A snowboarder has some fun in Zone Terrain Park at Smuggler's Notch in Vermont last season.
With the Vermont skiing and snowboarding season underway (Killington opened earlier this week), now’s a good time to take a look at some of the changes at Green Mountain ski resorts.
First, you won’t see Ascutney Mountain on this list because it’s doubtful it will be open as a ski area this season. The resort has new owners after the previous ones were $2 million in debt. Here’s a video from WCAX in Vermont.
This information, comes from the folks at skivermont, the one-stop spot for Vermont snowsports info.
Bromley Mountain Resort Bromley went on a shopping spree and brought home about $675,000 worth of goods, systems and equipment to enhance the experience of skiers and riders:· A Prinoth Bison winch-cat will groom the steepest terrain with relative ease, providing a better, more consistent product for the most advanced skiers and riders.· An AEBI mountain mower will run throughout the off-season and mow terrain that was inaccessible. Improved snowmaking coverage and better trail and slope maintenance will ensue. This, coupled with the fact that Bromley’s trail system was engineered to be skiable on four inches of snow, will make for a better on-slope experience mountain-wide.· 300 new sets of Adult Rental Equipment from HEAD that will dramatically heighten the downhill experience while eliminating time-consuming binding length adjustments. Skis will be categorized by “sole size” making the whole rental process positively speedy. · New industry-specific ticketing software from Siriusware, streamlining ticketing and ski school purchases as well as e-commerce.· A newly constructed drop off area, enhancing guests’ arrival and improving traffic flow into and out of the entry plaza.
Burke Mountain NEK Sampler: This season, Burke Mountain is excited to introduce two new value cards. The Kingdom Sampler and the Ski Free Card are designed to introduce guests to the Northeast Kingdom (NEK) of Vermont and save money on lift tickets. Priced at $69, the Kingdom Sampler Card includes one full day lift ticket at Burke Mountain, one Burke Mountain campsite rental, one Vermont beer sampler flight or Vermont root beer float at the Tamarack Grill, one summer Kingdom Trails day pass, one Nordic Kingdom Trails day pass, 10% off dining at the Tamarack Grill and 10% off lodging at the Carriage House Motel & Burke Mountain Campground, located on the Kingdom Trails. The Ski Free Card offers discounted lift tickets all season and every 5th visit is free. The Ski Free Card also includes 10% off dining at the Tamarack Grill and one complimentary pre-season tune up. Nordic Operations: Burke Mountain cross-country terrain is managed by Kingdom Trails and this season they will be making significant improvements to the skating trail network.
Jay Peak Resort
Jay Peak Resort welcomes visitors this winter with $13 million in improvements. Topping the list are increases in snowmaking coverage, an enclosed beginner lift, a new Nordic center, an indoor ice arena, a parking garage, a state-of-the-art ticketing system, and a new groomer. The enhancements are part of the resort’s ongoing $120 million revitalization effort. Phase 1 of the expansion at Jay Peak is complete with the Tram Haus Lodge that opened in December of 2009, a brand new Ice Haus arena that opened in May 2010, and the Nordic Center/Golf Clubhouse that opened its doors in June of 2010. New in lodging: 57 luxury suites in the Tram Haus lodge, three deluxe condominium suites at the Golf Clubhouse. New in dining: Alice’s Table at the Tram Haus Lodge features a Vermont-inspired menu, the Clubhouse Grille restaurant and bar offers American-style food, and the Tower Bar at the Tram Haus Lodge has lighter fare and appetizers. The Ice Haus Arena has its own heated snack bar and café, and the Aroma Café offers beverages and snacks. New in recreational activities:The Ice Haus arena features an NHL-sized rink with room for 700 spectators, and offers skating lessons, hockey games and curling tournaments. The Golf Clubhouse is available for golfers in the summer and serves as a Nordic Ski Center during the winter. The Taiga Spa & Fitness Center at the Tram Haus Lodge is available for massage therapy and spa treatments, as well as fitness and yoga classes. Jay Peak has also broken ground for the next phase of expansion – the “new” Hotel Jay, which will feature 170 rooms, offer three additional restaurant options, and an indoor water park, expected to open in early 2012. The water park will feature a state-of-the-art retractable roof for year-round access. It will have one of the longest indoor rivers in North America, a kamikaze straight drop (the first indoor of its kind in North America) and a double Flow Rider surf machine. There will also be an area available for smaller children.
