior Espen Lysdahl atop the podium, 7/10ths ahead of teammate Trevor Philp. But the biggest wow was garnered by the University of Vermont Catamounts, who swept the women's slalom podium with Kristina Riis-Johannessen edging teammates Kate Ryley and Elise-Woien Tefre. We should mention that in addition to the big ski powerhouses, there are plenty of single entry skiers from small colleges around the country who qualify and compete, and we salute their courage. It's tough sledding when the audience is screaming for a particular team, while these athletes are flying solo for a school nobody has heard of. Congratulations to all the competitors!

7 March 2014 Spring is right around the corner, but plenty of skiing and riding still ahead...Snowbird UT showing great conditions right now, looking at more snow today or tonight...Wildcat NH got a couple inches yesterday and has some of the best conditions all season...small but mighty Ski Brule in Michigan looks like it might be blanketed in white until June...some signs of a thaw; Swain Mountain NY and quite a few areas have "Winter Carnivals" and such scheduled this weekend...Boyne Michigan has its annual Irish Fest scheduled...Most of 'em are pretty lame in my experience, but the upside is they usually involve a charity so it's all example is Magic Mountain VT doing a "Get the Girls Out" event tomorrow in conjunction with the charity, which supports women of all ages getting out and participating in outdoor activities. Tomorrow is International Women's Ski Day so it's quite timely...another good one is at Loon Mountain NH doing a fundraiser tomorrow for New England Adaptive Sports which provides instruction to people of all ages with physical and cognitive disabilities. Festivities include the Kostick Kup Race during the day, with a silent auction, dinner, and an awards ceremony in the evening. Friend of mine participates in this at Loon and I can tell you it's a fantastic Are Sweden Anna Fenninger leads after the first run, Maria Hoefl-Riesch in 22nd, the overall really could come down to the the NCAA Championships in Park City, University of Denver leads after the second day of competition, followed by U of Utah, University of Colorado, and U of New Mexico. Anja Gruber of Vermont and Rune Oedegaard of Colorado defended their NCAA titles in the women's and men's Nordic classic races yesterday at Soldier Hollow...back to FIS World Cup news, Canadian veteran Mike Janyk has announced that he'll retire after the season...Intrawest introducing a new spin on its multi-resort pass, it's designed for six days at each of its six resorts. Pricey, but if you somehow managed to use all 36 days it would be just $23 per outing, which is dirt cheap. They've got all sorts of family perks, discounted second pass for spouse or whatever, kids under 12 free, all kinds of things. Worth looking at if, for instance, you ski Stratton or Snowshoe in the east, and then plan to hit Winter Park if you venture west. Be interesting to see how this impacts the industry...afternoon update neglected to mention that Arapahoe Basin indeed made it to 100% open this season, they dropped the ropes on the East Wall on Sunday...race just ended, Anna Fenninger has won the second GS in Are, Maria Hoelf-Riesch 10th but waiting to see if it's official...ok it is, and now Fenninger is in the overall lead by 7 points!!!

6 March 2014 Well sure enough Anna Fenninger is going to make it a horse race for the overall womens World Cup, she won the first GS at Are Sweden this morning; Maria Hoefl-Riesch finished 20th or thereabouts giving her some points, but the lead is trimmed to just 67 points...conditions are the best in memory for the Mid-Atlantic region; Mountain Creek NJ just announced that its season will be extended through the month of March...small but mighty Black Mountain of Maine announced that Allagash Brewery is making a donation that will enable the ski area to revamp the second floor of their lodge, new seating, all that sort of thing...sad news in Aspen; socialite Nancy Pfister, age 57 found dead in her chalet. William Styler, age 65, and wife Nancy, 62, have been arrested for the murder. The Stylers were tenants and allegedly had a spat with the late Ms. Pfister over back rent. Pfister was the daughter of Art and Betty Pfister, who played a role in the original development of Aspen's Buttermilk Ski Area

5 March 2014 The NCAA Championships are underway today at Park City, with the nordies competing at nearby Soldier Hollow which will include portions of the 2002 Olympic courses. The eight schools include University of Utah, Alaska-Anchorage, Dartmouth, U of Denver, Montana State, U of New Mexico, U of Vermont, and defending champions University of Colorado....should be decent conditions; move slightly north and we find 9" of fresh at Powder Mountain this morning, more on the way...if you haven't heard, Bill Marolt stepping down as head of the US Ski & Snowboard Association, Olympian Tiger Shaw will take over...Back in early February I reported that recently shuttered Balsams/Wilderness Resort in northern New Hampshire was looking to re-open with former American Skiing Company wunderkind Les Otten as part of the picture, well now it seems Otten is very much part of the picture and is looking to turn the Balsams into another sprawling area like he did with Sunday River all those years ago...Vail Resorts has been working with the US Forest Service to demolish a series of "pot shacks" which are some sort of structure where skiers gather to indulge in Colorado's recently legalized reefer madness; problem is that toking up is not legal on USFS land. The most well-known of these, called "Leo's" was recently dynamited at Breckenridge...I may have jumped the gun in my prediction of Maria Hoefl-Riesch as a shoe-in for the FIS World Cup womens overall champ. Although there are just two locations left on the calendar, one includes a pair of GS races at Are Sweden. Dig a little deeper and we find that second place contender Anna Fenninger does very well in Are GS races of late, and Hoefl-Riesch recent record there is peppered with DNFs. So we could have a horse race...speaking of Vail Resorts, small but mighty Eldora Resort will not be part of the Epic Pass next season, no reason given. Eldora is an independent resort that was part of the Epic program for this season, although nobody outside of them and Vail knows the specifics of their financial arrangement, and they ain't saying. What we do know is that Eldora has had its busiest season in memory, requiring employees to park off site and shuttle in to the resort...more on that chair derailment at Crystal Mountain Resort in Canada; they've been shut down by the British Columbia Safety Authority (whatever that is -- obviously somebody with enough authority to shut down a ski resort) apparently they failed some inspections last year and were fined $8 grand at that time. Not to be confused with Crystal in Washington State, Crystal BC is reportedly owned by the Tschanz family of Switzerland and is trying to secure funding for a massive four-season expansion...sorry to report that a backcountry skier was killed in an avy yesterday near Conejos Peak 280 miles SW of Denver, according to the Colorado Avalanche Information Center. Name and details have yet to be released...two more backcountry skiers killed and two injured seriously in another slide yesterday in the Wallowa Mountains near Cornucopia, Oregon...and on the bright side, Alex Magennis, 42 of Cincinnati was found alive and reasonably well after being lost out-of-bounds overnight at Durango Mountain Resort this past weekend...and if business hasn't been tough enough in the Tahoe area this season, yesterday Heavenly Resort had to shut down the area around the Powderbowl Express chairlift when an injured bear cub approached skiers. Nevada Dpt of Wildlife tranquilized the little bruin, which then got a ride down the mountain courtesy the Heavenly Ski Patrol. It is being treated and should be fine.

This was the popular Leo's Potshack, somewhere within the boundaries of Breckenridge Resort, prior to demolition by the Forest Service a couple days ago. Assume the local stoners will quickly find another spot to get baked. "Yo dude, they blew up our potshack!"

3 March 2014 March rolls in like a lion, and the skiing is still fantastic in most of the country. Deals are already starting to pop up for next year's seasons passes...will get all the horror stories out of the way first...chairlift tumbled at Crystal Mountain near Kelowna in British Columbia this weekend. Apparently an empty chair hit a tower, started swinging wildly, and the motion allegedly cause chairs in front and behind to fall about 20' to the ground. Three men and one woman were injured...tragic news this weekend from New York state. Robert Parker, 59, of Pittsford NY went into cardiac arrest at Bristol Mountain Ski Resort Saturday morning after crashing, he died from his injuries later that evening...waiting for news from Colorado for two skiers seriously injured last week at Telluride; Bethany Vitt, 31, of Becksville, Ohio, and William Winship, 26, of Telluride collided on the Lookout trail. Winship's injuries said to be more serious; both were airlifted and we're hoping for the best...glad to report more snow in the Sierras: Squaw Valley now has 80% of terrain open, Heavenly is at about 98%, Northstar-at-Tahoe now 75% open, and the latest snow has brought skiers back to Mammoth, which is now at 100% of terrain...ever notice how Western skiers stay home with less than ideal conditions, while Eastern skiers will cut holes in Hefty bags and ski in the rain...the stake at Loveland Colorado just passed 300" for the season...FIS World Cup back in action, ladies were in Crans-Montana where Austrians Andrea Fischbacher and Olympic media darling Anna Fenninger finished one-two, Tina Maze third. Maria Hoefl-Riesch is still well ahead of Fenninger in the overall and it's likely she'll take the big globe this season, barring were in Kvitfjell with a pair of downhills and a super G. Kjetil Jansrud won the Friday DH, followed by Austrian George Streitberger and a surprise third by American Travis Ganong. Saturday's DH won by Canadian Erik Guay, with Frenchman Johan Clarey and Austrian Matthias Mayer third, Ganong surprised again with fourth. The Super G yesterday had Jansrud back on top, followed by Switzerland's Patrick Keung and then Mayer. Aksel Svindal had decent finishes and is back atop the men's overall, for now.

