Feast on Thanksgiving skiing/snowboarding

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Looking to get in some skiing and snowboarding this Thanksgiving weekend?

Well, you’re in luck because this is one of the strongest early seasons in years. That’s because after nearly two weeks of snowmaking, many major ski areas have their lifts turning.

Enjoying some sweet turns at Stowe, Vermont earlier this week.

Unlike previous years, this Thanksgiving weekend will have some serious top-to-bottom runs that makes it feel like winter. In fact, the outlook for the next few days calls for continued cold temperatures and even the chance of some light snow (let us pray).

If you’re a beginner skier or snowboarder, I’d wait a week since most of the terrain open is for advanced or intermediate snow sliders.

So here’s a rundown of what’s open … and how much it will cost you.

CONNECTICUT

The small Woodbury ski area is the only state area open. Owner Rod Taylor has been making snow for weeks and has been able to lay down a good base on its main slopes. Not much terrain, but it’s close to home and enough for a couple of hours to play on. Go for the $39, four-hour, flex ticket.

Mohawk Mountain in Cornwall plans to open next Saturday, Dec. 1. And there’s a good shot  Ski Sundown in New Hartford will do the same.

MASSACHUSETTS

Jiminy Peak in northwestern Massachusetts is a good pick this weekend. It plans to reopen Friday  Jiminy expects to have several top-to-bottom runs open; check out its snow report late Thursday.

Here’s a sweet offer from Jiminy … a $35 eight-hour ticket on Sunday. It’s an e-coupon deal that means you have to go to Jiminy’s web site, fill out the coupon and print it out 24 hours in advance. Details here.

Just a few miles over the Connecticut border, both Catamount and Butternut plan to open next Saturday, Dec. 1.

VERMONT

Lots of options in the Green Mountain State. For the latest conditions and info, visit the snow-loving Ski Vermont site.

Mount Snow opens Thanksgiving. Its report: “We anticipate having Nitro Express, Canyon Express and Discovery Shuttle spinning at 8:00 a.m. with last chair going up at 4:00 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. Next week, if conditions permit we will move to our normal midweek hours of 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Open terrain will be Canyon and Launch Pad on the Main Face; Mineshaft and The Gulch on Carinthia. We will also have Long John coming from the top of the Nitro Express into the Main Base Area with no ski access back to Carinthia.” Snow will charge $49 for adult lift tickets. Full report here.

Snow adds: “Conditions will be variable with some thin spots, water bars and narrow pathways, so please be aware of those and ski and ride with caution. Beginner terrain will be on Launch Pad and the rest of the open terrain is for advanced skiers and riders only. It is always our goal to open with top-to-bottom skiing and riding for all ability levels, but in the spirit of kicking off this winter season we had to work with what the weather gave us. With the temperature inversions our snowmakers experienced over the last week or so, snowmaking efforts were far more productive at lower elevations than they were up top. All we really need is a stretch of good, cold air up top to make snow in key areas and we will have skiing and riding from the summit. Until then, we will offer skiing and riding from the top of Nitro Express and Canyon Express – down.”

That’s about 3/4 of the mountain, but not from the summit. Strange, but true.

Stratton opened today with 17 trails. Two lifts are open with Ursa Express spinning for upper mountain terrain. Open trails include Black Bear, Grizzly Bear, Polar Bear and Frank’s Fall line and four lower mountain trails. Adult lift tickets are $59.

“The snow surface doesn’t get much better – these are practically midwinter conditions in mid-November,” said Mike Quinn, Stratton’s Vice President of Operations, fresh off his first run. “Our snowmakers and groomers have put in hundreds of hours of work to make opening day a success, and they nailed it.”

A snowboarder rides the North American trail at Stratton on opening day today.

Okemo has 14 trails and four lifts ready. Signature trails like World Cup, Arrow and Sapphire are waiting for you. Ticket prices today will be $55 for Adults, $48 for Young Adults and Seniors, and $37 for Juniors and Super Seniors. Half day tickets are $41, $36, and $28, respectively.

Here’s a nice offer at Okemo: The first 1,000 people who make a donation of at least $50, on Friday through Sunday will receive one complimentary one-day adult lift ticket, valid for redemption Monday through Friday, non holiday, during the 2012-13 winter season. The regular price of a midweek adult lift ticket is $80.

Killington. The Beast has been increasing trail counts daily. This week it opened trails on Skye Peak including the sweet blue Bittersweet, I like the way Killington is reporting trail counts this year; it reports 22 trails open “that ski more like ten runs.” Tickets cost $59 for adults (19-64), $50 for seniors (65+) and $45 for youth (7-18).

Sugarbush. Seven trails open. Super Bravo Express Quad spins from 9 AM until 4 PM and Heaven’s Gate Triple is open at 9 AM with last chair at 3:45 PM. Sugarbush Parks crew have 4 park features set up on Allyn’s Traverse. Check out its first of the season “Weekly Rumble” report:

Stowe: There’s top-to-bottom skiing and snowboarding on Mount Mansfield this weekend with 15 trails open and four lifts turning. Stowe plans to have beginner trails open at Spruce Peak starting Friday. Stowe is charging $64 for adult lift tickets.

Jay Peak: Plans to open Friday with four trails on Stateside. . Since Jay’s a long haul from the flatlands of Connecticut, I’d hold off unitl Jay gets pounded by heavy snow.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

The big areas including Loon, Bretton Woods and Waterville are already open with a few top-to-bottom runs. This weekend, Cranmore, Mount Sunapee, Ragged and Cranmore will also be open.

Unless you plan to be in the Granite State visiting family and friends this holiday weekend, I’d wait a couple of weeks. In the meantime, check out Ski New Hampshire for some great deals on ticket deals and lodging options. A thumbs up for their great ticket deals page.

AND STILL MORE …

In New York, areas open or scheduled to open this week include Whiteface, Belleayre and Gore.

In Maine, Sunday River and Sugarloaf are open for the season.

But … I think I’ll wait since The Loaf was reporting  conditions today were “hard pack -variable.”

Still a little early for us Connecticut Yankees to head there.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Jim Shay

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