Killington Resort Snowmaking upgrades top the list of summer projects, including trunk line replacements, energy efficiency upgrades, pump re-builds and a new cooling system at the South Ridge Pump House.In addition to building up its arsenal of Lower Energy snow guns, including two new fan guns that will be positioned near the bottom of the Superstar and Snowshed trails, Killington will continue to partner with Efficiency Vermont to improve the overall efficiency of its snowmaking system. One such project that was started two years ago and continued over the 2010 summer was the application of a coating to the inside of the pumps that reduces friction and energy needed to pump water throughout the 88-mile system.A new cooling system that drops the temperature of compressed air from 120+ degrees down to ambient outside temperatures at the South Ridge Pump House will improve efficiency by using much less energy than the old cooling system.
Mountain Improvements Continue with Trail Re-grading: Killington had six excavators and a backhoe on the hill working on trail re-grading and snowmaking projects. Crews have completed trail re-grading on the upper Skyewalker/Bittersweet area to improve skier/rider flow and reduce congestion at the intersection. Next up will be re-grading the top portion of Bittersweet where it intersects Great Eastern. Blasting work has removed rocky areas on the Great Eastern Trail near the top of the Needle’s Eye Express. The remnants of last fall’s Killington Hay Festival are also being recycled for the re-vegetation projects in these areas. The old control room for the Superstar Express was removed and in its place will be a new control room and a new electric drive control for the lift. Killington also replaced seat cushions on a number of chairlifts and continued to refinish and re-paint several lifts as well, including the towers on the Sunrise Triple, Bear Mountain Quad chairs, Snowdon Triple towers and the upper terminal of the Needle’s Eye Express.
Mad River Glen
Over fifteen years of co-op ownership, Mad River Glen has invested more than $4 million in capital improvements. Mad River’s goal is to maintain and preserve the experience rather than overhaul or upgrade it. Both the skier-owners and the management understand that skiers come to Mad River for the unique combination of legendary terrain, sense of community, low skier density and intimate atmosphere. “We don’t want to mess with a winning combination,” President Jamey Wimble explains. The ability of Mad River Glen to consistently reinvest in the mountain’s infrastructure is a testament to the success of the Cooperative. New shareholders will know that their support will enable the Co-op to fulfill its mission of protecting and preserving Mad River Glen’s unique ski experience for future generations.
Magic Mountain The Magic Partnership, LLC: In an effort to save Magic Mountain and raise capital to invest in the infrastructure the ski area has begun selling shares in the area. More Efficient Snowmaking: Magic Mountain continues to improve the snowmaking operations with increased efficiency through renovated air and water snowmaking lines and a streamlined process to making snow. Magic Card: The Magic Card offers discounts for skiers and riders all season long for only $39.00. The Magic card gives holders $25.00 midweek lift tickets and $10 off weekends and holidays all season long. Magic 3-Pack: In its second season, the Magic –Pack, offers a tremendous savings on day tickets throughout the season. For only $125.00 Magic skiers and riders can purchase 3 lift tickets valid anytime.
Middlebury College Snow Bowl The Snow Bowl has made two improvements yielding increased terrain: the popular Cameron Trail has been widened significantly for ’10-’11 and a glade has been added between the Lang and Cameron trails.
