The Buzz: Ski Area News

hosted by Rick Bolgerwith correspondents throughout the world

Summer 2013 through December 2013 News Archive

24 December 2013 Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays...Santa came early to Steamboat, leaving about a foot and a half of fresh over the last day or so...even so, arguably the best skiing in the USA right now -- albeit not the tallest -- is at Mount Bohemia on the Upper Peninsula. Bohemia relies 100% on natural snow, and they've got it, 100% open which includes some of the gnarliest terrain imaginable. It snowed half a foot yesterday, and it snowed the day before yesterday, and the day before that, and so on for the past 17 days. Snow. Bohemia's got it, and right now you can't beat it...that big sucking sound you hear from the northeast is dozens of snowmaking ponds feeding pumps as cold temps ended the brief vacation your local snowmaker was enjoying. Okemo back up to 70+ trails, Mount Snow quickly back to its pre-thaw offering, now dusting up the mainstay routes...temps are good right down through the banana belt, Camelback PA guns on and 60% of terrain is open...Wintergreen VA hammering the guns Minnesota, midwest biggie Lutsen is about 70% open but I suspect they'll bump it close to 100% shortly. They've got almost a foot of fresh on the ground and it's snowing like crazy as I type this. Conditions are, in a word, awesome...rough news out of the Pac NW, authorities have confirmed that 40-year-old woman Ngoc-Han Thi Van died last week on a novice slope at Crystal Mountain, apparently hit a tree. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family...better news from the region, Stevens Pass cut the ribbon on its new Jupiter Express chair, servicing terrain in half the previous time. New backside tree terrain also at Stevens this season, as well as tree terrain in the South Park area.

23 December 2013 Well the weather is the news, at least in the east. But it's not all gloom and doom -- we'll use Vermont as an example. These are the days that it pays to have snowmaking; places like Killington and neighboring Okemo survived the heat wave with trail counts still into the 40s. Places that rely more on natural snow, such as Mad River Glen and Magic Mountain are finding it necessary to juggle their schedules and open terrain a bit. The snowmakers like K-Mart and Okie will always have good snow, but always with that ice hardpack underneath. Not so at the natural places. Rain like New England has been having, the natural gets wiped out. But when the Magics and Mad Rivers do have snow, it's a far superior surface. So we go to the Killingtons most of the time, and the Magics when Mother Nature smiles upon us. And when you think about it, that's a pretty good snow in New Mexico, Sandia Peak, Angelfire and Ski Apache all receiving about a half a foot of fresh...snowing as I type this in parts of the Pac NW; Anthony Lakes reports a nice covering and more falling...two surprises and some bad news this past weekend from the World Cup scene; Tina Weirather continues atop the women's overall leaderboard after an impressive GS victory in Val d'Isere. Lara Gut and Maria Pietilae-Holmner rounded out the podium. Downhill action on Saturday had Marianne Kaufman-Abderhdabadaba ahead of Tina Maze and Cornelia Huetter, and we should mention that Weirather was 4th in that race, which gives you an idea what kind of season she's having. Question on everyone's mind, what's up with Maze, who dominated so amazingly last season. It's still early, folks. By the way top US finisher in that event was Leanne Smith in 14th, overshadowed of course by Lindsey Vonn's latest re-injury. The talking heads on TV say she should move aside to allow others into the Olympics, and some sheep are re-bleating that message all around the internet. That's idiotic, mainly because Vonn is the best there is. The other thing is, just because mere mortals seldom come back strong after an ACL injury, doesn't mean Lindsey can't. Just ask the aforementioned Tina Weirather, atop the overall leaderboard today after three (3) torn ACLs on the same what was the second surprise in World Cup you ask? Well the men had two speed events in Val Gardena, and somebody ought to tell Bode Miller he's too old because he sure doesn't know it, turning in two solid top ten finishes. Aksel Svindal topped the podium in the Super G, followed by Canadian Jan Hudec and Frenchman Adrien Theaux. Downhill Saturday won by Erik Guay of Canada, followed by Kjetil Jansrud of Norway and Johan Clarey of France. Svindal was fourth. Sunday the circus jumped over to Alta Badia, where Marcel Hirscher found some secret sauce and suprised Ted Ligety in the GS. Alexis Pinturault was second, followed by Ligety. Svindall was 13th or thereabouts, which contributes to his lead in the overall. Hirscher is second, Ligety a distant third...half a foot of fresh today at Snowbird...The Sound of Music was on network television last night, a nice refreshing change from the usual crap...woman caught in an avalanche this weekend in Grizzly Gulch, a backcountry hotspot next to Alta. She deployed an airbag, but was buried in the slide anyway. Quick work from other skiers led to a quick and safe rescue.

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

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

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

18 December 2013 Shame on me, skiing last week and missed the biggest news in the industry! Which is, the Blake family is selling Taos Ski Valley to conservationist Louis Bacon, assuming all shareholders approve...If the bird is the word, the word is that Snowbird will open Mineral Basin, Baldy Express, Peruvian Tunnel, Little Cloud Chairlift and the Alta Connection this the east, Whiteface is now open to the summit, earliest since we can't remember when...speaking of the high country, the Highlands section at Wintergreen VA is open, also earliest in recent memory. Not saying "memory" is anything to go by, just sayin'...venerable Cranmore Mountain in North Conway NH just unveiled plans to completely redo their base area, full details to be presented to the town planning board in February but word is the only current structure at the base that won't be replaced is the ticket building. Plan calls for condo units right by the high speed chair...yesterday pleased to report on Marlies Schild securing her slalom legacy in Courchevel, but somehow missed the news that French ace Tessa Worley clobbered her knee and will be out for the rest of the season. Let's hope for a speedy and full recovery for Tessa...

Tessa Worley being loaded on a sled in Courchevel yesterday morning. Sorry to say she's going to miss the Sochi games.

