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Archive: Skiing & Ski Area News 2009-2010 Season
hosted by Rick Bolger . with correspondents throughout the world
4/9/10 Sorry to say this will be our final report for the 2010 season...things are winding down in the east, as Belleayre, Mount Snow, Stratton and the rest of the usual suspects will bang it up after this weekend. Okemo is running lefts today, then done. In Maine, Saddleback delayed opening this morning due to rain, but it and neighbor (well, neighbors in terms of Maine) Sugarloaf will still have some of the finest terrain in the east this weekend...the south will rise again this weekend, not the way it did back then of course, but in the form of Cataloochee in NC, which will definitely reopen tomorrow and Sunday...midwest isn't done yet, as Lutsen will be spinning the lifts this weekend, and if the snow gets too slushy you can turn your lift ticket in for a discounted round of golf later in the day. That should be a pretty good indicator that the season is done...of course the western areas are saying not so fast; Vail is running at midwinter levels and Aspen extended the season, but both will be done shortly. Alta is still under a few feet of fresh, and Snowbird now has enough that they'll probably run well into June. Our favorite Powder Mountain was absolutely plastered this week, but alas, interest has waned and they'll be done this weekend. In MT, Big Sky will spin lifts this weekend then shutter til next season...Again, we're signing off for the 09-10 season, but if you're really needing the white stuff, Mammoth CA just announced that it will be open until July 4th. And of course there's always Timberline.
3/30/10 In Michigan, Boyne and Nub's Nob plan to be open through Easter. Nub's still has plenty of decent snow on 28 runs. At Boyne, they made a little snow to fill in some gaps recently; first time in the resort's history they made snow on the mountain and watered the golf course at the same time...Rain is the story in the east, but a couple of resorts are seeing mixed precip and cold temps, so the rain is doing less damage than expected. Saddleback is closed again today, but should be in great shape for the weekend. Likewise, Wildcat has so much snow that they are starting to make rumblings about weekends through April -- and possibly into May. Even Windham still has 100% of terrain open, although their Catskill location won't be as protected as the White Mountain areas...sad news from Bennington VT where Green Mountain College is going to shelve its alpine racing team, citing increasing costs and just five participants in the past season.
3/29/10 Season winding down in many ways, although you wouldn't know it from this past weekend in some parts of the country. New England in particular had a nice last hurrah; reports from Sugarbush and even Mount Snow had mucho snow and even hardpack on some trails. Mount Snow, in fact, predicts no trouble staying open until their April 11 planned closing....From Lake Tahoe we have the following closing updates: Diamond Peak, Homewood, Tahoe Donner, Boreal all closing on the 11th of April; Alpine Meadows, Mt. Rose, Northstar-at-Tahoe will bang it up on the 18th; Kirkwood, Sugar Bowl, Heavenly all planning on April 25th, while Squaw Valley is going to stretch for May 9. Only one that hasn't weighed in yet is Sierra-at-Tahoe...speaking of California, they've moved a mandatory youth helmet bill past committee in the state house...earlier this season we reported that Sleeping Giant was reopening in WY; folks from that neck of the woods say that the first new season was quite successful despite a less than cooperative effort from Ol' Man Winter....Britt Janyk won the overall title at the Canadian National Championships this weekend. Emily Brydon won the Super G event and then announced her retirement. Although she was disappointed by her effort in the Olympics, Brydon can hold her head high with nine podium finishes including a Super G victory (at St. Moritz) after a decade on the World Cup tour. But more than that, Brydon has started a movement to put disadvantaged kids on the slopes. 23 youths skied every weekend at Fernie this season thanks to Emily's efforts....US Nationals just completed at Whiteface where it's no surprise that Julia Mancuso took the ladies' GS title, the 11th of her career. This pushed Super Jules ahead of legendary Andrea Mead Lawrence for total career titles. If you have any doubts that she should be wearing that tiara, put 'em to rest now. Speaking of great American racers, Kaylin Richardson announced that she was retiring after the Nationals. Sarah Schleper and Tommy Ford won the slalom crowns, and Meghan McJames won the womens' combined. Men's events are set to resume today, but weather may say otherwise. Keely Kelleher and Travis Ganong won Saturday's Super G titles....Did we mention that right before this showcase event for American skiing, US Ski Team chief Bill Marolt was arrested in Park City UT for DUI? Oh well...back to New England, quite a few resorts have mucho snow but are closed today due to weather. Saddleback has plenty of cover but will be shuttered today and tomorrow. Stratton has some 70 trails open despite the deluge. Much of the Green Mountain areas received snow last night prior to the rain, and temps there are much cooler than the northeast urban areas. So we expect the mountains to be open nicely for Easter weekend, but the crowds will be gone.
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3/24/10 States that begin with the letter M, with apologies to Alex Trebek...Snowing at Sugarloaf and some flakes and mixed precip falling here and there on higher elevations in New England. The 'Loaf calls itself "The King of Spring" with good reason...what is Maine...Lutsen has taken a hit from the temps, but still has 80 percent of terrain open, with plenty of whales in reserve...what is Minnesota...Five inches of fresh at Big Sky, which is still fully open...what is Montana...Although Snow Creek has been shuttered for a while, sister resort Hidden Valley was looking to spin the lifts one more time this weekend. Unfortunately temps have been uncooperative, so they're done for the season...what is Missouri...Nordic area is long gone, but about half of the alpine terrain is still open this weekend at Wisp...what is Maryland...Ski Brule has two of its chairs spinning and plenty of snow. Pine Mountain and Boyne Highlands are done for the season, but Boyne Mt is still going strong on about 60 percent of its terrain. Rugged Mt Bohemia, relying on natural pow, appears to be done for the season barring a surprise storm...what is Michigan...Answer? the daily double! This state was named for the Chippewa phrase mici zibi meaning "gathering of waters." Mississippi is correct.
3/19/10 Pennsy's popular Blue Mountain will be open this weekend for one final shebang...NY's Windham has deeply discounted tix for the balance of the season...VT's Mount Snow and Okemo are both still at 100% of terrain.
3/18/10 More ski areas announcing longer runs... Cataloochee in North Carolina will ski into April this season, it will close during weekdays but will be open March 27-28 and April 3-4...Camelback PA made the surprise announcement that it still has 100% terrain open. Not bad considering temps in the Poconos have soared into the 60s this week...resort business in Colorado and Utah was up (I suppose) an infintesimal 0.03 percent (that's three-hundredths of one percent, not a typo) according to analysts...Squaw Valley will be hosting the US Freestyle championship March 27-28; Olympic champion Hannah Kearney and bronze medalists Bryon Wilsonand Shannon Bahrke will be working the bumps.
3/17/10 Great news in Oregon; Mount Bachelor announced that it will provide skiing and snowboarding through May 16, with tix at $49....The alpine coaster thing at Breckenridge received municipal approval last night...Utah's Wolf Creek closed for the season yesterday; Beaver Mt announced that it will bang it up next weekend. Sundance will be done on April 4; Brian Head, The Canyons, Deer Valley, Park City, Pow Mow will close April 11, while Alta, Snowbasin, Solitude will hold out until the 18th. That leaves Brighton, which ain't saying.
3/16/10 Hear ye, hear ye, midwest fave Ski Brule turned on the snow guns last night. Temps dipped into the 20s, and they fired 'em up. Now that's what I'm talking about...Crystal Mountain in WA is offering half price tix to college students, teachers, and competitive passholders for the balance of the season...This weekend CA Sugar Bowl and Homewood have $25 fundraiser tix, some have to be purchased in advance...Biggest thing on the U.S. ski scene today is weather, warm in the east and midwest, which doesn't help after the liquid precipitation this weekend. Even Maine got hit with monsoon conditions, but we're pleased to report from Saddleback that all trails are open and all lifts spinning. Moving southward through the east, we find NH Attitash with all but a few glades and such open, VT Mount Snow at 100% open, MA Wachusett in excellent shape, although small but mighty Blue Hills near Boston has banged it up for the season. NY has Belleayre with all but Cathedral Brook and some connectors open -- even the XC trails are still in good shape there. NJ has Mountain Creek down to one hill, while Hidden Valley is shuttered but trying to move snow around and may spin lifts tomorrow. Pennsy's Elk Mountain is in fine shape, but operations at Bear Creek, Liberty, Round Top and Whitetail have closed for the season. VA has Wintergreen still offering some excellent skiing, although they're on a reduced schedule; they're making a lot of noise about something called "golf" which makes no sense to me. Looking to the midwest, Ohio's Brandywine got clobbered by the rain, but hopes to have something available on Sunday. Sister resort Boston Mills came out a little better; ops are shoring up the snow for re-opening with an end-of-season bash on Saturday. All of these reports are tentative and tenuous; the mercury is climbing right now and we don't expect to see any cold temps until end of next week...sad news to report; a young girl from Texas was killed by a fall Sunday on the Latigo trail at Beaver Creek, and a high school boy from Edmonton was killed at Panorama yesterday morning. Both skiers were wearing helmets, both hit trees...Breckenridge will present a plan for a winter/summer alpine "coaster" to the town of Breckenridge Planning Commission tonight. The planned ride is believed to be 2500' long with a 300' vertical drop...
3/12/10 News from the FIS World Cup scene in Garmisch-Partenkirchen where unstoppable Lindsey Vonn won the Super G final, thus garnering the globe for that discipline (no surprise) and mathematically clinching her third consecutive women's overall title. If you don't yet know it, she's unquestionably the top American female ski racer of all time, and easily on the list of all-time greats. On the men's side, Carlo Janka won the GS race, and in doing so put himself mathematically out of reach for the overall title ahead of Benni Raich. Janka becomes the first Swiss skier since Paul Accola in 1992 to win the overall. Speaking of Swiss skiers, remember Daniel Albrecht's nasty training run crash on the final jump at Kitzbühel last year? He was in an induced coma for weeks after suffering life-threatening brain and lung injuries. Well we're pleased to report that Albrecht was one of the forerunners for today's GS event. "It was like therapy, to see how it all works out, what happens," said Albrecht after the run. He also joked that he would like to take Janka's globe next year. Albrecht does, in fact, plan to return for the 2011 campaign if he's ready. We're glad to see him back on his feet, as were race fans, who gave his forerunning effort an ovation equal to Janka's winning run. More great news out of that race was Ted Ligety's 4th place finish, which gave him the most GS points for the season, so Shred Ted will be carrying home the crystal globe for that discipline....as we've reported, less-than-optimum conditions at some of the Colorado resorts -- combined with recession-weary travelers who are staying home -- has led to a four percent decline in skier visits so far this season...Taos, on the other hand, has been dumped on again, almost three feet over the past couple days. There might be something better in life than skiing in pow under New Mexico sunshine, but I can't think of what it would be...in New York state, Whiteface will let you ski for $35 on Sunday, so at least you New Yorkers won't get soaked at the ticket window. US Alpine championships are scheduled for Iceface next weekend. Julia Mancuso and the aforementioned World Giant Slalom Champion Ted Ligety are slated to compete...rain expected throughout the northeast this weekend, which should pretty much end things in the southern reaches of MA, NY, NJ, PA, VA, etc. Nice bases at the Vermont, Catskill, and some NH areas should survive the deluge. We'll let you know.