26 February 2014 Two dingbats disregarded patroller's orders at Whitefish Mountain Resort, MT, took off down Hellroaring Basin after being told -- twice -- not to due to avy control. They were directed down the Toni Matt run, which is the route Whitefish has published as the correct trail for earn-your-turns fans. The skiers went down Hellroaring anyway, and patrol had to shut off two imminent explosions. Now Whitefish is in the process of reviewing its uphill policy with representatives from the Flathead National Forest...February thaw seems to have passed in the east, leaves behind a crusty mess but most areas deal with it pretty well. Some of the more resorty areas, like Vermont's Okemo have cranked up the guns here and there to touch things the mid-Atlantic, some areas like Camelback and Jack Frost have so much base they'll probably be closed long before the snow is gone...word from small but mighty Ski Brule in Michigan has them launching a few lodging and ticket specials in the days ahead, I don't normally report that as news but this little hill does a GREAT job and besides, it's indicative of what you're gonna see at most areas in the weeks ahead. Readers of this column have no excuse for walking up to a window and paying full price, unless of course it's one of the mini t-bar areas or something like that, in which case it's our duty to pay the full bill. But as for the resorts, darn it, shop around for deals or use the Liftopia link below this report...speaking of those micro areas, friend of mine just launched a new site called which focuses on all those fabled backwater areas in New England like Titcomb in Maine or Cochran's in Vermont. These areas truly represent the heart and soul of the sport, and we're glad they have a new online advocate...wrap up on Sochi, a bit late obviously, glad for Mikaela Shiffrin. On the men's side, kudos to Mario Matt for finding his past form and winning gold, but sympathize with everyone else for that godawful second run course setting courtesy Ante Kostelic. It was so unskiable, even the overly polite Todd Brooker was unable to conceal his disgust. FIS has to put a stop to this goofy nonsense...enough of that, here's some good stuff, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort reports yesterday's settled snowpack in the Rendezvous Bowl at 10 feet, 1 inch. That's the deepest February measurement since 1997...move north a bit, Red Lodge near Billings may be the place to be this weekend. Snow arrives tomorrow, may continue through Monday...move over to Idaho, where the state legislature voted 61-8 in favor of updating and strengthening the ski area liability limitation statute, effectively will absolve operators of liability for any in-bounds problems, including avalanches and terrain park stuff....huge kudos to the Anoka, Minnesota city council for approving funding for grooming equipment and providing free, groomed cross-country ski trails at Greenhaven Golf Course and at the Anoka Nature Preserve.

20 February 2014 West Virginia's Canaan Valley just announced that its season will be extended three weeks longer than planned; they'll spin lifts until March 23rd...New York's Thunder Ridge will host a USA Luge demonstration on February 22 & 23. They're going to give anyone age 10 and up an opportunity to try "the fastest sport on ice" with a mini luge run on the Little Thunder trail near the base lodge...Sugarbush Vermont reports 100% open, after receiving some 45" of snow over the past week...more good news from Vermont, throwback area Magic Mountain has the red chair operational, which means life is pretty good in Londonderry right now. Magic has a terrific torchlight parade, fireworks, and other stuff planned for Saturday...back to New York, Gore Mountain is 100% open, that includes the to and fro to the old (now new) North Creek Ski Bowl...6" of new snow at Steamboat since yesterday...and in the Pac NW, Anthony Lakes just keeps getting more and more and more, over a foot of untracked is waiting for today's skiers and boarders...skipping all around the nation here...Loon Mountain New Hampshire is 100% open, and they just put the finishing touches on their superpipe, see photo below...moving east, Maine's massive Sugarloaf just opened sidecountry terrain to the summit of Burnt Mountain, their open in-bounds skiing now stands at more than 1,000 acres...confirming rumors of a couple skiers killed in the Tahoe region last week. First, Santos Constantine Martins Bezerra, an 18-year-old exchange visa worker from Brazil employed by Sugar Bowl, was killed there when he hit a tree on his day off. Then on Friday, Lindsey Van Why, a 43-year-old safety engineer from Belmont, CA died at Northstar-at-Tahoe when he hit a tree on the intermediate Cascade Trail. Neither skier was wearing a helmet; ourthoughts and prayers are with their families...and yesterday at Crystal Mountain, Washington, a 35-year-old Seattle man died when he skied into a tree well in the Dick's Face section...and finally, New York and Massachusetts-based Catamount Ski Resort (it's on the border) looking to build 125 condos and $30 million clubhouse on the New York side. I imagine the folks on the Massachusetts side are going bonkers right now.

Loon Mountain this morning, with the recently opened superpipe. Notice anything about it? Besides the fact that it's beautifully sculptured, it's empty. I question how much longer the average resort will bother with these structures.

Sugarloaf ski patrol on the summit of Burnt Mountain side country. Notice how far this is from the main face. Other than this always rocky windblown summit, just about everything between here and there is skiable. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but that's not true in this case. The only word needed

19 February 2014 Neglected to mention Tina Maze's GS win in Sochi yesterday, shouldn't be a surprise but in some ways it is, because she's been so mediocre this season. But she certainly showed last year's form yesterday. When Maze has last year's form she's untouchable. Anna Fenninger did a great job with 2nd and good to see Viktoria Rebensburg on the podium. Mikaela Shiffrin acquitted herself very, very well. Barring injury she'll be overall champion within a couple years. Julia Mancuso was spent by the time she skied off, she merely shrugged and smiled but certainly no shame in her performance in Sochi...this morning Ted Ligety surprised no one with his GS gold, he was followed by Frenchmen Steve Missillier and Alexis Pinturault, with overall leader Marcel Hirscher 7/10 off the podium. Ligety blistered the first run, a full second ahead of everyone else...Bode Miller doubtful for the slalom...sad news from Washington State, 31-year-old Kenneth Kelley died while boarding in the Corona Bowl at Stevens Pass. It's especially devastating to the resort community as Kelley was an employee of Stevens Pass off and on since 2002...tough sledding there at Stevens Pass; earlier in the week father/son skiers 23-year-old Eric Marble suffered head and knee injuries and 48-year-old Curt Marble suffered a knee injury after getting entangled in an avalanche. They were outside the resort in the Big Chief area...and just yesterday the road through both Stevens Pass and Snoqualmie Pass were closed due to hazardous conditions...happier ending last Thursday when a 10-year-old boy fell 20 feet from a chairlift at Mount Spokane Ski and Snowboard Park, after a trip to the hospital he was declared uninjured...back to the bad news, 67-year-old XC skier Ralph Cronin Sr. of Lynn, Massachusetts died Monday afternoon on the Oliverian Brook Trail in New Hampshire's White Mountains. He was skiing with his wife, Linda, and was about 1/2 mile from the trailhead on the Kancamagus Vermont, 6" snow overnight at Pennsy, Ski for the Cure events Friday and Saturday at Jack Frost and Big Boulder, to benefit the Susan G. Komen Foundation...some quick follow-up on the fate of Bigrock Mountain in northern Maine, was set to close following the loss of funding from the Maine Winter Sports Center, locals did a grassroots bootstrap thing and got it open, kept it alive. Today word from the Bangor Daily News has Bigrock enjoying an outstanding winter, putting them on fairly solid ground moving forward...back to the Pac NW, Mount Ashland in Medford, OR saw the anniversary of its latest opening come and go on Monday. They got 4" of snow over the weekend, but that made their base just 8". They aren't giving up on the season yet but it sure looks bleak...the only other resort I can think of sharing this misery is Pajarito in New Mexico, absolutely starving for snow...meanwhile the aforementioned twin Pocono Pennsy resorts Jack Frost and Big Boulder have received double their average annual Montana the US Forest Service wants to thin out 250 acres of troubled trees in the vicinity of Bridger Bowl; some of the trees in question are within the ski area. The proposal is open to public review and comment, and there will be some sort of informational hearing on March 3rd at the Bridger Canyon Rural Fire Department. Hey, it could make for some nice glade skiing.

18 February 2014 News out of Utah had resort lodging at 64.2 percent capacity in January, down from 67.5 percent from January 2013...unless you live under a rock you know that Bode Miller got a bit of redemption this weekend when he tied (!) Jan Hudec (!) for a bronze medal in Super G at Sochi. Now we kind of expected gold medalist Kjetil Jansrud to be a factor, but Hudec? Speaking of broken down skiers with low expectations, Andrew Weibrecht took silver. The uninitiated will say, ok fine, he won bronze back in 2010, what's the big deal? Well the fact is he hasn't had anything since then, unless you count injuries. Let's look at Andrew Weibrecht by the numbers, so you understand just how incredible his silver medal is:

First year in World Cup: 2006
Total number of podium finishes in World Cup since 2006: ZERO
Highest finish in a World Cup event: 10th (twice, most recent was in 2011)
Highest seasonal Super G ranking: 23rd in 2010
Most telling of all statistics: He has DNFd 1/3 of all the World Cup races he's ever entered.

But don't feel too sorry for our silver medalist; he is married to freeskier Denja Rand. So he's doing just fine. Lower photo below. But back to Bode Miller; if this finish and his emotional honesty doesn't rehabilitate his image after the Turin debacle, I don't know what will. One thing you can say about Miller, he tells it exactly like he sees it...conditions in the northeast have been nothing less than spectacular; Whitetail Resort in Southern Pennsy had three-mile lines to park, ran out of rental skis this past weekend. Up north Pennsy Montage had deep powder glade skiing, something you just don't see every central NY, small but mighty Swain resort had a total of 50,000 skier visits last season; they'll probably surpass that total sometime this week...same story across the country; Sierra-at-Tahoe hosted record crowds this past weekend...great story out of Sugarbush in Vermont. Well, not totally great, if you had your home destroyed, but still a great story. Seems a fire broke out in one of the condos at 1:00 AM, everybody sound asleep, but a one-year-old dog named Oakley (photo immediately below) sounded the alarm -- barking until her family woke and took action. They pounded on doors, the condo complex was evacuated. The fire destroyed 36 units, but not a single soul was injured thanks to Oakley!