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

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

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

17 December 2013 Plenty of great news from ski areas across the country; especially glad to report that some of the smaller areas are open -- really open -- with some even cranking at 100% of terrain, shout out to the smaller hills like Ski Liberty in Pennsy; mid-winter conditions there; Anthony Lakes in the Pac NW, Butternut in Mass at 100%, and small but mighty Thunder Ridge in NY open for the season...moving up a bit in size, Mad River Glen VT is open a lot earlier than usual, same deal in New Mexico at Sandia Peak, which limped through last season, they've got about 2/3 of their terrain open east of Albuquerque...speaking of New Mexico, Enchanted Forest XC near Red River is open 100%...speaking of Red River, that alpine resort is about 2/3 open. I suspect it's just a matter of early-season, mid-week logistics that they aren't open 100%, because all three of their "official" extreme runs are open, including short but nasty Bad Medicine...FIS World Cup news just in from Courchevel where Marlies Schild won the slalom event, tying her with the legendary Vreni Schneider on the all-time slalom win list. Frida Hansdotter of Sweden was second, while Bernadette Schild was third. Mikaela Shiffrin finished 12th, which would be respectable for just about anybody, unless you happen to be a teenage phenom in the world cup spotlight. Regardless, Shiffrin still leads in that discipline...psst...Bode Miller is tenth in the men's overall...Back to New Mexico, here's Sandia Peak as I type this:

Sandia Peak, New Mexico, prior to opening this morning Dec 17, 2013.

Let's be glad we had this time to spend together...thank you Ray Price, rest in peace...for the good times.

14 December 2013 Word is Sunday River will open the legendary White Heat trail today...massive amounts of snow expected in New England tonight, Mad River Glen will open. This is a great forecast for MRG's forgotten stepchild Magic Mountain, which will have enough snow to open but is planning right now to hold off so they can better prepare their base...Stratton has their Sun lodge open this weekend, earliest in memory. They're going to close the lodge mid week but the lifts will still spin in that section.

12 December 2013 Happy Birthday to Mount Snow, Vermont, 59 years ago broke new ground on the concept of what a ski resort can be.

9 December 2013 Big goings-on this past weekend in FIS World Cup action, first we'll review the ladies in Lake Louise; yes Lindsey Vonn did race so let's get that out of the way. She didn't win. Anyway, Maria Hoefl-Riesch won the downhill Friday, with Switzerland's Marianne Kaufmann-Abderhalden (if she starts winning a lot I'm going to abbreviate her name whether she likes it or not) in second, Italian Elena Fanchini third. Saturday the ladies were right back on the downhill course, same winner, but this time Tina Weirather of Liechtenstein was second and Austria's Anna Fenninger third. The fact that Hoefl-Riesch won both events was lost on most, as this was the race in which Lindsey Vonn made her astonishing return and finished 11th. That's a great finish if you know anything about anything, but not if you're a U.S. mainstream sports journalist. For what it's worth Lara Gut finished both races around the 10 or 13 mark. Super G on Sunday saw Gut atop the leaderboard, with Weirather and Fenninger getting used to filling out the podium. Lindz finished fifth, which is remarkable. Hoefl-Riesch leads the downhill standings, obviously, and is just 20 points behind Lara Gut for the overall....the men meanwhile moved to Beaver Creek, where Norway's Aksel Lund Svindal won the downhill Friday, Austrian Hannes Reichelt was second and Italian Peter Fill third. Some guy named Bode Miller finished 13th. Saturday in the Super G, Swiss Patrick Keung notched his first World Cup victory, Austrian Otmar Striedinger was second with his first World Cup podium, Fill was third. Notable that Ted Ligety finished fifth and that Miller dude finished 14th. Wait a second...Bode Miller? 14th? Was it old timers day? Anyway, fast forward to yesterday, Ted Ligety won the GS as expected, with that pesky reigning overall champ Marcel Hirscher finishing third. But hold the presses -- Bode Miller finished second! If I may quote the vernacular, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot! Holy crap. Between the babies and the knee operations, I figured this dude was done. No clue how he's doing it, but definitely glad to have him back!

5 December 2013 Huzzah! Game on in Southern California, finally, plummeting temps have lifts spinning at Mountain High and Big Bear. Word is Snow Summit will open tomorrow...Lots of fresh in snow in the southwest, well a very small part of it, Ski Santa Fe and Taos both receiving a couple inches overnight...lodge was packed for the ribbon cutting ceremony at Montage in NE Pennsy last night; they're planning to open tomorrow with seven Wisconsin, Cascade Mountain opens tomorrow as well. They did a thing last weekend, but shut down Monday. Looks like they'll be good to go for the rest of the season, barring some January meltdown or something...Lindsey Vonn cleared to resume training; no word yet whether we'll see her in Lake Louise this weekend.

3 December 2013 Here's a first, Southern CA's Mt Baldy is floating a bunch of hollow 4" plastic balls on its snowmaking pond. The idea is that the balls will prevent rapid evaporation in their frequently dry and sunny air. Mt Baldy says the evaporation has been costing them about $120k per year, considering that they have to pump water up from lower elevation to fill the pond. Whether or works or not, still quite interesting...Great news out of the Pac NW; snow has hit the Elkhorns and Anthony Lakes will open this out of Wyoming that a local community group is trying to reopen Antelope Butte in the Bighorns; it's been closed since 2005...Snow depth on the various Steamboat summits is now over 80"....and a few inches of snow overnight at Arapahoe Basin; at this rate they'll have Pally open soon. As it is, virtually everything off Lenawee is open, so they're well ahead of the past couple seasons...6" pow overnight at Snowbird, now skiing on about four feet of base...Warm in New England, probably until Saturday. Still the good news outweighs the bad, as Sunday River reports business to date is up 20% over last season...Pennsy's revitalized Montage Mountain cuts the ribbon on their new lodge tomorrow, scheduled to open for the season Friday. Here's a recent vid from the construction...