3/10/10 Ketchum ID man Jeff Ogden, 53, smacked a tree in the Cold Springs area of Baldy Mt at Sun Valley this weekend. Ogden is in critical condition in a Boise hospital...Arizona Snowbowl is in the news again, but this time for manmade snow, not the recent dump they're still enjoying. Snowbowl owners have been in a struggle with the USDA and local tribes over using treated water for snowmaking. The tribes say it desecrates their sacred peaks -- never mind the fact that they do the same thing at their ski area/casino operation. (Apparently only some peaks are affected by reclaimed water, and the gods have no problem with gambling). In any case, the city of Flagstaff was trying to come up with a way to percolate the water through the ground, then siphon off snowmaking water from the city's aquifer. This would be fine, except it adds a thoroughly unnecessary $11 million to the cost of the process. Flagtown was discussing this on the down low, but now the lid is off and everybody is bent out of shape....Lindsey Vonn finished 2nd to Maria Riesch at the Garmisch-Partenkirchen downhill today, which gives Vonn the downhill globe for the season. Riesch only made a small gain on the overall standings. Carlo Janka won the mens event. Didier Cuche finished 8th, which was enough to clinch the seasonal downhill title on the men's side.
3/9/10 News from the FIS World Cup scene is that aging and oft-injured Scott Macartney retired immediately following Kvitfjell last weekend. Scotty Mac made this announcement on Facebook of all things, so it was slow to make the news. Although a talented racer with two podiums in his career, Macartney will best be remembered for his go big or go home crash at Kitzbuehl in 2008 that left him in a spasmodic heap at the finish line. Scotty Mac, thanks for the memories, and we wish you well...we reported earlier that Bode Miller was going to return to the tour for Garmisch-Partenkirchen, but the enigmatic one has decided that he's going to chill with his daughter Dacey. In typical Bode fashion, he says he might be retired, he might not...speaking of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, World Cup finals racing begins Wednesday with women's downhill. Ted Ligety will be skiing in all disciplines, Jimmy Cochran in slalom, and Marco Sullivan is qualified for the speed events but may bow out due to injuries. As for the women, Lindsey Vonn and Julia Mancuso are qualified for all disciplines. The schedule goes through Sunday...more lost skiers turn up, this time in Minturn Colorado where a father and son were lost overnight after wandering off the Minturn Mile. The lesson here is that if you're going to go trekking in unfamiliar territory, do so in March when the nighttime temps are much more user friendly. If you scroll back to December you'll see most of those folks don't fare so well....not a huge fan of the whole Vail monstrosity, but you have to give credit where credit is due; the resort is working with the local Vail Rotary Club on a really neat fundraiser this Saturday -- Vail Poker. The idea is that skiers buy a game card from the Rotarians, then ski and collect five single cards at various locations around the mountain. Skiers with the best poker hands at the end of the day win various prizes, including passes donated by Vail. The money raised will be used for all sorts of charitable causes supported by the Rotary Club. Kudos to Vail for this one.
3/8/10 Go southwest, young man: Half a foot of new snow means that Arizona Snow Bowl in Flagstaff is having arguably its best year ever, open 100% with tree skiing, bowls, you name it. I've been saying for years that this is one of the most under-rated big mountain ski areas in the country; a fantastic value with no liftlines and an incredible setting...word out of Summit County is that Arapahoe Basin will be replacing that triple that services the mid-mountain from the base area; a high-speed quad is scheduled to be installed this summer....Speaking of lifts, Montana's Bridger Bowl is replacing two of its doubles with a triple....and last but not least from the Poconos, Shawnee Peak is supposedly juggling some lifts around, and will end up with a high speed quad. Not sure of the wisdom of dumping bodies every few seconds at the top of 700ish vert...Lindsey Vonn continues to roll on, winning the downhill and second in the Super G at Crans Montana this weekend; Swiss star Dominque Gisin won the latter, which saw Julia Mancuso round out the podium. Vonn has won the downhill globe no question, probably has the combined locked up, and is currently 250 points ahead of friend/rival Maria Riesch for the women's overall...Utah's mighty Snowbasin is doing a retro ski day on March 21...spring is showing up mighty quickly in the east, but we can say for sure that the central and northern VT/NH/NY areas are still skiing mighty well. Had an opportunity to look in on our favorite neighborhood area this weekend, tiny Living Memorial in Brattleboro VT has fabulous coverage and the kids were ripping some old fashioned hand-made jumps, night skiing on Friday...local Aksel Lund Svindal and Swiss Tobias Gruenenfelder tied for third in the Super-G at Kvitfjell yesterday; Canada's Erik Guay grabbed top spot after Didier Cuche DQ'd. Austrian Hannes Reichelt was second...good news from Washington's Crystal Mountain where two missing Vermonters were found after wandering off in the wrong direction this weekend.
3/5/10 We keep looking at New England, which is going to enjoy the best all-around skiing conditions of the season. Today and tomorrow calls for bluebird skies, temps in the 30s and higher, and just about every area reporting 100% open. If we had to pick a best-of-the-best right now, that would have to be Wildcat...The FIS World Cup circus is back in action this weekend, with one notable exception: Bode Miller is sitting it out. Word is he's just resting, and plans to rejoin the gents when the show goes to Garmisch. This weekend the men are in Kvitfjell while the women ski in Crans-Montana. Mickey Walchhofer has to be a favorite in Norway, while Lindsey Vonn is virtually unstoppable at the Swiss venue.
3/2/10 Good news FINALLY in New Hampshire, which has been running on fumes for the past two months. Snow, snow, beautiful snow finally fell, dumping a foot at Cannon and Bretton Woods, and two feet at the summit of throwback Black Mountain. Speaking of throwbacks, any New Englanders reading this ought to make the effort to ski Tenney in Plymouth, NH, which is now 100% open thanks to the recent snows. One nice deal in NH right now is the season pass at Attitash, where if you buy for next year you get to finish out this one gratis...outstanding conditions throughout Vermont as well, where rumors of rain only apply to the valleys. Even weather-handicapped Magic Mountain got plenty of pow and is skiing beautifully. As for places like Sugarbush and Mad River, forget it, conditions rival those in Colorado...Plattekill was the big winner in the Catskills snowfall, grabbing some four and five feet! That's not to belittle Belleayre, Windham or Hunter, all of which got slammed as well this past weekend. Moving down the east coast, the storm left snow here and there, but we are starting to see spring conditions just about everwhere south of the Catskills...Back to Windham, that mountain is trying to set a new record for a torchlit ski run this weekend; check out their website here for details on how you can participate...moving around a bit, we checked in with our friends at Michigan's friendly Ski Brule and found 4" of fresh...further north, Mt Bohemia got a foot of fresh a couple days back, skiing nicely in their infamous trees...in Colorado, our fave Ski Cooper is on four feet of powder at mid-mountain, 100% open and skiing on packed pow throughout...it's snowing at Mt Rose Ski Tahoe, and we'll remind you that they offer "2-fer Tuesdays" today....up in Montana Big Sky is reporting a bluebird day, all 2800 acres open....and finally, some sad news from Union County, OR where the body of a missing 13 year old skier was found yesterday. Nathan Cain of Walla had disappeared Saturday during a skiing trip in the Umatilla National Forest in Oregon. Cain became separated from his group near the Andies Prairie Sno-Park; he was found 1.75 miles from there by a volunteer on a snowmobile. Our thoughts and prayers are with Nathan's family.
3/1/10 Big winner at the Olympics has to be Bode Miller, who did a 180 on his troubled time in Turin. By showing up as Mr. Happy-Just-To-Be-Here-Nice-Guy -- then grabbing three medals -- Bode re-wrote his chapter in Olympic history. He certainly stands as not only one of the greatest U.S. skiers of all time, but as one of the best all time period...unfortunately Lindsey Vonn didn't quite come away with the same dose of positive publicity, as she and teammate Julia Mancuso managed to get into a snit despite winning two medals apiece. I've always said you can't have two prom queens at the same school. Hopefully Vonn will have a strong finish to the World Cup season, and some more positive TV time in the states. I don't know who handles these ladies, but they both could've leaped quickly past this snafu by appearing in the closing ceremonies. Unfortunately I don't think the Cup schedule permits such pleasantries.
2/25/10 Speaking of Olympics, got a cool event coming up in Cali at Dodge Ridge, called the 2010 California Senior Winter Games, March 11 - 14, Men and women ages 50+ are encouraged to participate in various events spread over the four days, including skiing, snowboarding and cross country skiing...off topic a little bit, seems the Korean womens short track skating team was really ripped off yesterday. And in case you were moaning about the American ladies falling so far behind, it's because one of the skaters had to put the brakes on to keep from crashing into one ahead (it was one of those things that happen on short track) This wasn't even mentioned by the TV announcers, for some unknown reason. OK, so USA got bronze, but sorry to say it's undeserved. Now I hate to do this (well, not really) but it reminds me of boxer Roy Jones at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games, where he beat the snot out of South Korean fighter Park Si-Hun, landing 86 punches to Park's 32. The Koreans had wined and dined the judges, and the gold was awarded to Si-Hun. Chalk it up to "what goes around, comes around"....In light of her shin injury and flameout in the combined, hindsight dictates that Lindsey Vonn should've sat out the GS yesterday. Some wonder why she was even entered; fact is over the past 2 years she is far and away the best US womens GS skier, with a bunch of top tens (but no podiums) and yes, Julia Mancuso has a tough road ahead of her. I'd like to think she can crack the top ten with a strong run today...Story in the east coast is snow; 31" at Sugarbush yesterday, 18" at Killington, 24" at Plattekill, which is opening today for 100% ungroomed powder skiing. Now another storm is hitting New York City; remains to be seen what happens in the mountains.
2/22/10 I'll be the first to admit that I didn't think Bode Miller had anything left. With his unbelievable gold in the Olympic Super Combined yesterday, Bode showed that he is still one of the best all-around skiers in the world. He redefined his career legacy with a run that turned the clock back five years. It seems that Bode has realized that his resume was incomplete, and this season has timed himself to "peak" at these games. He continues to amaze ski racing fans, and the European skiers continue to shake their heads in disbelief....Olympic skiercross debuted this weekend, gold won by some Teutonic monster who slugged his way down the multi-feature track the fastest. So far I'm calling this a made-for-tv sport, reminds me of the Gladiators programs from years ago. Even so, you can't help but watch this stuff....news from Tahoe's Heavenly Mountain Resort is that they're looking to move ahead with a new 750-seat lodge near the top of the Gondola, a chairlift connecting the Sky Express lift to the top of the gondy, and replacement of the Galaxy chair with a high-speed quad....Sad news from Keystone this weekend where US Fish & Wildlife Service chief Sam Hamilton (in charge of our various Wildlife Refuges) was transported off the slopes, then died from an apparent heart attack; Hamilton was 54 and had pre-existing conditions. Our prayers are with his wife Becky, sons Sam Jr. and Clay and a grandson, of Atlanta, GA.