Meet Oakley -- the hero of Sugarbush!

Denja Rand, as mentioned in today's news summary. She's also known as Mrs. Andrew Weibrecht. Photo courtesy Lange boots.

14 February 2014 Happy Valentine's Day! Let's get the less-than-happy news out of the way first. In Colorado, an appellate court has upheld the ruling by Grand County District Court Judge Mary C. Hoak concerning ski resort liability for inbounds avalanches, saying it's one of the risks a skier takes. This all concerns a wrongful death suit brought on by the widow of Christopher Norris, a 28-year-old man who perished in an in-bounds avy in Winter Park's Trestle Trees section in 2012....Eastern part of USA rocked by snow yesterday and today...Sochi Olympics rocked this morning, surprise win for Sandro Viletta in the Men's Super Combined, taking gold for Switzerland. The great Croatian Ivica Kostelic won silver, and Italian star Christof Innerhofer was third. This win for Viletta is kind of like Tommy Moe winning gold in the downhill back in the day, a complete surprise based on what was previously only moderate success at the World Cup level...Throwback area Black Mountain of Maine will provide free skiing from 4-9 pm on Thursday, February 27...some parts of the east saw 3" per hour during the height of the storm, so let's take a quick look around...15" overnight at Sugarloaf in Maine...Wildcat NH is fully open for the first time this season....In Vermont, Mount Snow is 100% open, Sugarbush is firing on all cylinders, Okemo as well but has a couple lifts that may be affected by wind holds through the day. Neighbor Killington has all but a handful of odd, pointless trails open, so I'm going to say they're at 100% as New York, Gore Mountain has everything but the Echo trail open, and that one is closed only because they're holding a race event on it. Believe it or not it's FIS homologated for a couple of events, this one being an FIS non-cup Giant Slalom. It's sure to have some future greats in the event...down in the Catskills, Plattekill is 100% open which means all you tree skiers, powderhounds and pin heads (telly skiers) are smiling Jersey Mountain Creek has possibly its best conditions in the past two decades...Poconos Jack Frost and Big Boulder are 100%...Wisp Maryland was covered with 10" from the storm and has all but two runs open...Virginia's Wintergreen grabbed about two feet and is 100% open...10" in the Carolinas, Beech looking Michigan Big Powderhorn has 5" new snow, awesome's snowed elsewhere in the country, of course, one of the notables being Snowbird, where they're talking three feet in the last four days and wondering why the east is in such an uproar...7" fresh on the ground at Arapahoe Basin but still not enough to drop the ropes on East Wall...back to Vermont, update from Magic Mountain on their troubled red double chair. The motor is back from service, it's being installed, and they're going to run a battery of tests. Only negative in all this is that the lift probably will not be ready for this coming holiday weekend, which is certainly going to result in lines on the black chair. But my guess is those lines will be shorter than the lines at other areas, so there you go.

Morning screen capture from Beech Mountain, North Carolina, looking good!

12 February 2014 Big snowstorm forming in the east, it is said that this single storm will bury the entire length of the Appalachian Trail, from Maine to Georgia...skier missing after an avy near Keystone Colorado has been found, body identified as 46-year-old Kevin Kuybus from the Denver metro area...three backcountry skiers survived an avalanche near Silverton Colorado Monday...four skiers much less fortunate in a backcountry deal in the Wallowa Mountains near Cornucopia, Oregon; doing a hut trip caught up in an avy, two dead, two seriously hurt...let's move on to better news...from Sochi, Tina Maze finally back in form, winning -- with Dominique Gisin -- the ladies downhill. With a shared time, they tied for gold, leaving Swiss speedster Lara Gut with bronze. Julia Mancuso was in the top ten...word from northern New Hampshire has one-time ski mogul Les Otten -- the guy who made Sunday River and then created the monstrosity known as American Skiing Company, well Les is supposedly back in the ski resort biz, said to be part of a group that will revitalize and reopen Balsams Wilderness, a grand hotel in Dixville Notch, NH that has a throwback 1,000' vert ski area attached...other news from Sochi, turns out Canadian slopestyle skier Yuki Tsubota was indeed hurt in that nasty fall, broke her jaw...Mountain Creek New Jersey has a great throwback promotion today, in honor of Abe Lincoln's birthday, recite the Gettysburg Address today and you get a free lift ticket. It's worth reading, even if you can't memorize it:

"Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate...we can not consecrate...we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government: of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

11 February 2014 Perhaps overshadowed by the Olympics is the fact that business is going gangbusters at some ski resorts...glad to report that the Oregon resorts are finally -- finally getting snow, and plenty of it. With 5" fresh overnight, Mt. Hood Meadows now skiing great on a 79" base...also looking up in Tahoe region; Kirkwood had so much snow they had to dig a lift or two out of the white stuff. Photo below...Utah's Brighton Resort had capacity crowds and was turning cars away from overflowing lots late Sunday morning. (Keep in mind the Utah Transit Authority bus is a good alternative whenever you want to venture up the Cottonwood Canyons) The rush came after 18" fell Saturday night...speaking of Utah, very informative article in the recent issue of Bloomberg Businessweek explains the battle over operation of Park City Mountain Resort between Powdr Corp., which owns the very bottom, and Vail Resorts, Inc., which owns the top. Excellent reading I recommend, click Sochi, if you haven't heard, Bode Miller was fastest in the training run this morning for the downhill portion of the men's super combined. Canadian slopestyle skier Yuki Tsubota fell heavily, taken off on a stretcher but apparently she was not badly hurt...more rough news from Keystone Colorado, a skier missing since yesterday after an avalanche in the backcountry near that resort. Rescue efforts continue today, with representatives from Keystone, Arapahoe Basin, Breckenridge Resort, Summit County Rescue Group, Vail Mountain Rescue, Alpine Rescue Team and the U.S. Forest Service all pitching in. Conditions quite grim overnight and officials fear the worst...even though these Olympics in Sochi have been most excellent, the idiocy of the IOC (International Olympic Committee) never fails to rain on a reasonable and decent parade. This time around it has to do with some athletes who'd like to express a small tribute to Canadian freestyle skier Sarah Burke, who died in an accident in 2012. They've got a tiny sticker honoring Sarah, but the moronic IOC says it can't be placed on any helmets. As if this lunacy weren't enough, the IOC told the Norwegian Olympic Committee that it can't wear armbands to honor the brother of cross-country skier Astrid Uhrenholdt, who died a day before the opening ceremony.

Morning screen capture from Kirkwood webcam; certainly a reversal of fortune!

10 February 2014 Well the Sochi games have to be on everyone's mind, men's downhill kind of a letdown but shouldn't surprise anyone that Austrian Mattias Mayer won the event. I'm hopeful Bode will be on the podium for another event. Hannah Kearney obviously disappointed; her run was easily the most inspired but the bobble eliminated any chance for gold. Canadians Justine and Chloe Dufour-Lapointe skied almost flawlessly, however neither would've beaten Kearney if she hadn't been tossed on the first landing. Today the ladies' super combined, I picked Tina Maze but she was denied a medal by Julia Mancuso. Super Jules had the best downhill and a shaky slalom, although good enough for bronze. Maria Hoefl-Riesch took a well-deserved gold -- repeat gold at that. Austrian great Nicole Hosp got silver. Kudos to boarder Sage Kotsenburg whose first slopestyle run absolutely blew away the competition, scoring a 93.5. Judges gave Norwegian Staale Sandbech a 91.75 on his second run but I gotta say the books were cooked. If that run was a 91.75 then Kotsenburg's was a 97.00. Seriously, Kotsenburg's first effort was the finest single slopestyle run I've ever seen...feast or famine this past weekend at resorts all across the country; Powder Mountain Utah had plenty of snow but unfortunately, plenty of wind. They had to close Saturday, which is not a good thing in the heart of a season. Sunday saw the highway gate locked in Ogden Valley, but they're fully open now...move down to Little Cottonwood Canyon, where Snowbird is measuring new snow in Vermont, fresh snow has enabled Bolton Valley to open the Timberline section...Arapahoe Basin Colorado has over a foot of fresh...about 6" overnight at New York, Gore Mountain finally has all its various parts and peaks connected and open...thoughts and prayers are with the family of a 46-year-old man killed at Keystone on Saturday; he hit a tree between Porcupine and Bighorn. The man was wearing a helmet; died of blunt force chest trauma.