2 December 2013 LATE UPDATE Back to FIS World Cup news, sort of. As skiers you will no doubt be forwarded a rather legit looking video allegedly showing Didier Cuche flip a ski through a bus window. Cuche, if you didn't know it, is the retired Swiss great who did a trademark ski flip at the end of his competitive runs. Well in this viral video he flips it through the window of the team Austria bus, which happens to be parked at the bottom of the hill. If you know the history of Austria vs. Switzerland on the circuit, it's quite apparent that this is just a carefully crafted gag. Forget the fact that you couldn't spear a ski through a bus window, if you know Cuche, this is clearly a well done smack at the Austrians and their trademark air of superiority on the slopes. Here's the vid:

2 December 2013 Usually I let the dust settle for a day or two before I review the weekend World Cup alpine action, but it's just too exciting, too much going on. Most notably the Lara Gut show in Beaver Creek; the rising Swiss star grabbed top spot in the ladies' downhill and super G races, then crashed while leading the GS. Unexpected win for Sweden's Jessica Lindell-Vikarby, who overcame a stunning run by US wunderkind Mikaela Shiffrin. Shiffrin took second, her first GS podium and surely a sign of things to come. Overshadowed by all of this was Liechtensteiner Tina Weirather, who finished second in the DH and third in the GS. Overshadowed by the overshadowing was a couple of ho-hum finishes for reigning overall champ Tina Maze, who sits in 7th overall. Gut of course is currently first in the overall standings. Nothing nearly as exciting from the men, who were doing speed events in Lake Louise. Norseman Aksel Lund Svindal won the super G yesterday, while Italian Dominik Paris won Saturday's downhill event. Svindal sits atop the overall leaderboard after the win and a respectable 4th in the DH. Speaking of respectable, Bode Miller acquitted himself fairly well with a 16th on Saturday, best American effort....more on ski news later...

26 November 2013 Well this is interesting, the US Forest Service is looking at ways for ski areas to monetize the earn-your-turns crowd. The news is making a hulabaloo in Colorado, but a spokesman for Aspen says the request is coming out of the east, where operators are miffed that skinners and heelers are freeloading on costly man made snow. We've seen this foreshadowed for a while now, with places like Arapahoe Basin and Copper requiring a no-cost "pass" and signing a waiver. The language is shaping up like this: "a fee for facilities and services the holders provide, such as lifts, parking lots, and slopes and trails that have been cleared, graded, groomed or covered with manmade snow." To maintain its equal access directive, the USFS is asking operators to leave some trails available for uphill travel, so that those who truly want to rough it won't have to pay a fee. Personally I don't have a problem with resorts charging for use of the improvements they've made. But I really get pissed when people can buy their way to the front of the line on public land...Great news from the midwest, revitalized Ski Brighton opened yesterday, and will be spinning lifts again today at 3 PM. If you aren't familiar with this particular Michigan bump, it's about 45 minutes out of downtown Detroit, and it was on life support until purchased earlier this year by Vail Resorts...add to the roster of New Mexico openings: Ski Santa Fe, Taos Ski Valley and Ski Apache are all scheduled to go on Thanksgiving Day...Things are looking golden for western New York state, if only they had better terrain. Even slightly better. But those are the breaks, and big breaking news from Kissing Bridge who will open tomorrow, earliest since I can't remember. Sorry to report it's raining at Bristol as I type this, but they're open with some decent skiing on Rocket and whatnot. Peek'n Peak and Holiday Valley in Ellicottville will both be opening Friday. Moving east, Windham scheduled to open on Friday. Should be doable, the current system showed up a bit ahead of schedule, which will give the resorts a chance to recover. Looking north a bit, Killington plans to open Snowshed this weekend, they are blowing snow on Rams Head as the banana belt, got word that hard-luck Montage has had the guns going like crazy, it's really great to see the new ownership is committed to opening as soon as possible. We're definitely hoping for the best...Speaking of Pennsy, Hidden Valley and Seven Springs will open on Friday. I had reported earlier this season that Seven Springs wasn't going to open HV, but I was way off on that, as a couple of regular readers pointed out....which Mad River will open first? If you said Mad River Mountain in Logan County, Ohio, you'd be correct. They're going to spin 'em on Saturday...back to New York State, here's a live capture from Bristol this morning:

25 November 2013 Heavenly and Northstar now open for the season...Big to-do being made about the storm bearing down on the northeast, but talk of a winter wonderland beginning to lessen in favor of cold & rainy, the cold being not enough and the rain being too much. In the meantime, all bets are off and the snow guns are blazing...up and down report from Stowe Vermont, which opened this past weekend with 6" of fresh on the ground, along with howling winds and some rather unpleasant uphill chair rides...southern VT Mount Snow recovered nicely from the warm-up, still offering a few ways down the mountain. Killington and Sunday River are certainly serving up the most in New England right now, although Loon is not far behind...Sugarloaf opened with Tote Road this past weekend, remaining open and blowing. NH's Wildcat also opened, they're staying open for now...really, really cold in New England, Middlebury's Rikert Nordic Center is open, about a month earlier than the midwest, Lutsen opened this past weekend as planned. Closed now, reopening Thursday and blowing snow like gangbusters...snow guns on at both Boyne hills, but the really exciting conditions are at small but might Ski Brule, here's a video from Sunday morning. We'll rejoin below... New York state, appears that we finally have a tentative opening date for Belleayre, which is now operating as a remote outpost for the Olympic Regional Development Authority. They're looking at Friday the 29th, although Wednesday's weather may have something to say about that...central NY semi-banana belt area Greek Peak trying to open this week...Steamboat will open Wednesday with some 50 trails...and we'll end on a real feel-good story: Powder Ridge of Middlefield, Connecticut is coming back from the dead, possibly this week but again the weather may rain on those plans. Either way, it will be open this winter for the first time since 2007.

