Sliding to the end of the season

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There’s still plenty of good skiing and snowboarding in the Northeast, but the number of people visiting ski areas is decreasing.

With temperatures rising, flowers starting to bloom and grass growing greener, people’s thoughts are now turning to spring.

With fewer people showing up, ski areas making the decision on whether to stay open or close. Often it comes down to a matter of economics; sometimes it’s not worth the expense of keeping an area open when fewer people are buying lift tickets. Many try to stay open later for the season pass holders.

This season has brought some of the best spring conditions in years. Temperatures have remained cool, there have been no major rainstorms or sudden meltdowns. Quality conditions, however, could go downhill quickly with temperatures rising into the upper 60s in the North Country next week.

Here’s an update on what’s open, what’s closed and what’s happening.

This is what Killington in Vermont looked like Thursday, as posted on its Facebook page

CONNECTICUT

Already Connecticut ski areas like Mohawk, Southington and Woodbury are closed for the season.

Ski Sundown in New Hartford will end its season on Saturday.

On its Facebook page, Sundown says “We’ll be 100% OPEN this SATURDAY, APRIL 6 from 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM. End this last day of the season with 2 mogul runs, 2 terrain parks, music, outdoor grill on the deck, drink specials and the SUNDOWN POND SKIM!! Pond Skim contest in the afternoon with prizes for best splashes and costumes!! And of course you ski/ride FREE with your 2012-13 Season Pass to ANY mountain! Don’t miss this crazy fun last day!!

MASSACHUSETTS

Catamount called it quits last Saturday.

Butternut is still 100 percent open. It will have its lifts running on both Saturday and Sunday. Lift tickets are $25. Get it while you can.

Jiminy Peak is also open and has a great e-coupon deal for $29 tickets on Saturday, but you need to print it out today.

Wachusett in eastern Massachusetts will be packing it in on Sunday.

VERMONT

Great conditions remain in the Green Mountain State with some areas like Jay Peak, Killington, Smuggler’s  and Stowe with nearly 100 percent open terrain.

Okemo, still going strong with 90 of 119 trails, announced this week it will be extending its season to April 21.

On Saturday, Okemo will be holding its annual Slush Cup competition. Try skiing or snowboarding down Inn Bound and skim across an 80-foot long, man-made slush pond without falling in at the base of Jackson Gore. Good luck.

Killington is bringing back the BUD LIGHT BEAR MOUNTAIN MOGUL CHALLENGE.

The Beast says: “The competition heats up on Saturday as 200 amateur bumpers take to the slopes of Outer Limits to battle it out for top honors. The top 32 men and 16 women will return to compete in a head-to-head competition on Sunday. Participants run a dual course with sudden death format; only the winners advance.”

Killington that shows no sign of ending its season soon, will be running its lifts an extra hour (t0 5 p.m.) starting April 15.

Stratton is still open with 69 trains and expects to remain open through next weekend.

Bromley reports today on its web site: “We are enjoying some of the best spring skiing and snowboarding that we’ve seen in a long time, and while we wish it could go on forever we have decided that Sunday, April 7th will be the final day of operation for the 2012/13 winter season. We have also decided to offer midweek rates for the remainder of the season so Adults and Teens can ski for just $49 and juniors for only $39! Lifts will close at 3pm on Sunday. It’s been an amazing season with one great week left to go! We’ll see you on the mountain.”

A bluebird day at Mount Snow in Vermont on Thursday.

Mount Snow has a nice deal going this weekend:  “Purchase a full priced lift ticket on April 6 or 7 and receive a bounce back valid for a FREE matching lift ticket that must be used by Dec 25, 2013. If you purchased a 2 day ticket, come back and get a FREE 2 day ticket. How does it work? Just show up to a ticket window *with your April 6 or 7 lift ticket* any time before Christmas, and you’ll get a free lift ticket on the spot. Deal is not available online.”

Manager Kelly Pawlak says on her blog: This time of year it is hard to know how many people will show up to ski and ride on any given day. Naturally, we start to move on to our spring agendas and skier traffic begins to wane. This year however, the slow down is bothersome because the snow surface is fantastic. There is edge to edge coverage with strong snow depths, no significant melting and natural snow trails still open!”

Sugarbush still has 70 of its 111 trails open. The Bush reports today:

“Yesterday was a transition day, with much of the mountain softening in the sun. However, north-facing aspects and upper elevations were still feeling wintery. Today, with warmer temps and less wind forecast, even more of Sugarbush’s award-winning terrain should ripen. The groomers retooled 29 trails last night, smoothing a wide selection of routes for all abilities. Snow depths are excellent in both snowmaking and natural snow areas, except low elevation south-facing lines, where the natural snow is letting go. Better hit Castlerock soon.”

Check Ski Vermont for a full list of events, deals and condition updates.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Areas still open include Bretton Woods, Cannon, Loon, Gunstock, Mount Sunapee, Ragged and Waterville Valley.

Most areas expected to call it a season next weekend. Check out Ski New Hampshire for updates and deals.

MAINE

The Pine Tree State’s big areas Sugar Loaf and Sunday River are still going strong

The Loaf reports this morning: “Low winds and sunny skies are going to make for some comfortable weather on the slopes, and you can expect frozen and loose granular surface conditions to soften up as the day goes on and temps warm up.”

So there’s still time to get out and enjoy some skiing and snowboarding before the season melts away.

Jim Shay

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