2/18/10 Rant Time Read only if you must...warning, angry old man commentary ahead...but first, unless you live in a cave, you know that Lindsey Vonn and Julia Mancuso went one-two in the Olympic Downhill yesterday. One skier that NBC didn't show was Slovakia's talented Tina Maze, who was actually lightning fast -- but too fast -- on the upper section. We're thankful Anja Paerson wasn't seriously hurt; she should've had clearance from air traffic control for that flight. Best thing about all this is, of course, that Vonn is getting the recognition she deserves. As two-time overall World Champion and now Olympic medalist, she has clearly joined the list of the world's all-time great skiers. Second best thing about all this is seeing Super Jules' fantastic comeback. And last but not least, it's nice to see the Austrian coaches eat a little crow to go along with all the egg on their faces. This classless act, in case you hadn't heard, claimed that Lindsey was winning all the downhills because she's heavy. Let me tell you, the Austrians have quite a few chunkers on their team who wish they were "heavy" like Vonn. But more importantly, how do these Austrian coaches explain the fact that Mancuso -- possibly the lightest woman in the event -- kicked their butts? Alright, that's all I'll say about those fat Austrian coaches. Moving on, I'd like to tell every young girl in America that LINDSEY VONN is someone to emulate, rather than the Hollywood starlets with fake boobs who look like famine victims. She's physically fit, she's real, she's monogamous, she's polite, and she strives to do her best at whatever she's doing...now on to a much less pleasant topic...every time I start to accept snowboarding they do something to grind my gears. OK, I can overlook the idiots sitting right below the blind roller in the middle of the trail. OK, I can overlook the knuckleheads who suddenly spin and crash in the middle of a good line. I figure, hey, they don't represent the entire sport. So just when I'm finally saying, hey, this is alright, we're treated to an entire evening of young men -- supposedly OLYMPIC athletes -- who have their pants falling down. And then, when their poster child grabs Olympic glory (and kudos to him for a fine effort) I get to listen to coaches -- representing the United States of America -- run through a stream of foul-mouthed, ugly language on television. Naw, snowboarding shouldn't be an Olympic sport. Those potty mouthed moronic coaches should not represent this country. I'm headed to Mad River Glen this weekend.
2/17/10 If you want to act as your own "spoiler" and tune in to the Women's Olympic Downhill prior to tonight's chopped up Today Show style broadcast, click here for the live timing feed. Go, Lindsey, Go!
2/16/10 Biggest news of the weekend is of course, moldy oldy Didier Defago's gold in the men's downhill at Whistler-Blackcomb. With reigning World Cup champ Aksel-Lund Svindal in second, and Bode Miller's surprise (at least to this writer) bronze effort just 9/100ths of a second later, it was the closest downhill podium in Olympic history. Between Defago and Miller, it might've been the oldest podium in Olympic downhill history. We almost expected The Who to make an appearance...Great news from Summit County where Breckenridge, Copper, Vail etc. have received a bunch of snow...also continues in the mid-Atlantic, where areas like Camelback, Shawnee, Mountain Creek, Wisp, Ski Liberty, Wintergreen and so on continue to enjoy their best conditions in YEARS. Starts to get less so as you head north; Belleayre certainly has good offerings, but Mount Snow is less than 100%. As we get to NH it gets downright upsetting; on a recent outing we can tell you that the XC conditions were more Decemberish than usual, and old-time favorites like Black Mountain and Cranmore aren't exactly serving up A-material right now. Best bet in the White Mountains is either Cannon or Attitash, and of course Bretton Woods if you want a kinder, gentler ride. BW and Cannon have recent dustings; Attitash has some outstanding manmade right now. Wildcat has also seen a smattering of snow lately...In VT the Green Mountains have seen some white stuff, but nothing to get excited about. Overall though, conditions are superior to what is happening in NH. Weather prognosticators are calling for epic storms in central VT this week; we're hopeful but we'll believe it when we see it...Looking good in the rest of the country; our friends at tiny Ski Sunburst in Wisconsin are reporting 100% open on packed powder, thanks to a foot of fresh a few days ago...speaking of sunshine, fave Arizona Snowbowl is firing on all cylinders with excellent conditions, and best of all the roads are reasonably clear.
2/11/10 This latest eastern storm left some outstanding conditions at Blue Mt, Camelback and NY metro area megaplex Mountain Creek along with their tiny neighbor Hidden Valley. New York's Tuxedo Ridge (with its view of New York City) and Thunder Ridge both picked up some nice snow; unfortunately not much to speak of in the northern reaches. Fortunately VT keeps getting dusted with an inch, half-inch of lake effects/downslope (or is it upslope?) snow...Colorado has it almost as bad as New England, where Arapahoe Basin has none of its East Wall and Montezuma Bowl terrain open...news from Vancouver has Swiss star Didier Cuche finishing first in the men's downhill training run despite skiing with seven screws in his still-injured hand; Canadian Robbie Hoffman was second. Bode Miller showed a respectable 7th; USA teammate Andrew Weibrecht cracked the top ten in 9th. The skier everyone is watching, Canadian Manny Osborne-Paradis, finished sixth on his home turf. Was he coasting for training, or is Cuche the next Hermanator? We shall see...
2/10/10 US Olympic great Jimmie Heuga, 1943-2010, rest in peace....More snow in the east, unfortunately not hitting the New England areas. Best skiing is at Wintergreen, Snowshoe, Wisp etc....good batch in the upper midwest also, tiny Ski Sunburst is a place we checked on recently and have to say they do a good job with what they got...biggest news from Olympics is Lindsey Vonn's shin injury; we'll just have to wait and see
2/1/10 Just returned from a tour of Maine ski areas, a mix of big, little, and even a couple of local "tows," all of which make for some fine skiing in the Pine State...Mt Hood Meadows will be doing a special night skiing fundraiser for Haitian causes on Feb 15....Lindsey Vonn proved that she is human by actually not winning a downhill event this past weekend, but did so in a Super G in St. Moritz and clinched the globe for that discipline...the men were in Slovenia; Austrian technical specialist Reinfried Herbst won the slalom event at Kranjska Gora. American Ted Ligety came in a respectable 4th; Bode sat out the event, still trying to heal all his aches before heading to Vancouver. Earlier in the weekend, Ligety was top dog in the GS event, winning by a fraction of a second. He's now tied for the season lead in that discipline....Scott Macartney will not be on the US Olympic team....in Skiercross, Daron Rahlves hurt himself in the final qualifier; Casey Puckett is also playing with pain....yes, Mount Snow had to do an evac on their summit quad this weekend, the lift is probably out of commission until tomorrow. Lift evac is one of those things you don't want to watch -- it's frightening enough that you may have second thoughts about ever getting on a lift again.
1/25/10 Biggest news in the ski resort biz today is unfrozen snow in the east, which is to say, rain. High winds are also causing some problems; we understand Sugarloaf has closed for the day. Working our way south it gets steadily worse -- Elk Mountain in Pennsy will close at 4:30 due to high winds, and Mountain Creek in NJ has been shut down since this morning. It remains to be seen how soon the cold air will return to the eastern resorts, which did land-office business this past weekend...speaking of this past weekend, Lindsey Vonn redoubled her position atop the womens World Cup overall standings by trouncing the field in both Super G and Downhill at Cortina Friday and Saturday. Mrs. Vonn settled for a disappointing 19th yesterday in the GS race, which for some reason is her worst discipline, never having won. Lindsey was extremely vocal about the ice-injecting that race organizers have been practicing lately. The men, meanwhile, were in Kitzbuhel, for the famed Hahnenkamm. Bode Miller had the fastest training time, but had a few glitches and finished ninth. The race was won by Didier Cuche of Switzerland, followed by Andrej Sporn, Slovenia, and Italian Werner Heel. Cuche also won the Super G event. Scott Macartney made his first run on the course that sent him airborne and crashing two years ago, you might remember the video of Scotty Mac sliding across the finish line quivering in unconsciousness. He didn't scare any competitors with his 44th place finish this year, but just the fact that he was back on the course is awfully courageous and impressive. Miller, meanwhile, skipped the Slalom event on Sunday, which was won by Felix Neureuther of Germany, for his first career victory. Ivica Kostelic finished 7th in the SL, which was enough to give him the combined title (downhill and slalom) for the weekend.
1/22/10 Good news/bad news from Arizona Snow Bowl in Flagstaff where the latest storm has dumped 4.5 feet of snow -- at minimum -- and as much as 7.5 feet on parts of the mountain! The bad news is nobody can get there, nobody can run lifts, nothing's happening other than snow, so the Snow Bowl is closed right now, no word on when they'll reopen....have to correct my report on Intrawest a few days ago, as I confused a bank or investor or something called "Wilmington" and erroneously called it "Wellesley." My bad....speaking of deep snow, some of the Tahoe area resorts are talking up to 8 feet of snow over the past week; luckily it hasn't fallen all at once as in AZ...terrible tragedy at Grand Targhee where a Queens NY man fell in to a backcountry creek, wound up with hypothermia, and died yesterday. He attempted to reach help via cell phone, but messages where garbled and he couldn't accurately describe his location. Seems to me that skiing-related fatalities are ahead of the usual pace; but I think if you back out the backcountry and tree skiing deaths, it's probably lower than usual.
1/21/10 Rumors -- and at this point they are just rumors -- have it that Intrawest is selling, or has sold, or is going to sell New Jersey resort Mountain Creek to a member of the Mulvihill family. A little history here, Gene Mulvihill was one of the original owners of Vernon Valley, who then took over Great Gorge, and ran into some troubles and eventually sold the operation to Intrawest. Mulvihill Sr. kept his hands in things in the Vernon NJ area, owning various resort properties and such. Today the second generation is running things, although we imagine Big Gene is still ultimately large and in charge. We've also heard over the years that he has said "I'll be back" regarding the ski area. So it will come as little surprise if this happens, but again, these are just rumors right now. Love him or hate him, you would not be able to ski at Mountain Creek today if it weren't for the efforts of Mr. Mulvihill. We'll keep you posted...
1/20/10 Yeek! Northern California's Mt Shasta is closed due to too much snow! Well, sort of. Shasta is closed because they've got no power, which is due to the fact that the area has been trounced with Sierra cement. No guesses as to when the resort will re-open...looking south, the L.A. areas such as Big Bear, which we normally think of as too sunny and not really skiing, are inundated with snow -- and skiing GREAT. Kudos to those southern Cali resorts for keeping the faith...traveling a few thousand miles east, we also have to say kudos to Camelback in the Poconos for "getting it right." Now here's a resort that is trying to grow the industry: Buy an "Explorer" card for $99, which gets you three lessons and limited lifts, complete those lessons early in the season, and then turn the thing in for a weekday/weekend night seasons pass! Damn! I don't care who you are, this is the year to get out on the slopes if you haven't done so before...Intrawest or Fortress Investments or whoever it is that runs Stratton, Whistler, Tremblant, etc. is "auctioning" some of its holdings. Now I read their press releases, but I don't understand them (maybe that's why I'm a ski bum and not a wealthy financier) and it sounds like they're selling out, but they aren't, but it's all ok, but then again they aren't making payment on their loans to somebody called Wellesley. (All I know about Wellesley is they have a very nice town dump where you can pick up some nice vintage skis in the "swap" area) Anyway, the deal is that Intrawest may lose control of Whistler/Blackcomb right smack dab in the middle of the Olympics! Wicked pissah, as they say in Wellesley. (Well maybe not right in Wellesley, with all the popped collars and whatnot. But certainly in Framingham, and in some parts of Newton)...Maine resorts have weighed in on the MLK weekend, reporting business much stronger than usual. This is shaping up as a darn fine season, folks.