Mount Snow Resort Mount Snow continues its pursuit of the perfect snow conditions. With off-season improvements to its snowmaking infrastructure, the clear priority is making sure its guests have the best snow conditions, period. With the most Fan Guns in North America, Mount Snow is able to cover its trails with the highest quality snow from day one, opening with top to bottom coverage and a full terrain park. You can’t say Mount Snow and not think about events. From freestyle competitions for all ages to some of the best parties north of New Orleans, there is a calendar full of events not to be missed. In spring time, things really heat up with the Carinthia Open, Reggaefest, Winter Brewer’s Festival and the Glade-iator. That’s not to count out college weeks in January where eager students get one last chance to blow off some steam before returning to the books for the spring semester. Each week features a four night long party schedule with everything from tubing to live bands.
Okemo Mountain Resort It will be a smooth ride for Okemo Mountain Resort visitors this winter – whether they ski and snowboard, or not. Mountain Coaster: The Okemo Mountain Coaster, a four-season, family attraction will offer an exhilarating ride through alpine forests at Okemo’s Jackson Gore. Sled-like cars carrying one or two passengers will ascend 1,600 feet followed by a 375 vertical-foot descent along 3,100 feet of tubular, stainless steel track that follows the contours of the mountain with added waves, camel backs, banking loops and a “twister” section, at speeds of up to 25 mph. New Grooming Machine: Okemo continues its commitment to superlative grooming this winter with the addition of a third Prinoth BR500 grooming machine. The 500-horsepower dual turbocharged behemoths are wider and longer than Prinoth’s next-largest model. With engineered efficiencies, the newest addition to Okemo’s grooming fleet helps reinforce the resort’s reputation for top-quality surface conditions. New Lift: In the heyday of surface lifts, Okemo was renowned for its network of Pomalifts – even boasting the longest Pomalift in North America. Okemo’s final vestige of that era will be dismantled and mothballed. The Snow Star Poma, located in the Galaxy Bowl Learning Area at Okemo’s Clock Tower Base Area, is replaced with a180-foot, magic-carpet-style surface lift.
Smugglers’ Notch Resort
Winter guests at Smugglers’ Notch Resort will be among the first to enjoy the resort’s exciting new canopy tour, located in a scenic valley near the resort village. Participants on the 2.5-3-hour tour, the first of its kind in Vermont, will ride more than 4,000 feet of zip line cable, cross suspension bridges, and rappel from trees. Scenic lookout and tree platforms in a mature forest consisting of stands of hemlock, white birch and sugar maple will yield stunning views of the resort, Mount Mansfield and the Green Mountains. The year-round canopy tour joins Smugglers’ extensive seasonal outdoor experiences that in the winter include skiing and snowboarding on three mountains, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing, and in the summer, geocaching; a Via Ferrata hiking, climbing and ropes course adventure; a high ropes challenge course; and a day camp for children featuring kayaking, bouldering, Via Ferrata, and use of the resort’s 30-foot climbing wall and giant swing. The four-season canopy tour will be available to overnight guests, day visitors and groups.
Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center: Vermont’s intimate center for the performing artsA dramatic cultural enhancement has come to Stowe Mountain Resort. Spruce Peak Arts Center opens its doors to the public in December 2010. Developed to operate year-round as a major component of Stowe Mountain Resort, the performing arts center is envisioned as a venue for a wide spectrum of events; theater, music, dance, film, comedy, lectures and multimedia presentations. “The Arts Center will be the creative and cultural soul of Spruce Peak,” said Walter Frame, President of the Arts Center Foundation. “An eclectic range of events and exhibitions featuring established and emerging artists will inspire, educate and entertain residents, guests and the greater Stowe community.” The Spruce Peak Arts Center Foundation, Inc. is a 501c3 public organization funded by individual contributors. The 420-seat multipurpose hall, with minimal separation between audience and stage, provides flexibility that includes the extension of seating onto the stage, the use of galleries for performers, plus reception and banquet facilities. For more information please visit www.sprucepeakarts.org
Stratton Mountain Resort Powers at Stratton: 2002 Olympic gold medalist Ross Powers returns to his roots at Stratton Mountain School as the new head of Snowboarding Programs. In this case, the one time student becomes the teacher. Powers was an SMS student in the 1990’s before winning his first Olympic medal in 1998 and then winning Olympic gold on his birthday in Salt Lake City. Powers narrowly missed a spot on the Olympic team in 2010 for snowboardcross Healthy Priorities: Stratton won an NSAA Award in 2010 thanks to its ‘Safety Week Program,’ a product of Stratton’s Health and Safety Committee, which has set out to improve the quality of life at the resort. Recent initiatives include the introduction of a health awareness week, an in-resort health assessment, healthy dining options in the cafeteria and an Open Houses at the Stratton Sports Center Operations & Grooming Growth: Stratton will upgrade two of its front line Snow Cats with new Prinoth BR350’s, with significant technology and efficiency upgrades in snowmaking by adding new snow guns. Operational improvements will be focused around Guest Service, Terrain Parks, Snowsports School and the Tubing Park with a new ‘warming hut’ added to the ticket purchasing area where guests will be able to hang out and watch while sitting around a bonfire.