6 February 2014 Northeast got the goods -- well, at least the ski areas far enough north got the goods...throwback area Plattekill in NY is usually open weekends only, they're open today with a foot of new snow and all trails, all trees, all good. When Platty is "on" like this it represents one of the best ski values in the nation...move further north in NY and a little place called Hickory makes Plattekill look downright modern, all-natural snow only and they're rarely open, open this weekend...neighboring Gore Mountain got 14" of fresh...people ask why I don't report so much on snowfall in, say, Utah or Michigan or Colorado. They have the goods, they get the goods. Northeast, Northwest, Tahoe, Southwest? Not so much. So when the snow falls, I'm going to talk about it...but I suppose I should report a foot of fresh at Snowbird, and they're looking for another foot or two this weekend...some of the computer weather models finally have some snow hitting the Pac NW, but remember, those are just models...far north upstate NY Titus Mountain open wall to wall on 10" of fresh...Jay Peak Vermont got about a half a foot. That's little by comparison for this system, but Jay gets snow all the time so don't be concerned...pleased to report that Vermont's Mount Snow got enough from this storm that they've re-opened many of their natural-only snow trails, including popular routes like Uncle's and Big Dipper...same deal at Killington, which added a dozen or so trails overnight, including (love it or hate it) Juggernaut. Personally I've never been on it, never want to, but it does serve as a good benchmark for conditions. When they open Juggernaut, you know they got snow...Sochi alpine training runs got underway today. Bode Miller topped the men's downhill chart. He got a lot of bad press a couple of Olympics ago, but darn it, I would positively love to see him win DH gold and prove once and for all that he is among the best all-time skiers. Austrian Anna Fenninger topped the speed charts on the ladies side; Julia Mancuso might be doing her usual "rise to the occasion" thing because she finished third in this training run. Opening ceremonies tonight....Heading out to the slopes; we'll be back Monday.

Here's a video I recommend prior to watching the downhill competition, it's a skier's view of a run down the Rosa Khutor downhill course. This link goes to Todd Brooker's turn-by-turn description of the course. The video is about 2/3 down the page. Definitely worth watching if you have any interest in the event.

5 February 2014 Snow blanketing New England today; rest of the east/northeast getting snow, rain, ice, depending. Snowing like crazy at Killington this morning. Mostly snow as far south as Elk Mountain in northeast Pennsy, which by the way has their one natural snow only trail open for the first time this season. Speaking of natural snow mostly places, Mad River Glen is in great shape today, everything off the single chair is open....6" of fresh in the past 24 hours at Sugarloaf, and still counting...The white circus is gearing up for the events in Sochi. As a history primer, Austria has the most alpine skiing gold medals with 31. Switzerland has 18, Germany 16, France 15, and USA 14. Most medals of any sort by any single participant is Norway's Kjetil Andre Aamodt, who has 8, and tied with 6 are Sweden's recently retired Anja Paersson and Croatian Janica Kostelic. Bode Miller leads US athletes with who are my picks? Well here goes: Ted Ligety in GS, Marcel Hirscher in Slalom, Aksel Lund Svindal in Super G, and I'm going way out on a limb and calling for Bode Miller to win the downhill. Combined I'll go with Alexis Pinturault. Ladies: Anna Fenninger in GS, Mikaela Shiffrin in Slalom, Tina Weirather in Super G, Maria Hoefl-Riesch in downhill, Tina Maze in combined....cold temps in Montana have ski areas scrambling a bit; Whitefish closed chair 1 down yesterday when temps hit 15 below, and Blacktail Mountain is closed today and tomorrow at least...Snowboarder extraordinaire Shaun White is bowing out of the slopestyle competition in Sochi, saying the course is just too dangerous. While we hate to see him bow out, we applaud and support his intelligence.

4 February 2014 Nobody has had a tougher season than poor Hoodoo in the Pac Northwest; 3" of snow fell this past weekend and now they're scraping it off the parking lot, shaking it out of the trees, and moving it to get some slopes open. I'm not making that up. They'll be open Friday, for the first time this season, and we give Hoodoo huge koodoos for sticking it out and making it happen...Half a foot of new snow fell on the southwest areas overnight, much needed to say the least. Places like Taos, Ski Santa Fe and Arizona Snowbowl all received a nice freshening-up on their base...21-year-old New York man died this morning at Sugarloaf in Maine; apparently skied into the woods off the Hayburner trail. No other details available....Breckenridge got the goods last night, two feet of fresh in the past 24 hrs and it's the light fluffy variety. That Peak 6 expansion is now fully open and skiing Utah favorite Powder Mountain got 6" overnight....and the snow continues; Sugar Mountain North Carolina reports business is up Vermont, Killington is reporting skier visits up 4.2% so far this year.

Morning screen capture from the Arizona Snowbowl webcam -- looking good!

3 February 2014 Snow has finally fallen again in the Tahoe region; reports from Heavenly have two feet of fresh on the ground, enabling the resort to up trail counts to 40 of 97, with 24 of 29 lifts operating...Fire had part of the mountain closed Saturday at Sun Valley Idaho. Seems a fire broke out at the top terminal of the Flying Squirrel lift, destroying the terminal as well as some snowmaking equipment...Snowing today after a brief warm-up in the northeast; banana belt operations like Camelback PA and Mountain Creek NJ might be getting the best of this storm...good news out of Utah, where Skyline Mountain Base, an investment group of local and European investors, has acquired Wolf Mountain. Wolf is a small (by Utah standards) area in the Ogden Valley that went bankrupt a few years ago and has been kept afloat by the America First Credit Union. No plans to rename at this time, although the new owners say they're going to increase open hours. They also plan to focus on making Wolf a family-oriented resort, which it kind of is, but they use the phrase "world-class" so we're probably looking at price increases. That's better than closure, right?...Intrawest is now trading on the NYSE under the ticker symbol SNOW. Intrawest Resorts Holdings, Inc., which operates Winter Park, Stratton, Steamboat, Mont Tremblant, Blue Mountain (Canada) and Snowshoe, priced its IPO of 15,625,000 shares of common stock at $12 per share last week. It's hovering around there as of this morning...Awful news from the state of Vermont this weekend. First, at Sugarbush, 19-year-old Kendra Bowers of Newport, R.I., a sophomore at the University of Vermont, was killed Saturday morning apparently when she skied into a trail sign on the Rim Run trail. Later on Saturday, 20-year-old Torin Tucker of Sun Valley, ID, a member of the Dartmouth College Cross Country ski team, died while competing at the 33rd annual Craftsbury VT 25k "marathon" race. Our thoughts and prayers are with the friends and family members of both victims...latest news from Sochi alpine events is a bit of a ruckus after the names of the coursesetters were drawn at random, and the mercurial Ante Kostelic turned up as coursetter for the final leg of the men's slalom, as well as the slalom portion of the super combi. Kostelic -- yes he is the father of former overall champions Ivica and Janica Kostelic -- has been known to put gates in strange places. Just one year ago his odd setting in Kitzbuehl was rejected as "unskiable" by FIS World Cup officials...speaking of World Cup, last mens speed event prior to Sochi was weathered out this weekend in St. Moritz. The men did contest a GS event yesterday in St. Moritz; Ted Ligety nailed down the win, with overall leader Marcel Hirscher in 2nd and Frenchman Alexis Pinturault in third. Ladies meanwhile had a slalom event in Kranjska Gora, with win by Frida Hansdotter; Marlies and Bernadette Schild rounding out the podium. Conspicuous by her absence on the podium was Mikaela Shiffrin, who finished surprisingly back in 7th. The white circus is taking a break from its regular schedule for the Sochi games...regret to report that Bakersfield, CA ski shop icon Doug Bentz passed away this weekend, age 70.

30 January 2014 Update None of this is good reading, but here goes...News from Mohawk Mountain a 14-year-old boy fell off the Nutmeg chair last night, roughly 15-20 feet. Witnesses say the restraint bar had not been lowered. The boy is recovering at a local hospital...Ski Apache Resort in Riudoso, NM has released a statement on the death of 23-year-old El Paso TX resident Jacqueline Caballero. Resort says she skied into a tree off the Chino trail, and suffered a fatal injury. According to the local Sheriff's department, "Another person drove up with her from El Paso for the weekend to ski, but decided not to ski down the slope and rode the gondola back down. It doesn't appear this is anything else but a ski accident. There is no indication of alcohol involvement." hearing that the latest Hahnenkamm downhill champion, Austrian Hannes Reichelt, will not be skiing in Sochi due to a back injury....30 January 2014 earlier report: A foot of new snow at Powder Mountain UT...down the road at Snowbird they got 10" overnight...continuing snow is making this one of the best seasons in history at Boyne Highlands MI...still gloom and doom in the Pac NW except a few getting all the goods, like 8" fresh at Anthony Lakes Mountain Colorado they're spacin' at A Basin with 10" of new snow...and up at Steamboat they grabbed 8-9" of the fluffy stuff in the past 24 hours. Speaking of Steamboat, we have a visual on their new low impact lighting system below this post...Huge kudos to Hunter Mountain U14 Alpine Team Racer, Zachary Williams, who did a fundraiser for Paralympian Staci Manella as his Bar Mitzvah project last Saturday. Young Mr. Williams raised over $7 grand for Staci, who is a visually impaired skier looking to attend the Paralympics in Sochi...speaking of New York fundraisers, a shout out here for the 5th Annual Winter Carnival Benefit/Fundraiser for Team Mount Peter in the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, scheduled for next Saturday February 8th, from Noon till 5pm. Mount Peter, if you haven't heard of it, is a small but mighty hill in Warwick, NY relatively close to NY City....the white circus better known as the FIS World Cup has the men in St. Mortz this weekend, where Bode Miller has turned in an impressive run 2nd quickest in downhill training. The ladies are in Kranjska Gora Slovenia.

Here's a look at the "night sky friendly" lighting system recently installed at Steamboat. The new fixtures eliminate the ghastly sulfurous sky normally associated with night skiing.
Photo credit © Larry Pierce/Steamboat Ski Resort.