1/19/10 Unexpected news from Telluride is that the resort's halfpipe and short double chair is now open for night skiing, Thursdays through Sundays. You can buy a ticket for this for $25...sad news from the same Telluride neighborhood, a California woman was snowboarding with a heli-ski group in the Mineral Creek Basin, crossed a creek, fell in the water. Her helmet was wedged between two rocks and she drowned. Bizarre...Early MLK Weekend numbers are in from parts of New England, Killington, Sugarbush, Stratton all report skier traffic far heavier this year than last. Stratton lodging was reportedly sold out...a Massachusetts judge has just accepted Ski Market's offer to honor gift cards at 50%, same as Connecticut did a week or two ago. Ski Market is in Chapter 11.
1/18/10 Much-needed snow in southern New England last night...over the weekend I got first-hand looks at Bromley, Stratton, Magic, Mount Snow, Okemo and Ascutney. While the big areas were in good shape, the smaller areas had some rather grey snow and in Ascutney's case, some serious brown spots. So we're looking at a better day today for MLK day...biggest news from the FIS World Cup this past weekend was the return of Bode Miller to the top of the podium; Miller won the super combined on the Lauberhorn course at Wengen. He didn't fare as well on the downhill, crashing out on Saturday. Ivica Kostelic is back from knee surgery, winning a slalom event yesterday...word around the industry is that support is growing for a helmet law on kids; lawmakers are looking for something like kids' bicycle helmet laws...young Pennsylvania boy was killed yesterday at Ski Denton; Boy Scout troop was sledding on one of the ski slopes. The youth was on a saucer and clocked into a lift tower. As a percentage of participants, I think more people die sledding on ski-specific slopes than any other pasttime in the world. Let me say it again, sledding on ski slopes at ski areas can ruin your day.
1/15/10 Good news (sort of) in Colorado where ski bum Charlie Toups has been sprung from jail after admitting that he resisted arrest when the USFS came after him in a sweeping manhunt on the slopes at A-Basin. Why we say "sort-of" is because Mr. Toups "tensed up" when told he was under arrest, which prompted the dingalings at the USFS to take down the 63 year old. We're glad he's out, but disappointed he had to admit that he resisted arrest. Guess what Forest Service? We don't buy it. They may think they're saving face by having him admit to something, then showing how noble they are by dropping the charges. No points earned on this website. Mr Pinchot's forestry management ideals were terrific in 1910, but times have changed. The whole overblown bureaucracy needs to be halved, and management practices overhauled. As long as some Americans are treated better than others in liftlines on "equal access" Forest Service lands, I'm going to bitch about it...Great news in NY metro area is Plattekill is open at 100% this weekend...news from VT's Mount Snow involves a lift evac on the north face a couple days ago, 40 skiers stranded, evacuated smoothly and quickly, no injuries. Kudos to Snow, which is also at 100% operation...checking in with one of our favorites in Maine, Mt. Abram has all but two trails open. This is really a terrific place for families, or for anybody looking to avoid the hubbub at neighboring Sunday River. But really, you can't go wrong at either...moving even further north we hear rumors that massive old timey Big Squaw is now open for the season, albeit on a weekends and holidays only basis and only the lower part of the mountain. Squaw management advises you to call first, to be sure the place is open...World cup men's action moves to the fabled Lauberhorn downhill in Wengen. This long, long route should give us a nice preview for next month...much of the country is enjoying warmer than usual temps this weekend, so it's an ideal time to get out on the snow!
1/13/10 Beware of websites ranking the environmental soundness of ski resorts. Yesterday's New York Times ran an article stating that some ski resorts are "greener" than others, and pointed to a website that happens to be owned by an environmental watchdog group. That's all fine, except that this outfit rates Squaw Valley as the best steward of the environment, with the Aspen properties not far behind. Since when is an above-timberline lodge with heated outdoor pool an environmentally sound practice? Since when are ski areas populated by condos and private jets "green"? Now I happen to think Squaw and Aspen are terrific ski resorts, but let's not kid ourselves about the impact of a massive ski resort on a mountain! Another example is Park City, with its massive developments and mine shafts ranked among the top ten green, while tiny Arizona Snowbowl with no development and very little visible impact is ranked in the worst ten! It sounds like a lot of bunk; we're waiting for a response from the website...speaking of raised eyebrows, the crooks at Ski Market have bowed to state pressures and will honor 50% of gift card value in their Connecticut stores...Marlies Schild won yesterday's World Cup Slalom event in Flachau Austria; Maria Riesch and Kathrin Zettel joined her on the podium. It was Schild's 20th career victory in SL. Lindsey Vonn DNFd; she crashed after straddling a gate. Fortunately Mrs. Vonn didn't appear to aggravate her injured arm. Swedish star Anja Paerson also had a gate-straddling mishap but didn't fare as well. Her knee was treated slopeside and then Paerson was given a ride down on the sled. No word yet on the extent of her injury...Bavarian ski resort Brauneck was the scene of some drama yesterday as dozens of passengers needed to be rescued from a broken gondy lift. The skiers were stranded for hours; fortunately there were no serious injuries....whip around Wednesday: this is one of those days we check around with key ski areas that are sort of "barometers" for each region. Starting in the east, Mount Snow is at 94% with some packed pow and hardpack conditions; in NH both Black Mt and Attitash are about 75% open; NY metro monster Belleayre is open on all but 2 or 3 short sections and blowing snow on those; Pennsy's outstanding Elk Mt has 100% terrain open, while on the opposite end of the commonwealth Seven Springs is about 85% open; Virginia biggie Wintergreen is firing on all cylinders; in Michigan Boyne is three-quarters open while sister resort Boyne Highlands has slightly more. In Minnesota Lutsen reports open runs that translates to about 92% of available terrain; moving west we find Arapahoe Basin with about a third of its total terrain skiable, which is still a massive amount of skiing. Leadville's small but mighty Ski Cooper is at 100%; moving around we've got Alta with all lifts running and north of that find Boise's Bogus Basin operating at about 85%. On Mount Hood, Timberline has everything open below the timberline (couldn't resist) and to sum it all up, the aforementioned Squaw Valley USA expects 23 lifts to crank today, although some may be delayed due to snow safety measures.
1/12/10 The emporer has a very thin skin...Aspen Skiing Co, known locally as "Skico" for their monopoly and tentacles that reach into almost all aspects of Aspen life, fired lounge act Dan Sheridan for a song called "Big Money." Sheridan, who plays accoustic guitar and mostly just parrots Jackson Browne and John Denver stuff for boozy apres guests in base area bar & grill joints, has been a regular around town for more than two decades. A couple years ago he penned "Big Money" to lament the loss of local ambience and the influx of Hollywood. Consider the line: "Say goodbye to all the artists, and the people who can ski. Say hello to private golf courses, and elective surgery." While this generally draws a self-deprecating laugh from the audience, some Skico ding-a-ling with esteem issues heard the tune and demanded that Sheridan be fired. Word has it that he's been re-hired, but agreed not to sing the song at Skico properties. Rumors that the book burning festival begins at sundown are not yet confirmed...sad news from Jackson Hole, where Mark Wolling, the ski patroller we reported survived an avalanche last week, has succumbed to his injuries. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.
1/11/10 "Incredible" and "amazing" are about the only words we can think of to describe the accomplishment this past weekend by Lindsey Vonn in the FIS World Cup races. These are uncharted waters for American skiers: Three days, three victories! Downhill wins on Friday and Saturday, followed by a stunning victory in yesterday's Super G in Haus am Ennstal, Austria. Swede Anja Paerson was a half second back while Nadia Fanchini of Italy and Martina Schild of Switzerland tied for 3rd. Julia Mancusco of the U.S. Ski Team finished a respectable 10th. Vonn heads the overall standings with 894 points, followed by her close friend, Germany's Maria Riesch (702). Kathrin Zettel of Austria is third with 569 points...in men's action, Frenchman Julien Lizeroux won yesterday's slalom in Adelboden, with a 14th for Bode Miller. Austrian Benni Raich leads the men's overall, followed by Swiss stars Carlo Janka and Didier Cuche...beloved Olympian Eddie "the Eagle" Edwards returned to Canada yesterday; The Eagle is still wildly popular there and carried the torch through Winnipeg. He was the inept British jumper who willed himself into the jumping competition at the Calgary games in 1988...As predicted in our "powder alert" on Friday, last week's heavy midwest/lake effects snows resulted in one of the biggest ski weekends in Ohio's history; a snow day closed many school districts Friday which made for a great three-day ski weekend. Even Mad River Mountain down by Bellefontaine was hammered with snow...Wisconsin's Granite Peak has had an unusual rash of thefts lately; anybody with info is urged to contact the Marathon County Crime Stoppers...Vail reports skier visits down 2.7 percent this year. At ninety bucks a ticket, I can't imagine why...although it looks like some Vail-ites are using their heads; there's talk that the delivery circle at Lionshead will become a "legal" skier drop-off spot. Right now it's a ticketable thing, but zillions of people use it anyway. When all is said and done I really don't like Vail.
1/8/10 West Virginians take note, Snowshoe is offering free lift tickets on January 31 to all residents. You'll need to bring proof; merely driving up at 75 mph in a 20 year old smoke belching beater is not considered sufficient documentation of residency. You'll also need to bring this voucher. It's all part of the state's "Learn a Snow Sports" month. Now come on, I'm just kidding about those driving habits.....Seems AIG has sold Stowe Mountain Resort in some fashion. It's more spin-off than sale; a new group hatched by AIG called "Chartis" is now running the show. With Saturday lift tickets priced at $89, aren't you glad AIG got $182.5 billion in federal bailout money...speaking of New England-based rip-offs, Ski Market is screwing its loyal customers by refusing to honor gift cards in its Chapter 11 status. Look, I'm all for supporting the industry, but if Ski Market survives this bankruptcy, I'd tell 'em to go pound sand before I'd set foot in that store...our Friday powder alert goes out to Boston Mill and Brandywine ski areas, just south of Cleveland, buried in fabulous snow...and if you can stand the temps, skiing in the upper midwest is about as good as can be right now.
1/7/10 Thursday and it seems mostly what I have to report today involves tragedy; we'll start with a nice event scheduled for January 23rd at Connecticut's Ski Sundown when the legendary Phil Mahre will be on hand with Bill Johnson, winner of the 1984 Olympic downhill, to raise funds for Bill's ongoing care following his 2001 racing accident and brain injury. The event is a "Vertical Challenge" that pits teams of 4 skiers and snowboarders against the mountain and each other to see who can make the most runs in 6 hours. Entrants are paid by sponsors for each run skied. Funds earned will be placed in Johnson's trust fund. Prizes will be awarded for the most team vertical, most individual vertical, and most funds raised. If you can make it, this is a great opportunity to give something back to a skier who gave us so much...a tree well claims another victim this year; Cedar Colorado resident and A-Basin instructor Grace McNeil was trapped and apparently suffocated Tuesday afternoon while skiing at Steamboat. It happened in Chute 3 at the Christmas Tree Bowl. McNeil was 23 years old...Madeline Milner, a 14 year old high school freshman from Bayfield CO was killed after crashing into a tree at Durango Mountain Resort (formerly Purgatory) on Tuesday...Mark Wolling, a Jackson Hole patroller was more fortunate after being swept away by an avalanche in the Cheyenne Bowl yesterday. Wolling is in critical condition; please say a prayer if you're so inclined...after all this, it seems kind of pointless to discuss conditions and special deals here and there. Maybe an afternoon update.