21 November 2013 Looks like Arizona's Sunrise Park Resort will open this weekend with limited terrain. Better stuff awaits at Arizona Snow Bowl in Flagstaff, but they won't be open until at least November case you haven't heard, Big Sky and Moonlight in Montana are now a single ticket, making it the biggest resort in the nation. That's old news, relatively speaking. So what's new? Well, they're re-doing many of their terrain parks, but most importantly adding the new Explorer Park, featuring beginner/progression features targeting younger park rats, and old decrepit people like me. Features will be about 6" off the ground, which means that even I can do them. I like that...Vermont's Bromley will spin the lifts again this weekend, but with almost twice as much terrain...Tahoe finally getting more into the swing of things, Heavenly Mountain Resort planning to drop the ropes tomorrow morning. They'll up & down load on the gondy, with runs off the Tamarack Express. Still not sure exactly what. And a bit of a downer, Northstar will not open as hoped...Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe and Kirkwood Mountain Resort could also go this weekend if things work out with the weather. Mt. Rose says if they don't open Friday, then Wednesday, Nov. 27 is the fallback...neglected to mention Pocono Pennsy region is now in the game, sort of, Big Boulder opened a terrain park this past weekend, and expects to reopen Saturday. Nearby Camelback has been making snow and is targeting Dec. 6 opening, which is fairly early by banana belt standards...Lindsey Vonn indeed has a partially torn ACL following her crash at Copper Mountain earlier this week. Folks I'm no medical expert, but this is not a good thing and I said it back on February 6th, this might be the end. (I backpedalled on that a few days later, believing her publicist) Now I'm not happy to report any of this, I was looking forward to a few more top seasons, which would have made a strong case that Vonn was the greatest skier of all time. Sadly, I don't see that happening...and speaking of great American skiers, Bode Miller is at the heart of a legal fight over a child he fathered. Apparently has something to do with custody and his rights and legal types are saying this will case is uncharted waters and will set new precedents, which is old hat for Bode Miller...Here's a photo from this morning at the aforementioned Sunrise Park Resort. It's also used in the dictionary, under "White Ribbon of Death."

20 November 2013 Pac NW news out of Govvy not what we'd hoped after the recent storm, which delivered a snowfall that was mostly unfrozen. Timberline should be good to go, but Skibowl and Mt Hood Meadows got the damp stuff. Meadows may be able to give it a go on Friday, but it will be rather limited...further up the coast, Crystal, 49 Degrees North and Stevens Pass opened this past weekend; Stevens serving up terrain off Hogsback, Daisy, and the rope tow. Conditions were great and about 1,000 skiers and boarders showed up. They've shut down since then, but are looking to re-spin with even more terrain this the northeast the season is for real and getting better every day, especially in the northeast where temps have dropped again...Killington has turned its snowmaking efforts to the Snowshed area; likewise Okemo continues to blanket its lower mountain slope. This is in anticipation of some Thanksgiving holiday activity...word out of NY is central area Swain is completely re-vamping its terrain parks...Jay Peak will open this weekend, a week ahead of schedule, but only with some terrain off the Jet triple which is not for beginners. They'll be spinning Saturday & Sunday, then shut down until the 29th...not to be outdone, Stratton will be opening on to the mid-Atlantic, good news is Snowshoe Mountain Ski Resort will open on Nov. 27, we're looking at three lifts and perhaps 10 trails. Whatever it is, it's way ahead of last year, when the Shoe opened Dec 8. Elsewhere in WV we're told that Timberline Four Seasons Resort in Davis is scheduled to open Dec. 12, and Canaan Valley Resort is targeting Dec. 14...mucho snow at Breckenridge; nice early winter storm put down as much as 20" on parts of the mountain. Over the divide at Loveland the same storm dropped 9" of pow...word from Utah is Brian Head will add to the roster of "earlier than planned" openings...all over the news, Lindsey Vonn crashed heavily yesterday in a training run at Copper Mountain. Lindz was working on her Downhill training, having said earlier that she thought she was right up to speed for Super G. Nobody's saying what happened, although she did get a sled ride for her troubles.

19 November 2013 Heads up that Utah biggie Snowbird plans to open tomorrow. It's raining up in Little Cottonwood Canyon today, but they've got enough on the ground that it should be seems the early season is a bit bittersweet, particularly at Bittersweet Michigan, which opened with a bang last week but watched their beautiful white ribbon melt away over the weekend. Same deal at Mt Holly and while Ski Brule has fared better, they're shut down until the 22nd. Boyne opened for the weekend, but they're melted out...resorts in the northeast seemed to weather the warm spell a lot better; Mount Snow VT is closed but reopening this weekend. A bit north, Okemo has good top-to-bottom on two routes, which normally this time of year they're lucky to have one. Okemo did some work on their snowmaking system this past summer and it's apparently paid off nicely. Nearby Bromley opened this past weekend and will re-open this coming weekend, and I believe they're gonna run like that and then open for midweek skiing after Thanksgiving. Place to be in the northeast is still Killington, running limited but decent terrain on three of their peaks...across Lake Champlain in New York, Whiteface opened briefly for the weekend but shut it down; they're planning to spin 'em again on Friday...exciting news from Finland and the FIS World Cup scene, where Mikaela Shiffrin dominated the slalom field and is now atop the overall leaderboard. Yes, it's only two races into the season, but I'm still impressed. I don't know what I was "best in the world" at when I was 18, even temporarily. Alright well maybe I do, but I can't talk about it. It sure as hell wasn't skiing. On the men's side, reigning overall champ Marcel Hirscher won the slalom as expected and he's certainly atop the mens overall leaderboard and may stay that way...speed events looming at the end of the month; we'll see how Lindsey is doing. Men headed for Lake Louise and the ladies will be in Beaver Creek both for downhills. They switch venues a week later and will run Super Gs...a lot of skiers were looking forward to lighting up and baking out after Colorado passed amendment 64 legalizing weed, but the fly in the bongwater is that most ski resorts happen to be on Federal land (US Forest Service) and a toke will still land you in the poke....speaking of bittersweet, here's a look at what was left this morning at Bittersweet Michigan:

14 November 2013 Great news yesterday, add Mount Holly MI to the short list of open areas in the midwest. This is the earliest day in the 47 year history of the small but mighty hill in Holly...Ropes dropped this morning at Cataloochee in the Carolinas. They're spinning lifts to mid-station and have a nice "one run/we refund" policy in place if you aren't satisfied with the on-snow product. The Cat is doing something pretty cool to entice early season ticket sales -- giving away a seasons pass every day to a random ticket buyer...Another biggie in the northeast is poised to open tomorrow, Mount Snow will be offering top-to-bottom skiing on two routes, including the ever popular "Long John" novice route. Which takes a rap for being crowded and often skied-off at the top, but honestly it's a darn decent run as novice roads go...guns are on at Sundown Mountain Resort in Dubuque, IA. I'm guessing they'll open Thanksgiving weekend...snow guns being tested at Elk Mountain in northeast Pennsy...things have been fairly quiet in the Pac NW; Crystal is still hoping to open prior to Thanksgiving. They did have that "Rocktoberfest" thing when they opened for a single day, but it's been quiet since...Mt Bachelor is looking at opening the 23rd, but that hasn't stopped the earn-your-turn types from skinning up for some early season action...FIS World Cup cranking up in Levi Finland this weekend for mens and ladies slalom events. If you've never taken a peak at a World Cup schedule/information package, here's a link to the Levi program. It gives you a pretty good idea of what is involved when this traveling circus rolls into a resort town.