Sugarbush Resort Village Expansion: Sugarbush is currently undergoing its largest revitalization effort since opening the first phase of the Lincoln Peak Village in December 2006. The Warren-based resort is investing close to $10 million in the second phase of the village, as well as upgrades to its snowmaking infrastructure. Phase 2 of the Lincoln Peak revitalization project consists of a new entrance plaza as well as two new lodges. The 12,500-square foot “Schoolhouse” will house some of Sugarbush’s popular children’s programs. The resort’s winter Micro, Mini and Sugar Bear programs as well as some summer camps will be located in this facility. The other lodge will provide skier services such as tickets and season passes, guest lockers, adult Ski & Ride, rentals and repairs, public restrooms, and a café. The as-yet-named facility will be approximately 14,500-square feet. Phase 2 began in mid-April and is expected to be completed this month. Pipes & Snow: Sugarbush began replacing key sections of its snowmaking infrastructure in early July. Over two miles of primary-supply snowmaking pipe will be replaced at both Lincoln Peak and Mt. Ellen. The original pipe was installed in 1997.
Trapp Family Lodge NCAA Ski Championships: March 9 – 12, 2011; The University of Vermont and Trapp Family Lodge will be hosting the collegiate skiers from all over the United States. The new race course has just been certified for homologation by the International Ski Federation (FIS). This should prove to be an exceptional spectator-friendly event, as the course finds its way into the stadium five times in the 7.5 kilometer distance
Beer drinkers will revel in this “something new;” the Trapp Lager is the inaugural beer of the Trapp Family Lodge Brewery. More than a decade ago Johannes von Trapp started thinking about brewing beer for guests of the resort. His dream was to produce an American version of the tasty lager he enjoyed over the years on trips to his ancestral Austrian home. Johannes’s dream became reality in the Spring of 2010, with the opening of the Trapp Family Brewery. The modest facility (60,000 or so gallons a year) is located in the lower level of the bakery, where bottles and draughts of the heavenly concoction will be available year round.
Several days of cold temperatures have allowed Killington to open on Tuesday, Nov. 2.
Now it’s really starting to feel like the ski/snowboarding season.
Killington in central Vermont began its season today with four trails under the North Ridge chair. The first runs of 2010-11 season began shortly after 10 a.m.
The upper elevation trails can be accessed by taking the K1 gondola to the summit and riding down Upper Great Northern to the N0rth Ridge chair.
Since lower mountain trails are closed, you also have to take the K1 down the mountain. That requires a 5-10 minute walk 0n the Beast’s Peak Walkway from the top of the North Ridge chair.
The early-season terrain park on Reason is open with several features. Open terrain will include more difficult and most difficult only and snowmaking will continue on Upper Double Dipper and Upper East Fall. No beginner terrain will be available and early-season conditions exist.
Lift ticket prices are Adult: $49.00
Young Adult/Senior: $42.00
Junior/Senior Plus: $34.00
Killington in Vermont has begun making snow on a few of its upper elevation trails.
It looks like we’re days away from the opening of the ski and snowboard season in New England.
Both Killington in Vermont and Sunday River are ahead of the pack by blowing snow on its higher elevation trails.