29 January 2014 Continuing a quick look at Team USA selected for the Sochi Olympic Games, here's the snowboard halfpipe line-up:

Greg Bretz, Mammoth Lakes, CA (12/19/90) *
Danny Davis, Truckee, CA (6/22/88)
Taylor Gold, Steamboat Springs, CO (11/17/93)
Shaun White, Carlsbad, CA (9/3/86) *

Kelly Clark, W. Dover, VT (7/26/83) *
Kaitlyn Farrington, Sun Valley, ID (12/18/89)
Arielle Gold, Steamboat Springs, CO (5/4/96)
Hannah Teter, Belmont, VT (1/27/87) *

* Member of past U.S. Olympic Team

...three previous gold medalists on this team; Clark, Teter, and White. The latter is always a favorite but it remains to be seen if he's still a step ahead of the competition. And speaking of Gold, brother and sister act Taylor and Arielle Gold will be one of the bigger stories this year. He's 20 and she's 17 and they've been winning competitions since they were tots...seems that Lindsey Vonn has signed on to cover skiing for NBC-TV at the upcoming games...Iola Wisconsin Winter Carnival is this weekend, they pull out all the stops with a noridic combined competition featuring the Iola ski jump, and word this year is that they're adding a dog-assisted Ski-joring competition. If you live anywhere close to Iola, Waupaca, etc. this is something you won't want to miss...sorry to report that a 65-year-old Florida man died yesterday after hitting a tree at Deer Valley Utah. He was on the Keno run, and was wearing a helmet...the lights went on at Wrigley Field, and now they're on at Steamboat Ski Resort; they've lit some slopes right at the base area. What I really like about this is the lights are said to be dark sky compatible. Kudos to Steamboat for that.

28 January 2014 Team USA has announced its proposed alpine team for the Sochi Olympic Games, subject to approval by the US Olympic Committee or something like that. Anyway, here's the line-up:

David Chodounsky, Crested Butte, CO (6/25/84)
Erik Fisher, Middleton, ID (3/21/85) *
Travis Ganong, Squaw Valley, CA (7/14/88)
Jared Goldberg, Holladay, UT (6/15/91)
Tim Jitloff, Reno, NV (1/11/85) *
Nolan Kasper, Warren, VT (3/27/89) *
Ted Ligety, Park City, UT (8/31/84) *
Bode Miller, Franconia, NH (10/12/77) *
Steven Nyman, Sundance, UT (2/12/82) *
Marco Sullivan, Squaw Valley, CA (4/27/80) *
Andrew Weibrecht, Lake Placid, NY (2/10/86) *

Stacey Cook, Mammoth Mountain, CA (7/3/84) *
Julia Ford, Holderness, NH (3/30/90)
Julia Mancuso, Squaw Valley, CA (3/9/84) *
Megan McJames, Park City, UT (9/24/87) *
Laurenne Ross, Bend, OR (8/17/88)
Mikaela Shiffrin, Eagle-Vail, CO (3/13/95)
Leanne Smith, North Conway, NH (5/28/87) *
Resi Stiegler, Jackson Hole, WY (11/14/85) *
Jacqueline Wiles, Aurora, OR (7/13/92)

* Member of past U.S. Olympic Team

...which looks to me like a darn fine team, and it wouldn't surprise anyone if the team brought home one or two golds, namely Shiffrin and Ligety. And I wouldn't be surprised if Miller brought home some sort of medal....speaking of Bode, he's got to be heartbroken after this weekend in Kitzbuehl, where he was again a bridesmaid, still not a bride. Slalom event won by Germany's Felix Neureuther was marked by an unusual error by Marcel Hirscher; he straddled a gate during his second run. Although Hirscher still leads the slalom discipline, he was unable to gain on Aksel Lund Svindal in the overall. Next day in the Hahnenkamm, the legendary downhill, Austrian Hannes Reichelt won, followed by Svindal and -- darn it -- Miller. Swiss star Didier Degago won the Super G, less than a tenth ahead of, -- you guessed it -- Miller. Svindal third, naturally. Final Kitzbuehl event, the combined, went to Frenchman Alexis Pinturault, with Ted Ligety second and Hirscher third. Ladies were in cortina, pair of downhills split between Maria Hoefl-Riesch and Tina Maze, while Laura Gut won the super G. Tina Weirather was second or third in all three moved to Schladming for a night race, just finished with Mario Matt DNFing on his second run. Victory (unofficial) goes to Henrik Kristoffersen of Norway, followed by Hirscher and Neureuther...on to the ski from Michigan, Bittersweet Ski Resort, Timber Ridge and Swiss Valley Ski & Snowboard Area are all closed due to extreme low temps...and get this: Alaska's Alyeska resort is closed due to unseasonably WARM temperatures. I fear those temps are headed our way too soon...New Hampshire biggie Cannon Mountain was closed due to high winds yesterday, reopened this morning...five inches of fresh overnight at Arapahoe Basin...and it gives me great pleasure to report that Alabama's one and only Cloudmont ski area has had the snowguns on again and they're enjoying their best season in recent memory...while most New Mexico resorts are doing ok this year, the situation at Pajarito Ski Area down in Los Alamos is dreadful. Recent notice from the non-profit that operates Pajarito says, "We propose to dissolve Los Alamos Ski Club and transition all assets to Los Alamos County, which, subject to (County) Council approval, will then take over operation of the Ski Area." Tragedy this weekend at Ski Bluewood; 14-year-old Hunter Connor fell while boarding on a novice trail. He told patrollers he caught an edge and fell before losing consciousness and died. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.

23 January 2014 Right now the FIS World Cup scene is completely buzzing, although it barely registers here in the USA. They were finally able to hold a practice on the Streif course this morning in Kitzbuehl, and none other than Bode Miller topped the charts, almost a full second ahead of Aksel Lund Svindal. The crowd went bonkers, and more than one reporter noted that most of the women in the audience were shouting "Bo-DEE! Bo-DEE!" regardless of the flag they were waving. So he's being called the favorite for tomorrow's race, although I hate to get my hopes up because he's fallen just short so many, many times in the Miller's home state the sprawling Loon Mountain was closed today for some sort of power problem, say they'll be open tomorrow...across the river in Vermont snow has been falling steadily and trail counts are up; Burke Mountain went from 15 trails to 25 or so in just a few days. Now the Vermont resorts are looking at potential snow on Saturday...Sochi looms on the near horizon, and we're waiting to see if Nordic star Kris Freeman is named to the US team, which will be much to the chagrin of the US Ski and Snowboard Team, which dumped him like an old dishrag. Freeman, who is diabetic, is easily one of the best American long distance XC racers. When all financial support from USST was cut off, Waterville Valley's Chris Sununu took up the cause, gave Freeman a job and is generally helping out...if ever the Tahoe region needed help from Ullr, the Norse god of snow, they need it now. This weekend Diamond Peak at the north end of the lake is holding its fifth annual Ullr Fest -- ostensibly to raise funds for the race team, but I think a lot of pleading for snow is going to be sent in ol' Ullr's direction.

Thanks for all the kind words from our loyal readers! I'm doing some skiing this weekend and will be back at the keyboard on Tuesday. Have a great weekend! One more thing...GO BODE!

21 January 2014 The men's side of the FIS World Cup circus is in Kitzbuehl, where it really is a circus. Unusually warm weather had the Austrians using helicopters and 200 laborers to spread snow on the Streif, then it snowed a wet heavy snow today, some rain, now snow, what a mess. FIS officials tend to cancel races when it looks like this, but Kitz -- the event is known as The Hahnenkamm -- is the European equivalent to the Super Bowl, so pressure will be on to hold the events as scheduled. If you aren't familiar with it, it's the ugliest, nastiest, most storied downhill race of that Lloyd Bolander, founder of New Mexico's Sipapu Ski and Summer Resort has passed away at age 86...very sad to report that 22 year old Skylar Ormond of Canandaigua, NY was killed while snowboarding at Killington on Friday. Ormond was on the Mousetrap trail, a friend fell in front of him, and the young man skied into the trees to avoid a collision. OUr thoughts and prayers are with his much less grim out of Colorado, where a man escaped death in an avalanche at the now defunct Berthoud Pass ski eastern Massachusetts we say congratulations to Nashoba Valley ski area, celebrating its 50th birthday this week.

20 January 2014 If you see someone facing north with a big smile and wide open arms, it might be me, embracing the return of cold air to the continental USA. Looks like the biggest recipient of snowfall with this current system will be the upper midwest. Mount Bohemia got a couple inches of snow overnight...But also places like northern Vermont/NH getting small but steady snow; natural snow depth at Cannon is double what it was Friday. It's not enough to get the natural trails open at the New England resorts, but I'm thinking you'll see trail counts slowly but surely pick up through the week...Other places in the east and midwest have been shut out in the natural snow department, but operations like Snow Trails near Mansfield Ohio are open side to side, top to bottom thanks to snowmaking and brisk temperatures...Looking around some more, Wintergreen Virginia has all but two trails open and I expect to see those ready for next weekend with the help of some natural snow forecasted for the mid-Atlantic tonight or tomorrow...small but mighty Snow Creek in Missouri has ZERO natural snow on the ground, but the snowmakers have done a super job of keeping the product out there; see photo below...things are looking up in the Pac NW; Summit at Snoqualmie is about 60 percent open, have snow and lifts spinning at each facility with the exception of Summit East...things are great in Colorado; every chair at Loveland set to spin today, all but one trail is open and that's over at the "Valley" section so nobody cares...things are a bit icy at the NY Metro area resorts; Mountain Creek NJ has been exceptionally busy and it's ice, ice baby...will update World Cup news later...tough times still in parts of the southwest, Pajarito New Mexico is still closed for lack of snow, and Sandia Peak is operating just three trails...