13 November 2013 Game on in the southeast USA at Sugar Mountain NC; open this morning with a handful of people taking advantage of the early season opportunity..Temps dropping in the banana belt; guns on at Blue Mountain in Pennsy...looks like Sunday River Maine will have seven trails ready when they open tomorrow...the Whistler side of Whistler-Blackcomb is slated to open Saturday...neglected to mention that Utah's Brighton is open, not sure how I missed that one...since we're talking open, the roster is biggest in Colorado, where you've got Arapahoe Basin, Breckenridge, Copper, Keystone, Loveland and perhaps the most snow of all is at Wolf Creek which has nice packed powder conditions and is open virtually side-to-side, across Water Fall, Alberta Peak, Knife Ridge, and Horseshoe Bowl. No question Wolf Creek is again the place to be for early season turns. Or anytime turns, for that matter, it's a great ski area...California is still skiing just at Boreal and Mammoth...Nov 22 is target opening for Heavenly, and Squaw Valley USA is looking at the 27th...interesting financial news, former Whistler-Blackcomb operator Intrawest, now headquartered in Denver, filed to launch a $100 million IPO on the NYSE. Intrawest was public, then went private, then downsized, then this. The company still operates a sizable roster of resorts, including Winter Park, Steamboat, Mount Tremblant, Stratton Mountain and Snowshoe Mountain in West Virginia. Intrawest also owns a half-interest in Blue Mountain Ski Resort in Ontario....Speaking of Intrawest, here's a screen capture from the webcam at Snowshoe this morning:

snowshoe wv webcam screen capture nov 13 2013

11/12/13 A belated but no less sincere "thank you" to all our Veterans...Great news out of New Mexico; Sipapu set to open Friday! elsewhere in the Land of Enchantment, Red River is talking Nov. 27, while Taos, Ski Santa Fe and Ski Apache intend to follow on Nov. 28th...Snow greeted a few residents of the northeast this morning, always good to see as the big resorts are starting to crank things up. Speaking of which, Okemo opens tomorrow with some sort of top-to-bottom skiing, apparently no downloading involved but the uphill ride out of the base area is on the old Sachem chair. I guess they can't get skiers and boarders up to the express lift, and the slow chair is preferrable to riding a bus. But it's New England, so it all could change by tomorrow...elsewhere in Vermont, Killington now has skiing back to K1 base, no need for downloading. It looks like a winter wonderland there...same deal up the road at Sugarbush, they're blowing snow top-to-bottom...hikers earning their turns yesterday in natural snow at Jay Maine, guns on now at Sugarloaf...same story at Sunday River, which had a soft opening earlier this season, re-opens Thursday for real. If they can get everything open that they're planning on, it will be awesome...backcountry skier caught in an avalanche in Jackson WY this weekend, Scott Dixon, 32, of Teton Valley, Idaho, was listed in good condition in St. John�s Medical Center.

9 November 2013 That big blast out of the upper midwest was regional powerhouse Lutsen firing up about half of their snowmaking fleet...that cold front moving to reassure folks in the northeast; guns back on at Killington and Maine's Sunday River among others; the Riv has been closed during the warm spell to preserve what they had....something of a surprise out of New Hampshire, Loon weathered the temps and is open this morning...nearby Bretton Woods will follow suit tomorrow (Saturday) with discounted tix...back to the midwest, looks like small but mighty Ski Brule will open today, but as of this writing they're unsure how much terrain will be surprise that Breckenridge will open today as planned, cranking it up on Peak 8 this morning. Surprise does await the first 2,000 guests, who will be given free eclairs. Not sure why, but sure ain't gonna argue...reminder that Utah's Solitude opens today in Big Cottonwood Canyon, first in the state. They're going to have a trio of lifts going. Next scheduled opening in UT is down at Brian Head, targeting next weekend. The guns have been blazing so they'll be ready, barring some wacky warm up...FIS World Cup off again this weekend, men and women headed to Levi Finland next weekend for slalom events...failed to mention in my ski area "status" report that Haystack VT is going bananas with new construction, new lifts, lodges, roads, you name it. It's slated to be a semi-private operation, not sure how it's going to shake out but there's going to be plenty of infrastructure, to be sure:

Above, aerial view of new base area construction at Haystack Vermont, taken Oct 22

6 November 2013 Game on for sure in Tahoe region; Boreal California opens at noon with the Castle Peak quad; planning to open mornings beginning Friday and adding the Nugget chair at that time. Kudos to Big B...word from New Hampshire is Loon will open this weekend "top to bottom" but I'm a bit concerned about the warming trend they'll be facing today and tomorrow...speaking of east coast, in our recent wrap-of borderline operations we neglected to mention a couple, one of which is West Mountain near Lake George, NY, appears to be poised to open. Their patrollers are running their annual ski swap this weekend...two smaller Adirondack areas, Big Tupper and Hickory Ski Center are planning to open, but have no snowmaking...looks like the lifts will be idle at Balsams/Wilderness for at least another season...better news in southern Vermont, where Haystack has new owners or something and is working on a brandy new lift...and two areas coming back from the dead are Powder Ridge in CT and tiny town tow Eustis in Littleton, NH...speaking of NH, update on Whaleback is the locals have put together some sort of foundation operation and will spin the lifts this season. That's awesome...reported earlier this summer that California's June Mountain will reopen this Wyoming, White Pine will continue to operate, but Antelope Butte will not...two down in the upper midwest: Norway Mountain MI and biggest surprise I guess is Hidden Valley Ski Area WI, which did reopen for the last seven seasons...great success story is that once lost Eagle Point in southern Utah will open on December 19th. The only negative to report? They have enough snow to open now! But all in all this is great...and finally, Echo Mountain Colorado will reopen, but as a private area, unsure of specifics...neglected to report that popular Copper Mountain in Colorado is open, they're skiing top-to-bottom on Ptarmigan, Rhapsody, and Main Vein. Easy Rider is open for beginners...also Solitude plans to be first to open in Utah, dropping the ropes on Friday...a bit south in the beehive state, Brian Head is blowing snow and will open Nov 15...word from Montana is Snowbowl near Missoula will open the Sunday after Thanksgiving...and snow was made in Massachusetts; Bousquet at least had the guns on but temps have since soared...sad to report the death of park/urban skier Tom Warnick who starred in a couple films for Stept Productions. Originally from the east coast scene, Warnick brought a certain style to the Colorado scene. He was found dead in his apartment on Sunday. Warnick was 22 years old; our thoughts and prayers are with his friends and family.