Killington is concentrating on the North Ridge area making snow on Rime and Great Northern.
Unlike the test firings of snowmaking systems last week, this is a serious assault with the possible opening of Killington and Sunday River in days. All of this naturally depends on the weather and the forecast, at this point, looks good for snowmaking.
All of the snowmaking is being done at night when the temperature dips below freezing.
Both areas have not yet announced their openings, but it’s a good bet that both areas can have some limited terrain open by next week.
There are some people who are already trying to take some turns before the lifts start running.
Killington asks on its web site: ”As snowmaking production continues, we ask skiers and riders to respect the efforts and work area of our mountain operations team as they prepare the slopes for all of us.”
Killington is finishing a trail/walkway that will allow skiers and snowboarders to ride on a few upper mountain trails. Here’s how it works … you take the K1 gondola to the summit, ride down Great Northern, cross Cascade to Rime. Take the North Ridge triple chair take the Peak Walkway to the K1 gondola for the ride down the mountain. There will be no lower mountain trails open.
Here’s a look at the Peak Walkway in this video posted Tuesday.
Sunday River in Maine has been making snow, but they won’t say when they will open.
My guess is they don’t want to tip off the competition.
If they announce they’ll open on Friday, Killington could suddenly move their opening to Thursday thus getting the first-to-open bragging rights. It happened a few years ago when Mount Snow in southern Vermont open a day before Sunday River’s announced opening.
But as you can see from this cam shot taken this morning, the Woodbury ski area has got its snowmaking fans ready to go.
Believe it or not, Woodbury in our own little state of Connecticut was the first New England area to open for a few years by providing snow on an tiny slope.
Some of the bigger areas claimed Woodbury didn’t count because the skiing/snowmaking was so limited. Buy hey, they were first.
Keep in mind when the first trails do open, there won’t be much variety and it may not be worth making the trip north. But it’s enough for those who are itching to take some turns!
More terrain will open in mid to late November. Stratton in Vermont’s projected open is Nov. 24. Loon and Waterville in New Hampshire are shooting for a Nov. 20 kickoff.
Several New England ski resorts picked up a few inches of snow from Friday’s nor’easter, although it’s not enough to get the 2010-11 season going. Wait at least a couple of weeks.
A chairlift at Killington Vermont is covered with several inches of fresh snow on Friday, the first snowfall of the season.
But the good news is we’re starting to see cold nighttime temperatures that may allow some areas to start their snowmaking operations.
Any snowmaking would be limited to the higher elevation trails where temperatures are a few degrees colder.
Killington in Vermont picked up between 4 and 10 inches; farther south Okemo and Stratton saw a few inches.
Mount Snow reported on its web site early this morning that it received about four inches of snow from the summit down to around 2,000 feet elevation.
Northern Vermont areas like Stowe and Bolton Valley also get a few inches.
Mount Snow trail signs at the summit are covered with a few inches of wet snow on Friday.
The snowfall did cause some slick roads on roads crossing higher elevations. Route 4 between Killington and Rutland was especially slippery Friday afternoon.
Parts of the Adirondacks are seeing the season’s first significant snowfall.
The National Weather Service says two inches of snow fell Friday at Lake Placid and that higher elevations experienced heavier accumulations.
Parts of the Adirondacks in New York also saw the season’s first significant snowfall.
Up on top of Mount Washington in New Hampshire, weather observer Mike Finnegan reports on the observatory’s blog that he took some turns on his snowboard.
“I grabbed my board and boots and headed outside. I threw them in the van this past shift change with hopes of snow,” Mike writes.
Weather observer Mike Finnegan takes a few turns on top of Mount Washington that received several inches of snow on Friday.
“To say I made a few turns might be a bit of an exaggeration, but definitely slid across the snow with the help of winds in the mid-60 mph range, gusting to mid-70′s. I did attempt to ride down the narrow strip on the service road, but the wind coming out of the ENE was too strong and kept me from sliding downhill.”