Snow Creek, Weston Missouri this morning. No natural snow, but major kudos to "mountain" ops.

17 January 2014 News this week from Colorado Ski Country USA, which is a collective of resorts, says skier visits were up 22 percent through the end of December...First action in FIS World Cup completed in Wengen, with Ted Ligety topping the podium in the super combined event. Alexis Pinturault of France was second, followed by Natko Zrncic-Dim of Croatia. You may not be familiar with the name; Zrncic-Dim has podiumed before, all in some fashion of combined events. Another American, Jared Goldberg of Utah finished 20th. He's 22 years old and a relatively new face on the cup scene...cold temps slooowwwly returning to the east; checking in with Pennsy's Blue Mountain they say the guns are scheduled to go back on tonight...World Cup Aerials at Whiteface NY this weekend...glad to report a couple of the lesser-funded areas in the northeast will indeed be open this weekend, with surprisingly more terrain than you might expect. Black Mountain of Maine is in great shape, with both alpine and nordic on tap. Vermont's Magic Mountain will definitely be open on the east side; they're trying to connect the dots and open terrain on the west side as well...six-year-old boy fell off a chair at Ski Sundown in Connecticut. Resort says he raised the bar too early and fell right before the unload, but nobody is exactly sure how far. He was pretty shook up, so they helicoptered him out as a precaution. Glad to report he was checked out and discharged with minor injuries.

Thanks for the memories!

16 January 2014 Kudos to Michigan's Boyne Highlands, celebrating 50 years of operations. They got a nice birthday present in the form of a foot of new snow yesterday, 100% open...Temps continue to return to normal in the northeast, a few inches of snow overnight at Sugarloaf in Maine, new snow also at Jay Peak and elsewhere in the to be in the northeast today is Mt. Ellen at Sugarbush, they've got a $30 lift ticket deal out of Grenoble not at all promising for F1 legend Michael Schumacher. He's on day 18 of the induced coma and medical experts are saying this is not good at all. Schumacher's family has maintained a constant vigil, which has got to be awful. Our thoughts and prayers are with them...something called Wasatch Equality has filed suit against Alta to try and open it up to snowboarding. Seems the basis of the suit is, because it's USFS land, the snowboarder ban violates the 14th amendment; I'm guessing they're referring to section 1. Have a few questions in to the group, will keep you posted. Personally I think the day will come when Alta will permit snowboarding, but I think it will be due to the natural growth of the sport. Let the real snowboarders show what the sport is all about, and the stodgy skiers will eventually forget about the foul-mouthed kids who defined snowboarding in the early 2000s.

15 January 2014 Great news just in from Arizona Snowbowl, skier numbers over the Christmas holiday topped a record 41,000. GM J.R. Murray credits their new snowmaking system, which uses municipal grey water...Michaela Shiffrin won the slalom event in Flachau yesterday, no surprise there. Swedes Frida Hansdotter and Maria Pietilae-Holmner rounded out the podium. Maria Hoefl-Riesch finished fourth, making a big statement about her quest for the overall. Reigning overall champion Tina Maze continues to confound fans with her seeming inability to recapture her record-breaking magic of last season. I suspect she's written the season off as a training run for the Sochi games...Men are in Wengen, did get in a training run on that downhill and Italians Werner Heel and Peter Fill were fastest...speaking of Sochi, I'm being asked about Team USA's lineup, but that won't be set until the end of the month. I can tell you it looks like Michaela Shiffrin and Ted Ligety are our only real medal hopefuls. The rest of the squad looks like an injured reserve list, other than Julia Mancuso, who has been strangely quiet this season...small but mighty ski resort Swain in west/central New York state is doing some creative offers in the coming weeks, with $9.99 tickets every Monday (except holidays of course) and a show-your-pass-from-any-other New York area and ski free on January 25th...cold weather seems to be returning to the midwest and northeast, looking for snow this weekend....still good through the upper midwest; Ski Brule in Michigan is 100% open with north facing trails in better shape...Vermont's Magic and Mad River Glen closed this such problems in Colorado, Arapahoe Basin was blessed with another 5" of fresh yesterday. In case you missed it, Montezuma Bowl is open but East Wall remains closed. I report this because it give you a pretty good idea of what's going on out in CO, at least for the Front Range hills, Vail, that sort of thing...Lindsey Vonn's surgery said to be successful...finally some semi-good news out of the Pac NW, Mt Hood Skibowl will open the Multorpor chair at Skibowl East this weekend, limited terrain Saturday through Monday. They'll be discounting tix to $35 and will honor all passes, including night only passes. They'll also be doing $24 learn to ski packages, which is wonderful. Kudos to Skibowl for doing that, and to their snowmaking team for making this happen. Last time Skibowl opened this late in the season was 2005.

14 January 2014 The rich get richer: Steamboat and Arapahoe Basin both report 6-7" of fresh...the poor get poorer: Light rain falling in the northeast. Getting soaked this morning at Mount to be in the east today is the mid-Atlantic; Wintergreen VA reports all but a couple slopes open and decent snow with 34 degree temps on the hill...time for a recap of FIS World Cup action from the weekend. Men's results, Saturday Felix Neureuther of Germany won the GS in Adelboden. Thomas Fanara of France was 2nd with his 2nd podium of the season. Marcel Hirscher was third and Alexis Pinturault was fourth -- both move ahead of Ted Ligety in the GS standings. Ted the Shred DNFd his second run. Hirscher won the slalom event Sunday. Bright spot for team USA was an 8th place finish by veteran David Chodounsky. Women meanwhile were in Altenmarkt/Zauchensee where the rest of the field celebrated the absence of Lindsey Vonn. Just kidding. Sort of. The downhill Saturday went to Elisabeth Georgl of Austria, followed by teammate Anna Fenninger, Germany's Maria Hoefl-Riesch in third, Tina Weirather fourth. Super G Sunday had Austrian Nicole Hosp winning, followed by Weirather and Fenninger. Super Combi event saw Canadian Marie-Michelle Gagnon top the charts, followed by Austrian Michaela Kirchgasser and Hoefl-Riesch in third. Overall leaderboards have Hoefl-Riesch ahead of Fenninger, with Weirather falling behind a little bit but well within striking distance. On the men's side it's a two-man race with Hirscher ahead of Aksel Lund Svindal. Ligety's third with no shot. The ladies are in Flachau today for a night slalom, the men are weathered off the downhill training course in Wengen. We'll try and update the Flachau event later...CNN created some havoc in the ski community today with its "top 100 ski runs" feature, they gave the #1 nod to The Stash at Avoriaz, France. Highest rated US run was Glen's at Snowbird, came in at number five. Personally I enjoy reading these sorts of things, good for getting other points of view.

13 January 2014 Huzzah, glad to report that finally enough snow in the Front Range that Arapahoe Basin has dropped the ropes on the Montezuma Bowl...10" of fresh at Powder Mountain Utah overnight...update on West Mountain New York, which has gone through some troubled times and was unlikely to open this season, but a new (sort of) owner has stepped up and it is open. We had one of our skiers there on Friday, prior to the monsoon. Not much open but did have a couple options from the top, says what they lacked in quantity, made up for in quality. Of course that's probably irrelevant after the rain, but it certainly points to good things to come and they're well positioned to recover when temps stabilize...good example of that is in Vermont, where Stratton is right back up to some 75 trails. It's gonna be hardpack, but they got it and like most of the majors, they'll keep working on it...sad news from Montana this weekend, 54-year-old California man died after falling into a tree well on an ungroomed run at Whitefish Mountain Resort Saturday afternoon. Folks, don't ski near trees; there's a reason that the powder is untracked...or into trees; Aspen reports that 56-year-old local man Jonathan Stuart was killed Friday when he skied into some trees off the Bellissimo run...speaking of skiing off-piste, Michael Schumacher remains in a coma. More details have emerged from the accident, according to a spokesman from Albertville France, "At one point, his skis struck the top of a rock slightly visible above the snow. He loses his balance and his body falls ahead of the rock. His head hits a rock located approximately 3.5 meters below. The first rock and the second one that he hit with his head are eight meters away from the border of the ski trail." Fortunately Schumacher was wearing a helmet. Although it shattered, it probably saved his life...Burke Mountain Vermont has officially changed its name to Q-Burke Mountain. Why? Well it seems some guy named Ary Quiros is now in charge, and he wants everybody to know it. Hannah Collins, marketing and events manager at the resort, said Thursday that Quiros's appointment "does not impact the existing staff here at Burke." Wanna bet on that Hannah? Tim McGuire, the vice president and general manager at Burke, said Thursday, "This really does not change my role at all as general manager of the resort..." Uh, Tim? Hannah? I applaud your optimism, but you forgot the Q. It's Q-Burke now.