1/5/10 Kirkwood had been enjoying a typical deep snow Tahoe season this weekend when a fire broke out in their electrical plant, which was destroyed by the blaze. The resort attempted to reopen Sunday morning with portable generators, but couldn't get the connections right to operate the chairs properly. They've supposedly got it all worked out and the lifts should be spinning this morning. Early estimates are that the powerplant will cost some $7 million to replace...speaking of fiscal losses, New England retailer Ski Market filed for bankruptcy yesterday. You might want to dig out that gift card before it's too late...West Virginia resorts are claiming that record snows pushed the Christmas holiday skier visits count above 200,000 for the week, according to West Virginia Ski Areas Association President Terry Pfeiffer. This represents about a fourth of last year's total, which is good news for the industry...other good news, this time in Warrensburg, NY where small but mighty Hickory Hill ski area has re-opened...sad news in Switzerland where more bodies have been found following an avalanche in the Diemtig Valley, total now seven dead...our prayers continue to be with Olympic hopeful Kevin Pearce; the snowboarder remains in critical but stable condition at a Utah hospital with a brain injury he suffered in a fall while training at Mammoth Mountain last Thursday. Today's news is that he gained ground yesterday....in World Cup news, our favorite Lindsey Vonn has lost the overall women's lead following her arm injury last week.
1/4/10 Saddleback seemed to reap the most snow from the system that just clobbered central Maine over the weekend, with Sugarloaf not faring too badly either. This recent spate of weather really pounded Vermont & NH as well, with places like Mount Snow nearly 100% open. If Ripcord fills in as expected, they'll be fully open by midweek...moving south, the mid-Atlantic didn't receive much snow this past weekend, but certainly got the temps down far enough to crank up the snow guns. Mountain Creek has most of its terrain open, and should be able to connect the peaks sometime this week. Camelback looking real good, although crowds this past weekend were quite thick. Continuing south, Wintergreen is still glowing from record-setting pre-Christmas storm and dropping ropes on more...moving west with a stop in the central states: If you can stand the cold, you're good to go. Places like Boyne, Caberfae and Lutsen are virtually at 100% open...further west, we really don't need to add anything; a quick ride out of Denver has Loveland at 27% open -- waiting for more natural snow -- but that is entirely normal for the big L at this time. If we drive just a bit further to our favorite small but mighty Ski Cooper in Leadville, it's 100% open with some good powder stashes to be found. In short, it's all good! We'll catch up on a World Cup report shortly.
1/3/2010 Happy New Year! I'd like to report that I spent the break skiing in Utah, or perhaps the beautiful White Mountains of New Hampshire, but that just wasn't the case. Fact is I visited a number of smaller hills in Pennsylvania, trying to get more "hands on" assessments for the areas that are closest to the largest percentage of the SkierNet.com online users. Let me tell you, what the lifts at these small areas lack in speed, they make up for in age. All in all any day of skiing is a good day, regardless of how small or antiquated a ski area might be. So we count our blessings, realize we're fortunate to have what we do, and wish all of you the best for the coming year. Let's hit the slopes!
12/24/09 Afternoon Update -- a quick glance around the northeast reveals that the best bang for the buck in terms of open terrain is arguably Okemo and on a smaller scale, Bromley. Big Bromley in particular has a lot more terrain open than they usually do this time of year...
12/24/09 Morning report -- Perhaps we're beginning to claw our way out of this recession, but we've got a way to go...It appears that the Rio Grande ski train will not operate in 2010. Iowa Pacific officials claim to have complied with all the regulatory stuff issued by the Federal Railroad Administration, but talks with Amtrak reached an impasse because of staffing and liability issues. The Ski Train has run between Denver and Winter Park since 1940. It shut down last year and the vintage cars were sold, but Iowa Pacific has been trying to restart it. Some 13,000 passengers made reservations, for which they will receive refunds...State of Michigan will be cutting back on cross country trail grooming. The state operates some 23 purpose specific trails, but will only groom 8 of them. They do at least plan to plow all the parking lots at the trailheads. The plan calls for Blueberry Ridge in Marquette County; Paradise in Chippewa County; Chippewa Hills and Norway Ridge trails in Alpena County; Vasa in Grand Traverse County; Ogemaw Hills in Ogemaw County; Black Mountain in Presque Isle County; and Cadillac in Wexford County. They will also groom trails at 22 of Michigan's 98 state parks; cross-country is allowed at all state park & rec areas regardless of grooming...judges have judged, and there will be no women's ski jumping events in the Olympics. Here's the latest, in a nutshell: The IOC previously declared that there are not enough competitors, so it was left off the slate. The Canadian women ski jumpers cried foul, and went through the court system to try and make it happen. The judge said they couldn't force an athletic organization to add specific events.
12/23/09 Update from WI where Devil's Head management claims that a brake failure caused the runaway chairlift that led to 14 injured...in case you're wondering, the National Ski Areas Association has an official tally that says there have been 12 fatalities in the last three decades on chairlifts...Blue Mountain PA report is that some goon from Philadelphia assaulted a 12 year old kid from Bethlehem, PA for spraying snow on somebody. Some web reporters are calling it "snow rage." Merry freakin' Christmas...Fortress Investment Group, parent company of Intrawest ULC which operates Stratton, Copper, Mountain Creek, Tremblant and upcoming Olympic host Whistler-Blackcomb, needs to cough up a half-billion dollar loan payment today. The company has been in the dumper since the real estate market tanked; the pundits say Intrawest is worth about a third of what it once was. Supposedly a few different assets are offered for sale, and east coast ski enthusiasts might be surprised/shocked/dismayed/humored/happy to hear that rumors abound that former Mountain Creek owners including Gene Mulvihill might be back in the picture...More grim early season news, this time from Idaho's Schweitzer Mountain, where a 15 year old boy was killed apparently by skiing into a tree well...Let's turn it around with a happy update from Alta where we learned that the 4-year old girl who plunged from the Sunnyside lift was released from the hospital yesterday. Unified Fire Authority Capt. Clint Smith stated that landing in powder snow instead of on a packed ski run is what likely saved her life. Reports are that although she was knocked out by the fall, the girl was resuscitated and was found to have only suffered a mild concussion. Remember to be thankful and count your blessings this Christmas, folks...
12/22/09 Terrible news from Alta where a 4-year old girl fell 30+ feet from the Sunnyside lift on Saturday; she was revived and is presently in serious condition in a SLC hospital...Better news from Cody, WY where indeed Sleeping Giant reopened on its 600ish vertical this weekend. The Giant was dormant for five years; a total rebuild was necessary to re-open. Great job and kudos to the good people of Cody. I've spent some time there, and now I wonder why I left...As promised the World Cup recap, which can be summed up with a single name: Lindsey Vonn. After her performance in Val d'Isere this past weekend, you almost wonder why the other ladies bothered to show up. As reported Friday, Lindsey finished first in the Super Combined, then finished third in the Super G on Sunday behind Swiss skiers Fraenzi Aufdenblatten and Nadia Styger. Fortunately for the rest of the field, Saturday's Downhill was cancelled due to weather. Mrs. Vonn is now alone atop the overall standings, while her close friend Maria Riesch is in third. Incidentally, the Vonns will spend Christmas with the Riesch family in Partenkirchen...in the men's slalom in Alta Badia yesterday, Austrian Reinfret Herbst nabbed his seventh career World Cup slalom win. Teammate Manfred Pranger was third; Swiss Silvan Zurbriggen took second spot. Earlier in the weekend the venue saw a bit of controversy following an Italian one-two finish in the GS event. Paced by Massimiliano Blardone, who was followed by Davide Simoncelli, the natives were accused of doing a bit of advance work on the home course -- which of course is not permitted. It's tough to accuse Blardone of this, as the man has won at other courses. Simoncelli is a bit more suspect, because other than a one-off at Yongpyong, he has really only managed to find the podium at Alta Badia at the World Cup level. When you look at his overall record, he managed a Nor-Am win at Keystone, and some Junior this or that in Switzerland, but otherwise he's really only familiar with podiums if they are on Italian mountains. Let's look a little closer at the results, see if we can't get to the bottom of this: Frenchman Richard Cyprien finished third, and he rarely does anything unless it's a hill similar to Alta Badia. So we go further down the list, and see Benny Raich in fourth; he's good everywhere so we disregard his finish. Raich was followed by Italian Manny Moelgg, also a great skier. Next was Italian Alexander Ploner (sense a theme here?) whose only other podium was at Kranjska Gora. Ted Ligety was 7th, and like the Italians, Ligety-split tends to podium at places like Alta Badia, Kranjska Gora, Yongpyong, Soelden, and Beaver Creek, which incidentally is where Blardone, Moelgg, etc. excel as well. So, if Raich weren't so tired from earlier events, if the course was set differently, blah blah blah. Add in that fierce national pride -- and I will say a certain, ah, familiarity with the course -- and it looks to me as if you have to give this one to Team Italia, sans asterisks. We reported on Val Gardena last Friday, but need to add that Canadian Manny Osborne-Paradis won the Downhill. Bode Miller turned in a respectable 9th to follow up his 5th in the Super G, after which he sat out the rest of the weekend. Personally I'm glad to see him "pace" his comeback, rather than risk injury by doing too much too soon. In the overall mens standings, Austrian Raich continues to lead, followed by Swiss Carlo Janka and Norwegian Aksel Lund Svindal. Ligety is holding firm in a very respectable sixth place, and ranks 3rd in the GS discipline. Another bright note for Team USA from the weekend was Jimmy Cochran's surprising 9th place finish in yesterday's Slalom.