I remember a few years ago during the spring I skied from the top of Mount Washington down through the Alpine Garden and into Tuckerman’s Ravine.
It was an incredible experience, but I will never do that again. Why? Because I’d like to live longer.
Roy Webster, of Rutland , Vt., drove his wife Amanda and his daughter, Raegan, who is almost 2 years old, up to Killington Ski Area on Friday, Oct. 15, 2010, to make snow angels during an unexpected snowstorm. His wife, Amanda, takes photos. Kilington reported five to 10 inches of snow. (AP Photo/Rutland Herald, Vyto Starinskas)
Today is the last day you can buy discounted $55 lift tickets for Killington in Vermont.
The price is up to $29 lower than the cost of a one-day window ticket price.
This season, Killington’s ticket prices will be $79 midweek and $84 onweekends.
The K55 tickets are valid everyday of the season except the following 22 peak days: Dec 24 – Jan 02; Jan 15-17; Feb 19-27.
The tickets can only be purchased online here. There is a limit of 10 tickets per order. The offer expires at 11:59 p.m. tonight.
By the way, there’s was some snow falling at Killington this morning. Check out the live cam at Bear Mountain.
The National Weather Service says up to a foot of snow could fall in the higher elevations.
Sunday River in Maine cranked up its snowmaking system last Saturday as it gets ready to be the first ski resort to open in the East
While it’s still too early to pull out the boards, anticipation is building evey day as a new ski season nears.
Already, Sunday River in Maine started blowing snow last weekend. Sure, it was more of a “test” of its snowmaking system (and to blow out a few mice). But it was also a good motivator (and PR pitch) to get people excited about the season.
This is the time of year when there’s a guessing game going on over which ski area will be the first to open in the East. For the past few years Sunday River has jumped the gun by offering top-to-bottom riding on one of its trails, usually before Halloween.
The trail remained open for only a couple of days, but it did secure the bragging rights for being the first out of the gate. In previous seasons, Mount Snow in southern Vermont nabbed the first-to-open laurels, but its sliding on a small slope near the clocktower was extremely limited. The biggest surprise happened about 10 years ago when the tiny Woodbury ski area in Connecticut opened up a slope in early November; the upstart beat everyone.
From an advertising/ PR perspective, this first-to-open publicity is nearly priceless. That’s because nearly every TV weather person in New England will use the footage as they begin their weather report. Unfortunately, this feel good about the coming season is often dampened by some winter-hating anchor person, shaking their head, saying it’s too early for snow.
But there’s an exciting new development in the first-to-open race this year.
Killington in Vermont, which for decades was always the first to open, has constructed the Peak Walkway that will connect the top of the North Ridge Triple to the top of the K1 gondola.
This will solve a problem with upper mountain early season skiing that started when Killington removed the old double chair to the summit in the early 1990s and replaced it with the K1 gondola.
The K1 gondola essentially follows the same path of the old (and miserably cold and long double chair) from the base to the summit. But unlike the old summit chairlift the K1 does not have a mid-station stop.
For decades, Killington usually opened in mid-October. It blew snow on the upper elevation trails around the North Ridge chair (then known as The Glades) along with the upper stretches of Cascade and sometimes, Downdraft. Skiers, (there were very few snowboarders then) slid down to the mid-station and boarded the chairlift down the mountain.
Here’s how Killington explains the Peak Walkway:
“How will construction of the Peak Walkway impact our winter operations? The walkway will provide access, via a 6-minute walk, from our upper-mountain terrain in the North Ridge area, where historically temperatures from about Oct. 15 on are favorable for snowmaking, back to the top of the K-1 Gondola. |
“Simply stated, the Peak Walkway will allow us to open for skiing during periods when we have marginal lower-mountain snowmaking conditions and provide access to upper mountain terrain and our early-season terrain park on Reason,” states our Director of Mountain Operations Jeff Temple.