9 Janaury 2014 9" of fresh overnight at Snowbird means a good day in Little Cottonwood Canyon...Magic Mountain Vermont is planning to open from the summit this weekend, with a single groomed route. That sounds like a setback, and it is, but the Magic faithful know it's still an awesome value and there's plenty of season ahead...I keep talking about Anthony Lakes in the Pac northwest, and I think the rest of the region must hate me because Anthony Lakes got another 10" of new snow yesterday while many others are staring at rocks...back to Vermont, I pick on Stratton a lot but fact is they've weathered this weather very well, will have 80 "trails" open this weekend...midwest biggie Lutsen Mountains in Minnesota is in great shape. Don't be misled by today's report, trail and lift counts are way down because Moose Mountain is closed today for maintenance....sad to report that Tony Seibert, 24, grandson of Vail founder Peter Seibert Sr., was killed, and three others were injured in an out-of-bounds avalanche on the East Vail chutes near Vail Pass...A skier named Ward Smith was skiing at Timberline Lodge Oregon two years ago yesterday (1/8/12) when he says he was clobbered from behind by Victor Desimone. He's suing Desimone for $1.4 million. Suit says he broke his leg in multiple places and suffered torn knee cartilage, traumatic compartment syndrome, arthritis and a skin infection, among other injuries...Royal Gorge XC is the latest Tahoe area resort to shut down due to lack of real change in the condition of retired F1 legend Michael Schumacher, critically hurt in a recent crash at Meribel. Investigators have ruled out faulty skis and conditions. Looks like this thing was a freak accident...first downhill training run results in from the ladies at Altenmarkt/Zauchensee have Anna Fenninger ahead of Lara Gut, Tina Maze, Maria Hoefl-Riesch, Dominique Gisin, and Tina Weirather in that order.

8 January 2014 2" fresh snow overnight at Steamboat and Howelsen is keeping people in Steamboat Springs smiling...not many people smiling in the Pac NW, especially not at southern Cascade throwback area Ashland, which has 2" at the summit and igneous at the base. One of the few places they aren't complaining is Anthony Lakes, which has a 4' base on the mountain plus 30k of nordic open...back east, whatever the freeze/thaw/freeze thing is going on, it's wreaking havoc in New England for the areas with minimal or no snowmaking. Mad River Glen down to beginner terrain, Magic Mountain is uncertain what they'll have this weekend. Across the river in New Hampshire it seems to be a lot better; small but mighty Black Mountain in Jackson has about 70 percent of its terrain open, and Black is not exactly a snowmaking powerhouse. Up the notch at Wildcat where the snowmaking also tends to sputter, they've still got at least one route open from the top and quite a few from the Tomcat triple, so obviously NH & Maine weren't hit as hard as NY & VT. On the other side of the White Mountains -- and at the other extreme of snowmaking -- is Loon Mountain , and they're at 95 percent open. Another thing about Loon this winter is they've got an "ice castle" which they light up at night and it's pretty neat. Photo understand that the Vermont resorts with good snowmaking are just fine; Stratton has been hammering their pumps for the past 36 hours straight...while we're in the northeast, worth mentioning that the US Freestyle Cup is headed to Whiteface/Lake Placid next week, beginning with moguls competition Weds 15th, aerials this weekend. Iceface has some good ticket deals to go along with this freestyle event...that's not to be confused with the event going on this weekend at Breckenridge, the "Sprint Freeskiing Grand Prix presented by The North Face" -- whatever the hell that means -- which is the halfpipe and slopestyle stuff, aka freeskiing. Breckenridge/ Freesking, Whiteface/ Freestyle. In case you want to know the difference. Personally I wonder what went on when Sprint and North Face were duking it out over who would get the front end and who would get the back end. On second thought I don't really care...Snowbird has a great program called the Utah Adventure Journal Speaker Series, shapes up like this:

Jan. 9 Noah Howell: Skiing The Wasatch
Jan. 23 Chris Davenport: Mt. Everest - Managing Risk From The Top of the World
Feb. 6 Andrew McLean: Powered Up - Kite Assisted Steep Skiing in Baffin Island and Patagonia
Feb. 20 Kevin Fedarko: Beneath the River of Shooting Stars
Mar. 6 Geoffrey Tabin: Impossible Dreams - The East Face of Everest and Eradicating World Blindness
Mar. 20 Dennis Turville: First Descents - A History of Canyoneering
Apr. 3 Liam Fitzgerald: Avalanche Control in the Backcountry the Wildflower Lounge at the Bird, and each presentation is free! They got drink specials, donation raffles, it's cool. Only drawback is you have to be 21 to enter. But also pleased to report that Snowbird has a different program for children of all ages; every Wednesday and Sunday the Bird puts on a free ski & ride movie in the Aerie room at The Cliff Lodge...If the US Ski Team has announced a replacement for Lindsey Vonn in Sochi, I haven't seen it in their usual flurry of press releases...Here's the aforementioned ice castle:

"Ice Castle" at Loon Mountain, NH

Readers of this column deserve my personal thanks with a free "Old School" sticker for your helmet, or your board, or whatever. Just e-mail your mailing address to sticker -at- gondyline -dot- com and say "send me a snowboard sticker" or "send me a ski sticker" or "send me a ski sticker and a board stickers for my sister" or whatever. They look like this:

Use this to get Lift Tickets at Discount: There is a "clearinghouse" of sorts that many ski areas use to raise cash by selling discount tickets in advance, called Liftopia . If you haven't used this service, it is usually best to know for certain that you are going on a specific date. The deeply discounted tickets must be purchased in advance; generally up to two days out. The sticking point is that some ski resorts only make a limited number of tickets available to Liftopia for any given day, so they might be sold out if you wait too, as soon as you are absolutely, positively sure that you will be skiing on a certain day, click this link to get deeply discounted tickets . I've used this service many times, usually when I am absolutely certain I will be skiing on a specific date. Some resorts offer "flex" tickets with which you can specify the date, and some have a few different tiers of pricing. In other words, you might be able to get a lift ticket that can be used on different days, but you'll pay a little more for that privilege. You need to have access to a printer to print out your receipt, and you have to take identification with you to the mountain. I've knocked a third off -- even half off -- the price of some tickets. Not every area participates, but it's well worth checking before you head to the slopes.

A tiny portion of your Liftopia purchase helps fund this website, at no added cost.

7 January 2014 OK here goes, stop the presses: Lindsey Vonn has bowed out of the upcoming Sochi games. In her own words: I am devastated to announce that I will not be able to compete in Sochi. I did everything I possibly could to somehow get strong enough to overcome having no ACL but the reality has sunk in that my knee is just too unstable to compete at this level. I'm having surgery soon so that I can be ready for the World Championships at home in Vail next February. On a positive note, this means there will be an additional spot so that one of my teammates can go for gold. Thank you all so much for all of the love and support. I will be cheering for all of the Olympians and especially team USA! that's that. On behalf of race fans everywhere, we wish Linz a rapid recovery....Snow, followed by rain and soaring temps, followed by bitter cold. That's the story through the east and midwest, which means business as usual in those parts of the country...far worse deal in Washington State, where places like Summit at Snoqualmie are waiting for snow...rough news out of Tahoe; Heavenly for example is at 20 percent open, Northstar at 30 percent, Donner Ski Ranch covered with rocks and closed...similar bad deal in New Mexico for Pajarito, operating on a limited schedule while the rest of the NM resorts are doing pretty darn well. Let's hope things turn around for these places...different story altogether in Southern Cal, well not altogether different, let's just say different. There's no natural snow to speak of, but plenty of cold nights such that Snow Summit and Bear Mountain at Big Bear Lake, Snow Valley near Running Springs, and Mountain High near Wrightwood are all open with great conditions on their snowmaking trails -- but nobody is showing up to ski and board on them! Natural snow has been non-existent, so I guess the "backyard" syndrome even extends to Southern California...quite a different deal in the northeast today, yes I mean different: Places are 100% covered but closed due to temps and high winds....Mad River Glen VT led the charge to shut down completely yesterday. They re-opened today, but with limited terrain and limited temps...southern VT Mount Snow is always a good indicator. They're at 56 percent open but wind holds on many sections...Titus Mountain way upstate NY is shut for dangerous winds and cold...other than the aforementioned glitches, ski season is in full swing and as always I know some folks who are chained to their timeshare week, while other people are renting unused weeks for a song. Please, please, please think twice before you agree to sit through a timeshare presentation -- it ain't worth the free lift tickets. Anybody who says so hasn't done the ownership at Montage Pennsylvania seems to be turning things around nicely. They're doing a bunch of creative discount deals and are currently operating at 100 percent, closing trails only for daytime snowmaking...have I mentioned that southern NH's sizable Pat's Peak has opened the new Cascade Basin section? New triple chair spun back in December. Section is closed today for snowmaking, expect it re-opened for the weekend...back to those dangerous winds and temperatures for a final thought: I don't get to say this very often. In fact, never, but here goes. Best place to ski in the east today? Cloudmont ALABAMA! Yee-haw! This little golf course slope has their best conditions in years, cold enough that they could do a really nice job with the fan guns, but their patrons are nowhere near as cold as the poor bastards skiing at Killington today. So if you have a choice, head for Cloudmont!

6 January 2014 Word from New Mexico is Sandia Peak is closed today thru Thursday, and will reopen with normal operating hours on Friday Jan 10...very, very pleased to report that Adirondack natural-only, surface lift-only area Hickory was open this past weekend. The Warrensburg mountain wasn't able to open at all last season...World Cup news Mikaela Shiffrin won the womens' technical event in Bormio yesterday; the men took the course this morning and Marcel Hirscher claimed the top spot. No surprise in either case. The women head to Altenmarkt/Zauchensee for speed events, while the men are off to Adelboden for GS. Aksel-Lund Svindall maintains the overall men's lead. The women's overall is much more interesting at this point; going first to third, Maria Hoefl-Riesch, Tina Weirather and Anna Fenninger are all within 14 points of each other. Swiss speedster Andrea Dettling suffered a broken leg while training in Santa Caterina Italy Saturday morning, underwent surgery in St. Moritz. She'll be out for at least a year...private jet crash at Aspen Airport claimed the life of Sergio Emilio Carranza Barbata, 54, of Mexico. The flight originated in Mexico and refueled in Tucson, fueling rumors that the passengers were from Arizona. Another occupant is in critical condition, while a third is listed as fair. All three men were pilots. The aircraft was a Canadair CL600 and was making its second landing attempt. Plane rolled over, burst into flames. Spokesman says the injuries were not related to the fire...speaking of Aspen, the travel site was recently involved in a lawsuit between present owners and the estate of the founder, but the Pitkin County judge has sealed the case so we don't know what happened or what was involved. was the outgrowth of a very successful Aspen travel company...New York's Greek Peak Resort is going to smash a bottle of champagne on their new "Visions Express" chairlift this Thursday morning. Well, ribbon cutting anyway, but I think the champagne would be more fun.