12/21/09 Can you say mid-Atlantic? The most significant DC area December storm in decades released its energy over Northern Virginia this past weekend, pounding the Viriginia and southeast Pennsy ski areas with snow totals that will go a long way to making this a profitable season. Wintergreen got the best of the deal, up to three feet in spots. Needless to say they've opened most of their terrain; the steeper stuff should be opening a few runs at a time as the week goes on. Ski Liberty grabbed about 20" of new, all but 2 or 3 runs are open and those should follow suit. Even Ober Gatlinburg farther south got a couple inches from the fringe of this system and presently has 5 trails open. The Pocono areas did reasonably well from this storm and some are serving up legitimate pre-Christmas natural snow for the first time in years. New Englanders had been hoping for a northerly track, but were essentially shut out. The good news in Yankee land is that the cold is holding, and the snow guns are firing. Smaller areas we like to support such as Tenney and Black Mountain are open -- with but a few runs -- but open and firing the snow. Speaking of snow, Vermont's Mount Snow (which regular readers know is our unofficial barometer for southern New England skiing) is presently at 55% open. So unless something drastic happens, the Virginia resorts will have more open percentage-wise than the Vermont resorts for Christmas week! Regardless of percentages, skiers up and down the east coast are looking at some of the best December skiing in years...in World Cup action this weekend, Lindsey Vonn continued to dazzle and has moved into first overall, just ahead of her good friend Maria Riesch. Vonn is without question the best overall women's skier the USA has ever produced -- probably the most impressive female athlete in the country right now -- but as reported in the news last week, she can walk down virtually any street in the country and go unrecognized. Now I'm sure she appreciates her anonymity, but folks I think it's time we had a little less Tiger and a little more Lindsey! We'll provide a full recap of the weekend's World Cup action tomorrow....Thursday night a short chairlift at Devil's Head near Madison WI malfunctioned and sent some 14 riders to the hospital. The lift reportedly began running in reverse, slowly and then accelerating out of control. A few people jumped from the runaway chairs, while others were tossed at the loading area. Fortunately nobody was seriously hurt...Friday Crested Butte filed an appeal with the US Forest Service in Denver, after their application to expand onto Snodgrass Mountain was rejected a month ago. CBMR wants to add 276 acres of terrain and three lifts on the popular recreation mountain in the Gunnison National Forest, but the USFS think the geology won't support it. They also cite the multiple summer uses, which would be impacted by the expansion. Crested Butte, operated by Okemo's Tim and Diane Mueller, are asking for further studies and public hearings.
12/18/09 Word from the northeast is all good today for a pending storm that should add quite a bit of snow to the rapidly growing manmade bases. Connecticut's Ski Sundown opens today, and across the border in NY we expect rugged Plattekill to follow suit. Mount Snow is at 44% open, and it gets even better as you go farther north; Okemo is nearly in mid-season form with about 60% of the mountain open...earlier today in Val Gardena Aksel Lund Svindal showed why he's the reigning overall world champion by winning the Super G event, followed by Carlo Janka of Switzerland and Patrick Staudacher of Italy. Bode Miller put in a repsectable 5th place finish; with some additional time he should be right back in the fray. Janka's 2nd place put him in the overall lead, edging ahead of Austrian Benny Raich who finished 9th. Svindal's efforts moved him into 3rd overall, which is quite a leap from where he was a couple weeks ago...but as good a show as the men put on, the women seem to be more compelling again: in Val D'Isere Lindsey Vonn finished just ahead of Germany's Maria Riesch to win the Super Combined, and now the two good friends are tied for the overall lead! Austrian Elisabeth Goergl came in third. Vonn had a huge lead after dominating the downhill portion, then skied quite well in a foggy slalom to hold off the technical specialists. Wouldn't it be nice if Americans discovered this Lindsey Vonn woman and held her up as a role model for young girls? Wouldn't you rather see young girls emulate a hard-training, healthy athlete with a realistic body shape than the emaciated supermodels, drugged-up divas and wacked-out Hollywood bimbos that the media currently holds up as beautiful women?
12/16 Good news for Idahoans as Bogus Basin will crank the lifts tomorrow morning. Chairlifts 1, 2, 4, 7 and Easy Rider will run from 10:00am until 4:30 pm, and mountain ops hopes to drop the ropes on Bitterroot Basin on Saturday. Tickets will be discounted until Bogus opens the whole shebang...Lindsey Vonn just threw down the fastest times in the DH training runs today in Val d'Isere; the ladies will run a super combined on Friday, downhill Saturday, and super-G on Sunday. Meanwhile in Val Gardena, Austrian Mickey Walchhofer is pacing the training runs, with reigning overall champ Aksel Lund Svindal close behind...some old professor dude in Vermont is making waves by saying that ski lessons and fitness do little to prevent injuries. Trust me, he's wrong...here's a surprise for NY metro area skiers: right now, closest with the mostest open is possibly Sno Mountain in Scranton, PA, which is about a dozen miles closer to midtown than Belleayre.
12/15/09 Afternoon Update: Word on that little girl from Minnesota is that 6-year-old Julia Griggs would have suffered a "significant brain injury" had she not been wearing a helmet when she smacked a tree while at Afton Alps last Thursday. Young Julia broke her nose, some bones in her face and both bones in her lower right leg. But she was released from the hospital this morning, and doctors say it was because of the helmet. "It protected her brain, and that's something that we can't really fix," said Dr. Michael McGonigal, director of trauma services at Regions Hospital in St. Paul. The press conference quickly disintegrated into the typical hue and cry for helmets on skiers; for some inexplicable reason the doctor did not address the lack of helmets and much more common head injuries suffered in everyday automobile and bus accidents. We are glad for Julia, and we do want lids on kids, but we don't need constant harping from these people...word in NJ is that Mountain Creek will open Wednesday on its "South" base, formerly known as Great Gorge...Bob Berwyn, a writer for the Summit Daily News was fired last week after writing a snarky column about Vail Resorts pres Rob Katz. It wasn't his first snarky column about Vail, and it seemed to inspire Mr. Katz to pull his advertising from the local paper. Or not; Mr. Katz says it was just a coincidence because they were going to redirect their dollars. For their part, the SDN says it was just a coincidence, they were gonna fire the dude anyway. Hmmm. The whole thing is sort of ridiculous, starting when Mr. Katz got excited about snow falling on his deck in Boulder, CO. Mr. Berwyn said he was hyping snowfall at Vail. We don't think Mr. Katz was implying anything but was simply excited to see snow, so Mr. Berwyn might've been better off holding his opinion on this one.
12/15 Morning Report: Big gains in New England this weekend, lots of areas open for the season, serious crowds at Okemo, Killington and Stratton as Ol' Man Winter finally kicked in. A few smaller areas such as perennial favorite Black Mountain in NH will be opening later this week....similar good news from Utah where we expect to see Powder Mountain crank the lifts on Thursday after receiving almost two feet yesterday...in New York, Belleayre finally has some open terrain worth talking about...Pennsy's Camelback opened this past weekend with solid crowds, as did Virginny's Wintergreen, which will take a warm weather breather then reopen on Friday. Nearby Massanutten has a couple runs open and it appears they may remain cranking; time and temps will tell. Penny's Elk will open Wednesday, no word yet on how much terrain...Midwest-wise, Lutsen, Indianhead and Big Powderhorn joined Brule on the open list, but Lutsen is shuttered again until Friday; the others (except Brule of course) may follow suit...great news in the southwest, where of course the Vegas resorts have opened, now we have word that Arizona Snow Bowl will open on Thursday with all lifts running and about 80 percent terrain available...likewise word from the northwest is that Oregon favorite Mt. Ashland will crank the lifts on Thursday...word from Minnesota is that a helmet "saved" the life of a young girl who skied into a tree; more info should follow this afternoon.
12/14/09 Lindsey Vonn was leading the women's overall standings heading into the weekend, but lost a little bit of ground in Are, Sweden after a DNF in GS on Saturday and an 8th in the slalom on Sunday. Sandrine Aubert of France won the Sunday event, while Maria Riesch moved into first overall by finishing second. A surprising third place finish was put down by Maria's younger sister Susanne Riesch...on Saturday, another French skier, Tessa Worley claimed her second World Cup victory in the GS. Slovenia's Tina Maze was about a half-second behind, with Austria's Kathrin Zettel rounding out the podium...the men were in Val d'Isere, where Austrian Benni Raich won the combined on Friday and garnered third in Sunday's GS event. Surprise win on Sunday by young Austrian teammate Marcel Hirscher -- his first -- stunned Raich and the second place finisher, Italian racer Massimiliano Blardone. These Austrian superstars just keep coming! Mickey Walchhofer won the Super G on Saturday. Biggest surprise that day had to be Ted Ligety of the U.S. finishing second, his first podium in a World Cup super-G. Italy's Werner Heel was third. Ligety also had a respectable 10th in the GS...area reports tomorrow.
12/09 Good news in the midwest where small but mighty Ski Brule is running a chair and a tow in Michigan, while regional biggie Lutsen is making snow and looking for a Saturday opening...News from New York State is that Whiteface and Belleayre will be opening this Saturday. Both are cranking snow and have received natural overnight, but With unsettled weather over the next few days it may be sketchy...Vermont's Okemo is also calling for a Saturday opening...In NH, Attitash was finally able to re-fire the guns last night, understandably envious of the deep snow that fell up the street at Bretton Woods.
11/30/09 Happy days are here again in the east, at least if you go far enough north or south. In New Hampshire, Bretton Woods was absolutely pounded over the weekend, and opened a couple lifts with a bonafide powder day. In North Carolina, Cataloochee was able to fire up the guns long enough to open for the weekend. They're shut down for the work week but expect to ramp up again on Friday. It's raining there as I write this, so you best do a snow dance in the meantime...it has been snowing off and on in Vermont, where Sugarbush received almost a foot of snow up high, then saw it turn to rain this morning...also raining in Maine, where Sugarloaf opened yesterday...uh, dare we report on the misadventures of the US Ski Team this past weekend? Things were generally dreadful for the ladies skiing in Aspen; on Sunday the US Women's team was nothing less than embarrassed on their home turf. Sarka Zahrobska of the Czech Republic won the Aspen slalom for her second straight year, with Austrians Marlies Schild and Kathrin Zettel 2nd and 3rd respectively. Kaylin Richardson had the best effort for the USA by finishing 34th. A couple of top competitors were hurt in Aspen; Denise Karbon of Italy got tangled up in the fence during the GS race a day earlier and will probably require knee surgery; Austrian Alexandra Daum tore up her knee during the first slalom run and is probably done for the season. On Saturday, Kathrin Hoelzl of Germany won the GS ahead of Zettel and Italian prodigy Federica Brignone. Brignone notched this podium in just her fifth World Cup start. Best US finisher was Julia Mancuso, a decent 13th. Looks like Super Jules is healthy and re-focused, but it remains to be seen whether or not she can recapture her past "gold." Lindsey who? Like I said, it was a tough weekend...And the men fared far worse in Lake Louise, were TJ Lanning had a vicious accident in the downhill, maybe career-ending. Swiss racer Didier Cuche won the event Saturday afternoon, with teammate Carlo Janko in third. Italian Werner Heel was second. On Sunday, good news/bad news for team Canada as Manny Osborne-Paradis won the Super G for the hometown fans, pacing the field ahead of Austrians Benny Raich and Mickey Walchhofer. The maple leafs were waving proudly as Canadians Erik Guay and Robbie Dixon finished 4th and 5th respectively. Now the bad news: Canadian ace John Kucera broke two bones in his leg and is done for the season. The race had some positive finishes for team USA, with Ted Ligety taking 8th and Marco Sullivan 15th. Even more notable is the fact that up and coming Andrew Weibrecht had respectable 12th place finishes in both events...the Salt Lake Tribune reports that the legendary Stein Eriksen is back on the snow at age 82, and after his accident has taken to wearing a helmet. They report that Stein leaves it outside, on his skis, hoping that someone will steal it.