Our goal for kicking off the season remains the same: We are committed to open as early as possible for our guests with a sustainable quality product. “It is important for us to be open as early as reasonably possible, as it is a critical element in our overall operating plan,” Temple says. A quality product is defined as one that allows for snowmaking mounds to “dry and cure” for a period of time before grooming and opening. This process greatly improves the durability and quality of the snow surface.
“Remember last season when we saw significantly colder temperatures in mid-October, fired up the snowmaking system and buried the upper slopes with deep snow? Then the temperatures moderated into November and we struggled to cover Lower Bunny Buster to get skiers/riders back to the base of the K-1 Gondola. The result was opening and closing four times before we were able to open and remain open for the season beginning the first week of December. Had the Peak Walkway been installed last year, we would have remained open with upper-mountain skiing through that challenging weather period. So the bottom line is we look at the Peak Walkway as insurance for early-season operation.
With the Peak Walkway in place, we’ll be able to focus our early-season snowmaking resources on expanding upper-mountain terrain on Snowdon Mountain (Upper Bunny Buster, Mouse run and Killink), instead of having to utilize a substantial amount of our snowmaking resources to cover lower mountain terrain during marginal weather conditions. Rest assured, that even with the Peak Walkway in place, Killington will remain committed to providing top-to-bottom skiing and riding as soon as conditions permit.
In this Killington photo, Crews poured the first foundations and starting building the Peak Walkway from the top of the North Ridge Triple back to the top of the K-1 Gondola in September.
The Peak Walkway will be approximately 750 feet long and about 4-feet wide, providing access back to the top of the K-1 Gondola from the summit of the North Ridge Triple. The actual distance is the same as walking from the Bay 5 parking lot to the K-1 Lodge. ”
To me it sounds like Killington is ready to regain the first-to-open crown. And even if it doesn’t there should be some find skiing and snowboarding on these trails during the early season.
All of this early season guessing comes down to the weather. Everyone knows, you can’t make snow if it’s too warm.
And there’s a chance that the upper peaks of New England could see some natural snow Thursday night as a nor’easter rolls up the coast.
This photo taken at the Wildcat Ski Area in New Hampshire is from the early 1960s. Many of those who skied during those days are still on the slopes.
Don’t be surprised if you’re standing at a ski ticket window when an older skier tells the cashier: ”Don’t forget my senior discount.”
No this isn’t a coffee shop or a WalMart, but a ski area where seniors expect to see a few dollars knocked off the price of their lift ticket.
But things are changing at ski resorts that are seeing an increasing number of senior skiers, especially during midweek days. There was a time not too long ago that if you were still skiing at age 70, resorts would give you a free lift ticket.
While there are still ski areas that offer freebies for seniors, some like the Catamount ski area in New York/Massachusetts, increased the age to 80.
A handful of areas in Vermont including Mad River Glen, Ascutney and Smuggler’s Notch give freebies to those 70 and older, but some limit their discounts to only midweek, non-holiday times.
Part of the reason has to do with numbers; there’s just too many senior skiers out there with the percentage rising every season. And, while ski areas are reluctant to admit it, there are many senior skiers who are often well off, financially, then most of the people on the slopes. Nonetheless, ski areas want them to return (hopefully, with grandkids) and entice them with discounts that will keep them sliding into their golden years.
According to the National Ski Areas Association, the percentage of people ages 55 to 64 on the slopes has more than doubled to 9.2 percent since the 1997-98 season. And the number of skiers 65 and older has been rising as well.
Senior skiers often get some of the best prices for season passes, especially midweek.
At the front of the line is Mohawk Mountain in Cornwall that is offering a $99 midweek season pass to those 65 and other. On Friday, the price of the pass goes up … slightly … to $105.
That’s still half price of what Mohawk charges for an adult mid-week pass.
Up the road at Butternut in Great Barrington, Mass., seniors have to wait until they are 70 to buy a season pass for only $100 that’s good weekends and holidays.
Often senior discounts amount to the same price as a young adult ticket, a discount between $10 and $15.
I wonder … with the millions of baby boomers still skiing or snowboarding nearing retirement … how long this will last.