3 January 2014 New Year's torchlight parades are standard procedure at many ski areas these days, so they are hardly newsworthy, except I want to mention the event a couple days ago at Bristol Mountain in New York. Bristol dedicated this one to longtime Mountain Manager, Ken Keenan, who passed away this past summer. Fitting tribute to a man who gave a lot to the of the day has to be the storm that has hit the eastern part of the country; natural snow locales like Mad River Glen VT have gone from also-rans to heros overnight. MRG has all but the legendary Paradise "trail"'s a rundown, north to south, east to west...Wildcat Mountain New Hampshire has had issues with snowmaking this year, more so than usual, but as of today they've got everything open except for Lynx and a few related routes...Mount Snow VT has dropped the ropes on all but one or two of its natural snow trails...New York's Belleayre is running about 90%, and south of that Mountain Creek has all but a couple key black diamonds open; the well known Pipeline is among those still roped Pennsy, Elk Mountain has everything but a long natural snow novice route open; Whitetail is virtually 100%, everything but the half the mid-Atlantic, Wintergreen VA is about 60%, snowguns firing all over the mountain; Snowshoe WV is about 90% open, still waiting for the Shoe to open the legendary Shay's Revenge...the other Mad River - the one in Ohio - picked up half a foot yesterday with 23 of 24 trails's a chilly nine degrees at Paoli Peaks Indiana; they've got everything open except for the terrain parks, which are being re-snowed and re-worked Michigan, small but mighty Ski Brule is 100% with glorious conditions...across the lake in Minnesota, Spirit Mountain has a chair down, but is otherwise 100% open...Wisconsin's Grand Geneva is covered in white, conditions are the Dakotas, Terry Peak has 100% of terrain open, conditions are glorious, and while every chair is full the lines aren't bad today...Wyoming's Grand Targhee has 98% of lift-served terrain open...Colorado is very good, but not altogether great - Arapahoe Basin has most of the front side open, but has yet to drop the ropes on East Wall and Montezuma. My personal Colorado fave Ski Cooper is 100% but for the Treeline Terrain Utah, reborn Eagle Point down in Elk Meadows has about 85% of terrain open. Conditions are fantastic and unfortunately the place is practically empty. It's a well kept secret trying to get back on its feet and deserves our support...Flagstaff's wonderful Arizona Snow Bowl has more than 90% of its terrain open, 6 of 6 lifts turning, and 26 beautifully groomed runs. Wish I was there....Southern Cal's Bear Mountain has re-opened and is serving up great snow...beautiful sunny day at Mt Rose in Tahoe; "front" side is good but Slide Bowl and Chutes need more not so good from Mt Hood Ski Bowl; they've got a couple rope tows going but nothing else, desperately need more snow...and to wrap this all up, Mission Ridge in WA has it a little better than others in the Pac NW, running most of its lifts but keeping some runs closed to preserve the base...oh my, did I neglect Dixieland? OK, Ober Gatlinburg has snow, and they're making more, and conditions are situation normal, all fouled up. See photo below...FIS World Cup action scheduled for Zagreb Croatia has been re-scheduled for Bormio Italy. Both men and women will be running slalom races...and in Olympic news, Russian dictator -- sorry, President -- Vladimir Putin is on his way to Sochi to test out the slopes....have a great weekend, get on those skis! See photos below...

Paoli Peaks Indiana beginner slope, Friday morning

Ober Gatlinburg Tennessee, Friday afternoon. If you can run the gauntlet of snowguns, you can probably weave your way through all the bodies.

2 January 2014 Biggest news in the ski world barely a blip in US news reports, 7-time Formula One Champion Michael Schumacher was nearly killed a couple days ago skiing off piste in Meribel, France, where he owns a chalet and skis regularly. He fell and hit his head on a rock, which split his helmet apart. Shumacher has had two operations since the accident and remains in a coma in Grenoble; prognosis is uncertain...couple backcountry avalanche deaths last week. Michael Kazanjy, 29-year-old snowboarder was killed by an avalanche just outside Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Tuesday a skier was killed in backcountry of Colorado's Grand County...the season is shaping up nicely in most of the USA, plenty of snow in the west, upper midwest, northeast, southwest. Everywhere but western part of Washington State; Summit at Snoqualmie Pass has yet to open, almost three weeks past its average open date. Alpental is also scrambling to get something open...word from Bloomington MN is that the city council has approved a $14.2 millioin dollar expansion for Hyland Ski and Snowboard Area, which is great to hear. Usually city council have no clue to the value their little ski hills provide; nice to see Bloomington understands the value of Hyland...other news from Minnesota, 17-year-old Dan Mannon of Wisconsin was boarding at Afton Alps this weekend, suffered a heart attack while waiting in line for chair 4. Fortunately for Mannon, Washington County sheriff's deputy Shane Linehan was in line next to him, and recognized that the young boarder was in deep trouble. Linehan checked for a pulse, found none, and was quickly joined by ski instructor Kevin Neubauer. The two men began CPR and were joined shortly by Afton Alps general manager Joe Yasis who brought along a defibrillator. They gave Mannon a jump start, and he recovered in a nearby hospital. Doctors say Linehan, Neubauer and Yasis saved Mannon's life. Kudos to these men and all who assisted. Kudos also to Mannon; the 17-year-old said he wants to get back on his board as soon as he can...wanted to put up a photo of Afton Alps, give you some idea what sort of ski area it is. It's one of those smallish midwestern resorts with a lot of horizontal, but not much vertical. So I found a photo, but it was, feh. Well Afton Alps is now owned by Vail, and recently Lindsey Vonn paid a visit to Afton Alps at the behest of one of her big sponsors. So here's my idea of a great photo from Afton Alps...

1 January 2014 Happy New Year!

Archival News

News from Summer 2013 through the end of December 2013 is located here. News from January 2013 through the end of the season in April 2013 is available by clicking here.News from October 2012 through the end of December 2012 is available by clicking here. News from January 2012 to the dismal end of the season is located here.
News from January thru December 2011 is located here.
News prior to January 2011 is located on the Oct/Nov/Dec 2010 page. Previous season and earlier news has been deleted and moved to the old "skiernet" news archive from 2009-2010, or for 2008 and older seasons click here.

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Use this to get Lift Tickets at Discount: There is a "clearinghouse" of sorts that many ski areas use to raise cash by selling discount tickets in advance, called Liftopia . If you haven't used this service, it is usually best to know for certain that you are going on a specific date. The deeply discounted tickets must be purchased in advance; generally up to two days out. The sticking point is that some ski resorts only make a limited number of tickets available to Liftopia for any given day, so they might be sold out if you wait too, as soon as you are absolutely, positively sure that you will be skiing on a certain day, click this link to get deeply discounted tickets . I've used this service many times, usually when I am absolutely certain I will be skiing on a specific date. Some resorts offer "flex" tickets with which you can specify the date, and some have a few different tiers of pricing. In other words, you might be able to get a lift ticket that can be used on different days, but you'll pay a little more for that privilege. You need to have access to a printer to print out your receipt, and you have to take identification with you to the mountain. I've knocked a third off -- even half off -- the price of some tickets. Not every area participates, but it's well worth checking before you head to the slopes.

A tiny portion of your Liftopia purchase helps fund this website, at no added cost.

Ski Movies for Mere Mortals

Did you ever feel like those big money ski movies are often a big let-down? You get all pumped up for the new release from some ski film company, and it's mostly incredible footage of guys jumping out of helicopters and shredding down some un-named mountain on the far side of the globe. They're neck deep in powder, skiing lines that you'll never, ever see. If you want ski movies you could actually relate to, a bunch of guys called The Meatheads, from Burlington, VT have made a series of "Ski The East" films. They film at real resorts like Sugarloaf, Blue Mountain, Big Boulder, Mount Snow, Ski Sundown, Stowe, Jay, Mountain Creek, Killington, Sunday River...urban locations ranging from Virginia to Quebec...mogul skiing with The Hammer and Radio Ron...and backcountry throughout New York, New England, and the Chic Chocs. It's simply fantastic -- and since it's the same terrain we can get to, it's inspirational!

Their most popular current release is No Matter What , which received the ski equivalent of an Oscar for the Jay Peak powder segment, filmed during 2012 of all things. One that is probably their best is from a year ago, called Prime Cut . Another favorite is Wanderland: An East Coast Ski Thriller. All Meatheads DVDs have hours of "bonus" footage, so it's like getting three ski movies for the price of one. The links go to, which enables you to order and return if you don't like them. And a small percentage of the sale helps us pay the expenses of this website, at no extra cost to you.

Here's a preview, courtesy Youtube...