Tom Warnick

1 November 2013 Word from California is Boreal may open this weekend...Couple inches of new snow making for great skiing at Arapahoe Basin...surprise from the northeast; Bretton Woods opened yesterday for a one-off. In other words, they opened, but they closed today. Sounds odd, deal is they were testing the snow guns and made so much they said, what the heck. So they opened, knowing full well they would get a major melt when temps spiked today...midwest mighty mite Ski Brule is still talking about next weekend...time to polish off some unfinished business from the summer, in terms of an east coast wrap on the borderline ski areas. We already covered Hidden Valley Pennsy, which has a bunch of people at both the Commonwealth and operator Seven Springs saying, wow, the potential is huge, but we aren't committing to anything. Except of course the commonwealth has money to spend, but the bride demurs. Anyway, on to the other borderline cases: Hidden Valley NJ is a non entity this season. No action at the auction, so the chairs will sway in the breezes...Montage Pennsy is going balls-to-the-walls and will open under new ownership, sans the Puzzling Sno Mountain name...Greek Peak NY was on the auction block and has new owners from Elmira NY with hopefully deep pockets; deep enough that they've put in a new fixed grip quad. I know, I know. You're saying, "fixed grip?!? Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?" but the deal is it's replacing one of the ancient doubles, it will have a loading carpet, and it will run at a high speed. Greek Peak has been a museum of ancient chairlifts for decades, so this is a huge step...Big Rock in Maine has bootstrapped itself just like Black Mountain of Maine, these are areas resurrected by the Maine Winter sports Something or Other that was funded by that lady who was married to the guy who founded Intel but he was cheating on her with some totally hot lady engineer so they divorced and she (the wife) got a bazillion dollars and started some foundation that didn't want Maine kids to ride snowmobiles and get fat. So she funded these ski areas, but smoked too much, now she's dead and the foundation doesn't seem to have the funds for the ski areas. Or doesn't want to. Whatever, they cut the purse strings and the ski areas went into panic mode over the summer. But Mainers are a tough and resourceful bunch, don't mess with them. The locals stepped up and are taking over both Black Mt in Rumford and Big Rock in, in, uh, (the name escapes me it's really a backwater like Presque Isle or Fort Kent or something) Mars Hill (!) and so they're going to operate this season. Now I gotta tell you I been to both, I've skied Black, they're both awesome. This is terrific. I'm still trying to find out what is going to become of Quoggy Jo, that's a smaller area but it has the best logo. Some sort of penguin like Chilly Willy...couple of kids did a bunch of vandalism type damage this week at novice feeder area McIntyre Mountain which is in one of those Southern NH cities that is really just an extension of Massachusetts. Anyway the video cameras captured it all, and led to the capture of the perps...mentioned Boreal before, just found out Soda Springs is making snow...also in the Tahoe region, Sugar Bowl is "restoring" most of the Royal Gorge Cross-Country Ski Resort, which means 200 kilometers of groomed trails, rope tows and warming huts. Sugar Bowl is also opening some sort of Kite Skiing operation.

Here's the logo I was talking about. Can't beat it.

28 October 2013 A combination of confirmations and surprises this past weekend at the FIS World Cup GS opener on the glacier at Soelden. Confirmations: Ted Ligety won, and Lara Gut showed that the day is coming that she will dominate the sport. Surprises: Bode Miller laid down a 20ish finish, his first race in 18 months and doing so with a less than optimal starting slot. Another surprise: Mikaela Shiffrin hit the top ten; she is not a one-trick pony. Then again, that's probably more confirmation than surprise. One more confirmation: Reigning overall men's champ Marcel Hirscher finished third, he is the definition of consistency. And one more surprise: Reigning overall ladies' champ Tina Maze finished 18th...Speaking of surprises, anyone who thought Killington would melt down today (uh, that would be me) was in for a very pleasant awakening this morning with the top of the mountain blanketed by natural snow and awesome condition up on the old Glades section (they now call Northridge for some inexplicable reason) they're running two trails up high, one regular, one park. And conditions are amazing...great weekend at Sunday River in Maine, and their cover is good, but they're banging it up until the weekend as they just don't have enough bodies to make it worthwhile...New Hampshire's Bretton Woods made a bunch of snow up high, enough for a patroller to make a test run. But they're likely going to hold out for a mid-November Colorado, Loveland has added chair six and the Roulette trail to its early season offering...the news is even better over the hill on the Pacific drainage, where Arapahoe Basin has opened Lenawee and Dercum's, which I'll tell you time and time again is one of the most pleasurable intermediate routes you'll ever ski...add Mount Snow Vermont to the growing list of resorts that are partnering with Liftopia to sell lift tickets. I'm not talking about Liftopia's regular open clearinghouse for unwanted tix -- see our banner at left, and by the way feel free to use that -- I'm talking about using the Liftopia e-commerce engine for their own advance ticket sales. It's a great improvement for most resorts...more rumblings out of southwest Pennsylvania concerning Hidden Valley Four Seasons Resort, from both the commonwealth and current caretaker Seven Springs Resort. They're both saying a lot of things like "getting the mountain online" and "earmarked funds" and "amazing experiences" but long story short, it ain't happening this season...US Congressman Jared Polis, D-Colorado, wants an exemption from the Affordable Care Act for citizens of his district, which includes Summit County. Summit includes the towns of Dillon, Keystone and Silverthorne, and has the highest rate of uninsured residents in the state due to the odd mix of resort homes and seasonal ski resort employment. "We will be encouraging a waiver. It will be difficult for Summit County residents to become insured. For the vast majority, it's too high a price to pay," Mr. Polis said last week...back to World Cup news for a moment, just found out that 2004 Slalom Champion and Olympic bronze medalist Rainer Schoenfelder of Austria retired after the Soelden event. Schoenfelder is 36 and wanted to bow out on his home turf.