Already we’re starting to see a new definition of what a senior citizen is. Stratton in Vermont, for example, calls you a senior if you’re between 65 and 69. But if you’re 70 or older, they call you a “super senior,” which entitles you to a bigger discount. Adults pay $149 for a two-day pass, seniors are charged $128 and “super seniors” pay only $105.
At Okemo in Vermont, senior discounts for season passes start kicking at age 70. In fact, most of its season passes are for “all ages” between 7-69. Its “Super Senior” midweek pass goes for $269 ( $100 lower than what others pay).
Stowe in northern Vermont is sticking with age 65 to qualify for a discount. The savings are considerable for a season pass: $755 for seniors, $1,503 for other adults. This season, a one-day ticket at Stowe will cost $84 (on Saturday’s it’s $89). Seniors, however, pay $73 and $77.
So, if you’re old enough, how do you find senior discounts?
The web site www.seniorski.com is the quickest way get an overview. On the site U.S. ski resorts are organized in tables by age. Keep in mind, that some of this info is from last season, so check back in late December for updates. Ski resorts are still in the process of firming up their single ticket prices.
Keep in mind that deadlines are looming at most ski areas for season passes that could rise by a few hundred bucks if you wait just before the season begins. Now’s the time to do a little math and see if a season pass works for you in your specific age group.
By far, the best deals out there are for college students who can ski or ride for less than $300 a season.
Too good to be true? Maybe because ski areas make up the difference from the college students’ bar tabs.
An expansion at Sugarloaf in Maine will make it the largest ski area east of the Rockies.
Once the tree thinning is completed in three years, it will eclipse Killington in central Vermont, as having the most acreagefor skiing and snowboarding. The key word here is acreage, not more trails and more lifts.
Sugarloaf’s expansion is centered on Burnt Mountain that shares the ridgeline next to Sugarloaf. This season, they plan to add 270 acres of terrain and 655 more over the next three years. Here’s the official announcement.
Once that’s done, The Loaf will have 1,310 acres compared to Killington‘s 752 acres.
Killington in Vermont is now the largest ski resort in the East.
This doubling of terrain is essentially tree skiing, not groomed trails or snowmaking. But it will be a big draw for skiers looking for more interesting and challenging terrain with some steep cliffs and dropoffs. And it could be one of the East’s best powder playgrounds because the area is known for holding snow dumped there by prevailing winds.
Yes it will be “sidecountry” skiing with the added benefit of ski patrols. Yet, Sugarloaf strongly advises people not to ski or ride alone; a smart move.
No doubt the added terrain will open up some awesome glade skiers looking for fresh “pow pow.”
From a marketing standpoint, it’s also a smart move because Sugarloaf will get another bragging right (in being the largest), along with its incredible snowfields off the summit.
To those who have no interest in skiing the backcountry, relax … the huge area will still have long cruisers and steeps on the main mountain, along with grooming and snowmaking.
Don’t rule it out that one day, you’ll see some lift and trail development on Burnt Mountain in the future. A new lift here, a few groomed trails won’t surprise me, especially with all the condo areas belong Burnt Mountain.
The marketing of Sugarloaf as the largest will not be taken by some as a serious boast. Killington, aka ”The Beast of the East,” will still have more trails, lifts and skiable lifted service terrain.
Right now Killington counts 141 trails over 71 miles with 22 lifts.
Sugarloaf now has 118 trails (not including glades) over 56 miles with 16 lifts.
But many may ask: Do acres really county, or matter?
A couple of seasons ago, Mount Snow started counting acres, instead of trails, on its daily snow report. They said it provided a more accurate report on how much terrain is open. I can see their point, but it does help Mount Snow, especially since they have a few super-wide trails like Snow Dance.
The debate of who’s bigger and better will go on for years.
Don’t worry about the folks at Killington; they’ve always been smart at marketing themselves. They’ll likely focus on the “real” trails, mileage, lifts, off-slope nightlife/dining and … easier access.
And who knows … maybe they’ll finally connect Pico with Killington that surely would create some buzz.