11/25/09 Great news from Wyoming where upgrades to small but mighty Sleeping Giant in Cody are almost complete, including new chairs, re-cleared trails, and a general spit and polish. Sleeping Giant was expected to roll this weekend, but installation on one lift is still underway. They're now targeting Dec 4...News from the far north is that Alyeska opens for the season this morning...news from the northeast not so good; Bromley is now calling for Dec 5 opening, and Killington won't be cranking as usual on Turkey Day tomorrow. Bright spot is that K-Mart says they might open as early as Sunday if the cold temps roll in as expected...in the midwest, it's equally dismal. Chairs at legendary Boyne are swinging in the mild breeze, and biggie Lutsen is now looking at a December opening. A lot of would-be midwestern skiers will become re-acquainted with the Detroit Lions tomorrow...likewise, if you live in the Big Apple, plan on watching the parade, because you won't be skiing this weekend. Belleayre, Hunter and Windham have all delayed opening. Only Belleayre is still holding out hope that they may get a slope going by Friday, although they'll need the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Wizard in order for that to happen at this point...selling price of Copper is said to be $100 million, which is less than Intrawest paid...Snowmass opens tomorrow, opening today is their new ritzy Viceroy Snowmass hotel. But not all is well in the Snowmass Base Village as owners are moving to evict the trendy Junk and Liquid Sky restaurants, supposedly because of bad debt.
11/23/09 It's confirmed that Resi Stiegler has multiple leg fractures, the details of which are enough to make you shudder...Sun Valley opens Thursday with a new gondy...tragedy Friday in Breckenridge, where a 14 year old Colorado Springs girl was killed after hitting a tree. She was wearing a helmet...still no snowguns happening in Vermont; Stowe, Sugarbush and Okemo did not open this past weekend. The Bush is aiming for this coming weekend, while Okemo says that they aren't going to say.
11/20/09 Copper Mountain leads off our report again, but this time as the site of yet another injury to Resi Stiegler, who was reportedly screaming in pain for a few long minutes after a training mishap. Rumor is it's a left knee thing, and Resi (rhymes with crazy) will likely miss the Olympics.....Call off the dogs, Heavenly will wait until tomorrow for its season opener, due to high wind conditions...Colorado's small but mighty Eldora Mt opens today, with terrain on two of its peaks...Vail opened today....Snowbird opened today....Important Recall news concerning Salomon alpine ski bindings models LZ 7, LZ 8, LZ 9, LZ 7 SR, LZ 8 SR, LZ 8 SC, and J LZ 9 and Atomic ski bindings with model Evox 2.8, Evox 2.8+, Evox 2.8++, and FFG 8. The toe components bear a production date code ending in "8" that can be found on the center plate where the toe of a ski boot contacts the toe component of the bindings. This is a current model that is made in Romania. According to The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Sally has issued a voluntary recall following two injuries possibly related to toe pre-releases. Consumers should stop using these ski bindings immediately and return the Salomon-brand ski bindings to any authorized Salomon ski dealer, or return the Atomic-brand ski bindings to any authorized Atomic ski dealer, for a free inspection and replacement of the toe component.
11/19/09 Intrawest is selling Copper Mountain to Powdr Corp., the folks who own Park City Mountain Resort, Boreal, Mount Bachelor, Las Vegas Ski and Snowboard Resort and recently purchased Killington and Pico in Vermont. Intrawest made the interesting statement that selling Copper "reflects our strategy to focus on core resorts going forward." Hmmm. Not sure how you get much more "core" than Copper....Seattle SkiFever and Snowboard Show this Fri/Sat/Sun is at a new location at the Washington State Convention & Trade Center....word from the Sierras is that snows and expected snows will see Heavenly open Friday, while Squaw Valley USA and Northstar at Tahoe are looking to open Saturday. Sugar Bowl and Bear Valley are slated for next week....Turkey day openings unlikely in New England, where cold temps aren't due to arrive until then....body of that missing 54 year old Canadian skier found at Mt. Baker, under a foot and a half of fresh snow.
11/17/09 The former Mt. Holly and Elk Meadows ski areas in southern Utah will be on the auction block in a couple days. The neighboring areas became one sometime in the 1990s, and last operated in 2002. Three years ago the operation was set to reopen with a private golf course as an uber-upscale resort, but that pesky economy thing reared its ugly head. The deal is expected to fetch about a million bucks, said to be worth five times that...word from WV at Snowshoe Mountain Resort mirrors the rest of the east coast; guns have been fired, snow has fallen, but the warm temps are proving to be quite troublesome as most are targeting a Thanksgiving opening...the Nov 20 opening for Alta we reported a few days ago has been pushed back, not enough of that white stuff on the ground...heartbreaking news from Washington State, a Canadian couple was snowshoeing and skiing in the Mt. Baker Wilderness. The missus fell 20 ft off the trail while shoeing, worked her way back to the trail only to find her ski-shod husband no longer there. He's 54 and been missing since Sunday...early word from Aspen is that everything is looking good for the Women's FIS World Cup event on Nov 28 & 29; U.S. faves Lindsey Vonn and Julia Mancuso are both slated to compete...are longer skis going to make a comeback? Right now the Rossignol S7 -- a concept ski that combines center camber with tip and tail reverse camber -- is the hottest selling ski out there. Rossy reps say to make the thing work right, add 10 cm to what you'd normally ski on with a midfat shaped ski. That's good. I could never get used to the idea of a full grown man skiing on 167s.
11/16/09 FIS World Cup news from the weekend in Levi, Finland had Reinfried Herbst of Austria grabbing the mens slalom trophy, edging Ivica Kostelic of Croatia and Jean-Baptiste Grange of France, who were ahead of Herbst after the first run. American Ted Ligety finished in the teens, and Bode Miller came away with a DNF and a bloody nose. On the Women's side, German Maria Riesch roared back from last year's late season injury with a win in the slalom Saturday, eclipsing friend Lindsey Vonn of the USA by a mere 0.08 seconds. Riesch is the reigning slalom world champ, so it's really no surprise. Finn Tanja Poutiainen finished third and thus maintains her early overall World Cup lead.
11/12/09 Biggest news today comes from Washington State, where early snows seem to have jump started the season -- a month early in some cases. Reports coming in; most notable is Mount Baker. It must be buried, because both base areas are in full swing and all lifts are cranking! Crystal Mountain is open and sending you up on the Discovery, Chinook Express, Quicksilver and Forest Queen lifts, with the Rainier Express and Green Valley lifts on the way. Tickets are heavily discounted right now. White Pass plans to open for the weekend with at least four lifts. word from Stevens Pass is that there's over two feet of snow at the base, but no word yet on opening. Elsewhere in Washington, Mission Ridge has fired up the guns and expects to open for Thanksgiving...On the other side of the river, Mt. Hood Meadows joins Timberline as Oregon's open ski areas. MHM will have four lifts and a carpet running today, and it is still snowing...Mogul champ and multi-sport star Jeremy Bloom announced his retirement yesterday...New Hampshire's Attitash fired up the guns last night. Not sure if this is to grab some ink, er, pixels, or if they really have the temps to make it worthwhile...In Utah, Brighton and Solitude are open right now, and we've got some updates on when the rest will crank...Nov 20: Alta; Nov 21: Brian Head, Park City, Snowbird; Nov. 26: Snowbasin; Nov. 27: Wolf Creek, The Canyons; Nov. 28: Powder Mountain. Both Deer Valley and Sundance will roll in December, and small but mighty Beaver Mountain is waiting for more of the white stuff.
11/11/09 Here's a sincere "thank you for your service" to all of our Veterans, something we ought to be saying more than once or twice a year.
11/10/09 Word in the northeast is that Killington will reopen tomorrow for Veteran's Day. Warm temps and a crummy forecast have put a damper on snowmaking plans for the east and midwest right now, but that should turn around shortly.
11/9/09 Colorado skiers ought to fork over ten bucks for the Gems Card, which gives you all sorts of discounts to the "small" areas like A-Basin, Loveland, Echo, Monarch, Sol Vista etc. I've had this some years, but other times I've been too late (supplies are limited) and lost out. Includes free days early and late season, half price tickets, all sorts of things. My favorite is the $34 Saturday ticket at Ski Cooper. How can you beat that? Spend $70 to stand in line in Summit County, or half the money for no liftlines in Leadville...good news in New England this weekend as Killington turned back the clock a couple decades and opened the Northridge Triple or whatever they call it now, and Bretton Woods claimed first in NH honors by opening the Rosebrook Lane trail. Bretton Woods earmarked all ticket proceeds for its adaptive skiing program, so that's especially good news. Both are closed during the week now, but hey, this is really a good sign. Eastern skiers no longer have to wax poetic about what "used to be" when they talk about skiing in late October and early November. Between K-Mart, BW, Mount Snow and especially Sunday River, it seems that happy days are here again...New Yorkers aren't far behind as Belleayre has been cranking the guns when temps allow.
11/7/09 Timberline Lodge opened today, first in the Pac NW.
11/3/09 Loveland has added the #6 chair to its open terrain. On the other side of the divide, Copper plans to open Friday...Beyond this, many Coloradans are dealing with a big problem right now. As the Everly Brothers song goes, "Problems, problems, problems all day long." Problem: Loveland pass is $349 and includes 3 days at Monarch. Problem: A-Basin pass is $359 and includes 5 days at Breckenridge or Keystone; you can use one of those days at Vail/Beaver Creek. Problem: A pass for both Winter Park and Copper is $399. Problem: How do you pick? I guess if your preference is expert terrain and you like to dabble in the "backcountry" you go with A-Basin. If you can ski often but only for a limited amount of time when you go, or if you have to drive by yourself a lot, Loveland is a no-brainer. If you prefer to ski with groups or you're doing the family thing, Copper is the place to be. Fact is you can't go wrong with any of these options.
11/2/09 Word from New York throwback area Plattekill is that 30 new fan guns have been added, mostly to service the expanded terrain park...ever notice how most of today's trail maps are virtually impossible for navigating a major mountain? They seem to be designed more for wall posters than anything else. Sugarloaf has a terrific "key", but the biggest thing on the map is the chairlift that services the base area, while the right half of the foreground is dominated by trees. Some are downright bizarre, such as Blue Mountain in Pennsy, which provides a trail map dominated by tubing runs, or Windham NY, which depicts a downhill perspective for a traverse that actually goes uphill! The answer? Let's get back to the topographical maps of years ago. Killington had a fabulous topo trail map; far superior to the hodgepodge of arrows and roadways we're given today...speaking of K-Mart, it appears that the resort has a new logo and color scheme. The logo borrows from the old "K", while the color scheme borrows from I don't know what. Crate and Barrel perhaps? Add in a new typestyle and the overall look is almost Aspen-ish. Now if only they'd bring back the topo maps.
10/30/09 Nice coating of snow has fallen in Colorado, Utah, Wyoming...checking in at Steamboat we're anticipating a Nov 27 opening, same deal in Utah at Powder Mountain, which relies heavily on natural stuff. Looking good so far, as long as they get a couple more storms...looking at New England we just want to remind you that if there's any way you can finagle a college pass, there are some great deals to be had; we've seen a Sugarloaf/Sunday River/Loon deal, and a fantastic Cannon/Cranmore/Waterville/Bretton Woods package at $289. Darn college students have all the fun.