Marcia Wallace 1942-2013 -- thanks for the memories

26 October 2013 East Coast Represent! It's game-on at Killington with rather impressive conditions on the Northridge. Yes, it's ride the gondy up and down, but conditions are great...Sunday River is spinning the Locke Mountain triple chair serving one upper trail; reloading and downloading at mid-station. Awesome cover for October...and not to be left out, small but might Woodbury in Connecticut has blown snow and opened a modest terrain park! Photo below...

Autumn ain't over yet, as evidenced by the quick open and close yesterday of Trollhaugen in WI. We also got word from MN that Wild Mountain shut down three days after opening due to soaring temps. Unfortunately, that is headed for the the northeast...FIS World Cup skiers are in Soelden, with Ted Ligety looking to continue his GS dominance. US wunderkind Mikaela Shiffrin is also focused on this event, looking to expand her horizons beyond the already incredible slalom title she took last season. Remember Bode Miller started as a slalom ace.

23 October 2013 Well it's game on as they say, Wild Mountain Minnesota fired up the guns and was spinning a rope tow as of yesterday morning! We're told Trollhaugen in Wisconsin won't be far behind...meanwhile in the east, Killington has the guns blazing on the old Glades section (now called Northridge) and will be open this weekend, passholders & cardholders on Friday, public on Saturday. That's huge...and in Michigan, Ski Brule has the guns going -- and a bit of help from Mother Nature -- and is talking November 8th opening, perhaps sooner. The folks at Brule were thoughtful enough to post today's video on I don't care who you are, and I don't care if you live slopeside in Colorado, this video will give you a nice happy feeling:

22 October 2013 Finally got an up-to-date indemnified bindings list for 2013-2014. As I've said before this is all a big secret between manufacturers and retailers; they just don't give a hoot about educating the poor bastard shopping for used skis. They don't care if he buys old garbage on Craigslist, only to find out that a ski shop won't work on his skis. They're happy to keep this a secret until he walks in the door, then SURPRISE! Your bindings are no longer indemnified. Never mind that he might be a customer someday in the future. Well we have scoured the interweb and generated a list, so click it and print it to take with you to any ski swaps, and certainly consult this before you buy anything used...Wisconsin's Ski Sunburst is first in the midwest to fire up the snowguns this season; whether or not it will last is a different story. They cranked 'em up last night during a cold snap, and a small but mighty ribbon of white was still there as of noon today...elsewhere in the midstates, work is underway on a new pipeline for Lutsen Mountains to get snowmaking water from Lake Superior instead of the Poplar River, which is a designated trout stream. Not totally sure how necessary this $5 million pipeline really is, since Lutsen has been sucking water out of the Poplar for about 50 years and the fish don't seem to mind. But the scientific people seem to think it's a good idea, so we'll go along with that...won't go along with Bill Marolt and the US Ski and Snowboard Association decision to cut reigning 50k US National Champion Kris Freeman from the US Cross Country team. Freeman will probably qualify for the Olympics, but the USSSA might as well kick him in the nuts.

17 October 2013 We'll do a quick catch-up on FIS World Cup news this morning, try and bring you somewhat up to speed for the season opener on the glacier in Soelden Austria on October 26...first off, I guess the fact that Lindsey Vonn rolled into town this week is the biggest news. Will she compete? "If she feels like she can podium then she's probably going to [race]," says Alex Hoedlmoser, coach of the U.S. women's team...Slalom ace Veronika Velez Zuzulova of Slovakia will be out of action for a while, could miss the Olympics. She hurt her knee while training in Hintertux Austria. Velez Zuzlova finished third in the slalom discipline last season...2012 mens downhill champ Klaus Kroell had some touch-up surgery on the arm he broke back in March; says he wants to be 100% for the DH opener in Lake Louise, Alberta, on Nov. 30. A definite speed specialist, Kroell had no plans to start anything sooner...speaking of speed specialists, sorry to see Switzerland's Martina Schild retired due to back pain. Schild says "mentally, I'm no longer ready to push myself to the limit." She had missed all of last season, so it was no surprise. Martina will be remembered for he ready-for-battle attitude, one world cup victory, and an impressive DH silver at the 2006 Turin Olympics...World champion in the Schladming downhill, Marion Rolland of France injured her knee back in September and she's going to be out for some time; likely to miss the Sochi games...and it wouldn't be a World Cup report without word from the mercurial one. Bode Miller, now 36 years old, plans to participate in the Sochi games. What he'll do between now and then is uncertain: "Until you're all rotten or shriveled up, you should keep going. I'm pretty shriveled up, but I'm not all rotten. Not yet."

16 October 2013 Season is underway with Arapahoe Basin open since Sunday with the usual High Noon white ribbon of death. Truth be told, conditions are decent and we're expecting more quite soon...Loveland was a step behind this season; battle for first-to-open honors seems like it's gone that way for the past couple years. In any case, Loveland will be spinning the #1 chair tomorrow, October 17 for the usual Catwalk/Mambo route...snows in the far midwest are quite welcome at two South Dakota resorts that had a tough time last season. Ski Mystic and Terry Peak in the Black Hills were both hit with more than a foot of powder, and they're hoping it's a sign of more to come. Terry Peak packed down the 18" they received in an attempt to try and start a base. Ground is still too warm but we give 'em kudos for trying...less pleasant news from the northeast: Sugarloaf has been slapped with a lawsuit for that derailment on the Spillway chair back in December 2010. Michael Katz, a former Delaware state senator who suffered a broken back and traumatic brain injury, was the most seriously injured of those involved. His daughters, 13 and 11 at the time, suffered back and head injuries. Sugarloaf settled with all other parties out of court, and says it tried to do so with Katz...even less pleasant: 15-year-old North Conway girl missing; last use of her cell phone traced to vicinity of Cranmore. We'll say a prayer for her safety...Breckenridge has announced a November 8th opening...this just out of Pennsy, Camelback sold last week for $69.25 million. Locals Art Berry and Ken Ellis, who lease and operate the resort under the name CBH2O, say it is just an ownership change and to expect business as usual.

