Okemo to open Thursday

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Owners of snow sports shops have to be really happy today.

Why?

The first arrival of fresh snow … the best advertisement you can ever hope for getting people excited about the upcoming ski and snowboarding season.

See snow = Think skiing, snowboarding. It’s that simple.

Yes I know, like you, about the problems of dealing with winter-like conditions in a generally snow-hating state.  Jerk drivers in SUVs who tailgate on slick roads, people on mobile devices behind frosted windshields and drivers going way too fast for slippery conditions who freely give you the finger for going too slow.

All not good … but this is a blog that LOVES and CELEBRATES  snow and the cool and happy things you can do with it.

So that’s why I’m happy that Connecticut snow came so early after last winter’s horrible season. Not only for  skiers and snowboarders, but for the local snow sports shops that pray for this early season snow promotion.

And there’s even better news …

Okemo Mountain Resort in Vermont is getting a two-week jump on the season. It plans to open at 9 a.m. this Thursday!

Okemo had planned to open on Nov. 17. but cold temperatures have allowed it to crank up the snowmaking and open up some trails.

Here’s its report today:

“We have been making snow `round the clock and will continue our efforts as long as the temperatures cooperate. At 6:30 a.m. the summit temperature was 17 degrees and it was 24 degrees at the base of the mountain. We’re expecting cloudy skies throughout the day today with snow developing. We are expecting 1 to 3 inches of snowfall. It’s always nice to get a little extra help from Mother Nature.

“Lifts will start turning at 9 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 8. We will be skiing and riding on four trails at the top of the mountain: Buckhorn, Countdown, Upper World Cup and Drop Off. Terrain is for advanced skiers and riders only during this early part of the season. We will be moving our snowmaking focus toward Turkey Shoot, Sapphire and Jolly Green Giant with an expectation of opening more terrain as quickly as possible.

Okemo has the snow guns blowing for its Thursday opening.

Two lifts will be running on opening day. Guests will be shuttled to the base of the Northstar Express and will access the snow by riding up the Northstar and skiing down to the Glades Peak chair. When they’ve had their fill of carving turns, guests will then download on the Northstar Express. Full-day ticket prices will be $39 for adults, $34 for young adults and $27 for Juniors and Super Seniors. Half-day tickets will be $29, $26 and $20 respectively.”

The nor’easter heading toward us should not give us much snow, though higher elevations could see a few inches. Even in Vermont there’s a chance of light snow that should put a nice coating on things.

Okemo will bec0me the second Vermont area to open. Killington opened Monday with a few trails in its North Ridge area.

This early skiing and snowboarding is mainly for experts and not for those who enjoy well groomed cruisers. And there’s a good chance the snow guns will also be blowing.

Killington’s report today:

“Snowmaking continues on eight trails and Reason will be open for skiing and riding Wednesday. Skiing and riding will be on primarily un-groomed, advanced terrain under the guns on Upper Great Northern, Rime and Reason trails so we can maximize our snowmaking efforts. Skiers and riders will be making turns on roughly 600 vertical feet of terrain. No beginner terrain or terrain park features will be available at this time.” Killington is charging $39 for adult tickets.

Mount Snow in Vermont is going to have some limited sliding on Friday. Not much, but hey, it’s for a good cause:

From Mt. Snow:

“Get those skis and boards packed pronto! Snowmaking operations went as planned  with fan guns blowing snow on Launch Pad in preparations for this Friday’s annual early season fundraising event. Come on down and get your jib on at the rail garden loaded with a bunch of features put together by our park crew. So here‘s the “must know” for Friday. Lift tickets are available at the Clocktower for only $10 (free with season pass but donations are welcome) with all proceeds going to Superstorm Sandy Relief. Discovery Shuttle will be spinning all day long from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. but make sure to take a break and head down for some chow at the BBQ we will be putting on. The plan is to have BBQs on Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Sunday weather permitting. Check back in for details on the BBQ location and other food and beverage openings.

In the spirit of truth in snow reporting, (Nice guys, my comment) we made the difficult decision to suspend our top-to-bottom snowmaking campaign Monday due to the 10-14 day forecast calling for extended periods of mild temperatures starting this weekend. When we say mild, we’re talking 50 and sunny for multiple days starting Sunday. In addition, forecasted temperatures between now and this weekend won’t give us an opportunity to make a sustainable amount of snow.

“We have always been firm believers in making “smart snow” and it’s for that reason we are focusing all snowmaking efforts on Launch Pad for now. Once that window of opportunity opens again, we will push to get open for the season with top-to-bottom skiing and riding for all ability levels.”

I’d check back before heading to Snow.

The only other areas open include Sunday River in Maine with one trail and our own Woodbury ski area in Connecticut with one slope.

Time to get your gear and boards in shape!

Maybe yourself too.

Jim Shay

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