10/26/09 Word from Minnesota's Lutsen is that snowmaking tests went smoothly and the resort expects to open as scheduled on November 21...News from the FIS World Cup in Soelden, the usual venue for the season opener, where Didier Cuche of Switzerland turned in an impressive win on the men's side. Teammate Carlo Janka finished third as the Swiss bookended an impressive 2nd place finish by American Ted Ligety. On the women's side, Finland's Tanja Poutiainen was followed by Kathrin Zettel of Austria and Denise Karbon of Italy. Reigning world champion Lindsay Vonn, competing for the first time on Head brand equipment, showed a respectable 9th place. In case you haven't heard, Bode Miller has returned to Team USA this year and word is that he will be entered in the Levi competition.
10/23/09 Interesting news from northern Maine where Saddleback has announced that it will open this season with additional terrain, including a single black diamond trail and a rather sizable tree skiing section. This area is definitely coming to life after decades as a sleeping giant; two new groomers, a tiller and a bunch of new snowmaking stuff were added in the off-season. The biggest indicator is that some slopeside condos are going up as you read this. I'm not a fan of condos, but if it keeps places like Saddleback open and thriving, build away!
10/20/09 Most of the opening dates in Utah have been scheduled, and it looks like Solitude will be first to crank the lifts on November 13. Brighton follows on the 16th and Alta on the 20th, while Brian Head, Park City and Snowbird drop the ropes on the 21st. Snowbasin, The Canyons and Powder Mountain follow a week later. Sundance and Deer Valley have scheduled their openings for December. Up north, Beaver says the date is TBA; same from small but mighty Wolf Creek in the Ogden Valley...in the east, Mount Snow did their usual early opening on the Launch Pad slope this weekend, but with a couple of important twists. First off, it was a month earlier than usual, and secondly, Sneaux had a chairlift turning this time around. Although Sunday River rightfully got the majority of east coast buzz this year, we give major props to the southern VT biggie for doing what they're doing. So it looks like another terrific year shaping up for Mt Snow, although they'll be without glad-hander and mad-mixer "Halley," whose irreverent video reports were an effective youth marketing vehicle last season. Word is that she has moved on to Mountain Creek in New Jersey.
10/15/09 Huzzah! Sunday River is gearing up for its 50th anniversary in grand style by OPENING. As in, buy a ticket and go ski. On snow! An early freeze and a little help from mother nature have conspired in a very early season at the Riv. Now, it's just one slope, and it will only be open through the weekend as milder temps are expected next week. But it's here sportsfans...Killington is not far behind, blowing snow up on the Glades area (I don't remember what they renamed it) and also getting some free snow from the sky. Again, the Beast of the East is back...Mount Snow doesn't quite have the same elevation advantage, but is not to be outdone in terms of early-season publicity; Sneaux has a nice pile on the Launch Pad slope and will be open with some "jibs" and "hits" and some of that other hardware the younger generation insists on having. Personally I think it just screws up a good ski slope, but unfortunately I'm in aging demographic. Well whatever, this is all fantastic news from the northeast. Anybody remember ASC? No? Didn't think so. It seems like just yesterday all of the aforementioned were under the American Skiing Company umbrella and in the throes of a death spiral. Today it's just a distant memory...A word to the wise, all this early season stuff is (historically) hype, as the October snow tends to be gone in a week or less. But it is certainly exciting!
10/13/09 Certainly the biggest news is that the legendary Hermann Maier announced his retirement today. At age 36 he's getting out while he's still healthy. Maier, better known as The Hermanator, made a remarkable comeback from a motorcycle accident in which he nearly lost his leg to win the overall World Cup Mens title once again. Last year he was merely "good" on the circuit -- which means he's still one of the best skiers on the planet -- but not good enough by Hermann Maier standards. We will miss his speed, athleticism, courage, and incredible dedication to the sport. Another great nickname was "Das Monster," which sort of fell by the wayside after his spectacular Nagano Olympic crash. Recall that Maier was a bit woozy but dusted himself off and won the next two events after launching off the course like a kite at 70 mph....in other FIS World Cup news, Swiss sensation Lara Gut is expected to be out until January after her training mishap a few weeks ago...resort news: Arapahoe Basin checked in this weekend, opening the High Noon trail...in the Tahoe region, Boreal has opened with a LOT of Sierra cement; but it's early season and we aren't picky. Some say possibly Boreal's best opening weekend ever.
10/7/09 Word is that Loveland is opening this morning, which will give them "first to open" honors this season. Arapahoe Basin to follow on Friday...In Oregon, been a tough time for Timberline, where insufficient snow levels keep the Palmer snowfield quiet right now.
10/6/09 Rumor mill running rampant in Southern Vermont that Haystack is re-opening this season; no real evidence yet...across the river in New Hampshire, Waterville Valley added 40 snow guns and a new groomer during the off season...news from New Jersey, where Mountain Creek is fixing a problem spot on the Horizon trail. If you know Creek, there was a 90º turn where Horizon meets Sayanora, and then goes under a bridge. This turn was a natural stopping point; skiers and boarders couldn't see around the turn so they stopped, and traffic backed up. It was a nuisance spot during the entire 40 years of Vernon Valley/Mountain Creek. So now they've got dozers on the trail, shaping and smoothing, and when the season opens it will be a nice gentle unobstructed turn. Kudos to Creek for fixing this mess.
10/2/09 Apparently the snow goddess of the northeast caught wind of the white stuff out west and decided to put on a little show of her own; there was a much-publicized dusting on top of Sugarloaf. More impressive was the wet coating that fell on parts of the Adirondacks, where a couple of enthusiasts clicked into nordic skis and managed to make a few tracks! Let's hope the lady delivers a season to match her early promise...picking up on yesterday's discussion regarding the "discount card" deals. Continuing today with the overall discount card, which is a bit different from the 3-fers. Good examples are the "X-2 Card" at Stratton and across the valley at Bromley they've got something called the "Sun Mountain Club Discount Card." Both these cards cost $69 right now, with the idea that you get $10 or $20 or more off any lift ticket you buy, depending on holidays and whatnot. They also come pre-loaded with one lift ticket, so it really is a "no-brainer" -- as long as you are going to use it. The cards also have other discounts and freebies at restaurants and shops, which is nice. You have to buy these by a certain deadline in October, which isn't quite so nice. The only problem with these cards is that if you don't use it for some reason, you're out your money. My rule is, if I have any doubt at all that I will ski the area, I pass on the card. If I've already rented a chalet somewhere -- sent in my deposit -- then I'm definitely going and so I buy the card. On the other hand, if I really want to hit Bromley in February but I don't have anything firm yet, I pass on the card now and shell out the extra $10 or $20 for the ticket when (and if) I go. One more scenario, using the Stratton/Bromley example. Let's say I live close by and have a season pass at one. Then I go ahead and buy the promotional card for the other, because it'll give me an opportunity for some variety at minimal expense.
10/1/09 Happiness & joy in Little Cottonwood Canyon, where Snowbird received half a foot of snow yesterday, with more on the way. This will probably melt long before the season kicks off, but 'Bird faithful are stoked just the same...I'm often asked about the value of buying pre-season discount cards. I'm not talking about season passes, but a card that generally costs less than $100, and entitles the bearer to either a certain number of tickets, discounts on tickets, or both. The concept of a "triple card" is popular at mid-sized mountains, who will load three tickets for $99 or something like that. My take is that if you regularly go to this hill, and you know you'll be going again, it's a no-brainer. Pennsylvania's Camelback has a 3/$99 deal, and I recommend it to anyone who skis there more than once -- even if you only use it twice, it's cheaper than buying two tickets. When you consider that a season pass for an adult is something like $500 at this venue, two or even three of these cards might make sense for some people.
9/29/09 With brisk temps on the mountain, Sunday River blew the dust out of a few snow guns yesterday and laid down a light coating during a test run of the system. It's getting closer, folks...rough news from Saas-Fee in Switzerland today where young sensation Lara Gut dislocated her right hip while training. The 18-year-old dumped out during a giant slalom practice and was choppered to a hospital in Viege, where her hip was reset. Gut will be out a month and thus miss the opening of the World Cup season in October...far worse deal for Finnish skier Marcus Sandell, who crashed heavily yesterday on the Pitztaler glacier near Innsbruck, Austria. 22-year old Sandell hurt his kidney, spleen and back and broke his nose and hand Monday after coming off the course and falling. Word is one of his kidneys was removed; our thoughts and prayers are with the young man.
9/25/09 Major shake-up in the Vail Resorts family this morning, Lucy Kay is gone as vice president and chief operating officer at Breckenridge, effective Oct. 7. She will be replaced by Pat Campbell, currently doing the same duties at Keystone. Kay was instrumental in Breck's big rise over the past decade. No official word, but by all appearances this is a firing, not a resignation. Supposedly Vail Resorts wants to promote from within for Campbell's replacement...the big news of course is that Bode Miller is returning to the US Ski Team fold, with his eye on Calgary. Bode's already one of the all-time greats, however the public perception is that he's an iconoclast and a party boy whose last Olympic washout overshadows the incredible things he's accomplished. Nevermind that this guy has 2 long ago Olympic silvers, 4 golds at the World Championships, and 2 overall men's FIS World Cup titles. He's going to have to do something in February to shake the public perception. I have a suspicion that Bode, who was hot off an overall world championship, didn't think he had anything to prove in 2006. To those of us who live and breathe skiing, he doesn't have anything to prove. But to the casual Olympic viewer -- which is 99.9% of the population -- Bode may have a second chance at greatness. First he's gotta make the team.
9/24/09 Word from Sunday River is that each room in their Grand Resort Hotels have new 13.5" coil-on-coil mattresses, 300 thread count bedding, and 42" flat screen televisions. Do you care? Didn't think so. But it is interesting to note that even in a tough economy, Boyne Resorts is doing what it takes to continually improve services at the Riv. And in this, the 50th season in Newry, we'll also see some subtle on-mountain improvements. Some new drives on the White Cap and Spruce Peak lifts; new lift houses for the magic carpet area, a new load ramp for the White Cap lift, and a whole bunch of valves, pipes, hoses, drying towers, couplings and who knows what else in the snowmaking department. Doesn't sound like much, but they've spent about 2.5 million on the hill. I have no idea what they spent on the beds. The official day for the anniversary, by the way, is December 19.
9/23/09 Last year as you recall we were all stoked about new lifts and expanded terrain at places like Gore, Attitash and Whiteface, the new snowmaking power at Mount Snow, and the surprising return to a longer season at Killington. This year, in the full swing of the dreaded recession, we aren't seeing a lot of expansion -- no surprise there. But we are seeing a lot of repair and maintenance efforts. My pappy used to say that a can of paint is the cheapest way to improve business. At Killington, for example, we've got word of replaced snowmaking pipe on the legendary Cascade Trail, re-grading of the unload on Skye Peak, a new warming hut on the Killington summit, and a lot of freshly painted lift towers.
9/21/09 The snow guns were cranked up at 11:00 am at Loveland, which is easily one of the most underrated ski areas in the nation. With some natural up top, they fired up the compressors three days earlier than last season. Game on!
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