13 October 2013 Word from Colorado is that Arapahoe Basin will open this morning...stay tuned!

3 October 2013 Game on! At least we hope so. Loveland and Arapahoe Basin both fired up the guns in Colorado last week -- it was looking good -- but then old man sunshine spoiled our fun. California's Boreal made news, also cranking up the blowers on September 27. Whether that was for real or just "blowing out the mice" is hard to say; the white stuff they made has long since melted. First in the east to crank out snow of any note was Bretton Woods, did so on September 23rd but it was just a test. The real excitement was in the Pac Northwest, where Crystal Mountain found deep enough snow up high to "open" on Tuesday, it was done for 75 lucky skiers & boarders via online reservations first come/first served. They ran 'em up on the gondy and let 'em slide down, calling the event "Rocktoberfest." Crystal opened Nov 16 last season, which is relatively early. They don't usually spin lifts until Thanksgiving, so this Oct 1 thing is pretty special...unusual number of smaller northeast resorts in big trouble during this off-season, Whaleback NH shut down last spring, as in, Evan Dybvig put the key in the door. Whale enthusiasts are optimistic that it's gonna re-open. John Schiffman, Chairman of the Upper Valley SnowSports Foundation says that group has a sustainable plan to make it happen, but can't compete in a bidding war. So it probably depends on what the mortgage and lienholders say, but things are indeed looking good for the Whale...already reported on the efforts to save Black Mountain of Maine, which has been successfully transferred from the Maine Winter Sports Center to a local foundation, who will run it in a similar manner but without the deep pockets of a Silicon Valley divorce settlement. Two other areas that lost funding from MWSC are still trying to find their way; Quoggy Jo and Big Rock. Quoggy Jo is a small time operation and should be able to piece something together. Big Rock faced a tougher climb, but they have indeed raised the $150k needed to operate this season...more feel-good stories from Pennsy, where Alpine Mountain recently sold at auction and will continue to run, about the same as before. Same deal at Montage in Scranton, which operated for a couple seasons as the perplexing Sno Mountain with umlauts on the "o". Was never sure how to pronounce that. The only negative is that the Sno Mountain logo with the moose head will be gone forever. The moose head & antlers were positioned such that the logo spelled "SnoT Mountain"...outlook not as bright at nearby Hidden Valley NJ, which was on the auction block Tuesday but had no bidders willing to start at the minimum...happy days on the U.P: Marquette MI XC operation Blueberry Ridge is building a lodge for its groomer and another for skiers...also in Michigan, from the don't hold your breath department, extreme sports entrepreneur Liko Smith is planning to build a "snowboarders mecca" called "The RoK" at Sugar Loaf Resort in Traverse City. Anyway, Sugar Loaf is not be confused with Sugarloaf in Maine; it's a Michigan resort that closed over a decade ago. Smith now owns the property and seems determined to reopen.

1 October 2013 Word is that Crystal Mountain will be open for some sort of skiing & riding today; stay tuned...

August 2013 More off-season musings on the state of the industry...why do manufacturers and retailers try so hard to kill the sport? Hear me out...Can you imagine calling an auto manufacturer and asking them if they can do an oil change on a certain car, and they said "we won't answer, you have to go to a dealer." Meanwhile the retailers association develops a list of cars that are still under warranty, but they won't allow the public to see it! So now you go to the retailer and they say "sorry that car is no longer under warranty we can't change your oil. You have to buy a new car."

You'd say thanks, I'll take the bus.

There's a little hill in upstate New York where a local volunteer is taking those unwanted cars, changing the oil, and giving them to kids to ski on. Those kids don't need to buy a ticket, they just grab the rope. And then -- miracle of miracles -- somehow they make it down the hill without getting killed by the obsolete skis. They grab the rope, do it again, and they smile from ear to ear. That's how you grow the sport.

Harley Davidson encourages user groups to experiment, tinker with their products, rebuild them. That's how you build brand loyalty and enthusiasm.

Volvo will fix your old car. It's old technology, has 300k on the odometer, shimmies on the road, and it smells bad. But they'll fix it, and they give you a newish loaner to tool around in while they do. That's how you create repeat customers.

Ski equipment industry doesn't do any of these things. How can you expect to put more bodies on the hill if they can't get past the hassle of obtaining equipment?

To their credit, the resorts offer rentals. But it doesn't really grow the business. How often would you drive a car if you had to go through the hassle of renting every time you wanted to drive?

Thank goodness for that guy in upstate New York. There's still hope.

July 2013 Ski industry coming off the best season in a long time, still wondering why more people don't take up the sport. Here's an area that needs work: The 20-Somethings Ski Trip. They're out of college, have a job, have a few bucks. Friend calls and says "We have off on Martin Luther King Day, so we're going to Squaw Valley in January! Ski trip!" So they trot off to a ski shop, spend $1,000. on gear, then drop another $500 on a new ski jacket, pants and gloves, spend $900 on tickets, food, and their share of the slopeside condo. It's a holiday weekend, so they spend a lot of time in line. When they leave the resort, they spend a lot of time in traffic. The weekend leaves them exhausted.

They go home and the skis sit in the garage, perhaps get moved a few times, until they try to sell them ten years later to help pay for diapers. The skis languish on ebay. Finally they hear about a ski swap -- a way to cash out of these $1,000 skis that were used once. Unfortunately the swap volunteers tell them "...the bindings are no longer indemnified, and the skis are old. The ski jacket is out of style, uh, we might be able to sell that for $20. We can probably get you $30 for the boots and poles...but the skis are worthless." The now 30-Something replies, "But these cost me $1,000 and I only used them once!"

Fast forward a half dozen years when their kids say "can we go skiing" and the answer is "no, it costs too much, and you have a swim meet on Saturday."

Pleased to report that Black Mountain of Maine will be taken over by a local group and will continue to run for the forseeable future. No word yet on the fate of Big Rock and Quoggy Jo, which also lost funding.

More Archival News

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

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

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

Ski Movies for Mere Mortals

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

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

Here's a preview, courtesy Youtube...